Islamic Centre of England
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The Islamic Centre of England Ltd (ICEL) is a religious and cultural building at 140 Maida Vale, London. It was established in 1996 by Ayatollah Mohsen Araki to cater for the cultural, social and emotional needs of the Iranian community living outside of Iran.
Since its establishment the Islamic Centre of England has become a landmark in the propagation of Islamic teachings and religious awareness.
It has established itself as an educational centre for those who intend to increase their knowledge of Islamic principles and cultural values and therefore, helping to strengthen the social structure of the community. The Centre is provides counselling and support in all areas of family life including: pre-marital counselling, marital contracts, marital relationships, parenting.
The Islamic Centre of England-London (ICEL) was founded in December 1995, and opened officially in November 1998.
The Centre, in common with other Islamic organisations in Europe, wishes to provide spiritual guidance for the Muslim community at large, and also wishes to cater for the social, cultural, educational and recreational needs of members of the community – especially women and the next generation.
The Centre's other main objective manifests itself in its sincere effort to disseminate authentic knowledge about Islam and to provide non-Muslims with a better and clearer understanding of Islam.
ICEL seeks to build bridges with the society at large and establish closer ties between peoples of different faiths and cultures all over the world.
The building of the Islamic Centre of England is a listed building, which has been refurbished to assume an Islamic decorative hue. On its ground level the building boasts a grand hall, measuring 20 x 16m, which is capable of accommodating some 450 people; it is used for holding major functions. There is also a smaller hall on a raised platform, measuring 20 x 6m, used mainly for prayers. The first floor comprises two halls, the first measuring 20 x 6m and the second 8 x 8m; they are capable of accommodating 150 and 50 people respectively. The library is situated on the first floor.
The annex comprises a bookshop.
The main hall is equipped with audio-visual equipment, such as projectors, a giant screen for showing films, public address and simultaneous translation systems. There is also a stage that can be used, amongst other things, for theatrical performances.
The Islamic Centre of England wishes to provide services to members of the Muslim community, in particular*, and the wider community at large, across a number of fields; religious guidance and cultural issues are at the forefront.
Highly qualified religious scholars[who?] have offered their services to The Islamic Centre of England in order to provide religious guidance, advice and counselling.
- The community members are from wide and different backgrounds and ways of life, culture, race and language, including non-Muslims, indigenous and migrated namely; Afghani, Arabs, British, Eastern European, Canadian, Germans, Indian, Italian, Pakistani, Philippines.
Religious Enquires Section
The Religious Enquires Section (RES) of the Islamic Centre of England was set up at the very beginning. It comprises a highly competent team of multilingual experts who will deal with every question according to the linguistic background of the enquirer. Following an initial assessment, queries will be answered.
Questions are received from all over the world via telephone, fax, and email and in person. Since the questions stem from Muslims as well as non-Muslims coming from different ethno-religious backgrounds, our answers aim to provide a modern, detailed and clear response. These answers are compiled for a publication. RES has already published many books containing these questions and answers.
Family and Social Affairs Department
The Family and Social Affairs Department of the Islamic Centre of England was one of the first departments to be set up upon the establishment of the Centre. This section is a refuge and reference for the community to seek advice and consideration of their family and social affairs, individually and collectively.
The main areas of work covered by this department are: Solemnisation of Marriages, Family Consultation, Miscellaneous social affairs, Islamic Divorce procedures and responding to many other queries related to the above issues as well as conversion to Islam. The department offers an excellent opportunity to gauge the extent of problems or trends in Islamic communities due to having direct access to real people.
In its drive to disseminate authentic knowledge about Islam, the Islamic Centre of England organises several conferences and seminars every year in collaboration with British and other International educational and cultural institutions. In the last few years a number of such seminars were organised on a variety of topics. From the purely religious to the day-to-day, the Centre invites specialists in different topics to give weekly lectures. Since Muslims in the UK form a mosaic of ethnicity, ICE provides speakers in four different languages for these weekly lectures: English, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu.
The Islamic Centre of England provides a range of educational classes for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The Islamic Community in London can benefit from a variety of courses and educational activities designed to improve one’s understanding of Islamic principles and practices.
In addition to the above, the Centre also opens its doors to any groups or individuals interested in acquiring a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. Educational sessions can be held for groups or on a one-to-one basis.
To this effect the Centre has established direct links with a number of schools and universities for which it provides regular lessons to visiting students.
Islamic Calendar Events
ICEL celebrate the occasion of the month-long fast of Ramadan by holding gathering for congregational prayers, recitation of the Holy Quran, giving lectures and providing meals for the devotees to break their daytime fast.
ICEL also celebrates the anniversary of the Public Declaration of the Mission of the prophet Muhammad.
Islamic Centre of England seizes the opportunity of the anniversary of the birth of Muhammad to observe a week of celebrations with the theme of “Islam Unity”. While celebrating this auspicious event, the occasion is utilised to serve as a reminder that the Muslim Ummah (community) is one.
Publications and Distribution:
The Islamic Centre of England has a team of competent staff and advisers who are charged with the responsibility of the publication and distribution of printed material in English, Persian, Arabic and Urdu. 'Living Islam' is a monthly newsletter which is published and distributed in these four languages.
Library and Bookshop
Other aspects of the cultural landscape, which ICEL strives to make an impact on, include the publication of printed matters such as books and leaflets, audio cassettes CDs and DVDs materials. These deal mainly with Islamic issues and religious practice.
The Library contains a few thousand volumes on different topics. It regularly receives magazines, periodicals and newsletters dealing with Islamic issues and studies. Other publications, in English, Persian, Arabic and Urdu, aimed at giving information about Islam, can be acquired free of charge. The Centre welcomes scholars, researchers and students to make use of the library.
The Bookshop stocks a wide range of multilingual books, magazines, journals, audio tapes, CDs and DVDs. In addition, there are posters, calendars and items of Islamic arts.
Malcolm X commemoration
The Islamic Centre of England has held its first ever commemoration of Malcolm X' death. This programme which marked the 45th anniversary, was held on the 28th Feb, one week after the actual anniversary date on 21st Feb. Despite the short notice, the gathering was well attended, which indicates the still vibrant interest of Western Muslims for Al Hajj Malik al Shabbaz (Malcolm X). The event was marked by Shaikh Ahmed Haneef outlining the role of Islam in the struggle for racial justice among African Americans and the lessons to be drawn for Muslim minorities in the West. He also stressed the importance of Islam in the political life of Malcolm X as opposed to the label of Black Nationalism so often associated with his name. The speech was followed by a lively question and answer session.