Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman cabinet minister in Britain, has sparked off a debate on the design of mosques in the UK and has urged architects and designers to come up with a new model for Islamic places of prayer that may exclude minarets.
The new design could look ‘quintessentially English’, the Pakistani-origin Warsi has suggested. She was included in the David Cameron coalition government in 2010, but resigned in 2014, opposing the government’s policy on the Israel-Gaza conflict.
A baroness, Warsi wants a new model for Islamic places of prayer as part of a drive to develop an authentically “British” brand of Islam. The Daily Telegraph reported that the new model could involve abandoning the distinctive towers from which the call to prayer is traditionally issued in an effort to blend in more closely with their surroundings.
Warsi told the daily: “The phrase that I keep coming back to, which is rooted in Islamic thinking, is that Islam is like a river that takes the colour from the bed over which is flows, the bed being the country in which it is found”.
“The minaret is traditionally used somewhere where the call to prayer would be issued from the top of the minaret. If the principal reason no longer exists, with someone
having to physically go up to the minaret, should we take more local cultural reference points from this country instead?” she said, adding that it was not for her to determine what the new design would look like.
“I think a nod to the heritage and the culture that you find yourself in can be very helpful. I want to see an Islam which sits comfortably within Britain and a Britain that sits more at ease with Islam,” she said.