It was the year the year 1998, even though the Muslims from Sri Lanka have been migrating to UK throughout the past fifty years for different purposes, it was only then that this gained momentum and Sri Lankans migrated in large numbers. The sound of Azan echoes five times a day from dawn to dusk from the Masjids situated in all the corners of the villages and towns in Sri Lanka. Ulamas and Huffaz are found in almost all the Muslim hamlets. Masjid will be full for five time prayers everyday as well as for Tharaweeh prayers during Ramadan. A number of pilgrims would set out for Hajj pilgrimage from Sri Lanka, during Hajj season. You cannot find a single Masjid where Da’wah work is not carried out. We were living in an atmosphere where we had hundreds of Madrasas and thousands of students who were learning Deenul Islam.
Although the Muslims are a minority community in Sri Lanka, they enjoy all the rights and living in a religious background as if they live in an Islamic nation. Therefore, wherever they go they try to follow the same lifestyle. Even though there were a number of Masjids and Islamic Centres in the UK sermons and lectures were conducted in English, Urdu, Arabic & Bengali, the setback Tamil speaking Sri Lankan brothers had was understandable as they could not listen to Bayans in their mother tongue. Eid ul Adha prayer was conducted at Church Hall, Queensbury with Tamil sermon in the year 1998. This was the initial gathering of Sri Lankan Muslim brothers.
The cause for the initiation of Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre (UK) was the concern of some members who migrated from Sri Lanka in the early part of 1998 and joined their families who were living in the vicinity of Harrow. These people had a strong feeling that the Sri Lankan Muslim community should get together and form a centre in the UK and continue Da’wah and social work as we did back at home. As a result, the work of Da’wah started during the weekends in three Sri Lankan houses, joining the brothers from Wembley. When a group of brothers on Da’wah work were passing the building which has become a Masjid now, a brother from Wembley stopped in front of the very building raising his hands and supplicated “Oh, Allah! Convert this building as a Palace of Yours”.
Subsequently a discussion was held when a group of brothers consisting 13 people went on Da’wah work to Turnpike Lane Masjid. In this discussion it was highlighted that Muslims from India & Pakistan came to Sri Lanka in the past for business purposes. When they engaged in business they started building Masjids in the heart of the towns in order to propagate Islam. Therefore, taking this as an example, though we were here for employment or educational purposes, we decided that we too should purchase a building in UK for our Sri Lankan brothers to enable us to preach Islam in our mother tongue. This discussion was the seed for the emergence of this Masjidun Noor.
Accordingly, during Ramadan in the year 1999, nearly 25 brothers & sisters got together and prayed Tharaweeh at Brother Mansoor’s residence. On the 27th night of that Ramadan, nearly 125 brothers and sisters gathered and engaged in Aa’mal. This was followed by some young brothers from Akurana who came to celebrate the “Eid” with the gathering of all Sri Lankan brothers & sisters. As a result, arrangements too were made to celebrate Haj Festival at the hall of ‘South Harrow Football Club’ with the participation of around 400 Sri Lankan brothers & sisters. This was a memorable day as it was on this day that we realised that we are in dire need of our own Masjid to carry on our duties in our mother tongue, to safeguard our culture and to guide the future generation. It was on this day we pledged a sum of £15,000.00 and showed our desire to have our own Masjid.
Subsequently, in January 2000 more than fifty Sri Lankan brothers got together in a building belonging to West Hendon Masjid and appointed an administrative board under the chairmanship of Hafiz Munawar, with a committee consisting of forty members. It was decided in the following meeting that this Association should be named as “Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre (UK)” and that it should be located in Harrow where most of the Sri Lankan Muslims live and Tamil Khuthba sermons should be held in a hired hall. This was followed by the first Tamil Khuthba held in Kenmore Park Hall situated in Kenton in February, 2000. About 100 brothers participated in this. This encouraged Sri Lankan brothers from distant places to come for Jummah prayers to listen to Tamil Khuthba. As a result of this attendance of brothers for Jumuah steadily increased to between 200- 250. This let to spatial constraints hence we had to perform two Kuthba and Prayers since the Council refused to rent out the hall due to over capacity. In the year 2000, Hajj Festival ceremony was held in a hall at Willesden Green. Ash Sheikh Yusuf Mufthi was the chief guest in this function.
Those days we were carrying carpets and sound systems from hall to hall to fulfil the desires of our brothers who were very keen to learn Islam and act accordingly. Although there were several halls, they refused to rent them out to us continuously every week. Ultimately we hired the ‘Dale Avenue Scout Hall’ in Edgware and continued our Jummah prayers in spite of the under capacity of the hall which can accommodate only 175 persons. In the latter part of 2000 we hired a house in Queensbury and performed the activities during Ramadan. In the same year, we arranged Eid activities on a grand scale in Kadhwa Centre in Kenton. The Chief Guest for this programme was Mufthi Rizvi, who visited from Sri Lanka.
During this period our organisation was functioning in an office belonging to Br. Mansoor, situated at Station Road, Harrow. With the Grace of Almighty Allah and by the sincere effort of our brothers, we were able to raise a sum of £223,000.00 in a short period. Especially Br. Razeen’s effort was commendable in collecting this money and obtaining ‘Murahaba’ system and other activities for this Masjid to raise the required funds to acquire the place.
Alhamdulillah, we were able to purchase a building for our Centre at Mollison Way in Queensbury in 2001. Incidentally, the council refused planning permission to convert this business premises for social activities. Alhamdulillah, upon appealing to the council they were gracious enough to grant permission to convert this building for social activities in 2002. During this period we had to face numerous difficulties such as parking problem, complaints by neighbours and overcrowding at our Centre. So we were compelled to search for a premise with more space for our religious activities and with parking facilities.
Alhamdulillah, in the year 2002, we occupied the current SLMCC building. Prior to the purchase, there were three liquor bars and a dancing hall within this building. This premise is situated approximately in half an acre of land. The areas of main hall is 3200 sq.ft , the lobby 1000 sq.ft. And the first floor hall is 2350 Sq.ft. respectively. More than one thousand people can pray at a time in the main building and detached building. Also, this property includes a vast area for car parking. This building was renovated and converted to a beautiful palace of Allah and inaugurated in the name of ‘Masjidun Noor’ on 25th August 2002.