350 Years of Islam in South Africa: Part 9

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

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