350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 11

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

1956 "Die Heilige Qur'an" First Afrikaans Translation of the Holy Qur'an

Imam Mohammed Baker of Simonstown was a qualified school teacher from the

Zobbebloem College in District Six, Cape Town. He became principal of the

Simonstown Muslim Mission School. Imam Baker began the first translation of the

Most Holy Qur'an into the Afrikaans language in 1956. Having completed the

translation, he published it under the title "Die Heilige Qur'an" [The Holy Qur'an]

in 1961. The translation does not contain the Arabic Text, footnotes, commentary, or

index. It was printed in Cape Town by the Cape Times Limited and contains 464

pages. Imam Baker died in Cape Town in 1982 aged 72.

Die Heilige Qur'an was reprinted with revisions in 1981 by the Islamic Propagation

Centre of Durban. 15,000 copies of the Qur'an were published for distribution in the


1956 M. L. Sultan Technikon, Durban

The M. L. Sultan Technikon College [now Technikon] in Centenary Road, Durban

was officially opened in 1956. Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan, after whom the

Technikon is named, was born in Quillon, Malabar, South India, on February 15th,

1873. It is said that he left his hometown to seek employment in Ceylon [Sri Lanka]

but the ship which he was to board broke down and could not set sail.

Consequently, he decided to enroll as an indentured labourer arriving in Port Natal

[Durban] in 1890 and worked for the Natal Government as a railway porter at the

Berea Road Station in Durban. Having completed his period of indenture of five

years, he went to the Transvaal and worked as a waiter at one of the hotels in

Johannesburg. He returned to Durban and settled in Bellair. In 1905 he married

Mariam Bee [d 1933].

He and his wife moved to Escombe [Natal] and went first into banana and tobacco

farming, and after some time, he went into property business. M.L.Sultan soon

became one of the leading property dealers in Natal. It was in 1942 that he was

introduced to the Technical Education Committee; and out of the deliberations

came his generous offer of Twenty Five Thousand Rands that is, half the cost of the

proposed technical college building. In addition to this, he endowed a further Ten

Thousand Rand for the extension of a science block.

The Hugo Commission [under the Higher Education Act No. 30 0f 1923]

recommended a building grant on a Rand for Rand basis and the approval of a

college. This important step resulted in the establishment of the first Indian

Technical College in South Africa, namely, the M.L.Sultan Technical College in

Durban, with full statutory rights, powers and duties and with an independent

College Council.

M.L.Sultan, the founder of the M.L.Sultan Charitable and Educational Trust, was

the first patron of the College. Shortly before his death on September 6th, 1953,

M.L.Sultan increased the original gift for the college building from Twenty Five

Thousand Rand to Sixty Thousand Rand. After the death of his wife, he established

the Mariam Bee Charitable and Educational Trust in her memory, and set aside Fifty

Thousand Rands as an endowment for a proposed children's hospital. In 1978 the

name of the College was changed to M.L.Sultan Technikon.

1957 Cape Muslim Youth Movement

The Cape Muslim Youth Movement [CMYM] was founded in Cape Town in 1957.

The Movement played a vital role in highlighting the dynamism of Islam and

creating general political awareness amongst the Muslims, One of the major

activities of the CMYM was study circles at various centres. Many CMYM members

joined the Muslim Assembly when it was formed in 1967.

1957 Islamic Propagation Centre International

During the mid 50's and early 60's, the Arabic Study Circle of Durban, on Sunday

mornings, conducted Arabic language classes tutored by Mahomed A. Mahomedy

[Bhai Mota], followed by Qur'an Tafsir classes conducted by Joseph Perdu, then

followed study classes in comparative religion in which Christianity, Hinduism,

Judaism, etc were taught by various visiting lecturers. In 1956 Ahmed Deedat took

charge of these classes.

The raison d'etre was to equip thinking Muslims of ways to counteract Christian

missionary and local media propaganda against Islam and Muslims, such as:

* Islam was spread by the sword

* Muslims worship Muhammad [P.B.O.H.]

* Islam was a danger to South Africa;

* Muslim women were not emancipated

* Muslims were anti-Christ etc.

Against this background, a year later, on March 17th, 1957 there was sufficient

interest in the Muslim community of Durban for the establishment of a Da'wah

society. This led to the formation of the Islamic Propagation Centre [IPC] with

Goolam Hoosen E. Vanker as President, Ahmed Deedat as Secretary and Abdul

Khalick Salejee as Treasurer. Others elected at this meeting were: Sulaiman Shaikjee,

G.H. Agjee, Moosa Kajee, Valley Mahomed and Cassim Vanker.

1958 Establishment of Nurul Huda Masjid

In 1939 the Jassiem family had constructed a prayer room in Schoone Kloof, Cape

Town, where in 1958, the Nurul Huda Masjid was constructed in Leeuwen Street.

The majority of the population in this area were Muslims. Only about 20% were

Christians but "there has never been any religious friction in the whole of the Bo-

Kaap between Christians and Muslims".

1958 Claremont Muslim Youth Association.

Guided by Imam Abdullah Haron, some Muslim teachers such as Sedick [Dickie]

Galant, Ismail [Maili] Saban, Yusuf [Jowa] Abrahams, Abu Bakr Fakier [Brom] and

artisans such as Andul Kariem Sadan [Gap], Cassiem Sadan [Bounie], Yusuf [Joe]

Arnold, Sieraj Galant [Dockie], Rashaad Sadan, Omar Abrahams, etc established the

Claremont Muslim Youth Association [CMYA] in Cape Town in March 1958. In

1963 the CMYA elected Imam Abdullah Haron as Honorary Life President. The

Association came to an abrupt end in 1964.

1958 Islamic Missionary Society.

The Islamic Missionary Society was founded in 1958 by a group of concerned

Muslims [of Johannesburg] who were alarmed that no Da'wah [propagation] work

was being done in the Transvaal in particular and in South Africa on a large scale,

and that millions of the oppressed non-white people of the country had not received

the message of Islam. It was thus resolved at a public meeting held at the Suleiman

Nana Memorial Hall, Johannesburg, to form the Islamic Missionary Society. The

aims and objectives of the Society are:

propagate and teach Islam and to cultivate among Muslims knowledge and love for

the religious ideals, traditions and principles of Islam; assist indigent and suffering

Muslims; provide facilities for the education of Muslim children carry out extensive

Da'wah activities among non-Muslims; to teach them Islam and to create an Islamic

atmosphere in which they can live their lives in accordance with the Din of Islam.

Build, maintain and conduct Madaris, Masaajid, Da'wah training centers and other

institutions necessary for the propagation of Islam, and do all that is necessary by

way of publications, lectures and educational and humanitarian institutions to

achieve the aim of Islamizing South Africa. During the first phase of the Society, it

launched a series of publications on Islam which aimed at awakening the interest of

both Muslims and non-Muslims towards Islam and the Muslim community.

During its second phase, the Society succeeded in Introducing Islam in the various

African townships surrounding Johannesburg - giving Da'wah to the

underprivileged people of South Africa. House to house visits, organized in Soweto

and other townships, calling and inviting the people to Islam proved successful.

Gradually after years of hard work, Africans from the townships began to embrace

Islam on a daily basis. The Islamic Missionary Society maintains that during the last

thirty years, thousands have embraced Islam in South Africa.

The Islamic Missionary Society obtained permission to build the first Masjid in the

township of Soweto, near Johannesburg. This was done with the assistance of the

Rabitat-al-Alam al-Islami of Makkah. The Masjid and Madrasah were built in the

name of the Soweto Muslim Association. The Society has established an Islamic

Centre with fulltime Da'is in the township of Sharpville.

A Jama'at Khana and Madrasah in Kwa Thema an African township east of

Johannesburg, where a fulltime Da'i is employed. Application for land for building

a Masjid and Madrasah in Kwa Thema was made. The Islamic Missionary Society

maintains several Jama'at Kahnas and Madaris in many other townships in the

Transvaal, such as different sections of Soweto, Lekazi section of Kanyamazini

homeland in the Eastern Transvaal.

At the Islamic Centres of the Society in the townships, they have established feeding

centres where the poor and destitute are provided daily with bread and soup. The

society also distributes clothing, shoes and blankets in the townships just before Id

al-Fitr at their Centres. The Islamic Missionary Society has established self-help

projects in the form of knitting, sewing, gardening etc. With these projects the

workers are helped in maintaining their families with their income.


