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

1932 Subsidies for Cape Muslim Primary Schools

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 74

A group of young Muslims [A I Kajee, C M Angalia, Tayob Sacoor, M S Kharwa, Sayed Fakroodeen, Ismail Osman, E M Paruk, A K E Bux and Maulana Mukhtar Siddiqui] 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 committtee were: Ismail Osman, Tayob Sacoor, Suliman Essack, I A Baychain, M S Kharwa and Mehboob Khan.

Aims and objectives of the Muslim Darul Yatama Wal Masakeen are:

  • * to investigate and care for the wants of orphans and destitutes without distinction of race or creed in such a manner and to such an extent as required and desirable and as funds from time to time permit;
  • * to prevent indigency and maladjustment by providing secular, religious and vocational education of orphans committed to its charge, and to cooperate with welfare agencies and employers in the placement of these pupils;
  • * to promote services among the destitutes to enable the needy to receive active assistance at all times;
  • * to establish and maintain further institution[s] of a similar nature;
  • * to provide further relief and assistance to needy persons;
  • * to collect, canvas and accept subscriptions, donations, bequests, endow­ments and other benefits for the Institution from any source whatsoever;
  • * to seek, obtain and receive grants-in-aid and other assistance for the purpose of the Institution from any person, local authority, municipality, provincial or government authority;
  • * to invest any available funds of the Institution in any movable or immovable property, mortgages, building societies, banks, shares or securities whatsoever as may be deemed expedient;
  • * to acquire land and buildings and to improve any freehold or lease-hold property of the Institution by the erection or removal of buildings and by the construction of road and other transportation facilities and by erecting or creating works for the purpose of lighting, communication, transport, water supply, sanitation and other necessities and conveniences, and to utilise the property of the Institution in the best possible means and to advance the objects thereof;
  • * to purchase, lease, hire or otherwise acquire movable or immovable property and to provide and equip buildings thereon suitable for the purpose of the Institution to sell, mortgage, transfer, donate or otherwise dispose of immovable property;
  • * to raise or borrow money for the purpose of the Institution in such a manner and on such security as may be determined and in particular by passing bonds for registration with the property authority;
  • * generally to do all such other things and to carry out such undertakings as may be expedient to further the interest of the Institution or which may be incidental or conducive to the attainment of the aforesaid objects.

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 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 City Health 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 £1 600.O.Od [one thousand six hundred pounds sterling]. The owner, Mr Raw, on learning the cottage was to house orphans and destitutes, donated £750.O.Od [seven hundred and fifty pounds sterling] to the society. 'Westhaven', as the place came to be known, was officially opened on Sunday, August 15, 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 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 Wa'1 Masakeen and the Institution purchased six acres at a cost of Rand 14 000.00.

On June 12, 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 23, 1974. At present [1992] there are 46 children residing at Baitul Aman.

The Board of Trustees of Muslim Darul Yatama Wal Masakeen are: E M Randeree [chairman], E M Moosa, E A Timol, Y A Lockhat, I G H Kathrada, I D Patel, Dr M E Jeewa, and Dr R A Karrim; while the following serve on the Board of Management: E M Moosa [chairman], Dr M E Jeewa [vice-chairman], E A Timol [secretary], O A Moosa [assistant secretary], I D Patel [treasurer], M I Randeree [assistant treasurer], A K Lockhat, M F A Vahed, G M E Motala, A S Tayob, M I Kajee, E M Motala, I S Moola, D Lockhat, Y S Lockhat, F Bhayat, M Variawa, S M Rehman, H Dhooma, H Azamally, I Dawood, H Cassim, S A Cassim, E Mansoor and Y Badat.

1934 'Malay' Quarter

In 1934 almost the whole of the '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 a few Muslim property owners in the 'Malay' Quarter. The Cape Town City Council is the chief landlord.

1938- Construction of 'Malay' dwellings: Schotsche

1942 Kloof

Between 1938 and 1942 the 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 these flat-units.

1940 Waterval Islamic Institute 75

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 distributing them worldwide. The Institute catered both for the religious and secular needs of Muslim students and provided free boarding and lodging to students and staff, conducted hifz classes, and courses in the training the 'ulama'.

The Waterval Islamic Institute's publications in Arabic, English and Urdu to date number 128. The books and booklets of the Institute are widely used in South and southern Africa.

"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 free distribution of a Will and Testament in accordance with the Muslim Shariat".

1942 Hospital Welfare Society, Cape Town

In 1942 the Hospital Welfare Society was established in Cape Town to supply halal food, utensils and supervise cooks at most hospitals in the Cape Peninsula.

