THE UK’s main base for followers of the Sufism branch of Islam, could soon open in Blackburn.

Community leaders at the Naqshnadiyya Aslamiyya Spiritual Centre in Pringle Street, have submitted plans for a new £1million, purpose-built facility on the same site.

Spokesman Hafiz Yaqub, who is based at the Luton branch, said: “We’re all very excited about these plans, the centre will serve the whole UK.

“I’m based in Luton, but I’ve travelled to Blackburn for the past 25 years, as do people from places like Birmingham and Bristol.

“The community is growing, but for so many years we’ve had to use various function halls, and there’s been problems with parking.

“Every year we have a big march for the prophet’s birthday, and we can get thousands attending.

“Now, after collecting money from the community, we are in a position to open our own community and spiritual centre, which will be open to all people.

“As well as areas set aside for prayer, there will be educational classes, counsellors and people on site who can give legal advice and help.

“We also do a lot of work with young parents, young offenders, and disability groups.”

The new centre, which will be built on vacant land, will have parking spaces for 22 cars, eight motorbikes, four disability spaces and four spaces for bicycles.

It will also be designed to contain green technology such as solar panels on the roof.

It is hoped that if the plans are passed by Blackburn with Darwen Council, the building will be completed within 12 months.

Sufism or Tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam.