Durban – The majestic Jumuah Masjid stands tall in Grey Street. Its beautiful minarets overlook the busy commercial life, while inside boasts a sincerity that eases one’s soul.
The masjid is surrounded by an eclectic mix of shops. Indeed, if you are ever in town and look to the skies, it would be hard to miss its minarets towering over city life. The property the building is situated on was once owned by a Tamil woman who used to sell produce during 1860 to 1874. It was bought for ₤150 at the time said Dr AV Mohammed, chairman of the Jumuah Masjid Grey street.
“The property that the masjid stands on today was a morning market. The Dada family arrived in 1874 in Durban and in 1880 they purchased this first piece of land. A tin shanty was put up where it is recorded that the original prayers were a congregation of 11 people. Thereafter other side properties were purchased that were adjoined to the very first property. Altogether six properties were purchased for the Jumuah Masjid itself.”
These properties were bought over a period of time. First the back minaret and the subsequent back plots were purchased in 1904. The rear musallahs or rows, that one sees when visiting the masjid today, were purchased back in 1904. Years later the Jumuah Masjid Waqaf trust was set up and subsequent changes were made to the musjid.
Jumuah Masjid Waqaf Trust
“Jumuah Masjid Waqaf Trust is the first waqaf trust in the republic of South Africa established in 1916. From 1916 to 1925 to 1940 various changes were made for the commercial section plus the section of building, a flat above the shops as well.”
Up until 2012 it was the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. Its position was taken by the Nizamiye Masjid in Midrand. The mosque is very impressive having three floors. During the Friday prayer, there are enough congregants, where the second floor is open for use also. The koi pond situated in the middle of the main Wudhu facility stands out. It is filled with fish and visitors often find themselves enjoying the fish swimming around during prayer ablutions.
The interior of the masjid is laden with beautiful red carpets and filled with intricate design work along the walls and the roof. The lighting is mainly made up of huge chandeliers that do not look out of place in this majestic mosque.
While the masjid was built many years ago, it is only due to the foresight of the people who expected the community to grow a third floor was built. Making it the majestic masjid it is today.
The masjid allows for many congregants
“It takes 2 000 people on the ground floor, it can take 2 000 people on the upper floor and on the third floor which is the roof garden. The minimum congregation that I’ve ever assembled is close to seven thousand in the mosque. We have a female Jamaat Khanna (prayer room for ladies) which can accommodate 300 ladies as well. All in all, between seven to eight thousand people. The minimum recorded on the day of Eid is close to five to five and a half thousand people. The weekly attendance on a Friday prayer is between three and up to four thousand. The daily Zuhur prayer, they are between two to two and a half thousand people which is made up of majority of the people that live or have businesses in the CBD.”
There is no doubt that the Jumuah Musjid had a significant role to play in Muslim society. For Mohammed, it is a historical landmark and a staple part of Durban.
“It attracts tourists from all over the world. It is one of the highlights of Durban. We have close to 1 000 foreigners who come to visit the musjid and we have close to 500 school children every month. They are guided to us by the IPCI (Islamic Propagation Centre International). The mosque is a historic landmark. If you have come to Durban and you haven’t passed Grey Street mosque, then you haven’t been to Durban.”