Muslim leaders are to be allowed to run a mosque in London.
The first mosque in the capital will be opened by imam Ibrahim Mokhtar, who has been described as “one of the most respected Muslims of his generation”.
His name is not listed in the register of London’s most senior imams but he is the only one in the Islamic faith who is not a member of a state organisation.
He will become the first mosque leader to have a role in London’s new mosque, which will be run by the London Islamic Society.
Its leader, Mohammed Ali, has said the mosque will be a centre for “reconciliation, healing and mutual understanding”.
The London Islamic Association said the move to open the mosque was “a positive step” in building up ties with communities in the city.
“The mosque will have a central place for community meetings, social events and interfaith dialogue,” said the association.
It added that the mosque would “strengthen the bond between Muslims and the wider Muslim community”.
Mr Mokkar is a prominent figure in Pakistan, and has been the subject of a recent investigation by the US.
His brother, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “participating in a conspiracy to kidnap a US citizen in the United States in 1997”.
Mr Molli said the imam’s position would not be seen as a “bad position” by the wider community, and it was likely the mosque “will be a very successful place to have such an Imam”.
“His role in the mosque is not to be seen at all as a bad thing,” he said.
In the UK, there are currently just 15 mosques and only two mosques with more than 10,000 members.
According to the London Muslim Association, Mr Moktar is a founding member of the mosque and has served as a leader for nearly 40 years.
“I believe this will be an important step for the mosque,” Mr Mollin said.
“His vision of the Mosque is one of unity, reconciliation and reconciliation between all Muslims.”
The Mosque will be open for worship and community gatherings in a space that will also be used by the mosque to develop and support a strong and vibrant Muslim community.