Cape Town news
THE DUKE and Duchess of Sussex have embarked on their first international Southern African tour since becoming parents to their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, who accompanied them on the visit. Their first two days in South Africa, which began on Monday with a visit to District 6 in Nyanga Township – followed by Monwabisi beach in Cape Town where they were photographed dancing and chanting with a group of mental health mentors – has been nothing short of phenomenal.
However their much publicized stop at the 225-year-old Auwal Mosque, which included a viewing of the first known manuscript of the Quran in South Africa, seemed to have stirred up both the faith community and international tourists looking for an alternative to what is normally presented to them.
Fascinating history behind SA’s oldest mosque
On Tuesday the couple visited South Africa’s first and oldest mosque, situated in the former slave enclave of Bo-Kaap in Cape Town’s city centre. While there they met members of different faith groups to learn about the work of the mosque in their quest to promote interfaith dialogue in the region. Recognized as the first and oldest place of Islamic worship in South Africa, Auwul Mosque welcomes visitors of all denominations.
The church regularly host inter-faith dialogues to help forge peaceful relations across racial or religious lines. According to reports, it was built in 1798 by an Indonesian prince, Imam Abdullah Kadi Salaam, better known as uan Guru, who was banished to Robben Island. It was during his imprisonment, at the time when slaves were barred from worshipping Islam, that he reportedly wrote a number of versions of the Koran from memory.
On his release from prison, he is said to have opened a madrasa (Islamic school) in Dorp Street, which became known as Tuan Guru (Mister Teacher). Few years later one of his students, Achmat van Bengalen, gave him one of his properties to turn it into what became known as Auwal Mosque, one of the main religious institutions in the Cape of Good Hope from 1804 to 1850.
Although only two of its original walls have remained intact, since being incorporated into tours of the Mother City, the mosque has become a must visit for international visitors searching for a deeper understanding (authentic) of the local Islamic culture and heritage.
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