1942 Young Men's Muslims Association, Durban 76

The Young Men's Muslim Association [YMMA] of Durban was founded in 1942 by Munshi Secunder Ahmed Murchie, Mahomed Suleman Badat, Yusuf Suleman Mulla, Ahmed Ebrahim Jeewa, Mahomed Essop Gora Patel, Ebrahim Essop Coovadia, Goolam Hoosen Mahomed Mayet, Goolam Hoosen Ahmed Amra, Yusuf Ismail Shaik, Abdul Khaleq Ahmed Omar, Abdul Kader Ismail Simjee and others.

Among the aims and objectives of the YMMA were:

  • * to train Muslims to have a better understanding Islam;
  • * to circulate Islamic literature;
  • * to expound the teachings of Islam;
  • * to bring about friendly relations between Muslims and non-Muslims;
  • * to lecture on Islam;
  • * to organise social gatherings on festive occasions;
  • * to maintain a reading and a study room;

Some of the activities of the YMMA , as stated in the Secretaries' Annual Report for 1944-1945, are the following [publications]:

  • * a fifty-page Prayer Book [with photographs] explaining the importance and meaning of salah;
  • * souvenir booklet on visit to the Juma Masjid. This booklet explains the message of Islam and the importance of the masajid to non-Muslims;
  • * ten thousand pamphlets on What is Islam in English-Afrikaans and English-Zulu;
  • * weekly pamphlets in English-Gujarati explaining the significance of various festivals, months and personalities in Islam. These pamphlets were distributed on Fridays at masdjid in and around Durban;

The YMMA, immediately after their formation, began publishing weekly [later forthnightly] their journal, Towards Understanding Islam, in English. Each week 5 000 pamphlets which were very informative and dealing mainly with the basic principles of Islam, Muslim history and historical events, were distributed at the masajid. The YMMA endeavoured to make their journal a 'Muslim national newspaper' but were prevented from doing so due to lack of finance. On festive occasions, the YMMA printed and distributed pamphlets in Gujarati and English dealing with the specific occasion, giving the significance and importance of the occasion. Members of the YMMA longed to establish a Muslim Missionary Settlement in the country to train young Muslims in the art of propagation [da 'wah], and establish an Islamic educational centre where Muslim children could be taught Islamic subjects alongside secular education, in an Islamic environment and without losing their Islamic identity. The missionary settlement did not see the light during the heyday of the YMMA ; however, through their efforts many Muslim-oriented schools and madaris were established in forthcoming years.

The YMMA established a reading and a study room at their office in 47 Madressa Arcade, Durban, where many books on Islam [Qur'an, Hadith, Islamic history, Fiqh, etc] were available in English, Gujarati and Urdu. When the Ajuman Islam School was built in Leopold Street, Durban, the library of the YMMA was moved to the new and spacious building which proved very popular to the readers, especially during the evenings and on weekends. Besides books, the library now provided local and overseas newspapers, journals and magazines on Islam and Muslims.

The YMMA is the pioneer in the field of producing annual Islamic calendars giving the times of sunrise, zawwal, sunset, times of salah, sehri, iftar and also the birth of moon, etc for Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Young Men's Muslim Association has been producing these calendars since 1943.

Seeing the need for da'wah work in the outlying African areas of Durban, the YMMA employed, on a part-time basis, a new comer to Islam, the Reverend Rashid Tahir King, and provided him with Islamic literature in Zulu. In 1959 Amina Tahir King, wife of the foremer Reverend, laid the foundation stone of As-Salaam Educational Institute at Braemer.

1943 Extension to Grey Street Masjid

In 1943 the Juma Masjid [Grey Street] in Durban was further extended as follows:

  • * Main jama 'at khana: 30,02 meters by 15,01 meters; 01,58 meters by 15,01 meters;
  • * Sahn: 01,58 meters by 15,01 meters;
  • * First floor: space for salah same as the main jama‘at khana, plus the sahn, in addition, there exits a wudu khana;
  • * Second floor : the floor space of the area is the same as the whole of the first floor. This entire floor is an open-air roof-garden space for salah same as the main jama'at khana, plus the sahn, in addition, there exists a wudu khana; the floor space of the area is the same as the whole of the first floor. This entire floor is an open-air roof-garden.

The Juma Musjid Trust was created on April 18, 1916 and registered with the Registrar of Deeds for Natal on March 07, 1923 [No 8/1923]. The Trust's immovable properties are:

  • * Sub A of Mosque Block BB Town Lands of Durban No 1737 measuring 15 286 square feet;
  • * Sub B of Mosque Block BB Town Lands of Durban No 1737 measuring 6 992 square feet;
  • * Remainder of Mosque Block BB Town Lands of Durban No 1737 measu­ring 11 504 square feet;
  • * Sub 4 of Lot 20 Bluff No 2692 measuring 43.2486 acres.

