Inaugurated in 1957, the history of Ronaq-Ul-Islam Masjid is the evidence that through devotion, determination and team work, success can be achieved.
The period between 1952 and 1956 was the darkest in all history of the Muslim Community in Grand Bay. The only Madrassa was lying in ruin. There was no congregational (jamaat) swalaat. The fifty Muslim families were divided into two groups. For the Eid prayers, one group assembled in a shed and the other under the veranda of a house. It was indeed a very sad moment. Our elders felt strongly the need of a Masjid but all efforts were fruitless for the lack of a suitable spot of land. Those were the hard days when everyone in the village was living from hand to mouth.
By 1952, the large marsh situated in the centre of the village facing the local church had been filled in with sand from Mont Choisy where an airfield was under construction. It, thus, became an ideal place for construction. Messrs Mahamoude Nujjoo and Mamode Issop Bahadoor, two members of the village council applied to the Civil Commissioner (North) to lease this piece of crown land to the Muslim community with a view of constructing a place of prayer. Eventually the land was allocated to the Ronaq-Ul-Islam Society just formed and duly registered with the Registrar of Associations for the token rent of one rupee per annum.
The Society had about fifty members and the Executive Committee was composed of 9 members as follows: President/Mutawalli - Mamode Isoop Bahadoor, Vice President - Mahamoude Nujjoo, Secretary - Cassam Ackbarally, Treasurer - Abdool Rassool Nujjoo, Members - Aboobaker Dhonye, Issac Auleear, Mohabat Dilhossen and Aboodine Nujjoo.
We were in 1955, when the Society decided to construct a Masjid. Fund was being collected. In 1956, the foundation stone was load following a prayer and masonry work was on the way. While the Mosque was under construction, an unexpected problem cropped up. It became evident according to Islamic jurisprudence that swalaat (prayers) is not validated in a Mosque built on a rented land, however, symbolic the rent would be. An application was renewed to the Government requesting the authority to sell the land to the Society. Evidence to support the statement that a Mosque should be built on a fully owned land was produced to the Public Works Department, Survey Branch.
Hon. Abdool Razack Mohamed fought tooth and nail for the donation of the land and an ordinance was passed and promulgated in Council by Hon. Abdul Latiff Osman, the Minister of Agriculture. Consequently the land became the property of the Society. In 1957, the construction was completed and inaugurated amidst a large crowd of musalli followed by a waez by His Eminence Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani Siddiqui.
In 1959, the Mosque was submerged by a natural catalysm, the great flood in the North of Mauritius. The yard was under five feet of water. It took a week to drain the water towards the sea. To cope with such natural threat, the walls were raised and the wooden structure supporting the roof was replaced with iron frames. Simultaneously in the rear of the Sahun another building was put up to be used as madrassa and social hall.
In 1995, the Masjid was renovated and consolidated with concrete beams and roof. It was expanded in the rear by the removal of Sahun and opening a corridor between madrassa and the Masjid. An Imam living quarter was built and a prayer hall, for ladies, was erected in the eastern corner. The Masjid was uplifted in 1996 and a storey has been added to the ground floor. It can now accommodate about 1000 mussalli.
No doubt by now, the Ronaq-Ul-Islam has a long line of people that have served it with dedication and love. The present generation must record their appreciation for their elders who struggled hard for its establishments. Despite many problems they have proved worthy of the legacy bestowed on them. They worked with great zeal and devotion for the progress of the Muslim Community. Those who are no more might be reaping the fruits of Sawaab-e-Jariah.
Text: Ronaq-Ul-Islam Sunnee Masjid Grand Bay, 50th Anniversary Souvenir magazine, Dec. 2007
Editor: Abdool Rashild Nujjoo, Assistant Editors: Abdool Azize Owasil, Shameem Dhonye, Hossen Tegally