Islamic centre boost for Cardiff - press release for Welsh Assembly

All good project managers should have a vision – and Dr Munir Ashi has one for the most popular mosque and Islamic centre in South Wales.
There is a wide smile and a happy sparkle in his eye as he surveys the Dar ul-Isra centre in Wyverne Road, Cathays.
What he sees is very much a work in progress – a building site with a roof attached!
But, together with his colleagues at the Dar ul-Isra Islamic and community centre, he knows that a few months from now the scene will be very different.
“This is the busiest and most popular mosque and Islamic centre in the area and we often get a 1,000 people through the doors,” Dr Ashi said.
“Looking around the centre now, it is little more than a shell. But our ambition to transform the place into something special is very great and the centre will be a wonderful place when it is completed.”
The work at Dar ul-Isra has been made possible by a grant of £120,000 from CFAP – the Welsh Assembly Government’s Community Facilities and Activities Programme.
“That has been a huge help,” Dr Ashi admitted. “Although we have raised funds ourselves and some of the work is being completed by members of the Muslim community, the cash from the Welsh Assembly Government has made all the difference.
“We had a vision for a transformation of the old Dar ul-Isra centre and the Welsh Assembly Government has been able to back that vision.”
The building was erected in the 1940s as St Teilo Anglican Parish Hall and sold to the Muslim community in the 1980s.
“We probably have the most diverse membership of any of the Islamic centres in South Wales,” Dr Ashi said.
“And it may surprise many people to appreciate that English is the dominant language used in the centre. It is the one language that unites people from so many different ethnic communities. For example, we have representatives from the Arabic world, the Bengali community and Kurdish citizens.
“We are a rich mix of people from different ethnic backgrounds all united in a common faith.”
When the centre is completed it will carry out a whole host of missions. It will, of course, serve as a mosque for the community, allowing Muslims to pray five times a day. It will be served by not one Imam (mosque leader), but two – such is the expected demand on the hall.
The centre will also act as an Islamic educational and welfare centre, offering a wide range of classes.
And it will serve as a community centre. It already hosts a scouting group.
“We recognise that the centre has an important role to play in the wider community outside our front doors and we intend using our influence as a force for good, extending a warm welcome to all at the centre when it reopens.
“We are very fortunate in that we are able to act as our own project managers on the rebuilding, which will see us add a first floor which will double the available space.
“There will also be new facilities, such as toilets and a lift to allow free and easy access for the disabled.
“It is a very exciting project for us as a Muslim community. It may not look like much right now, in the middle of the building works, but everyone will be able to see a huge transformation in the building when it is completed. I am sure it will be a major asset to Cardiff and the rest of Wales.”
CFAP - The Community Facilities and Activities Programme is a grant scheme operated by the Welsh Assembly Government to help community or voluntary organisations provide facilities or carry out activities which will promote the regeneration of communities. Since its launch in 2002 CFAP has proved to be a highly successful grant programme. A total of £64 million has been awarded to 660 projects across the length and breadth of Wales.
Projects have included the refurbishment of church and village halls, work to make community properties accessible to the disabled, buying part of a former airfield for community use and restoring historic buildings for community use.
The CFAP is run from The Welsh Assembly Government’s Merthyr Tydfil office - Communities Facilities and Activities Programme (CFAP), Communities Directorate, Welsh Assembly Government, Merthyr Tydfil Office, Rhydycar, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 1UZ

Welcome to our centre: Dar ul-Isra centre chairman Dr Munir Ashi, left, and volunteer Ari Maolod pictured at the entrance to the community venue.

Press release issued by Robert Lloyd on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.

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