Mosques or Masjids hold a significant position in the lives of Muslims. It represents the centre of their religious, cultural and social life. The mosque is not the only abode of prayer where Muslims gather to worship but also a place where they meet their fellow Muslims. They learn more about Islam and the Islamic Ummah as well. The Mauritian Jummah Mosque has been standing at Port Louis since the 1850s with significant embellishments built through the 1890s. This mosque highlights the skills of Tamil artisans, and it is open to the public, where you can tour the grounds and admire the intricate mix of Islam, Creole and Indian architectural design.
There was a time when the need for a principal mosque in Port Louis was deeply felt, and it was not until October 1852 when some Muslim merchants purchased a few plots of land near the City Centre. They used the area to set up their businesses and eventually arrangements were made to start performing the daily prayers. One particular building was repaired and converted into a House of Prayer, where the construction of the mosque began soon.
As the small mosque in the Eastern Suburbs, known initially as Malabar Town, could not accommodate more than a hundred people, the need of a second mosque in Port Louis was urgently required. The mosque in the Eastern Suburb was a distance of few kilometres from the centre of the town. It was in 1853 when a small mosque by the name of “Mosquee des Arabes” was constructed on the new site, and it was solemnly sanctified. That small mosque was, in fact, the original Jummah Masjid. It symbolised the selflessness and faith of those leaders who paved the path for Islam.
The Muslim Community grew with the passage of years, and the shortage of space started creeping its way in as the mosque, which could accommodate 200 people at one point of time, became inadequate for a larger congregation as well. The space to build a more massive mosque was not available until 1859.
Seven adjacent properties were bought by some Muslim merchants between the years 1859 and 1877, which were handed over to the Directors of the mosque. The entire Mohamedan Congregation of the Jummah mosque became the owners of three-fourths of an acre of land, thanks to the devotion and generosity of the Muslim merchants. This is the very place where the Jummah Masjid stands today.
However, the place of worship was not built right away. The original mosque was embellished and extended after gaining authority over the adjoining properties. The transformation of the Mosque des Arabes into the present day Jummah Masjid was the result of the expansion work that required considerable expenses.
Skilled artisans from India started working in this new location from 1878, and they even made living arrangements within the precincts during the construction. Highly professional workers were hired for the process of moulding the sculpture, plastering, finishing and ornamentation as the local workers were not qualified enough for carrying out the task. The Indian labour was brought at a reasonable price as the members of the Board of the Mosque owned the ships that sailed between Mauritius and India.
Nevertheless, the construction work faced many difficulties in the form of disease outbreaks, lack of materials and workforce. Finally, in 1895, the work was completed.
Jummah Masjid is located on Royal Road in Port Louis, and the Ministry of Tourism categorises it as one of the most stunning religious building in Mauritius. It is relevant among the people for broadcasting the Jummah prayers live every Friday and Taraweeh prayers during the month of Ramadan. Eid prayers are also aired from the mosque.
Mughal and Moorish designs have influenced jummah Masjid's structure. The Mosque of Arabes formed the main prayer hall after the expansion works were completed. A glass chandelier illuminates the room. Right in the middle of the mosque’s courtyard, you can see an Indian almond tree, locally known as the Badamia tree. The tree has been standing in the same place since 1852 when the two pieces of lands were purchased.
Muhammad Fakii Ali is the Imam of the Jummah Masjid. He is from Kenya and the head of the Islamic school (Madrassah) where lessons related to the memorisation of the Quran are being taught. On the 27th night of the month of Ramadan, on Laylat al-Qadr, the graduation ceremony is organised. Mufti Muhammad Ishaq Qadiri Razvi, who is from Pakistan, is the Khatib of the Jummah Masjid.
The managing committee of the mosque is elected by the members of the Cutchi Maiman Society of Mauritius on a three-year basis. A new committee is voted, or an already existing committee is renewed after three years. The current president (Mutawalli) of the mosque is Nissar Ahmed Ramtoola.
The Jummah Masjid is home to the Mazar Shareef of Syed Peer Jamal Shah, which can be found in the backyard of the mosque. In layman’s terms, it is a dargah where people can come and stay. For the first ten days of Muharram, spiritual programs like Majilis are held. Furthermore, other programs such as Mehfil e Ashurah and Urs Shareef are held during the early 12 days of Rabi ul Awwal, throughout the year. Jummah Masjid remains closed on Fridays and during the Ramadan period.
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius is vastly related to the defining history of this island. Jummah Masjid is the living manifestation of the historical development of a holy site. Over the years, this mosque has become a highly visited tourist attraction. So, if you find yourself in the capital, makes sure to step inside this grand religious monument!
Fajr (Dawn Prayer) - 4.36 AM Sunrise (Sunrise Prayer) - 5.50 AM Dhuhr (Noon Prayer) - 11.59 AM Asar (Afternoon Prayer) - 4.24 PM Magrib (Sunset Prayer) - 6.09 PM Isha (Evening Prayer) - 7.18 PM
All the prayer timings are applicable throughout the week except for Fridays and the month of Ramadan. Also keep in mind that the timing is subject to change depending on the sunrise and sunset.
How to Reach Jummah Masjid
From the city centre in Port Louis, the Jummah Masjid is in walking distance via the Queen Street. You need to go to the southeast towards the M2 Trunk Road. After that, continue straight onto A1. You will pass by the park and then you need to take the pedestrian overpass. After crossing the pharmacy, you will find the Jummah Masjid on the right.