The British Mosque: An Architectural and Social History by Shahed Saleem – review

The architect and academic’s thoughtful survey explains why mosque builders in Britain generally stick to the tried and tested

“Mosque design,” says academic and Muslim convert Tim Winter, “has historically reflected the local cultures of the Muslim world. A mosque in Java bears no resemblance to a mosque in Bosnia, or a mosque in Senegal.” The question underlying The British Mosque, by the architect and academic Shahed Saleem, is, then, what one should look like in Britain.

There are an estimated 1,500 mosques in Britain, most of them built in the last decade or so. Some have become landmarks, their domes and minarets rising above the brick terraces of old industrial towns such as Blackburn and Sheffield, or cathedral cities like Gloucester and Peterborough, wherever there is a Muslim population large enough to support them. They are objects of speculation and debate, their interiors mysterious to many non-Muslims, ...