Abdul Hamid Lachporia



(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida

350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 8

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

1904 Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman: Cape City Councillor

Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, hailed from an esteemed Cape Town family. His

paternal grandfather, Abdul Jamalee, had been a slave who managed to purchase

his own freedom and thereafter that of his wife, Betsy. Jamalee was a thriving

greengrocer who by 1862 had an asset of over Five Thousand Pounds Sterling.

Abdul Jamalee sent his son, Abdurahman, to study abroad; he spent four years in

Makkah and subsequently a few years in Cairo at the famous Al-Azhar University.

Abdurahman in turn sent his son, Abdullah, to Scotland, to study medicine.

Abdullah attended the Marits Brothers College where he completed his secondary

education, after which he was admitted to the South African College [now the

University of Cape Town]. Soon thereafter Abdullah was admitted to Glasgow

University in Scotland where he took his medical degree [MBCM] in 1893. In

Scotland, Abdullah Abdurahman married Helen, daughter of John Cummings

James, a Solicitor of Glasgow.

Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, with the backing of the Afrikaaner Bond, gained a seat

on the Cape Town City Council, living and practicing medicine in District Six. He

served as a Councillor till 1910. After the formation of the Union of South Africa in

1910, Dr. Abdurahman served for twenty-five years as a member of the Cape

Provincial Council, until his death in 1940.

The African Political Organisation [APO] was established in Cape Town in 1912

with Abdurahman as chairman. He played a prominent role in the education and

welfare of the community and was a key figure in the activities of the African

Peoples Organisation.

1904 Construction of the Minaret on Grey Street Masjid

In 1904, the first of two Minarets was constructed on the Grey Street Masjid,

Durban; two shops were built adjacent to the Masjid to provide income for its

maintenance. A second Minaret was added to the Masjid structure in 1905. These

Minarets were two of the highest structures in the City of Durban at that time, the

Grey Street Masjid became a landmark of Durban by the beginning of the 2oth


During the same year, several rooms, toilets and shower facilities were also added

at the rear of the Masjid for use by Musaffirs [travellers] to the city. Rooms were

also built for the Mu'adhin. All the dwellings had to be removed when the Juma

Masjid Girls School [Cathedral Road] was built by the Juma Masjid Trust adjacent to

the Masjid.

Ever since the establishment of the Grey Street Masjid, the entire administration and

affairs of the Masjid were in the hands of generous members of the "Memon"

community of Durban, especially the family of the late Aboobkr Amod [Jhavery].

The Masjid was well maintained and enlarged due to the needs of the increasing

Muslim population, for there were [1904] forty Indian Schools in Natal, ten of which

were privately run by the Muslim Community.

1906 Pretoria Mohammedan Congregation

The Pretoria Mohammedan Congregation [PMC] registered under Section 21 of the

Companies Act, 1973 was established in 1906. Land for a Masjid in Queen Street, in

the heart of the Capital City, was purchased in 1887. At first a small Masjid was

built, was renovated in 1928 and in 1984 the Masjid was totally renovated at a cost

of Ninety Two Thousand Rand. The Pretoria Mohammedan Congregation changed

its name to Pretoria Muslim Congregation on July 8th, 1981.

1906 Cape Muslim Population Census

The State census revealed that there were 22,575 Muslims in the Cape Colony. The

census referred to Muslims by the erroneous appelation of "Mohammedans."

1906 Hamidia Islamic Society

The Hamidia Islamic Society [HIS], a benevolent organisation, in Johannesburg was

established in July 1906. It was founded by Haji Ojer Ally who became its first

president. Hamidia Islamic Society was primarily a Muslim merchants organisation

following the passive resistance tactics of the Natal Indian Congress. Haji Ojer Ally,

married to a 'Cape Malay', had been involved in "Coloured" politics in the Cape in

the early 1890's, was a prime mover in organising mass meetings which were held

on Sundays, attended by several hundred people.

He was supported by Haji Habib [chairman, British Indian Association, Pretoria

Branch] and Maulana Syed Ahmed Mukhtar [Imaam of the 'Surti' Masjid,

Johannesburg]. The Society was opposed to all forms of injustices and racial laws of

the country, and was a most effective institution in the Transvaal for mobilising

merchants and workers. The Hamidia Islamic Society became the the backbone of

resistance movements during the early stage of the people's struggle in the country.

1909 South African Malay Association

Soon after the demise of the South African Moslem Association, Muhammad

Arshad Gamiet [d +1990] founded the South African Malay Association in 1909

with the aim of furthering educational and social advancement of the Muslims of

Cape Town . M.A. Gamiet, a teacher at a religious school since 1902, was aware of

the disadvantaged Muslim children in the field of education.

On April 5th, 1920, M.A.Gamiet, President of the Association, testified before the

Fremantle Education Commission, saying:

* that the Malays were also conducting their own schools and would welcome

financial assistance from the state.

* that besides being instructed in Arabic and English at religious schools, "it was the

desire of our people to have the children taught in Dutch as well."

It soon became evident to the Commission that Gamiet was not pleading for the

type of non-sectarian school that the School Board Act envisaged. Gamiet

emphasised that Muslim children and their education were to have a moral

orientation as well, and insisted on the Arabic language and Islamic instruction be

included in the school curriculum. Gamiet said that transmission of Islamic culture

and values would be the primary motivation for Muslims establishing and

maintaining their own schools. Gamiet's modest request to the Commission was the

appointment of a State-paid teacher of the Dutch language in Muslim schools.

M.A. Gamiet's appeal to the Fremantle Education Commission in 1910 seemed to

have realised in 1913 when:-

* formal recognition of a Mission School for Muslim children was granted to the

Rahmaniyeh Institute as Cape Provincial Administration Class B from January 1st,


* Arabic joined the official languages of English and Dutch as curricular


* State assistance was granted on condition comparable to those of the Christian

Mission Schools.

1910 Extension of trusteeship of Grey Street Masjid

The Supreme Court of Natal in 1910 ruled that the Trusteeship of the Grey Street

Masjid in Durban be extended to other Muslim groups, that is, groups other than

the "Memom" community. Thus today, the life long elected Trustees of the Masjid

representing their groups are as follows: four 'Memoms', two 'Surtees', one

'Cockney', one 'Colonial' born, etc.

1911 Establishment of Al-Jamia Masjid

Al-Jamia Masjid in Stegman Road, Claremont, Cape Town, was built in 1911. It has

flourished in spite of the close-knit Muslim community around it being forcefully

removed by the dreaded Group Areas Act in the 1960's. The Area surrounding Al-

Jamia Masjid was one one the first to be effected by the Group Areas Act and its

impact devastated the entire Muslim community.

With most of the houses, shops, schools and parks demolished, the Masjid today is

surrounded by up-market shopping centres, soul-less car parks and high-rise office

blocks. The early Muslims who were descendents of the Colony slaves first arrived

in the then rural areas of Claremont in the 1840's. The first Masjid built in the area

was the Claremont Main Road Masjid.

Haji Sullaiman Shahmahomed was instrumental in the renovation of Al-Jamia

Masjid in the 1920's. In 1956 Imaam Abdullah Haroon became Imaam of Al-Jamia

Masjid and he served the Masjid as well as the Muslim community until his "death"

in 1969.

1913 Establishment of Rahmaniyyeh Institute

The Rahmaniyyeh Institute was established in Cape Town, and provided a working

model for a Muslim Mission School. This, the first Muslim Mission School came into

existence almost 125 years after the first Masjid-School had opened its doors. It was

expected that those who were to teach at the Islam-oriented school should have the

ability to teach, not just professionally, but should also follow the Islamic code to

effect within the school a characteristic Islamic ethos.

Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman who played a prominent role in the Institute, appointed

Ahmad Gameedien [Jamil al-Din], the first male to qualify as a teacher at the

Zonnebloem College as principal of the School. Abdullah ibn Al-Hadj Taha

Gamieldien a prolific writer and also former student of the Zonnebloem College

and graduate of Al-Azhar University of Cairo, was entrusted with the task of

teaching Arabic at the School.

1914 Publication of the Indian Views

The Indian Views was founded by Mahomed Cassim Angalia [d 1952] in 1914 in

Durban. Angalia was opposed to Gandhi's passive resistance stance as a weapon of

struggle against oppressive and unjust government policy. He felt it was

provocative and counter-productive; instead he preferred direct negotiations and

first hand consultations. The Indian Views covered news and views of special

interest to the Muslim community in both the English and Gujarati languages.

In the 1920's the Ebrahim Jeewa family of Durban acquired the Views with Hajee

Ebrahim Amod Jeewa [d 1953, aged 58] as manager. In 1927 Moosa Ismail Meer

became its manager and in 1934 its proprietor as well. Under him the circulation of

the Indian Views increased tremendously, reaching all parts of southern Africa.

