100th Anniversary Celebration of Zeenatul Islam Masjid (Muir Street Masjid, Kanamia Masjid) Capetown [S.A]

Speech by Adam Ismail Ebrahim

Focusing on the history of the Masjid”

26th January 2020 | Cape Town, South Africa

AssalamuAleikumWa Rahmatulahi Wa Barakatuh

Brother sisters, honored guest, trustees, senior members of our community,  my name is Adam Ismail Ebrahim, I am the son of Ismail Ebrahim, who is the son of Adam Ebrahim of Number 3 Muir Street originally from Tankaria, in Gujarat, India. I have been asked to give a historical perspective of our Masjid – the Zeenatul Islamic Masjid – Beautiful Islam, also known as the Muir Street masjid, also knows fondly as the Kanamia Masjid. The Kanamias arrived in Southern Africa from Gujurat in India they were farmers from the black soil area that’s why they were called Kanamias. My association with the masjid starts way before my time, it starts in the year 1900 when my grandfather Adam Ebrahim arrived in Cape Town.

I was born approximately a 150 meters from where I stand, I would like to thank the Trustees for honoring me by asking me to give this talk, I thank you most profusely I will mention names, if I have not mentioned your or your families names forgive me its not intentional, its impossible to do justice to all the names. And we ask Allah to reward all those who made this masjid the institution it is, over this 100 years in every way they have participated.  InshaAllah. In my preparation, I had the privilege of interviewing and speaking to the Trustees, Yusuf Ali – fondly calling Joe Long, who was the son in law of one of the first Imams of the Zeenatul Islam Masjid, Imam Ahmad Talabuddin 1942-1966 although there was a five year overlap with Sheikh Najaar. Its approximately 22 years. I also chatted Riyaad  Najaar the son of Sheikh Abubaker Najaar who was the imam of the Zeenatul Islam Masjid for 32 years from 1961 to 1993. We have the privilege of having Sheikh Muhammad Moerat who is with us today and has been Imam for 27 years. So from 1942 all the way to 2020 we have connectivity through these people that I spoke to, that is a very very big chunk approximately 78 years of the first 100 years. I had privilege of talking to very honorable dedicated historian, who has been very generous with providing me with facts which I have used in my speech – he has asked to remain anonymous. Thank you so much. I spoke to the Trustees, to my cousins, Attaulah, Yunis, my brother Shaheen, Nazeem, Adnan, and uncle Ismail Goodwood, and many others. I thank you all for your contribution. When the community including my grandfather arrived from Gujurat they reestablished their life’s in Cape Town around Muir Street and Chappel streets amongst others in District six. The elder members of our community where concerned that there wasn’t a masjid or place of prayer so in 1906 those concerned Muslims formed a Jamma Ghana at Number 3 Muir Street the home of my grandfather. They brought in Imam Ebrahim Hafajee, from Tankaria to lead the Salah. These were industrious people, these were hard working, they were religious, they were people who retained their values, who were happy to be Muslims, in the time of extreme change a time of the fall of the Ottoman khalifat, the time of World War One (WWI). These traders Alhamdulillah built this community, they integrated into the Cape Town community and integrated with other new immigrants from other parts of Gujurat and other places in India, what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan, Turkey, North Africa, Iraq and Arabia, amongst others. They were part of Cape Town Muslim Ummah. By 1919 the community expanded and there was a need for a masjid, South Africa and the world just exited from the Great War, the South African gold and diamond rush, attracted people from all other the world. On the 2nd of January 1919, 7 senior sincere, religious, members of our community, got together, they were: Adam Ebrahim; Umaji Ebrahim  – the father of Ahmed and the grandfather of Yunus Ebrahim; Muhammad Umar –  the father of Ebrahim Umar; Ismail Valley – also called six wheels; Ahmad Ismail – Picadelly; Umaji Ismail – the grandfather of the current chairperson of the masjid; Yunus and Valley Adam – the grandgrandfather of our current trustee Jameel; and community member Mehboob Adam, decided to build a masjid, the very next day at a community meeting they informed of their niyah to build the masjid, there was some opposition but they got the community support. In May 1919 they got travel permits, you could not travel from one part of South Africa to another if you are not European you needed a permit, two teams travelled north and east, one team led by Muhamed Umar and Ismail Valley; and other team led by Adam Ebrahim, together with local collections they collected 1,200 Pounds.

