By Tasneem Adams
An exquisite new masjid officially opened its doors for worshippers at Canal Walk during Jumuah on Friday. Muslim employees and patrons had for years made use of a small salah khana under the canal bridge, however, given the growing numbers of musallees, a plan was put in motion for a fully-fledged masjid. A thikr was held on Thursday night to honour the opening of the masjid. Founder of the masjid, businessman Abubakr Harris said it was a very proud moment, as the team worked around the clock to ensure the “five star”masjid was ready for the launch.
After the establishment of the mega shopping centre in the year 2000, Harris initiated the idea of a salah khana to provide a sacred space for retail workers and staff to pray, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy mall. Canal’s Walk late shopping hours meant that many staff would miss their prayers, so the salah khana was a valuable service.
However, as the local Muslim community grew, Harris identified a need for a larger prayer space that would cater to centre staff but also residents in the Century City precinct.
“The old premises could only hold 150 people inside, but the numbers (for Jumuah) would reach to more than 300. There would always be people praying outside. I approached Canal Walk for larger premises and at the time, they couldn’t do anything but promised to look into a possible mosque. I just thought it was empty promises, but Alhamdullilah, they kept the promise,” he told VOC before the opening.
Construction commenced last year but the building was put on hold during the Covid19 lockdown. The project was beset with challenges, said Harris, but they persevered.
Aesthetically beautiful, the mosque’s exterior and interior design is a visual feast. The masjid boasts stunning views of the canal, plush carpets, unique window facades, beautiful light fixtures and well-designed ablution facilities. Harris roped in the assistance of top-notch designer and said no expense was spared on the project. From an initial R500 000 budget, the team spent R2million on the mosque, raised from donors.
“We changed the design every week and we were out of budget all the time. We both agreed that this is the house of Allah and we are going to make it the most beautiful place. It’s amazing that we were over our budget, but the money kept on rolling in. It’s wonderful how Allah works…if you put your heart and soul into something,” Harris said.
The masjid will now accommodate around 300 people. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, only 150 will be allowed.
The establishment of a masjid is significant for the Century City community because most of the musallies work in office blocks in the vicinity and some within the mall. Despite many masajid closing their ablution facilities to avoid the spread of Covid19, the masjid’s will remain open as many office workers and retail staff do not have access to wudu facilities. In this regard, the wudu taps were spaced further apart, in line with Covid19 regulations. Unfortunately, the masjid will not accommodate women for Jumuah on Fridays during the COVID-19 lockdown, due to the large numbers of men attending salah.
“We get more than 300 men usually for Jumuah and I think now it’s going to increase. So we will have to use the women’s space. We hope they will understand,” said Harris.
Maulana Aslam Cassiem is the officiating imam at the masjid and leads Jumuah prayers on Friday. Shaykh Moutie Moerat of Paarl was the guest of honour at the first Jumuah. He was also the first imam at the old salah khana when it first opened for prayers 20 years ago.
For now, the masjid does not have a name, however, Harris said this would be decided upon in due course.
Harris said he was disappointed that many other shopping centres had not upgraded their prayer facilities, despite the clientele being largely Muslim. He expressed gratitude to Canal Walk management for going above and beyond to support the masjid’s development.
“Canal Walk management was amazing. Whatever I wanted, they provided.”
To find the masjid, musallees can exit at Canal Walk entrance 12 and turn right.