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In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Welcome to the home of the Chisti Silsilah in the Western Cape.
Nutrition in S.A.
In the Name of Almighty Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful
1956 "Die Heilige Qur'an" First Afrikaans Translation of the Holy Qur'an
Imam Mohammed Baker of Simonstown was a qualified school teacher from the
Zobbebloem College in District Six, Cape Town. He became principal of the
Simonstown Muslim Mission School. Imam Baker began the first translation of the
Most Holy Qur'an into the Afrikaans language in 1956. Having completed the
translation, he published it under the title "Die Heilige Qur'an" [The Holy Qur'an]
in 1961. The translation does not contain the Arabic Text, footnotes, commentary, or
index. It was printed in Cape Town by the Cape Times Limited and contains 464
pages. Imam Baker died in Cape Town in 1982 aged 72.
Die Heilige Qur'an was reprinted with revisions in 1981 by the Islamic Propagation
Centre of Durban. 15,000 copies of the Qur'an were published for distribution in the
1956 M. L. Sultan Technikon, Durban
The M. L. Sultan Technikon College [now Technikon] in Centenary Road, Durban
was officially opened in 1956. Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan, after whom the
Technikon is named, was born in Quillon, Malabar, South India, on February 15th,
1873. It is said that he left his hometown to seek employment in Ceylon [Sri Lanka]
but the ship which he was to board broke down and could not set sail.
Consequently, he decided to enroll as an indentured labourer arriving in Port Natal
[Durban] in 1890 and worked for the Natal Government as a railway porter at the
Berea Road Station in Durban. Having completed his period of indenture of five
years, he went to the Transvaal and worked as a waiter at one of the hotels in
Johannesburg. He returned to Durban and settled in Bellair. In 1905 he married
Mariam Bee [d 1933].
He and his wife moved to Escombe [Natal] and went first into banana and tobacco
farming, and after some time, he went into property business. M.L.Sultan soon
became one of the leading property dealers in Natal. It was in 1942 that he was
introduced to the Technical Education Committee; and out of the deliberations
came his generous offer of Twenty Five Thousand Rands that is, half the cost of the
proposed technical college building. In addition to this, he endowed a further Ten
Thousand Rand for the extension of a science block.
The Hugo Commission [under the Higher Education Act No. 30 0f 1923]
recommended a building grant on a Rand for Rand basis and the approval of a
college. This important step resulted in the establishment of the first Indian
Technical College in South Africa, namely, the M.L.Sultan Technical College in
Durban, with full statutory rights, powers and duties and with an independent
M.L.Sultan, the founder of the M.L.Sultan Charitable and Educational Trust, was
the first patron of the College. Shortly before his death on September 6th, 1953,
M.L.Sultan increased the original gift for the college building from Twenty Five
Thousand Rand to Sixty Thousand Rand. After the death of his wife, he established
the Mariam Bee Charitable and Educational Trust in her memory, and set aside Fifty
Thousand Rands as an endowment for a proposed children's hospital. In 1978 the
name of the College was changed to M.L.Sultan Technikon.
1957 Cape Muslim Youth Movement
The Cape Muslim Youth Movement [CMYM] was founded in Cape Town in 1957.
The Movement played a vital role in highlighting the dynamism of Islam and
creating general political awareness amongst the Muslims, One of the major
activities of the CMYM was study circles at various centres. Many CMYM members
joined the Muslim Assembly when it was formed in 1967.
1957 Islamic Propagation Centre International
During the mid 50's and early 60's, the Arabic Study Circle of Durban, on Sunday
mornings, conducted Arabic language classes tutored by Mahomed A. Mahomedy
[Bhai Mota], followed by Qur'an Tafsir classes conducted by Joseph Perdu, then
followed study classes in comparative religion in which Christianity, Hinduism,
Judaism, etc were taught by various visiting lecturers. In 1956 Ahmed Deedat took
charge of these classes.
