Storm over new open mosque in Cape Town

2014-09-15 12:29

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Cape Town - A planned open mosque, which will be gender-equal and welcome non-Muslims, is causing a storm in Cape Town, according to reports.

The Cape Times reported on Monday that the Open Mosque is due to open in Wynberg on Friday, despite fierce criticism from parts of the local Muslim community.

Its founder, Cape Town-born academic Dr Taj Hargey, is a professor at the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in the UK.

He told the newspaper that it is time for a "religious revolution" in the province, and the new mosque will be gender-equal, interracial and non-aligned - meaning Sunni and Shia Muslims can attend the same service.

The Islam preached in the mosque will be enlightened, erudite and egalitarian, he said. Women will be allowed to lead prayers, and gay people and non-Muslims will reportedly be welcome.


However, members of the Cape Town Muslim community have taken to social media to criticise the new mosque, with some labelling him a "heretic" or "non-believer".

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) will have no authority over the mosque. Its deputy president, Riad Fataar, told the Voice of the Cape (VOC) radio station that the MJC is investigating the new mosque and has noted concerns raised by the community. He added that he would call it a place of worship and not a mosque.

"Anything that goes against our deen [faith]... will be in total condemnation from the Muslim Judicial Council," Fataar told VOC.

Hargey has threatened to take action against those spreading lies about the mosque, adding that the MJC does not want to be challenged on the theological monopoly it has, according to the Cape Times report.

The Voice of the Cape reported that a local advocacy group, The Inner Circle, which raises awareness about homophobia in the Muslim community, has been subjected to threats and intimidation after rumours spread that it was associated with the new mosque.

Rashied Omar, the imam of the Claremont Main Road Mosque, told News24 that there was a lot of confusion in the community about the new mosque, and not enough information about it at this stage. He declined to comment further.

Read more on:    mjc  |  cape town  |  religion

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