Auwal Masjid

Landmarks / Religious in or near Bo Kaap, City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsAuwal Masjid

Where? 39 Dorp Street, Bo Kaap, City Bowl, Cape Town

Overnight? Stay in Bo Kaap, in Western Cape

Auwal Masjid - the mosque on Dorp Street - The mosque that stands at the top end of Dorp Street, in amongst the brightly painted houses of the Bo-Kaap (almost diagonally behind the Bo-Kaap Museum), is South Africa’s oldest mosque - established in 1794, during the first British occupation of the Cape, by Tuan Guru, the Indonesian prince released from his thirteen years’ prison sentence on Robben Island.

Considered the father of Islam locally, he was to serve as the first appointed imam of the mosque, which he also used as a madrassa, or religious school, to instruct both adults and children in Islam. 2016 was the 222nd anniversary of the mosque.

Auwal Masjid is regarded as symbolic of the struggle by Cape Muslims for the recognition of Islam, as well as their freedom to worship. It was built on land belonging to the freed slave, Coridon van Ceylon and conformed to the doctrines of Indonesian Muslims, known as Shafee. To this day over 90 percent of Muslims practising in the Bo-Kaap are Shafee.

The building is very different today to the original. There remain only two walls - those that managed to survive the collapse of the mosque in the 1930s. Whilst there are no formal tours of the mosque its attractive grey exterior is easily accessible to those on tours of the Bo Kaap.

In the area: Atlas Trading Company, famous for its huge range of authentic Indian and local spices, is about a block away, and Biesmiellah restaurant, perfect for sampling a range of Cape Malay curries and other South African dishes, is a little higher, on the bottom end of the curved Yusuf Drive.

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