For the imam of Canberra’s newest mosque, Friday’s inclement weather was an auspicious sign.
As hundreds of people gathered for the day-long official opening of the Ahmad Al Sabah Masjid and Islamic Education Centre in Monash, Adama Konda said the day was the culmination of years of dreaming and hoping.
“To me, someone who is very thirsty and waiting for the rain - the rain came,” he said.
“It's a good day today, when you see your hope has been fulfilled and your dreams have come true.”
When Canberra’s first mosque was built in Yarralumla in 1962, it catered to just 300 worshippers.
But as the Muslim community has grown with the Canberra population, the need for a larger mosque for the city’s southern suburbs became clear.
The construction of what is now Canberra’s largest mosque has been a decades-long process, one that had many twists and turns along the way, said leading member of the Canberra Islamic Centre committee Azra Khan.
The site originally held a small community centre, which served as a social hub and place for prayer, and was increasingly inadequate for the growing southside Muslim community.
From planning issues, to funding setbacks, the project would have looked like many a building saga, but for the targeted attacks that saw the centre vandalised in 2014.
But Mrs Khan said the incident had a galvanising effect on the project.
“It was due to negativity by a minority, not anyone other than that,” she said.
“That was a psychological [setback], but out of adversity comes some benefit, and it meant we got such support, such a show of solidarity that it really gave us that momentum again to keep going and doing what we planned to do.”
By 2015, the project had significant community support and fundraising was gathering steam, but it was securing major funding - around $2 million - from the Kuwaiti government that meant the mosque could be finished.
“I guess the timing was right and we caught the interest of the new Kuwaiti ambassador,” Mrs Khan said.
“When he came onboard, it was really then very focused within a time frame.”
She said Friday was emotional day for her.
“It's unbelievable, as a Muslim, as a Canberran, as a woman - I can't explain the feeling,” she said.
“There's a lot of emotion and a sense that we're finally here and we've finally got something that we can be very, very proud of, and it's been such a community effort.”
Current centre president and founding member Zafar Ahmad said he remembered worshipping in Yarralumla 30 years ago “because there was nothing else”.
And he emphasised that the centre and mosque would be open to all Canberrans, and would not be dominated by any one group.
“We are very open to accommodate everyone,” he said.
Kuwaiti Ambassador Najeed Al-Bader said he was proud to be able to help the Muslim community in Canberra.
“Carrying the name of Kuwait means it is double the responsibility at least to give the right image of Islam, and that's why we are very proud,” he said.