[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
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
(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