'Open mosque' founder calls for tolerance
Taj Hargey says he's merely trying to dispel “the man-made lies” around Islam.
CAPE TOWN - The founder of Cape Town's newest "open mosque" has responded to his detractors, saying he's merely trying to dispel "the man-made lies" around Islam and promote gender equality.
Professor Taj Hargey has come under fire ahead of opening his new mosque on Friday which welcomes homosexuals and even non-Muslims.
He's been called blasphemous by some but hailed as a beacon of tolerance by others.
The mosque will also allow women to lead prayers.
Speaking to Talk Radio 702's Stephen Grootes on Tuesday, Hargey said most people's understanding of the Quran is weak.
Hargey said men and women should be able to worship together.
"There will be one entrance instead of two and instead of women simply making tea and samosas, they will actually be able to lead the worship.
"Nowhere in the Quran does it say people should pray separately. Nowhere does it say men and women should be segregated.
'PATRIARCHAL, SEXIST DISCRIMINATION'
Hargey said the Muslim clergy has become theological mafia that dictates and monopolises everything in the Muslim community.
"This patriarchal, sexist discrimination is chauvinistic input and it's becoming more prevalent.
"You find Muslims with long, crazy beards, pyjama-like dress, face-masking of the women - nothing of this is in Islam. All of this is cultural stuff and has got nothing to do with my religion."
Hargey said we need to take Islam back to its roots and get rid of what he calls "flotsam and jetsam" that keeps them in power and the masses ignorant.
Secretary for the Council for Muslim Theologians in Newtown Maulana Ebrahim Bham said although he isn't offended by what Hargey is putting forward, people trying to introduce different aspects into the religion is nothing new.
"This is not the first time someone has tried to introduce different aspects into the religion and into Islam. This has happened almost from the inception of the religion."
He said if Professor Hargey wants to introduce something new he is at liberty to do so, but he's got no right to impose that on anyone else.
Asked if Hargay's open mosque is un-Islamic, Bham said it is against Islam and he's not sure what all the hype is about.
"I have never seen a mosque where people stand at the gates and say 'you have committed such and such a sin, therefore you are not allowed to come in'. That's never happened.
"If someone does something wrong according to the laws of Islam, like drinking alcohol, I'm not going to go and catch his hand and say 'you are not supposed to do that'."
He said while Hargey can do what he wants according to the law of the land, his mosque won't necessarily gain acceptance, or be approved of by the clergy.
"From an Islamic point of view, not from our own personal point of view, it is something that we will have the right to decide based on the understanding of the Quran and what the prophet Muhammad has said."