The largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere, the Nizamiye Turkish Mosque and complex, will officially be opened tomorrow in Midrand, Johannesburg.
President Jacob Zuma and Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, will be among those who will be attending the opening of the grand mosque standing at the corner of Le Roux Avenue and Old Pretoria Road in Halfway House.
The brainchild of Turkish businessman, Ali Katircioglu or as he is fondly known as “Uncle Ali”, has added a touch of Turkey to the South African skyline.
The 75-year old Turkish national had dreamt of building a place of prayer in the US but ended up creating the Turkish delight in Africa.
The mosque is surrounded by a community complex, which includes a SAMA school (a private school centered on an Islamic ethos), boarding facilities, shopping complex, and a clinic which was inspired by Uncle Ali’s visit to former president Nelson Mandela.
According to Project manager, Orhan Telick, the non-profit clinic has already being constructed and will be operational mid next year.
The shopping complex opens next month with ten store varying from clothing, Turkish rugs to a barber and even a restaurant known for its Turkish cuisine.
The grand mosque and complex was funded by Uncle Ali, with an estimated cost of R210 million rand.
The SAMA school opened its doors for Grade R to three this year as well
as for Grade eight learners. The private school follows an Islamic ethos
and most learners are funded by bursaries. Next year it hopes to have
Telik says the complex also has a playground and ladies facilities which allows the space to be frequented by the entire family.
The grand mosque and complex was funded by Uncle Ali, with an estimated cost of R210 million rand. "He has turned away all donors, telling them to contribute to the running of the facilities, such as bursaries for the students, instead," said Mehmet Naci, deputy principal of Sama Boys’ School.
According to Telik the complex will be handed over to a South African charity, Fountain Education Trust, who will run it once it is completed.
The towering minarets of the mosque are visible as one drives on the Pretoria highway, guiding one to its grand complex.
Driving into the complex, one has a feeling of being transported to the Ottoman Era. The mosque lies in the centre of the 52ha complex, and is based on the Selimiye Mosque in Edime, Turkey.
The structure boasts four minarets that surround a wide dome. Twenty-four smaller domes adorn the boarding rooms and courtyard. The structure of the mosque was made from handmade natural stone imported from its motherland.
The interior of the mosque is a visual feast, showcasing its Turkish descent. It boasts hand-painted tiles on the wall, ornate flowers flow from wall to carpet, creating a central symmetry throughout the building.
The detail in the architecture and design can be seen in the ceiling which is covered by intricately gold painted Quraanic verses calligraphy. At the center of the outdoor plaza lies a small ablution area where worshipers can wash before salaah (prayers).
Though only officially opening tomorrow, five daily prayers are held there and Friday prayers see it filled to the brim, with extra carpets having to be laid out. The mosque can accommodate 6000 worshipers.
Everyone is welcome
Telick, says since the unofficial opening earlier this year, the mosque has had many visitors from across the country and the world. He says many have followed the minarets and come out of curiosity to view the building.
The building has two storeys to enable men and women to pray separately.
Maimoonah Moola, who attended Friday prayers while holidaying in the city, described the mosque as a calm, serene space that welcomed families. She, like many others, who visited the complex, were in awe of the architecture.
Moola says the complex is an educational hub that caters for once religious and spiritual needs.
Another visitor from out of the province, Sumayyah Kadwa Motala, says she felt like she had left South Africa when she entered the mosque.
Johannesburg resident Aslam Bulbulia who has visited the prayer place on several occasions sees the space as a symbol of the changing face of the religion in the country.
He feels the mosque will “encourage diversity and provide room for a fuller expression of different views within the religion.”
One does not have to be of Islamic faith to visit the mosque. According to Katircioglu, "We want everyone to feel welcome and visit. You can wear what you want, look how you want but we all have the same heart."
Video courtesy of Ask Nanima