THE largest mosque in Lancashire has opened in Blackburn.

The Masjid e Tauheedul Islam building, Bicknell Street, will be the focus of a weekend of celebrations after the long-awaited £3.5million facility opened its doors.

Qatar’s royal family provided an initial £1.5million donation for the basic construction of the mosque, with the remainder of funds generated from the Blackburn community.

The community had outgrown the much smaller mosque which was established at the same site in the 1960s.

As well as being the largest in Lancashire, the new building is one of the biggest in the UK.

Roads around were cordoned off around the two-storey building as around 1,500 worshippers arrived to mark the opening.

Visitors to the event included senior clerics from as far away as Zimbabwe and Qatar.

Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn, who has led the project, said was the day was one of ‘enormous pride’ for the Blackburn Muslim community.

“This opening will be long remembered across the land,” he said.

“Thousands of supporters from our local community have made our dream a reality.

“Both brothers and sisters have laboured without wavering over six years since the first spade was lifted to produce this stunning building.

“We should accept this Masjid as a centre for lifelong learning — a place of social welfare for generations and generations to come.”

Lord Patel said the completion of the mosque had only been possible because all sections of the community had pulled together, giving their time and expertise for free.

The building has facilities for the Islamic education of children and is next to Tauheedul Islam Girls High School, which was recently awarded Voluntary Aided status, becoming the first government-funded Islamic school in the region.

Among the dignitaries attending over the weekend will be the minister for Islamic Affairs from Qatar and there will be a community reception for HRH Prince Turki from Saudi Arabia on Sunday.