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

1903 South African Moslem Association 62

The South African Moslem Association was founded in Cape Town in 1903 with Hisham Neamatollah [Ni'matullah] Effendi as Chairman and Imam Abdurahman Kassiem Gamieldin as Secretary. The Association was formed to work in the interest of the Muslim community at the socio­economic level and was out to champion the cause of more schools for non­ Whites.

At the Association's inaugural meeting Effendi commented about fellow Muslims: "We shall have much opposition from many of the Moslems, 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 had been born and brought up".

By the time the first quarterly meeting of the Association was held some 150 members had joined the organisation. 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 Moslem Association was short-lived and made little impact on the Cape Muslims as it did not enjoy the support the Muslim 'clergy', a precondition for any Muslim organisation which hoped for a reasonable degree of survival in Cape Town.

1904 Dr 'Abdullah 'Abdurahman: Cape Town City Councillor 63

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 £5 000.0.0d [five thousand pounds sterling]. 'Abdul Jamalee sent his son, 'Abdurahman, to study Islam 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 Marist Brothers College where he completed his secondary education, after which he was admitted to the South African College [now 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 practising 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 community and was a key figure in the activities of the African Peoples Organisation.

1904 Construction of 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 an 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, and the Grey Street Masjid became a landmark of Durban by the beginning of the 20th century. During the same year, several rooms, toilets and shower facilities were also added at the rear of the masjid for use by musafir [travellers] to the city. Rooms were also built for the mu 'adhdhin. All the dwellings had to be removed when the Juma Masjid Girls School [Cathedral Road] was built by the Juma Masjid Trust adjacent to the masjid.

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 Aboobakr Amod [Jhavery]. The masjid was well maintained and enlarged due to the needs of the increasing Muslim population, for there were [1904] 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 masjid in Queen Street, in the heart of the Capital City, was purchased in 1887. At first a small masjid was built, renovated in 1928 and in 1984 the masjid was totally renovated at a cost of Rand 92 000.

The first nine trustees of the PMC appointed in 1906 were: Hajee Tayob Hajee Khan Mahomed, Hajee Mahomed Hajee Joosub, Osman Hassim, Hajee Ebrahim Hajee Essa, Omarjee Mahomed, Suleiman Ismail Sujee, Essop Mahomed Cachalia, Mahomed Ismail and Hajee Sheik Amod Essack.

The first secretary of the PMC was N M Ayob and Suleiman Ismail Sujee was the first chairman of the society.

Mufti Haswari was one of the early imams of the Queen Street Masjid [Pretoria], followed by Maulana Hassen Omar. Maulana Mohamed Ishayue Hazarvi became imam of the masjid in 1954, retiring in May 1982 due to ill health. He was succeeded by Maulana Suliman Patel.

The Pretoria Mohammedan Congregation changed its name to Pretoria Muslim Congregation on July 08, 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 appellation 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. In 1907 its officials were: Imam Abdul Kadir Bawazeer [chairman], M P Fancy [secretary], E S Coovadia [treasurer], E S Mia and Abdul Gani [patrons]. By the end of the year, the Society had several hundred members.

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 early 1890s, was the prime mover in organising mass meetings which were held on Sundays, attended by several hundred people. HIS was supported by Haji Habib [chairman, British India Association, Pretoria branch] and Maulana Syed Ahmed Mukhtar [imam of the 'Surti' Masjid, Johannesburg].

The Society was opposed to all forms of injustices and racial laws of the country, and was the most effective institution in the Transvaal for mobilising merchants and workers. The Hamidia Islamic Society became the backbone of resistance movements during the early stage of the people's struggle in the country.

1909 South African Malay Association 64

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 05, 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 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 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 Ol, 1913;
  • * Arabic joined the official languages of English and Dutch as curricular components;
  • * State assistance was granted on conditions comparable to those of the Christian Mission Schools.

1910 Extension of trusteeship of Grey Street Masjid 65

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 'Memon' community. Thus, today, the life-long elected Trustees of the Masjid representing their 'groups' are as follows: four 'Memons', two 'Surtees', one 'Cockney', one 'Colonial' born, etc.

1911 Establishment of AZ-Jamia Masjid 66

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 1960s. The area surrounding Al-Jamia Masjid was one the first to be affected by the Group Areas Act and its impact devastated the entire Muslim community. With most of the houses, shops, schools and parks demolished, the naasjid today is surrounded by up-market shopping centres, soul-less car parks and high-rise office blocks. The early Muslims who were descendants of the Colony's slaves first arived in the then rural areas of Claremont in the 1840s. 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 1920s.

