Globalization seems to arrive as property developers and the religious. Soon, Allah will be visiting next door to a pub near you in Knysna. Tongue-in-cheek aside, the proposed Knysna mosque will be in Rawson Street, behind Checkers and, seemingly inappropriately, next door to Oldes Pub & Grill [21 May 2015 Update: location now moved to 18 Rawson Street, a hundred metres away].
Being a small town, there will undoubtedly be discontentment but if Christians can build churches, freemasons lodges, developers islands and gay people a festival, there’s no reason for Muslims not to build mosques.
Then again, the least seemingly benign sentence of all time maybe, “All’s fair in love and war.”
Hopefully, The Vineyard Church, St. Georges Church, The Rock etc. will look to what they have in common i.e. the definition of “Muslim” is from Arabic meaning “to submit to the will of God.” So few Christians do in Knysna but they should at least remember that’s what they’re also supposed to do. I’m hoping that the mosque levels the playing field and holds an annual fete too – I do like fetes… and the mosque may be the only place I will find a copy of 50 Shades of Grey that no one wants.
Yes, I’m making fun…not for fun’s sake but to point out the ridiculous oxymoron that religion is i.e. It Divides. My appeal is that if the mosque does get all its funding together, that Knysna acts and treats them with decency. We don’t need more hate in Knysna. We already have the cops and politicians for that.
On a personal note, I don’t fancy the contradiction between the fact that Islamic law does not require men and women to be separated yet Knysna’s thread of Islam practices that. Yep, sexist! As frustrating and cheating and Woolworths-card grabbing as women can be, I believe in them being treated differently BUT AS EQUALS.
No matter how voyeuristic I will stare at both sexy Dutch tourists in short shorts or Muslimas in niqābs or hijabs (i battle with burkhas) walking past Oldes Pub, my fantasies will not gain equal rights for both as human beings.
Secondly, before the mosque is granted a building permit, it must be agreed that there will be no loudspeakers calling followers to prayers 5 times a day. That would be noise pollution and an invasion of the privacy of agnostics, atheists and the pretend faithful…and at least 2 of those would object if the Anglicans did the same.
Thirdly, I hope that they know that I would fight for their rights the same way I fight for others…and expect my freedom of speech to be respected in turn.
Outside of those last 2 paragraphs, I ‘pray’ for some of John Lennon’s “peace, love and understanding” and that the Knysna Municipality gets off its arse and starts understanding minorities such as the Muslims and the Chinese who are obviously growing communities in our town. Seek neighbourliness lest the already existing walls grow thicker until we are all isolated from one another which will only result in poorly directed fingers of blame when some shit or other hits the fan…and blocks an illegal storm drain connection and drowns us in our bowl of micro-climate emotion.
If you want to help or just be up to date with news, here’s the appeal that went out to Muslims nationwide yesterday:
With just over 50 families – totalling just over 250 individuals – the Muslim community in the coastal town of Knysna has begun to work earnestly toward the town’s first mosque. With a business plan now in place, the community is now reaching out beyond the scenic town on the Garden Route to fellow Muslims elsewhere to help them raise close to half a million rand in the next six weeks to purchase a property for the envisaged mosque.
Knysna is a major tourist destination, as well as a thoroughfare for people passing between the metropolitan areas of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, which normally results in higher numbers of mussallees over holiday seasons. According to Omar Essa, chairperson of the Knysna Muslim Council (KMC), a jamat khana (mussallah) was established in Knysna in 2004 where daily prayers are performed, along with Jumuah on Fridays.
“A madrassah for children of all ages has also been active since 2007. Both the mussallah and madrassah is held in a temporary facility, commonly known as the Lamco Building, that is being rented from a landlord on a monthly basis. The main challenges we currently face is the limited space available in this facility that can only accommodate approximately 100 people, while the jamat’s requirements sometimes exceed 150 people.”
Also, there are presently no facilities for female mussallees. Currently, they are being accommodated in a courtyard on the ground floor when needed. “Various options have been investigated as potential masajid sites, including the current facility and other sites located around the CBD area. A financial analysis of the various sites indicates that the current facility at Lamco, although more expensive in terms of capital outlay, will provide a more sustainable option in the long term due to its potential to generate an income from sources other than membership contributions,” he said.
“However, this property owner is not willing to sell at a reasonable price.” This left the KMC with no other option but to search elsewhere. “The choice of property is a critical deciding factor given the limited financial capacity of the local Muslim community to sustain the operational requirements of the masjid and madrassah on its own.”
Omar said this prompted them to draw a business plan to “encourage our Muslim brothers and sisters elsewhere to assist our community in procuring a property in Knysna for the purpose of establishing the first permanent place of worship and education for Muslims.” The KMC said this envisaged structure would serve as a “beacon of light in a community shrouded in darkness and will serve as the main base for the promotion of Islamic da’wah, insha Allah”.
Knysna is located on the south coast of the Eden District in the Western Cape approximately 500km east of Cape Town and 300km west of Port Elizabeth. The town has a population of approximately 50,000, of which Muslims are a small minority. It is not known exactly how long there Muslims have been in the town, although indications are that it could be in the area of three decades.
As has become a new norm in most rural towns in the country over the last decade, the majority of Muslims in the community are foreign nationals. According to the KMC, the majority of their Muslim population is Somalis (120), South Africans (50), Pakistanis (20), Tanzanians (20), Bangalis (15), Egyptians (10), along with smaller numbers of Senegalis, Kenyans and Malawians.
Omar related that the need for a masjid project has been growing since 2004 when mussallees numbered a few dozen. The current number sees a substantial boom during holiday periods when travellers frequent the facility, especially for Jumu’ah salah. The main facility that is currently being used is a room located on the first floor of the Lamco building and is approximately 50m2 in extent with an external balcony used as access, 2 toilets and ablution facilities.
For the last three years the KMC has been investigating various options in and around the Knysna area. It has now identified a property on Rawson Street that was once a restaurant. “The property consists of two separate building structures, one constructed or cladded with corrugated iron sheeting. It is located two blocks from the Main Street/N2 in the Knysna CBD. A number of Muslim brothers have small business in and around the immediate vicinity which places the property within walking distance of mussallees for regular prayers,” Omar explained.
The KMC has now made an offer to purchase on the property with a deposit of R120,000 having being paid on 24 April. “We now have approximately six weeks to procure the balance of the purchase price – R480,000. We have activated an urgent procurement programme to re-create public awareness in the major Muslim centres of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria with the aim of attracting donors, sponsors or sadaqat-ul-jaria funding,” he said.
They hope to raise the necessary funds in the next few months which would allow them to get construction underway before the end of the year. For those who would like to assist, donations can be made into the bank account of the Knysna Muslim Council, FNB, Account Number: 621 684 051 76, Branch Code 210214. More details are available at 083 413 6156.
“We at the Knysna Muslim Council, have made a firm niyyah (intention) to secure permanent premises for the masjid before the end of 2013. We appeal to all donors and the Muslim community as a whole to support us in this endeavour. May Allah Almighty reward you abundantly for your contribution in this world and the hereafter,” Omar appealed.
21 May 2015 Update: 2 years later, the Mosque is close to gaining final approval. Read ‘Knysna’s Mosque Landing Soon‘.