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UK Mosque Statistics / Masjid Statistics

as at 5th March 2024

Derived from data listed in the MuslimsInBritain.org Directory of Masjids/Mosques.

© Mehmood Naqshbandi, 2024 www.MuslimsInBritain.org

(This web page is under development, work in progress, 2023. To see the MuslimsInBritain.org published Mosque Statistics Report, go to the website home page instead or download latest report here instead.)

Where appropriate, corresponding figures for the previous statistical summary are provided alongside for comparison.

1     Directory Quality

This section is intended to provide a view of the quality and accuracy of the data that has been collected to provide the MuslimsInBritain.org directory of masjids, and to provide the statistical analysis in subsequent sections below.

1.1     Marker Position Accuracy

This table shows the appropriate level of confidence that the actual premises have been located and are readily identifiable in e.g. Google Streetview or on a Satnav display.
Landmark (PoI) Accuracy Number of Masjids Marked

current 2024 data

2021 data 2019 data 2017 data 2015 data
Within 2 metres 1913 insert data for 2021 1894 1766 1559
Within 5 metres 40 insert data for 2021 40 40 22
Within 10 metres 59 insert data for 2021 56 55 47
Within 20 metres 38 insert data for 2021 38 35 32
Within 30 metres 27 insert data for 2021 27 26 17
Within 50 metres 14 insert data for 2021 13 13 3
By Postcode only 31 insert data for 2021 36 40 63
Total active masjid and prayer room landmarks 2122 insert data for 2021 2104 1975 1743
The 2024 data is calculated dynamically from the current MuslimsInBritain.org database, which was last updated on 26th December 2023. Figures for previous years are snapshots taken around August/September of each year recorded. The historic data in this table has not been updated retrospectively for errors remedied in later years.

The purpose of recording Landmark Accuracy is to provide directory users with a reliability guide when using the website to reach a masjid location - in the less accurate cases, having reached the landmark's location, the user may have to look further to find the actual location.

The purpose of this table is to provide a data quality assessment of the MuslimsInBritain.org database: MuslimsInBritain.org will always attempt to pinpoint the location of every new location notified to us, but the less easily located places will be approximated to until firmer information is provided; typical examples would be of 'quiet rooms' in shopping centres, or cases where much of the information about the masjid is very sketchy. On the MuslimsInBritain.org map feature, when opening up the detailed data for a location, users may move the landmark of any location that is assessed to be less accurate than within 2 metres of its true location, to correct it. If the user then sends an update message from that web page to MuslimsInBritain.org, we will receive the new co-ordinates, re-check them as far as we are able, and update the database to make the correction permanent. Occasionally a fixed marker, i.e. a landmark assessed to be within 2 metres, is incorrect due to a MuslimsInBritain.org misinterpretation, in which case users can still send a narrative update to alert us to the error. In a few cases the position of the landmark has been set so as to avoid SatNav errors, typically by setting the landmark at the entrance to a large site instead of on the main building (such that the SatNav would then guide the user down an unrelated side street).

1.2     Photographs

Whenever the opportunity arises, photographs are collected, of the outside, entrance-way including obstacles or step-free accesses, main musallah, wudhu facilities and other features that allow users to identify the circumstances of the masjid. MuslimsInBritain.org does not use photographs harvested from other websites without permission; photos demonstrate first-hand knowledge of the premises. The aim is to provide a minimum of 3 pictures for each masjid - the outside, making it readily identifiable, the musallah (main prayer room)and the wudhu (washing) room, so that users can judge the size and state of upkeep for themselves.
Photo Status current 2024 data 2021 data 2019 data 2017 data 2015 data
Completed and current 415 insert data for 2021 418 354 211
Outside only, or old 189 insert data for 2021 189 252 243
So far no pictures 1518 insert data for 2021 1497 1369 1289
Total active masjid and prayer rooms 2122 insert data for 2021 2104 1975 1743

1.3     Descriptive Data Confidence

The aim is to provide a reliability guide to the data in the directory. This is work in progress and directory entries are steadily improving to the top two categories. However where first-hand visits were made a long time ago, and aspects that require first-hand assessment have probably changed, an "A" will be downgraded to a "B".
Data Confidence Number of masjids marked

current 2024 data

insert data for 2021 2019 data 2017 data 2015 data
A: Recent and reviewed first hand knowledge. 893 insert data for 2021 897 900 836
B: Well established with plenty of corroboration. 904 insert data for 2021 861 735 603
C: Established, but single source of information. 311 insert data for 2021 321 294 233
D: Several sources of information, none recent or reliable. 30 insert data for 2021 39 39 46
E: Information from a single old or unreliable source. 5 insert data for 2021 8 7 23
Total active masjid and prayer rooms including 21 multi-site premises 2143 insert data for 2021 2104 1975 1743

2     Masjid Institutions, Issues and Demographics

2.1     Masjids and Other Premises used for Salaah

Note that there are slight discrepancies between this data and the other summaries, because this uses a hybrid data set, e.g. if a Hired Hall is hired by a Bareilvi-oriented group, it will be included in the totals under "Masjid Theme" in table 2.4, even though it is not a masjid, but will be a "Hired Hall" in this table. No attempt has been made to gather full figures for "Still under construction" and "Planned or proposed" categories, as data is not easily obtained, and many propositions may be tenuous or short-lived. These categories are more of an aid to retain data on the cases that have remained half-built for a long time due to shortage of funds, or places that have attracted public interest often through misconception.
Type of Premises used for Salaah/Worship Total