The raison d'etre was to equip thinking Muslims of ways to counteract Christian
missionary and local media propaganda against Islam and Muslims, such as:
* Islam was spread by the sword
* Muslims worship Muhammad [P.B.O.H.]
* Islam was a danger to South Africa;
* Muslim women were not emancipated
* Muslims were anti-Christ etc.
Against this background, a year later, on March 17th, 1957 there was sufficient
interest in the Muslim community of Durban for the establishment of a Da'wah
society. This led to the formation of the Islamic Propagation Centre [IPC] with
Goolam Hoosen E. Vanker as President, Ahmed Deedat as Secretary and Abdul
Khalick Salejee as Treasurer. Others elected at this meeting were: Sulaiman Shaikjee,
G.H. Agjee, Moosa Kajee, Valley Mahomed and Cassim Vanker.
1958 Establishment of Nurul Huda Masjid
In 1939 the Jassiem family had constructed a prayer room in Schoone Kloof, Cape
Town, where in 1958, the Nurul Huda Masjid was constructed in Leeuwen Street.
The majority of the population in this area were Muslims. Only about 20% were
Christians but "there has never been any religious friction in the whole of the Bo-
Kaap between Christians and Muslims".
1958 Claremont Muslim Youth Association.
Guided by Imam Abdullah Haron, some Muslim teachers such as Sedick [Dickie]
Galant, Ismail [Maili] Saban, Yusuf [Jowa] Abrahams, Abu Bakr Fakier [Brom] and
artisans such as Andul Kariem Sadan [Gap], Cassiem Sadan [Bounie], Yusuf [Joe]
Arnold, Sieraj Galant [Dockie], Rashaad Sadan, Omar Abrahams, etc established the
Claremont Muslim Youth Association [CMYA] in Cape Town in March 1958. In
1963 the CMYA elected Imam Abdullah Haron as Honorary Life President. The
Association came to an abrupt end in 1964.
1958 Islamic Missionary Society.
The Islamic Missionary Society was founded in 1958 by a group of concerned
Muslims [of Johannesburg] who were alarmed that no Da'wah [propagation] work
was being done in the Transvaal in particular and in South Africa on a large scale,
and that millions of the oppressed non-white people of the country had not received
the message of Islam. It was thus resolved at a public meeting held at the Suleiman
Nana Memorial Hall, Johannesburg, to form the Islamic Missionary Society. The
aims and objectives of the Society are:
propagate and teach Islam and to cultivate among Muslims knowledge and love for
the religious ideals, traditions and principles of Islam; assist indigent and suffering
Muslims; provide facilities for the education of Muslim children carry out extensive
Da'wah activities among non-Muslims; to teach them Islam and to create an Islamic
atmosphere in which they can live their lives in accordance with the Din of Islam.
Build, maintain and conduct Madaris, Masaajid, Da'wah training centers and other
institutions necessary for the propagation of Islam, and do all that is necessary by
way of publications, lectures and educational and humanitarian institutions to
achieve the aim of Islamizing South Africa. During the first phase of the Society, it
launched a series of publications on Islam which aimed at awakening the interest of
both Muslims and non-Muslims towards Islam and the Muslim community.
During its second phase, the Society succeeded in Introducing Islam in the various
African townships surrounding Johannesburg - giving Da'wah to the
underprivileged people of South Africa. House to house visits, organized in Soweto
and other townships, calling and inviting the people to Islam proved successful.
Gradually after years of hard work, Africans from the townships began to embrace
Islam on a daily basis. The Islamic Missionary Society maintains that during the last
thirty years, thousands have embraced Islam in South Africa.
The Islamic Missionary Society obtained permission to build the first Masjid in the
township of Soweto, near Johannesburg. This was done with the assistance of the
Rabitat-al-Alam al-Islami of Makkah. The Masjid and Madrasah were built in the
name of the Soweto Muslim Association. The Society has established an Islamic
Centre with fulltime Da'is in the township of Sharpville.
