Top 10 Unveiling Africa's Islamic Legacy The Story of Ethiopia's Historic Mosques in Focus

Top 10 Unveiling Africa’s Islamic Legacy

The Story of Ethiopia’s Historic Mosques in Focus

Africa’s rich tapestry boasts a vibrant history and diverse cultures. Within its vast landscapes lie ancient mosques, silent sentinels whispering tales of devotion and the spread of Islam. Among these, Ethiopia holds a place of remarkable significance.

A Haven for Early Muslims

The earliest connection between Islam and Africa unfolded in the 7th century. Seeking refuge from persecution in Mecca, a group of Prophet Muhammad’s companions, known as the Sahaba, found sanctuary in the Kingdom of Axum, Ethiopia. While Islam’s influence gradually took root across the continent, Ethiopia became a vital centre for the faith.

Because of this historical connection, Ethiopia boasts several remarkable mosques among the top ten oldest in Africa. One such gem is the As-Sahaba Mosque, which was historically part of Ethiopia under the Axumite Kingdom but now located in Eritrea following its independence in 1993.

Tradition holds that this mosque was built by the Sahabans, fleeing persecution from the Quraysh tribe – a powerful Meccan (in present-day Saudi Arabia) merchant class who controlled the city in the 7th century and were opposed to the teachings of Islam.

While the current structure likely dates to a later period, the site holds immense historical weight. Unfortunately, the As-Sahaba Mosque is not currently in regular use.

Another historic Ethiopian mosque, the Al-Nejashi Mosque in the northern Tigray State, holds immense significance in Islam’s history. Believed to be one of the first mosques built outside the Arabian Peninsula, it served as a sanctuary for the Prophet’s companions.

This enduring monument is a testament to the deep-rooted spiritual and cultural connections that bind Africa and the Islamic world. EBR

12th Year • April 2024 • No. 128

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