The opening of new £8.3 million mosque and community centre in Accrington has been described as a ‘dream come true’.
More than 5,000 people attended the Raza Jamia Masjid Mosque in its opening weekend and many also took part in a procession through the town centre.
The mosque, off Grimshaw Street and Lower Antley Street, can hold nearly 900 people for prayers and worship and also includes a community facility for residents of all faiths and backgrounds to hold meetings events and sporting activities.
Jawid Hussain, who has managed the project, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ to see the facility opened to the public.
Around 1,800 people, including civic and religious leaders, attended the opening ceremony on Friday, December 15. A family open day was then held on Saturday attracting nearly 3,500 people.
Mr Hussain said: “It was brilliant and very well attended. It’s taken us two and a half years to complete it. I’m absolutely delighted. There was a big turnout over the weekend and everybody was impressed and delighted by it.”
Planning permission was approved in June 2014 with all the funding coming through private donations.
It includes three prayer halls and a library and the community centre features an Islamic funeral room, community facilities and dining areas.
The 1.3 acre site also holds a 71-bay car park with six disabled spaces.
Councillor Munsif Dad, who is a member of the mosque, said he is ‘absolutely delighted for the community’.
He said: “I feel very proud that we as a community have been able to make this possible.
“For decades it has been a wishful dream but now it has become a reality. We invited people from across Accrington and East Lancashire to give them the opportunity to look around. It was a brilliant turnout.
“We were very grateful that the Mayor of Hyndburn and other political and religious leaders were able to attend.
“We also had school headteachers and they told us that it was something their children would love to come and see.
“I’m absolutely delighted that the community of Accrington have been able to fulfil this long dream.
“Some very important people who helped make this possible are sadly no longer with us and it is a credit to them as well.”