A Jama'at Khana and Madrasah in Kwa Thema an African township east of
Johannesburg, where a fulltime Da'i is employed. Application for land for building
a Masjid and Madrasah in Kwa Thema was made. The Islamic Missionary Society
maintains several Jama'at Kahnas and Madaris in many other townships in the
Transvaal, such as different sections of Soweto, Lekazi section of Kanyamazini
homeland in the Eastern Transvaal.
At the Islamic Centres of the Society in the townships, they have established feeding
centres where the poor and destitute are provided daily with bread and soup. The
society also distributes clothing, shoes and blankets in the townships just before Id
al-Fitr at their Centres. The Islamic Missionary Society has established self-help
projects in the form of knitting, sewing, gardening etc. With these projects the
workers are helped in maintaining their families with their income.
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
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.
[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.
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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
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".
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
1873: Arrival of the Zanzibaris
The British Consul-General of Zanzibar, John Kerk, suggested in a letter to the
Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, that a temporary arrangement could be made
whereby the emancipated slaves from Zanzibar could be brought to Natal and be
apprenticed to the White sugar planters. Thus, the first group of freed Zanzibaris
arrived at Port Natal [later, Durban] on board H.M.S. Briton from Zanzibar on the
4th of August 1873.
They numbered 113, a large majority of whom were Muslims.
A year later, the H.M.S. Kaffir landed at Port Natal with 81 more freed Zanzibaris.
According to a Government Notice No. 142 of 1873 all the freed slaves were to be
employed in Public Works. However, owing to intervention of the White settlers, it
was decided to divide them equally between Public Works and private individuals
as indentured labourers. These Zanzibaris, being Muslims, erected a wood and iron
room that they used for the five daily prayers. This room was constructed into a
proper Masjid in 1899.
1874 Arrival of Ismail Kajee and
other businessmen from Gujarat.
Another batch of Gujarati-speaking Muslims arrived in Natal. Amongst them was
Ismail Kajee, father of the notable A.I.Kajee [d 1948, aged 52], who arrived from
Mauritius where he was in business, and Cassim Paruk of the present Nu-Shop
group of retail business outlets. After 1875 more experienced "Arab" traders began
to dominate the retail trade and even entered the wholesale business. The statistics
show the following:
* 1870 two free Indian stores
* 1875 ten free Indian and one "Arab" stores
* 1880 thirty free India and seven "Arab" stores.
* 1875 there were as much as 40 "Arab" stores in and around
1875 Muslim Population Statistics
The 1875 census reported:-
*13,930 Muslims [10,817 "Malay"] in the Colony;
8,948 Muslims in Cape Town]
Distribution of Muslims at the Cape .
Place: Total Population No. of Muslims. %
Cape Town 17,004 6,772 76.54%
Green Point 796 61 0.69%
Papendorp 624 108 1.22%
Rondebosch 1,019 180 2.03%
Newlands 2,363 775 8.76%
Wynberg 1,308 310 3.50%
Klassenbosch 612 157 1.77%
Simonstown 1,002 292 3.0%
Noordhoek 432 57 0.6%
1875 Abdol Burns and the Cemetery dispute
Abdol Burns an educated man, a superb letter writer and taxi driver by profession,
was a member of the Auwal Masjid in Cape Town. He was at the same time an
astute 'politician' and negotiator and played an important role on behalf of the Cape
Muslims in their dispute with the authorities on the cemetery issue from 1875 to
1886. Burns was indefatigable in his efforts to right what he conceived to be an
injustice inflicted upon the Cape Muslim community by the authorities when the
Government policy was implemented to close down the urban cemeteries -
including Tana Baru - "for health reasons".
