Queenstown could have its own mosque by next week
Queenstown's Muslim community will finally have its own place of worship when it takes ownership of a building in Gorge Road next week.
The community has grown to about 50 families in the wider area who have, until now, hired community spaces or, on occasion, taken to praying on Lake Wakatipu's shore.
But a final fundraising push meant Queenstown's Muslim community would have their own place of worship next Tuesday.
Otherwise the nearest mosque was about 200 kilometres away in Invercargill or Dunedin.
Queenstown Islamic Centre's treasurer Jalal Kasi said a $43,000 deposit had to be paid by Tuesday with the remaining $387,000 paid over the next year.
"At the moment we are quite happy with the donations that have been coming in for this project and we are quite close to the final target of the deposit. For the next remaining amount we are planning to reach out to all the other communities and the Muslim community to tell them why we need this permanent base here in Queenstown," he said.
But there was one sticking point with the Muslim faith forbidding its followers from entering into loans where interest must be paid.
"We can get a loan but in this country we have to pay some interest on it which is not really allowed in the religion so what we are depending on is donations and different grants from other Muslim communities and other communities and can help us with collecting this donation," Kasi said.
Queenstown Islamic Centre secretary Ashiv Ali Khan said having their own mosque meant a lot to the community.
"That is a big, big, big relief for all of us," he said.
"We've been looking for a property for the past six years since about 2015 and the prices of the houses are so high here we couldn't take a big million dollar-plus property. But we've been so fortunate to get this place around $430,000."
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said he was pleased the district would have its own mosque and it made sense considering the international tourism it experienced before Covid.
"The Muslim community are quite a large part of our community. A lot of them are migrant workers. A lot of them have settled and are now resident New Zealanders in our part of the world and I think having a place of worship for them is an important addition to our community," he said.
The Muslim community would open the doors to its new mosque for Jumu'ah next week.
Those wishing to make a donation should visit Queenstown Islamic Centre's Facebook page.