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24 September 2014
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Voices: Our Untold Stories »Asian Stories
Mahmood Moolla

Mahmood Moolla

Born in Burma, Mahmood Moolla is secretary of the Gloucestershire Islamic Trust and played an important role in the foundation of Gloucester's second mosque.

Mahmood Moolla values good relations with non-Muslims

There is only one minaret in Gloucester. It towers above the striking green dome of Jama Al-Karim Mosque in All Saints Road. It serves an aesthetic function only.

A minaret's true function, of course, is for the faithful to be called to prayer and this is how it would be used in any Muslim country.

quote
Mahmood personally accumulated £100,000 from donations in South Africa and his Trust colleagues amassed funds nationally and internationally from Canada, USA, Panama, and Barbados. quote
Our Untold Stories

Mahmood Moolla, the honorary secretary of the Gloucestershire Islamic Trust, values the harmonious relationship with the surrounding non-Muslim residents as a far more important goal.

Councillor Hugh Goodwin, at a meeting of council planners, was quoted as saying: "If the Church of England can have midnight mass with organs blasting forth and bells being rung at all hours of the day and night, I can't see why there would be any problem with this."

Local residents who were consulted articulated noise pollution as their chief concern. They needn't have worried. As well as the minaret's non-use, the walls are soundproofed.

Today most Muslim households have a radio, and calls to prayer and lectures are broadcast this way.

Mahmood arrived in England in 1968 with little more than the clothes he wore. Three generations of his family had lived in Myanmar (formerly Burma) as entrepreneurs with scattered business interests and Mahmood presided as manager of a shoe factory.

Jama al Karim mosque
Jama al Karim Mosque in All Saints Road

The government nationalised all industry and businesses in 1962. The resulting hardship to the family saw his wife and children relocate to India for several years. They were not permanently reunited until 1971.

Mahmood heard the many calls for a second mosque as early as 1975, when the Gloucestershire Islamic Trust was formed. A derelict warehouse in All Saints Road, purchased for £9,500, served as the prayer hall and a school for children.

The building was demolished in 1984 and the new mosque sporting a dome and minaret emerged in 1985.

Jama al Karim mosque
Inside the Jama al Karim Mosque

During construction the prayer hall and school temporarily transferred to a new property on Barton Street, formerly a TV rental shop.

Construction on the building stalled during the two-year assembly for a simple reason: mounting inflation.

Mahmood personally accumulated £100,000 from donations in South Africa and his Trust colleagues amassed funds nationally and internationally from Canada, USA, Panama, and Barbados.

quote
Learning is a prized commodity in Islamic society and the Madressah School tutors 150 children under the guidance of six teachers.quote
Our Untold Stories

A philanthropist, promising to pay full financial costing until work completion, averted the crisis. The gentleman's total contribution amounted to £370,000 and the final total for the entire project was £660,000. Mahmood believes a similar project today would easily treble this figure.

The king of Saudi Arabia posted the Chief Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheik Abdullah Subaiyel, for the Jama Al-Karim grand opening on Good Friday 28th March 1986.

One Labour councillor declared the polished new Jama Al-Karim Mosque as Gloucester's "Jewel in the Crown".

Mahmood likes to cultivate learning and smiles when he says that he can count an engineer, a doctor and a biochemist among his grandchildren.

Learning is a prized commodity in Islamic society and the Madressah School tutors 150 children under the guidance of six teachers.

Incredibly, no fees are charged for Islamic activities. There are occasional lectures from eminent international speakers and Mahmood believes the way to integrate with the local community peaceably is the most prized and valuable lesson.

» See 'The Gujarati Muslim Community'

This article is user-generated content (ie external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.
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MORE ASIAN STORIES
Asian colour montage
Introduction
An historical perspective
Gloucester's Islamic roots
Gujarati Muslim community
» Mahmood Patel
» Ebrahim Surty
» Mahmood Moolla
» Salim Kholwadia
Shia Muslim community
» Gulam Musa
Hindu community
» Ramjibhi Popat
» Maniben Patel
» Nandiben Patel
» Lalubhai Patel
» Gulabbhai Patel
Bangladeshi community
» Badsha Meah
» Amzad Ali
» Mohibul Hussain
» Mohibur Rahman
» Waris Ali
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» Haris Ali
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» Ehsan-Ul-Haq
» Mohamed Sharif
» Babar Vaqas
Sikh Punjabi community
» Avatar Duggal
» Harjit Singh Gill
Christian community
» Manny Masih
Roshni Women's Centre
Gymnation
Parmjit Dhanda MP
The first Asian doctors
Islamic Girls' School
Harry Worrall
About the Authors
» Umara Hussain
» Lalit Dandiker
» Mohammed Hansdat
» Sakina Choudhury
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