As early as 1875 he had indicated to the authorities that to the Cape Muslims "their
religion of Islam was superior to the law" and would resist Section 65 of the Public
Health Act No. 4 of 1883. He worked enthusiastically for ten long years in this
regard to avoid open confrontation with the authorities. The promulgation of the
Act left Abdol Burns no alternative but to organize protest meetings and solidify
Muslim unity on this issue. This he achieved through the establishment of the
Malay Cemetery Committee on which he served as the secretary, under the
chairmanship of Imaam Gamja [Hamza] of the Auwal Masjid, and later under
Imaam Shahibo of the Jamia Masjid.
With the Cape Government implementing the Cemetery Bill, Friday, January 15th,
1886 was set as the final day for burials in the municipal areas of Cape Town.
Thereafter the dead were to be interred at the Maitland Cemetery which was
administered by the Maitland Cemetery Board. There was not a single Muslim
representative on this Board - a fact which Abdol Burns came to criticise with great
bitterness, pointing out that the Cape Muslims constituted one third of the total
population of Cape Town but had no representatives on this important Board.
On the 12th of June 1885, Abdol Burns chaired a historic protest meeting in the
Council Chamber of the Town House which was attended by about 500 Muslims.
The meeting appointed Imaam Gamja, Imaam Shahibo, Imaam Abdol Kariem and
others, with full powers to act on behalf of the Cape Muslims on the cemetery issue.
This was indeed a great event in the history of Cape for it was the first time that a
community group was allowed the privilege of using the Council Chamber of the
Town House for a communal meeting.
When the Maitland Cemetery Board refused to grant the Muslim any concessions,
Abdol Burns arranged an interview with the Colonial Secretary on November 13th,
1885 to intervene on their behalf, requesting for an extension to the closing date of
the cemeteries. This was also refused. On January 8th, 1886 Muslims elected a
delegation at the Auwal Masjid to see the Premier regarding the issue. On the
evening of January 15th, 1886, the Cape Muslims were left without a burial ground,
their existing cemeteries having been officially closed by a Government decree. On
the 17th of January, 1886 a child of a Muslim fisherman, Amaldien ['Amal-al-Din]
More than three thousand Muslims walked to Tana Baru cemetery and buried the
child. The twelve policemen who were sent there on duty to take down the names
of the offenders were pelted with stones and were forced to flee. Cape Town had
never experienced anything like this. A tense atmosphere, in anticipation of rioting,
prevailed. On January 20th, 1886 the authorities stationed the corps of Volunteers at
Ten Muslim leaders were arrested and charged with contravening Section 65 of the
Public Health Act No 4 of 1886, and for causing a riot. The arrest did not curb the
defiance of the Cape Muslims for they buried another Muslim at Tana Baru. On
January 21st, 1886 Abdol Burns was immediately released on bail. Burns
approached the British commanding officer, General D'Ogley, stationed at the Cape
to intervene on behalf of the Muslims but the request was refused. Burns was
eventually found guilty and sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard
labour and a fine of ten pounds sterling.
Meanwhile, the Muslims were still without a cemetery. The Malay Cemetery
Committee, founded and excellently organised by Abdol Burns for ten years was
dissolved. A Muslim Cemetery Board with Hadjie Ozier Ali [ Haji Uzayr Ali] as
secretary was established, and purchased a burial ground at Observatory, from the
authorities. Abdol Burns had previously refused this ground and it was probably
because of this that he did not become a member of the Muslim Cemetery Board.
1876 Arrival of more freed slaves from Zanzibar
Another 226 freed slaves arrived at Port Natal from Zanzibar to work in the sugar
plantations in Natal owned by White farmers. Sporadic shiploads of ex-slaves from
Zanzibar continued to arrive at Port Natal until 1880. However, by the end of that
year importation of slaves from Zanzibar came to and end.
1881 Land purchased for Durban Masjid.
Aboobakr Ahmod [Jhavery] and Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada purchased a site for
the construction of a Masjid in Grey Street, Durban from K. Moonsamy for One
Hundred and Fifteen Pounds Sterling. The sale of the property - Sub E of Block BB -
was duly registered at the Deeds Office in Pietermaritzburg August 15th, 1881.
