ACTNews, SEVILLE - Some old cities may seem quiet, but it does not apply to Seville, the fourth-largest city in Spain. It is the capital of autonomous community of Andalusia and is well known as financial and cultural city in southern Spain. Historic buildings fill the city, making it the top tourism destination in Andalusia.
Most of the buildings are the remnants of Islamic Golden Age during the 8th to the 13th century. After wars of conquest in Andalusia in the last quarter of the 13th century, gradually Islamic civilization in Seville was faded and gone. For about 600 hundred years, The Real Alcázar and La Giralda Tower remain the prominent inheritance of Islamic Golden Age in the city. Islam has not yet come to Seville, not until the end of 1970s.
At that time, muslim community was born in the heart of Seville. A number of Sevillians converted to Islam after finding Islam in UK and The Middle East. Together, they continue to convey the messages of Islam (da'wah) across the city. Through the years, the muslim population in Seville increases to 25 thousand people.
"They are the first muslim generation. My parents are two of them," said Ibrahim Hernandez, a muslim living in Seville who is also the Vice President of Seville Mosque Foundation.
Ibrahim told that the first muslim generation has been living in colony for years. Not only in Seville, they also scatter to Granada, Cordoba and Madrid. According to him, it is important for them to live as close as possible.
"Because we do know that we live in a city where Islamic values are not adopted and impelemented. Thus, we try to maintain our togetherness and friendship in hope that our faith in Islam gets stronger," he said.
The existing relation between them is continually nourished. Every week, muslim community in Seville hold regular gathering where they can learn more about Islam and practice to recite Al-Qur'an. In time, their need of religious facility grows. With collective efforts, they are able to rent a small building which later is used as musala.
Years passed and the musala has been relocated several times. Commonly, their musala is an apartment building. Now, it is even located on the ground floor of an apartment in Seville. According to Ibrahim, the musala is used to be a warehouse of nuts and sweets.
Later in this musala, gathering, Islamic study, and Al-Qur'an recitation class for children and adults are held. Although muslims there have already had a musala as religious facility, most of them dream to have a mosque. Luqman Nieto, a local who occasionally gives preaches in Musala of Seville, is in one voice.
He is grateful at least muslims there have a musala functioned as both prayer room and a place for studying Islam. However, it goes without saying that he and other mslim fellows need a dedicated building for muslims to hold their religious activities.
"As you know, our musala is located right on the ground floor of an apartment. The upper part of the building is flats where our neighbors live in. There are times when they throw parties and consume alcohol until they get drunk. You can imagine this: while on the ground floor we perform our prayers, on the rooftop there are residents doing activities which contradict the Islamic values. We actually often feel uncomfortable with this. Musala is a worship place, and it is supposed to be located far from anything against Islamic values," Hafiz Luqman said.
Nevertheless, Luqman does understand that the neighbors have nothing to do with it as they do not know anything about Islamic values. Besides, Luqman and other muslims also do not have rights to forbid them to do so. Living in secular environment is quite challeging for Luqman and others. But, it does not make them to put the social harmony at stake.
"That's why we try our best to build a proper and dignified place of worship. We really want to construct a building dedicated to Allah and Islam. You see, a truly dedicated mosque, not one attached to apartment building or so," he said.
Just like Ibrahim, Luqman is a second muslim generation in Seville. His parents are converted muslims. Born and raised in the city, story of the glory of Islam in the past is well planted in their mind. The Real Alcázar and La Giralda Tower have been converted to other function. However, those buildings remain distinguished pride for Ibrahim and Luqman.
"La Giralda Towar was once a minaret. To go to the top of it, we have to climb 34 levels of stairs. During Almohad dynasty, the muezzin usually went up to the top by riding horse to call muslims for prayer," Ibrahim told.
Adjacent to the tower, there is Cathedral of Seville. Before the city was taken over, the Gothic building was once Almohad Great Mosque. The name Almohad itself was derived from the ruling caliphate at that time, namely Almohad (1147-1162).
History of conquests of the city shapes the contemporary Seville . Old buildings no longer function as they used to be. There is no more a prominent mosque in Seville. However, Ibrahim does not want to be drown in the past.
"It's in the past and it's over. Now, after hundreds of years of absence, Islam finds its way back to Andalusia. We don't want to take over any buildings. What we want is building the new one; a dedicated mosque and Islamic Center where messages of Islam will be conveyed more widely than they were in the past," said Ibrahim who currently focuses on raising waqf fund to build the mosque.