More than 3 000 worshippers can be accommodated at the Grey Street Juma Masjid at any one time of salah, and until the late 1970s enjoyed the status of being the largest masjid in the Southern Hemisphere, it being today the largest in southern Africa.

"The Muslim community is indebted to him (M A Motala] also for his untiring efforts to build the Grey Street Mosque [Masjid], for which he not only collected funds and gave the largest donation, but also supervised its building as it stands today" [Ramadan Annual of the Muslim Digest, 34:11, June 1984, p 289].

Some of the imams who served the Grey Street Masjid are: Maulana Ghulam Mustapha, Imam Abdus Samad [for 17 years], Shaikh Yusuf Booley, Maulana Abubakr Khatib, Shaikh Salih 'Abbadi, Hafiz Ahmed Saeed, Mufti Sajid Makki.

Less than a month after the South African Government lifted its ban on residential development in the Grey Street complex, the Juma Masjid Trust Board announced plans to build a Rand 30 million block of offices, shops and flats. The Board planned to convert the three-storey building into a 20­storey block which would be the biggest in the Grey Street area. Unfortunately, the building programme has not yet materialised [1992].

1943 Natal Muslim Council 77

In April 1943 at the inaugural general meeting the Natal Muslim Council was founded in Durban, representing some 22 organisations from all over the province and a gathering of over 750 Muslims. The meeting was convened by a provisional committee appointed by a conference held earlier under the auspices of the Young Men's Muslim Association of Durban. Advocate Ibrahim Mahomed Bawa chaired the meeting.

The chairman, in explaining the aims and objects of the Natal Muslim Council, pointed out:

  • * the need for one Muslim organisation as a representative body in the province;
  • * the need for coordinating all existing social and educational organisations.

The officials elected were: A I Kajee [President], I M Bawa and M S Badat [Secretaries], G H E Paruk and Y S Mulla [Treasurers], M A Motala, M A H Moosa, A B Moosa, S M Lockhat, S M Mayat [Vice-Presidents], Maulana Mohammed Bashir Siddiqui [d 1967, aged 84], E M Nakhooda, H A Kharwa, A K M Docrat, A E Jeewa, S A Murchie, E I Haffejee, S M Paruk, E M Randeree, and others [Commitee Members].

The Natal Muslim Council established four major working committees: social welfare, education, propagation and culture, and finance. An office was opened in Queen Street, Durban, on the premises of the Muslim Institute, and a clerk employed on a full-time basis.

On August OS-07, 1944, the Council organised the Second Provincial Muslim Conference at the Madressa Hall, Pine Street, Durban. The Conference was opened by Senator D G Shepstone. Sir Shafa'at Ahmed Khan, High Commissioner for India, also attended the Conference and spoke in Urdu.

During the same year, the Natal Muslim Council attempted to undertake the supervision of the Muslim Darul Yatama Wal Masakeen in order to improve the then prevailing conditions of the institution, but without success. Thus at the annual general meeting of the Darul Yatama, a majority of members from the Natal Muslim Council were elected on the executive.

A welcome reception in honour of Maulana Ebrahim of Rander, India, was held at the Avalon Cinema, Durban, on Sunday, April 29, 1945 before the First Biennial General Meeting of the Council. The Natal Muslim Council functioned well during the War years for more than a decade. In December 1952 the Council was reconstituted with I M Bawa [president], Dr Daud S Mall [vice president], E A Kajee [treasurer] and Ebrahim Nakooda [secretary]. Activities of the Natal Muslim Council came to and end in December 1954.

1945 Muslim Judicial Council [Cape] 78

The Muslim Judicial Council [MJC] was established in the Cape in 1945. This was the second 'ulama' body to be formed in South Africa.

Amongst the aims and objects of the Muslim Judicial Council are:

  • * to consolidate and strengthen the spirit of unity amongst the 'ulama ;
  • * to strive and attain the spiritual, educational, intellectual, moral, social, cultural and economic aspirations of the Muslim community;

It was basically a politically conservative Council, except for certain individual members of the MJC , such as Imam Haron, Sheikh Nazeem Mohamed and Sheikh Abubakr Najjar who voiced their opinions against the various racial and discriminatory legislations in the country. The MJC affiliated itself to the United Democratic Front [UDF] but had to withdraw because of criticism within the Muslim community of the UDF and its liberal supporters who they suspected of having Zionist affiliations and leanings. During the 1985 upheavals and also in the 1986 Crossroads crisis, the MJC played a leading role in providing the necessary assistance to the Black community at large. Sheikh Achmat Behardien and Sheikh Ismail Ganief [Hanif] Edwards were among the founder members of the Muslim Judicial Council.

