Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Indians Muslims: Transvaal (1869 – 1870)

Posted by tahirfarrath on March 18, 2010

(History of Muslims in South Africa)

1869 – Arrival of Muslims from Gujarat and Kathiawar

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” (moore) 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

The Juma Masjid or the Kerk Street Masjid (as mentioned earlier by the Cape Malays) 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 theJuma 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 byJuma 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.


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