The story of the introduction of Islam in Mauritius dates back to the 18th century when Indian sailors from Bengal and Pondicherry migrated to Mauritius. During that time, Mauritius was a colony of France, and according to the French Law, only Catholics had the freedom to practice their religion openly. It was not until the 19th century when the French Government agreed to allot some land to the Muslim people at Plaine Verte near Port Louis that allowed them to practice their religion openly. Today, 17.3% of the Mauritian population practice Islam, and approximately 95% of them are Sunni Muslims. Among the number of mosques spread out across the island, the Ronaq-Ul-Islam Sunnee Mosque is worth mentioning.
The Ronaq-Ul-Islam Sunnee Mosque was inaugurated in 1957, and it is evidence to the belief that great things can be achieved through determination, devotion and hard work.
The history of the Muslim community in Grand Bay went through a sizeable dark phase during the period between 1952 and 1956. The only existing Madrassa was in the state of ruins, and there was no congregational salaat. The fifty Muslim families parted ways forming two different groups. The division resulted in one group assembling under the shed for the Eid prayers while the other group used the veranda of a house. These unfortunate turn of events made the elders very sad, and they felt the urgent need for a Masjid. However, all their efforts went in vain due to the lack of a suitable piece of land.
In 1952, a large marsh in the centre of the village was used for storing sand coming all the way from Mont Choisy, as an airfield was being constructed there. As a result, the marsh became an ideal location to begin the construction of the Masjid. Mamode Issop Bahadoor and Messrs Mahamoude Nujjoo, the two members of the village council, approached the Civil Commissioner in North to ask permission to lease that piece of land to the Muslim community with the objective of building a praying ground. Eventually, the area was allotted to the new formed Ronaq-Ul-Islam society, and it was duly registered with the Registrar of Associations.
The Ronaq-Ul-Islam society compromised of fifty members and nine of them represented the Executive Community, namely Mamode Issop Bahadoor as President, Mahamoude Nujjoo as Vice President, Cassam Ackbarally as Secretary, Abdool Rassool Nujjoo as Treasurer and other members included Aboobaker Dhonye, Mohabat Dilhossen, Issac Auleear and Aboodine Nujjoo.
It was in 1955 when the Ronaq-Ul-Islam society unanimously decided to begin the construction of the Masjid. Funds were collected, and the foundation stone was laid in 1956. Nevertheless, during the construction of the mosque, an unprecedented problem emerged out of the blues. According to the Islamic jurisprudence, prayers are not allowed in a mosque that is built on the rented land. Following that hurdle, an application was forwarded to the Government regarding the authority of selling that land to the society. All the necessary evidence to support the cause of building the mosque was presented before the Survey Branch of the Public Works Department.
It was the relentless effort and hard work of honourable Abdool Razack Mohamed that led to the ownership of the land by the society. Finally, in 1957, the construction was completed followed by its inauguration amidst a massive crowd of musalli.
Falling victim to a natural catastrophe, the Masjid was submerged by the great flood of northern Mauritius in the year 1959. The yard was five feet under the water, and it took almost a week for the water to drain back towards the sea. To ensure safety from such natural threat in the future, walls were raised around the Masjid, and iron frames replaced the formerly existing wooden structure to support the roof more firmly. In the meanwhile, another building in the backyard known as Sahun was transformed into a social hall and Madrassa.
The renovation works in the Masjid began in 1995, consolidating the entire infrastructure with concrete roof and beams. The rear was expanded by removing the Sahun and building a corridor between the Masjid and the Madrassa. An Imam living quarter and a prayer hall for women were constructed in the eastern corner of the premises. In 1996, another floor was added to the Masjid, expanding the accommodation capacities to 1000 musalli.
Up until the present day, the Ronaq-Ul-Islam Sunnee Mosque has been served by a long list of people with absolute love and dedication. The current generation is very grateful to their elders, and they appreciate their hard work and struggle involved in this establishment. In spite of facing numerous problems, the new generation has lived up to the legacy that has been bestowed upon them. They have worked with great devotion and zeal to amplify the progression of the Muslim community.
There are some facilities offered by the Ronaq-Ul-Islam Sunnee Mosque to the active members of the Muslim community in Grand Bay. Religious ceremonies and gatherings including weddings and funerals are held in the Masjid.
In case of Saaman, Khatam and Nikaah, tables, chairs, glasses, plates, napkins, tapestry and different sizes of utensils to cook biryani can be rented in the Masjid.
The Madrassa is an educational facility with the Masjid that is affiliated to the Halkae Qadria Ishaat e Islam of Dar Ul Uloom Aleemiah, Phoenix. The students are subjected to the syllabus formulated by the Sunnee Madrassah Board. The Madrassah students can learn about the Islamic teachings through multimedia in the computer lab. The classes are held from 4.00 PM to 5.30 PM from Monday to Friday. Other facilities in the Madrassah include free yearly books, air conditioning, separate wadhu khana and toilet for girls and boys.