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Auwal Masjid celebrates 222 Years

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A cornerstone of Islam in South Africa and the Bo-kaap community, the Auwal Masjid in Dorp Street will be marking its 222 year anniversary this Sunday. Home to the handwritten Qur’an, the Auwal Mosque is the first and oldest mosque built in South Africa. The strong oral tradition confirms that Imam Abdullah Kadi Abdus Salaam popularly known as Tuan Guru, was the first imam at this mosque. The masjid reflects the intrinsic slave and Malay history of the Cape Town Muslim community. To mark this milestone, a khatam al-qur’an programme will be held at the masjid on Sunday.

“One of the things left behind for us is the hand written Qur’an. It is the entire recitation of the Qur’an. It’s so accessible to see the Qur’an… really it’s a must see as it is a big part of our heritage,” says current imam, Shaykh Ismail Londt.

The masjid came into existence in 1798 during the first British occupation of the Cape of Good Hope and was the main religious institution during the years 1804 until 1850. This mosque is also the first to have practiced most of the Cape Muslim traditions. A need for the preservation of Islam was needed at the time.

The Auwal Mosque has ever since its inception been a symbol of the struggle of Cape Muslims for the recognition of Islam and their freedom to worship.

“This masjid was a safe haven to the ulema,” says Londt.

One of the first madrassas in Cape Town, the Auwal mainly teaches the Shafee madthab in conformance with the doctrines of Muslims of Indonesian origin. Today up to 90% of all Muslims residing in Bokaap is Shafee.

The community is urged to attend the event. People are asked to arrive early to avoid parking and traffic congestion.

VOC will be broadcasting live on Sunday from the masjid from 11am to 1pm.


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