Canberra Islamic Centre president Azra Khan, project designer and planner Shamsul Huda and treasurer Ali Akbar are pleased the centre is finally proceeding with stage two of their works, including a new mosque and more library space. Photo: Elesa Lee
After more than a decade of planning, a new mosque will finally be built in Tuggeranong to complete the Canberra Islamic Centre.
Members of the centre have been calling for a dedicated place of worship after years of sharing prayer space with meetings, educational classes, functions and community gatherings.
The executive committee is excited to be progressing works that have been envisioned since the community hall opened more than a decade ago.
The breaking fast dinner at the Canberra Islamic Centre at the end of Ramadan last year. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The development application has now been lodged with the ACT Planning and Land Authority.
Canberra Islamic Centre president Azra Khan said the main delay had been attracting enough funding, as the centre was a not-for-profit association.
She said it was time to separate the prayers from the other activities the centre ran during the week to accommodate the increased membership.
“It’s quite a challenging time for the committee and for the community but at the same time, [the] time has come for us to actually have a dedicated place of worship on the southside of Canberra to meet that demand and enable us as a community to get together and be able to pray properly,” Ms Khan said.
“It just gives us that flexibility now to have a dedicated area for prayer and for our library reading rooms and for educational purposes as well.”
The project would be a staged construction as funding, provided primarily through member donations, became available.
The development application proposes a two-level place of worship or mosque building forming part of the Australian National Islamic Library, lecture/class rooms, an imam’s consultation room and residence, a burial wash room and a symbolic architectural element with no provision for loud speakers.
The centre, on Clive Steele Avenue in Monash, is also home to more than 30,000 books, including Korans more than 200 years old, as part of the library.
As part of the extension there will be dedicated reading spaces and storage of many of these books, thousands of which are still in boxes, a shipping container, and members’ homes due to lack of space.
Ms Khan said the extra room that the two-level facility would provide would also enable the committee to hire out the hall for more community events.
Because of the sheer number of people attending the centre, they have not had the space recently.
Each week the Canberra Islamic Centre has about 150 children and parents attend classes, between 50 to 70 people visit to pray each day and about 300 take part in the main congregational prayer session on Fridays.
At special religious events, like the breaking of fast at Ramadan, the centre could host up to 750 people.
Project designer Shamsul Huda said the new worship area would not attract more people to the centre from other places of worship in Canberra but would meet the demand in the south.
“The growth that is going to happen is just a natural growth, over time the numbers of Muslims are growing so it’s more that we just get our share of people living on the southside,” he said.
Pending ACT government approval, he hoped work would begin during this financial year.
Public submissions on the application close Thursday, March 21.