Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|River of Lava burns Masjid and Muslim Neighborhood|
|01/19/02 at 15:14:43|
|Bismillah Rahman Rahim wa salatu wa salam ala'a Rasul Karim,|
Salam alaykum ,
" Ina lilahi wa ina ilayhi rajiun"
Unconfirmed reports say that the masjid and muslim neighborhood was burned by the river of lava from mount Nyiragongo in Congo (ex Zaire).
A bried history of the town and some impressions, this is all personal
Goma also called the Alps of Africa by Belgian during the collonial rule, it was founded by the traders in the end of the 19th century. It was one of the many town of the Arab traders who went inland in Africa build over a century of the expansion . Many had came to trade gold, diamond, copper, ivory. Situated in the middle of Central Africa in the great lakes region, a beautiful city at the foot of the long chain of volcanoes which later become known as the home of the last remaining mountain gorillas. With it's lush green forest it was the ideal retreat for the Belgian colonial officers. Over time it developed and expanded but remain a city of traders serving the plantations of coffee, pyrethrum ( the base ingredient in Quinine, against malaria). The first known masjid was build by the Arab traders (Yemeni', Omani) in the beginning of the 20th century', it was a simple mosque of mud with a little courtyard, littered with guava, mangoes, pomegranates and avocado trees and a little garden of roses, tulips, wild orchid and jasmine. In the old days there was a little fountain where the old ones will seat after maghreb and peruse on life, trade, din, times, politics, crops, everything and nothing. And sip masala chai, cardamon tea, and everyonce awhile a plate of fruits, hot pakora’or Bajia’, Samosa or omani halwa will be brought from one house or another. It was a time of happiness and ampleness, where it was the norm to have 10 or more family members in one house. The Omani built their own mosque not to far from the first one, since their were from the ibadhi madhab and over time become the majority of Arab traders in the area. In the 40’s and 50's, people from the sub continent started to come, migrating from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. Most of them were either Shafi'/Hanafi and some were Shia /Ismaili'. It was during that time that Bahador bin Abdulrahman al balushi ( from Oman) rebuild the masjid with a madrassa. Overtime the local African who were becoming more familiar with the Swahili language and thus it was easier to convert them, dawah was growing as the town become the starting point leading towards the inn land , deep into the real jungle the towns in the central part of the country, towns rich in minerals and/or crops. In the sixties we got our big break for several reasons,
1- most of the Muslims traders started to work in or for the coffee industry, with huge plantations, small processing plants. Light industry started also around that time, people become rich and had more resources to build masjids and madrassas, creating waqf projects.
2- when Mobutu started his revolution he rejected some policies of western countries and aligned himself with some Muslim countries. In the ensuing process of bilateral agreements , Zaire received aid in terms Muslim teachers among other things. That continued over time till the mid 70’s. Then 2 main factors influenced the muslims in the areas.
- Local Muslims were offered scholarships to go study sharia' in Egypt, Saudia, Kuwait, Libya, few of those students manage to go through their studies and finish, many chose to migrate to other countries for financial or political reasons, and many more chose to drop their studies and go into other fields, however some of them come back and started teaching and disseminating Islam. One has to understand that in that part of Africa, Islamic knowledge was taken from East Africa, from Lamu (Kenya) the old center of learning , Mombasa (Kenya),the “Zinj” coast with Zanzibar, in all these areas the Shafi'i madhab was prevalent(from Yemeni migrants), with pockets of Hanafi ( from India,Pakistan), and in Zanzibar-Tanzania there was a majority of Ibadhi from Oman and Shafi-Hanafi Belushi from Oman. There was also a major influence from the tariqa (Qadiriya, Shadili, Ba'Alawi).
When these students come back they invigorated the din, dawah, tried to remove the customs which were new to the din, due to the Bantu traditions or spirit worship, witchcraft, veneration of the ancestors etcc..
Over time people started to go back to the books(Quran & Sunnah) al hamdulilah wa jazak'Allah khayr for all the unknown dai who worked hard in those areas.
That brought about changes for the knowledge of Din and Dawah wasn’t in the hands of Arabs, Indians and Pakistanis no longer but it was in the hand of local people from different tribes and languages and dialects.
2 – During that period the Gulf countries started to emerge due to oil, among them Oman, many omanis maybe 90% of them started to migrate back to Oman for financial reasons, security reasons, an overall better standard of leaving with less worries of security due to the instability of the African countries with their “YoYo “ politics. At the same time many Indians, Pakistanis started to migrate towards the States, Canada, UK, fearing what Idi Amin (Uganda Dictator) did to the Indians in Uganda (by expulsing thousands and confiscating their properties) could happen also in the neighbor countries.