Moosa Ismail Meer, who edited the newspaper for 34 years, died in 1963 and was

succeeded by his eldest son Ismail Moosa Meer as editor. The Indian Views was last

published in 1972, serving the community for 56 years.

1917 Madressa Anjuman Islam Trust, Durban

The Madressa Anjuman Islam Trust was officially established in 1917 in Durban.

Earlier with the establishment of the Anjuman Islam Juma Masjid Trust [West Street

Masjid] in 1885 it had been an integral part of the Masjid Trust, and the first

Madrasah was established at 379 Pine Street, Durban. The building, now

considerably renovated, is used to this day to house an Islamic kindergarten school,

offices of the the Jamiatul Ulama Natal and Muslim Darul Yatama wal Masakeen.

The minutes of the Trust carefully written in Gujarati until 1936. In 1938, the first

generation of the founders of the Madrasah saw the need to teach secular subjects

alongside religious teachings. Among those who encouraged an integrated system

were A.I. Kajee, M.A.H. Moosa, A.S. Kathrada and others. But there was a small

opposition to this idea in the community. Until 1946 there existed no Government-

Aided Islamic Religious Schools under exclusive Muslim control.


Abdul Hamid Lachporia



(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida

350 Years of Islam in South Africa- Part 6

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive


[Part 6 of 20]

In the Name of Almighty Allah

Most Gracious Most Merciful

1884 Masjied Boorhaanol Islam, Cape Town

In 1881 Gouwida took transfer of a piece of land in Longmarket Street, Cape Town,

and in 1884 she allowed the Pilgrim Congregation to establish a Masjid on her

property. The money for the building was provided by Hadjie Abdol Kaliel. The

"Pilgrim Masjid" was the eight Masjid to be built in Cape Town. This was the very

first Masjid with a minaret in the Cape and was built consequent to the dispute

which evolved round the succession to the Imamat of the Jami Masjid in Chiappini

Street, Cape Town.


On September 26th, 1888 Abdol Khaliel [d 1898], in his capacity as Imaam and

trustee of the "Pilgrim Masjid", took transfer of the property in his name. After the

second world war, the "Pilgrim Masjid" was extended and renovated. While the

renovations were in progress, an application was made to change its name to

"Boorhaanol Islaam Masjied" and the title deeds were transferred to the trustees of

the Masjid. This application was granted on October 31st, 1949. On April 15th, 1966

the "Masjied Boorhaanol Islaam" was declared a national monument in terms the

National Monument Act No. 4 of 1934. This is the only Masjid in Cape Town which

has been declared a national monument.

1884 Reconstruction of the Grey Street Masjid [Durban].

Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery] and Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada had purchased a

property for the construction of a Masjid in Grey Street, Durban in 1881. He thus

rebuilt the simple brick and mortar structure into a Masjid proper, enlarging it to

some extent: the new Masjid now measured 68 feet by 23 feet, 5 inches. [20.7 meters

by 7,16 meters], enlarging the prayer area by 48 feet by 10 feet, 05 inches [14,07

meters by 3,20 meters]. The plans were drawn and the construction was given to

John Dales, a building contractor. The Juma Masjid in Grey Street, Durban was the

first Masjid to be built in Natal. The first Imaam was Mianjee Elahi Bux.

Aboobakr Amod's estate, seeing the necessity for further extension to the Masjid,

purchased the adjacent land, namely Lot D of Block BB for two hundred and twenty

pounds sterling on February 15th, 1884. The sale was only registered on April 22nd,

1899 as shown in the Deeds Office in Pietermaritzburg.. Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery]

died in 1886 in Bombay, a victim of the cholera epidemic, aged 37. After his death,

the Pretorial branch of the company was renamed Tayob Haji Khan Abdullah and

Company. Aboobakr's family trust continued to see to the interest of the Juma

Masjid during the coming years.

1884 Arrival of Esmail Mahomed Paruk

Esmail Mahomed Paruk, another prominent Muslim, born in 1867 in Kathore, India,

arrived from Mauritius and settled in Durban and soon established his first retail

business in West Street. Thereafter, he went into the wholesale trade; his firm

becoming one of the largest concerns in Natal amongst the Indians. As a financial

giant, he extended his activities into milling and tea estates on the north coast of

Natal. The magnanimous E.M. Paruk had an imposing house at 383 Currie Road,

Durban where India's first Agent-General Srinivasan Sastri, lived at a time when

White-owned hotels were open only to members of the white community. E. M.

Paruk became a trustee of the West Street Masjid in 1899 and served as Chairman

of the Trust Board until his death in 1942.

1885 Construction of the West Street Masjid:

1920 Second Masjid in Durban

The Juma Masjid Sunnat Anjuman Islam, popularly known as West Street Masjid,

was built in 1885, four years after the construction of the Grey Street Masjid. There

is no record to indicate why the site, where the Masjid stands today, was chosen; it

actually stands on two sites: one extending from the present sahn up to Saville

Street, and the other up to West Street entrance. The first property was purchased a

few years prior to the construction of the Masjid for One thousand two hundred

and fifty pounds sterling and registered at the Deeds Office in Pietermaritzburg, on

November 25th, 1893, covering, a total floor area of about 140 square feet.

The marble plaque [foundation stone] now installed on the wall facing West Street

records that it was built in 1885. The first Imaam was an Arab, probably from

Makkah; the first Mu'adhin being Hoosen Moolla, father of Ahmed Moolla founder

of Moollah's Cafe in Durban. The first trustees of the Masjid were Ahmed Mohamed

Tilly and Hoosen Meeran.

Between 1895 and 1899 major changes were made to the small Masjid when a

second site, from the sahn to West Street, adjacent to the building, was purchased

by the trustees for Two Thousand and Twenty Five Pounds Sterling from Hoosen

Meeran and Ismail Mamoojee and Company. These extensions were very

substantial as they involved large structural changes to the Masjid as well as to the

existing building that was purchased.

The constitution of the Juma Masjid Sunat Anjuman Islam was amended and

signed on January 9th, 1899. During the renovation period, a shipping company

donated Five Thousand Pounds Sterling towards the building of the Masjid. The

Ulema maintained that money from non-Muslims could not be used towards the

building of a Masjid. Thus, this money was used for rebuilding of the shops facing

West Street and Madrasah buildings within the Masjid area.

The following extensions were made to the West Street Masjid, Durban in 1905:

* Two floors were added at the rear of the Masjid, that is, on the southern side;

* The ground floor consisted of shops, and the first floor had four apartments for

occupation by the Imaam and his family; and

* A twenty foot Minaret was also added to the Masjid on the West Street side.

The total floor area of the Masjid was over a thousand square feet. Chotoo Mia

succeeded the Arab Imaam; he also taught at the Madrasah of the West Street

Masjid. In 1917, a new Madrasah at 379 Pine Street, Durban, was established.

Within a few years, the Madrasah was converted to a fully fledged primary school

with an integrated syllabus. By 1918, the Madrasah , adjoining the Masjid, was

demolished enlarging the prayer area of the latter to some extent; the Minaret was

raised to four floors - its construction was now more a square structure, as it stands

today; an entrance to the Masjid was made from West Street.

1886 The Cemetery Riots

On Sunday January 17th, 1886, two days after the Tana Baru Cemetery was

officially closed when the Public Health Act No 4 of 1883 became statute, 3,000 Cape

Muslims, in defiance of the law, buried a Muslim child at Tana Baru. Rioting broke

out thereafter resulting in law and order being disrupted in Cape Town for three

days. The Cemetery Riots of 1886 constituted probably the most significant religiopolitical

event in the 19th century history of the Cape Muslims.

1886 Activities of Achmat Attaoullah Effendi


Achmat Attaoullah [Ahmad Ata'Allah] Effendi was born in Cape Town of a

Capetonian mother and a Turkish father. He was actively involved in the affairs of

the Muslim community, both in Cape Town and also at Kimberley. The first

impression Achmat made was during the Cemetery Riot of 1886 when the Muslim

community was split as a result of the Hanafi - Shafi'i disputes.

He was an educated man and served on the Malay Cemetery Committee, alongside

Abdol Burns, when delegated to see the Premier,Governor or the Colonial

Secretary. He played an important role in the establishment of the Moslem

Cemetery Board. After the cemetery dispute, Achmat Effendi settled in Kimberley

where he served as a religious teacher.

