The mosque in the suburbs: Negotiating religion and ethnicity in South London

Simon Naylor, James R. Ryan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The geography of religion for UK residents of South Asian origin is inexorably linked to the politics of the built environment. In particular, the siting, or expansion, of places of worship for minority-religious groups has often been bound up with the negotiation and contestation of the politics of identity. In this paper we explore the historical unfolding of a complex politics of identity and difference across one particular site of religious worship. The building in question is the London Fazl Mosque, London's first mosque. The paper focuses on two periods in the architectural, social and religious life of the site: its initial planning, opening and use in the London suburbs of the 1920s; and the community's more recentߞand ultimately unsuccessfulߞattempts to extend the mosque in the 1990s. Across these two periods we draw out the ways in which notions of similarity and difference were employed by mosque-users, other local residents, the press and local and central government bodies in their discourse relating to the mosque. In particular we are concerned with how the mosque has meant different things to different religious, ethnic and social groups across the period under study, and how the mosque's relative ability to conform to associative aesthetic valuations throughout its history effectively sanctioned as well as condemned building works.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-59
    Number of pages21
    JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2002


    • THEORY of knowledge (Religion)
    • LONDON (England)
    • Empire
    • Mosque
    • Planning
    • Suburbs


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