The journey to the development of Ashrafia Masjid, one of Bolton’s first masjids and the accompanying popular Madrasah has been a lengthy one.
After years of searching for a suitable place to worship in the local area, a neighbourhood house was rented from 1977 to offer daily prayers and commence a Madrasah, to serve the religious and educational needs of the approximately 50 families residing in the locality. This rented property very quickly became insufficient to meet the growing local Muslim community and in 1978 a larger property was rented. This also very shortly became insufficient for community needs and a much larger property was purchased in 1979 (162, Deane Road) at a cost of £11,000 which served its purpose for two years. In 1981 an even larger building, a former Church and Sunday school, at a price of £19,000. This building has housed the Masjid since 1981 and despite an extensive renovation in 1998, the building remains unsuitable for the range of activities expected by the growing local Muslim community.
The most recent census (2011) indicates that half of the Muslim population of the UK is under the age of 25 and a third under the age of 15. This is very much reflected in the local area of the Masjid. It is a very young population and demand for using the Mosque and madrasah facilities is ever-increasing not only from local residents but from across Bolton too, especially its memorisation of the Qu‘ran and tajweed classes. At present, 370 children are enrolled on the Islamic Studies programmes, 50 on the memorisation and tajweed of the Qu‘ran programme. There are a further 25 on the waiting list.