We got out of work early on Tuesday, so it was time to cram in one more Durban “must.” We caught a taxi down to the Jumah Musjid Mosque, the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. Our taxi driver got us there with the description “the big mosque.” But when he dropped us off all we saw were hardware stores, computer/lingerie stores (these seem to go together in ZA. Convenient?) but no mosques. Eventually we figured out that the stores were completely encompassing the mosque and we found a corridor in.
There were supposedly hourly tours, but when we showed up they looked a bit confused. The made a call about 6 American doctors and within 5 minutes we had a friendly tour guide, named Mahomed. If I were Muslim I'd definitely change my name to King to cut down on the same-name confusion.
Mahomed was perhaps the best and worst tour guide I've had in South Africa. On the negative side, he told us approximately nothing about the mosque. He was incredibly disjointed, jumping from point to point, quizzing us about America, answering questions we didn't ask and not answering questions we did. But he did these things so comically, that it made the experience very entertaining. Some paraphrased commentary from our friendly tour guide:
Muslims should pray to Mecca at these times. I don't always do it.
You're from Florida? Tell me about the Everglades. What do they do in Daytona beach?
Isn't Maine an island? I watched a documentary about it. Yes, it's an island they bought from a lord.
You look like a basketball player.
You look like a boar trekker (me. Not sure what this meant.)
Is this the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere? Maybe. Maybe in 1959 it was.
It's not. It's not nearly the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. Oh well. Mahomed wouldn't let us leave until we'd had bisquits and cream soda with him. He assured us that Muslims weren't terrorists and that polygamy helps keep colored people gain an inheritance because men are going to cheat. I'm not sure, his explanations rarely explained things. But he loves Mormons. He kept telling us things that Mormons believed, some of which were true. He gave us tons of pamphlets,
Quarans and generally did his best to convert us. Maybe if your mosque were bigger my friend.