He showed a keen interest in local politics and public affairs. While he was in

Kimberley he decided to stand for a seat in the Cape Parliament. This greatly

disturbed the White racist South African politicians: De Waal, Cecil John Rhodes,

Saur, Orpen, Jan Hofmeyer and others.

To prevent Achmat Effendi from winning a seat in the Cape Parliament, the White

ruling Parliament encouraged the Constitution Ordinance Amendment Bill and left

it to Orpen to introduce it as a private member's motion.The primary aim of the Bill

was to curtail the cumulative vote [in Cape Town] which allowed the voter to

exercise his given number of votes to a single candidate. Effendi with the Muslim

vote of Cape Town would have had a fair chance of being elected through the

cumulative system.

The Muslims were of course, greatly distressed at the Bill and the open attempt

made to keep Achmat Effendi out of the House of Parliament. A petition registering

the Muslim protest was given to Mr. Barnato, MP for Kimberley. This action,

spearheaded by the Imaams' of the Cape and supported by Muslim voters, did not

deter the passing of the third reading of the Bill - which came to be known as the

"Effendi Bill". The Constitution Ordinance Amendment Act No. 16 of 1893 became

law on August 25th, 1893.

The debates clearly showed the racial prejudice of the White racist Parliamentarians.

Effendi was not discouraged although confronted with a further problem: the

"Ticket of Four". Four candidates: T. F. Fuller, J. Brown, H. Beard and L. Weiner,

grouped themselves to fight the elections under one banner, whereby Effendi stood

no chance of winning.

Achmat Effendi submitted an open letter to the electorate on December 22nd, 1893,

attacking the Constitution Ordinance Amendment Act and the "Ticket of Four", and

also presented his manifesto, making it known that he was a British subject and

would represent the whole electorate of Cape Town, and not only the Muslims.

The cardinal principles of his campaign were political equality, religious liberty and

commercial and educational progress of the people of Cape Town. Polling day came

on January 29th, 1894. Achmat Effendi was heavily defeated, receiving only 699

votes. In his post election speech, he declared: "It is the first time in the history of

South Africa that a non-European candidate has stood for Parliament. I had the

moral courage to do so. I bear my defeat like a man......"

Achmat Effendi never again attempted to gain a seat in Parliament, a position which

would have been impossible in 1910 with the formation of the Union of South

Africa. Shortly after the 1894 elections, he left South Africa never to return. His was

the first and the last attempt by a Black voter to gain a seat in an open Parliament.

1889 More Land for Grey Street Masjid.

Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada in his capacity as the only Trustee of the Masjid and

Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery] family estate purchased more adjoining land to the Juma

Masjid in Grey Street, Durban, because of the sharp increase in the number of

Musallis [worshippers] in the Durban area. The adjoining land was purchased for

Three hundred Pounds sterling. This sale was registered in the Deeds Office,

Pietermaritzburg on January 25th 1890.

1890 Formation of the Indian Committee Durban

By 1890 the Natal Muslim merchants who traded in and around Durban and also on

the North and South Coasts of Natal were a lot to be reckoned with. To publicise the

difficulties they faced in the socio-economic and political fields, they formed the

Indian Committee Durban with Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada as Chairman and

Abdool Carrim Adam as Secretary of the Committee. Soon this Committee was to

give birth to the Natal Indian Congress [NIC].

Many members of this society were to play a leading role in the NIC. The Indian

Committee Durban drew up a document, enlisting their grievances which they sent

to the honourable Fazalbhai Visram of Bombay. The latter drew up a "memorial"

document, signed it along with 80 other leading businessmen of Bombay, and sent it

to the Governor of Natal. In the Petition the British Government was urged to take

steps to ensure the protection and rights of the Indians in South Africa because the

Indians were under British protection.

1891 Cape Muslim population Census

The 1891 Census reported:

* 15,099 Muslims [13,907 "Malay"] in the Colony,

* 11,287 Muslims in Cape Town.

To be continued - Insha'Allah

Was Salamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.

Abdul Hamid Lachporia

Toronto. Canada

July/August 2004


(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida


350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 9

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

1920 Establishment of May Street Masjid, Durban

The May Street Masjid in Durban was established in 1920. For many years the

little Masjid, situated on the corner of May and Fynn Streets, Durban, stood alone

in the wilderness as hundreds of homes and other buildings in Block AK were

demolished by the Department of Community Development through the Group

Areas Act.

The Masjid was being considered for demolition but according to Islamic tenets no Masjid

may be demolished or the land sold for any other purpose. Thus the National Monument

Council declared the Masjid a National Monument.

After a continued struggle the Masjid trustees were given permission by the Community

Development Board to renovate the building. The project was completed in 1990 at a cost

of over R250,000.00 [Two hundred and fifty thousand rand] and today the prayer area can

accommodate over 500 worshippers on its three floors.

1920-1990 Extension to the West Street Masjid

By 1920 there were further renovations to the Masjid, such as:

* reconstruction of the modern West Street Entrance

* repairs, renovations and improvements to toilets and sanitary facilities;

* repairs, renovations and improvements to the West Street frontage of the property,

including the two shops;

* construction of a basement below the Masjid, and a store room

adjacent to the Saville Street entrance.

At a meeting held in November 1963, the members felt that some of the clauses in the

Constitution [e.g. only Muslims originating from Rander, India, could assume the

trusteeship] had outlived their purposes and were not easily capable of implementing.

In February 1970, a special general meeting was convened, and A.M. Moola outlined that

there was an urgent need to amend the constitution and the Deed of Trust of the Masjid.

By June 1970, the amended constitution and the Deed of Trust was accepted and

registered. In December 1990, a total restoration of the West Street Masjid, lasting over

two years, was complete, costing over Two Million Rand, and Durban's "Palace of Peace"

was reopened. The Islamic architecture of this more than century old Masjid has been

retained and is blended with marble, oak and maranti finish coupled with giant,

intricately woven arched doorways. Being on three split- levels, the West Street Masjid

can now accommodate 2,000 Musallis.

1920 Simonstown Moslem Primary School

In 1920 Muslim children attending St. Francis School in Simonstown were told that there

was no accommodation for them at the school. Although most of the expelled children

were accommodated at other schools, the Imaam and the Muslim congregation of

Simonstown felt that they should establish their own school attached to the Masjid. On

July 9th, 1923, the Muslim community unanimously elected H.B. Manuel as the first

manager of the school.

A noteworthy feature of the Simonstown Moslem Primary School was that it was initiated

by the Noorul-Islam Masjid congregation as an integral part of the Masjid complex and

administered by them. Within two years, the Masjid congregation, with their own labour

and finances built two classrooms of the school. The first principal of the school was Salie

Berdien who had a T3 qualification and teaching experience at the Rahmaniyyeh Institute.

1922 Haji A. M. Lockhat Wakuff

Hajee Ahmed Mohamed Lockhat [1899 - 1942] rose from a modest beginning. In 1909 at

the age of 20 he opened a small retail business in Field Street, Durban. Within years,

A.M.Lockhat, realising the greater potential of the wholesale business and direct

importing, and with the assistance given by confirming houses in London, especially in

the period 1915 - 1920, he firmly established himself as one of the leading Indian

wholesale merchants in the country. During his lifetime he was encouraged by his wife,

Ayesha, with the spirit of charity and community service.

Thus he formed the Hajee Ahmed Mohammed Lockhat Wakuff [Trust] in 1922 in Durban.

After his death, his family formed the Lockhat Charities Trust to honour his memory. The

Trust has not only established Masaajid and Madaris, but has made large contributions

mainly toward the education of African students. Since its founding the Trust has

established 10 schools for Africans in Kwa Zulu and Natal.

1923 Founding of Cape Malay Association

The emergence of the Cape Malay Association [CMA] in 1923 was related to the

consolidation of political power by the Nationalists Party under J.M.B.Hertzog. Imaam

Abduraquib Berdien of Wynberg was a founder member of the CMA and sought political

patronage with the Nationalists thus standing diametrically opposed to Dr. Abdullah

Abdurahman's African People's Organisation.

Politics was the last concern of the CMA. Among the religious leaders associated with the

CMA was Mogamat Sudley Awaldien and Sheikh Achmat Behardien . CMA soon gained

popularity and the almost undivided support of the Cape Muslims in the Western Cape.

While Mogamat Arshad Gamiet was CMA's president , the Association held a conference

at the Cape Town Drill Hall in 1925, addressed by Dr. D. F. Malan, Minister of Education

in the South African Government. CMA openly showed that they flirted with the

Nationalists [White South African ruling class]. This conference was severely criticised by

Muslims as well as non-Muslims for having violated the basis of Islamic brotherhood. The

CMA eventually became defunct in 1945.

