By Al Qalam Reporter
More masajid countrywide have joined to participate in an innovative project called “National Mosque Open Day” this Sunday (Heritage Day) when doors would be opened to other faiths so they could interact with Muslims and learn a bit about Islam.
The project, initiated by the Durban-based South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) has largely been welcomed from many quarters, including Ulama bodies.
The objective of the exercise is to welcome people of other faiths to local mosques in an effort to demystify Islam to them, especially in the wake of growing Islamophobia around the world. Visitors would be welcomed to participating mosques between 2pm to 4pm on Heritage Day – every year.
The participating mosques are: Masjid-e-Subhani; Newlands West, Durban; Juma Masjid, Grey Stree, Durban; Musgrave Musallah, Musgrave Rd, Durban; Al Huda Institute, Ridge Rd, Durban; Havenside Islamia Society Masjid, Havenside, Chatsworth, Durban; Westville Soofie Mosque, Westville, Durban; Habibia Soofie Masjid, Masukwana (East) St. PMB); Masjid-ul-Islam, Cnr. Indra St. & Albans Ave., Mayfair, Jhb; Masjid Taqwa, Cnr. Hobelgaarn & Saul St., Gelvan Park, PE; Masjidul Mansur, Warden Crescent, Mountview, Cape Town; Masjid Al-Furqaan, Imaam Haroon Rd, Landsdowne, Cape Town; Masjid Taqwa, Mayfair, Jhb; Masjidur Rahmaan, Bekkersdal, Jhb; Al Imaan Centre, Bleydeville, Lichtenburg, NW Province; Al Anwaar Masjid, Mooi Plaas, Sprate, Pretoria and Masjid Al Yaseen, Geluksfal Rd, Springs, Jhb.
More mosques were expected to confirm their participation by today.
Dr Faizal Suleman, head of SAMNET said the idea was for mosque officials to warmly welcome people, take them on tours, explain Islamic values and prayer, answer questions and later get them to interact and enjoy light snacks in a friendly environment.
“This will allow us to build social relationships with other communities and give them the opportunity to learn about Islam and to understand what happens in the mosques and madressas. It will also give them an opportunity to ask questions and clear up misconceptions about Islam and Muslims,” he said.
Similar initiatives have worked successfully in the UK, parts of Europe, the USA, and more recently in Australia. Many people who visited Open Mosque Days to get “insider views” of “what went on inside masjids”, left feeling more enlightened. Many were grateful for the visits and ended up forging closer relationships with Muslims as a whole.
The campaign will consist of a uniformed format with display material, literature, booklets and CDs to be given to visitors as well as multi-media as resources allow.
Participants in the project would also get to invite local politicians, clerics and leaders of other faiths, civic leaders, community policing forum members and school principals – and make concerted efforts to forge cohesive relationships with them.