Thursday, 5 June 2014

Ballarat Mosque - Past dreams and future realities

Below in the blog is a post inviting all to a barbecue on Saturday week at Lake Esmond which includes a tour of the site where the new Ballarat Mosque is being built by the Islamic Society of Ballarat.

This is an important event not only in the Islamic community here in Ballarat but for the wider community in this historic city:  Ballarat's first Mosque.

Like all important events involving family and community, memories are unleashed - memories that Ballarat Interfaith Network wishes to record here.  This material has been collected by Ihsan ul Haq Bajwa.  Ihsan is the General Secretary of the Islamic Society of Ballarat and is a member of the Ballarat Interfaith Network (BIN).  
Picture above is from The Courier, Ballarat's daily newspaper. Picture is by Jeremy Bannister

The events describe people coming from faraway places to Ballarat. These people gather for prayer.  A sense of community builds - but people move on and away and come and go very much like the ocean tide.  At last however, the tide reaches shore it seems and something that was merely a glint in the eye, a fragment of a dream is becoming reality................

Summary of the 
Islamic Society of Ballarat 

The founding members of Islamic Society of Ballarat Dr Qaseem, Dr Ibrahim Sultan, Brother Nizam, Dr Monir ul Islam, Fahd Alizai, Bilal Munir and Dr Shahid set up a trust in Dr Qaseem's name in 2006 to collect money and to organise effort to build a Mosque in Ballarat. In 2008 Dr Bani Mustafa and Alkadiri played important role for ISB in the University

It took some time to write the constitution and the First AGM was held in 2009. Brother Kaseem Seedat(Lawyer) helped to rectify any legal matters. In this AGM, the constitution was finalized and the first committee was elected under the president ship of Dr Ibrahim Sultan.

Meanwhile brother Saeed Al Muharami worked for fund raising from UAE and other brothers.

With slow pace in 5 years till 2012 ISB people were able to sell the dream of Masjid and raise ISB finances to $98,000. 

In May 2012 a new committee was elected with Abdul Rahman Alkahlan ,Ihsan Ul Haq Bajwa , Dr M. Saad Saleem , Dr Shamsul Huda Dr Shamsheer Syed, Saud Al Qurainee .  This committee find out and purchase a suitable place in Canadian for Mosque in Sep 2012. Brother Abdul Rahman Alkahlan and Brother Faisel played leading role in fund raising. In Total in 4 months about $1,62,000 was added in ISB account. 

In Sep 2012 Ihsan Ul Haq Bajwa was elected as President and Mehfooz Ahmed and Brother Arshad added in committee. 
  • Detailed Elevation Plan, Parking Plan and other plans for Mosque were finalized.
  • In May 2013 Planning Permit for place of worship was approved 
  • In Sept 2013 Building Permit was approved. 
  • In Feb 2014 Contract Signed and Construction for New Building for Mosque Started. 

In Apr 2014 Shamsul Huda  was elected as President and Nwaaf Al Qahtanee added in committee.

Mosque building is almost complete and hope after finalizing few remaining tasks it will be open for regular prayers.

Best Regards,

Ihsan ul Haq Bajwa. 
General Secretary 
Islamic Society of Ballarat

From: Saad Saleem
Sent: Thursday, 5 June 2014 12:16 AM

To: Ihsan ul Haq Bajwa
Cc: Fahd Alizai
Subject: Re: Fw: Mosque barbecue on Saturday week

Fahd Bhai can correct me if I'm wrong. There were two Saudi students who used to live in my house. We all came together in 2005 to Ballarat. One of the student's name was Ali Al-Mashi and the other student was Abdullah Al-Tuwaian. There used to be a small prayer room in the University for people from any faith. Ali was very enthusiastic about organising a prayer room in the University. I'm not sure exactly, but he was able to meet the University Vice-Chancellor and the city mayor by himself. After these meetings, University set-up a prayer room. When people heard about this prayer room, they started praying Juma' here. Abdullah had a beard and beautiful voice so he used to lead the prayer. At the end of 2005, both Abdullah and Ali left Ballarat.

In the meanwhile, brother Nizam, Dr Monir ul Islam, Dr Qaseem, Fahd Bhai, Bilal Bhai, Dr Ibrahim, Dr Shahid set up a trust in Dr Qaseem's name to collect money and to organise effort to build a mosque. The trust was ineffective because no one could agree on anything. I remember going on a meeting with the mayor where we didn't have a clear direction. Later, it was decided that this will be a society with a constitution and an elected executive body. It took some time to write the constitution and the first AGM was held in 2009 (I may be wrong). In this AGM, the constitution was finalised and the first committee was elected under the president ship of Dr Ibrahim. Dr Bani Mustafa was the most popular candidate in that election but he gave the position of president to Dr Ibrahim. 

The newly created society couldn't agree on basics, such as, where to buy the land. Over time, the community lost interest in the society. Saad, Ihsan, and Shams filled the gap and ran the society for some time. As a result, the previous leadership of the society was completely replaced.  

After this you know the rest of the story. I think brother Fahd can fill in the gaps in my story because I was active/inactive during this period. 
Best regards
Saad Saleem


Ihsan has provided a list of those who made key contributions to the Islamic Society of Ballarat.  It is with gratitude their names are recorded.

Abdul Rahman Alkahlan 
Ihsan Ul Haq Bajwa  
Dr Shamsul Huda  Dr Shamsheer Syed
Dr Ibrahim Sultan
Dr Monir Ul Islam 
Dr M. Saad Saleem
Dr Qaseem Ahmad
Saud Alquraini  
Fahad Khan Alizai
Mehfooz Ahmed  
Muhammad Arshad.


We do live in a very real world - a world which often seems to be filled with turmoil. There have been protests in Australia in many locations with regard to building Islamic institutions. Ballarat is not an exception. Below are links to articles in Ballarat's daily newspaper, The Courier, which show the short debate on the matter of the Mosque. Ballarat Interfaith Network believes that the Mosque will become yet another peaceful place of worship in Ballarat.
Feb 2, 2014 ... AN anti-Islamic group is mobilising against Ballarat's first mosque. to-worship/
Feb 1, 2008 ... PLANS to build a mosque in Ballarat are being made by the city's Islamic society. A growing Muslim population in the city and a lack of ...
Feb 4, 2014 ... By IHSAN UL HAQ BAJWA, Islamic Society of Ballarat president ... and there isn't a single Muslim community center or a mosque in Ballarat.
Feb 7, 2014 ... THE Muslim population in Ballarat has grown to such numbers that a mosque is now required, to service their religious needs.
Feb 11, 2014 ... I was disgusted and disheartened by the pathetic protest against the building of a mosque inBallarat.
Aug 5, 2005 ... A SAUDI Arabian student hopes to build Ballarat's first mosque at the University ofBallarat.

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