Muslim residents of Oamaru have secured a place in the town as their first Islamic centre. Opened on January 27, the new centre on the first floor on 2 Trent Street, Oamaru, North Otago, will now be used for the purpose of praying, educating children, and celebrating Islamic events in the town.

Hendriani Trisaptayuni, a member of the Muslim Association in Oamaru, led the fundraising initiative from the community in November last year. The ‘fund me’ page set up for raising money for the mosque received more than $10,000 over the last four months and aims to collect more to purchase the property in the future. The Association will need $200,000 to $300,000 to purchase a property.

Donations for the mosque have been collected from across New Zealand mosques and people from Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, etc. have also contributed.

“I was in Indonesia in November last year when I started the donation page so people can help from there, and together, we have been able to raise more than $10,000, which is more than the rent for the next one year,” Ms Trisaptayuni said.

Prior to the opening of the Islamic centre on Trent Street, the community members offered their houses for congressional prayers.

“We are small but growing Muslim community that mix culture from Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Fiji, Jordan, Turkey, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Egypt,” Ms Trisaptayuni added.

“The town houses 11 Muslim families and has a total of 58 Muslim people including children. The Muslim population in the region is growing and there was a dire need for our own Islamic centre.”

The new centre is the third Islamic centre in the Otago region. The other two are Masjid-al-Huda (Dunedin Islamic Centre) in Dunedin and a centre at Otago University arranged by Otago Muslim Students Association (MUSA).

The mosque will now be convenient for the travellers to stop by and offer their regular prayers.

“Oamaru is a transit place between Christchurch and Dunedin. Travellers crossing this region would often look for a place to pray, and now we have it,” Ms Trisaptayuni said.

There are two sections in the mosque, one for prayer and the other for activities of the community. The praying section has a separate room for men and women, and it can accommodate a total of 80 people at a time.

“We received numerous copies of the Quran and other Hadith (Islamic teachings) books as a contribution from the community here and overseas,” she said.

Ustad Mohd Idris Osman is the Imam (cleric) of the Masjid and hosts regular five time prayers while Ustad Khairul Azhar Muhamed conducts the Friday congressional prayer.

 “The centre hosts Madarsa classes (Islamic teaching sessions) for the children twice a week, and we also hold Quran and Hadith reciting sessions between Maghrib (prayer at sunset) and Isha (late evening prayers) every day for the attendees at the mosque,” Ms Trisaptayuni added.

The Muslim Association in Oamaru is planning to host an Open Day for the mosque in the next few months so the wider non-Muslim community of the region can visit the mosque and learn more about Islam and its teachings.