Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Self-Empowerment: Uitenhage (1849)

Posted by tahirfarrath on February 3, 2010

(History of Muslims in South Africa)

Long before the 1820 British Settlers to P.E., Thomas Pringle stated that when he had the occasion to refer to a file of documents on a Muslim named Fortuin Weys or Wiess who was referred to as a free black, Muslims were already in the area. A pioneer of the Muslims in Uitenhage was Imaam Jabaarudin, also known as Abdul Malick, Jan Bardien or Berdien. He was the son of a woman who was only known as Eva and Prince Shamsudien, also known as Asamadin, son of Sultan Nabier, Ruler of Macassar, Java, Indonesia and Riyah Sitta Riyah of Kuala Lampur, Malaya. Imaam Jabaarudin arrived in 1815 at the age of 31. He was responsible for building the Masjid in Uitenhage. The land was presumably donated to the Muslims in 1840, but the Governor of the day transferred the deed no.8 on the 4th of September 1845 in recognition for their assumed services during the Battle of the Axe (Abdul Gakien Abrahams, 1989?).

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

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.

The plague on the outside wall of Masjied al-Qudama does give the original date as 1845, and because the first Minaret was built on this Mosque, it should right be recognised as the First Mosque of the entire Cape Colony. Since it was the only Mosque in the Eastern Cape, Muslims apparently travelled from Port Elizabeth on Thursday by oxen-wagon for Jumu’ah. Another version states that Sultan Nabier sent 24 skilled men from Malaya to build the railway workshop in 1875, which provides another date for the completion of the Mosque. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support the claim, but Archbishop Merriman recorded in his journal that the Muslims had built their own Mosque by 1849. W.S.J. Sellick in his article “Uitenhage Past & Present” (Uitenhage Times, 1904, p.6) reads: “About 1809, a number of slaves escaped from Cape Town and made their way to Uitenhage…”

The direct descendants of Imaam Jabaarudin are the Bardiens of Uitenhage. He was married to Galia and they had four children, namely: Gatiesa, Abdul Kariem, Imaam Abdul Kahaar and Nafiesa. Imaam Jabaarudin died at the age of 84 years on the 3rd of June 1868 and was buried at the Uitenhage cemetary. The death notice filed on the 23rd of June 1868 no. 4440 recods his name as Jan Berdien, Mohammedan Priest with the name of his parents as Asamadin and Asa (probably Eva). Fawaida and Haliema, the two sisters from the Bardien family tree married Gasnoella and Hadji Hosain Salie, descendants of the Salie family. During the Battle of the Axe, Imaam Kariem (known as Captain Dollie) had four children, namely: Gasiena, Koelsoem, Ebrahiem and Abu Bakr. By a provision made in the Mosque’s constitution, he became the Imaam. His eldest daughter, Gasiena Bardien, married to Imaam Behardien Japppie of Port Elizabeth (Baarie) and their daughter, Amina, married Hadji Munsoor Davids, father of Hadji Abdullah, Hadji Achmat and Hadji Hassiem Davids (all of Port Elizabeth). The other daughter, Ragma, married Tawieloedien Davids, Imaam of the Grace Street Mosque, Port Elizabeth, and the father of Imaam Dawood, Koelsoem, Gabeeda, Hajiera, Toyer, Fatima and Isgaak. Another daughter, Mariam, married Hadji Moudien Hendricks – father of Sadaka and Alwie (twins), Armien, Hadjiera and Jawaiyer.

