GEIFN | REPORTS | BMIN | TOUR | Place of Worship: Australian Islamic Centre of Newport | Victorian Mosque Open Day

[Report is compiled from multiple public addresses, multiple sources made over multiple publication dates]

The Brimbank & Maribyrnong Interfaith Network (BMIN) took part in the second annual Victorian Mosque Open Day. A bus of about 40 participants visited the Australian Islamic Centre of Newport. 

The Mosque Open Day is state-wide annual event, run by Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV), supported by the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Victorian Government (Office of Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion).

A bus tour to Newport Mosque – “perhaps the first truly contemporary Australian mosque … is an architectural and social marker of a new perception of Islam in Australia (see more at NGV)”.

The Newport Islamic Society (NIS) has been active in serving the community since it was established in 1989. Quickly outgrowing the former Salvation Army hall, they purchased a neighbouring property for women’s only space to eventually outgrow this on big worship days with congregants spilling out into carparks, then streets.

An initiative of NIS, many years in the making, The Australian Islamic Centre (AIC) serves the growing Muslim community (more than 10,000) and for now is the largest under the Southern Hemisphere. Completely self-funded.

The Centre is designed by Australian architect Glen Murcutt in collaboration with Hakan Elevli and built by Haddara Constructions. It comprises a unique Mosque, library, Gym & fitness centre, educational centre, restaurant & cafĂ©, activity rooms, offices, community spaces and Imam’s residence.

Visitors were told of special features that went into the design, and some of the thinking behind the finished result. The removal of minarets and domes, a feature of particular Turkish Islam, to appease local neighbours concerns, local bylaws regarding noise, and a negotiated relocation to an alternative location.

The main Prayer Hall includes special light wells, filled with coloured glass of a palette of 4 colours: Blue (Heaven), Green (Earth), Red (Struggle of Living) and Yellow (Realising Grandeur). Muslims do not have a Central Authority, each individual has a direct connection to Allah, and all is needed to “make a Mosque” is 3 adherents needed to assemble to prayer. 

Unfinished concrete walls are a symbol of the everyday imperfect nature of humanity. A glass wall on the public side is open, inviting and transmitting transparency to local communities. On a sunny day, the glass wall on the moat side allows reflected luminescence from the water into the walls and ceiling of the Prayer room. All glass walls can be opened to allow airflow and natural cooling through the heat of Australian Summer.

On this day, interested parties could dress up in veil, have hands painted in Henna and their names written in calligraphy with Arabic translation. Snacks upon arrival, a sausage sizzle/drinks post-tour provided generously by hosts. Bus pickup from two locations generously provided by Brimbank & Maribyrnong Councils.

On behalf of Buddhist Council Victoria Interfaith (bINTER) and Glen Eira Interfaith Network (GEIFN), thankyou to Hosts, Organisers, Volunteers and Participants working to share, build collaborations, celebrate diversity and foster team approach to addressing today's society. Received with gratitude.

MORE:
Brimbank and Maribyrnong Interfaith Network, Maribyrnong City Council
Tel: (03) 9688 0452; Email: info@bmin.org.au
Website: http://www.bmin.org.au