From the book: History of Muslims in South Africa by Ebrahim Mahomed Mahida

1804 Attainment of freedom of worship 23

By 1804, the number of the Vryezwarten or Free Blacks, majority of whom were Muslims, had reached such significant proportion that the Dutch rulers changed their policies in order to enlist their support, pending the British invasion of the Cape. They granted religious freedom to the Vryezwarten. Thus on July 25, 1804 the patience and perseverance of the Cape Muslims was rewarded when religious freedom was permitted for the first time at the Cape of Good Hope.

Prior to this, the Cape Muslims, in practising their religion, were severely restricted by the Statutes of India: a set of laws particularly aimed at restricting the religious practices of the Muslims of the Batavian Empire of which the Cape formed a part.

Commander de Mist published Ordinance 50, which declared equal legal protection to all religious societies. However, these religious societies were still required to obtain permission from the Cape Governor for the construction of places of worship.

General Janssens, also a commander at the Cape, enlisted the free Malays to serve as "soldiers" at the Cape while the British attack was imminent, and this in reality, necessitated change in social and political conditions. Thus, during 1804, two "Javaansche Artilleries" were instituted: one under the command of the Mohammedaansche Veld-Priester [Muslim lay-preacher], Frans van Bengalen, and the other under the command of a Frenchman. These artilleries were deployed at the Battle of Blauwberg in 1806, and the soldiers were well trained. Their gallantry in the Battle earned them great praise and the respect of their British adversaries. Commentators on the Battle of Blauwberg generally agree that the Cape Muslim Artillery would have won the day for General Janssens had he not retreated to the mainland. And so, when the British took over the Cape, they honoured and praised the Muslim Artillery for its bravery and courage in the Battle. Thus, General Baird, the British commander, as a special gesture to the Cape Muslims, confirmed General Janssens' promise to the Vryez-wartens of a masjid site. Islam actually took root in the Western Cape after 1800 when prayer rooms, at five respective sites, were made available.

1805 Land grant for Tana Baru: the first Muslim cemetery 24

The first piece of land for a Muslim cemetery - Tana Baru - was granted to Frans van Bengalen on October 02, 1805 by the Raad der Gemeente [local authority] as a burial ground for the Cape Muslims. This gesture by the Batavian Republic officials followed the granting of religious freedom in 1804, accompanied by the right to build a masjid. The purpose of the Batavian Administration in granting these privileges to the Cape Muslims was to obtain their loyalty in the event of a British invasion of the Cape. Tana Baru, presently in disuse, consists of several cemetery sites adjoining each other, at the top-end of Longmarket Street in Cape Town. It is situated opposite the site where the Cape Muslims buried their dead for years before 1805. Another site, in close proximity to that of Frans van Bengalen was given "as a present" to Paay Schaapie [Tuan Nuruman] "for him and his family as a burial ground" by General Janssen who was the Batavian Commander at the Cape during 1803 and 1806. More land was granted to the Cape Muslims by the British Governor at the Cape, Sir Thomas Napier, during the reign of Queen Victoria, in 1842. It was practice of the 19th century imams of the Cape to purchase properties, in trust, for their congregations for the purpose of either masajid sites or burial grounds. Thus extra land came to be subsequently adjoined to Tana Baru. The cemetery was officially closed on January 15, 1886 by Government decree: Section 63 to 65 of the Public Health Act of 1883.

Within its confines lie some of the earliest and most respected Muslim settlers of South Africa: Imam Abdullah ibn Kadi [Qadi] Abdus Salaam [Tuan Guru], Tuan Sa'id Aloewie [Sayyid 'Alawi], Tuan Nuruman [Paay Schaapie], Abubakr Effendi and others, along with prominent Muslim women of the time, such as Saartjie van de Kaap and Saamiede van de Kaap . Despite its closure, the Tana Baru has always been regarded as the most hallowed of Muslim cemeteries in Cape Town.

1807 Death of Tuan Guru 25

Tuan Guru died at the ripe old age of 95 and lies buried in Tana Baru Cemetry on Signal Hill, Cape Town. He had exerted a considerable influence on the Cape Muslims, especially in the field of Islamic education. Seventeen years after his death in 1807, his madrasah had, according to the evidence of the Colebrooke and Bigge Commission of 1825, a total of 491 "Free Black and Slave Scholars". Imam Achmat van Bengalen took charge of the madrasah after Tuan Guru's death.

1807 Establishment of Palm Tree Masjid: second in the country 26

After a dispute with regard to succession to the imamate of the Auwal Masjid, Frans van Bengalen and Jan van Boughies together parted from the Auwal Masjid. They purchased a property in Long Street, Cape Town, initiated their own congregation and opened a prayer room which later was converted into the Palm Tree Masjid, the second oldest in South Africa.

Imam Abdolgamiet ['Abd al-Hamid] served as the first imam of this masjid from 1807 to 1808, followed by Imam Asnoon [Jan van Boughies] [1808­18461, Imam Abdol Logies [1846-1851], Imam Mamat [Muhammad] van de Kaap [1851-1866], Imam Isma‘il [1866-1889], Imam Moliat [1889­-1894], Imam Mogamat [Muhammad] Joseph [1894-?], Imam Lalie Mogamat Salie , Sheikh Mogamat Geyer, Imam Isgaak [Ishaq] Eksteen [d 1955], Imam Abas ['Abbas] Kamalie [1955-?].

