By Soniya Shah Noor
Historical Mosques always have something so enriching and mystical about them, that when one catches a glimpse of it, they are left in awe of the architecture they are witnessing. Their structure speaks, even when no sound is heard about the souls that resided there. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and rediscover the mosque that was built on the land down under.
The Marree Mosque was built in Marree, South Australia, around the year 1882. However, some historians have said that they think the exact year was somewhere around 1861. The Mosque was built by the members of the Afghan community that were residing in Australia at the time. When studied in detail, these Afghans weren’t just Afghans coming from Afghanistan and Middle East, but were generally Afghani Muslims coming from the then British-India. The Afghan members residing in the South Australian region at the time worked as camel-drivers and breeders.
The man behind the construction of the Mosque was Abdul Kadir, a merchant who was also the owner of a camel breeding and carrying business, which was situated at the Wangamanna station, the place where the Marree Mosque is situated.
The Marree Mosque is considered to be the first ever Mosque that was built in Australia. The Mosque holds its significances not only because it is now a historical landmark but this Mosque is also a symbolic representation of the development that was backed by Muslim immigrants and how the collective effort of Muslim community and the people of the land helped in building the town of Marree in South Australia.
Mosques in Marree
The town of Marree had three active Mosques and were frequently visited by its local Afghan community. Today, only one remains, as the other two were abandoned and lost to the nature of the desert.
The one that still remains is called to be a replica of the first mosque out of the three mosque that were built during that time. This third Mosque stands in the center of the town. The town itself seems empty, but that doesn’t mean that the mosque has been unused.
According to reports, a local pub owner stated that about two years ago, two Muslim Clerics visited Marree and checked into his hotel. Phil further added that “they were certainly out of place,” He continued saying that the visitors could be spotted a mile further “Long robes and slippers, they just were not dressed for the outback. And you could tell they’d never been out into the outback before. So, that was a double whammy. They certainly had an impact on the residents of Marree, just by their presence.”
The men visited the site to witness the entry point of Islam in Australia and for the first time in a long time, the town of Marree heard the echoes of a familiar call, a call that had lost its voice but came back to echo its harmony. The call that we know as the Islamic call of prayer.