Intriguing visit to the historic Shah Jahan Mosque

Iman Hashmi and his wife Kawther, Faith Links Adviser at the Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum, kept Dr Llewelyn and her husband spellbound as they explained the history of the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking.

The couple knew little about the UK’s oldest mosque and Surrey’s largest before their visit.  It was built in 1889 by Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, an enlightened British Jewish orientalist, educationalist and linguist from a Hungarian family. Sadly, Leitner died before he could fulfil his dream of adding a Hindu temple and synagogue to the site.

Today, the mosque is the only one in the country to be Grade I listed. Dr Llewelyn said: “The mosque administers to a very active and thriving local Muslim community. Throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, they actively encouraged Muslims to get the vaccine and became an official NHS vaccination centre for the entire community. In doing so, they introduced this intriguing mosque to many people who did not know it existed.”

Following her guided tour of the mosque, Dr Llewelyn visited the nearby Muslim Peace Garden. The tranquil site was built as a burial ground for Muslim soldiers in World War I and had an equally absorbing history.