On Sunday 10th April, a number of Cheshire Freemasons joined the Provincial Grand Master, Stephen Blank on a visit to the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester. The event was organized as a continuation of visits to different places of religious significance designed to enhance members knowledge and understanding – in this case of Islam and its heritage
The centre itself is most impressive. Erected in 1843 for the Lancashire Independent College, when Whalley Range was being developed as a residential suburb. The building was substantially remodelled internally and the central rear wing added in 1878. The College trained ministers for the Congregational Church, providing further education for Nonconformists at a time when they were excluded from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
The College later established links with Owens College which became the Victoria University of Manchester, today’s Manchester University. The College was a successful institution which expanded during the nineteenth century, but after 1871 universities became open to all denominations which together affected the college by a gradual decline in numbers. Following use as a hall of residence for Manchester University, the building was acquired in 1985 by the GMB, a major trade union, and used as their national training and conference centre until 2005.
Its vision is simple, to be a centre of excellence for learning and development that promotes Islamic Heritage, the empowerment and development of the Muslim community and Fostering good relations between Muslims and other faith groups, including non-faith communities.
On arrival, each visitor was given a folder full of information on the work of the BMHC and Islam and its heritage. Attendees then enjoyed a tour of the beautiful building, the Museum and the War Memorial, as well as listening to very interesting speakers from the centre.
As the proceedings came to an end, the Provincial Grand Master took the opportunity to thank all those who had organized the event, and of course the volunteers from the centre who had made the day so interesting and as a small token of appreciation, presented a cheque for £2000 to Chief Exec Maqsood Ahmad in the presence of Khalid Hussain Director of Marketing & PR.
On departure, in accordance with Islamic tradition and hospitality, the Centre provided delicious food packages for all visitors to take home and enjoy. Everyone who attended had a thoroughly enjoyable time and no doubt looking forward to the next organised visit.