I have always said that the generosity of the Sydney Muslim Community knows no bounds and this was again vindicated at last week’s massive fundraiser for the Hurstville Masjid project.
To say that the event was a “runaway success” wouldn’t do it justice…. I would love to know the record amount for a Muslim fundraiser in Australia but surely the incredible $4.8 million pledged on just the one night would take some topping!
Well over 1,000 brothers and hundreds of sisters crammed into the function rooms of the magnificent Highline venue in Bankstown last Thursday evening for the four hour event, which included a magnificent dinner, some beautiful Islamic recitals and reminders and some fascinating interviews by MCs Osman Karolia and Muhammad Khodr, including an in-depth chat with champion multi-code sportsmen, Brothers Hamza Sonny Bill Williams and Anthony Mundine.
My good friends and practicing Muslims, Oz and Omar, popular winners of Channel Nine’s top-rating home renovations program The Block, were also introduced to the large audience.
‘SBW’ and ‘Choc’ have been staunch supporters of the Hurstville Masjid project from the early days and these two brothers who surely rank among Australia’s highest profile converts to Islam both displayed why they are champions both inside and outside of the sporting arena with their beautiful, insightful words.
Sheikh Kamal Taleb (whom many of you would know on social media as Sheikh Kamal Abu Mariam) has been the driving force from day one for this fantastic project and earlier this week he related the tough battles that he and the Hurstville Masjid committee have been through for this dream to become a reality.
“It’s been a very tough struggle and it has taken three years just for the Development Application (DA) to be approved,” Sheikh Kamal said.
“We started the application process prior to COVID-19 which obviously delayed things and initially there were problems with the Council and resistance from local residents.
“We outlaid $467,000 on studies of acoustics and traffic in order to satisfy our case before the Lands and Environment Court, which we won – Alhamdulillah.”
The new masjid will be built on the site of a run-down aged care facility at 88/90 Botany St, Carlton.
“The aged care facility of 52 rooms will basically have its interior ‘gutted’, with many of the walls to come down, while the rear section of the complex will be demolished for parking, as will the house next door which we have also purchased,” Sheikh Kamal revealed.
“These days Hurstville is virtually a city in its own right and there are around 20,000 Muslims in the area who will now have access to this new complex which will not only house a masjid but will be a ‘one stop shop’ for Islamic services and initiatives.
“The support from the Muslim community has been amazing; in some cases, businesses and individuals who’ve been behind us for months and even years.
“They include: Bilal El-Cheikh from Piety Group; Hamza Sonny Bill Williams and Anthony Mundine; Rabih Ayoubi from Fresh Poultry; Ahmad Merhi from Living Fresh; the Yasser Nasser family; Amer Affouf from ABS Smash Repairs; Mehdi Dennoui; Ahmad Ibrahim; Scott Mergatroid from Veloce Café; Safwon Abdulrahman from SAF Development; Muhammad Abbas from Action Arbor; Ridwan Mutasalem from Radwan Pharmacy; Bilal and Walid Afyouni from ABW Foods and Saeed Halbouni.
“Our thanks also goes to everyone who took part in the promotional videos from amongst the elders and the young with specific mention to all the charitable organisations such as MATW, Merciful Group; In Need Of Help; Muslim Global Aid and Sadaqa Welfare.
“Finally, thank you to everyone else who has helped and supported us from amongst the Sheikhs, Associations, Councillors, donors and everyone else who has played a hand in making this a successful project including last Thursday night’s organisers Rahef Ahmed and her team as well as Mr Hussein Goss, who is in a class of his own when it comes to charity auctions.
“The prophet Muhammad (Saaw) said: ‘He who does not thank the people does not thank Allah’,” Sheikh Kamal concluded.
Personally, I am delighted that the Hurstville Masjid project is finally going ahead!
The thousands of Muslim worshippers in this busy part of Sydney have for many years had to travel to neighbouring areas or even further to pray and to think that their patience will soon be rewarded is the best possible news.
Last Sunday night’s coverage of the Hurstville Masjid project on Channel 9 News was fantastic and while there has been some (predicted) negative commentary since on social media from the ‘keyboard warrior’ brigade, it is important to remember the words of Allah Swt:
“They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect his light, although the disbelievers dislike it.”Qur’an 61:8