Mandela and Islam in South Africa Lots of Muslim friends accompanied Mandela in his long walk to freedom. Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, Ismail meer, Yusuf Dadoo, Fatima Meer, Amina Cachaliya, Rahima Moosa, Ibrahim Rasool, Imam Hassan Solomon are some of them, the last two holding high official posts later. Imam Abdullah Haroon embraced martyrdom in the dungeon of Apartheid in 1969; Ibrahim Rasool, Omar Abdulla, Ahmed Kasim, Ahmed Kathrada were co-prisoners of Mandela; Dr. Rashid Torir was killed during the struggle and some, like Yusuf Dadoo and Molvi Kachalia, were sent into exile.

Mandela held out his hands of cordiality to Muslims and Islam. For them, just as for the Blacks in South Africa, he was Madiba and Tata (father). He extended generous support to the anti-colonial struggles in various Muslim lands, especially to the Palestinian resistance against Israel. He participated in the training camps of the National Liberation Front of Algeria. That is why some French writers had labeled him as a terrorist.

His fellowship with Muslims did not just come out of their participation in the anti-apartheid struggles with him. He recognized the liberation potential of Islam. Historically, South Africa stood witness to the fact that Islam as a faith goes in conjunction with the desire and struggle for freedom. One of the early generations of South African Muslims was that of slaves transported by the Dutch Colonialists from Indonesia. The Dutch were then, in a back handed manner, setting the stage for the Muslim community to grow. Though the immigrants, in course of time, came to forget their national culture and language -though somecolloquial expressions borrowed from their mother tongue like Lab Rang (Eid), Nameeraj (hosting), Kabraj (wooden slippers) and Karamath (tomb)-are preserved in their dialect- they did not lose their faith. They stuck to it as if it is a solid rock.


Categories: Africa, ISLAM

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