So there was a shift of responsibilities from the people who had brought Islam in those areas towards the local people of different background and dialects who over time had embraced Islam.
In the 80's the sons of Bahador Bin AbdulRahman(ra) expanded the masjid into a bigger one with a bigger plots, bigger madrassas, they hired teachers from Egypt to come and teach. At that time the town had a couple of thousands muslims, i recall going to the masjid for jummuah with Bahador(ra)( a distant cousin) the great son of Bahador bin Abdulrahman(ra) and the khutbas were offered in Swahili, except when quoting the Quran and Hadith. Later war started in Rwanda and spread into Zaire toppled the late president Mobutu, dispersed people , killed thousands, left thousands hurt, maimed and orphaned that was from the mid 90's till to this present minute. That fact and the wide spread of AIDS made people go back to Allah(swt) , since then Islam has become more dynamic, more and more people are practicing, more people are entering into the fold of Din . I remember in the early 80's in those areas it was rare to see a hijab, except when women were coming from the masjid. After the war in Rwanda, and with the current civil war in Congo(Zaire), Tablighi people have been working hard to bring people to the Din, i mean it was a real surprise to see in the middle of nowhere, 10-20 km from the closest town in the middle of the bush, a bro from Pakistan with a big beard, a topi of some sort, in his kamis salwar walking with a local muslim in his white gown and inviting people to the masjid. It was rare to see women going to the masajid for the daily salat, today by His Grace and Mercy , at almost every salat one will see sisters going in and out of the masajid in their full hijab and some of them in niqab. Al hamdulilah.
Also from the mid 80’s more and more people used to go to Tanzania to study Din and become Dai’, learning the methods of Sh Deedat to counter the ongoing war of Christian missionaries backed by billion of $$, yet this simple people had the bare minimum in terms of material wealth, but had vast hearts and the unshakeble Tawakul, many of them come back to proselytize in their communities and among the majority of Christians. And now Subnh'Allah the volcano just erupted and almost all the city is destroyed. It was one of the most beautifull city in Africa, with the Volcano behind it and lake Kivu at it's feet. With old houses dating to the colonial period with huge gardens, covered with palm trees, bougainvillea, tulips and in the hot season one could see lavender blossom.
All is gone now, for the main masjid was on the main road leading straight towards to Volcano, it was a natural path for the hot lavas and all around it, the muslims neighborhood dating back more then a century ago, the old houses of the bin Ali, Bin Seif, Al Beloushi, Ali Bhai, Haidar, Mullahdad, Khan. Subahn’Allah what happened to all those childhood friend with whom we went playing in the hills, up in the mango trees, hunting pigeons with sling shots, those brothers with whom we use to get beaten up at the madrasa because we kept on arguing about football or something else. Allah karim, May He protect and guide , heal and cure my bro’s and sisters with whom we learned wuduh , al fatiha and ju’z Ama together, the bro whom we shared the biryani, the tika’s, harissa, together , the Aunties who used to clean us up before the traditional masala chai and hot pakora at 5 in the afternoon. I can still hear ringing the cooing of dove high on the minaret early when the sun was coming up after fajr, and the little alleys where one could hear the tapes of Sh Abdul Basit(ra) reciting S Yasin being played in many houses.
What a strange feeling to know a whole city or half of it , where one lived and knew well disappear from the face of the planet, covered by hot , melting lava. And under it many people have perished. We’ll never know the count. Ina lilahi wa ina ilayhi Raji’un.
|Re: River of Lava burns Masjid and Muslim Neighborhood|
|01/19/02 at 18:44:33|
|May Allah make it easy on our brothers and sisters and for fellow humans over there.|
I only know a couple of charities asking for donations they are:
The International Red Cross,
and Concern(UK office).
If someone knows of any others or perhaps knows Islamic charitys so the payment of zakat can be given please let me know.
|Re: River of Lava burns Masjid and Muslim Neighborhood|
|01/19/02 at 21:46:32|
Inna Lillahi Wainna Illaihi Rajioon.
Ya Allah Irhamhum, Waghfirhum, Waadkhilhum Fil Jannatil Firdaus (Amin)
May Allah give you the strength to bear through this hard time, Subhana Allah, the depth of what happened strikes deep...Jazaka Allahu Khayran for sharing your reflections.
|Re: River of Lava burns Masjid and Muslim Neighborhood|
|01/21/02 at 13:34:59|
Thousands walk on lava, desperate to get home
By Paul Vallely
21 January 2002
Explosion kills 50 in Goma
The lava was still moving. But it had cooled enough for a matt grey skin to have formed on its surface. Gingerly, the people who had fled their homes four days ago when the red-hot molten rock first poured from Mount Nyiragongo picked their way across the brittle crust.