1808 Appointment of Jan van Boughies as Imam of Palm Tree Masjid

Jan van Boughies, the most prominent of the slaves from Celebes to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope, had a remarkable administration as imam of the Palm Tree Masjid [also known as Jan van Boughies Masjid] during the first half of the 19th century. Jan, also known as Imam Asnoon, succeeded Imam Abdolgamiet [ 'Abd al-Hamid] from 1808 to 1846. Jan, who had been manumitted by Salia van Macassar [a free Muslim woman], later married her. Jan died in 1846 at the age of 112, leaving behind his second wife, Sameda van de Kaap , who dedicated the property as a masjid in memory of her late husband and called it "De Kerk van Jan van Boughies" [The Masjid of Jan van Boughies].

1823 Abdul Ghaliel granted a burial site

The slave, Abdul Ghaliel, served the Muslim community of Simonstown, Cape, as their imam. In 1823 a land grant was made in his favour to be used as a burial site by the Muslim community of Simonstown. Abdul Ghaliel was the first slave to be granted a piece of land in Simonstown.

1828 Restrictions on Muslim life

Having attained freedom of worship, Muslims, however, faced social restrictions and political inequality which in turn became the greatest obstacles in the spread of Islam in the Colony. The South African Commercial Advertiser of December 27, 1828 states in its editorial:

"As to the public worship of Mohammedans, although it was tolerated, no Proclamation of Law, as far as we know, was issued in this Colony, by which it was sanctioned or recognised! Perfect toleration was, however, one of the few praiseworthy principles of the old system. Thus we have seen, that an industrious and peaceable class of inhabitants, whom an enlightened policy would have cherished and perfected, were up to July 3, 1828 treated with utmost harshness and ignominy. Their marriages were declared unlawful, their issues degraded. They were refused admission to the rights of Burgership. They could not hold landed property nor remain in the Colony, though born there, without special permission and ample security. They were placed under the arbitrary control of the Burger Senate and the Landdrost - compelled to perform public services gratuitously - punished at discretion with stripes and imprisonment - unable to leave their homes without a Pass - their houses entered and searched at the pleasure of the police. They were liable to arrest without a warrant - and yet they were taxed up to the lips, like the other Free inhabitants” 27

This is the probable reason why only 20 Cape Muslims of a total of 2 167 [of whom 1 268 were slaves] owned property in 1825.

1834 Emancipation of slaves

The year 1834 saw the emancipation of slaves, by which time, Islam was a flourishing religion at Cape Town. It was not only the Whites who were slave owners. Most of de Vryezwarten [the Muslim Free Blacks] themselves owned slaves.

1840 Cape Muslim population 28

By 1840 Islam had 6 435 adherents at Cape Town, one-third of the total population of the Colony. This constituted an increase of 4 268 Muslims within a period of twelve years.

1840 Muslims in Port Elizabeth 29

By 1840 there were 150 'Malays' in Port Elizabeth and by 1849 they had built their first masjid. Six years later [1855] a need arose for the building of another masjid in Grace Street. This masjid was constructed with the financial assistance from the ruler of the Ottoman empire, Sultan 'Abdul MaFid. Eleven years later [1866] the Muslims of Port Elizabeth built a third masjid in Strand Street.

1841 Distribution of Cape Muslim population 30

The first survey for allocation of ecclesiastical grants to community institutions produced the following distribution table of Muslims in the Cape Colony:
Cape Town 6 492
Cape District 400
Stellenbosch 268
Worcester 300
George 100
Uitenhage 150
Albany 50
Swellendam 20
Beaufort West 20
Total 7 800

1844 Establishment of Nurul Islam Masjid: third in South Africa 31

The third oldest masjid in South Africa is the Nurul Islam Masjid situated in a small lane off Buitengracht Street in Cape Town. It was founded in 1844 by the younger of Tuan Guru's sons, Imam Abdol Rauf and is situated about 100 meters from the Auwal Masjid in Dorp Street. It is not known as to what need there was for this masjid to be constructed so close to the Auwal Masjid.

In about 1830, Tuan Guru's two sons [Abdol Rakiep and Abdol Rauf] together with Achmat van Bengalen's three sons [Mochamat, Hamien and Saddik] and Badroen got together and established the Mohammedan Shafee Congregation with Abdol Rakiep [d 1834] as Imam. At this stage the Congregation did not have their own masjid. However, their dream was realised on February 27, 1844 when they took transfer of a property in Buitengracht Street, and converted the front section into a prayer room.

The Nurul Islam Masjid was the first to be founded by a congregation which developed out of friendly-ties which existed among a group of students who acquired Islamic education under the guidance of Imam Achmat van Bengalen. The first imam of the Nurul Islam Masjid was Imam Abdol Rauf from 1844-1859, followed by Imam Hamien [1859-1867], Imam Abdol Rakiep [1867-1905 ], Imam Mogamat [Muhammad] Taleb [1905­1912], Imam Gabebodien [Habib al-Din] Hartley [1912-1939], Sheikh Isma'il Ganief [I-Ian3f] [1939-1954], Imam Armien Basadien [1950-1970], Sheikh Gamiet [Hamid] Gabier [1970-1973], Hadjie Mustapha Basadien [1973-1979], Hadjie Ebrahim Samoudien [d 1979].