They employed the services of an estate agent and eventually in August 1919 they bought two houses on the corner of Muir and Chappel Street for a sum of 1,000 pounds sterling which at that time was enormous amount of money. These industrious people began the renovation and turned the two homes into a single building, and they had an exterior minaret and alhamdulialh all praises are due to Allah swt on the 2nd of January 1920 this first jummah, was led by Sheikh Abdulrahim al Iraqi, this Zeenatul Islam Masjid, fondly called Muir Street Masjid, fondly as the Kanamia Masjid followed the Ahla as Sunnah Al Jammah and the Hanafi Madahab from the time of 1906 in the Jama Hana through building one that was inaugurated on the 2nd Jan of 1920 the salah has been established, and has been performed by our community ever since. Then the community expanded and by 1937 the building was too small, they had acquired two additional properties one in Muir Street and one in Johnson Street, and in 1937 they demolished the old Masjid. On the 15th April 1938 Yusuf Patel called the Athan from the minaret, the first khutba was given at the second building of the Zeenatul Islam Masjid, this new 3 story building where the basement had a madresa and ladies facilities, in the morning the Muir street primary school used the facilities, the ground floor was the male salah facilities, additional property acquired in Muir street housed the imams of the Masjid.The new Zeenatul Islam Masjid, 480m2 of Salah facilities in 1938 was the largest masjid in South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The Minaret was 22.86m high, it was lit at night and the glow could be seen from far away.8,000 Pounds was collected, to do the second masjid building and fund the Waqf, which owned houses in Johnson Street, Russel, Princess Street, in district six, and Main Road Newlands.  We had a number of long standing imam that officiated the building one and building two, 1938 Sheik Abdul Rahim al IRaqhi, 1942 Shiekh Ahmad Talabuddin, 1961 Sheikh Abubaker Najar, 1993 Sheikh Mohamed Moerat. This was the period of extreme uncertainly in the world in 1939 – 1945 World War Two (WWII), in 1948 the nationalist took over with the brand of extreme apartheid 1960 this Masjid hosted, very famous Muslims like Abdulbasit and Fazlu Rahman Ansari. The elder members of our community played an active role in building two, in the late 30’s up to 1950 some younger members became prominent, I will just mention a few Musa Goder, Essa Ali of CapeFruit, Muhamed Fisher – Sheikh Nazeems father, Ismail Driver. In the 1960 they were joined by Umaji Natha, Ebrahim Bardeen Moosa, Bhai Essa, Valley Shorty. In 1963 in Tankaria, India a second Zeenatul Islam Masjid Tankaria was completed with Umarjee Ebrahim, Ahmad Palmolive and the Bhutta family being prominent. Today their building 2 is in final phases of completion. If you would like to contribute please let me know. In the 70’s and 80’s Siloo and Mahmud, Valley, Gulam Muhamad, Agie B.Alie, Gulam Moosa, Yusuf long Ali, Abie Adams, these people keep the flag of our community flying brightly and high, they faced many many challenges due to the onset of the apartheid. Apartheid a severe form of oppression based on race, dispossessed anybody who was not European of their homes, their livelihoods their communities and their places of worship.In the early 60s municipal values were frozen which are very low compared to market values, were frozen at very low level and the last houses, were demolished in the late 70s with a huge dislocation and theft of wealth from our community the Zeenatul Islam Masjid waqf lost its houses, in District 6, Walmer Estate and Newlands. Our community was moved to the cape flats, we were privileged that we moved up the hill to the Walmer estate, this community and this masjid the Zeenatul Islam Masjid was at the forefront of the resistance againts apartheid, many marches started at the Zeenatul Islam Masjid many meeting were held and many speeches were heard, our community, our people and our leaders, held their heads high in the fight against oppression. What was interesting is that by the late 70s all the way through to the early 90s even the Board of trustee meeting were not held in the masjid not in district six, but were held most often in the Habibiah masjid in Raylands, these were difficult days but after difficulty comes ease. By the early 2000 it was decided to rebuild the Zeenatul Islam Masjid so as to extend the masjid, add additional facilities. So the trustees some of them who still serve today, led by the chairperson at the time late Ebrahim Ahmad, and late Yusuf Musa collected approximately 12 million Rand to build the Masjid, the turning of the sod happened on the 29th April 2005, many of us remember, many of us were there, I had the privilege of being there, with the first jummah on 15th May 2010. This expanded masjid building 3 of the Zeenatul Islam Masjid has served our community today.We have people coming to South Africa post apartheit from all over Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, they come from the middle  east, they come from the far east, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, we welcome them, we encourage them to form part of our community to integrate into the Cape Town Muslim ummah, to integrate into the Cape Town society, into the South African society like our forefathers did, we welcome you and we support you and in your darkest days with xenophobia we are behind you, and you can count on us inshaAllah like we hope to count on you in our time of difficulty.We wish the current trustee Yunus Ismail, Shaheen Ebrahim, Ataullah Ebrahim, Zaid Adam, Zunaid Natha, Abdulaziz Valley, Jameel Adam  and Husain Muhammad, we wish them wisdom, we wish them unity, we wish them the vision, the commitment and the support of the community to ensure they fulfil the amannah that was given to them.Sheikh Mohamed Moerat spoke about the imams, about the muathems, the masjid ran madresa’s from the beginning till now, some of the famous teachers included Kajee Saab, Ismail Myet, Adam Peer Bhaai and currently Yunus Essop, we mention that in building 1 and 2 the Muir street primary school used the basement.The Zeenatul Islam Masjid brigade lead communities to the green point track for moulud, our community has had many strong leaders, committed leaders that has made us proud historically and inshaAllah into the future. Most of them have been mentioned, Sheikh Nazeem Mohamed became president of the MJC, some of the medical professionals, the first doctor of our community, Dr Mohammad Ebrahim served the community.

