Saturday, December 03, 2005

Smiles Of Thousand Happiness…

Tasmania, Australia - November 20, 2005 - Alhamdulillah, Hobart Mosque was officially opened by Dato' Sri Effendi Norwawi. He came to Hobart with 8 of his colleagues who are ex- student of University OF Tasmania. Sitting in front from left, Dato' Dr. Hasan Ismail, Madehi Kolek, Ex-Lord Mayor of Sarawak, Me, Dato Sri Effendi Norwawi, Imam Sabri, Dr Ameer Ali, AFIC President, Haroon Hanan, President of Islamic Centre Of Tasmania Trust Inc. Dato Dr Nik Amrah and Mohd Sharie, Phd Student in UTAS. Standing behind are the committee member of TMA and wife of the delegates.

The official opening of this Mosque an important milestone in the history of Tasmania. There are now purpose built places of worship in Tasmania for each of the three Abrahamic faiths. The first Christian Church (St Davids) was built in 1817, the first Synagogue was opened in 1845 and now in 2005 the first purpose built Mosque is being opened. This ceremony is the culmination of many years of effort since the Tasmanian Muslim Association was founded in 1973. Many attempts have been made to design and construct a Mosque since then and this final successful attempt has taken 8 yeas to bring to completion.The construction of this Mosque should be viewed as a vote of confidence in the State of Tasmania by the Muslim Community.

The Muslim community regards Tasmania as a haven of peace, tolerance and acceptance in an increasingly troubled world. In many communities, it is very difficult to build a Mosque and there are often long legal disputes and the public becomes agitated. However, these problems have not occurred in Hobart. When the Hobart City Council considered our application to build a Mosque it was welcomed by the Aldermen and regarded as an important religious and cultural addition to the City's facilities. Tasmania is a model for a successful multicultural and multi-faith society. These is because people in Tasmania have respect for the rights of others and are accepting of difference. The Muslim respected the rights of neighbors when plans for the Mosque were being developed. We listened to the legitimate concerns of our neighbors and made numerous changes to our development proposal. Our long term goal was to remain on good terms with our West Hobart neighbors.

1. Dato Effendi Norwawi has been a benefactor of the Tasmanian Muslim community since he was a student at the University of Tasmania in the 1960s. He has maintained close links with the State since then and has made donations on many occasions to assist in the maintenance of our Islamic Centre. He has offered substantial assistance and also supported this project by encouraging other prominent Malaysians to make donations.

2. The Tasmanian Muslim Association is one of the founding members of our national body, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC). The national body has always given support to assist with the development of the Muslim community in Tasmania and have had a special commitment to ensuring that a purpose built Mosque was constructed in Hobart.

3. This Mosque was designed by Michael Cooper who is Vice President of the Australian Institute of Architects. Michael is not a Muslim but he decided to offer his professional services free of charge so that the Mosque could be built. This contribution is worth tens of thousands of dollars. Michael also attended many late night meetings with the Building Committee and provided value advice as to how we could realize our vision within the limits of a limited budget.
The building of this Mosque is an example of what can be achieved when people of diverse backgrounds work together. It would not have been possible to build this Mosque without the support and encouragement of our non-Muslim friends. This is proof of the strength of Australia's multifaith society where people of all faiths respect each other and actively support the right of fellow Australians to live and worship in accordance with their religion.

See picture above: Noryzal (wearing Jubah and Serban) sit in front beside Dato' Sri Effendi Norwawi.

Noryzal Zainal Abidin
GPTD Activist in Tasmania