BENDIGO’S Muslim community has long spoken of the need for its own community space and as another Eid celebration has come and gone, that need remained as clear as ever.
Fahad Jamal said some were unaware where their morning Eid prayers were to be held – a number of people went to last year’s location on Fir Street, and missed the important ceremony.
When they were preparing for their lunch at the Strathdale Community Centre, they were unable to use the kitchen.
Fortunately, a chef from Dandenong was able to bring up some cooking items so they could prepare the annual feast.
“Every Eid is a challenge for us to find an appropriate venue,” Mr Jamal said.
“We were lucky that someone was able to bring their cooking items for us, so we were able to make it work.
“People usually get together in the house and with the wider community for Eid. It’s an opportunity for everyone to see each other and to join with the community.”
Despite the challenges, the atmosphere was upbeat among the 100 or so who attended the Eid feast in Strathdale on Friday afternoon to mark the end of Ramadan and to break their fast.
As Bendigo’s Muslim community approaches 400 people, representing 26 nationalities, the Eid celebrations also continue to grow.
Ramadan is a period of charity, and this year the Muslim community was raising funds for the local SES branch. Last year they raised over $1000 for the Salvation Army.
Nazir Rahman said it was important part of Ramadan.
“We are really only a small community and it is not always possible for everyone to give a lot, but we do what we can,” he said.
The majority of Muslims in Bendigo are from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, with an increasing number also from Afghanistan.
Among those from Pakistan is Hyra Usman, who has lived in Australia for eight years.
She studied dressmaking before coming to Bendigo where she started a family.
It has been a welcoming community for her and her family, and she was hopeful of getting back to her passion.
“When I came to Australia I had children, and now they are old enough that I can begin to pursue my passion again,” she said.
“I’m looking for opportunities at the moment where I can do more, and hopefully they come up in the near future.
“My work is a combination of eastern and western. I don’t want to exclude anybody.”
Eid al-Adha will run from August 21 to 25.
Challenge continues to fundraise for Bendigo’s first mosque
Bendigo’s Muslim community hopes preliminary works on the city’s first mosque can begin by the end of the year as fundraising efforts continue.
About 250 people attended a fundraising dinner in Sydney earlier this month to coincide with Ramadan.
Having confirmed construction details, plans and all approvals, the community just needs to reach its $2 million fundraising target for the Bendigo Islamic Community Centre.
Community leader Heri Febriyanto said it was difficult to raise funds in a small community like Bendigo, particularly when four other mosques in Sydney are attempting to secure funding at the same time.
“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a worship place at this stage,” he said.
“Sydney is big, but Bendigo is quite small so it is more difficult for us to raise the money we need.
“Our community is still just under 400, whereas in Sydney they have larger communities who are able to raise more money.”
Mr Febriyanto said the Muslim community continued to feel welcome in Bendigo, with many involved in professions such as health and finance.
“We are all living peacefully in Bendigo with respect to all cultures. We are also existing under the Australian Constitution and Australian law,” he said.