1849 Establishment of Uitenhage Masjid: fourth oldest in South Africa 32

On May 04, 1846 the "Malay Corps" of 250 Cape Muslim volunteers left Cape Town in two boats for the Eastern Frontier because of unrest in that part of the Colony. They remained there until September 16, 1846 when the "Malay Corps" was demobilised after the Battle of Axe in the same year. Those who did not return to Cape Town settled in the Eastern Cape. They were in all probability responsible for the construction of the Uitehhage Masjid. This was the fourth masjid to be built in the country.

1850 Establishment of Jamia Masjid: fifth in Cape Town 33

The fifth oldest masjid in Cape Town is the Jamia or the Queen Victoria Masjid built in 1850. This masjid is situated at the corner of Chiappini and Castle Streets in Cape Town, adjacent to the disused stone quarry in Chiappini Street where in 1790 the first open-air Jumu'ah Salah was performed led by Im a m Abdull a h [Tuan Guru]. The Jamia Masjid is the largest masjid in Bo-Kaap. This was the first masjid built on land specially set aside for this purpose. Thus, the land grant promised to the Cape Muslims by General Janssens in 1804 was realised only in 1846.

The first iman of the Jamia Masjid was Imam Abdol Bazier [1850-1853], followed by Imam Abdol Wahab [1853-1872], Imam Shahibo [1872­1910], Im a m Hassiem [1910-1916], Imam Noor Hassiem [1916-1932], Imam Mogamat [Muhammad] Sudley [1932-1952], Imam Mogamat Nacerodien [1952-1979], Sheikh Mogamat Ganief [Muhammad Hanif] Booley [ 1979-?].

1856 AZ-Qawl al-Matin: the first in Arabic-Afrikaans language publication 34

In 1856, a treatise on Islam in Arabic-Afrikaans, Kitab AI-Qawl al-Matin Fi Bayan Umur al-Din [The Book of the Firm Declaration regarding the Explanation of the Matters of Religion], by Shaykh Ahmadul Ishmuniyu [Ahmad al-Ishmuni] was published by M C Schonegevel in Cape Town. Professor A van Selms of the University of Pretoria described "Al-Qawl al­Matin as the oldest book in Afrikaans". This, it is said, was the first Arabic­Afrikaans publication. The lithographed copy of this book [25 pages] was published in 1910. Afrikaans was written in the Arabic script [with Afrikaans sounds]. AI-Qawl al-Matin preceded the first printed Afrikaans book, in Roman script, Zamespraak Tuschen Klaas Waarzegger en Jan Twijfelaar, by L H Meurant, which appeared almost six years later.

1858 Arrival of first Muslim workers in Natal 35

By 1858 the labour situation [with regard to sugar farming] was so serious in Natal that the Umzinto Sugar Company brought from Java some Chinese and Malay labourers. The first Muslims to be brought to Natal were probably "among the fine body of Chinese and Malays brought from Java in February 1858 to work for the Umzinto Sugar Company [on the south coast of Natal]. This introduction marked the beginning of the importation of Eastern labour to Natal" - [ Natal Mercury , Durban].

1858 Beginning of the cemetery dispute

The cemetery dispute at the Cape of Good Hope started with the Municipal enquiry in 1858 and lasted until the establishment of the Observatory Cemetery in 1866, and manifested the appreciable influence of the Cape Muslims of the 19th century. It was, once again, the masajid which were used as rallying points to awaken the consciousness of the Cape Muslims. Here again, the imams of the various masajid urged the Cape Muslims to act against external interference by non-Muslims in Muslim community affairs. The early Muslims did not hesitate to confront the State if it threatened the practice of their religion: Islam.

1859 Establishment of Shafee Masjid : sixth in Cape Town 36

The Shafee Masjid, situated in Chiappini Street was the sixth to be built in Cape Town. Initially, a piece of land for this masjid was acquired on September 03, 1859 by Imam Hadjie [d 1869 in Makkah], acting as a Trustee of the Muslim community, who took transfer of the land. The Shafee Masjid [referred to as Masjid of Imam Hadjie ] emerged from two separate masdjid which were almost adjacent to each other. With the eventual merging of the two Muslim congregations, the Shafee Masjid was established.

Imam Hadjie served as the first Imam of this Masjid, from 1859 to 1869, followed by Imam Talieb [1869-?], Imam Abdol Kariem [? - 1889], Imam Abdol Gasiep [1889-1894], Imam Intillah [1894-1896], Imam Mogamat Behardien [1896-1918], Sheikh Achmat Behardien [1918­1973], Imam Abdullah Behardien [1973-1977], Sheikh Abduraghiem Sallie [1979 - ].

1860 Arrival of first indentured Muslims, including Hadrat B a dsh a h Peer [Rahimahu Allah in Durban37

The first batch of indentured labourers from India landed at the South Beach [Port Natal, later Durban] on November 06, 1860. They arrived on board S S Truro. Records indicate that of the 342 indentured labourers only 24 were Muslims. Of these 24, only nine remained in the Colony after completing their indenture. Among the 09 Muslims to remain was Sheik Allie Vulle Ahmed [b.1820 in Madras], aged 30, who, it is said, was the sufi saint Hadrat Badshah Peer [Rahimahu Allah] [d 1894], age 74, who lies buried at the Brook Street Cemetery in Durban. Immigration records of Allie Vulle Ahmed show the following:

  • * Coolie Number : 282
  • * Name : Sheik Allie
  • * Father's Name : Vulle Ahmed
  • * Age : 30
  • * Sex : Male
  • * Arrival : 16 November 1860
  • * From : Madras
  • * Assigned to : H G [surname illegible]
      [several labourers were assigned to H G Mack]
  • * Date of Assignment : 28 November 1860
  • * Transferred to : F Salmon
  • * Date of Transfer : December 1861
  • * Licence to quit Colony : 18 July 1873.