current 2024 data

insert data for 2021 2019 data 2017 data 2015 data Explanation
Actual masjids 1858 insert data for 2021 1850 1780 (note 1) 1640 Places established as masjids, "mosques".
Hired halls 147 insert data for 2021 145 131 81 Halls hired for Friday jumu'ah salaah. This is substantially under-reported as arrangements are very localised and often short-term.
Dedicated prayer rooms 40 insert data for 2021 36 55 (note 2) 42 Communal rooms set aside for devotional activities.
Public use contemplation rooms 29 insert data for 2021 28 Public rooms set aside for 'multi-faith' devotional and personal contemplative activities, 'Quiet Rooms' with similar purpose.
Chaplaincies 49 insert data for 2021 49 46 29 Institutional places with facilities for salaah.
Temporary premises 12 insert data for 2021 10 8 1 Masjids in use while projects nearby are completed.
Still under construction 5 insert data for 2021 5 11 5 Significant masjid projects started, not yet open.
Planned or proposed 3 insert data for 2021 3 3 4 Significant masjid projects proposed but unstarted and independent of functioning masjids.
Defunct premises, no longer used as masjid 568 insert data for 2021 536 477 (note 1) 344 Includes former hired halls, places once proposed as masjids and also madrassahs that were formerly used as masjids.
Total landmarks 2711 insert data for 2021 2662 2511 2159
Note 1: There was a significant error in the calculation of previously published figures for 2017 - the total of 1825 'actual masjids' included 45 premises that were in fact defunct.

Note 2: The figures did not distinguish between institutions' prayer rooms in communal spaces dedicated to Muslim devotional needs and 'multi-faith' rooms before 2018.

There is a lot of interest in the growth rate of UK masjids. While there has been a steady pattern of increase of numbers of masjids since the 1970s, a lot of caution is required in interpreting these figures. The figures given are net figures, and need to be considered alongside the relatively large and increasing number of 'defunct' masjid premises. In other words, it is clear that a lot of new masjids are replacements in which masjid organisations move to more suitable premises, and it is often the case that the old premises remain in use for primary-school level madrassah teaching and with ad hoc use for ritual worship. It is important to understand that there is often a significant delay, not unusually of a year or more, between a new premises being established and the information being received by MuslimsInBritain.org - there is no necessary reason for a local masjid management committee to contact MuslimsInBritain.org, or any other directory service, to flag their existence. Also noteworthy is that "Hired Halls" are invariably used only for Jumu'ah Salaah, usually persist for a relatively short time and change address frequently. MuslimsInBritain.org retains each former Hired Hall address in the list of defunct premises, so if an entity changes hall three times, that counts as one "Hired Hall" but three "defunct" locations. It is therefore misleading to interpret the high numbers of 'defunct' locations as any measure of 'winding up'. MuslimsInBritain.org retains the 'defunct' locations and marks them on the map so that users of the directory will learn that a location listed in another source has ceased to be available. Many groups that hire local community facilities for Friday's Jumu'ah Salaah do not need to share that information beyond their local community, so this data may be significantly under-reported in these figures.

The data for 'temporary', 'under construction', 'planned' etc. locations is obviously in a state of flux, insofar as such premises' status is expected to change as development progresses. In most such cases, MuslimsInBritain.org only learns of such locations indirectly - masjid managements have little reason to encourage visitors to work-in-progress building sites, and even temporary premises, e.g. in use while main premises are being rebuilt, are often very cramped, so again there is little desire by managements to promote such venues via MuslimsInBritain.org. Consequently only a relatively few such premises are known to MuslimsInBritain.org and listed.

2.2     Charity Commission and Scottish Charity Commission Links

This work is in progress - many masjids are registered charities whose Reg Number MiB.org has not yet recorded. Therefore growth in the number of charities recorded here may reflect more data accumulated by MuslimsInBritain.org as much as it may reflect increasing numbers of masjids registering a charity.

Total

current 2024 data

insert data for 2021 2019 data 2017 data 2015 data
Listed Masjids with Charity Commission Report: Register of Charities (England & Wales) 656 out of 2033 E&W masjids, prayer rooms etc. i.e. 33% are registered charities. insert data for 2021 604 out of 1951 i.e. 31% 492 out of 1869 i.e. 26% 463 out of 1760 i.e. 26%
Listed Masjids with Charity Commission Report: Scottish Register of Charities 33 out of 102 Scots masjids, prayer rooms etc. i.e. 32% are registered charities. insert data for 2021 31 out of 99 i.e. 31% 20 out of 93 i.e. 21% 18 out of 79 i.e. 22%
UK Totals 689 out of 2135 UK masjids etc. i.e.32% are registered charities. insert data for 2021 635 out of 2050 512 out of 1962 481 out of 1839
These totals include the organisations running actual masjids ('mosques'), dedicated prayer rooms, hiring community halls (not the hall owners, who may also be charities), or using temporary premises specifically for Muslim devotional practice. They exclude multi-faith and other-faith organisations such as chaplaincies and others that provide space than can be used for Muslim devotional practices as well as catering for others.

They do not include masjids in Northern Ireland, Manx or the Channel Islands, none of which are currently registered charities.

They are also per masjid instance, not per charity, e.g. six different masjids associated with one charity will count as 6. They include 619 distinct separate charities associated with 689 individual UK masjids etc. However the degree of relationship between a charity and a masjid management varies considerably: while in many cases the charity trustees may function as the masjid's management committee, in other cases the relationship may be limited to the charity owning key assets e.g. the masjid premises, with less oversight of the running of the masjid, or in providing certain related services, such as a co-located Islamic School; and in some cases, the charity may be associated only through common cause such as propagation of a particular religious order.

