Call to prayer will still sound, for now

The Muir Street Mosque District Six.
Zeenatul Islam Mosque during their Adhan or Call to Pray announcement made by the Muezzin. The Adhan, Athan, or Azaan is the Islamic call to worship, recited by the Muezzin at prescribed times of the day.

Adhan is called out by a Muezzin from the mosque five times a day, before dawn, mid-afternoon, before dusk, after dusk and when its dark later. The main purpose behind the multiple loud pronouncements of Adhan in every mosque is to make available to everyone an easily intelligible summary of Islamic belief. These days loudspeakers are used on minarets for this purpose. The Mosque in Muir Street, has had a single “noise pollution” complaint lodged against them at the City of Cape Town, which is obliged, in terms of the law, to investigate.
“The Adhan is extremely spiritual to us and has a major meaning to us…’’, says Nizaam Raynard about Adhan and what it means in his Muslim religion.
Video: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Muslims and non-Muslims alike are showing their support for District Six’s historic Muir Street Mosque after someone lodged a noise complaint against its call to prayer.

The official complaint last Saturday comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan.

Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the City was compelled to act after a complaint was received in terms of the Western Cape noise regulations as a result of an affidavit lodged with SAPS.

The mosque says the ringing of church bells, or any other call to worship, can never be regarded as noise.

Imam Shaikh Mogammad Moerat said the mosque wanted the City to review the noise pollution by-law. The athaan had long been rendered audibly by the best means available, he said.

“This continued through District Six’s establishment in Cape Town as a vibrant community and continued through the forced removals.”

Imam Moerat said the mosque was part of Cape Town’s social fabric. Its history dates back to 1922 when a row of houses was purchased in Chapel Street and developed into a place of worship.

The mosque was completed in 1923 on the corner of Muir and Chapel streets. According to Iman Moerat, the athaan “reminds worshippers that the prayer is a path to spiritual sustenance”.

Ward councillor Brandon Golding said he was saddened that someone felt the need to lodge a formal complaint against the call to prayer.

“During the holy month of Ramadaan, this statement of faith is quite sacrosanct as it’s an expression of faith, the first of the five pillars of Islam, which is hugely important to the Muslim community of Cape Town and, after more than 100 years, part of the heritage fabric of Cape Town.”

The mosque has asked to discuss the noise complaint after Ramadaan, and Mr Badroodien said the City would respect that.

“The athaan has not been requested to be turned off,” he said.

The District Six Civic Association secretary, Shanaaz Arnold, said church bells and the athaan were part of District Six’s living heritage.

“Our mosques and churches have always formed an integral part of our community, and there was always a hub of activity. We are starting to rebuild our community around our mosques and churches,” said Ms Arnold.

Shahied Ajam, from the District Six Working Committee, performs his early morning prayers at the mosque.

He said Muslims should reflect for a moment and try to understand that not everybody was familiar with their culture and traditions.

“We are duty-bound to gently educate and inform those who are not familiar with it. Mediation in this case seems to be the ideal solution.”

Islam was a religion of peace and harmony, Mr Ajam said.

The mosque has received a lot of support on social media.

Nikki de Villiers Gray said she was shocked to hear of the incident, as the Muir Street Mosque athaan was “absolutely beautiful”.

Achmat Jacobs said the athaan would remain, while Gadija Abrahams said the issue should be left in the “maker’s hand” and the mosque was getting strong support from different faiths.

Imam Moerat said the mosque committee had received thousands of messages of support from people of all faiths from South Africa and across the globe and was thankful for them.