When it became too hot for the soles of their feet, they ran. But they tried to avoid stumbling. Like ice, at the other end of the temperature spectrum, a crust forms on top. If that is cracked by a careless foot, human flesh is plunged into lava as hot as 1,000C.
Yet still the flow of people continued, a human river defying the one of molten rock which they traversed.
This was Goma, the lakeside African town in eastern Congo, at the foot of Mount Nyiragongo, the volcano which erupted on Thursday sending millions of tons of neon-bright orange lava spilling down its slopes. Most of the 500,000 residents fled, many of them into neighbouring Rwanda.
But yesterday they began returning home. Shunning an international aid effort, they walked away from the two sites where aid-workers had ordered sheaves of plastic sheeting for improvised tents. Instead, they retraced their steps, carrying on their heads their household possessions.
Women balanced huge bundles of sticks and clothes. Men bore battered and bursting suitcases. Children carried chickens. One old chap even balanced a bicycle, precariously, on his shoulders.
"Now you must run," John Nfune, told his fellow returnees as they reached a 100-metre-wide lava flow. There was no way around. And the hot, dense, black mud was radiating intense waves of heat.
The young men dashed across. But the old women shuffled forward, preferring the blast of heat to the risks of tripping and falling on even hotter molten stone nearby, or of cracking the cooling surface.
Coming in the opposite direction was a counter-flow of people with similarly preposterous burdens who had found their homes submerged beneath the volcanic mud and ash, and who were bringing what little survived to start again somewhere else. But not in Rwanda, where the main aid effort is focused. Most said they would prefer to go to other Congolese cities, such as Bukavu, Kalemie or Kisangani.
Yet the vast majority on the move were journeying towards the volcano, which experts say could erupt again. "People are pouring back into Goma," said Alison Preston, an aid-worker with the World Vision charity. "From what I can see it is a massive level of returns."
It was a decision fraught with danger. The residual heat was not the only peril. Doctors were warning that the fumes from the lava – which is giving off a pungent stench of sulphur and a smell like burning rubber. "The fumes are very toxic," said Dr Achille Mudiandanbu at a hospital run by the Sisters of Charity. "They can kill you."
Then there was the risk from contaminated water. The volcano has destroyed both water treatment plants in the town. People are resorting to drinking from Lake Kivu, which is already polluted. A cholera epidemic followed the last eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in 1977.
And experts fear that igneous extrusions into the lake may stir up natural gases in the lake which could cause explosions.
The first aerial pictures since the eruption revealed the scale of the devastation. Almost half of the city is submerged in a sea of lava which is up to 3-meters deep in places.
Despite all this, the bitter experience of local people is that refugee camps are a worse option. They are a deadly reminder of the genocide, banditry and gangsterism during and after the Rwandan civil war less than a decade ago.
Former residents of the camps were unequivocal about their desire to leave. "There is no food, no water, no sanitation. We are here like animals," said Richard Mwambo, a teacher who was returning from a Rwandan camp. "If we are to die, it is better to die in Congo, not Rwanda."
Kasonyo Tipe, a Goma merchant, said he could better support himself in Congo. "Our money here is useless because the exchange rate is so high," he said. "Take us back to where we can do business."
Aid workers in the region are furiously reworking their plans. Britain has pledged £2m, half of which is already on its way to the African nation, according to the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short. The first British aid flight, carrying water purification equipment, arrived yesterday. Other countries have responded swiftly too: Belgium, the former colonial power, has pledged $1.1m (£765,000) and the US, $224,000.
But now aid will have to be diverted from the camps to Goma itself, which will be a more difficult task. "This will complicate things considerably," said Paul Stromberg, a spokesman for the UN High Commission for Refugees, not least because of the eastern Congo's limited infrastructure, the inheritance of 30 years of dictatorship by Mobutu Sese Seko, in the far east of the country, formerly Zaire.
The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, with his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, will begin a three-day tour of the war-ravaged central Africa region tomorrow.
They will not visit Goma, though. If they did, they would find a people uncowed by the scale of what has occurred. "Our houses were built on lava flows that engulfed the town decades ago," said Dieudonne Kabongo, 37, a teacher with five children, as he watched the crowds climbing on to the start of the sulphurous lava path which would take them home. "There's still a way to repair our houses," he said. "There's no electricity, but the cables are there. We can rebuild."
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