Durban saint’s mazaar a heritage site
THE shrine of a Muslim saint who arrived in Durban more than 156 years ago has become a heritage site that attracts thousands of people.
Walking through the Badsha Peer Mazaar in the midst of the busy market in Victoria Street and the West Street Cemetery, will leave visitors in awe.
The cemetery includes four religions: Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish.
As a little girl, I would often visit this shrine with my parents to offer prayers.
The shrine is not just unique to Muslims but sees people from all walks of life visiting to offer prayers. They believe the shrine has great healing powers.
It is a dedication to Hazrat Sheik Ahmed Badsha Peer, a great Sufi saint who is one of the most celebrated mystics in South Africa.
It is believed that Peer’s lineage is traceable back to the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
He arrived in South Africa in 1860 as one of first Indian indentured labourers.
The 203 Indians who arrived by ship were sent to various parts of what was then called Natal.
Peer chose the North Coast and chose to remain in South Africa when given the choice.
The story of how he was recognised as a saint is fascinating.
He preferred to spend more time in meditation and spiritual exercises under a tree to ploughing and cultivating his designated labour area.
To the surprise of his fellow workers who feared that he would be punished for neglecting his duties, at the end of every day his area of land would be completed, yet no one saw him move.
He was given an honourable discharge by authorities when he was discovered to be mystical.
He died in 1895 and was buried in the West Street Cemetery in Brook Street.
A modest wood and iron structure was erected over the grave to give shelter to the people who came to pay their respects.
Over the years, this simple structure has undergone numerous renovations and is today a breathtaking piece of architecture.
History taken from www. sa-venues.com