Muslims pray for space

The CBD’s Muslims are looking for a new Friday prayer space, having outgrown their facilities in Jeffcott St.

Despite splitting the Friday prayer session into two some years ago, the faithful are now using all three storeys of the Islamic Council of Victoria’s (ICV) city headquarters, spilling into the corridors and stairwells and even occupying the garage for the weekly lunchtime event.  Latecomers are locked out.

ICV executive director Nail Aykan explained that a new mosque was not required.  Rather, he said, it was space for the Friday congregational prayer that was needed.

“We only need an area for two hours a week,” Mr Aykan said. “For the other 166 hours each week, our mosque here is fine.”

Mr Aykan said muslims prayed privately five times each day, but were required to come together on Fridays as a community.  He estimated that 1800 men prayed at the ICV premises each Friday lunchtime.

“It’s not the kind of request a typical landlord would go for, so we’re putting it out there to the community to see what we can find.

The space could be public, private or commercial – we’re not fussy,” he said.

There are, however, some requirements.  A single, open floor area is preferred.  There should be no furniture or chairs, as prayers are conducted on the floor.  And, if there were pictures depicting living creatures on the walls, they would need to be covered during the prayer session.

Mr Aykan is hoping that a suitable CBD space can be found and that a two-hour per week arrangement can be made.  He can be contacted at nail.aykan@icv.org.au

Recent arrivals, particularly from the sub-continent, and a trend towards greater piety were driving the overcrowding, he said.

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