By an anonymous trustee
Amazing! You would think people would be more tolerant over another’s religion especially in today’s world, something as simple as building a Masjid should be straight forward, but not for the community of Ridgeway, south of Johannesburg. When we see Church’s, temples and synagogues being built rarely do you get objections from the Muslim communities unless it interferes with Islam.Why is there always a problem when a Muslim wants to do for their deen and the Muslim community? There was a problem overseas for Muslim girls adorning the head scarf, then it was a problem to have a Muslim Graveyard and there have been many other issues too numerous to mention.
Closer to home, Ridgeway faced a grueling time of trying to build a Masjid in their area. One of the trustees of the Masjid shares the story of their struggles and triumph in acquiring permission to build the Masjid…
`In 1992 my family moved to Ridgeway. We were probably at that time just two families living in a mostly Afrikaaner area. Still fairly new to the changing winds of the country I think having people of colour was unsettling for the people around us but during the years it changed and people became more tolerant and comfortable with one another. We had already set up a Jamaat Khana from a house nearby and had approached the City Council for re-zoning and for permission to convert the house into a Masjid. We officially had it registered under Section 21 on the 27thJanuary 1995 and purchased the land on 15 February 1995. Alhumdulillah we prayed our first salaah on the 10thMuharram 1416.
Coincidentally Sheikh Ahmed Nakooda of Madinah Munawarah visted us on that night and prayed for the official opening .During this time we were getting strong objections from two neighbours in our area. Both highly qualified and holding senior positions in top companies showed absolutely no tolerance to freedom of religion and threatened legal action in opposing the construction of the Masjid. During our first attempt at approval from the council we realized we were in for a difficult time. In 1992 the old guard was still very much prominent with the exception of a few token councilors. When we made our first application it was rejected under `technical’ reasons to date they can’t explain the real reason for rejection. Our two objectors came up with absurd statements as to why the Masjid should not be built in the area.
`The councilors came across very racist and even though we had the support of the community and a strong legal team it just wasn’t enough to fight these racist objectors. As we walked out of the hearing all of us including the objectors felt confident that we had won the case. The strongest objector seemed so convinced that we had won that he put his house up for sale. We were adjourned for a week pending a decision. A week later we were confident that the decision would swing our way but it was to be the other. We lost the case and our application was denied. We realized that it was going to be an up hill battle but our deen and our yaqeen in Allah allowed us to strive. As a community we tried to rally support from other Islamic institutions and communities. Some came through with unconditional support and the saddest was the negative response of certain Ulama organisations. We could see that Allah works in mysterious ways and HE found suitable people to assist us in working in the path of Allah.
`We held marches to the Library Gardens and had pamphlets distributed in informing people about our attempts at building the Masjid. Some people can be so cruel, information was distorted regarding our march to the Library Gardens where it was leaked that the march was cancelled, this caused problems for us and the Kerk Street Masjid as the turn out was dismal. But Allah SWT is great and sufficient. Allah blessed us with helpers and we pushed forward. The Muslims were growing in the area and our lawyers argued that these objectors were breaking our constitutional rights. The one objector made insane remarks that his house is behind the Masjid and that he can not sleep because the lights are too bright it keeps him up. Secondly he says we Muslims chant and sing until three in the morning and than the kids play ball in that hour making his daughter throw the ball over the fence at that hour! We laughed and shrugged this insanity off and continued with our Jihad.
`The other objector had a senior position in a top government organisation and abused his position in threatening people in support of the Masjid. Some submitted to the threats while others who held fast onto their deen were tested with daily threats and raids of their businesses. Alhumdulillah Allah protected all those in the path of Allah. Finally after many long years and with the unbreakable support from people such as Boeta Rajah, Attorneys Zahir Omar, Advocate Feroze Boda, Dockrat Attorneys inc. (Mohamad & Yusuf Docrat) and many others in our community, we had our application accepted and final approval was given on 26 August 2003. The objectors ran with their tails between their legs as Allah passed HIS own judgement on them. We began the construction of the Masjid in february 2006, deciding that the Masjid’s structural design would be that of the beautiful al-Masjidun Nabawi in Medina.
`Even though we had numerous obstacles along the way we achieved what we set out to do and that was to provide Muslims with a place to complete their fardh, Salaah. We have officially opened the Masjid in the first quarter of 2008. May Allah reward all those people who have contributed physically, financially & with their duas- and special thanks to the bosmont & eldoradopark muslim jamaat for their efforts and support .’