1946 Ahmadiyyah Movement, Cape Town 79

"The sectarian Ahmadiyya movement started missionary work in its orthodox Qadiani form in 1946 in South Africa. In 1959 an Ahmadiyya publication, Al-Asr, was started which after a long interruption recommenced publication in 1975".

1947 Ahmedia and South Coast Madrasah Government­Aided Indian Schools, Durban 80

A M Moolla, a leading Muslim businessman in Durban, taking an active role in Muslim education, managed to convince the Hajee A M Lockhat Charitable Trust of Durban into opening a school where religion [Islam] could be taught alongside secular education. Thus in June 1947 the Ahmedia Government-Aided Indian School in Mayville, Durban, was opened. This school was named after Hajee Ahmed Lockhat and is in no way related to the Ahmadiyyah/Qadiyani sect. Mr M A Ismail was appointed the first principal of the school and Maulana Abubakr Khatib was appointed the principal of the madrasah section of the school. There was official to opposition to integrated system of teaching [religious and secular] during school hours from the Natal Indian Teachers Society [later, Teachers Association of South Africa, now defunct]. The Ahmedia School admitted all pupils, not only Muslims, but Indian pupils in toto.

The South Coast Madrasah Government-Aided Indian School in Clairwood, Durban, was also established by Muslims from Muslim trust funds, and admitted all Indian pupils, irrespective of religion. There was, once again, official opposition from the Natal Indian Teachers Society, especially regarding the introduction of religion [Islam] being taught during school hours. Despite all opposition, within the next two years, these two schools proved very popular among the Muslim community of Durban who then saw greater need for such schools.

1949 M A Motala Education and Charity Trust, Durban 81

Hajee Mahomed A Motala was born in India in 1885 and came to South Africa in 1903. From a small retail store, he expanded his business to such an extent that at the time of his death in 1957 [aged 73], he was one of the leading financial magnets in the country.

The M A Motala Education and Charity Trust was officially established in 1949 under the trusteeship of the sons of M A Motala of Durban with assets of £30 000.0.0d [thirty thousand pounds sterling], the entire income of which was to be utilised for educational and charitable purposes.

In 1922 M A Motala founded a school for children of Durban Corporation workers in May Street, Durban. In 1946 the Trustees of the May Street Government Aided-Indian School applied for a permit to renovate and enlarge the school building so that it would accommodate 360 students instead of 170. After a long wait, permission was granted for the rebuilding of the school. M A Motala contributed a substantial amount to the May Street Masjid and Madressa School and was personally responsible for the erection of the May Street Masjid and the Motala Memorial Hall in Durban.

The M A Motala Boys Hostel is a children's home catering for a maximum of 30 boys ranging between the ages of 12 and 18. The Hostel, situated at Wybank, near Pinetown, was established in 1939. On February 18, 1946 the Hostel was registered as an institution for the care and maintenance of Indian boys. Admission to the Hostel is restricted to boys committed by the Children's Court in terms of the Children's Act. M A Motala was the second largest donor to the building of Sastri College for Indians in Durban.

The Muslim community is indebted to the late M A Motala for his untiring efforts towards building and renovation of the Grey Street Masjid, Durban, [1943] for which he not only collected funds and gave the largest donation of £1000.0.0d [one thousand pound sterling] but also personally supervised the building as it stands today. After the completion of the Grey Street Masjid, he collected substantial funds and also donated £1 000.0.0d [one thousand pound sterling] for the renovations of the West Street Masjid, Durban.

In 1945 M A Motala handed over the Title Deeds of a piece of land to Mrs Gordon Canston, President of the Natal Indian Blind Society. A proposed Home and Vocational Training Centre was to be built on this land which is situated in Standard Road, Mayville, Durban. The M A Motala Education and Charity Trust donated £750.0.0d [seven hundred and fifty pounds sterling] towards the building of the Madressa Anjuman Islam School in Durban and £4 S00.0.0d [four thousand and five hundred pounds sterling] to the Orient Islamic Institute. The Trust contributed property worth £3 000.0.0d [three thousand pound sterling] to the Indian Textile Workers Union.

Between 1976-1979 the Trust donated Rand 87 000 to Indian, African and White education and welfare projects. In 1978 the M A Motala Clinic was opened at Thafamasi. In 1983 a diesel-driven mono pump for pumping water from a borehole was installed and the motor was subsequently housed in a brick building together with a fibre glass tank to hold 9 000 litres of water.

The M A Motala Education and Charity Trust's contribution to the community is well appreciated and is a fitting tribute to the late M A Motala for his humanitarian gestures which knew neither race, colour nor creed. The late M A Motala also served on the Council of the M L Sultan Technical College in Durban and the Indian Technical Education Committee in 1946.