New mosque in Ottery

2017-11-28 06:00
The new Shi’a Mosque Complex features architectural excellence melded with intellectual vitality.

The new Shi’a Mosque Complex features architectural excellence melded with intellectual vitality.

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Cape Town is in for a cultural treat in December when the first Shi’a mosque complex will be unveiled in Ottery.

Deftly woven into the global tapestry – with the first Muslims coming to these shores as Dutch slaves from the Indonesian archipelago in the late 17th century – Islam is culturally alive in this part of the world and enriched by this new addition.

Islamic architecture represents a synthesis of distinctive style and traditional abstract painting that produces intricate designs as can be seen in the painstakingly meticulous inscriptions, calligraphy and artwork at this new mosque.

South Africa is known for its natural beauty, as well as a multicultural heritage, with Islam cogently dotting its landscape. The dynamic thought that flows from this new centre of learning and reflection, disseminates a vibrant ideology that augments the Islam of its earlier roots in a positive manner.

Added to its inimitable architectural allure, the Ahlul Bait Mosque Complex represents a milestone achievement for this indigenous community composed mostly of African Muslims. Shi’a Islam has reached strata not previously explored.

In its universal approach, Shi’a Islam is deeply rooted in these communities, which stands in contrast to the insular nature of religious societies.

Shi’a Islam is active in Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Africa with several million followers in Nigeria.

Predominantly present in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan, its systemic foundations provide local context to Islam’s message through active participation in civil society at a multitude of different levels.

The Shi’a community, which is less than 40 years old in South Africa, has become an active participant in bridge-building interfaith dialogue.

Shi’a Muslims are small in number and this complex is the first of its kind in Cape Town. It has been mired in robust polemics reflecting difficulties experienced when traditional approaches are challenged. Wayward elements see themselves as custodians of religion that fuels tension and retaliatory responses between zealots from both poles.

Two plaques will be unveiled at the new mosque. One details the humble origins of this fledgling community, and the other the universal nature of inclusivity fostered by rolemodels such as Imam Ali (AS) through wisdom emblazoned on history’s pages as a charter of compassion.

He says: “Human beings are one of only two types: Either connected in faith or tied together through a shared humanity.”

The auspicious opening event will be graced by Nathi Mthethwa, national Minister of Arts and Culture, and dignitaries from both here and abroad.

The public is welcome to be a part of this event that starts at 18:00 on Friday 1 ­December.

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