350 Years of Islam in South Africa- Part 6


[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


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