In 1956 Imam 'Abdullah Haron became imam of Al-Jamia Masjid and he served the masjid as well as the Muslim community until his "death" in 1969.

1913 Establishment of Rahmaniyyeh Institute 67

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 Masjid­School 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 Gameeldien [Jamil al-Din], the first male to qualify as a teacher at the Zonnebloem College, as principal of the School. Abdullah ibn AI-Hadj Taha Gamieldien , a prolific writer and also a former student of the Zonnebloem College and a graduate of al-Azhar University of Cairo, was entrusted with the task of teaching Arabic at the School.

1914 Publication of The Indian Views 68

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 English and Gujarati languages. In the 1920s 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 editor 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 newpaper 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.

The following copies of The Indian Views are available as reference documentation:

  • * 1914 - 1926 at the Natal Archives, Pietermaritzburg [hard copies];
  • * 1914 - 1943 at the Documentation Centre, University of Durban­Westville [on micro films];
  • * 1937 - 1952 Durban Reference Library, Durban [hard copies];
  • * 1952 - 1962 Natal Society Library, Pietermaritzburg [hard copies].

1917 Madressa Anjuman Islam Trust, Durban 69

The Madressa Anjuman Islam Trust was officially established in 1917 in Durban. Earlier with the establishment of the Anjuman Islam Juma Musjid 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 Jamiatul 'Ulama Natal and Muslim Darul Yatama wal Masakeen. The minutes of the Trust were 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.

1920 Establishment of May Street Masjid, Durban 70

The May Street Masjid in Durban was established in 1920. For many years the little masjid, situated on the corner of May and Fynn Streets, Durban, stood alone in the wilderness as hundreds of homes and other buildings in Block AK were demolished by the Department of Community Development through the Group Areas Act. The masjid was being considered for demolition but according to Islamic tenets no masjid may be demolished or the land sold for any other purpose. Thus the National Monument Council declared the masjid as 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 Rand 250 000 and today the prayer area can hold over 500 worshippers on its three floors. The first imam of the masjid was Imam Musthan.

1920- Extension to West Street Masjid


By 1920 there were further renovations to the masjid, such as

  • * reconstruction of 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;
  • * the 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 [eg 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.

The trustees appointed [1970] were: Essop Mahomed Randeree, Abdul Majid Khan, Cassim Mahomed Bassa, Abdul Wahab Mahomed Motala, Yusuf Ahmed Lockhat, Amod Mahomed Moola, Abdul Haq Essop Coovadia, Moosa Mahomed Paruk, Mahmood Moosa Moosa, Essop Ismail Mahomedy, Ebrahim Essa Hassim, Abdul Kadir Mahomed Simjee, Ahmed Sadeck Mahomed Kajee, Mahomed Ismail Paruk, Ahmed Mohideen Fyzoo and Ebrahim Ismail Docrat.

The following 'ulama' served as imams of the masjid:

Maulana Mufti Ebrahim Sanjalvi [of Transvaal] for a short while; Hafiz Ebrahim Hafejee [of Durban]; Imam Sayed Sarfuddin Vaizie; Maulana Nurlul Haq [1944-1955]; Maulana Abdur Rahman Ansari [1955-1986]; Maulana Abdur Rahman Khan [1987-to date].

In December 1990, total restoration of the West Street Masjid, lasting over two years, was complete, costing over Rand two million, and Durban's 'Palace of Peace' was reopened. The Islamic architecture of this more than century year 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 ntusallis.

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 imam and the Muslim congregation of Simonstown felt that they should establish their own school attached to the masjid. On July 09, 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 71

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 life time he was encouraged by his wife, Ayesha, with the spirit of charity and community service. Thus he formed the Hajee Ahmed Mohammad 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 masajid and madaris, but has made large contributions mainly toward the education of African pupils. Among its many achievements are the building of or the main contribution to:

  • * A M Lockhat Clinic [Kwa Nyuswa]
  • * Bagdadi Masjid [Phoenix, Durban]
  • * Hajee A M Lockhat Commercial School [Umbumbulu]
  • * Hawa Paruk Higher Primary School [Wosiyana]
  • * Lockhat Islamia College [Mayville, Durban]
  • * Lockhat Junior Primary School [Ndwedwe]
  • * Lockhat Secondary School [Ndwedwe]
  • * Lockhat High School [Ndwedwe]
  • * Lockhat Masjid [Mayville, Durban]
  • * Mhlabumzima M I Paruk School [Richmond District, Natal]
  • * Mcotyi High School [Umgababa]
  • * Masjid Yusuf [Parlock]
  • * M I Paruk Lower Primary School [Wosiyana]
  • * Silwane Higher Primary School [Ndwedwe District]
  • * Suleman Patel Secondary School [Ndwedwe District]