2.3     Masjids by Faction, Firqa, Affiliation

Excluded from this table:
  1. masjids for which data confidence (Table 1.3 above) rates E or F, as obviously having low confidence in the base data makes for even lower confidence in the masjid's firqa;
  2. masjids planned or proposed (Table 1.5 above);
  3. chaplaincies and similar communal facilities with no formal imam or whose management is not within the Muslim community;
  4. Eire data is omitted in all the statistics except where stated.
Included in this table:
  1. "Actual Masjids", "Still Under Construction", "Hired Halls", "Temporary" (from table 1.5 above)
  2. masjids with 'Unknown' themes have been divided pro rata;
  3. organisers of ad hoc prayer arrangements such as halls hired for Jumu'ah that follow an explicit 'theme'.

Masjid 'Theme' Total

current 2024 data

current 2024 % of total 2019 Total 2019 % of Total Per annum Changes Sept 2019 to Now 2017 Total 2017 % of Total Per annum Changes Sept 2017 to 2019 2015 Total 2015 % of Total Per annum Changes 2015 to 2017
Sunni - Deobandi 823 42.0% 822 42.3% +0 +0.0% 797 41.2% +36 5% 725 42.5% +36 5%
Sunni - Bareilvi 539 27.5% 532 27.4% +2 +0.3% 459 23.7% +17 4% 426 25% +17 4%
Sunni - Other Sufi 84 4.3% 81 4.2% +1 +0.8% 79 4.1% +6 +8.0% 63 3.7% +8 13%
Sunni - Salafi 200 10.2% 199 10.2% +0 +0.1% 182 9.4% +30 +16.3% 147 8.6% +18 12%
Sunni - Arabic or African Mainstream 67 3.4% 63 3.2% +1 +1.4% 60 3.1% +8 +13.0% 58 3.4% +1 2%
Sunni - Maudoodi-inspired, 'Islamic Movement' 46 2.3% 47 2.4% +0 -0.5% 51 2.6% -8 15.3% 52 3% -1 -1%
Sunni - Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen 14 0.7% 14 0.7% +0 +0.0% 9 0.5% +6 87% 8 0.5% +1 6%
Idiosyncratic or Modernist 6 0.3% 6 0.3% +0 +0.0% 4 0.2% +3 +78% 6 0.4% Not previously distinguished.
Exclusive unaffiliated Sunni 5 0.3% 4 0.2% +0 +5.6% 4 0.2% +0 +0%
Inclusive unaffiliated Sunni 7 0.4% 7 0.4% +0 +0.0% 6 0.3% +2 +26%
Shi'a - Ithna Ashura and other Shi'a 95 4.8% 95 4.9% +0 +0.0% 59 3.1% +55(Note 1) +92.7% 72 4.2% -1 1%
Shi'a - Ismaili 42 2.1% 41 2.1% +0 +0.5% 45 2.3% -5 -10.4%
Shi'a - Bohra 8 0.4% 8 0.4% +0 +0.0% 9 0.5% -2 -17.4%
Ibadi 1 0.1% 1 0.1% +0 +0.0% 1 0.1% 0 +0% Not previously identified.
Non-Muslim, Ahmadiya, Qadiani or 'Nation of Islam' faiths 23 1.2% 23 1.2% +0 +0.0% 25 1.3% -3 -12.5% 23 1.3% +1 4%
Non-denom prayer rooms etc 79 not applicable 77 not applicable +0 +0.6% 144 (including 'multifaith', chaplaincies etc.) 7.4% 127 (including 'multifaith') 7.4%
Non-denom 'multifaith', Chaplaincies etc. 29 not applicable 28 not applicable +0 +0.8%
Low confidence locations 35 n/a 47 not applicable -3 -5.7% not applicable not applicable
Total active masjids and prayer rooms 2068 100%(Note 2) 2049 100% +4 +0.2% 1934 100% +183 +9.5% 1707 100% +114 +7%

Note 1   The reason for the sudden apparent big jump in the number of Shi'a 'Twelvers' masjids is simply that a resource became available in 2018 that enabled MuslimsInBritain.org to learn of a significantly large number of Shi'a masjids and imam barghas of which we were previously unaware. We have not felt it appropriate to single out this statistic for retrospective correction of previous years, although if more historical data can be pooled, corrections may be applied more generally. There is very often some lag between a masjid coming into use and MiB.org learning of it, exacerbated by MiB.org's administrators' Sunni persuasion and the general self-sufficiency of the Shi'a community in propagating knowledge of their limited number of masjids. From MiB.org records, there appear to be 6 Shi'a Twelvers masjids opened in 2017-2018, and 4 in 2015-2016. However MiB.org does not yet have comprehensive sets of opening dates for UK masjids.

Note 2   The percentage figures are percentages of totals of masjids, so are calculated after excluding non-denominational prayer rooms, 'multifaith', chaplaincies etc. but including "Low confidence locations". 'Low confidence' of course includes the possibility of low confidence in the correct ascription of a 'masjid theme'.

Methods, Factions and Description Criteria

While those not initiated into Muslims' relgious rites may consider that "Masjids by Faction, Firqa, Affiliation" merely euphemises 'denomination', in fact there are no formally acknowledged and self-identified denominations in Islam except for the ancient one between Sunnis and Shi'a. Even this distinction really only became enshrined in dogma and doctrine during the 16th Century CE Safavid dynasty in Persia. Prior to that, for example the classic short work of Sunni essential belief, Al-Aqida al Tahawiya, whose eponymous author died in AH 321, 933 CE, lists the five great deviant schisms of his age and before, without ever mentioning Shi'a ta-Ali as a separate religious belief, and the Egyptian Fatimid Caliphate persisted for two centuries as a bastion of the Shi'a party, leaving barely a trace of any distinct Shi'a religious doctrine in Egypt, and without any obvious purge events occuring.

