It has been a decade in the making but a religious community in Beeston finally achieved its dream when it officially unveiled the new Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira mosque.
A community event tied in with the grand opening this afternoon and the Kashmir Muslim Welfare Association (KMWA) vice chair Mahbub Nazir told the Yorkshire Evening Post it felt like a dream.
Over the last ten years the local Kashmir Muslim community has saved and fundraised using its own cash to raise the £2.2m needed for the mosque on Catherine Grove.
Local residents, schools and teachers, the police and council representatives were on the guest list for the opening.
He said: “It has not sunk in yet. It is something that we have dreamed about for many years and now we have it – it seems surreal. Not only with the will of God have we been able to complete our project but it is better than we expected. We are just in awe.
“We are a working class community. There were no rich supporters - just every day people scrimping, saving and putting their money together and that is why it has taken a while.”
Plans to build a bigger mosque started ten years ago when it became apparent the current base, a former Co-op rice mill on Hardy Street, was insufficient. The group had expanded to the point where at Friday Congregation a hundred people were praying on the street because there was not enough room inside and 300 children were using the classrooms in evenings.
In addition to the prayer facilities the mosque will have space for workshops, education and gatherings such as weddings.
Mr Nazir, 42, said the building was also a symbol of reaching out to other religions and cultures with the Kashmir Muslim movement often working with the Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Christian communities in the city.
He added: “I saw a gentleman who was a non-Muslim admiring the mosque. I asked him if he wanted to look inside but he said no as he didn’t pray.
“It is open to everybody and I said come and have a look. By the time he left he was in tears and it is about that.”