Tomorrow’s Oamaru Islamic Centre open day is about maintaining existing “bridges” within the community, the centre’s imam says.
In collaboration with Auckland’s Voice of Islam, the Oamaru open day would reflect on the 2019 Christchurch terror attack, but Imam Nurhisyam Ramli said it was also a day of reciprocity.
“We want to get to know you, too.”
The Oamaru Islamic Centre held its first open day in 2019. It was about “building a bridge” and introducing people to Islam, secretary Hendriani Trisaptayuni said.
The centre wanted to build on that existing connection, Imam Ramli said.
More Oamaru residents became aware that there was an Islamic community in Oamaru after the terror attack, and were more open-minded and interested in learning about the religious faith, he said.
They had driven the centre to hold annual open days. This year’s event would be more social and offer visitors a chance to mingle and have discussions.
“Some people may still have a question mark of what we do here,” Mrs Trisaptayuni said.
Imam Ramli encouraged people to ask questions.
“Come and see us, and directly communicate with Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Imam Ramli and Mrs Trisaptayuni said they felt safe in Oamaru.
After the terror attack, the centre received hundreds of letters from around New Zealand, and even one from the United States.
Mrs Trisaptayuni distributed the letters of support to those affected by the attack while visiting Christchurch shortly after March 15, 2019.
Imam Ramli was touched when his neighbour came to see him to show support. Mrs Trisaptayuni had a similar experience with someone in her neighbourhood who offered condolences and asked to give her a hug.
She said more people had been greeting her with the phrase “salaam” as a gesture of peace.
When asked how non-Muslims could support those of the Muslim faith, she said they could show understanding and kindness to anyone in the community regardless of their religion.
The centre’s members were multicultural – people from over the world sharing the Islamic faith.
This would be reflected with a potluck at the open day, with dishes from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey.
Tomorrow’s open day runs from 11am to 2pm at the Oamaru Islamic Centre in Trent St.