1923 Founding of Jami'atul 'Ulama' Transvaal.

The Jami'atul 'Ulama' Transvaal was founded in 1923 in Johannesburg. This was the first

'Ulama' body to be established in South Africa but most of its activities remained dormant

for the next decade. In 1935 the Jamiat was revived with Mufti Ebrahim Sanjalvi

Rahmatullahi Alay as its head.

1932 Subsidies for Cape Muslims

Du Plessis maintains that in 1931 eleven primary schools were subsidised by the Cape

Provincial Education Department; of these seven were in the Cape Peninsula with an

official enrolment of 1,737 pupils. The schools subsidised were:

* Rahmaniyyeh Institute [established 1913]

* Talfallah [established 1917]

* Salt River Moslem Primary School [established 1917]

* Simonstown Moslem Primary School [established 1923]

*Mohammadiyeh Moslem Primary School [established 1929]

*Muir Street Moslem Primary School [established 1930]

* Schotsch Kloof Moslem Primary School [established 1931]

1934 Muslim Darul Yatama Wal Masakeen, Durban

A group of young Muslims in Durban felt a need for a children's home where shelter and

care could be provided to Muslim orphans, the homeless and destitute. At the inaugural

meeting held in Durban for establishing the Muslim Darul Yatama Wal Masakeen

[Muslim Home for Orphans and Destitutes], Maulana Mukhtar Siddiqui was elected

chairman; A. K. E. Bux and M. S. Mayet joint-secretaries and Sayed Fakroodeen treasurer.

Others on the committee were: Ismail Osman, Tayoob Sacoor, Suliman Essack, I.A.

Baychain, M.S. Kharwa and Mehboob Khan.

The Institution was registered in terms of the Children's Act No. 74 of 1983; the Fund

Raising Number being 06 600177 000 5. The E. M. Paruk family fund in 1934 offered its

wood and iron cottage in Inanda Road,Sea Cow Lake, Durban for housing the orphans

and destitutes. Three years later in 1937 the society had to vacate the premises as it was

condemned as a "health hazard" by the CityHealth Authorities. It then housed 42 women

and children in the home.

In 1937 a six room cottage on 9.5 acres of land at 1049 Jan Smuts Highway, Westville,

Durban, was purchased for One Thousand Six Hundred Pounds Sterling. The owner, Mr.

Raw, on learning the cottage was to house orphans and destitutes, donated Seven

Hundred and Fifty Pounds Sterling to the society.


"Westhaven" - as the place came to be known, was officially opened on Sunday, August

15th, 1937 by the then Agent-General of India in South Africa, Sir Raza Sayed Ali. The

children's home enjoyed 26 years of stability. In 1963 Westville was declared for White

ownership and occupation in terms of the notorious Group Areas Act; thus 'Westhaven'

was expropriated by the Department of community Development.

In 1964, through the generosity of the La Mercy Town Developers, Posselt and Coull [Pty]

Limited, five acres of land was donated to the Muslim Darul Yatama Wal Masakeen and

the Institution purchased six acres at a cost of R14,000.00. On June 12th, 1971 the

foundation was laid by A.M.Moolla and the children's home, Baitul Aman, was officially

opened by Essop M. Randeree on November 23rd, 1974.

1934 "Malay" Quarter

In 1934 almost the entire 'Malay' Quarter in Cape Town was proclaimed a slum area in

terms of the Slums Act. At that time the 'Malay' Quarter was owned exclusively by the

Muslims. Today there are Muslim property owners in the Malay Quarter. The Cape Town

City Council is the chief landlord.

1938 Construction of 'Malay' dwellings: 1942 Schotsche Kloof

Between 1938 and 1942 Cape Town City Council built 198 flat-units at Schotsche Kloof

and for the occupation thereof, stipulated "a clause which stated that the tenant must be a

"Malay Muslim:. It was Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, the prominent Cape Town City

Councillor, who initiated the construction of the unit-flats.

1940 Waterval Islamic Institute [Mia's Farm].

In July 1940, the Waterval Islamic Institute was opened at Halfway House [between

Johannesburg and Pretoria] by Haji Moosa Ismail Mia and Maulana Mohamed Mia.

Among the aims and objectives of the Institute were to impart Islamic knowledge and

Islamic guidance to all Muslims, printing Islamic books and literature and distributing

them worldwide. The Institute catered both for the religious and secular needs of Muslim

students and provided free boarding and lodging to student and staff, conducted Hifz

classes, and courses in the training of the Ulama.

The Waterval Islamic Institute's publications in Arabic, English and Urdu to date number

many. The books and booklets of the Institute are widely used in South and Southern


"One of the manifold services for which the Muslims in this country are indebted to

Maulana Mahomed Moosa Mia Saheb and his brothers is the publication in English for

a Free Distribution of a Will and Testament in accordance with the Muslim Sha'riat".


Abdul Hamid Lachporia



(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida

350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 7

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

1892 Establishment of Quwatul Islam Masjid

The Quwatul Islam Masjid in Loop Street, Cape Town, was the first Masjid

to be established by the "Indian Muslims of the Hanafi Mad'hab and was the

9th Masjid to be built in the Mother City. The property was acquired by a

trust on March 14th, 1892. This Masjid was initially established to serve the

need of the "Indian" Muslims. The new settlers, however, became completely

absorbed in the mainstream community of Bo-Kaap. Thus the Masjid came to

serve the entire Bo-Kaap residency.

This Masjid is important in the history of Cape Muslims as it shows the cohesive

power of Islam to draw different cultural groups, even against their wishes, into a

common brotherhood. The first Imaam of the Masjid was Mogamed Talabodien

[Muhammad Tala al-Din] from 1892 to 1922. He was a scholar of renown Islamic Law

being his specialty. His counsel was greatly appreciated by the Muslims.

He died in 1922 and was succeeded by his son, Achmat Taliep who stood down in

favour of Maulvi Hussein Din who came from India in 1932. In 1935 Imaam Achmat

Taliep became Imaam again until until 1940 when Maulana Mujiebo Rahman [Mujib

al-Rahman], an Al-Ahzar graduate arrived. The Maulana was a dedicated da'i and

authored several books on Islam. He started a monthly publication, Al-Muathin,

which was probably the first Islamic newspaper in South Africa. He died in 1956.

Imaam Abdul Latief, son of Imaam Achmat, succeeded the Maulana and took over

the affairs of the Masjid until 1971. Sheikh Magamad [Muhammad] Abbas Jassiem

was then appointed Imaam. He served the community until 1985 when he was

"unceremoniously dismissed from office for being a suspected Ahmadi sympathiser".

Imaam Masoom Ebrahim was appointed as Imaam in 1989 after the two sons of

Imaam Abdul Latief of Habibia Masjid served as joint Imaams.

The Quwatul Islam Masjid stands as a memory of a bygone era after the notorious

Group Areas Act forced the community to remote areas and left the worshippers

especially during Maghrib, Esha and Fajr Salawat.

1883 Arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

A litigation, involving Forty Thousand Pounds Sterling between the firms of Dada

Abdulla and Company, merchants and shipping agents in Durban, and Tayob Hajee

Khan Mahomed and Company of Pretoria, saw the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand

Gandhi [d 1948] in Durban. Gandhi, who came from Gujrat and speaking Gujarati as

well as Kutchi, "had been hired by the Porbundar branch of Dada Abdulla's firm to

assist their team of lawyers as an interpreter and adviser.

1894 Founding of the Natal Indian Congress

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, while in Durban, was aware of the existence of the

Indian Committee Durban, and also of the total abhorrence of the Indians by the

White racist community. Seeing the discriminatory situation, Gandhi decided to form

a strong political body to fight all forms of injustices of the South African

Government. This body was named the Natal Indian Congress [NIC], the

membership of which was dominated by well known and established Muslim

businessmen : 85% were merchants and 12% were from white-collar occupations.

1895 Shah Ghulam Muhammad Habibi or

1910 Soofie Sahed [Rahimahu Allah]

Shah Ghulam Muhammad Habibi [or Mahomed Ebrahim Soofie], popularly known

as Soofie Saheb, was born in 1850 in Kalyan, a small town near Bombay, India. He

was the son of Ibrahim Siddiq, a qadi and Imaam of a Masjid in Kalyan. His father

died in 1872 when Shah Ghulam Muhammad was 22 years old. He succeeded his

father as Imaam and teacher and continued to serve the community for the next 20

years. In 1879 Soofie Saheb [aged 29] married Bibi Zainab Qadi [d 1950, Durban], of

which union they were blessed with nine children: three daughters and six sons. In

1890 he married he [40] also married Hanifa Bibi [d 1966, Durban] who conceived one

child: a son. Soofie Saheb brought both his wives and all his children to South Africa.

