Chapter 1 lays out the main themes and research methodology, sketching a broad history of mosque architecture and religious ritual. The author then builds a case for the British mosque as a physical form and social organization that empowers Muslim religious institutions to act as focal points for community development. Saleem covers mosque management, ownership, and leadership, as well as describing organizational structures and charity missions. As the book’s subtitle suggests, Saleem understands mosque architecture as part of social history: key parameters in creating early self-contained British Muslim communities included kinship support and shared linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions.
Chapter 2 maps the change from house mosques in the late nineteenth century to the first purpose-built structures. Saleem shows how early mosques in domestic spaces, in which informal spaces of worship maintained a residential character, emerged as social institutions and places of practical support and cultural comfort. Muslims in Britain lived in distinct neighborhoods based on country of origin and built mosques that reflected their ethnic differences. Chapter 3, continuing into the 1960s, looks at the labor migrations of Muslim families. This generation found house mosques too small and began to convert into mosques non-domestic buildings such as churches, community halls, cinemas, retail premises, and schools. Conversions, more than house mosques, included external symbolic features identifying them as Muslim spaces.