The masjid is the brainchild of a prominent Turkish businessman Ali Katircioglu. The 74 year old gentleman was originally planning to build the masjid in America but was convinced by a friend of his to bring the project to South Africa. My dad had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Ali on numerous occasions during the building phase of the masjid. Depsite his excessive wealth and prominence, the business tycoon along with his wife were residing in a caravan on the site of the masjid. He was determined to see his dream project turn in to a reality. Arriving on the masjid premises, I felt as though I was transported back in time during the era of the great and majestic Ottoman empire. The masjid is a replica of the Selimiye mosque in Edirne, Turkey and is world renowned for its lavish architecture. The opening ceremony of the mosque occurred a few months ago with President Jacob Zuma and the Gauteng premier, Nomvula Mokonyane among the esteemed guests who attended the grand event. The masjid is a visual feast for those who appreciate the world of arts, design and architecture. Hand painted tiles grace the walls of the building and the ceilings are intricately decorated with gold painted Quraanic calligraphy. In the centre of the plaza there is an ablution area where worshippers can wash themselves before prayer. The design of the ablution area reminded me very much of the ablution area in the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The mosque has the capacity of accommodating 6000 worshippers and was built at a whopping cost of R210 million rand ( UNCLE ALI FUNDED IT HIMSELF). Rumour has it that Uncle Ali grew up in a middle class family in Turkey many decades ago. During a war, his family saved a Jewish man from being killed. The man returned to the USA and then decided to hand over all his assets and properties in Turkey to Uncle Ali's family. Having recived this huge bounty from God Almighty Uncle Ali decided to utilize the wealth in the path of God Almighty. The masjid premises also boasts a SAMA school, a clinic, a shopping complex, boarding facility as well as a Turkish restaurant. I was particularly captivated by the stunning pieces of art inside the art gallery located inside the masjid complex. The gallery had pictures of all the Islamic artefacts located in the world famous Topkapi Museum situated in Istanbul, Turkey. Pictures of the Prophet Muhammed (saw)'s sandles, sword, hair and letters that he had written simply left me speechless. Whilst in the gallery I had the opportunity of meeting a group of Turkish teachers who reside in the Durban region of South Africa. They were in the Johannesburg area for a national meeting to discuss the way forward with regards to the Turkish schools in South Africa. They were a friendly group of people and speaking to them made me feel as though I was in Turkey and not in South Africa. The sheer opulence, grandeur and stature of the building has proven once again that the Turks have always and will always rule the world of architecture and design. A big thumbs up and hats off to Mr. Ali for giving South Africa a piece of Turkey. Through him, nations have now formed a bond and a connection. After viewing the stunning pieces of art and reading about the majestic Ottoman empire, Turkey is definitely one country that is on my list of places to visit. To all my blog readers who hail from Turkey, I hope to visit your part of the world soon Insha Allah!!
Directions to the masjid: The mosque is located on the corner of Old Pretoria Road and Le Roux Avenue in Midrand, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, which can be accessed from the Allandale turn-off on the N1. You can also catch the Gautrain from Sandton or Pretoria to Midrand.
Take note that the masjid is open to anyone and everyone. However, when visiting the masjid care should be taken in terms of dress code. Modest and respectable dress code is of utmost importance as the masjid is a place of worship. Women should cover their hair, legs and arms.
For more info and guided tours you may contact the Nizamiye Turkish Masjid at:Tel: +27 (0)11 024 5857
PS: I have taken many pictures of the artworks inside the gallery and hence I have decided to split it over two to three posts as it will not all fit in one article.