The opening of New Zealand’s largest purpose-built mosque will be beamed live to millions of Muslims around the globe tomorrow.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s worldwide spiritual leader Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad will lead his regular Friday prayers after officially opening the new Wiri building.
“Wherever the supreme leader delivers his Friday prayers from, it’s televised around the world,” Ahmadiyya New Zealand central missionary Shafiq Ur Rehman says.
The 400-strong community is “hugely appreciative” of the chance to open a mosque in New Zealand because it faces persecution elsewhere, Mr Rehman says.
“We are thankful of the freedom here. In Pakistan they have declared us non-Muslims. There’s no right to use Islamic terminology. Hundreds have been martyred.”
Ahmadiyya goes right back to foundation teachings of the Muslim faith, he says.
“Islam is peace. We’re trying to remove misunderstandings. There are a lot of negative stereotypes. We strongly condemn terrorism of any form.”
Ahmadiyya New Zealand national president Mohammed Iqbal says it is fantastic to have the building completed in time for the group’s 25th anniversary in New Zealand.
“It’s the first proper house of worship for us – a proper mosque,” he says.
“It’s all been self-funded by community members within New Zealand. We had some fundraisers but people really rallied together to dip into their own pockets.”
The mosque can accommodate up to 500 and will be used mainly for prayers but other events can also be held.
Mr Iqbal says its location serves its community well, with worshippers coming from as far away as Whangarei and Hamilton.
Today’s event also marks the launch of the Kur’anu Tapu – a version of the Muslim holy book, the qur’an – translated into Maori.
“It’s taken 25 years to complete the translation,” Mr Iqbal says.
A partially completed version was released in 2010.