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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Unhappily torn by dissensions and litigations': Durban's 'Memon' Mosque, 1880-1930
Author:Vahed, GoolamISNI
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
local history
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Urbanization and Migration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/27594362.pdf
Abstract:This study focuses on Durban's (Natal, South Africa) Grey Street mosque, built by Indian Memon migrants in 1880. It reviews the first half-century of the mosque's existence, underlining the important social role of mosques, and also questioning the notion of a homogeneous Muslim community. While the mosque was the most visible symbol of Muslim identity in Natal, it was also a site of contestation, reflecting the class, language, caste and ethnic divisions among Muslims in a diasporic situation. Mosques were built along class and ethnic lines and dominated by traders. As Muslim society matured, there were challenges to the leadership of non-clerical traders who did not tolerate challenges to their authority. Opposition sometimes centred on Imams who commanded the allegiance of the congregation. Mosques did not have an independent life but reflected the prevailing power structures in Muslim society. While outsiders believed that ethnic diversity was subsumed by a unitary Muslim mass, Muslims comprised a community of communities, and the building and management of mosques underlined this fact. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]