The community had sportsman, like Shekh Goder exceled in soccer and cricket, the Abed Brothers in cricket and rugby, Riyad Najaah Cricket and rugby, Murti Najr crickets. The Kismet cricket team the predecessor of Montroses – the Ali brothers and Hamza managed them. There were many people who served this community Haji Musa Ismail, Boeta Maan Ebrahim, our MCs father, Yusuf Adam and their family have been recording the imams of this Masjid, and have served this Masjid. There have been many other colorful characters like Mugerim, Maanjie, and Terry Mulboet announcer of Jannazah. In the 1940’s was the beginning of fitra parcels. To the trustees our forefathers left their place of birth to find a new home in Cape Town, built a community. Integrated with other new immigrants from northern India, the Patans (the Khans, Guls, Khairullah, Hamzah), the Turks (the Abeds), and Arabs, they integrated into South African society.To the current trustee and all future trustees remember your amannah is to protect this masjid to protect its values it’s the house of Allah to ensure that it’s the center of our community and it is a safe haven for the oppressed and that the athan, salah and the madressas continue till the end of time InshAllah.

Today and in the future, the oppression has taken the form of been anti-religion especially Islam. Today Muslim are persecuted for saying La Illaha Illal Laha Muhammadu Rassullulah. In Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan there are Persian persecutors, the Uygurs are persecuted by the Han Chinese, in Indian 200 milion Muslims are persecuted by hindu nationalist, in Cape Town beware, they have started with an assault of athan.I would like to thank the trustees and all those who generously provided me with information and facts so that I could talk today, if I have not mentioned your name forgive me it was not intentional and we ask Allah to protect this masjid, our masjid, the Zeenatul Islam Masjid, the Muir Street  Masjid, the Kanamia masjid, May it be a source of unity for  our ummah may it be a light for our ummah may it be a place for the oppressed may it a place of peace, may it be a place of tranquility, may it be a place of learning, may it be a place of ibadah, InshaAllah.

AssalamuAleikumWaRahmatulahi Wa Barakatuh

Adam Islam Ebrahim, the Son of Ismail Adam Ebrahim the Son of Adam Ebrahim Abhli originally from village “TANKARIA”. 26th January 2020 | Cape Town, South Africa. Zeenatul Islamic Masjid (Muir Street masjid and Kanamia Masjid).

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