Purchase of a Property for an Islamic Centre
The need for a Centre was always growing. In 1977 there was a property being considered for purchase at 326 The Terrace in the city. The problem with this was, first, there was not sufficient funds and IMAN would have to get a loan, second, the money that it had reserved was exclusively for a Mosque. It was also argued by some members that it would be improper to use the public’s money for a purpose other than what they had been given, namely, to build a Mosque. Eventually during the Meeting of IMAN on 30 October 1977 the idea of purchasing the property at 326 The Terrace was dropped.
The matter of purchasing a property gained momentum again when, in a Meeting on 5 March 1978, it was moved that the Executive Committee of IMAN set up a Project Committee to investigate all matters pertaining to the building of a Mosque and Islamic Centre, and submit proposals to the Association. Dr. Sandhu, Mr S. Khan, Mr S. M. Habibullah, and Mr Shaukat Ali were involved in the negotiation of a property at 42 Daniel Street in Newtown.
Three months after this, during a Meeting on 11 June 1978 an extensive discussion took place on this property to be purchased and converted into an Islamic Centre. The property was priced at $29,000 but through negotiations by Dr. K. Sandhu an agreement was reached at to purchase it for $26,000.
On 17 December 1978 a Meeting was held at Dr. Shandhu’s surgery in Kilbirnie during which the members went to the property together for the first time. The transaction was done on the same day. It was on this day that for the first time a prayer (do’a) was said in this property led by Maulana Tariq.
Having purchased the property, a permit was sought from the Wellington City Council to convert the house into a religious Centre. A submission was made to the Building Inspection Branch of the Works Department on 27 September 1979, and to the Plumbing and Drainage Branch of the Works Department on 7 March 1980. Having fulfilled the requirements, the Wellington City Council Works Department approved the plan on 15 April 1980. On 2 March 1980 a permit was issued by the Municipal Electricity Department for the premises to be re-wired.
Members discussed about the reconstruction and extension of the property under the leadership of Mr M. Hanif Ali. The bedroom walls were brought down to make a prayer hall. The lounge was retained to be used as a meeting room, and one bedroom was turned into a library. Later, the toilet and bathroom were removed and two separate facilities were built for ablution. In the building of the Centre many members of the community were involved. A person who deserves special mention here would be (the now late) Mr Abbas Ali. He had seen the Wellington student community grow from the 1960’s. Even while then living and working in Masterton, he would invariably travel to Wellington to join the Muslims for Islamic Festivals. He later moved to Wellington for a few years before finally settling in Auckland in the mid 1970’s. It was from Auckland that he came, temporarily, to Wellington to render assistance in the modification of the building. Most of the members of the community were involved in the work.
After the Centre was completed, it provided a permanent place of gathering for prayers, meetings, learning and other social activities. Since there was an Imam present, Maulana Tariq, there were no problems with regard to conducting the activities. Maulana Tariq had been sponsored by IMAN to come to Wellington as an imam. However, in view of the fact that at that time, the Wellington Muslim community was so small, IMAN could not afford to pay him a salary. Maulana Tariq was therefore expected to contribute his services on a voluntary basis, in the same way as other members of the Wellington Muslim community. Nevertheless, it was a fact that we could not expect his services on demand. Therefore, IMAN began to work on obtaining the services of a full-time imam.