Jummah Masjid is one of the oldest and most important religious buildings in Mauritius. Located in Royal Street near China Town in the heart of the capital Port Luis, it was built in the 1850s to represent the Mauritian Muslim community, and it still plays a vital role in their lives today.
Like other cultural aspects of this diverse nation, this building is known for blending beautiful Indian, Creole and Islamic architectural elements into its structure. Visually, I found it fairly attractive, although not the grandest nor the fanciest I have seen throughout my travels.
Its tall white washed walls topped with pointy pillars, dressed up in beautifully carved details give it a distinct character. The aqua blue window shutters and rustic Arabian style wooden doors reflect its historical value, you get the feeling that the building has a soul, and that its story was written to be told.
I planned to visit this place, process my impressions, take plenty of photos and put together an interesting story about a fascinating site in a bustling city, that I thought you’d care to learn about. Sadly, my story was never completed, and instead I am always going to remember it for being the mosque that I wasn’t allowed to enter in Mauritius, not because I didn’t have the right clothes or head cover on, but simply because I am a woman!
It puzzled and frustrated me a great deal, firstly because the main reason we made the trip to Port Luis that day was to visit this mosque, and secondly because I was never given a satisfying explanation. I was simply told to wait in the courtyard, with other women whom I had no common language to converse with, while Angel was invited inside to perform a mosque greeting prayer, after clarifying that he was Muslim too…
Obviously I was disappointed, and it surprised me that none of the research I had done before showing up at the place revealed this information to me!
At this point, I do not wish to argue how wrong and obscene this really is, because I am still not sure what was it all about, but I will say this; I know that women generally ARE ALLOWED to enter mosques under normal circumstances, and if we are allowed into the greatest of them all “Masjid Al Haram” in Mecca, I am pretty sure everywhere else is no big deal…
I would’ve loved to get a closer look inside the mosque, and I wanted to greet it too.
The next day, on our way to visit another attraction in Mauritius, I mentioned the incident to our Hindu cabbie, he exclaimed “Aha, you should’ve gone to that other mosque in the north. They allow women inside, because they are a different cast of Muslims”. That was the closest thing to an explanation that I got so far…
Have you been to Jummah Masjid in Mauritius before? How was your experience?