Forty-four mosques across South Africa will open their doors to the public on September 24 to mark the Heritage Day, promote social cohesion, and encourage the building of the rainbow nation, Rising Sun Overport reported Wednesday.
“On Heritage Day, South Africans engage with and learn about other cultures, celebrate their history and how far we have come as an integrated society,” said Dr. Faisal Suliman, the chairman of the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET).
“In encouraging this theme, the National Mosque Open Day provides a platform for you to see what goes on in a mosque, learn about Islam from a real Muslim or even find out why Muslim women adorn the Hijab,” he added.
The program includes a meet and greet, a tour of the mosque, an explanation of prayer and ablution, and a question and answer session to freely talk about Islam and Muslims with Muslims.
The 2018 National Mosque Open Day hosted an approximate attendance of 800 visitors across 20 mosques in four provinces that participated.
The Shaka Heritage Day is celebrated in commemoration of the Zulu King Shaka who united the Zulu clans of South Africa into a cohesive nation.
People gather annually at King Shaka’s grave to honor him on this day for his good deeds and sincere national efforts.
According to the 2011 National Census, about 80% of the republic’s citizens are ethnic Africans; divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status.
The remaining population consists of Africa’s largest communities of European and Asian communities. South Africa multiethnic and pluralistic spirit are reflected in the constitution’s recognition of 11 official languages, which is the 4th highest number in the world.
Islam in South Africa
Based on Pew’s 2010 report, Muslims accounted for 1.5% of the South African population, with the Muslim community comprising mainly those who are described as Coloreds and Asians.
They have been joined by black and white South African converts as well as others from different parts of Africa. Islam might be the fastest-growing religion of conversion in the country, with the number of black Muslims growing sixfold, from 12,000 in 1991 to 74,700 in 2004.
Islam was introduced into South African on three phases. The first phase brought the earliest Muslims as part of the involuntary migration of slaves, political prisoners and political exiles from Africa and the Indonesian archipelago that lasted from about 1652 to the mid-1800s.
The second phase was the arrival of South Asians during the British occupation as indentured laborers to work in the sugar-cane fields between 1860 and 1911. The third phase, following the end of the Apartheid regime, has been marked by the wave of African Muslims that have arrived on the shores and borders of South Africa. Moreover, there is a considerable number of modern Muslims from India and Pakistan that have arrived as economic migrants.
The Auwal Mosque, built in 1794 in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood of Cape Town, is recognized as the country’s first mosque.