بسم الله الحمد لله و صلاة و سلام على رسول الله و على آله و سلم
The Ahmadiyya Community has applied for an extensive redevelopment of their site at Gressenhall Road, London, SW18 5QL. The site contains the oldest Ahmadi prayer house in the UK and the residence of the Ahmadiyya leader Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
The development description reads:
“Demolition of the west wing of the administration block and hall next to the London Mosque and office buildings, plant room, wash rooms, bin store and garage along western boundary. Erection of replacement hall with single-storey element containing kitchen, bookshop, bin store and garage; alterations to administration/residential building, including the addition of a fourth floor and new facade in connection with use as offices. Erection of three-storey building to provide three dwellings ancillary to the Mosque, fronting Melrose Road. Use of No.65 Melrose Road as ancillary residential accommodation. Landscaping works including the felling of 13 trees.”
A replacement hall with a kitchen, a bookshop and a garage. One might rightly ask, what is wrong with the current hall. By reading on, one can see the true reason for this redevelopment: a three story building containing three flats for Mirza Masroor and his family.
Blind Ahmadis will probably make all sorts of excuses to justify this redevelopment: “The hall will be bigger and provide more space for prayers and functions, so it’s good”, “Huzoors flat is needed to build more offices and we need more offices. Building a new house for Huzoor is therefore ok.”
But the following drawings and tables will show that the new hall provides very little additional space. And more offices? Is the £5.5 million centre in Morden not enough? And the new dwelling is not simply a house; it is a luxurious residence spread over almost 900 square meters (9,690 square foot) and includes a private gardens, a roof garden and a large water feature.
In Ahmadiyya-typical fashion, a concerted effort was made to drum up support for this redevelopment. All comments are available in the case file. As you can see most Ahmadis either do not know what they are in favour of or only mention the new hall. They were most probably instructed by their local presidents to write these letters, without really understanding what they are in support of. However, the well-informed neighbours seem to be unimpressed and comments against the redevelopment keep pouring in every day.
Let’s have a look at the pictures and drawings that were all taken from the case file:
Here is the current view of the site.
View from Melrose Road.
And here is how the site will look if the plans go ahead.
The large building on the right is the new residence.
The view from Melrose Road.
Here is the current floor plan.
And this is the proposed floor plan:
As you can see, there is a massive increase of accommodation and private offices at the cost of the dedicated prayer area. The large building on the right is Mirza Masroor’s new residence. As mentioned, it will contain three flats, one for himself, and the other two for his son and perhaps son-in-law.
The round building in the middle is the new multi-functional hall with a fancy glazed roof. Between the residence and the hall you can see the outline of the rather large water feature (ie, fountains).
Here’s a drawing of the hall.
The following is a side view of the residential complex, including a view of the garden roof-top.
Here is a 3D rendition of the proposed structure, showing the relative size of the new residential complex.
If you question the adjustments in floor plans, consider the following tables detailing the changes in area:
Now the question is: what is the point of this redevelopment? Why waste the common Ahmadi’s money on this? Why not just renovate the existing hall? They have Baitul Futuh for offices and the new hall hardly provides any additional space.
One document actually states that the dedicated prayer area will decrease by 132 square meters and the multi-function space will increase by 189 square meters. This amounts to a net increase of a mere 57 square meters. Compare that to the additional accommodation (housing) area: a whopping increase of 335 square meters, 60% of additional living space! This increase is almost six times larger than the increase of prayer area (assuming that the multi-function hall will be used for prayers). Six times!
Since no changes are going to be made to 65 Melrose Road, this increase can only be attributed to Mirza Masroor’s new residence. The total accommodation area of 892 square meters will then be larger than the 717 square meters of dedicated prayer area and multi-functional area combined!
(The table above is an older table. Changes to the prayer area and multi-functional area were made, which resulted in a further decrease of the total area. No changes to the accommodation area are known.)
To reiterate: Both, accommodation area and prayer/multi-function area are increasing. The increase of accommodation area however is six times larger than the increase of prayer/multi-function area. This results in the accommodation area being larger than the prayer/multi-function area.
The proposal itself states that the number of people coming to the mosque will not change dramatically. It tries to reassure the Wandsworth Council by implying that the main purpose of this redevelopment is only the accommodation of Mirza Masroor and that traffic will therefore not be an issue.
Ahmadis should ask themselves if this new residence, which screams of extravagance, is really in the spirit of humbleness and simplicity that Mirza Masroor constantly preaches. He asks his followers to make sacrifices but at the same time plans to build himself a Palace. Did Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم and the Sahaba رضى الله عنهم ever waste the Ummah’s funds on building luxurious dwellings for themselves? No, the house of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was very simple:
“His house was but a hut with walls of unbaked clay and a thatched roof of palm leaves covered by camel skin. He had separate apartments for his wives, a small room for each made of similar materials. His own apartment contained a rope cot, a pillow stuffed with palm leaves, the skin of some animal spread on the floor and a water-bag of leather and some weapons. These were all his earthly belongings, besides a camel, a horse, and some land which he had acquired in the later part of his life. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud).”
So please, dear Ahmadis, do not let Mirza Masroor and the Nizaam fool you into thinking that this redevelopment is needed. This redevelopment is simply for Mirza Masroor and his family so that they can live a life in luxury, financed by you. It is you who will have to pay chanda to fund Mirza Masroor’s lavish lifestyle.
To us on the outside, it is just another cult leader building himself a palace by further ripping off his followers.