The size of this Masjid, a renovated brick and mortar house, in the centre of Durban
was only 20 feet by 13 feet [6.1 meters by 3,69 meters] in area. Plans in the Durban
City Corporation show the Mosque as far back as 1880 when it was a small 20 feet
by 13 feet brick and mortar structure.
1881 Establishment of the Hanafee Masjid
The Seventh Masjid in Cape Town.
Unlike the other Masaajid which were constructed in the periphery of residential
areas, the two Hanafee Masjids were constructed in Long and Loop Streets where
the greatest concentration of Muslims resided. The Hanafee Masjid, at the corner of
Long and Dorp Streets is the seventh oldest Masjid in Bo Kaap, Cape Town This
was the first Masjid constructed by the Cape Muslims of the Hanafee School in 1881
in the Cape Colony.
This Masjid came into being through the influence of Abubakr Effendi; while the
second Hanafi Masjid in Loop Street was established as a result of the influx of
"Indian" Muslims at Cape Town from 1870 onwards. The Hanafi Masjid was also
called the Jami Masjid.
1882 Arrival of Haji Sullaiman Shahmahomed
Haji Sullaiman Shahmahomed was born in the Kathiawar District in India. He
emigrated from India in 1881 and settled in Cape Town in 1883, where he married
Rahimah, the daughter of Imaam Slemman [Sulayman] Salie in 1888. In 1886
Sahamahomed travelled through Western Asia and Europe; in 1893 - 1894 he
journed through Australia, India, China, Japan and North America and then
published a book in English, "Journal of My Tours Round the World" 1886 - 1887
and 1893 - 1895 AD, [Bombay, Duftur Ashkara Oil Engine Press 1895, pp 332].
In Cape Town, he purchased Lots 3 and 4, portions of Mariendal Estate, adjacent to
the disused Muslim Cemetery in Claremont. Upon this ground Shahmahomed
wished to build a Masjid and an academy for higher education [both secular and
religious]. A trust was created and on June 29th, 1911 the foundation stone was laid
for the new Muslim School at Claremont.
In terms of the deeds of trust, Shahmahomed appointed the Mayor of Cape Town
and the Cape's Civil Commissioner [both non-Muslims] as co-administrators of the
academy as well as the Karamat of Shaykh Yusuf. To this there was great
resentment among the Muslims in the city because both of the non-Muslim
appointees "were hardly competent to deliberate on matters affecting the cultural
life of the Muslim community."
The Masjid project in Claremont was completed but the academy did not
materialise. On August 21st, 1923 Shahmohamed wrote to the University of Cape
Town with regard to the founding of a chair in Eastern Plilosoiphy and language, in
which he stated: "I enclose Union Government Stock Certificate Number 12192,
dated August 14th, 1923, to the value of 1,000.0.0d [One Thousand Pounds Sterling]
and hope to make further additions thereto."
Shahmohamed was a wealthy educationalist and philanthropist, well-travelled and
a writer. He was instrumental in the renovations of Shaykh Yusuf's tomb at Faure in
1927; the Park Road Masjid in Wynberg; and also Al Jamia Masjid in Claremont. He
campaigned for a chair in Islamic Studies and Arabic at the University of Cape
Town and placed a large sum of money in trust for this purpose. He died in 1927.
1883 Public Health Act No. 4 of 1883
The Public Health Act No. 4 of 1883 dealt with the closure of the Muslim cemetery
in Cape Town called Tana Baru, The closure of Tana Baru was against the wishes of
the Cape Muslim community. When the Act became law on January 15th, 1886, the
Cape Muslims did not have an alternate burial ground. Their sustained and tireless
efforts in negotiations with the Cape authorities over a period of ten years were to
no avail. The Cape Muslims refused to accept the burial site granted to them at the
Maitlan Cemetery saying that it was too far to carry their dead.
