A Tile for Seville, Reviving Islam in Andalusia

ACTNews, JAKARTA – The world history obviously exposes how Islam in Andalusia, Spain, began to enter its golden age under the Umayyad Caliphate in the eighth century. Economic development, cultural works and science flourished, while renowned philosophers and scientists of Islam such as Ibn Sina and al-Khwarizmi also came into existence. For about three centuries, Andalusia emerged as a region with the most advanced civilization, comparing to its neighboring countries in Europe. Its growing advancements attracted many people from various countries in Europe and other continents migrated to Andalusia, either to study or to establish business partnership. The Islamic Golden Age, so to speak, remains the glory from the past that any muslims in the world would be pleased to reminisce.

Remnants of Islamic Golden Age in Andalusia can still be found in some places across Spain. Even in Granada, a grand mosque was built in 2003 to facilitate the religious activities of local muslim community as well as to resonate the glory of Islam in the past time. While in Seville, one of the cities that was once the capital of Andalusia during the Caliphate of Al-Muwahhid in the 11th century, such resonation is not overly found. Unlike Granada, Seville does not have a grand mosque, nor the Center of Islamic Studies. In fact, the number of muslim population in this city has grown rapidly to 25 thousand people.

This raises concerns among local muslim communities who have existed in Seville since the seventies. Through the years, prayers and other religious activities are performed in the small rooms they claim as musalla. As the muslim population grows in number, the need of a mosque and Islamic cultural center increases as well. Together with Seville Mosque Foundation founded in 2005, Seville Muslim Community strive to build a grand mosque around the city, but often face difficulties during the process.

“Unlike in Indonesia, building a mosque in Spain is not that easy. Even in Granada, the establishment of one of the mosques there needs 23 years to be completed,” said Muhsin Sierra, Director of Institutional Relations of Seville Mosque Foundation when visiting ACT office a year ago.
A Tile for Seville

For years, muslim community in Seville have been longing for grand mosque integrated with Islamic Center in their beloved city. Since 2000, the community comprises Spaniards and immigrants from Morocco, Senegal, and etc, have been working on the construction of the mosque. Then in 2014, they updated the project, adding the building of Islamic Cultural Center on the list.

In their point of view, the mosque and Islamic Center are “not only a necessity for the growing Muslim population in Seville, but also a big step in returning Islam to its rightful place.”

“We aim to build a place where the dawah of Islam is constantly voiced to muslim communities and people can see Islam for its reality and light. We want to convey that Islam is a religion which brings peace to anyone (rahmatan lil alamin),” said Ibrahim Hernandez, one of muslims living in Seville who are also the Vice President of Seville Mosque Foundation.

Last year, Seville Mosque Foundation has started the fundraising program at global level to accelerate the progress of the building of Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center of Seville. Through “A Tile for Seville” program, Seville Mosque Foundation encourages muslims in two southeast countries to support the project of building of Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center of Seville.

Meanwhile this year, A Tile for Seville will greet three countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The program is fully supported by Aksi Cepat Tanggap, an Indonesia-based global humanitarian institution and Ukhwah for Ummah in Malaysia. The program itself will be launched in the beginning of April 2017, Ibrahim Hernandez said.

“Besides NGOs, we have seven celebrities supporting this program. Five of them are from Malaysia and Singapore while the other two are from Indonesia; Dewi Sandra and Oki Setiana Dewi,” he added.

Together, they will play as themselves in the documenter series produced by production team of Seville Mosque Foundation. In the 20-episode series, the seven actors and actresses will explore the traces of the glorious Islamic Golden Age in Andalusia. In addition, they are going to visit muslim minority living in Seville as well.

“They (the actors and actresses are the ambassadors from three different countries which put big concern towards the struggling muslim community in Seville who work on the mosque project. By documenting their journey and interaction with local muslims in Andalusia, we want to portray how muslim minority in Seville are in the great need of dignified place of worship,” Hernandez said.

Since 2016, Aksi Cepat Tanggap has shown its best support for the project by holding fundraising activities in Indonesia. “We are happy to support the building of Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center in Seville through Cash Waqf program managed by Global Wakaf Foundation, the subsidiary organization of ACT. We surely remember how waqf could transform Al Qarawiyyin Mosque in Morocco into the most significant icon of Islamic civilization in the world. Still in the same spirit, we want to encourage muslims in Indonesia to support the building of a dignified mosque in Seville, a city which once witnessed the glory of Islamic Golden Age,” said Muhammad Faisol Amrullah from Global Humanity Response-Aksi Cepat Tanggap.

The construction will cost approximately USD 19 million and it will fully financed by waqf fund. As planned, Mosque of Seville will be integrated with Islamic Cultural Center which will provide local residents and visitors the library, offices, classrooms and other facilities. “The mosque will not merely function as a place of worship. With the coexisting Islamic Cultural Center, it will also be the center of Islamic education and culture in Seville and even in Europe,” he said. He also added, to participate and get updated with fundraising progress and current program activities, people can visit their website at www.atileforseville.com. []