Hamilton Muslim leader on new $30k scholarship

Future plans include: 20-hectare site for a future mosque, school, book shop & community centre.

The president of the Waikato Muslim Association, Dr Asad Mohsin

The “sacrifice” of the victims of the Christchurch mosque shooting has led to some positive events that might otherwise not have happened, Waikato Muslim Association President Asad Mohsin says.

Although it was like finding a few slivers of gold buried in a mountain of dirt, the good news included a new scholarship at Waikato University for Muslim students and the advancement towards accomplishing several objectives in the association’s groundbreaking 20-year plan.

Mohsin’s revelations come against the backdrop of this week’s sentencing of the man convicted of murder and terrorism offences in relation to last year’s mosque shootings in Christchurch.

While that event cast a shadow over the Muslim community nationwide, worshippers at the Jamia Masjid in Claudelands, Hamilton, were going about their affairs as usual, resolute in their determination not to let it affect them too greatly.

“As far as the mosque is concerned, it is normal congregations. Nothing out of the ordinary. There is a feeling that we want to get [the sentencing] done and dusted and over.

“There is also a feeling that the sacrifice of the 51 people … should not go to waste. The challenge for us now is that we have to find positive ways of making sure something good comes out of that horrible thing that happened.”

One of these is a new $30,000 Waikato University scholarship to be awarded annually to four Muslim students – who will each receive $7500 each – accepted in a study programme at the university.

“On Friday the university’s vice chancellor [Neil Quigley] will visit the mosque to sign a memorandum of understanding. That’s an outcome of the sacrifice of those 51 people.”

Another outcome was the advancement towards several of the objectives identified in the association’s 2018-2038 strategic plan – a document which was a first for any of the country’s Muslim associations.

These goals include the purchase and development of a 20-hectare site for a future mosque, school and community centre; the establishment of an online and bricks-and-mortar Islamic bookstore and a plant growing initiative.

Other major objectives include ensuring all Waikato mosques were accessible and thriving community centres, and Waikato Muslims contributing “to a fairer community and society, where all people support each other and are safe and healthy”.

Mohsin said such specific aims reflected the Muslim community’s more general aspirations of “connecting with the Waikato community and putting back into the Waikato community”.

“Covid-19 is another example of something that has brought the community back together. That bonding becomes stronger.

“Horrible things happen all around the world, but we don’t let ourselves become consumed by thoughts of vengeance.

“The focus has to be on how we move forward as an entire community. We need to keep that resolve, because from that the good things will come.”

Hamilton Muslim leader on new $30k scholarship