The Muslim community was totally united in their opposition to the Cape
Government's policy of closing Tana Baru. They did not recognise the Public Health
Act No. 4 of 1883 as a measure in the interest of public health, especially since [ they
argued] that their cemetery was well maintained, relatively empty and that they
buried their dead six feet deep. The Muslim cemetery constituted no danger to
public health - this view was supported by the evidence of Dr. Ebdon, Medical
Officer of Health to the Cape Municipal Cemetery Commission of 1859.
1959 Orient Islamic State-Aided School
In 1942 the Orient Islamic Educational Institute was founded for the purpose of
advancement of Islamic education and particularly for establishing schools of
higher education in Durban. The Institute purchased three acres of land just below
the Botanic Gardens in Durban. Unfortunately, anti-Indian agitation by the racist
Whites against Indians "penetrating" borders of White residential areas forced the
trustees of the Institute to give up this idea.
Towards the end of 1942, the Institute purchased 80 acres of land on the Bluff in
Durban and plans were drawn for school buildings but on the eve of the foundation
laying ceremony by the Minister of Interior, some Durban City Councillors [all
Whites] and a few members of Parliament [all Whites], once again, agitated against
an Indian school to be built on the borders of a White residential area.
The racist White residents of the area became so prejudiced that the Institute had to
abandon the project. The matter became so tense that even Prime Minister General
Christian Smuts, became concerned and requested the Durban City Council to
provide a suitable site to the Orient Islamic Institute for the construction of an
Thus it was only in 1955, after thirteen long years and much negotiations, that the
Durban City Council offered 3.7 acres at Curries Fountain, less than a kilometer
away from the Botanical Gardens in exchange for the 80 acres of the Institute's land
at the Bluff. Having no other options, the Institute was forced to accept the offer.
The school was opened on January 19th, 1959.
1959 As-Salaam Educational Institute
The Islamic Propagation Centre of Durban headed by Ahmed Deedat and Goolam
Hoosen Vanker established the Islamic Mission training school, As-Salaam, near
Braemer, on a 75 acre land, valued at Five Thousand Pounds Sterling donated by
the S.I.Kadwa family of Umzinto, in 1959; the foundation stone was laid by Mrs.
Amina Tahir King, wife of former Reverend Rashid Tahir King, the first paid D'ai in
From 1974 to 1978 the Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa took full control of
education and activities at As-Salaam. Since 1978 the As-Salaam Committee
consisting of Muslim health care personnel have been catering for both secular and
religious education at As-Salaam together with other Islamic activities. As-Salaam
has many non-Muslim African students also attending the school.
1959 Tabligh Jama'at
At an Ijtima held on August 2nd, 1934 at Mewat, India, some 107 Muslims attended
under the leadership of Maulana Muhammad Ilyas [1885-1944] and pledged what,
reduced to writing, could be described as the initial constitution of the Tabligh
The Tabligh Jama'at has established points of contact at centres in various parts of
the world. In South Africa, annual international Ijtima takes place at different towns
and cities which is attended by several thousands of Muslims.
1960 Muslim Population
According to the South African Government's Bureau of Statistics, the Muslim
population of South Africa was as follows in 1960:-
Whites not made available
Total = 196,372
1960 Hospital Welfare and Muslim
During the early 1960's, in Cape Town, members of the Muslim Educational
Movement and the Hospital Welfare Society merged to form the Hospital Welfare
and Muslim Educational Movement. This was largely due to the close working
relationship which existed between the two organizations and their common
working goals. Today the Hospital Welfare and Muslim Educational Movement
supervises all the Halal Kitchens at major Peninsula hospitals in the Cape, namely,
Groote Schuur, Somerset, Conradie, G.F.Jooste, Woodstock, Mowbray, Maternity,
Peninsula Maternity, Lentegeur, Brooklyn Chest and Tygerberg Hospitals.