Most factionalisation among Muslims is intentionally pejorative: For example, the term 'Wahhabbi' has no religious grounding - no group of people style themselves 'Wahhabbis', but the doctrine of essential Unity of Allah formulated by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab in 1761 CE is in no way contradicted by the beliefs of any Muslim. His intention emphatically was sectarian, explicitly to provide religious authority behind the Arab movement to oppose the Ottoman rule of the Arabian peninsula, by labelling Turkish mysticism as being an external accretion that amounted to polytheism and falsehood. No doubt much of it was, and still is, not least shows of dervishes put on to entertain tourists; and the Ottoman empire was infamously corrupt, such is the nature of empire. The consequence today is that bodies of Muslims such as the Bareilvi-oriented school, who hold to at least the trappings of mystical ritual, but whose influence has waned in recent decades, is certain that their waning influence is the consequence of "Wahhabbi" propagandising, rather than their own inability to demonstrate value of their more esoteric practices and pass it on to their own offspring. Responding to disparagement by the successors of ibn Abdul Wahhab, they dub themselves as "Sunnis" and everyone who questions their practices, as "Wahhabbis". However, in terms of the essentials of Muslim belief, everyone who believes there is no god but Allah, and that He alone should be worshipped, agrees entirely with the text of Ibn Abdul Wahhab's tract, Kitab ut-Tawheed, and everyone who believes additionally, that Muhammad (S) is the Messenger of Allah, is a Sunni Muslim.

Very few UK masjids have a congregation that is not doctrinally diverse, and there is a certain taboo associated with naming a particular masjid as being of a particular factional denomination. For many worshippers, the only concern is to find a convenient masjid in which to complete one's personal and congregational salaah and return to one's prior affairs without fuss. The idea of denominations among Muslims is often considered offensive: within it is an implication of the firqa an-najaat, the successful faction, in reference to a hadith which described all as being destined for hellfire but for that one (described as 'the people of my Sunnah and my Community' - the ahl as-Sunnah wa'al Jama'ah). However taboo it may be, firstly it is overwhelmingly obvious to any but a very casually observant Muslim that any particular masjid is very clearly an adherent of a particular body of thought such as, for South Asian dominated communities, the Deobandis or the Bareilvis. Secondly the fact of such allegiances not being freely discussed, challenged and opened to a plural community, is a major inhibitor of Muslim community leadership development. MuslimsInBritain.org is keen to call it out and encourage a more tolerant and plural environment within UK masjids. We believe opening up diverse and mutually respectful debate is the necessary first step before it becomes possible to isolate militants and extremists, and exclude them from the same hinterland that is occupied by large numbers of respectable dissenting congregants who themselves don't adhere to their masjid's dominant firqa.

Some of the 'thematic' terms are peculiar to MuslimsInBritain.org and stem from our analysis nuanced by the objective above. So "Idiosyncratic or Modernist" does not mean liberal or tolerant, it means determinedly adopting a position that adherents of most conventional Islamic practice would not recognise. "Exclusive unaffiliated Sunni" covers masjids that recognise that factionalism is a problem, but tackle it by denying any opportunity to address anything that is either for or against individual firqas. "Inclusive unaffiliated Sunni" is the opposite, and for Sunnis at least, a stylisation that MuslimsInBritain.org would be keen to promote.

Shi'a by contrast, do not have the same taboos over factions. Most observant Shi'a "Twelvers", ithna-ashura, tend to affiliate with individual imams of individual masjids.

A quantitative study that formed part of an academic paper (Ron Geaves (2008): Drawing on the Past to Transform the Present: Contemporary Challenges for Training and Preparing British Imams , Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 28:1, 99-112) determined from a telephone survey of circa 300 UK masjids (out of 537 that were attempted to be contacted), that, "Unsurprisingly the vast majority of the imams were of South Asian background. Nearly half originated in Pakistan (49.3%) and when this was added to the Bangladeshi (19.4%) and Indian totals (15.0%), an overwhelming majority of 83.7% of imams were South Asian. Only 8.5% or 25 imams were from other backgrounds which included Arab, African and Turkish origins, and 24 imams (8.1%) were born and educated in the UK." These figures echo the fact that the majority of UK Muslims have a South Asian heritage, but much more significantly these figures and the rest of the paper from which they were drawn, show how much UK Muslim institutions amplify the predominant Islamic institutions of the Indian sub-continent, the traditions of Deoband and Bareilli madrassahs overwhelmingly predominant, and almost all UK madrassah education from widespread primary-level to the small number of UK Dar-ul-uloom, being firmly rooted in the Dars-e-Nizami curriculum.

It is no surprise to find that the foregoing correlates strongly with MuslimsInBritain.org data, that the numbers of UK masjids whose rituals are characterised by the Deobandi or Bareilvi styles of worship are the overwhelming majority, and that other Sufi traditions represented, are also similarly characteristic. Non-Bareilvi Sufi practices are typically less flamboyant and charismatic, and many are hard to distinguish from Deobandi norms without some prior knowledge of from where their inspiration is drawn. Even those who stress civic and political engagement, in particular the Maudoodi-inspired 'Islamic Movement', Jama'at-e-Islami, are hard to distinguish from Deobandi stylisations, and anecdotally, the majority of 'Islamic Movement'-flavoured masjids seem to actually employ Deobandi-oriented imams, for all their deep mutual resentments.