In 1892 he travelled to Arabia with his mother in order to perform Hajj. While visiting

Al-Madinah, his mystic tendencies began to manifest. On completing the Hajj, he

returned to Kalyan but was not content in continuing his work in his hometown on

account of his interest in Tasawwuf [Sufism]. He left for Baghdad where he visited

the tomb of the great Wali'Allah, saint Syed 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani [R.A.].

Here he met Shah Ghulam Mustafa Effendi, a prominent member of the Qadiri

Order, who accepted him as his Murid [disciple]. It was his Murshid [mentor] who

gave him the name Soofie. About six months later, the Murshid advised his Murid to

go to Hyderabad, India, where he met the Chisti Sufi, Habib Al Shah, whose disciple

he became and stayed at the Khanqah [Sufi quarters] for several months.

In 1895 Habib Ali Shah instructed Soofie Saheb [aged 45] to set sail for South Africa.

He arrived in Durban and found temporary shelter in the Grey Street Masjid. Seeing

the very poor conditions of the Muslims in the religious sphere and disgusted with

their indifference to Tasawwuf, Soofie Saheb returned to Hyderabad after staying in

Durban for a few months. The Department of Internal Affairs "Copy of Ship's List of

Indian Immigrant records regarding Soofie Saheb show:

Serial Number 276

Colonial Number 10539

Date of Arrival 17th March, 1896

Name of Ship S.S. Umzinto X1

Place of Registration Ghazipur

Date of Registration 20th January, 1896

Number in Register 23

Name Mahomed

Father's Name Ebrahim Soofie

Age 36 years

Sex Male

In the Certificate of Identity issued by the Immigration Department of the Union of

South Africa, Certificate Number 21953, Soofie Saheb's signature in Urdu reads:

Mahomed Ebrahim Soofie Saheb. His Murshid, Habib Ali Shah, was disappointed on

seeing Soofie Saheb in Hyderabad, and this time told him categorically to settle in


Soofie Saheb returned to Durban with his brother-in-law Abd al-Latif, and his son

Abd al-Aziz. They settled, on their arrival, at Riverside in Durban where they

founded a small Masjid and a Khanqah. In 1900 it became evident to Soofie Saheb

[aged 50] that many Muslims wished to become his Murids; thus he sought the

permission of his Murshid for Khilafat [spiritual successorship]. He left for India and

on receiving the Khilafat from his Murshid he returned to Durban to continue his

work. Soofie Saheb made one more trip to India in 1904 upon the death of Habib Ali

Shah and returned the following year.

Soofie Saheb died in Durban in 1910 at the age of 60. He is buried at the Darghah

[tomb] in Riverside, Durban. His mother Rabiah who died in 1913 lies buried beside

him. In 1978 the Darghah and Masjid were declared a National Monument. The

Soofie Saheb Masjid-Darghah complex began a renovations [1958] which was

completed in 1988. costing more than One Hundred Thousand Rands. The well-kept

family cemetery is at the back of the Mazar.

1899 Nurul Muhammadia Islam Masjid, Cape Town

The Nurul Muhammadia Islam Masjid in Vos Street, Cape Town, was constructed in

1899. This was the tenth Masjid to be built in Cape Town. The very first Imaam of this

Masjid was Ebrahim Salie from 1899 to 1928.

1899 Land for Zanzibari Muslims at Kings Rest

Seven Muslim merchants from Durban formed the Mohammedan Trust Kings Rest.

The Deed of Transfer No. 337/1899 shows that the land was officially transferred on

March 22, 1899. Soon, thereafter, a small wood and iron Masjid was constructed on

this site where the Zanzibari community had settled. A Madrasah and a cemetery

were also provided by the Trust to the Zanzibaris.

The first known Imaam of the Zanzibari Masjid was Mustapha Osman who came

from the Comoros Islands to Durban in the late 1880's. In 1916 the Juma Masjid Trust,

Durban, took control of the land, property and total maintenance of the Zanzabari

settlement. At present, only the Masjid remains on the Zanzibari settlement in Kings

Rest. The entire Zanzabari community was uprooted from their homes by the

infamous and satanic Group Areas Act which was at all times enforced ruthlessly by

the racist South African Government who required the land for white residences.

The Zanzibaris were then forced to settle in Chatsworth, Durban which was

proclaimed for residence of the Indian community.

The Kings Rest Masjid was abandoned for fourteen long years as the doors were

shut by the Group Areas and the building began to decay. All that remained at the

first Zanzibari settlement was the cemetery where the Muslims went to offer their

Duah's for the deceased. The Masjid and the cemetery remains under the control of

the Juma Masjid Trust [Grey Street Masjid] who pay all the rates and taxes for the


In 1973 Haji Eghsaan Aysen [d 1992], a tailor by profession, visited the King's Rest

Cemetery on the auspicious day of Eid and was greatly disturbed on seeing the

condition of the place and on seeing how badly the Masjid had been neglected. With

the assistance of some friends, Haji Aysen renovated the Masjid fully with carpets,

Wudhu facilities and toilets etc. and served as a dedicated and sincere Imaam of the

Kings Rest Masjid until his death.

1903 South African Moslem Association

The South African Muslim Association was founded in Cape Town in 1903 with

Hisham Neamatollah [Ni'matullah] Effendi as Chairman and Imaam Abdurahman

Kassiem Gamildien as Secretary. The Association was formed to work in the interest

of the Moslem Community at the socio-economic level and was out to champion the

cause of more schools for non-Whites. At the Association's inaugural meeting Effendi

commented about fellows Muslims:

"We shall have much opposition from many of the Muslims, who as a section, will

not understand what progress is. Their policy is to live and die by the same custom

and principles to which they have been born and brought up."

By the time the first quarterly meeting of the Association was held some 150

members had joined the organization. Disagreement seemed to have prevailed in the

Association: The President sought to involve the broad Muslim community, while the

Vice-President held a narrow sectarian view.

The South African Muslim Association was short-lived and made little impact on the

Cape Muslims as it did not enjoy the support of the Muslim 'clergy', a precondition

for any Muslim organization which hoped for a reasonable degree of survival in

Cape Town.


Abdul Hamid Lachporia



(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida

350 years of Islam in South Africa- Part 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive


In the Name of Almighty Allah

Most Gracious Most Merciful

1873: Arrival of the Zanzibaris

The British Consul-General of Zanzibar, John Kerk, suggested in a letter to the

Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, that a temporary arrangement could be made

whereby the emancipated slaves from Zanzibar could be brought to Natal and be

apprenticed to the White sugar planters. Thus, the first group of freed Zanzibaris

arrived at Port Natal [later, Durban] on board H.M.S. Briton from Zanzibar on the

4th of August 1873.

They numbered 113, a large majority of whom were Muslims.


A year later, the H.M.S. Kaffir landed at Port Natal with 81 more freed Zanzibaris.

According to a Government Notice No. 142 of 1873 all the freed slaves were to be

employed in Public Works. However, owing to intervention of the White settlers, it

was decided to divide them equally between Public Works and private individuals

as indentured labourers. These Zanzibaris, being Muslims, erected a wood and iron

room that they used for the five daily prayers. This room was constructed into a

proper Masjid in 1899.

1874 Arrival of Ismail Kajee and

other businessmen from Gujarat.

Another batch of Gujarati-speaking Muslims arrived in Natal. Amongst them was

Ismail Kajee, father of the notable A.I.Kajee [d 1948, aged 52], who arrived from

Mauritius where he was in business, and Cassim Paruk of the present Nu-Shop

group of retail business outlets. After 1875 more experienced "Arab" traders began

to dominate the retail trade and even entered the wholesale business. The statistics

show the following:

* 1870 two free Indian stores

* 1875 ten free Indian and one "Arab" stores

* 1880 thirty free India and seven "Arab" stores.

* 1875 there were as much as 40 "Arab" stores in and around

1875 Muslim Population Statistics

The 1875 census reported:-

*13,930 Muslims [10,817 "Malay"] in the Colony;

8,948 Muslims in Cape Town]

Distribution of Muslims at the Cape [1875].