Upon Imaam Abdul Kariem’s death, his son Ebrahiem (who studied in Mecca for nine years) became the Imaam and his three children were Gafsa, Salama and Mariam. Imaam Gafieloedien Receipt followed as Imaam of the Mosque and his children were Mariam, Abdul Gayr, Siettie Fatima, Juvayra and Moegamat Jadalla. Siettie Fatima was married to Moegamat Abader (of P.E.). The Imaamship was taken over by Imaam Sedick Salie who was the father of Fatima, Laila, Aiysha, Noeg and Moegamat Noor. Then Moegammat Abdullatief became the Imaam who was married to the only daughter among 3 brothers of the Farrath family. He was the father of Igsaan, Jamiel, Ghamieda and Gamdia. His wife’s brother, Jalaludien, married Roekeya Agherdien of Port Elizabeth and raised Toyer. After some controversy, Imaam Moegamat stepped down and was succeeded by Imaam Ebrahiem Abrahams – the father of Fagmi, Noral, Magmoed, Galieb, Aysa and Ayoob. He was the son of Aisha Salie and the third eldest daughter of Imaam Sedick Salie (Abdul Gakien Abrahams, 1989?). The Imaamship continued with Abdullah Sirkhotte followed by M. Zahid Farrath.

Regrettably, the Mosque had lost its originality and all of its historical image after undergoing three changes to its structure. Surprisingly, a handwritten Quran by Abdul Wahaab bin Mirza, which is said to have been completed in 189 A.H., is the prized possession of the family of Imaam Moegamat Baakir Jalaludien. (The writing though does not seem to be of that period.)



12 Responses to “Self-Empowerment: Uitenhage (1849)”

  1. said

    A very interesting read! Good to see my connection to the Bardiens, Abaders and the Sultan. Also my married connection to the Farraths.

    • adenaan said

      my name is adenaan .would like to have a copy of family tree.want to see where i fit in.
      father name abubakr bardien

      please reply

  2. saleh davids said

    can you tell me how this information came to you please reply as i am much interested as we have many stories like this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • tahirfarrath said

      I obtain information from a number of sources, and a few enthusiasts contribute whatever they can , which I value deeply. Your contribution to our pool of cultural knowledge will be greatly appreciated.

  3. Annaz Dollie said

    This was quite an interesting read. As the youngest of the family I had to listen to these stories everyday as my grandmother was very proud of her heritage. If u are interested I could possibly provide u with a copy of the original family tree of Imam Jabarudeen. I am grandson of Gafsa Dollie nee Bardien, daughter of Imam Ebrahim, and u know how that moves up the family tree…lol

    • tahirfarrath said

      Yes, a copy of Imam Jabarudeen’s original family tree will be greatly appreciated. I’ll also make my wife, Nuruniesah, aware of the above.

  4. Armien Harris said

    salaam all, I just came across and have been searching quite a while for a connection to family from Uitenhage. I am from the family who remained in Cape Town, Sheikh Abdul Kahaar’s descendents, whose daughter Moegmienatie is the grandmother of my grandfather Hadji Abduragmaan Harris. I, Armien Harris, am the son of the late Hassiem Harris, may the almighty Allah SWT grant him Jannah insha allah.

  5. Armien Harris said

    I am also in possession of a family tree, which ends at Imaam Abdul Karriem’s great grandchildren: Fawarda, H M Alwie, Hajiera, H M Noor, H Abduragmaan and Subeiga?

  6. Muammar said

    Can I too please have a copy of this tree?
    Muammar Bardien (Cape Town)

  7. Sedick Benjamin said

    Masjidul Qudumaa in Caledon Street in Uitenhage was built in the1840s and is in fact the oldest masjid in South Africa. It pre-dates any other mosque built solely for the purpose of a mosque. Uitenhage was blessed with some truly humble ulema eg Imam Mogamat, Imam Ebrahiem Abrahams, Imam Abdullah Sirkhotte and now Imam Mogamat Zahid Farrath.These imams kept the community together and dhikr used to take place every Thursday night and every week with a different family.There is no other way but the old way as set out by our pious ancestors who brought Deen to these shores. Uitenhage is a beacon.

  8. al-ameen said


    My name is Al-Ameen Kafaar. I am trying to trace an article/book about the history of Islam in Uitenhage and PE. I am not certain what the title is but it was written as an academic work by a researcher from I think University of Pretoria. I think I came across it the first time in one your blogs. Wouldbe able to assist me, please.

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