Archbishop’s visit to Dawoodi Bohra Mosque

During two days of inter faith visits on 6 and 7 May, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams visited the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque, Northolt, and the Jain Temple at the Oshwal Centre, Potters Bar. These visits gave the Archbishop an opportunity to recognise the large contribution these two small religious groups have made to the wider faith community, and to society as a whole. The Christian Muslim Forum gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support of the Dawoodi Bohra community from 2006 to the present.

On Thursday the Archbishop visited as guest of honour, Al Masjid al Husaini, in Northolt, the largest Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in the western world and beautifully constructed in the Fatimid style. This was preceded by a visit to the local parish church of St Mary and St Nicholas, in Northolt, where the Archbishop admired the recent restoration work.  The vicar, the Revd Greville Thomas accompanied the Archbishop on his visit to the masjid along with the Rt Revd Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston and Chair of the Christian Muslim Forum.

On arrival he was welcomed by His Highness Prince Ezzuddin and His Highness Prince Badruddin, sons of His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohras.  His Holiness was himself able to be present to greet the Archbishop, being on a visit to the United Kingdom from the community’s centre in India. Dr Williams was also introduced to dignitaries and trustees and members of the community by the President, Dr. Zainuddin.

The Archbishop gave an address, during which he recognised the strong contribution of the Dawoodi Bohra to good relations with other faiths and particularly to the Christian Muslim Forum, and to British society generally. ‘It has been a great grace and blessing to once again meet His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.  It has been an inspiration to see signs of his work, his teaching and his example in his immediate family and his wider family which is the community here. I hope and trust that we shall continue our friendship based on the love that God has shown us.  A love that allows us to enrich one another with the gifts God gives us.’

The Archbishop visited the Madrasah which provides religious and cultural education for the community’s children where he met current students and teachers.  He then attended an exhibition in the courtyard displaying key areas of interest highlighting the Islamic Faith, the community’s main infrastructure and the cultural and social activities intrinsic to the Dawoodi Bohra community.  He was also invited to plant a tree in the grounds.

As part of his ongoing support of smaller faith communities represented in the Inter Faith Network for the UK, the Archbishop will be visiting the Zoroastrians in October.

More about the Dawoodi Bohras

  • The Dawoodi Bohras number approximately 1 million worldwide, roughly 6,000 of whom live in the UK, with over half living in London.
  • As an honoured guest of the Mosque, the Archbishop was presented with a traditional shawl in recognition of his visit.
  • The Bohras are under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin,  based in Mumbai but who visits the UK regularly.
  • The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited Al Masjid al Husaini in February 2009.