The Shah Jahan
Mosque is the oldest purpose built mosque in Europe outside Muslim
Spain. It was built in 1889, and the story of its building is an
The builder was an
Oriental scholar, Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, who was, surprisingly, of
Jewish ancestry. He was a brilliant man who spoke 15 languages by the
time he was 17, and was a professor by 21.
After working abroad
he came to England and in 1883 established the Oriental Institute in
Woking, funded by Shah Jahan, the Nawab Begum of Bhopal.
The original intention
was to build a synagogue, a Hindu temple and a church alongside the
Mosque, but this never materialised.
By 1900 the institute
had closed, and the abandoned mosque was in danger of demolition.but was
rescued and in 1912 restoration began.
The mosque, and
associated buildings, now serve the local Muslim community.