Annisa Essack | email@example.com
19 September 2023 | 14:00 CAT
2 min read
In a world often marked by misconceptions and prejudices, an initiative in South Africa seeks to foster understanding and promote unity among diverse communities. This initiative revolves around opening the doors of Masajid (mosques) to visitors of other faiths, providing them with a unique opportunity to explore Islamic culture and practice.
Dr Faisal Suliman, the chairperson of the South African Muslim Network, spoke to Radio Islam International and said Islamophobia has been a global challenge, tarnishing the reputation of masajid worldwide and perpetuating false narratives. In response, South African masajid have been actively countering these negative stereotypes by organising events that allow people of various backgrounds to visit and engage with the Muslim community.
The initiative, which has been running for several years, typically occurs on Heritage Day, a South African holiday celebrating the country’s cultural diversity. Visitors are welcomed with open arms and are introduced to the basics of Islam, including prayer demonstrations, mosque tours, and discussions about Islamic beliefs and practices.
Suliman added that a vital aspect of this initiative is that it isn’t about politics or theological debates. Instead, it aims to break down stereotypes, foster positive interactions, and create opportunities for neighbours to connect with the local Muslim community. Visitors can ask questions, learn about Islamic customs, and even witness the beauty of Muslim prayer.
Speaking about the project’s success, he said that the results have been promising. Many participants have had their misconceptions dispelled and walked away with a newfound understanding and respect for Islam and its followers. Some have even taken the Shahada, the declaration of faith, on these visits, demonstrating the profound impact of such initiatives.
Moreover, the “each one bring one” approach encourages Muslims to invite friends, colleagues, and neighbours to join them on this special day, further expanding the initiative’s reach. It’s about building bridges, fostering connections, and reinforcing that diversity should be celebrated, not feared.
While this initiative is making waves in South Africa, similar efforts are gaining traction in other parts of the world, emphasising the importance of open dialogue and cultural exchange to combat prejudice and build a more inclusive society.
As South African masajid continue to open their doors and hearts to visitors, they show how positive engagement and education can contribute to a more harmonious and understanding world. In a time when unity is needed more than ever, initiatives like these serve as a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of community and knowledge.
For those interested in participating or visiting a mosque on this particular day, a list of participating mosques, along with their contact details and schedules, is available on the SAMNET website. The campaign encourages everyone to participate in this unique opportunity to promote understanding, dialogue, and unity among South Africans of all backgrounds.
Listen to the full interview with Sulaimaan Ravat and Dr Faisal Suliman, the South African Muslim Network Chairperson, on Sabahul Muslim here.