Open day at Hamilton Mosque
If you found yourself walking past the Hamilton Mosque and Islamic Centre four years ago it was a case of avoiding the smashed beer bottles that had been thrown against its windows and fence.
''Oh, they would walk past on a Friday night and throw bottles of alcohol, tip it out everywhere, it was terrible,'' said President of the Waikato Muslim Association, Ismail Gamadid.
''So we decided to open the mosque to the public, to let them meet us and see our mosque, and the broken bottles, they stopped.''
This Saturday the mosque will hold its open day for 2012, and it would seem from the lack of vandalism these days its attempts to try and reach out to promote wider understanding have worked.
''I think eight years ago when we started Islam Awareness Week people would come in an say 'Oh, we were expecting something else! (But) this is very simple and very nice','' Gamadid said.
''There are many people who think the mosque...that is where they make the bomb. But when they come and see for themselves they see something that is very simple, and that is the whole idea of Islam Awareness Week and the mosque open day.
''The public can come here, share with us, eat with us, experience things with us, and that can be very helpful for us all.''
The Islamic Women's Council's Anjum Rahman said woman were ''absolutely welcome'' at the mosque at all times, including this Saturday.
''We will have some scarves here, in case women choose to cover their hair, but honestly it is no bother what they are wearing. This day is about including everyone.
''People can come any time of the year, but often they will need an invitation, that is why we have the open day.
People will be able to sample 46 different culinary treats from around the world, look inside the mosque, ask questions about the religion and learn more about the faith and its role within the Waikato community.
It will also give the public the chance to learn more about the plans to extend the mosque. A property next door has been purchased and will be knocked down to extend the current mosque in a bid to ease parking pressures on Friday, when the mosque is busiest, Gamadid said.
Work is expected to start in October.
'''We see ourselves as very much part of the community and we want people to know we are here, we want to be part of the community and contribute to it,'' Rahman said.
A formal programme will run at the mosque, on the corner of Heaphy Terrace and Boundary Road, from 10am to 11am, followed by the mosque being open to receive visitors from 11am to 1pm.
At 2pm people are invited to Waiwhakareke Reserve for a tree planting day as part of Islamic Awareness Week.
People are asked to meet at 2pm in the car park across from the main entrance to Hamilton Zoo.
Plan to spend an hour planting, followed by a barbecue back at the car park.