By Al Qalam Reporter
The National Mosque Open Day campaign on Heritage Day this week was hugely successful – and growing bigger – as more and more people of other faiths take a keener interest to visit masjids and learn about the basic tenets of Islam.
Dozens of people were graciously welcomed by participating mosque committee members who eloquently explained the basic tenets of Islam. The curious visitors were also offered translated versions of the Quran and other Islamic literature. The visitors were also treated to sumptuous snacks afterwards.
Thirteen mosques participated in the project, and the National Mosque Open Day campaign is gaining traction with more masjids expected to participate on Heritage Day next year.
Mustafa Darsot, a director of South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) which initiated the project, was in attendance at the Queensburgh Mosque where he and committee members of the masjid warmly welcomed local residents.
He said within a few hours of opening its doors to other faiths, over 100 people visited the mosque and met local Muslims.
In an interview, Darsot said the idea behind the project was to dispel negative attitudes against Muslims and Islam. He said many people who visited the mosque told him they felt the same kind of tranquility as they enjoyed in their churches.
Darsot said the idea behind the National Mosque Open Day was to “invite local communities to your neighbourhood mosque, to meet the people who run the mosque, to meet the Muslim community, to understand what the mosque is all about, what purpose it serves and counter all negative perceptions of a mosque in the area”.
He said Islamophobia and propaganda against Islam by mainstream media had planted a negative image among people, and the idea was to alleviate these fears.
Dr Faisal Suleman, chairperson of SAMNET, said National Open Mosque Day campaign was intended to inform, educate and build tolerance, understanding and respect for Islam and Muslims.
“The purpose of the campaign is to briefly educate visitors about Islam and Muslims, to dispel myths, to demystify the misconceptions about Islam as well as build and strengthen relations with other religious groups, he added.
Meanwhile, Shaheena Meer, a supporter of the National Open Mosque Day campaign, wrote on her Facebook post – part of which read: “We live in a country, where beauty radiates from cultural diversity. Very often the slightest misunderstanding or misinterpretation of action, behaviour or words, create division where some try to bridge the gap of fear to unite as a single community for the greater good of all.
She said SAMNET’s campaign has given people of other faiths “an opportunity of gaining a greater understanding of Islam.
“This was a phenomenal, successful milestone, paving bridges of understanding between various cultures and religions. When humanity connects on this level, the possibilities are endless…
“It is these very positive initiatives which make each day worth living which bring new meaning to community or Ummah as we know it!”