MuslimsInBritain.org's attribution of what we circumspectly describe as 'theme', the style of ritual that one will observe on visiting a particular masjid, is:

    Sunni Traditions

  1. Sunni - Deobandi

  2. In many respects the masjids that reflect Deobandi styles of religious practice are the least distinct and least easily distingushed by externally identifiable criteria. A small number of masjids define themselves explictly as Deobandi-oriented, however this is exceptional. The Deobandi ethos is 'essentialism', concentrating on the basic essential beliefs and practices of Islam - tawhid - Islamic monotheism, and salaah - the obligatory five times daily worship with a strong emphasis on its performance in the masjid. The Deobandi principle is that all else is secondary to these two fundamentals and will follow inevitably if core belief and regular daily worship have strong foundations. From this perspective, political engagement, social activities, propagation of Islam to non-Muslims and even the Muslim spiritual devotions, are distractions from the work of ensuring Muslims have correct belief and regular salaah. All Deobandi-oriented masjids are empathetic with and will facilitate Tablighi Jama'at activities, and few other masjids do. Tablighi Jama'at is the grass-roots modus operandi of propagation of Deobandi principles. Deobandi practice is widespread in the whole Indian subcontinent, but is particularly well established among Indians originating from Gujerati state who subsequently migrated to east, central and southern Africa before moving to the UK in post-colonial times.

  3. Sunni - Bareilvi

  4. Bareilvi practice is distinguished by its emphasis on a form of charismatic spiritualism, in which Sufi mystical beliefs and the devotional links they imply, are given prominence. While almost all Islamic practices have Sufi influences and even roots (though hotly , questions over definitions of mystical elements of Islam, and polemical debates, hide this fact from both observers and practitioners. The Bareilvi Bareilvi practices predominate in the localities from which the majority of UK Pakistanis originate, namely Mirpur and Jhelum, adjacent districts but in the provinces of Kashmir and Punjab respectively, separated by around 30 miles and the Jhelum river. UK Pakistani migration was triggered originally as a consequence of the construction of the Mangla Dam nearby and the displacement it caused. Most of the masjids established in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s were set up either by Indian Gujerati or Pakistani Mirpuri/Jhelumi migrants, the former mostly with a Deobandi ethos and the latter mostly with a Bareilvi ethos.
  5. Sunni - Other Sufi

  6. Sunni - Salafi

  7. Sunni - Arabic or African Mainstream

  8. Sunni - Maudoodi-inspired, 'Islamic Movement'

  9. The Pakistan-based Jama'at Islami, translated according to their own preference as 'Islamic Movement', has maintained a presence in the UK since the 1960s, so many of its UK masjids are among the oldest. However during that time its reach has remained relatively static, and in recent years circa 2018 onwards, its affiliations have slightly shrunk. The UK movement has numerous stylings, though they are all openly linked, e.g. the core body Islamic Foundation in Markfield near Leicester, various UK Islamic Mission -styled masjids, Islamic Society of Britain etc. The principle characteristics of the masjids are the same stress on pressure-group methods of social organisation and the emphasis on structured organisation, and the involvement of a particular, now somewhat ageing, generation of Pakistani-heritage Muslim intellectuals and professionals. While many of the early wave of masjids established in the UK served the needs of primarily industrial labour originating from villages displaced by the massive Mangla Dam project in Mirpur and Jhelum, these Muslims had a cultural heritage strongly associated with Bareilvi practices. Many of the much smaller number of more highly educated Pakistani migrants who took up, or aspired to, jobs in the professions, were sceptical of the transferability of that form of Islam within the UK and were keen to promote a more reasoned and intellectually based form of Islam. Many also had familiarity and degrees of sympathy with the work of Abul A'la Maudoodi (d. 1979) for similar reasons. As a consequence, there was an attempt during the 1960s and 1970s to set up a loosely connected network of masjids that would provide a means to propagate this more 'rational' interpretation of Islam and actively engage with the wider community. That had limited success due probably to their marginalisation by the much more rapid growth of Deobandi and Bareilvi oriented masjids around the UK, and by the relatively limited human resources available to them - there are only a handful of imams in the UK with a formal qualification who align themselves with Jama'at Islami thinking. Nevertheless successive generations continue to be involved in numerous UK Muslim organisations and pressure groups, far more in number than any of the other entities that influence British Islam. Identifying masjids with Maudoodi-inspired, 'Islamic Movement' characteristics presents MuslimsInBritain.org with the opposite problem to most other 'themes' and factions - their fondness for formal and networked organisation presents a plethora of lists of affiliates and contacts, so the problem has been to identify and remove those that are not functioning as masjids and which are either merely local supporters' contact addresses or completely defunct. Of the active masjids, many employ imams from the Deobandi tradition, and these masjids could reasonably be considered therefore to be 'Deobandi', but typically the continued presence of a strongly 'Islamic Movement'-oriented management would lose quantitative information about the range of influence that Maudoodi's Islamic Movement has in the UK. In practice, most users desiring to know the style of worship practised in a particular masjid would either understand or not care that they would expect to see Deobandi-endorsed practices in a Maudoodi-oriented masjid. From the masjid's perspective, Islamic Movement's adherents are generally keen to promote a wider, less sectarian presentation of Islam and most of the resistance to that is rooted in religiously principled objections to some things that Maudoodi wrote (concerning fallibility in the orthodox canon), or to suspicions of the motives of 'Islamic Movement' supporters, or in most cases, protection of their own sectarian sphere of influence. In recent data (2018 onwards) there have been instances where MuslimsInBritain.org has been contacted by representatives of a masjid to state that while 'Islamic Movement' interests previously controlled the masjid, their declining presence has been superseded by others witha different perspective such that the masjid's theme should be changed. This reflects the observation that 'Islamic Movement' influence in the UK is particular to a generation that is now waning in numbers and presence.
  10. Sunni - Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen

