VIDEO: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community celebrates 100 years since first missionary came to UK (From This Is Local London)
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VIDEO: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community celebrates 100 years since first missionary came to UK
This year marks 100 years since the first Ahmadiyya Muslims made the journey from India to settle in the UK.
Over the weekend members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community held a series of events inviting everybody to celebrate their history.
On Sunday a family picnic took place in Figges Marsh, while MPs, councillors and the mayor of Merton gathered in the Baitul Futuh Mosque, in London Road, Merton.
Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, Merton borough commander, also cycled with 20 police officers between the two venues as part of the festivities.
The mosque is the largest in Western Europe, while around the corner Fazl Mosque, in Gressenhall Road, Southfields, was the first ever mosque built in England.
Back in 1889 founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, predicted his teachings would soon arrive in London.
His wish was fulfilled in 1913 when the first missionary, Hazrat Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Sial, arrived in the UK.
At first he began to spread his message at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park by distributing literature and holding interviews with the press.
Bashir Rafiq, 87, former Imam of the Fazl Mosque, said: "People would not listen to him that much.
"He would stand there and talk about Islam and the Ahmadiyya Community, and invited people to ask questions."
In 1920 Mr Sial purchased a plot of land in Southfields, costing a mere £2,300 - and also included a house.
Six years later the first mosque in London officially opened, with the foundation stone reading "I declare this mosque open for people of any religion who believe in one God."
The innovative architecture of the building presented a mix of Eastern and Western culture, with more than 600 people attending the opening.
Over the years the mosque was visited by a number of important figures, ranging from Prince Faisal, Prince of Jordan to poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, first spoke of his wishes to split the state from India at a speech within the mosque.
Mr Rafiq said: "Dignitaries would make sure to meet at the London mosque.
"It became a Mecca for those people coming - not because of Islamic congregation, but to meet Indian people. It did a lot of work bringing nationalities together."
But the mosque only held about 150 people so in 2003 the Baitul Futuh mosque was built, which contains conference halls, a library and dining facilities.
Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTV) is also filmed there in three different languages.
There are now about 30,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims living in the UK, with the community placing a large focus on helping neighbours.
Thousands has been raised to provide water in Africa under the religions charity Humanity First.
Mr Rafiq said a lot of work is being done to present the true version of Islam, far removed from extremists who have been in national media recently.
He said: "When you look at Islam today - they are a curse. It has nothing to do with Islam, it is a religion of peace.
"Because of these freedom movements we have tried our best to present the true Islam. We did a lot of this work in this interfaith relationship.
"It is not just doing your prayers five times a day, that is not religion, religion means to help man kind and that is what we are doing all of the time, we should help man kind."
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