The first multi-faith room in an Australian shopping centre has been opened.
by Sumeyya Ilanbey, Source: Al Wasat newspaper
We welcomed the Hijri year 1435 with a very warm embrace and exciting news: the first multi-faith room in an Australian shopping centre has been opened.
A petition was started calling on Hume City Council to establish a prayer room at Broadmeadows Shopping Centre – which has a high Muslim foot traffic and population. A staggering figure of 676 “signatures” was garnered over a few days; and 350 overnight. Therefore, whether it was perfect timing or simply an appropriate request, Broadmeadows Shopping Centre Management expressed their plans of a spiritual room, which were underway in liaison with the Islamic Council of Victoria. Muslims, and non-Muslims, have been very responsive and enthusiastic about the idea of a prayer room because it succinctly manifests Australian values of cosmopolitanism and inclusion. The “Quiet Room” in the centre will not only cater for Muslims but for all religious and spiritual beliefs, allowing everyone to feel a part of the city.
Despite the petition asking for two separate prayer rooms, the Centre Management expressed to us that will not happen. However, that seems to subside into the background when we are able to look at the scope of events:
Muslims are now able to observe their mandatory prayers whilst they are shopping for the first time. It not only exemplifies how far we are establishing ourselves into the community and how much Islam has become an identity of Australia.
The prayer room is behind the food court near the Centre Management offices.
“Hume is known and revered for its diversity of people and respect for all beliefs, ethnicities and races” – especially its populous Muslim community. At the 2011 census, Muslims comprised 15.9 per cent of the population, which placed it second to Western (Roman) Catholics. Hume City Council’s efforts to incorporate Islamic celebrations, appreciation and respect have not gone unnoticed by the Muslim community; however, we believe there are a few important facilities that are missing.
Islam requires the observance of five daily prayers that must be offered at certain times. Unfortunately, Muslims who wish to visit a shopping centre and pray cannot do so because of an absence of a prayer room – namely, at the Broadmeadows Shopping Centre, which has a high Muslim traffic.
We call the Hume City Council to respect our religion’s requirements and allow us the freedom to observe our prayers and leisure activities. We ask for two prayer rooms (masjid) to be established at the Broadmeadows Shopping Centre – one for males and one for females. This would ease the lives of Muslims and also guarantee more foot traffic. The respecting of religions and religious observances are mandatory for the inclusion of diversity and cosmopolitanism in a city inundated with vast ethnic and religious groups. Thus, the establishment of a prayer room will be a manifestation of Hume City Council’s vision: …connecting our proud community and celebrating the diversity of Hume.
The Muslim Community of Hume.