  11. The Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwaan ul Muslimeen, has a limited but fairly stable presence in the UK since the 1970s. Its concerns have mainly been with welfare and da'wah among students in the UK from countries where the Ikhwaan has a significant presence, in particular Egypt, and that activity was at its height in the 1980s and since has been largely static. When the 'Satanic Verses' affair occurred it took a role in addressing the need to find some coherent UK Muslim leadership (a need that was expressly requested by the Conservative Foreign Secretary at the time, Douglas Hurd). Accordingly it formed the Muslim Association of Britain, comprising a network of Ikhwaan-oriented, Arabic heritage Muslim intellectuals in the UK. Only the MAB and the Islamic Foundation and its consanguinous organisations could at this time claim to have any form of pressure-group type of political engagement in the UK, so it was inevitable that these two bodies should form the organisational core of what became the Muslim Council of Britain, though the MCB has openly strived to expand its coverage to include Islamic entities of all persuasions. Meanwhile the Ikhwaan-oriented masjids have remained at approximately the same numbers and level of activity from the 1980s till now. Most adopted the 'Muslim Welfare House' epithet and charity affiliation, and most are located close to the universities of their host towns. All the Ikhwaan-related masjids have been identified through their nomenclature and public affiliations, backed up by personal visits to most and a previously published list of MAB affiliates whose leaf-node pages still exist (in 2020) such as https://www.mabonline.net/locations/muslim-welfare-house-of-london/, but which are currently detached from the parent website.

    The 'unaffiliated' Sunni Masjids

    "Sunni" is specified because we assert that the UK Sunni Muslim community has urgent and very specific problems caused by its reluctance to address its internal sectarianism. By contrast, the major Shi'a sub-sects are invariably explicit and openly self-identifying. They also have substantial differences in core belief and mode of practice between themselves, so that there is little contention over claims to any Shi'a-specific 'mainstream'. In contrast, in Sunni Islam, there is deep and wide contention for claims to represent 'mainstream' Sunni orthodoxy, at every level. 'Inclusive'/'Exclusive'/'unaffiliated' attributes represent our attempt to describe the way in which masjids who can demonstrate that they do not reproduce the distinct modes of worship of a particular Sunni sect. 'Exclusive' ones do so by excluding any activity, event or endorsement of any distinct sect or practice, and whose form of ritual worship retains only the most basic core of fiqh of salaah. 'Inclusive' ones do so by being able to demonstrate not only a variety of hosted events that cover the spectrum of Sunni practice - Sufi, Tablighi, Salafi, political, etc., but also make provision for devotional practices within the masjid in the manner of different sects, e.g. with guest or established imams representing each different style of practice.

    The difficulty for determining how to classify any particular masjid lies in the way that masjid managements that emphasise their supposed freedom from sectarian association still fail to recognise and address their differences in ways that are mutually respectful, mutually tolerant and willing to engage in open debate, just as the more readily identifiable sectarian affiliate masjids do, and just as do those who propagate exclusively the modes of one particular sect, Deobandi, Bareilvi or Salafi, or one ethnic heritage, while claiming they have no affiliation. Sectarian divisions are not a problem in themselves - they are inevitable - but the problem lies in the community's inability to recognise and accommodate them. The way in which masjids are controlled along sectarian lines forces any and all dissenters and malcontents to propagate their contrary views out of sight. This in turn undermines trust, makes it hard to identify and counter militant propagation while normalising propagation of discourse in covert forums or latterly unmediated over the internet. That is why recognition and accommodation of sectarian differences is vital to the health of the UK's Muslim community.

  12. Idiosyncratic or Modernist
  13. A very small number of masjids promote particular, often unique, interpretations of Islamic belief and principle that are substantially different to any kind of orthodoxy. Usually this is a result of a single individual's iconoclastic views on some major element of the practice of the faith, and typically is intended to propagate a view of Islam that aligns with the most liberal views of wider society. However laudable it may be to extend the Muslim community's engagement with wider society, the masjids with the characteristics that identify them as 'Idiosyncratic or Modernist' are ones that have failed to bring any but a very modest number of close followers along with them. Were it otherwise, the same iconoclasts would have made visible inroads into the main body of Muslim orthodoxy, such that it would be possible for MuslimsInBritain.org to identify multiple masjids with a distinct and recognisable epithet other than 'idiosyncratic' or 'modernist'. Instead each of these small number of masjids is located, and functions, very much detached from other masjids in the area. There is no network of 'modernist' masjids or imams or adherents to a commonly held Islamic perspective. 'Modernist' in this context does not necessarily mean liberal in terms of social values - it does mean intentionally detached from 'traditional', severed from the lines of theological teaching that root Islamic belief and practice in the early generations of the followers of the Prophet (S), and substitute it with the prefered interpretations of canonical text by the particular organisation's primary thinker. Masjids that fall into this category are usually readily identified by the efforts they make to publicise their very idiosyncracies, supported with outspoken and unusual expressions of opinion on controversial matters.
  14. Exclusive unaffiliated Sunni

  15. Some masjids do recognise the problems posed by ingrained Sunni sectarianism, often through previous unpleasant experience of rival factions within their own masjid e.g. engaged in hostile attempts to take over the running of the masjid. The response of such masjids is to restrict activities within the masjid to the extent that no activities at all take place that have theologically specific content, except for performance of the routine five times daily salaah, and this without any of the features that are endorsed by particular madrassas (such as collective du'ah after jama'at) or interpretations of fiqh of salaah that accord with a distinct practice other than the core fiqh of the madhaab that predominates in the community that runs the masjid. In most examples this will be Hanafi fiqh for a predominantly south Asian congregation, because these 'exclusiveness' indicators also feature in some 'Arabic mainstream' designated masjids, but it is harder to distinguish them there as explicitly exclusive because of the relative heterogeneity of Arabic heritage congregations - that cultural diversity itself makes it hard for masjid managements to impose restrictions on ad hoc religious gatherings and makes it hard for the observer to distinguish between encouraged and discouraged discourse within the masjid. MuslimsInBritain.org identifies 'Exclusive unaffiliated Sunni' masjids usually through first-hand observation, since their distinguishing features are the absence of distinguishing features associated with any particular firqa, combined with the absence of any distinguishing routine in devotional practice and the absence of any public record of hosting of notable events engaging speakers of specific affiliation. Personal visits often also reveal the presence of notices forbidding 'unauthorised' activities.
  16. Inclusive unaffiliated Sunni

