As musallies across the country enjoy the melodious recitation of the Holy Qur’an in warm and comfortable masaajid, Muslims residing in many townships brace cold and wet conditions to observe their religious duties. One such masjid is the Crossroads masjid in Marakana, which after much contestation was erected. Members of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) recently visited the masjid, but were startled to discover the state of the masjid and the difficulties faced by the musallies who pray in a dilapidated zinc structure.
Imam of Masjid al-Rawbie in Mitchells Plain and the ex-president of the MJC, Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels explained that the MJC’s programme for Palestine, which is held at masaajid across Cape Town every Thursday for the past 13 years, was this year hosted in masaajid located in townships.
“We saw that there is a need for help and development, so we took it upon ourselves to try and assist,” Gabriels said.
The shaykh says that while all the masaajid appeared to require maintenance, this particular masjid was in shocking disrepair. Upon seeing the masjid, the visitors were overcome with emotion, many breaking down in tears as the salah proceeded.
A colleague of Gabriels, Abdurraheem Stemmet subsequently organized an alternate venue for the mussallies of the area to use as a masjid. The new venue is a solid brick structure and can accommodate approximately 200 people, a far cry from the dilapidated zinc masjid.
Last week, the MJC re-surfaced the floor of the mosque and will this week complete the plastering of the walls. When complete, the masjid will house a madrasa and an Islamic pre-school.
The new masjid was named in honour of the wishes of a Tanzanian national who resided within the township. The resident fought against community members and physically barricaded himself against rubber bullets when police stepped in against individuals who protested against the construction of the original zinc masjid. He has sadly passed away with the dying wish of naming the masjid Masjid al-Rahman, the Mosque of Mercy.
“We make dua that Allah grants him Jannah for making sure that there is a masjid in Marakana, Crossroads.”
The masjid services Muslim residents who are both born Muslim and those who have entered into Islam later in life and has, therefore, provided a space for maintaining an Islamic ethos within the community.
“Many Muslim in the area say that their spirituality has decreased living in the predominantly non-Muslim township. But with the construction the masjid, they were able to reignite their love for the deen,” Gabriels continued.
While townships are renowned for criminal actively, the shaykh noted that residents of townships are warm and soft and have taken a liking to the positive changes brought about by the religion of Islam within their communities.
“Many people in townships have accepted Islam or they will say ‘teach my child about Islam’.”
As the winter months leave the most impoverished within society battling to keep warm, Gabriels encourages everyone to assist the residents of Crossroads with clothes, particularly for children and babies. The shaykh also urged all available plasterers to join this worthy initiative.
“When you give, you are representing Islam. Our Nabi (may peace upon him) did not have much worldly belongings, but he was extremely generous and in the month of Ramadan the Nabi was even more generations.”
For more information and to assist, contact: Kashif Wicomb 0824156634 (Rondebosch), Yunus Allie 0794945786 (Surrey Estate), Abdurrahim Stemmet 0723442086 (Mitchells Plain), or Mansur Mustapha 0848376632 (Lansdowne).