How the Garden City Mosque will look upon completion of the expansion. Photo Contributed
How the Garden City Mosque will look upon completion of the expansion. Photo Contributed Contributed

Muslims seek to remove numbers restriction at mosque

AN Islamic group in Toowoomba will ask Toowoomba Regional Council to remove restrictions that limit the number of people who can worship at the Garden City Mosque.

Council recently approved an expansion at the mosque which included a number of conditions.

The key point which the city's Muslims take issue with is the clause: "no more than 50 worshippers will be allowed at all sessions apart from the noon Friday session where 150 can attend".

Founding president of the Islamic Society of Toowoomba professor Shahjahan Khan confirmed a request would be made to council to amend the conditions.

Prof Khan said the conditions were "unprecedented, unrealistic and unnecessary", and seems to be contradictory to the whole point of allowing expanded prayer areas and significantly increasing  the number of on-site car parking places.

"We believe no restrictions on the number of worshippers is appropriate," he said.

"If you allow to develop a facility that could fit, for example, 300 people and then restrict the user number to only 100, what is the point of allowing the extension?

"When worshippers come to a place of worship the spiritual leader could not send them back as there is a restriction on the number of attendees when there is ample empty space inside the prayer hall.

"The only reason that I could think of behind this restriction is the unsupported concern of the neighbours.


"However, by now  everyone knows that we are very aware of the rights of our neighbours and have been proactive on this area even before we started this mosque.

"We have regular meeting and eating with neighbours and community leaders at the mosque.

"There are no problems with the neighbours at all as we have adequately addressed their issues to remain good neighbours driven by the teachings of our religion.

"We are pleased to note that we have seen our good neighbours publicly supporting the mosque since its inception, and there were neighbours who have even made submissions to the council supporting the mosque extension project.

"We are very grateful and thankful to the neighbours and wider community for their understanding and engagement over the years for mutual benefit."

The council had been planning to restrict the hours at which worshippers could pray, but at the last minute a change of heart removed those conditions.

Prof Khan thanked the region's councillors for their understanding of the requirement of the daily prayer time schedule.

"This will allow worshippers to pray at the mosque during the summer when the sun rises much earlier than that in the winter.

"The daily five-time prayers are tied to the position of the sun on the day, and hence it varies significantly in summer and winter," he said.

"I want to emphasise the fact that the whole re-building process was triggered by the second arson attack on the mosque property that severely burned the old building and everything inside it. We had no intention of any extension of the mosque building before it was burned," he said.

"Since we were forced to rebuild the burned building, we thought it would be appropriate to incorporate some essential facilities essential to be a proper mosque with small extension.

"The proposed extension is mainly to fit in the women worshippers and set up toilets and washing areas which will replace the existing unimpressive demountable facility.

"Due to a drop in the number of middle eastern Muslim students at the University, there are now less number of worshippers in the mosque now than it were two years ago. As a result, there are less number of worshippers and fewer number of cars at the mosques these days.

"Let's hope that common sense will prevail and our Garden City will remain diverse and welcoming, and maintain its reputation of a city of peace and harmony where everyone lives with mutual care, respect and dignity."

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