  17. 'Inclusive and unaffiliated' represents MuslimsInBritain.org's gold standard for masjid managament. Elsewhere we have repeatedly ascribed Muslim community to the exclusive way in which masjids are managed, in which far more often than not the interests of one particular ethnic group (and the older generations of it to boot), one particular mode of devotional practice and one particular madrassah's scholarship are propagated with all other forms discouraged, disparaged and actively shunned. The consequences for the ordinary users of most masjids are that there is no opportunity to engage in open, respectful and reasoned discourse, and no opportunity to influence the kinds of activities that take place and that would address the needs of newcomers and converts.

    For a masjid to be recorded as "Inclusive, unaffiliated", it must be able to demostrate publicly accessible sources of its means of governance and be able to show that these are being implemented regularly. It must be able to demonstrate that it hosts a wide range of guest visitors or events that are associated with multiple forms of devotional practice across distinctly different Islamic traditions. It must be able to demonstrate that key roles in the running of the masjid are taken up by people from substantially different ethnic backgrounds. It would give MuslimsInBritain.org enormous satisfaction to be able to report increasing numbers of masjids fulfilling these criteria. While we receive a stream of claims to that effect, it is rare for any of the claims to be supported with evidence. To achieve this categorisation, MuslimsInBritain.org examines any information about the masjid that is in the public domain that demonstrates diversity in the range of religious functions held at the masjid, accessible, recognisable and inclusive modes of governance and diversity in the ethnic heritage of key people running the masjid and its religious functions.

    Shi'a Traditions

    While individual Shi'a Muslims may have their own opinions regarding Muslim sects and their own affiliations, it is generally true that all Shi'a are self-identifying as Shi'a and observant Shi'a Muslims will happily identify with a particular sect within Shi'a Islam. Thus it has not been necessary or appropriate for MuslimsInBritain.org to attempt to distinguish sects or styles of worship from imputed assumptions, Shi'a affiliations are mostly declared explicitly.
  18. Shi'a - Ithna Ashura and other Shi'a

  19. Shi'a Ithna Ashura ('Twelvers' after the successive 12th imam or khalifa) are the predominant Shi'a presence in the UK. As with all the other Shi'a sects, they are mostly self-identifying, so there are no imputed associations in the statistics. However there are a few Shi'a locations that do not explicitly describe themselves as Ithna Ashura and for which no other identifying characteristics have been found, though MuslimsInBritain.org believes it very likely that these are also Ithna Ashura. Accordingly this element is decribed as 'Ithna Ashura and other Shi'a'. Most Ithna Ashura congregations tend to be strongly associated with an individual imam based at a specific imam bargha and masjid, with congregants travelling there in preference to a geographically nearer masjid, unlike Sunni practitioners who may or may not maintain a particular practice but will generally use the nearest local masjid that accords with their preferred style of worship.
  20. Shi'a - Ismaili

  21. Ismailis are invariably self-identifying and distinct from other sects. They have a very distinct form of religious ceremonial practice which centres on rituals on a Thursday night, for which their organisations have established 'jama'at khanas' - literally congregation rooms (Arabic/Urdu and Farsi/Urdu etymology respectively). The term jama'at khana is common to South Asian Muslims, but only the Ismailis use it as the primary term to define their places of worship. This makes Ismaili locations relatively easy to distinguish, aided by a catalogue of locations listed on the ismaili.net website. Many jama'at khanas are public halls hired only for Thursday nights.
  22. Shi'a - Bohra

  23. The Dawoodi Bohra sect is self identifying and distinct, including from other Ismaili-rooted groups. Its locations in the UK have been identified primarily from information in Bohra-related websites or explicitly in the name of the organisation responsible for maintaining a given masjid. In common with some of the thinly distributed groups, some of the locations listed may be family homes that are periodically used to host collective worship.
  24. Ibadi

  25. The Ibadi community is very small and specific. Its extant roots are in Oman, Tunisia and Zanzibar, and its UK focus is around Barking in East London. The Ibadi congregation is unambiguously self-identifying and theologically evolved from the Khwararij. Its visibly identifying hallmark is allegiance to specific historical figures, in particular Jabir ibn Zayd.
  26. Non-Muslim, Ahmadiyya, Qadiani or 'Nation of Islam' faiths

  27. The Ahmadiyya sect is a homogeneous and close-knit sect whose adherents are kept fully informed from their own sources about their religious facilitities, and indeed enforce segregation between their adherents and Muslims, through entrance guards on their gates tasked with preventing Muslims from entering. Since circa 2020 their followers have been issued with identity cards! They are unambiguously self-identifying. Therefore the only value for MuslimsInBritain.org to record data associated with Ahmadiyya, is for academic purposes.

