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Originally opening in 1963 as a synagogue for the Jewish community in the Illawarra; the building at 9 Foley Rd, Gwynneville was sold in 1984 to a christian group and converted to a church. In 1996, the AICC In Auburn with the help of the ambassador of the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia purchased the Church for $135,000. The Wollongong Islamic Society was then incorporated and took over the day to day management of Masjid Omar. During 1997, the management committee with council approval extended and renovated the building at a cost of $80,000; funded by the local muslim community. In 2005, the AICC purchased 5 Foley Rd for $400,000; and then in 2011/2012 the property at 7 Foley Rd was purchased for $800,000. The local community raised $400,000 and the AICC matched this dollar for dollar contributing a further $400,000. Following the purchase of these 3 adjoining properties was a lengthy council process, which eventually led to DA for a new Omar Mosque; approved on the 31st May 2016.
During 1994, Friday prayer was attended by only 40-50 Muslims. Over a period of 20 years the number of worshippers increased to 400; approximately 200 inside the Mosque, 50 at the back of the Mosque and about 150 who utilise the driveway and the grassed area on the adjoining property. During 1996 there were 200 Muslim International students enrolled at the University of Wollongong; and this number has increased to approximately 800 in 2016. Wollongong University’s Abu Bakr Mussallah can only accommodate 150 worshippers, and the overflow from the musallah attend Masjid Omar. At present, the masjid can barely cope with the increased numbers of worshippers even after the opening of the Masjid As-Salam in Berkeley and Masjid Uthman in Shellharbour.
The rate of growth of the Muslim population due to immigration, refugee settlement programme, natural birth and student enrolment in the Illawarra has been in the range of 10-14% per year. The new Mosque building will have total capacity of 1400 worshippers for Friday prayer however it is anticipated that it will reach maximum capacity over 10-15 years if the current trend of Muslim population growth continues.
Dr Munir Hussain
Executive Member / MAWU Representative
Dr Sarbar Napaki
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Fattah
President Fundraising Omar Mosque 2020.
Abdul Latif Abdul Latif