The movement launched its first bursary programme in 1972. From 1978 to 1987, it
distributed more than R120,000.00 to needy and deserving students for furthering
their education. Since 1987 the administration of the Langa Madrasah in Cape Town
has come under the wing of the Hospital Welfare and Muslim Educational
1960 Publication of Muslim News.
Muslim News, "Southern Africa's only Muslim newspaper" in the sixties, began its
fortnightly publication from Athlone, Cape Town, with a circulation of 10,000
copies daily. The policy was spelt out in its first editorial: "Muslim News is a noncommercial
journal, run by an Editorial Board, and therefore, entirely independent.
Muslim News will publish material of interest to and for the enlightenment of
Muslims without fear or favour. Muslim News will seek guidance from the Holy
Qur'an and the Sunnah."
From its humble beginning, the newspaper grew to acquire an international
reputation. Because of the paper's stand against the South African Government's
Apartheid policy, the newspaper faced much harassment from the Security Branch
and other State authorities. Over the years several editions were declared
"undesirable" by the State and in 1980 a record number of nine editions were
banned. In 1986 after more than 25 years' publication, Muslim News ceased
Among those associated with the newspaper were Imam Abdullah Haron who was
most brutally murdered while under detention. The official State version was that
he simply "died" in prison while being detained. A. Kays, who succeeded Imam
Haron as editor, was banned for five years and was forced to resign from Muslim
News. Rashid Sayed, Gulzar Khan and Abdul Qayyum Sayed, all detained without
trial at one time or another for writing against the Government and its policies.
Then from September 1986, Muslim Views filled the void created by the closing of
1961 Zanzibaris Classified "Other Asiatics".
According to a proclamation in the Government Gazette of May 26th, 1966, "Other
Asians" are "persons generally accepted as Zanzibari Arabs [also called Zanzibaris
or Kiwas] or people whose national home is in any country in Asia except, India,
China, or Pakistan. "Other Asian" forms part of the ethnic grouping under the race
group "coloured" as defined by the Population Registration Act of 1950.
The Zanzibaris were first classified by the South African Government as "Freed
Slaves", then "Bantu", then "Coloureds" and finally by the Race Classification
Proclamation No 6620 of 1961, the Zanzibaris living in South Africa were classified
as "Other Asiatics", although they have always had their roots in the African
1961 Call of Islam
On May 7th, 1961 Muslims gathered in the City Hall of Cape Town to launch the
Call of Islam, an umbrella body, of different Muslim organisations with the aims of
opposing the Group
Areas Act. The organisation was founded by Imam Abdullah Haron.
1962 Zanzibaris settled in Chatsworth
Being classified as "Other Asiatics", the Zanzibari Muslims were forced to move
from Kings Rest as this area was proclaimed for the residence of the White
community under the Group Areas Act No. 77 of 1957. They were then settled in
Unit 2 of Chatsworth, Durban.
At the beginning, some Indian residents of Chatsworth objected to the Zanzibaris
being settled in an Indian area but eventually the Indian community as a whole
accepted to live side by side with the Zanzibaris.
1962 Lenasia Muslim Association
The Lenasia Muslim Association [LMA] was founded in 1962. It had a humble
beginning when it catered for a mere 30 Madrasah children with one teacher
earning a R30.00 [Thirty Rand] per month. LMA today (1993) runs a Madrasah
programme which caters for more than 3,500 children in the Lenasia area. The
Association maintains two religious-cum-secular nursery schools, five Masaajid
[Rainbow Valley Masjid, Masjid-e-Nur, Masjid-us-Siddique, Masjid-e-Bilal and
Honeysuckle Masjid], and three educational centres at its headquarters in Lenasia.
1992 marked the 30th anniversary of LMA's service to the Muslim community of
Lenasia, Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. The LMA is also involved in
providing religious education to handicapped children at JISWA and the School for
Hard Hearing. In 1992 the Association had a student role of over 3,500, a staff of 170
and a salary bill in excess of R100,000.00 [One hundred Thousand Rand] per month.