South Africa Opens Mosques for Visits on Heritage Day

DURBAN – In keeping with the spirit of the Shaka Heritage Day of South Africa on September 24 when the citizens are encouraged to celebrate diversity, selected mosques across the country will be open for visits as part of the “National Mosque Open Day campaign,” IOL.co.za reported on September 7.

“The mosque open day programme is designed to welcome people of all faith groups to meet Muslims,” said Dr. Faisal Suliman, Chairperson of the South African Muslim Network.

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.

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Some of the mosques which will be open are the Reservoir Hills Masjid, Juma Masjid in Grey Street, the Musallah on Musgrave, as well as the Wembezi Islamic Dawah Centre in Escourt.

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.

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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.

Shaka Heritage Day

The diverse Muslim community of South Africa

The remaining population consists of Africa’s largest communities of European and Asian communities. South Africa multiethnic and pluralistic spirit is 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 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 neighbourhood of Cape Town, is recognized as the country’s first mosque.