And the Trust also assisted in building either a classroom or a wing to:

  • * Empusheni B C School [Isipingo Rail, Natal]
  • * Ewushwini B C School [Kwa Dinabakuba]
  • * Ithenjane B C School [Mfume]
  • * Madundubala B C School [Mfume]

Since its founding the Trust has established 10 schools for Africans in Kwa Zulu and Natal.

1923 Founding of Cape Malay Association 72

The emergence of the Cape Malay Association [CMA] in 1923 was related to the consolidation of political power by the Nationalist Party under J M B Hertzog. Imam Abduraquib Berdien of Wynberg was a founder member of the CMA and sought political patronage with the Nationalist, 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 Mogamet Arshad Gamiet was CMA's president, the Association held 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 73

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 as its head.

The aims and objectives of the Jami'atul 'Ulama' are to:

  • * "enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong" and to foster the true 'aqa'id [principles] and practices of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah;
  • * preserve and promote the sunnah of Rasul Allah [salla Allah 'alayhi wa sallam];
  • * further the aims of brotherhood, and cooperation in the Muslim community and to coordinate religious activity;
  • * expound the shaii ah [Islamic law] and to establish Dar al-Iftah [office of issuing legal opinion];
  • * protect, preserve and promote the religious rights of the Muslims;
  • * promote, develop and maintain religious, cultural, educational, social, economic, charitable services, and general upliftment of people at large;
  • * protect the honour and interest of the Muslims;
  • * establish and maintain Islamic social order amongst the Muslims;
  • * protect the individual and collective rights of the Muslims;
  • * curb and combat undesirable and irreligious element [within the Muslim community];
  • * promote, develop and unify the Islamic educational system in southern Africa;
  • * print and publish Islamic literature;
  • * represent or make representation for the Muslim community of South Africa;
  • * institute and maintain a treasury for Muslim funds;
  • * establish, protect and maintain madaris, masajid, jama'at khanas, awqaf [endowments] and other Islamic institutions of the Muslim community;
  • * render Islamic guidance and services in prison, hospitals and other institutions.

Among the Jamiat's activities are:

  • * introduction of a unified syllabus for madaris of the Transvaal [1946];
  • * affiliation of various madaris of the Transvaal to the Jamiat [1964] and appointment of full-time inspectors for the madaris. At present the Jamiat supervises 70 madaris in the Transvaal, Northern Cape and Botswana, catering for the supervision of over 7 000 Muslim children in Islamic education. All the affiliated madaris are supplied with free stationery;
  • * the Dar al-Iftah of the Jamiat attends to all religious queries and pro­vides written replies;
  • * the Jamiat attends daily to marriage, divorce, inheritance cases and other disputes within the Muslim community;
  • * in 1958 the Jamiatconvened a conference of Muslim organisations to discuss the implications of the Group Areas Act upon religious institu­tutions [masajid, madaris, cemeteries]. A year later the Jamiat made re­presentations to the Group Areas Development Board, and in a test case in 1963 succeeded in making the Government accept the sanctity of the madaris;
  • * the Jamiat played a prominent role in having the film, "The Message", banned in this country because of its portrayal of certain Sahabah [companion of the holy Prophet];
  • * in the case Muslims versus Ahmadis/Qadianis in Cape Town in 1987, the Jamiat was fully involved and even shared the financial responsibility;
  • * the Jamiat has full-time inspectors at the Johannesburg abbatoir, inspecting and supervising the slaughtering and sale of Halal meat at the abbatoir;
  • * Muslim organisations collecting charity in the Transvaal are screened by the Jamiat, and letters authorising collection are issued to bona fide organisations;
  • * the Jamiat renders prison services at Barberton, Bethal, Leeukop, Johannesburg Central and Modderbee Prisons.

Among the Jamiat's publications are:

  • * Faizul Baari [commentary of Imam al-Bukhari by 'Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmin [R.A.];
  • * Translation of Taalimul Islam by Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah [R.A.] in English;
  • * Ar-Rasheed, a monthly publication, distributed throughout the country free of charge.