The Charity Commission has launched an investigation into allegations that one of London’s major mosques has been taken over by extremists after an imam who tried to preach that evolution was compatible with Islam was forced to resign.
Leyton Mosque, which overlooks the Olympic Park, has been at the centre of a bitter dispute between rival factions for more than a year. Last month Dr Usama Hasan, a prominent theologian and one of the mosque’s imams, resigned following a string of disruptions by extremists who were angered by his lectures on Darwinism and comparatively progressive interpretation of Islamic teaching.
At the height of the dispute anonymous leaflets were distributed calling for his execution and campaigns by ultra-conservatives were launched against his plans to allow female speakers to talk in front of mixed sex audiences.
Under a deal that was supposed to bring some form of closure to the dispute Dr Hasan and some of his detractors resigned from the board of trustees. But much of the power within the mosque still rests in the hands of Dr Hasan’s critics.
Now it has emerged that the Charity Commission is investigating the mosque over concerns that it has links to extremism. According to the Liberal Conspiracy website, a letter has been sent to the mosque’s new trustees stating that the commission was opening a statutory inquiry after “concerns were raised with us about alleged links to extremism.”
A commission spokeswoman today confirmed the investigation adding: “We cannot comment further on the case until our investigation is complete. It is our usual practice to publish a report following the conclusion of a statutory inquiry.“
Calls and emails to the mosque today went unanswered.
Speaking to The Independent last night, Dr Hasan said: “I am upset that my beloved mosque, where I led prayers for over 25 years, is being formally investigated by the Charity Commission for links to extremism, since I have challenged extremism and tried to defend the mosque against it for many years.
However, I hope that the investigation will help us, the mosque congregation and its trustees that represent us, to move forward and ensure that divisive, extremist viewpoints are not promoted and that the beauty of the balanced message of Islam shines through.”
Historically Islamic authorities have had little problem with the concept of evolution, backing Darwinism as being entirely compatible with God’s design.
Many centuries before the Origin of Species was written, Islamic scholars compiled sizeable tracts on botany and how animals survived and thrived within their environment. But as with Christianity, conservative and reactionary elements within Islam have begun in more recent decades to promote Creationism with increasing zealotry.