The charitable group representing Muslims living, working and studying in the Borders is planning to create an Islamic Centre in Galashiels.
The search for suitable accommodation by the Borders Islamic Society (BIS) was confirmed this week by its secretary Hamad Mustafa.
“The building will be a place of prayer and worship, but we also want the centre to be used for social and educational purposes, thus reaching out to and engaging with the wider community,” said Mr Mustafa, a surgeon at the Borders General Hospital.
At present, up to 30 Muslims gather for afternoon prayers on their Friday holy day in the Focus Centre in Galashiels.
“A prayer room is rented at the Focus, but it’s not really a satisfactory situation going forward and a more permanent home is what we want, although our plans are still at an early stage and all options are being considered.
“We have been in touch with the equality and diversity group at Scottish Borders Council and they have been most supportive of our aspirations.
“Ideally, we want to find a base in Galashiels: a town which is both central and well-connected and best serves our professional and student members.”
The society’s plans were welcomed by George Higgs, chair of the Scottish Borders Equality Forum.
“The society has done a tremendous amount to foster diversity in the Borders by giving talks in our schools and a permanent home will allow them to further develop that positive relationship,” said Mr Higgs.
Founded as a charity in 2007, the BIS will next month launch its own website with details of activities and services.
Mr Mustafa also revealed that arrangements were under way to hold an open day in the Langlee Community Centre, Galashiels on a date to be confirmed.
“In a spirit of friendship and co-operation, we want people from all sections of society to come and find out more about us,” he added.