Mauritanian Mosques Decry Neglect

Years of negligence and official apathy are taking their toll on mosques across the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.

Mauritanian Mosques Decry Neglect

"Worshippers do not find water for wudu' (ablution)," Ahmed Ould Abdullah, the imam of Al-Taqwa Mosque, told

"Worse still, many places of worship lack even water faucets," he said, adding that the Muslim faithful sometime seek water from neighboring houses for their wudu'.

Syyedi Ould Ahmed, of the Al-Forqan Mosque, painted a grim picture of mosques in the capital.

"The wudu' places have turned into dumps," he said.

"We can never imagine that you are inside a mosque, a place of worship," Ould Ahmed complained.

Most mosques do not have power after failing to foot the electricity bill.

Ould Ahmed said negligence is not limited to mosques in poor neighborhoods but is also evident in upmarket areas of the capital.

Mauritania, a largely desert and poverty-stricken land, is twice the size of France.

It has been beset by a cycle of coup attempts since independence from France in 1960.

All of the country's 3.1 million population are Muslims, according to the CIA World Factbook.

No Funding

Absence of government's funds for mosques have left mosques heavily dependent on donations raised by their congregations.

"Most mosques in the capital lack government funding," said imam Abdullah.

"They rely on donations from the locals and worshippers."

Many people volunteer to work at the mosques, including guards and cleaners, while imams are paid from donations.

"I issue the call for prayer five times a day only to get Allah's blessing," a volunteering muezzin told IOL, requesting anonymity.

Qatar mosque, one of the biggest in Nouakchott, stands as an example of long years of negligence.

The mosque's esplanade is awash with rubble, leaving only five meters of its space for prayer.

The minaret and walls of the mosque are cracking.

After the negligence made local headlines, the government sent a team to assess the damage and the funding needed.

This has revived hopes that the government might after all assume its responsibility and help maintain mosques.

"A new official position on mosques is needed," said activist Mariam Bent Abdullah.

"Daily problems of water and electricity need to be settled in addition to providing necessary infrastructure."

In June 2003 under ousted president Ould Taya, the government ratified a bill turning mosques into state-run public facilities.

The decision followed a sweeping arrest campaign involving 60 imams and preachers for allegedly "plotting against the state security" and led to the closure of six religious institutes, associations and Islamic-oriented newspapers.

The government also banned Islamic charities the same year, drying off the usual aid given to the poor and orphans.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16