CAMBRIDGE: Green is the colour of Islam and also the colour that symbolizes eco-friendly, sustainable living. A building under construction in Cambridge seeks to marry both in what will be Europe’s first eco-mosque.
The project is 10 years in the making and has tested the ingenuity of architects and engineers. But it is on track to open in early 2019 not only as a place of prayer but also a space for teaching and welcoming people of all faiths. “It is a place for the whole community, not just Muslims,” said Tim Winter, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Cambridge University.
Winter converted to Islam almost 40 years ago, taking the Arabic name Abdal Hakim Murad. He has studied in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and performed Hajj three times. His day job is lecturing in Islamic studies, but his other passion is the mosque.
A place for Cambridge Muslims to worship in is long overdue. According to the last census in 2011 Anna Puk as writes for Arab News. Cambridge is home to 8,000 Muslims, but that figure fails to take into account overseas students at the two universities(Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin) and 50 language colleges, or the growing number of “new Muslims.”At last count, there were 100,000 Muslim converts in Britain. Cambridge has five mosques, but none is purpose-built and all are too small.
For years, worshippers have made do with rented halls, often spilling out into the corridors or street. So, 10 years ago, Winter established the Cambridge Mosque Trust, a registered charity dedicated to raising funds to build a mosque that was fit for purpose. It was also his idea to make the mosque as “green” as possible. Care for the environment is important in Islam, but the eco-mosque should also keep the bills down, too. In 2008, the trust acquired a one-acre derelictsite for £4million in Mill Road, an area of Cambridge with a significant Muslim population.
The city council unanimously granted planning permission and, in 2009, an international architectural competition was held to find the right design.