Between 1860 and 1861 five more ships with indentured labourers arrived at Port Natal from India. They consisted of 1 360 men and women. The percentage of Muslims on board each ship was ± 12%.

The grave of Hadrat Badsha Peer was located in 1895 by Hadrat Soofie Saheb on his return to Durban. During the same year Soofie Saheb built the first mazar on the grave.

The following were officially appointed as sajda khadim [keeper of tomb] of Hadrat Badsha Peer [R.A.]:

  • 1. Hadrat Soofie Saheb [1895-1910]
  • 2. Hadrat Shah Mohamed Ebrahim Soofie [1910-1954]
  • 3. Hadrat Shah 'Abdul 'Aziz Soofie [Dadajan] [1910-1947]
  • 4. Hadrat Shah Goolam Mohamed Soofie (BhaimiaJ [1948-1978]
  • 5. Hadrat Shah Mohamed Saeed Soofie [1978- to date].

1861 Purchase of land for masjid in Paarl 38

Muslims came to Paarl [60 kilometers from Cape Town] over two centuries ago. They established a small community at Ou Tuin, the area surrounding the two masajid, stretching from the Western Banks of the Berg River to the foot of the Paarl Mountain.

A piece of land, originally purchased by Jakoef du Toit in 1861, was resold to "The Church Wardens, Malay Church, Paarl" for £25 Sterling, in whose favour transfer of the two erven was passed on November 08, 1887. The Muslim community began to consolidate after the emancipation of the slaves. The Breda Street Masjid was the first to be built in Paarl in 1888. Shortly thereafter, the Nurul Islamia Masjid was also built in the centre of the town. For almost a century these two masajid provided the nucleus round which the activities of the Muslims of Paarl revolved. At present these masajid lie in a somewhat abandoned state owing to the effect of the notorious Group Areas Act of the 1960s which caused the Muslim community to be scattered about the outlying areas of Paarl.

In 1917 a single rectangular hall was built on the second erf as a madrasah. In 1923 the building was renovated and used as a Government-Aided Mission School. A full-time Arabic teacher was employed whose salary was paid by the Cape Provincial Administration. His sponsorship by the Administration was terminated in 1931. Thereafter, part-time khaifas [religious teachers] were employed at the school by the community. The Muslim Mission School was closed when the community was affected [by being scattered] to outlying areas by the Group Areas Act. At the schools in the new residential areas no consideration was afforded for the provision Islamic education. Instead, Christian National Education, with a bias towards 'Coloured' schools was propagated and continues so to date.

In 1926 an imposing minaret, widely regarded as an architectural master­piece, and extensive renovations to the main hall of the masjid were completed. Another masjid was built in Waterkant Street by a separate jama'dt.

However, in 1980 work began on the establishment of Mahdul Islamic Institute. A year later the first phase of the project was completed, at a cost of Rand 300 000. The centre includes a masjid, madrasah classrooms, kindergarten as well as facilities for community activities. Imam Rafiq Nackerdien was appointed as Imam of the Masjid in 1987, succeeding Shaikh Abdul Moutie Moerat who resigned, on account of ill health, after having served the Paarl Muslim community for 31 long years.

In 1982 the Paarl Muslim Jamaah opened the doors of its premises to pupils seeking after-school madrasah education with one full-time and three part-time religious instructors.

1862Abubakr Effendi: arrival and stay in Cape Town 391880

Abubakr Effendi was the founder of the Hanafi school in this country. The effect of his teaching and influence on the culture of the Muslim community at the Cape was tremendous: the wearing of the fez by men and covering of head by Muslim women.

The coming of Abubakr Effendi to Cape Town was preceded by two factors: firstly, the continual conflict in the masajid with regard to succession of the imams [eg, the Palm Tree Masjid in 1860] and secondly, the request by Hadjie Medein for a spiritual guide. The Cape Parliament-arian, P E de Roubaix , approached for assistance the British Government who in turn requested the 'Uthmanli [Turkish] Ambassador in London for a religious instructor to be sent to Cape Town. Thus in 1862 Abubakr Effendi [then 27 years old] was sent to the Cape and his stay in this country was financed by the 'Uthmanli [Turkish] Government. Abubakr Effendi was born in Khashnaw, Shehrizpur [Kurdistan], Turkey around 1835. He was of an aristocratic Quraysh family of Makkah settled in Kurdistan. His Islamic education began at a madrasah in Shehrizpur, continued in Islambol [Turk: City of Islam; contemporary Istanbul] and completed in Baghdad.

The Cape Muslim community was unaware of Abubakr Effendi until two days after his arrival in the Mother City. A reception committee, consisting of all the imams and Muslim dignitaries, went to meet him. Abubakr was well schooled in Islamic law and had a thorough working knowledge of all four schools of jurisprudence. In practice he adhered to the staunchly Hanafi code. This was to bring him in conflict with certain exclusivist Shafi'i Muslims of the Cape.

