Making more room for the faithful

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 July, 2005, 12:00am

As the Muslim population in Hong Kong rapidly expands, the Islamic community is desperately trying to increase the size of its prayer halls and create new places of worship.

At the Kowloon Mosque in Tsim Sha Tsui, ambitious renovations are under way; about 30 per cent of the work has been done. Chief imam Muhammad Arshad said he hoped the remainder of the work to expand the prayer area would be finished by Ramadan in October.

The mosque was originally built more than 100 years ago and was rebuilt in 1984. The wadu, or the area where worshippers wash before prayer, is being moved to expand the prayer area and accommodate another 900 people.

'On Friday and on religious days, we find it very hard to accommodate everyone, that's why we saw a need to expand,' said Saeed Uddin, honorary secretary of the Incorporated Trustees of Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong.

The Kuwaiti consulate in Hong Kong is a major contributor to the funds to renovate the mosque. Its donations were especially welcome following a massive drop in contributions from overseas due to an international clampdown on the movement of suspected terrorists' funds. Organisations or individuals donating money to overseas Muslim groups are finding themselves under close scrutiny.

A mosque to cater for Muslims of all branches of Islam is being planned for Sheung Shui. After overcoming years of opposition from local residents, it seems the plans may finally go ahead after the Lands Department granted the land to the United Muslim Association of Hong Kong to build the mosque.

Funding problems may lead to delays but the association remains confident that a mosque for the New Territories' 7,000 Muslims will eventually become a reality.