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Outer Hebrides to get its first mosque after crowdsourcing campaign

Leeds businessman Aihtsham Rashid has raised more than £63,000 to renovate derelict building in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. A crowdsourcing campaign for a new mosque attracted donations from around the world.

The Outer Hebrides is to get its first mosque in time for the start of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in May.

A Leeds businessman has raised more than £63,000 through donations from across the world to renovate a derelict building in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

The mosque will serve Muslim families living in Stornoway, who have been joined in recent years by several families who have fled the civil war in Syria.

The Muslim community in Stornoway currently worships at a house, but there is not enough room for everyone who wishes to take part.

A new electrical supply, roof and concrete floor are being installed to give the property a prayer room and a meeting space.

Inside the derelict building where the first mosque in Outer Hebrides is being built – video
The building, which was originally a residential house and more recently a store, will be used for weddings and funerals as well as for worship.

Aihtsham Rashid, who runs a construction business in Leeds specialising in building mosques, set up the crowdsourcing campaign. “This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for the residents of Stornoway regardless of their faith or colour,” he told the Hebrides News.

Rashid set a target of £50,000 for the restoration, which was quickly exceeded. “People are donating from all over the world – South Africa, America, Dubai, Pakistan – anywhere and everywhere, which is really good,” he said.

However, the mosque is facing opposition from the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), which described it as a “most unwelcome development”.

In a statement issued after planning permission was granted last year, the Rev David Blunt of the presbytery of the Outer Hebrides said: “Our main concern is with the religion of Islam itself. If a mosque ever opens, Islam will be able to promote itself in our midst through public worship, despite its beliefs and practices being alien to the religious convictions of the vast majority of our community.”

He added: “Islam is also incompatible with, and indeed a threat to, our religious and civil liberties … The oppression of Christians and the reduced status of women under Islam are well-known, as is the willingness of some of its followers to spread its influence by violent means.”

While stressing that “we have nothing against individual Muslims”, Blunt said: “It is a sobering fact that in recent years many militant Islamists or ‘jihadists’ have entered European countries under the guise of being refugees and migrants, when their real intention has been to wage war on the West on behalf of their religion; we are witnessing the tragic results of this deception in the form of regular acts of carnage, including in the UK.”

Stornoway is the largest town in the Hebrides, with about 8,000 residents.

Source: The Guardian – Outer hebrides First Mosque

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