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
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
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  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
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"
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