Prayer Time

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Christianity has probably had some presence on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, since the days of Saint Columba in the 6th century. Stornoway, its remote capital, has a population of just 10,000 people, many of who to this day shun work on the Sabbath.

Now, with the help of donations from generous locals, Stornoway is getting its long-awaited first mosque to meet the religious needs of a small but growing Muslim community on the Isle of Lewis, around a third of who are recent refugees from the Syrian civil war.  

The man managing the construction of Stornoway mosque is builder Aihtsham Rashid from Leeds, England, around 500 miles away. A friend of Rashid alerted him that the isle's 100-strong Muslim community needed help turning a derelict cottage into a mosque. So he decided to help.

A Just Giving crowd funding campaign for the mosque had reached 180 percent of its target at the time of writing, standing at £90,287 ($123,264). Donations mean the mosque will be completed in time for the start of Ramadan in May—and gift the community some startup cash to get it up and running.

"We're just waiting for the handmade carpet to be brought up at the end of this week and we're opening on Friday the 11th at 2:30 p.m.," Rashid told Newsweek, adding that "loads of people" including many non-Muslims have visited the site to donate money and find out more.

"People who were a bit hesitant before have changed their minds about Islam. Everything's in a much more positive state, showing a lot of love. I can't complain really," he said. One local woman even handed them a cheque for £500.

The mosque project has garnered a lot of positive attention from the media, making life easier for Rashid and the Muslim community. "If anybody had given me bad press I'd have been properly shafted here," he said, adding that he is "very pleased and humbled by the support." 


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