The Liverpool Mosque and Muslim Institute of Brougham Terrace was officially established in 1891. Prior to this, however, from as early as 1887, its founder William Quilliam, an English convert to Islam, led a small congregation of Muslims in premises on Mount Vernon Street. The Institute expanded rapidly, encompassing, by the mid-1890s, a madrassa, a library, a printing press, a museum, schools for boys and girls, a hostel and a literary society, as well as the mosque itself, enabling Muslims not just to worship but to conduct their daily lives according to the requirements of their faith.
Quilliam was keen for the mosque to be integrated into Britain and to engage with the British public – no doubt in part in an attempt to fulfil his aim of converting the British nation to Islam. Its orphanage, the Medina Home for Children, was open to children of any faith (who would then be brought up as Muslims) and was established in response to the increase of illegitimate births in the city. Further, the Institute undertook social work beyond its congregation, within the local community. Quilliam encouraged open debate and dialogue about the mosque by writing articles in the local press, also founding and editing two journals, The Crescent and The Islamic World, both of which had an international circulation. According to Ansari, Quilliam ‘was attempting to found an indigenous tradition that would be able to connect with the religious practices of potential converts and so create a sense of receptive familiarity’ (p. 125). Perhaps as a result of this, his congregation, dominated by middle-class converts, grew, with an estimated 600 conversions taking place over twenty years. While the majority of worshippers were English converts, there is evidence that some South Asians resident in Liverpool also attended the mosque.