Malays in Melbourne are on their way to building the first Malay Mosque in Victoria, Australia, and are keen to gain more support.
The initiator of building the mosque, Malay Education and Cultural Centre of Australia (MECCA) held a discussion session in Campbellfield, North of Melbourne, on the afternoon of May 25. About nine Malaysian-related organisations attended the session, including Malaysia Student Council of Victoria (MASCA), Kelab UMNO Melbourne (KUAM), Victoria Malay Foundation, Desa Bundoora, Kampung North, Victoria Postgraduate Malaysian Association (VPMGA), Islamic Affair and Human Capital Development Body Victoria (EHSAN), Malaysia Hall and Malaysian army exchange officers.
Haji Abdul Hamid, President of MECCA, says that they were inspired to build the first Malay mosque in Victoria, to be based in Melbourne, after visiting the Malay mosques in Sydney and Perth.
“As a Muslim, we feel obliged to take care of our own religion. We must try to unite Malay Muslims more,” says the Singaporean born Muslim.
Dr. Ishnamuddin, one of founding members of MECCA, says that the building of the mosque is important in maintaining the culture of Malays, even though they are far away from home.
“Culture of Malays must be rooted in Islam”, says the medical practitioner. “Islam has brought development in Malaysia. Islam is the religion that brought civilisation to our home and its surroundings, such as Aceh, Nusantara and Tanah Melayu.”
“We need to maintain our identity and be proud of Islam”, says Dr. Ishnamuddin. He points out that having the mosque would help the Malay community maintain its identity to cope with new surroundings, and to be a better Muslim for a better Malaysia.
Suggestions such as having Malay language classes were thrown in. A lady on the floor pointed out that there are Malay kids who suffer psychological distress when going back to Malaysia after many years residing in Australia, as they could not cope with the environment due to being incompetent in language. She says that there is a strong need to have a means to maintain the language and religion among the Malay community.
Apart from functioning as a mosque for Islam practitioners, the mosque will also be built as a multi-purpose centre to cater to everyone’s needs including non-muslims, especially students, according to MECCA.
Haji Abdul Hamid points out that there aren’t any places in Melbourne that serve as a place to assist with problems in the daily lives of new migrants, and MECCA is keen to have one by building a multi-purpose centre along with the Mosque.
“It can be a proper centre to report [any issues], to having a clinic and cafeteria for students to mingle with experienced adults”, says Dr. Nasir Azudin, one of founding members of MECCA.
Julian Harding, an architect who has ample experience in Islamic projects in Malaysia, points out that the Malay community should try their best to make this happen, as many other communities have done similar projects to integrate in this multicultural land.
“I would like to assist in the building of the mosque in any way I can”, says the father of two, who is married to a Malay from Malaysia.
To date, according to MECCA, the project has secured RM240 million for the construction of the mosque from the Malaysia Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), the High Commission of Malaysia in Canberra and Dr. Sirajuddin Sulaimee, who has assisted in building Mosques in Vietnam and Cambodia.