Large crowds of all ages attended the 7th annual International Food Festival and Toowoomba Mosque open day on Saturday 14 November 2020. The popular annual event not only entertained participants, but also educated them about Islam and Muslim community in Toowoomba.

This kind of community gathering removes the barriers, revitalise the common connection and clears misunderstanding. We believe that solutions to misunderstandings between community groups came down to just a few simple elements: food, friendship, fun and faith.

A lot of people do not know much about Islam. Many of them have a misunderstanding or questions, and we want to give them an opportunity to come here and meet us and talk to us and ask the questions so we can know and understand each other better.

There are misgivings, misconceptions, and misunderstandings everywhere so the more we can work to remove all the fear of the unknown and move closer to each other, respect each other better it is for our community and country.

One special feature of the day was a 100 year old, handwritten copy of the Qu’ran from Hasan Riza of Turkey, and provided by Mr George Helon.

Guests were also given an inside tour of the mosque under reconstruction including design of the Mehrab and carpet.

This is our seventh festival here as we do it every year after the mosque was established, and we’ll continue to do that which is important.

Food stalls and activities for the children kept families busy, and presentations from community leaders and academics enlightened and educated attendees throughout the day.

Everyone was pleased with the way people responded to the open day, and hoped it had helped educate the people of Toowoomba about Islam and their practices.

The speakers included Toowoomba Mayor, Cr Paul Antonio; Catholic Bishop Robert McGuckin; USQ Vice Chancellor, Professor Geraldine McKenzie; Multicultural Affairs Queensland’s Executive Director, Wayne Briscoe; CEO of Islamic Women Association Australia, Galila Abdelsalam OMA; Islamic Council of Queensland President, Habib Jamal; Fadlullah Wilmot of OHDS; Professor Shahjahan Khan and Imam Abdul Kader of Toowoomba Mosque.

Toowoomba is a lucky city to be united and to live in peace and harmony. The mosque is contributing towards that unity. We are always open, participating and engaging with the community.

This year the food festival attracted crowds from across the town and neighbouring region including those from Brisbane and Gold Cost.

My key message in the formal session was that every human is a representative (khalifah) of Allah on earth, Allah breathed His spirit (rooh) to every human before birth, He has created us as one nation (ummah) and honoured (karam) the children of Adam (pbuh), the different tribes and nations are only for the purpose of identity – thus Islam teaches unity of humankind regardless of gender, ethnicity, faith, profession or position.

Allah has bestowed dignity and respect for everyone uprooting all forms of discrimination and racism. Indeed, He has made Islam open to everyone of us, not just for Muslims, as the Qur’an is the guidance for mankind.

We’re all human beings, we all react similarly to the bad things and good things.

Sponsored by Queensland Government and Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), the event was postponed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.