(Cambridge) :- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated the new Cambridge Central Mosque in Cambridge on Thursday, which is Europe’s very first eco-friendly mosque.
Erdoğan came to the U.K. to attend a two-day NATO leaders’ summit as well as to inaugurate the mosque.
The road to building Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque began back in 2008. When the capacity of local churches and houses was unable to meet the worship needs of local Muslims, Muslim students in the city turned to one of Britain’s most influential Muslims.
Timothy Winter, also known as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, who is the dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, was instrumental in getting the land for the mosque.
More than 10,000 people and groups donated money for the landmark purchase, with Turkish groups donating most generously. The Qatar National Fund was also among the donors.
Erdoğan inaugurates landmark eco-friendly mosque in Britain
Support from Erdoğan, with Muslim aesthetics
Abdal Hakim Murad, together with singer Yusuf Islam (also known as Cat Stevens), sought support for the project from Erdoğan, who was Turkey’s then-prime minister.
In the project, Islamic aesthetics, sense of the arts and the Prophet Muhammad’s life and the importance he placed on protecting nature were used as inspiration.
A competition helped determine the mosque’s design, which includes a garden, portico, yard, lavatory, prayer room and bathing cubicle.
The design of the mosque’s garden, where some 1,000 people can pray at the same time, pays respect to Islamic traditions. Making the mosque eco-friendly was a priority.
Besides using natural materials such as wood and marble, the mosque has already made a name for itself for having a net-zero carbon footprint.
Ali Tos, the imam of the groundbreaking new mosque, sat down with Anadolu Agency to explain some of its features.
England sees a lot of rain, he said, but this rainwater will not go to waste.
“We collect rainwater from the roof of the mosque to irrigate the seedlings we plant in the garden. In addition, we use that water for cleaning sinks,” said Tos.
Power from the sun
The mosque’s roof also features solar panels, Tos said.
“We can turn even the slightest sunshine into electricity, using it to meet about 30% of the mosque’s energy needs in the winter and up to 40% in the summer,” said Tos.
Hot air used to heat water
Tos stressed that the mosque is designed to maintain and sustain itself while doing no harm to nature.
“Our roof is equipped with a heat pump assembly using air, so the slightest heatwave is absorbed and used to heat the water in our large tanks below. We also use that water to heat the floor under the carpets and for water flowing into taps for ablutions,” said Tos.
Fresh air for worshippers
Thanks to sensors, Tos said, when the amount of oxygen falls or the temperature rises, hot air is drawn out of the mosque from compartments near the top and fresh air is supplied from openings hidden in the walls.
One of the main reasons for the lack of windows in the walls is to direct people’s attention to prayer, he explained.
In line with eco-friendly principles, the windows were instead placed on the ceiling of the dome-shaped mosque to take advantage of natural light from above and to draw sunlight directly into the mosque, according to Tos.
‘Non-Muslims very interested in mosque’
Pointing to intense interest from non-Muslims in the new mosque, Tos said that some people just saw the mosque and came in to pray.
“Our visitor list is already full. There are 2,000 people on the waiting list,” he said.
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“Every morning, Muslims or non-Muslims, in general non-Muslims visitors come to learn about the features of the mosque and learn about Islam,” he added.
While visiting the mosque, visitors can also learn about Islam and the aesthetics of the faith, said Tos.
“The number of our non-Muslim visitors, friends, neighbors, are more than the Muslims,” he said.
“The Muslims who live here, for those who labor, invest in and support this mosque, whoever helped here with the intent, make sure that whether [visitors] convert to Islam or not, they will be able to get past the current misconceptions about Muslims, will be enlightened though a proper explanation of Islam,” he added.
Mosque for the whole community
“It is a project which all people can contribute to and everyone can participate in the name of God,” Tos explained.
“Yusuf Islam is a part of this project, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad is a part of this project, Selim Argun of (Turkey’s) Religious Affairs Directorate is a part of this project, and so is (Turkish Presidential Spokesman) Ibrahim Kalın,” he said.
He added, “We have two imams working here, one from Bosnia, and the other is me, from Turkey.”
The mosque will serve the entire global ummah (community) of Islam, he said, calling it an ummah mosque where all Muslims can pray together side-by-side.