by Helen Holt
Timaru’s Islamic centre is opening its doors on Saturday for people to learn about Islam and engage with the community.
Bilal Mosque will be open to the public for the first time since it was bought in November 2019.
The building has undergone several renovations since, including repainting, installing new carpet and ablution areas, and replacing the emergency staircase.
Before the community bought the mosque, it rented a marae for its place of worship.
Timaru Muslim Education Trust member Teh Arpah Zakaria said renting the marae multiple times a week became a big cost.
“We use this building very regularly, because we pray multiple times throughout the week.
“My kids come here three times a week for their religious education; the men have their prayer on Fridays.”
Dr Zakaria said Timaru had recently welcomed refugees from countries including Lebanon, and the mosque gave Muslims a community and a sense of home.
The open day will include refreshments and introductions from Rangitata MP Jo Luxton and a representative from the group Voice of Islam who is travelling from Auckland.
The introductions will be followed by a question and answer session.
Dr Zakaria said the Muslim community hoped the open day would help visitors to learn more about the Islamic faith and take away misconceptions.
“We want to close the gap.
“We want people to know that we aren’t that different from the rest of the Timaru community.
“Not many people know we’re here.
“We’re quite secluded down this cul-de-sac, so it’ll be nice to welcome people in.”
The open day will be held on Saturday, March 27 from 11am to 2pm at 9 Napier St.
The mosque requests visitors dress respectfully and asks them not to wear shorts.