The Islamic Society of Toowoomba celebrated Open Day of the Garden City Mosque and the 5th Annual Toowoomba International Food Festival on Saturday 12 May 2018 at the Mosque premises.

In spite of very cold and windy morning a large number of people turned up to share food, faith, fun and friendship with the Mosque community.

Although the function was planned from 11am to 4 pm,  volunteers and people providing food and other services came much earlier to set up their stalls and welcome the visitors. The formal proceedings of speeches and questions and answers were held from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Riman Alammar, a student of Garden City Mosque Madrasa was the master of the ceremony.  All speakers spoke highly of the leadership of the city for working hard to maintain peace and harmony in our diverse community by supporting each other, especially at difficult times.

After the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, President of the Society, Professor Shahjahan Khan welcomed all the guests, speakers and visitors. He was the Founding President of the Society when it was formed in 1994 and it took 20 years to set up the first Mosque in Toowoomba.

Muslims lived in Toowoomba since 1881 and it took over 135 years to build the first Mosque in the city. He reiterated the fact that the Garden City Mosque is open to everyone, not just for the Muslims – anyone is welcome here.

Professor Khan drew the attention of the audiences to Ten Commandments of the Bible and Verses 151-152 of Chapter 6 (Alanam) of the Qur’an, almost mimicking one another to testify that both the holy books are from the same source, the Almighty God, Allah.

He also explained the situation around and after the burning of the Mosque in April 2015 and thanked Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) for approving the new Development Application for the expansion of the burned Mosque building to include all essential facilities under one roof. The rebuilding of the burned Mosque is likely to start very soon pending signing of a contract with a builder and receiving Operation Work Permit from the Council.

Hon Mayor of TRC, Cr Paul Antonio praised Muslim community for its contribution to the peace and harmony of the city. He emphasised that everyone other than the indigenous people are settlers or migrants, but each one brings strength to the community. He said that diversity is our strength and hence we must celebrate it like the event of the day.

Dr John McVeigh MP, Member for Groom and Federal Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, and long-term friend of the Mosque community recollected his connection with the Muslim community and the important role they play in the city and the region.

Hon Mr Chris Whiting MP, State Member for Bancroft representing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe of Multicultural Affairs Queensland delivered a message from the Minister including the commitment of the Government of provide fund for events like this that bring people of diverse faith and culture together.

State Member for Toowoomba South, Hon Mr David Janetzki spoke on his study of Islamic Law as an elective subject at the University of Queensland and explained how Islamic law is a very much an evolving part of the religion of Islam. He also mentioned that in his maiden speech in the Queensland Parliament he acknowledged Toowoomba Islamic community and the Mosque.

Mrs Dorothy Woodside of Toowoomba Inter-faith Working Group spoke about the beauty of diversity among flowers and asked how good would it look if all the flowers were the same.

Catholic Bishop Robert McGuckin spoke on his efforts to promote peaceful co-existence among people of different faiths. He always found the Mosque to be a place of welcome.

Anglican Bishop Cameron Venables reminded the division within and between religions and asked everyone to learn from the mistakes to be better.

Dr Mark Copland shared the story of his long-term relationship with Muslims dating back to mid nineties, and the hospitality that he and members of his church have received from the Islamic people.

Imam Abdul Kader of Garden City Mosque shared his experience with the neighbours who have always supported the Mosque community. He also answered different questions from the audience.

From left: Mr David Janetzki MP (Toowoomba South), Prof Shahjahan Khan and Mr Chris Whiting MP (Bancroft).

Among other dignitaries Mr Wayne Briscoe, Executive Director of Multicultural Affairs Queensland and Mr Stephen Wanyonyi, Multifaith Coordinator at USQChaplaincywere also present in the event.

Delicious food from different parts of the world is always an attraction for this event. This year the Muslim community offered food from many countries of the world including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eretria, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Turkey.

The children thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment of police display and glued to the jumping castle all the time.

The women volunteers provided the visiting ladies an opportunity to decorate themselves with hena and other traditional beautification crafts.

Dr Mainul Islam, the Coordinator of the event, thanked all the participants and guests, especially the families and volunteers who worked hard to make this event a success.