Can New York City learn from Cape Town?

It’s impossible to be unaware of the debate and tensions in New York City over a proposed mosque near the site of the 911 terror attacks. Maybe Americans are missing the point and could learn from Cape Town.

The Ring of Islam or Circle of Saints
For Muslim faithfuls, Cape Town is one of the better places to live, surrounded as it is by a protective ring of kramats — the burial sites of holy men or Auliyah – “friends of Islam”. They believe that anyone living within this circle will be protected from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes.

(If only terrorist acts could be added to that list.)

The circle starts at Signal Hill, continues to the site at Oudekraal, through Klein Constantia Estate and further east to Cape Town’s most famous kramat – that of Sheikh Yusuf at Faure on the Cape Flats. The tomb of Tuan Matarah on Robben Island is the final one completing the circle.

Unlike mosques, kramats are open to both male and female visitors of all faiths. Generally, they are never locked.

This is part of what makes Cape Town special. Now if I was NYC’s mayor Bloomberg, I’d encourage as many religious groups as possible to erect holy sites all over my city. It might just make it a safer place.

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