As South Africans mark Heritage Day on Sunday 24th September, there are calls for the Muslim community to open up their sacred spaces to people of other faiths to demystify Islam and encourage interfaith learning and tolerance. The idea was sparked by the South African Muslim Network (Samnet), as an initiative to educate South Africans on Islam and Muslims. National Mosque Open Day will be marked on Sunday between 2pm to 4pm.
The intention is to invite people of other faith groups to visit the mosque for a tour, question and answer session and light snacks. This will allow us to build social relationships with other communities to allow them the opportunity to learn about Islam and what happens in the madressa, to have them ask questions particularly to address misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslims and to meet their neighbours living in the vicinity of the masjid.
Much of the perception of Muslims since 9/11 relates to violence, terrorism, oppression of women and extremism and this trend is growing in South Africa. Mosque Open Days have been instrumental in educating and enlightening people of other faith groups about Islam and in developing closer relationships with Muslims as can be seen by the many initiatives in the USA, UK, parts of Europe and more recently Australia. Mosque Open Days have given the non-Muslim community an “insider” view of what Muslims do within the masjid but more importantly the reasoning behind it. Thus providing a platform to share Islam with those outside the fold. Australian’s in the last few months, with the threat of ISIS bringing suspicion and mistrust towards Muslims, opened up their masajids to all and the reception was astounding.
Recent reports of violent murders and atrocities committed by ISIS have sparked
suspicion and a negative backlash towards Muslims across the world. Samnet believes South Africans we need to try to reduce the prejudices against Muslims in a country where our religious rights are
“By bringing together the Muslim organisations in the country, it is out expressed hope that the
National Open Mosque Day will be able to present to non-Muslim South Africans the different
aspects of Muslim community life and answer their questions about Islam,” says Samnet chairperson Dr Faisal Suliman.
“We know how difficult it is to get positive stories about Muslims in the media and how Islam and
Muslims are being stereotyped in the media and one of the best ways to address this is to open
the mosques for a day and invite people to come and meet Muslims, address their issues openly
and honestly and provide them with places where they can obtain more information etc.”
Samnet’s promotional video for National Mosque Open Day
Samnet together with Ulema, masajid trustees, Muslim organisations and local masajid communities wants to encourage this campaign of opening of our masajid to other faith groups on 24th September, annually with the hope of eliminating prejudices against Muslims and Islam.
What you can do:
? Invite a friend or employee to visit the Mosque, just to see how we pray.
? Ladies can do the same at the Ladies Section.
? If they agree then make wudu and let them follow you in performing wudu.
Explain the steps as you continue.
? Let them sit at the back of the Mosque, and observe, while the Jamaat salaah is performed.
? After salaah you can consider these points:
* Explain the performance of Salaah.
* Explain the five pillars of Islam.
* Give some basic literature on “what is Islam” for reading.
* Encourage them to read and feel free to ask further questions.
* Encourage further Mosque visits, especially on Jummah so that they may experience the Khutbah and the large crowds.
*Emphasize that there is no compulsion in religion and the visits are only to demystify Islam.
*Invite people in influential and leadership positions from other faith groups to attend and bring their members. e.g. religious leaders, teachers, trade unionists, civil society organisations, police people etc.
“Dawah is very easy and important. Let’s share our beautiful way of life with others. The Muslim community must be encouraged to inform their friends, neighbours and colleagues of other faith groups to visit the following masajid to learn about Islam and Muslims,” says Dr Suliman.
° Masjid-e-Sufi Subhani, Newlands West, Dbn
° Juma Masjid, Grey Street, Dbn
° Musgrave Musallah, Musgrave Rd, Dbn
° Al Huda Institute, Ridge Rd, Dbn
° Havenside Islamia Society Masjid, Havenside, Chatsworth, Dbn
° Westville Soofie Mosque, Westville, Dbn
° Habibia Soofie Masjid, Masukwana (East) St. Pmb
° Masjid-ul-Islam, Cnr. Indra St. & St. Albans Ave., Crosby, Jhb
° Masjid Taqwa, Cnr. Hobelgaarn & Saul St., Gelvan Park, PE
° Masjidul Mansur, Warden Crescent, Mountview, CT
° Masjid Al-Furqaan, Imaam Haroon Rd, Landsdowne, CT
° Masjid Taqwa, Mayfair, Jhb
° Masjidur Rahmaan, Bekkersdal, Jhb
° Al Imaan Centre, Bleydeville, Lichtenburg, NW Province
° Al Anwaar Masjid, Mooi Plaas, Sprate, PTA
° Masjid Al Yaseen, Geluksfal Rd, Springs, Jhb
° Masjid Ehwaan, Thembisa, Jhb
° Ivory Park Masjid. Thembisa, Jhb
For a list of mosques participating in the Campaign go to: www.samnet.co.za.