Immediately on his arrival, he set up a school for higher Islamic theology in Wale Street, Cape Town. The introduction of the Hanafi madhhab and its rulings made him a controversial person; for example, his evidence on the dispute regarding the succession of imams at the Palm Tree Masjid [1866] was given from a Hanafi point of view; again his evidence as chief witness in the Court with regard to Abdol Rakiep , imam of Nurul Islam Masjid, [ 1867] who had performed the Jumu 'ah Salah whilst disregarding the Shafi'i rule regarding the presence of 40 worshippers, was given from a Hanafi aspect. In 1869 he had the first dispute with the Muslim community when he ruled that cray fish and snoek were haram.

Despite all this, many young Muslims studied under Abubakr Effendi, including two grandsons of Tuan Guru. He had a flare for languages and within a short space of time learnt the Afrikaans language. He was concerned about the lack of Islamic literature in the vernacular [Afrikaans]. His book, Bayanuddin [The Explanation of Religion] was completed in 1869 in Arabic-Afrikaans. This work is a treatise on Islam based on the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. Hand-written pages of the book were circulated in the Cape from around 1869. In 1877 it was printed by the Turkish Ministry of Education in Islambol [Constantinople, later: Istanbul], capital of the Ottoman Empire and ran into 354 pages. Thus it became the second publication in Arabic-Afrikaans in the country and was presented as a gift from the Ottoman Government to the Cape Muslim community. It is also claimed to be the third publication in the Afrikaans language.

Abubakr Effendi died at the young age of 45 on June 29, 1880 and was buried in Tana Baru. He left behind a wife and six children, two of whom played a prominent role in the community. Achmat [Ahmad] Ata'ullah , the elder son, settled in Kimberley, established the Ottoman School for Religious Studies in 1884. He vigorously supported Abdol Burns in the cemetery dispute during 1885-86. In 1894 he contested for a seat in the Cape Parliament but the White South African Parliamentarians were determined in keeping him out.

Abubakr Effendi's second son, Hisham N'imatullah ran a Muslim school in Port Elizabeth for a number of years. It was also under Abubakr Effendi's influence that the first Muslim school for girls was established in Cape Town.

1866 Disputes over succession and/or appointment of imams

Over the years the Cape Muslim 'clerical' order developed with the imams wielding appreciable power. The status of the imams, together with economic security and in many cases prosperity was due to the generous monetary donations and gifts by the congregation. Between 1866 and 1900, over twenty cases pertaining to masajid in the Cape peninsula were heard in the Supreme Court with regard to the positions of imams and their succession. Practically every masjid at the Cape in the 19th century faced this problem.

1869 Arrival of Muslims from Gujarat and Kathiawar 40

Since 1869, Muslims from the Indian States of Gujarat and Kathiawar arrived in South Africa and were referred to as "Passenger" Indians by the authority. These immigrants paid their own travel expenses, and came with the specific purpose of trading and commerce. They served as wholesalers and retailers in urban towns, backward rural towns, coal mining areas and also in several developed White centres in Natal and the Transvaal. They called themselves "Arabs", probably because they wished to be identified as Muslims. These "Arab" traders from Western India possessed sufficient resources to establish themselves as traders in staple items imported from India, such as rice, ghee, dholl, tamarinds, dried fish, etc. Within two decades, they captured a large share of the local trade in the rural areas of Natal and the Transvaal. This displeased the White traders and so in the 1890s legislation was passed placing further restrictions and growth on the Indian traders as a whole.

1870 Establishment of Juma Masjid, Johannesburg 41

The Juma Masjid or the Kerk Street Masjid was originally a marquee-tent erected in Kerk Street, Stand No 1424, Johannesburg in 1870. It was the Golden City's first masjid. The masjid was built in 1888 and renovated and enlarged in 1918 due to the increase in musallis [worshippers]. In 1990 the Juma Masjid could accommodate about 230 worshippers. The masjid was declared a national monument by the National Monument Council "because of its historical, aesthetic and cultural value". After much negotiation, the Council in 1991 granted permission for the rebuilding of this masjid. When ready the new building will accommodate 1 200 musallis.

The land for the Juma Masjid was purchased by Juma Masgied Society [registered under the Company's Act 1909 (Act No 31 of 1909)] on May 16, 1913; two of the Society's officer-bearers being A A Karodia and Goolam Mahomed.

1870 Arrival of Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery] 42

A notable Muslim philanthropist, Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery], [b 1850] from Porbandar, India, arrived in South Africa [probably via Delagoa Bay, now Maputo] from Mauritius in 1870 where he traded for a short while before establishing himself as the first "Arab" trader in Natal. He had settled for a short while in a small town in Lydenburg in Eastern Transvaal where his relatives had settled.

In 1871, he moved to Natal and settled in the Verulam-Tongaat area on the North Coast of Natal - dealing in new and second-hand goods. As the first Muslim merchant to arrive in Natal, he purchased a site for a masjid in Verulam. Today, the "Verulam Mohammedan Mosque" stands on this site in the centre of the town. The transfer Deeds of the masjid show that the land was donated by Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery].

Aboobakr Amod eventually moved to Durban where he purchased a property for business in Durban Central, in the corner of West Street and Plowright Lane in 1875. He had owned a business house in Calcutta, an agency in Bombay, a company in Durban with branches in the Transvaal. Amod, with Abdullah Karim Haji Adam and Joosub Abdul Carim set up the firm Dada Abdullah and Company at 427 West Street [street numbers have since changed]. By 1890 they had 15 branches in Natal and the Transvaal and two steamers commuting between Bombay and Durban.

