Majestic white mosque, prayer house and meeting place for the Muslim community
Over half of Fort’s population is Muslim, long-standing heritage of the Moorish traders who came here long before the colonial powers. They make Fort a unique in what is largely a Buddhist country. There are four mosques in Fort, but the most prominent is the majestic white Meera Jumma mosque here at the corner of Leynbaanstreet and Rampart Street. In typical Fort fashion, its design is unlike any other mosque in the country. It has Moorish minarets, but looks more like a baroque Portuguese church with towers and a clock on the front wall.
For a long time, the Muslim community worshipped in a modest single storey building. The majestic white Meera Jumma Mosque you see today was built only at the end of the 19th century to replace the small prayer house; the result of a large crowdfunding campaign among the community spearheaded by local Muslim elder Ahamed Haji Ismail.
Other mosques in Fort
Wander the small streets and find four other smaller mosques: Ya Hussain Masjid, Shekh Yusuf Sahib Valiyullah Mosque and the Baddare Mosque. The Muslim cultural association, next to the Meera Jumma Mosque, is a favourite hang-out space among the Muslim community. This where locals socialise after prayer, play table tennis or come together for performances. “On the First Tuesday of every month, twelve of us meet here. Our classic refreshment is faluda, a sweet drink” says Mrs Fathima Hanim Siyoothy, a long time Fort resident.
Rauf Arooz, Muslim elder and trustee of the mosque shares: “The Fort community Is very united. I regularly speak to the head monk, as well as the reverend fathers. When we need to discuss important matters, we all meet at the temple. During Ramadan, we invite residents of all faiths to come and break fast with us at the Muslim Cultural Association.”