Place: Total Population No. of Muslims. %


Cape Town 17,004 6,772 76.54%

Green Point 796 61 0.69%

Papendorp 624 108 1.22%

Rondebosch 1,019 180 2.03%

Newlands 2,363 775 8.76%

Wynberg 1,308 310 3.50%

Klassenbosch 612 157 1.77%

Simonstown 1,002 292 3.0%

Noordhoek 432 57 0.6%


1875 Abdol Burns and the Cemetery dispute


Abdol Burns an educated man, a superb letter writer and taxi driver by profession,

was a member of the Auwal Masjid in Cape Town. He was at the same time an

astute 'politician' and negotiator and played an important role on behalf of the Cape

Muslims in their dispute with the authorities on the cemetery issue from 1875 to

1886. Burns was indefatigable in his efforts to right what he conceived to be an

injustice inflicted upon the Cape Muslim community by the authorities when the

Government policy was implemented to close down the urban cemeteries -

including Tana Baru - "for health reasons".

As early as 1875 he had indicated to the authorities that to the Cape Muslims "their

religion of Islam was superior to the law" and would resist Section 65 of the Public

Health Act No. 4 of 1883. He worked enthusiastically for ten long years in this

regard to avoid open confrontation with the authorities. The promulgation of the

Act left Abdol Burns no alternative but to organize protest meetings and solidify

Muslim unity on this issue. This he achieved through the establishment of the

Malay Cemetery Committee on which he served as the secretary, under the

chairmanship of Imaam Gamja [Hamza] of the Auwal Masjid, and later under

Imaam Shahibo of the Jamia Masjid.

With the Cape Government implementing the Cemetery Bill, Friday, January 15th,

1886 was set as the final day for burials in the municipal areas of Cape Town.

Thereafter the dead were to be interred at the Maitland Cemetery which was

administered by the Maitland Cemetery Board. There was not a single Muslim

representative on this Board - a fact which Abdol Burns came to criticise with great

bitterness, pointing out that the Cape Muslims constituted one third of the total

population of Cape Town but had no representatives on this important Board.

On the 12th of June 1885, Abdol Burns chaired a historic protest meeting in the

Council Chamber of the Town House which was attended by about 500 Muslims.

The meeting appointed Imaam Gamja, Imaam Shahibo, Imaam Abdol Kariem and

others, with full powers to act on behalf of the Cape Muslims on the cemetery issue.

This was indeed a great event in the history of Cape for it was the first time that a

community group was allowed the privilege of using the Council Chamber of the

Town House for a communal meeting.

When the Maitland Cemetery Board refused to grant the Muslim any concessions,

Abdol Burns arranged an interview with the Colonial Secretary on November 13th,

1885 to intervene on their behalf, requesting for an extension to the closing date of

the cemeteries. This was also refused. On January 8th, 1886 Muslims elected a

delegation at the Auwal Masjid to see the Premier regarding the issue. On the

evening of January 15th, 1886, the Cape Muslims were left without a burial ground,

their existing cemeteries having been officially closed by a Government decree. On

the 17th of January, 1886 a child of a Muslim fisherman, Amaldien ['Amal-al-Din]

Rhode, died.

More than three thousand Muslims walked to Tana Baru cemetery and buried the

child. The twelve policemen who were sent there on duty to take down the names

of the offenders were pelted with stones and were forced to flee. Cape Town had

never experienced anything like this. A tense atmosphere, in anticipation of rioting,

prevailed. On January 20th, 1886 the authorities stationed the corps of Volunteers at

Green Point.

Ten Muslim leaders were arrested and charged with contravening Section 65 of the

Public Health Act No 4 of 1886, and for causing a riot. The arrest did not curb the

defiance of the Cape Muslims for they buried another Muslim at Tana Baru. On

January 21st, 1886 Abdol Burns was immediately released on bail. Burns

approached the British commanding officer, General D'Ogley, stationed at the Cape

to intervene on behalf of the Muslims but the request was refused. Burns was

eventually found guilty and sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard

labour and a fine of ten pounds sterling.

Meanwhile, the Muslims were still without a cemetery. The Malay Cemetery

Committee, founded and excellently organised by Abdol Burns for ten years was

dissolved. A Muslim Cemetery Board with Hadjie Ozier Ali [ Haji Uzayr Ali] as

secretary was established, and purchased a burial ground at Observatory, from the

authorities. Abdol Burns had previously refused this ground and it was probably

because of this that he did not become a member of the Muslim Cemetery Board.

1876 Arrival of more freed slaves from Zanzibar

Another 226 freed slaves arrived at Port Natal from Zanzibar to work in the sugar

plantations in Natal owned by White farmers. Sporadic shiploads of ex-slaves from

Zanzibar continued to arrive at Port Natal until 1880. However, by the end of that

year importation of slaves from Zanzibar came to and end.

1881 Land purchased for Durban Masjid.

Aboobakr Ahmod [Jhavery] and Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada purchased a site for

the construction of a Masjid in Grey Street, Durban from K. Moonsamy for One

Hundred and Fifteen Pounds Sterling. The sale of the property - Sub E of Block BB -

was duly registered at the Deeds Office in Pietermaritzburg August 15th, 1881.

The size of this Masjid, a renovated brick and mortar house, in the centre of Durban

was only 20 feet by 13 feet [6.1 meters by 3,69 meters] in area. Plans in the Durban

City Corporation show the Mosque as far back as 1880 when it was a small 20 feet

by 13 feet brick and mortar structure.

1881 Establishment of the Hanafee Masjid

The Seventh Masjid in Cape Town.

Unlike the other Masaajid which were constructed in the periphery of residential

areas, the two Hanafee Masjids were constructed in Long and Loop Streets where

the greatest concentration of Muslims resided. The Hanafee Masjid, at the corner of

Long and Dorp Streets is the seventh oldest Masjid in Bo Kaap, Cape Town This

was the first Masjid constructed by the Cape Muslims of the Hanafee School in 1881

in the Cape Colony.

This Masjid came into being through the influence of Abubakr Effendi; while the

second Hanafi Masjid in Loop Street was established as a result of the influx of

"Indian" Muslims at Cape Town from 1870 onwards. The Hanafi Masjid was also

called the Jami Masjid.

1882 Arrival of Haji Sullaiman Shahmahomed

Haji Sullaiman Shahmahomed was born in the Kathiawar District in India. He

emigrated from India in 1881 and settled in Cape Town in 1883, where he married

Rahimah, the daughter of Imaam Slemman [Sulayman] Salie in 1888. In 1886

Sahamahomed travelled through Western Asia and Europe; in 1893 - 1894 he

journed through Australia, India, China, Japan and North America and then

published a book in English, "Journal of My Tours Round the World" 1886 - 1887

and 1893 - 1895 AD, [Bombay, Duftur Ashkara Oil Engine Press 1895, pp 332].

In Cape Town, he purchased Lots 3 and 4, portions of Mariendal Estate, adjacent to

the disused Muslim Cemetery in Claremont. Upon this ground Shahmahomed

wished to build a Masjid and an academy for higher education [both secular and

religious]. A trust was created and on June 29th, 1911 the foundation stone was laid

for the new Muslim School at Claremont.

In terms of the deeds of trust, Shahmahomed appointed the Mayor of Cape Town

and the Cape's Civil Commissioner [both non-Muslims] as co-administrators of the

academy as well as the Karamat of Shaykh Yusuf. To this there was great

resentment among the Muslims in the city because both of the non-Muslim

appointees "were hardly competent to deliberate on matters affecting the cultural

life of the Muslim community."

The Masjid project in Claremont was completed but the academy did not

materialise. On August 21st, 1923 Shahmohamed wrote to the University of Cape

Town with regard to the founding of a chair in Eastern Plilosoiphy and language, in

which he stated: "I enclose Union Government Stock Certificate Number 12192,

dated August 14th, 1923, to the value of 1,000.0.0d [One Thousand Pounds Sterling]

and hope to make further additions thereto."

Shahmohamed was a wealthy educationalist and philanthropist, well-travelled and

a writer. He was instrumental in the renovations of Shaykh Yusuf's tomb at Faure in

1927; the Park Road Masjid in Wynberg; and also Al Jamia Masjid in Claremont. He

campaigned for a chair in Islamic Studies and Arabic at the University of Cape

Town and placed a large sum of money in trust for this purpose. He died in 1927.

1883 Public Health Act No. 4 of 1883

The Public Health Act No. 4 of 1883 dealt with the closure of the Muslim cemetery

in Cape Town called Tana Baru, The closure of Tana Baru was against the wishes of

the Cape Muslim community. When the Act became law on January 15th, 1886, the

Cape Muslims did not have an alternate burial ground. Their sustained and tireless

efforts in negotiations with the Cape authorities over a period of ten years were to

no avail. The Cape Muslims refused to accept the burial site granted to them at the

Maitlan Cemetery saying that it was too far to carry their dead.

