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  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
Father's Name Ebrahim Soofie
Age 36 years
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  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
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