Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat and UK design firm Mangera Yvars Architects have proposed a massive new mosque for the London skyline to be built in time for the 2012 Olympics. The mosque is intended to hold 40,000 worshippers, with space for another 30,000 in the ancillary buildings; this is just 10,000 people shy of the total held by the planned Olympic stadium. But the mosque isn't just meant to be massive, it's designed to be as sustainable as possible.
The wind turbines built into the minarets get the most attention, but the facilities include a closed system for recycling the water used for ritual washing, a tidal power plant to take advantage of the mosque's riverside location, and combined heat and power (CHP) units and solar panels to generate any needed additional energy. The plans have yet to receive final approval, but the depiction at the architect's site (warning: horrible awful Flash interface) is worth the effort to check out.
The 180,000 m2 structure would look very little like a traditional mosque:
The project has adopted the idea of Dawat by physically and metaphorically reaching out to provide large urban connections which invite people into the building from West Ham station, The Greenway and beyond. Dawat space is an interstitial public space between the sanctum of the Mosque and the World outside. It is a place for Muslims and Non Muslims to interact, debate and promote a greater understanding between ideology, faith and humanity.
The project is controversial, however, and not just because of its £100 million price tag. The backing organization, Tablighi Jamaat, has been accused by the US government of links to more radical groups, something the organization denies. (It's worth noting that the UK has not sought to outlaw Tablighi, as it has done with other groups thought to have radical connections.) The Wikipedia entry on Tablighi provides a neutral discussion of the organization and its status, with links to both supportive and critical sites.
Is there Saudi money funding this mosque? If so, there are probably strings attached requiring the imams to be Wahhabi hardliners. (Saudi oil money funding mosques and schools has been spreading the hardline, warlike Wahhabi/Salafi sect of Islam to otherwise tolerant and liberal parts of the Dar el Islam such as Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Irshad Manji.)
Tabligi Jamat never gets involved with politics or anything else including missionary activity. All they do is sleep in mosques and knock on Muslim doors asking others to sleep in Mosques. All they talk about with each other and the public is increasing ones own faith and the benefits of removing yourself from worldly affairs by sleeping in mosques.
The fact that America considers this as terrorism and recruiting for Al Qaida shows that they are not really fighting terrorism, they are just looking for people to declare as enemies that they will use as a replacement for communist Russia. They need enemies to justify government corruption, human rights abuses, curtailing of civil liberties and the arms industry.
The reason why places like Guantanamo Bay are full of Tabligis is the Americans arrest any forign Muslim as a terrorist whenevery they invade places like Afghanistan. Tabligis go about from country to country sleeping in Mosques so most of the American Prisoners are made up of them. The remainder are Journalists, Human rights workers, Humanitarian workers, international business men and anyone who criticizes any America policy.
Baring Tabligi Jamat in mind and what the Americans accuse them of. We need to take another look at the so called Saudi Funded Mosques. They are anti Politics and anti any criticism of governments. Because Saudi Arabia is ruled by a King no one likes. So if people get involved with politics it would result in people being against the King. He is not going to fund his own execution. So it is real silly to think that they are hotbeds of Islamic radicalism. All that happens in their mosques is they sit around talking about how they have the correct beliefs and accusing other Muslims of not being real monotheists. They are not interested in non Muslims or governments.
Irshad Manji is not an expert on Islam or even a Muslim. She has a radical feminist agenda, so attacks anyone who gets in the way of it.
A highly interesting development from my point of view. The architectural form of religious establishments is interesting because it symbolises (and acts as a magnet for) higher social functions and processes, but this is the first time I have seen the gap being closed by embedding tangible function into the symbolic aspect.