1873 Arrival of the Zanzibaris 43

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 August 04, 1873. They numbered 113, a large majority of whom were Muslims.

A year later, the H M S Kaff r 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 on the part 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 to be used for their daily prayers. This room was constructed into a masjid proper in 1899.

1874 Arrival of Ismail Kajee and other businessmen from Gujarat 44

Another batch of Gujarati-speaking Muslims arrived in Natal. Amongst them were 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 that there were in Durban in:

  • * 1870 two free Indian stores
  • * 1875 ten free Indian and one "Arab" stores
  • * 1880 thirty free Indian and seven "Arab" stores
  • * 1885 there were as much as 40 "Arab" stores in and around Durban.

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 [1875]
Place Total Population Number of Muslims % of Total Mulsim Pop.
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 3,30
Noordhcek 432 57 0,6

1875- Abdol Burns and the cemetery dispute 451886

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 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 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 organise 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 Imam Gamja [Hamzah] of the Auwal Masjid, and later under Imam Shahibo of the Jamia Masjid.

With the Cape Government implementing the Cemetery Bill, Friday, January 15, 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 were no Muslim representatives 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 June 12, 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 Imam Gamja, Imam Shahibo, Imam Abdol Kariem and others, with full powers to act on behalf of the Cape Muslims on the cemetery issue. This was a great event in the history of the 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 Muslims any concess­ions, Abdol Burns arranged an interview with the Colonial Secretary on November 13, 1885 to intervene on their behalf, requesting for an extension to the closing date of the cemeteries. This was also refused. On January 08, 1886 Muslims elected a delegation at the Auwal Masjid to see the Premier regarding the issue.

On the evening of January 15, 1886, the Cape Muslims were left without a burial ground, their existing cemeteries having been officially closed by a Government decree. On January 17, 1886 a child of a Muslim fisherman, Amaldien ['Amal al-Din] Rhode , died. More than three thousand Muslims walked to the Tana Baru cemetery and buried the child. The twelve policemen who were sent 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 20, 1886 the authorities stationed the Corps of Volunteers at Green Point. 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 21, 1886 Abdol Burns was arrested, charged for throwing stones and striking a policeman. He 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 Alie [Haji 'Uzayr 'AIi] 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.

1880 End of importation of freed slaves

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 an end.

1881 Land purchased for Durban masjid 46

Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery] and Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada purchased a site for the construction of a masjid in Grey Street, Durban from K Moonsamy for £115.O.Od [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 on August 15, 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 3,96 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 Hanafee Masjid: seventh in Cape Town 47

Unlike other masajid which were constructed in the periphery of residential areas, the two Hanafi masajid 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 Bo­Kaap, Cape Town. This was the first masjid constructed by the Cape Muslims of the Hanafi 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 Jami' Masjid.

The masjid's first imam was Imam Achmat Sediek [Ahmad Siddiq] from 1881 to 1903, followed by Imam Ismail Manie [1903-1918], Imam Shahedien [Shahid a]-Din] Dollie [1918-?], Imam Armien Dollie [?-1965], Imam Salie Price [1965-1974], Imam Faried Manie [1974-1977], Hafez Salie Davids [1977-?].

1882 Arrival of Haji Sullaiman Shahmahomed 48

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 Imam Slemman [Sulayman] Salie in 1888.

In 1886 Shahmahomed travelled through Western Asia and Europe; in 1893­94 he journeyed 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 3321.

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 29, 1911 and 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 non­Muslims] 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 21, 1923, Shahmahomed wrote to the University of Cape Town with regard to the founding of a chair in Eastern Philosophy and language, in which he stated: "I enclose Union Government Stock Certificate Number 12192, dated August 14, 1923, to the value of £1 000.0.0d [one thousand pounds sterling] and hope to make further additions thereto".

Shahmahomed 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 Al­Jamia Masjid in Claremont. He campaigned for a chair in Islamic Studies and Arabic at the University of Cape Town and placed in trust account a large sum of money for this purpose. He died in 1927.

1883 Public Health Act No 4 of 1883 49

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 15, 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 Maitland 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] 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.

1884 Masjied Boorhaanol Islaam, Cape Town 50

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 eighth masjid to be built in Cape Town. This was the first minareted masjid in the Cape and was built consequent to the dispute which evolved round the succession to the imamat of the Jamia Masjid in Chiappini Street, Cape Town.

On September 26, 1888 Abdol Kaliel [d 1898], in his capacity as imam 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 31, 1949.

The first imam of the Masjied Boorhanol Islaam was Imam Abdol Kaliel from 1884 to 1898, followed by Imam Sadien [Sa'ad al-Din] Jonas [1898­1911], Imam Abdol Bassier [1911-1962], Hadjie Abdur-Raghmaan Bassier [1962-?].