    The rationale for including Ahmadiyya and Nation of Islam in the statistics is contentious. This website is not intended to discuss theological matters, so the issues over the difference in belief between Ahmadiyya, Nation of Islam and Muslims is not a subject to be debated here - there are plenty of other places on the web where this is discussed in depth. In our current context, the most important distinction is that unlike all Muslim places of worship, Ahmadiyya places of worship are closed to Muslims and the small number of such places in active use have rigorous security barriers preventing Muslims from entering. (This is a situation that has persisted from the beginning of the Ahmadiyya presence in the UK, not a response to the relatively recent and isolated case of the murder of an Ahmadiyya shopkeeper in Glasgow in 2016 - by a visitor from Pakistan.) It is a moot point whether or not to describe the buildings as 'mosques', since the buildings themselves could equally serve the needs of anyone who was able to gain access, but the very fact of highly visible and uncompromising measures to deny Muslims the use of Ahmadiyya premises is a strong pretext for describing them as something other than 'mosque' or masjid, irrespective of theological matters. Given the Ahmadiyya's close historical and theological parallel with the Baha'i movement, and the Baha'i's respected transparancy and inclusivity, there might be an argument for including Baha'i premises statistics in these statistics, but the Baha'i explicitly ceased to claim affinity with Islam at around the same time that the Ahmadiyya first emerged, the 1880s. The reason for inclusion of Ahmadiyya and Nation of Islam figures in the statistics and identifying them on the map, is that these two organisations claim to have a Muslim following in the UK and use that claim to propagate their interests in laying claim to public positions, resources and influence in such a way as to obstruct Muslim access to those positions, resources and modes of influence. This invariably intentionally misleading and reflected (trivially other than for the innocently misdirected) for example in local signposting to "The Mosque" that in fact signposts a local Ahmadiyya complex. Slightly differently, the Nation of Islam enjoins an explicitly racial identity for its range of interests, and that is similarly at odds with the Muslim corpus. It is therefore helpful for policy makers and researchers to have a quantified reference with which to scale Ahmadiyya and Nation of Islam presence in the community.

  28. Non-denom prayer rooms etc

  29. These are places in public places or widely accessible communal facilities that are explicitly set aside for Muslim devotions, but which aren't under Muslim community management, for example in universities and hospitals. Their distinguishing features are that they are set out for salaah, shoe-free and hopefully with ritual washing facilities, but they do not have any imam or formalised control of the mode of worship. Some examples such as exist at several Motorway service stations are provided through a Muslim community benefactor.
  30. Non-denom 'multifaith', chaplaincies etc.

  31. MuslimsInBritain.org lists communal and public places that have been reserved for religious observance, spiritual and personal reflection, where there is a clear understanding that these are available for Muslims to perform ritual salaah. We do not seek to maintain a comprehensive directory of these, but when we come across them we do include them. Examples include "quiet rooms" in shopping complexes, chaplaincies and 'multifaith' rooms in hospitals, airports and other public places, and other similar, signposted facilities.
  32. Low confidence locations

  33. MuslimsInBritain.org rates the quality of information known about a masjid on a scale from A to F. This bracket counts all the locations listed on the dirtory that are rated D, E or F, signifying degrees of aged or unreliably-sourced or uncertain information, such as references to an entity that might have closed down or only ever been temporary.

2.4     Women's participation by Masjid 'Theme'

From the data below, nearly three quarters of UK masjids have facilities for women. However many smaller masjids have very limited facilities for women. For adherents to some doctrines, this is not an issue, e.g. women adhering to highly orthodox versions of Deobandi practice may have no more desire to attend a masjid than to grow a beard. Nevertheless the issue remains open for the remainder of the community, and the facilities that are claimed to be available are often subject to caveats, e.g. they may for example only be available for Jumu'ah, or alternatively may be given over to men at Jumu'ah. They may or may not include women's toilets or ablutions, space may be inadequate or out of communication with the main musallah, or may be inaccessible to those with limited mobility. Smaller masjids often are hard-pressed to provide more than rudimentary facilities for men, so that duplicating the necessary facilities - a separate musallah space, separate toilets and wudhu (ritual ablution) facilities, etc., is often beyond their means even if it is among their intentions.

Women in the Masjid,

by Theme

% with women's facilities

current 2024 data

Number of masjids in survey % with women's facilities

2021 data

Number of masjids in survey 2021 % with women's facilities

2019 data

Number of masjids in survey 2019 % with women's facilities

2017 data

Number of masjids in survey 2017 % with women's facilities

2015 data

Number of masjids in survey 2015
Deobandi 47.7% 248 out of 520 (from 823 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 49% 533 50% 507
Bareilvi 84.2% 246 out of 292 (from 539 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 84% 292 83% 288
Other Sufi 65.2% 30 out of 46 (from 84 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 60% 43 59% 41
Salafi 96% 120 out of 125 (from 200 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 96% 112 95% 102
Arabic or African Sunni mainstream 92.5% 49 out of 53 (from 67 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 92% 49 92% 48
Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen 83.3% 10 out of 12 (from 14 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 75% 8 83% 6
Maudoodi-inspired, 'Islamic Movement' 94.6% 120 out of 37 (from 46 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 95% 40 90% 40
Shi'a Ithna Ashura, Bohra, Ismaili etc. 100% 54 out of 54 (from 95 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 100% 99 100% 44
Not yet determined theme (invariably a Sunni firqa) 69.4% 86 out of 124 (from 252 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 63% 146 59% 105
Overall figure 72.1% 1002 out of 1390 (from 2068 total) insert data for 2021 insert data for 2021 insert data for 2019 insert data for 2019 72% 1466 70% 1243

3     Masjids and Political Geography

3.1     Masjids by UK Province

Type of Premises used for Salaah/Islamic Worship Total

current 2024 data

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland Manx and Channel Islands
Actual masjids 1858 1717 42 92 5 2
Hired halls 147 146 0 0 0 1
Dedicated prayer rooms 40 35 1 4 0 0
Public use contemplation rooms 29 26 1 2 0 0
Chaplaincies 49 45 0 4 0 0
Temporary premises 12 11 1 0 0 0
Still under construction 5 4 1 0 0 0
Planned or proposed 3 3 0 0 0 0
Total places available for Salaah 2143 1987 46 102 5 3
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