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Heritage Project Essay

To me heritage is something that should be of vital of importance, something that has played a part in history and contributed to why I am where I am today. For heritage to be important to me, it must have had an impact on the lives of my ancestors and the choices they made as well as the things which they fought to uphold. Heritage defines who we are, with the different types of foods, buildings and ways of life between the different cultures that bring us together.

The stories and memories passed on from generation to generation, bringing us together and giving us a sense of direction. It is the foundation that we are built upon and allows us to lay new grounds for the future. Debate around the public representation of Juma Masjid. Juma Masjid represents the Muslim community, being one of the most glamorous and extravagant mosques in the country people tend to take it for granted and not take into account its unique architecture and design.

With the Muslim population annually increasing, space is not a problem as Juma Masjid is the most spacious Mosque in the southern hemisphere. It represents the Muslim community as it is greeted with great numbers of Muslims on the days of Eid as well as a number of tourists who make the trip into town to marvel at its beauty. Although Indian and Muslim people always having a strong bond and togetherness, they aren’t allowed into the Masjid. This is for any non- Muslim for that matter. In Islam, which has strict rules that one has to abide by and comply too.

When you are a Muslim, you believe in the One and Only Allah, all other heritage and cultures are of no effect and are said to be false. There is no place for other religions in Islam, a Muslim should not become derailed from Islam and weaken his faith by giving into the western temptations and ways of life. Juma Masjid has never caused uproar or been part of anything controversial regarding its structure. Muslim people should be grateful as South African is a very understanding and accommodating place, with the government allowing Minarets to be built on Mosques.

Muslims in Switzerland aren’t so lucky however, as existing Minarets stand and new ones cannot be built, the Muslim people came out saying that instead of trying to make life hard for them and drive them out of the country the Swiss government should rather ‘integrate rather than exclude”. Throughout history people have been oppressed upon, some more than others of course. Because of this people would always remember the past and the way that they were treated and try to turn the oppression around.

Our divided past still has an impact on the lives we live today, with sport for instance. White people are highly regarded as cricket and rugby players while Black African people are associated with Soccer and form most part of the support system in the sport locally. We should ask ourselves, how do we sort this out? One should remember that common interests bring people together, so instead of carrying on with the old bring in the new and expose people to different environments, taking them out their comfort zones and creating a better future for our country moving forward.

As much as we can say that apartheid is over, there is still the lingering after effects of stereotypes and racism in different aspects of life. Therefore, we cannot just forget about it and move on, we should learn from it and educate about it, so it does not deter this country again. The Juma Masjid. The first bit of history surrounding Juma Masjid may be only from the early 1880’s but for Islam, it was introduced a lot earlier in South Africa, most people believe it to be brought into the country in around 1667 by the Cape Malays.

It wasn’t until 1863 though when Aboobaker Amod Jhaveri and Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada arrived in Durban did Islam really take off and open up to them; the people at the time. It is accepted that they were aboard the SS Truro, one of the passenger liners that brought down labourers from India and other areas. Aboobaker Amod Jhaveri together with Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada then purchased a plot of land in 1881 from K. Moonsamy for a sum of ? 115 with the intention of building a Masjid for the Muslim people of the Durban area.

There was not much of a structure on the site, but none the less they turned this small piece into what would become the largest and most visited Masjid in the southern hemisphere in the century to come. This however still wasn’t the Masjid to be; rather it was a Jamaat Khana. A Jamaat Khana is simple structure in which people could go into and perform their daily prayers. A Jamaat Khana is not even nearly big enough to accommodate the number of Musallees that a Masjid can. A Masjid is much more elaborate in terms of the architecture and minarets, domes and craftsmanship’s.

It wasn’t until 1884 when the two founders had the structure rebuilt to make room for the ever growing numbers of Muslim people in the area. This was now the first Masjid ever to be built in the Natal region. This Masjid could now capacitate up to 200 Muslims. Aboobaker being a businessman and knowing the trade, went ahead and purchased land surrounding the Mosque. This proved a smart and important buy as in the following years he would pass away in India from cholera while on a business. This land that had been bought paid dividend as it was used to expand the Masjid even more.