On April 15, 1966 the Masjied Boorhaanol Islaam was declared a national monument in terms of 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 51

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, OS inches [20,7 meters by 7,16 meters], enlarging the prayer area by 48 feet by 10 feet, OS 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 imam of the masjid, it is said, 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 £220.0.0d [two hundred and twenty pounds sterling] on February 15, 1884. The sale was only registered on April 22, 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 Pretoria 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

Another prominent Muslim, Esmail Mahomed Paruk, 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 wholesale trade; his firm becoming one of the biggest 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 West Street Masjid: second in 1920 Durban 52

The Juma Masjid Sunnat Jamat 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 upto Saville Street, and the other upto West Street entrance. The first property was purchased a few years prior to the construction of the masjid for £1 250.O.Od [one thousand two hundred and fifty pounds sterling] and registered at the Deeds Office, Pietermaritzburg, on November 25, 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 Imam was an Arab, probably from Makkah; the first mu 'adhdhin being Hoosen Moolla, father of Ahmad Moolla founder of the Moollah's Cafe in Durban. Among 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 £2 025 [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 Jamat Anjuman Islam was amended and signed on January 09, 1899. The nine new trustees were Ahmed Mohammed Tilly, Amod Ebrahim Jeewa, Dawd Hassen, Mohamed Cassim Angalia, Mahomed Essack, Mohamed Cassim, Esmail Mahoned Paruk, Suliman Ahmed Akoon and Hoosen Meeran. M A Motala and G M D Seedat served as treasurers of the West Street Masjid Building Committee.

During the renovation period, a shipping company donated £5 000.0.0d [five thousand pounds sterling] towards the building of the masjid. The 'ulama' maintained that money from other than Muslims could not be used for building a masjid. Thus, this money was used for rebuilding of 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 imam 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' imam; he also taught at the madrasah of the West Street Masjid.

In 1917, a new madrasah at 379 Pine Street, Durban, was established. Withing 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 53

On Sunday, January 17, 1886, two days after 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 religio-political event in the 19th century history of the Cape Muslims.

1886- Activities of Achmat Attaoullah Effendi 541894

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 major 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 disturbed the White South African politicians: De Waal, Cecil John Rhodes, Saur, Orpen, Jan Hofmeyer and others. To prevent Achmat Effendi from winning a seat in the Cape Parliament, the White ruling Parliament encouraged the Constitution Ordinance Amendment Bill and left it to Orpen to introduce it as a private member's motion. The primary aim of the Bill was to curtail the cumulative vote [in Cape Town] which allowed the voter to exercise his given number of votes to a single candidate. Effendi with the Muslim vote of Cape Town would have had a fair chance of being elected through the cumulative system.

The Muslims were 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 Cape imams 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 25, 1893. The debates clearly showed the racial prejudice of the White 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 22, 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 29, 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. 1 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 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 the 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 musaliis [worshippers] in the Durban area. The adjoining land was purchased for £300.0.0d [three hundred pounds sterling. This sale was registered in the Deeds Office, Pietermaritzburg on January 25, 1890.

1890 Formation of the Indian Committee Durban 55

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.

Among the office bearers and members of the Indian Committee Durban were: Haji Mahomed Haji Dada, Dada Abdullah, Moosa Haji Cassim, Hoosen Jeewa, Amod Danje, Essop Hoosen, Mahomed Cassim Camrooden, Amod Mahomed, Mohamed Moosajee, Peeran Mahomed, Mohamed Cassim Jeewa, Ismail Mamoojee, Ahmed Mahomed Tilly, Osman Khan, Ramant Khan, and Hoosen Meeran.

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" to the 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.

1892 Establishment of Quwatul Islam Masjid 56

The Quwatul Islam Masjid in Loop Street, Cape Town, was the first masjid to be established by "Indian" Muslims of Hanafi madhhab and was the ninth masjid to be built in the Mother City. The property was acquired by a trust on March 14, 1892; the trustees being Essop Molvi, Hamid Gool, Abdulla Hoosen, Abdul Cader, Adam Hadjie Goolmohamed,. Mohamed Ebrahim, Zeepoo Moola and Archier Mohamed Pawley. The Quwatul Islam 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 imam of the masjid was Mogamed Talabodien [Muhammad Talab al-Din] from 1892 to 1922. He was a scholar of renown, Islamic law being his speciality. His counsel was greatly appreciated by the Muslim people. 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 Imam Achmat Taliep became imam again until 1940 when Maulana Mujiebo Rahman [Mujib a]-Rahman], an Al-Azhar 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. Imam 'Abdul Latief , son of Imam Achmat, succeeded the Maulana and took over the affairs of the masjid until 1971. Sheikh Mogamad [Muhammad] ' Abbas Jassiem was then appointed imam. He served the community until 1985 when he was "unceremoniously dismissed from office for being a suspected Ahmadi sympathiser". Imam Masoom Ebrahim was appointed as imam in 1989 after the two sons of Imam 'Abdul Latief of Habibia Masjid served as joint imams. Today, the Quwatul Islam Masjid stands as a memory of a bygone era. The Group Areas Act, having forced the community to remote areas, left this masjid with few worshippers especially during maghrib, 'isha' and fajr salawat.

1893 Arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 57

A litigation, involving £40 000.0.0d [forty thousand punds 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 58

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 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.

Some of the Presidents of the NIC were: Abdullah Hajee Dada [1894-1896], Abdullah Karim Haji Adam [1896-1898], Cassim Jeewa [1898-1899], Abdul Kadir [1899-1906], Dawd Mahomed [1906-1912], Abdullah Karim Haji Adam [second term, 1912-1913].

Among the secretaries of the Congress were: M K Gandhi [1894-1901]], Adamji Miakhan [1896-1897, during Gandhi's temporary return to India], M H Nazar and R K Khan [joint secretaries, 1902-1905], Omar Jhaveri [1905-1907], M C Angalia and Dada Osman Uoint secretaries, 1913-?].

1895- Shah Ghulam Muhammad Habibi or 1910 Soofie Saheb [Rahimahu Allah] 59

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 imam of a masjid in Kalyan.

