Wembley Central Mosque has been closed for the past three weeks due to an ongoing dispute between the mosque committee and worshippers.
In a Facebook post last week the mosque announced that no Jumu’ah prayers would be taking place and any trespassers would be reported to the police.
It said that the committee had been forced to take the decision due to criminal offences, including burglary, committed by the “Do Not Donate” group which encourages worshippers not to give money to the mosque.
5Pillars spoke to supporters of the Do Not Donate campaign and they deny that the group committed any criminal offences.
“Wembley Central Masjid, in its history dating back decades, has never witnessed such incidents within its premises,” the mosque said. “The masjid is closed since 21st Jan 2020 because of people who supported the members of Do not Donate group, who broke into the Masjid office and then hijacked the masjid with the help of their associates, camping for whole night in the main prayer hall.
“The masjid is closed because of Do not Donate group members who were not prepared to listen to the Trustees and police officers but kept on shouting and being totally disruptive forcefully stayed in the masjid for whole night. The severity of the incident can be guessed from the fact that Police arrived at 7:45pm and left next day morning just after 5:00am.
“Masjid is closed because during the night stay Do not Donate group members covered the cameras with black tape, the glue of which damaged the cameras and now it needs to be replaced with the new ones.
“Masjid is closed because cctv system in the masjid office was damaged and digital video recorders were stolen (yes you heard it right stolen from the house of Allah) by no other than Do not Donate group which needs to be replaced with the new ones. Total criminal damages to the masjid is nearly £6800, and counting!!!
“Masjid is closed because members of Do not Donate group have been disruptive with day to day smooth running of the masjid by forcefully making unauthorised announcements, calling in unauthorised speakers and unauthorised individuals leading prayers, unauthorised individuals calling out adhaan, this is not the model how the masjid should be. Not even one single masjid in the world is operating in this way.
“If this Do not Donate group members involved in the burglary cases, assault cases, harassment cases plead guilty, pay for all the damages they have caused and rest of their associates promises to behave Islamically in the masjid and follow the code of conduct respectively then the Wembley Masjid can run smoothly without any incidents or closures.”
“Free and fair elections”
Last year Wembley Central Mosque authorities and congregation members were involved in an extraordinary row involving scores of worshippers and the police. Video emerged of congregation members shouting and pushing and shoving each other inside the mosque after an imam was sacked.
The mosque committee and the imam, Abdul Sattar, had significant differences over how the mosque was run and who was allowed to speak there. 5Pillars understands that the mosque committee wanted to steer the mosque towards a tablighi jamaat direction whereas others wanted a more inclusive approach to reflect Wembley’s diverse Muslim community.
This week 5Pillars spoke to several worshippers who told us that the mosque committee had lost the support of the vast majority of worshippers and should step down.
They also said that the committee has been so financially starved of funds that it can no longer run the masjid properly. They are calling for free and fair elections so that a new committee can be elected, as well as for the reinstatement of Imam Abdul Sattar.
One worshipper, who supports the Do Not Donate campaign, told us: “Since last year the committee has served injunctions on people and sent them threatening legal letters but they seemed to have stopped that now because they have run out of money. In terms of the daily prayers and the khutbas everything is run by the community.
“We need another election but the committee cannot be allowed to manage the election; it has to be more independent than that. We want a mosque for the entire community and not a mosque for a handful. This is not about one sect against another sect; it’s the community versus the committee.”
Regarding the alleged criminal incidents, sources told us that worshippers had forcefully entered the mosque because they believed its closure to be wrong and they left when the police told them to.
However, the source admitted that “some brothers” had removed CCTV recording devices to avoid potential criminal allegations. Some individuals also refused to leave the main prayer hall and covered the CCTV cameras with tape until the police removed them.
But the source added that these were actions by individuals and were not associated with the Do Not Donate campaign.
Wembley Central Mosque has recently released its accounts for the year ending March 2019.
To the annoyance of many worshippers they reveal that £22,000 was transferred from the Sadaqa bank account (which is for restricted funds not meant for general use) to the mosque’s main bank account. The mosque pledged that the money would be transferred back to the Sadaqa bank account within months.
The accounts also reveal that £19,000 was spent on security and £6,500 was spent on legal fees.