As the last surviving trustee and care taker of the Masjid, Hajee Mahomed had to take action as again space for worshippers was becoming an issue because of the influence of Aboobaker’s business transactions and dealings. It is said that he was an honest and fair man, who attracted many non-Muslims to the path of Islam by the way he went about with his dealings and mannerisms. Hajee Mahomed then acquired more land from John Stanger for a sum of ? 300 in 1889 for the Masjid to expand a little more and comfort the Muslims from.

Then in 1893 the British Empire abolished slavery and the Indian population wasting no time formed the Natal Indian Congress. With the freedom now granted to people, the first minaret was built on the extensions of the Masjid; this caused a chain reaction as in the same year two shops were built alongside the Masjid providing some money for the caretaking and maintenance of the Masjid. Then in 1905 during the time in which the Masjid was in full flow, the second minaret was built together with a number of rooms, it also facilitated visitors and travellers by establishing toilets and showers for the people at the back of the Masjid.

A living area was also built for the Muazzin; the Muazzin is someone who gives the call to prayer for Muslims all around, the call for prayer is called the Azaan. With the Muazzin now in place, it was about time a group of trustees took control of the Masjid and in 1916; which proved a rather important and significant time in this Masjids history. A board of trustees were elected; they included. Hajee Mahomed Dada, Moosa Hajee Cassim, Abdoola Hajee Cassim, Omar Amod, Joosab Jan Mahomed Tayob Hajee Khan Mahomed.

These Muslim men made up the first batch that took the realms and pressure off Hajee Mahomed as they worked with him on continuously allowing this Masjid to flourish. These two minarets were the tallest structures in the area of Durban at the time. In 1927 it was decided that it was time to expand and rebuild Juma Masjid, this contract was given to Payne and Payne architectures. A great part of the Masjid was demolished as the second minaret was brought down as construction was completed in 1928; it was also planned that the minaret would be rebuilt.

Many parts and mediums of the Masjid changed then after but the greatest and most significant took place 15 years later when the Masjid went under construction again. This time in 1943, the entire building rather than just part of it that was demolished; everything was brought to the ground except the first minaret. Everything else was rebuilt with the exception of the first minaret as the rest of the Masjid was built and fitted into the Masjid. Juma Masjid is not only a place of worship but also a place of education and learning for people.

A school for young Muslim girls was also established in 1957, this school has a roll of approximately 400 learners and 300 Madressah students. A Madressah is an institute put in place for children to learn about their religion of Islam and become law abiding citizens, teaching their students morals, values and etiquette. Being in the heart of the bustling Durban central it is convenient for people working in the area. Established as a girl’s school it is now a co-ed school. The Masjid itself is very beautiful

Juma Masjid is of major importance in the Muslim community of Durban, as it is occupied daily by hundreds of Muslim men who attend prayers daily. On Fridays in particular, Grey Street will always be busier than usual as all roads lead to Juma Masjid. Friday is the day of most important after Eid prayers in a Muslims life. Thousands of Muslim men close their shops, leave work early and make their way to Juma Masjid in prayer. Women at home prepare lunch as they get ready for their prayers as well. Two other days are also busier than usual; the days of Eid.

As thousands of Muslims take the day off from work as everything apart from religion comes to a stop. Everyone in the household is awake early as they ready themselves for the day that lies ahead. Muslim men all flock to Eid Prayers early in the morning as there are large gatherings all around the city. The day is then spent with family, great functions are held as people come together to celebrate this auspicious day of Eid. Juma Masjid has a distinct Islamic architecture style to, with its golden minaret which glistens in the rays of the sun many people often forget it’s majestic and eye popping beauty.

I for one am yet to come across a Masjid that has shops, offices, a school and still a beautifully designed Masjid; all in one structure. When you enter this Masjid you are greeted with an archway, which is just underneath one of the golden minarets. Leaving your shoes outside your feet are met by the soft and warm red cushioning carpet as they sink into the carpeted floor as you enter this century old marvel. Once inside, it is realised Juma Masjid is amazing inside as well, built in a baronial style. Juma Masjid is truly something to be admired.

With a Corinthian type walls on each of its high rise levels. Being Muslim I have visited many different Masjids around the country but not once have I ever come across another Masjid that has a pond in its Wudhu area. Wudhu being commonly known as ablution, simply cleansing oneself of impurities and keeping yourself clean and respectable as you prepare to stand before Allah in prayer. With the Wudhu area being a square with ablution stations all around it, all comes together with a pond in the middle and topping it off fish swimming inside is just the wonders of this spiritual sanctuary.


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