Ibrahim Siddiq died in 1872 when Shah Ghulam Muhammad was 22 years old. He succeeded his father as imam and teacher and continued to serve the community in Kalyan 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 [40] 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. j. 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 murfd to go to Hyderabad, India, where he met the Chishti Sufi , Habib 'AG 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 a temporary shelter at the Grey Street Masjid. Seeing the poor condition 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 Sahib show:
Serial Number : 276
Colonial Number : 10539
Date of Arrival : 17 March 1896
Name of Ship : S S Umzinto XI
Place of Registration : Ghazipur
Date of Registration : 20 January 1896
Number in Register : 23
Name : Mahomed
Father's Name : Ebrahim Soofie
Age : 36 years
Sex : Male

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 Durban. 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 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.

Most of Soofie Saheb's legal documents were drawn up by J P Calder and Calder, Conveyancers of Durban. Soofie Saheb maintained that the right of trusteeship of his institutions were to be retained by his descendants.

Soofie Saheb's Saheb's sons:

  • 1.  Shah Ebrahim Mahomed Soofie, died in 1955 in India; buried in Ajmer.
  • 2.  Shah 'Abd al-'Aziz Soofie, died in 1947 in Durban; buried at Riverside.
  • 3.  Shah 'Abd al-Qadir Soofie, died in 1940 in Pietermaritzburg; buried at Riverside.
  • 4. Shah Goolam Hafiz Soofie [ Bhaijan ], died in 1953 in Durban; buried at Sherwood, Durban.
  • 5. Shah Mahomed Habib Soofie [Bhaimid], died in 1969 in Durban; buried at Riverside.
  • 6. Shah Goolam Fareed Soofie [son of second wife, Hanifa Bibi], died in 1974 in Durban; buried at Riverside.
  • 7. Musa Mia, died in India, aged 4 or 5.

Soofie Saheb's daughters:

  • 1. Hajira Bee married to Hafiz Hoosen of Tongaat.
  • 2. Habib Bee married to Ariff who came to Durban with Soofie Saheb on his second trip to this country.
  • 3. Khawaja Bee married to Imam 'Abdul Samad ibn Ahmad Qadi [former Imam of Grey Street Masjid , Durban] died 1967.

All the daughters of Soofie Saheb are buried at the family graveyard in Riverside, Durban.

The following institutions were established by Soofie Saheb:

  • * The Habibiya Soofie Saheb complex [established 1896] consisting of a masjid, madrasah, khanqah and a cemetery at Riverside, Durban.
  • * A masjid, madrasah, cemetery and orphanage [established 1901] in Athlone, Cape Town.
  • * A masjid, madrasah and Imam's quarters [established 1904] in Springfield, Durban.
  • * A masjid, madrasah, cemetery and Imam's quarters [established 1904] in Westville, Durban.
  • * A masjid, madrasah and Imam's quarters [established (905] in Glenearn Road, lwerport, Durban.
  • * A jama'at khdna and cemetry [established 1905] in Sherwood, Durban; now a masjid .
  • * A madrasah [established 1906] in Sea Cow Lake, Durban. A jama'at khana was added to this complex in 1950, and in 1968 it was rebuilt and transformed into a masjid proper with living quarters for the imam and also an orphanage.
  • * From 1907 to 1910 Soofie Saheb established masajid, madaris and Imam's quarters in Tongaat, Pietermaritzburg, Colenso, Ladysmith, Verulam and Butha Buthe [Lesotho].

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 total renovation [1985] which was completed in 1988, costing more than Rand 100 000. The well kept family graveyard is at the back of the mazar.

1899Nurul Mulzammadia Islam Masjid, Cape Town 60

The Nurul MuhammadFa Islam Masjid in Vos Street, Cape Town, was constructed in 1899. This was the tenth masjid to be built in Cape Town and the first imam of the masjid was Ebrahim Salie from 1899 to 1928, followed by Imam Abduraghmaan ['Abd al-Rahman] Salie [1928-?], Imam Basardien Basardien [?-1974], Sheikh Armien Davids [ 1974-1991 ].

1899 Land for Zanzibari Muslims at Kings Rest 61

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 imam of the Zanzibari masjid was Mustapha Osman who came from the Comoros Islands to Durban in the late 1880s. In 1916 the Juma Masjid Trust, Durban, took control of land, property and total maintenance of the Zanzibari settlement.

At present only the masjid remains on the Zanzibari settlement in Kings Rest. The whole of the Zanzibari community have been uprooted from their first settlement in Kings Rest because the area in which they lived was proclaimed for residence of the White community by the Group Areas Act, enforced by the South African Government. The Zanzibaris were then forced to settle in Chatsworth, Durban, an area proclaimed for the residence of the Indian community.

The Kings Rest Masjid was abandoned for fourteen long years as the doors were shut and the building began to decay. All that remained at the first Zanzibari settlement was the graveyard where the Muslims went to make du'd for their deceased. The masjid and the cemetery remains under the control of the Juma Masjid Trust [Grey Street Masjid] who pay rates and taxes for the land.

But in 1973 Haji Eghsaan Aysen [d 1992], a tailor by profession, visited the Kings Rest cemetery on 'Id day and was disturbed on seeing the masjid abandoned. With the assistance of some friends, Haji Aysen renovated the masjid fully with carpets, wudu facilities, toilets, etc and served as a sincere, dedicated imam of the Kings Rest Masjid until his death.