The Muslim community was totally united in their opposition to the Cape

Government's policy of closing Tana Baru. They did not recognise the Public Health

Act No. 4 of 1883 as a measure in the interest of public health, especially since [ they

argued] that their cemetery was well maintained, relatively empty and that they

buried their dead six feet deep. The Muslim cemetery constituted no danger to

public health - this view was supported by the evidence of Dr. Ebdon, Medical

Officer of Health to the Cape Municipal Cemetery Commission of 1859.

To be continued - Insha'Allah

Was Salamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.

Abdul Hamid Lachporia

Toronto. Canada.

July/August 2004


(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida


350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 12

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

1959 Orient Islamic State-Aided School

In 1942 the Orient Islamic Educational Institute was founded for the purpose of

advancement of Islamic education and particularly for establishing schools of

higher education in Durban. The Institute purchased three acres of land just below

the Botanic Gardens in Durban. Unfortunately, anti-Indian agitation by the racist

Whites against Indians "penetrating" borders of White residential areas forced the

trustees of the Institute to give up this idea.

Towards the end of 1942, the Institute purchased 80 acres of land on the Bluff in

Durban and plans were drawn for school buildings but on the eve of the foundation

laying ceremony by the Minister of Interior, some Durban City Councillors [all

Whites] and a few members of Parliament [all Whites], once again, agitated against

an Indian school to be built on the borders of a White residential area.

The racist White residents of the area became so prejudiced that the Institute had to

abandon the project. The matter became so tense that even Prime Minister General

Christian Smuts, became concerned and requested the Durban City Council to

provide a suitable site to the Orient Islamic Institute for the construction of an

Indian School.

Thus it was only in 1955, after thirteen long years and much negotiations, that the

Durban City Council offered 3.7 acres at Curries Fountain, less than a kilometer

away from the Botanical Gardens in exchange for the 80 acres of the Institute's land

at the Bluff. Having no other options, the Institute was forced to accept the offer.

The school was opened on January 19th, 1959.

1959 As-Salaam Educational Institute

The Islamic Propagation Centre of Durban headed by Ahmed Deedat and Goolam

Hoosen Vanker established the Islamic Mission training school, As-Salaam, near

Braemer, on a 75 acre land, valued at Five Thousand Pounds Sterling donated by

the S.I.Kadwa family of Umzinto, in 1959; the foundation stone was laid by Mrs.

Amina Tahir King, wife of former Reverend Rashid Tahir King, the first paid D'ai in


From 1974 to 1978 the Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa took full control of

education and activities at As-Salaam. Since 1978 the As-Salaam Committee

consisting of Muslim health care personnel have been catering for both secular and

religious education at As-Salaam together with other Islamic activities. As-Salaam

has many non-Muslim African students also attending the school.

1959 Tabligh Jama'at

At an Ijtima held on August 2nd, 1934 at Mewat, India, some 107 Muslims attended

under the leadership of Maulana Muhammad Ilyas [1885-1944] and pledged what,

reduced to writing, could be described as the initial constitution of the Tabligh


The Tabligh Jama'at has established points of contact at centres in various parts of

the world. In South Africa, annual international Ijtima takes place at different towns

and cities which is attended by several thousands of Muslims.

1960 Muslim Population

According to the South African Government's Bureau of Statistics, the Muslim

population of South Africa was as follows in 1960:-

Whites not made available

Coloureds 93,256

Asians 98,490

Blacks 4,626


Total = 196,372

1960 Hospital Welfare and Muslim

Educational Movement.

During the early 1960's, in Cape Town, members of the Muslim Educational

Movement and the Hospital Welfare Society merged to form the Hospital Welfare

and Muslim Educational Movement. This was largely due to the close working

relationship which existed between the two organizations and their common

working goals. Today the Hospital Welfare and Muslim Educational Movement

supervises all the Halal Kitchens at major Peninsula hospitals in the Cape, namely,

Groote Schuur, Somerset, Conradie, G.F.Jooste, Woodstock, Mowbray, Maternity,

Peninsula Maternity, Lentegeur, Brooklyn Chest and Tygerberg Hospitals.

The movement launched its first bursary programme in 1972. From 1978 to 1987, it

distributed more than R120,000.00 to needy and deserving students for furthering

their education. Since 1987 the administration of the Langa Madrasah in Cape Town

has come under the wing of the Hospital Welfare and Muslim Educational


1960 Publication of Muslim News.

Muslim News, "Southern Africa's only Muslim newspaper" in the sixties, began its

fortnightly publication from Athlone, Cape Town, with a circulation of 10,000

copies daily. The policy was spelt out in its first editorial: "Muslim News is a noncommercial

journal, run by an Editorial Board, and therefore, entirely independent.

Muslim News will publish material of interest to and for the enlightenment of

Muslims without fear or favour. Muslim News will seek guidance from the Holy

Qur'an and the Sunnah."

From its humble beginning, the newspaper grew to acquire an international

reputation. Because of the paper's stand against the South African Government's

Apartheid policy, the newspaper faced much harassment from the Security Branch

and other State authorities. Over the years several editions were declared

"undesirable" by the State and in 1980 a record number of nine editions were

banned. In 1986 after more than 25 years' publication, Muslim News ceased


Among those associated with the newspaper were Imam Abdullah Haron who was

most brutally murdered while under detention. The official State version was that

he simply "died" in prison while being detained. A. Kays, who succeeded Imam

Haron as editor, was banned for five years and was forced to resign from Muslim

News. Rashid Sayed, Gulzar Khan and Abdul Qayyum Sayed, all detained without

trial at one time or another for writing against the Government and its policies.

Then from September 1986, Muslim Views filled the void created by the closing of

Muslim News.

1961 Zanzibaris Classified "Other Asiatics".

According to a proclamation in the Government Gazette of May 26th, 1966, "Other

Asians" are "persons generally accepted as Zanzibari Arabs [also called Zanzibaris

or Kiwas] or people whose national home is in any country in Asia except, India,

China, or Pakistan. "Other Asian" forms part of the ethnic grouping under the race

group "coloured" as defined by the Population Registration Act of 1950.

The Zanzibaris were first classified by the South African Government as "Freed

Slaves", then "Bantu", then "Coloureds" and finally by the Race Classification

Proclamation No 6620 of 1961, the Zanzibaris living in South Africa were classified

as "Other Asiatics", although they have always had their roots in the African


1961 Call of Islam

On May 7th, 1961 Muslims gathered in the City Hall of Cape Town to launch the

Call of Islam, an umbrella body, of different Muslim organisations with the aims of

opposing the Group

Areas Act. The organisation was founded by Imam Abdullah Haron.

1962 Zanzibaris settled in Chatsworth

Being classified as "Other Asiatics", the Zanzibari Muslims were forced to move

from Kings Rest as this area was proclaimed for the residence of the White

community under the Group Areas Act No. 77 of 1957. They were then settled in

Unit 2 of Chatsworth, Durban.

At the beginning, some Indian residents of Chatsworth objected to the Zanzibaris

being settled in an Indian area but eventually the Indian community as a whole

accepted to live side by side with the Zanzibaris.

1962 Lenasia Muslim Association

The Lenasia Muslim Association [LMA] was founded in 1962. It had a humble

beginning when it catered for a mere 30 Madrasah children with one teacher

earning a R30.00 [Thirty Rand] per month. LMA today (1993) runs a Madrasah

programme which caters for more than 3,500 children in the Lenasia area. The

Association maintains two religious-cum-secular nursery schools, five Masaajid

[Rainbow Valley Masjid, Masjid-e-Nur, Masjid-us-Siddique, Masjid-e-Bilal and

Honeysuckle Masjid], and three educational centres at its headquarters in Lenasia.

1992 marked the 30th anniversary of LMA's service to the Muslim community of

Lenasia, Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. The LMA is also involved in

providing religious education to handicapped children at JISWA and the School for

Hard Hearing. In 1992 the Association had a student role of over 3,500, a staff of 170

and a salary bill in excess of R100,000.00 [One hundred Thousand Rand] per month.


Abdul Hamid Lachporia



(1) "The Mosques of Bo-Kaap"

A social history of Islam at the Cape 1980

by Achmat Davids

Director of Social Services

Muslim Assembly (Cape).

(2) "History of Muslims in South Africa"

A Chronology 1993.

by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida