Masjid development dependent on community

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While VOC and Awqaf SA have succeeded in giving 21 masajid a cash injection to improve their facilities, the challenge now is for the community to keep sustaining the project as a form of sadaqah Jariyah. These were the sentiments of Awqaf SA CEO Zeinoul Cajee, in concluding the VOC/AWQAF Masjid Renovation Project supported by SANZAF.

On Wednesday, VOC revealed the names of the 21 mosques who are the beneficiaries of the Ramadan social investment initiative, a first ever for the station. Each masjid will be handed R10 000 for their renovations.

“We encourage the community to continue this effort so that more masajid can be upgraded. The community need to be real partners in upgrading and maintaining their mosques,” said Cajee.

The ablution facilities at one of the masajid selected

However, the project is more than just about the physical appearance of the masjid. The overall aim is to change the social conditions of the community.

“One imam I’ve heard of earns R300 a month. How on earth can anyone live on R300 a month? This is an eye opener for all of us,” Cajee lamented.

“We need to address the situation of our imams and muezzins to ensure that their skills and living conditions are commensurate with their positions. We should be empowering our leaders…as they are the ones leading the community.”

The ablution facilities at one of the masajid chosen for the project

The ablution facilities at one of the masajid chosen for the project

Social equality

Since the start of the campaign on the first day of Ramadan, the project has drawn a wide interest from the community. Overall, 43 masajid were nominated for the project. These masajid was specifically evaluated based on inspections during Ramadan by VOC and Awqaf staff, as well as with input from the MJC.

“Seeing some of the conditions of these masajid…it’s shameful on us as a community. It’s shocking that an imam in Khayelitsha lives in a 2 x 3 square metre room with his wife and three children. It’s a sad indictment on us as a community that we live in two different worlds,” said Awqaf SA’s Mickaeel Collier.

The living quarters of an imam and his family at one masjid visited

The living quarters of an imam and his family at one masjid visited

“We are not saying we need to downgrade our standards, but we need to elevate the underprivileged and emerging Muslim communities in order to bring all our institutions to the same level, which is conducive for community services.”

The panellists used basic criteria: the masjid must be situated in a disadvantaged area and the funds must be used to improve the overall structure, outside or inside, of the mosque.

The 21 masajid chosen are:
1. Masjidul Aashiq, Searidge Park
2. Masjidul Taqwa, Blackheath Islamic Society
3. Chatsworth Islamic Society (just before Malmesbury)
4. West Bank Masjied near Delft
5. Phillipi Salaah Ghana
6. Masjiedul Jummuah in Delft
7. Hermanus Islamic Society in Hermanus
8. Pumlani Jamaat Khana, Pumlani, Eagle Park
9. Masjidur Raghmaan Jamaa, Hanover Park
10. Heinz Park Masjied
11. Garden Village Islamic Centre
12. Driftsands Masjied, Khayelitsha
13. Masjidul Igwanul Muslimeen, Montrose Park
14. Masjied Capricorn
15. Beitus Salaam, Eerste River
16. Sandvlei Masjid in Macassar
17. Franschoek Salaah Ghana
18. Masjid Al Fatigha, Khayelitsha
19. Masjid Kunieni, Khayelitsha
20. Masjidun Nur, Belhar
21. Masjidul Ansaarullah, Seawinds

Going forward, Awqaf SA will now assign a technical team to visit each masjid to establish what needs to be done. A contractor will be appointed to do the work. VOC hopes to track the progress of this project with a before and after of each masjid.

“This project has been very exciting for us. We have an existing masjid building fund run in conjunction with Sanzaf. When we spoke about this idea of adopting a masjid with VOC, we immediately jumped on board to open this project to the Western Cape. And alhamdullilah, we now have our list of 21 masajid,” said Collier.

VOC and Awqaf SA issued a heartfelt thank you to VOC listeners and the broader community for their support towards the project.

Role of the mosque

Meanwhile, Cajee said there should be a mind shift change in terms of the role of the mosque. The perception that the masjid is merely a space for prayers devalues the status of mosques in society. He believes Muslims in contemporary societies should learn lessons from the era of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) where the masjid was a hub of the community.

“Our committees don’t see the full potential of the masjid beyond a place of salah facilities. The recreational activities have stopped. If we look broadly at the uses of the masjid, we could add study centres for young students, medical facilities and da’wah centres, all within the masjid complex.”

“We are regularly asked by members of the public about classes for new reverts seeking to understand the deen. One option is to have masajid where special courses are being held and the masajid can become specialists in certain areas. For example, Grey Street masjid in Durban is centred on tourists, where daily tours and programmes on Islam are conducted.”

But besides the overall physical structure and administration of the mosque’s affairs, communities face more pressing issues, such as the politics and the centres of power within mosque committees, which is hindering the process and growth of masajid.

“Essentially, whoever is involved in any masjid or community organisation, there must be a clear intention – we are serving Allah (swt). If we are focused on this, we should bury differences and focus on our mission, which is serving Allah and the community. We can compete in the way we do things, but purely for the pleasure of Allah. If we do things for our egos then differences will surface,” Cajee concluded. VOC

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