LAUTOKA – In the Melanesian Pacific region just to the northeast of New Zealand, Fijian Muslims celebrated on April 6 the opening of Fiji’s largest mosque in the island nation’s second biggest city, Lautoka, FBC News reported.
“By having a Masjid like this, the young generation is brought to the Masjid and because of that they are taught the good things,” organizing committee member, Nasir Khan said.
“Like very rare nowadays you will find people coming to the Masjid and them ending up doing wrong things which is not permissible in Islam. So by having a Masjid here, it will educate the young ones when they grow up.”
The new mosque in Saweni beach caters for more than four thousand worshippers at a time. The three-story building, which cost around $1.5m, has been built at a strategic location to cater for poor families who can’t travel far for prayers.
Khan referred to the fact that the increasing population of Fijian Muslims demanded building a larger mosque. Lautoka city covers an area of 16 km2 with a population of 52,220 according to the 2007 census.
The Republic of Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 830 islands amounting to a total area of 18,300 km2 with its capital as the city of Suva.
Humans have lived in Fiji since the 2,000 BC—first Austronesians and later Melanesians, with some Polynesian influences. Europeans visited Fiji from the 17th century onwards, and, after a brief period as an independent kingdom, the British occupied it between 1874 and 1970.
Fiji is a religiously mixed society with 64.4% of the population being Christian, but with a sizable Hindu at 27.9%, while Muslims represent 6.3% or about 62,534 individuals.
Fiji has many public holidays as it acknowledges the special days held by the various faiths, such as Easter and Christmas for the Christians, Diwali for Hindus, and Mawlid Nabawi for Muslims.
Lautoka’s Martyr Imam in Christchurch
Fiji reported on March 18 that three of its citizens were among the 50 Muslim martyrs killed in Christchurch Massacre in New Zealand last month.
One of the three victims was the sheikh Hafiz Musa Patel who was the imam of Lautoka Jame Mosque in Fiji for about 25 years before migrating to Australia last month before the terrorist attack in New Zealand.
The Fiji Muslim League expressed its grief over the death of the imam who was described as a loving and caring man and leader who never missed any prayer.
Fijian Muslims are mostly Sunnis at about 96.4% where they follow the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, however, there’s a small Ahmadiyya minority numbering 3.6%.