By: Shannon Willoughby
THE Gold Coast Islamic community is experiencing a baby boom and needs more mosques.
Religious leaders say there are between 6000 to 8000 Muslims on the Gold Coast, up as much as 4000 from the last Census in 2011.
The unprecedented growth is thanks to a high birth rate, not migration, with second generation Gold Coast families producing more children.
Leaders from the Islamic Society of Gold Coast say that the community’s only mosque at Arundel is at capacity.
It operates daily from 5am to 9pm and takes in 1200 people each Friday for the community’s main prayers, with prayers held five times a day.
The mosque is also a meeting place, is equipped with the burial material for funerals, is the venue for weddings and festivals and hosts 15 school tours annually.
Society secretary Hussain Baba said the boom meant the mosque was constantly in use and more facilities were needed to accommodate the growth.
He said the city was appealing for Islamic families from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide thanks to its multicultural society, lifestyle and climate and facilities like Bond University and the Gold Coast University Hospital.
“Many come for a holiday and then want to move here,” he said.
According to 2011 Census, there were about 4000 Muslims living on the Gold Coast with the largest portion under 34 years old.
Mr Baba said their evidence suggested that figure had swelled to more than 8000 people.
“Being a tourist town, there is acceptance of the Muslim religion as there are many Middle Eastern and Asian tourists who come here and practise Islam,” he said.
Imam Imraan Husain — the Gold Coast Mosque leader — said Muslims born here were now having their own families.
“In the eight years I have been here, I have never done so many rites of passage birthing rituals,” said Imam Imraan Husain.
“There are many people who live here and work in Brisbane because they like the lifestyle,” he said.
“They also feel very welcome. We have more than 40 countries as part of our community and we don’t have any skirmishes. Our community loves the atmosphere.
“We would like to see more in places to pray in Robina or Varsity Lakes to give people more options and ease. We need some more prayer rooms and facilities.”
He said the community would look at providing more facilities, including prayer centres.
“We need the financial muscle, but having more facilities would make it easier for people living at the southern end of the Gold Coast and would cater for the growth.”
According to the 2011 Census there were almost half a million people in Australia who identified as being Islamic — the third largest identified religious group after Christianity and Buddhism.
Nationally, the Islamic population grew by around 135,000 from 2006 to 2011, up about 40 per cent compared with overall population growth of 8 per cent.
In NSW, combined variations of Muhammad last year made the top 100 baby names, figures from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages reveal.
In London, the combined spellings of Muhammad have made it the No. 1 baby name for boys.