PEACEFUL PLACE: Saifudin Abu and Siti Khalijah Mohamed outside one of New Zealand’s newest mosques, in Taihape.
Muslims in Rangitikei need no longer pray in impromptu places, with the district’s first mosque opening in Taihape.
When Saifudin Abu and Siti Khalijah Mohamed moved to Taihape last year, after Abu joined the local police force, the Sunni Muslim couple noticed the need for a formal place of worship.
“I had been working around in the police car and seen a lot of Muslim men and women walking around town looking for a place to pray,” said Abu. “I have seen Muslims praying outside the toilets and on the train platform.”
The mosque, a place of worship for followers of Islam, as well as a centre for information, education and dispute settlement, is at 3 Tui St. Founding it required an endorsement from the Federation of Islam Association of New Zealand (FIANZ).
Within a month of Abu trying to establish a Taihape mosque, Muslims nationwide – and some from as far away as Canada – donated enough money to buy the building. There are plans to add a dome and extend the building.
Abu said Muslims followed a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness, and the majority of the faith had nothing to do with the conflicts in the Middle East.
Until now Abu and Mohamed had been opening their home to Muslims in need of a prayer space.
“We want to stay here a long time so that’s why we have to plan for a mosque.”
This Sunday is a significant date on the Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Adha, when Muslims slaughter lambs to commemorate the sacrifice made by Abraham and Ishmael.
Abu and Mohamed invite the public to join them at the mosque from 1.30pm till 3pm to feast on the lamb.
“There’ll be a lot of Muslims from out of town that are going to come and help,” said Abu.
He hopes many will return for the mosque’s official opening on November 15.
Abu will lead the five daily prayers at the mosque, which will be open from dawn to dusk. He welcomes anyone interested in the faith to call in.