MOGADISHU — Deserted mosques across the Somalia capital Mogadishu, which have been either closed for turned into garbage dumps by warlord militias, are being cleaned and dressed up to welcome worshippers in the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
"No one has prayed inside his mosque for years after gangsters had used it as a garbage dump and a place to burry their innocent victims of their crimes," Hassan Mohamed told IslamOnline.net while watching the restoration of the Arbaa Rokn mosque in southern Mogadishu.
"By the will of God we will get this mosque ready before the start of Ramadan," said a confident Mohamed.
The mosque had been deserted for years because of continued fighting between the warlords since the outbreak of the civil war.
"However, the mosque's high minaret has always spoken of its history."
Mohamed plans to hand over the mosque after its revamp to trusted scholars to teach people the tenets of Islam.
In addition to the renovation, the mosque is preparing a busy schedule for worshippers during Ramadan including Qur'anic classes and iftar banquets for the poor.
Arbaa Rokn is one the country's oldest mosques, dating back to the second half of the 19th century.
Nearby, people are having their hands full with work to complete the restoration of the Sheikh Ahmed mosque in northern Mogadishu before the holy month.
"Residents hope to be able to perform prayers at this grand mosque during Ramadan," Sheikh Ahmed Mino, who supervises the work, told IOL.
The mosque had been closed for the past 16 years.
Restoration works are also continuing around the clock at the Islamic Solidarity mosque.
The mosque, the largest in the Horn of Africa region, was opened last August for the first time since the outbreak of the civil war.
It was established in 1987 by the Saudi King Faisal bin Abdel-Aziz Foundation and accommodates around 10,000 worshippers.
Dilapidated governmental buildings are also the focus of the restoration efforts.
"Chaos and destruction have plagued everything in Somali, either worship places or government buildings," said preacher Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Mohamed.
"Now, the Somalis are rebuilding their country."
Home to about 10 million largely impoverished people, Somalia has lacked almost all the trappings of a functional state, such as national systems of education, healthcare and justice, for the past 16 years.
Warlords had controlled the capital of the Horn of Africa country since the 1991 overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Barre.
But the Somalis started enjoying rare moments of peace and security since the Islamic Courts rose to power by capturing Mogadishu and other key areas in June from the US-backed warlords.