A gathering of Lahore Ahmadis in Cape Town,
Go to this link for photographs
relating to the South Africa Ahmadiyya court case from 1985.
Islam and the Ahmadiyya
Movement in South Africa
Speech at North
American Convention, Columbus, Ohio, August 1995
by Ibrahim Muhammed, Cape
(From The Light & Islamic Review,
Volume 72, No. 5, September-October 1995, pages 11-12, 14)
Ahmadiyya Movement in Cape Town
from Ulama /
Honourable hosts, distinguished guests, my dear
brothers and sisters. As-salamu alaikum!
My name is Ibrahim Muhammed and I am a senior member of the Ahmadiyya
Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) South Africa.
I come from a country that has been much in the news recently because
of the significant political changes that have taken place there.
After years of racial discrimination and oppression, we have now
witnessed, to the astonishment of a world filled with strife and
violence, a relatively peaceful shift of government from the white
oppressor to the oppressed. I say relatively peaceful because I
think most people throughout the world expected a blood bath from
Nelson Mandela once he had come to power to avenge his twenty years
incarceration at the hands of his defeated opponents.
But, sensible leadership embodying self-sacrifice, compromises,
reconciliation, dialogue, a strong and sincere will for mutual cooperation
with the erstwhile enemy -- all in the broader interest of peace
in the country -- has been the hallmark of his leadership style
But political freedom without the backing of a strong moral, ethical
and spiritual force to sustain it, is no guarantee that a new society
of high moral and ethical fibre -- free from the corruptions of
the past, will evolve out of the dust of this political victory
in our country. There is much talk of 'nation building' in South
Africa, but again without a strong moral force -- which only true
religion can provide -- there can be no nation building. Historically,
it is not uncommon to find that a people who had been victims of
some or other political oppression, had turned into the worst perpetrators
of human rights once they themselves have gained sovereignty. Pakistan,
no doubt, is a prime example of this.
Unfortunately, religions of almost all persuasions in my country
are in a sad state. The Church, symbol of the national religion,
has no balm of life to give. She has lost her soul and her Christ.
The Muslims, supposed to be the best nation on earth and the forerunners
of religious tolerance, are even more worse off. Though a minority
group in South Africa, their position is worsened in that over the
years they have allowed themselves to degenerate into a blind Mullah
following society. And sadly to say, the so-called intelligent ones
and intellectuals who are often aware of this sad state seldom raise
their voices against Mullah corruption except in matters concerning
their own personal interests.
Movement in Cape Town
The only community who often dare speak out and are often punished
for it, is a handful of Ahmadis of the Lahore Jamaat. Even Qadianis
play a very passive role when it comes to tackling Mullah tyranny.
I have on record a statement made very recently by a spokesman for
the M.J.C. clerical body in Cape Town to the effect that "Qadianis
give us no problems because they say they are Ahmadis and have their
own temple, but not so the Ahmadis of the A.A.I.I. Lahore because
though they are Ahmadi, they insist on calling themselves Muslims."
Glory be to Allah, did not our Holy Prophet say that the best jihad
is to speak out against tyranny.
Strange though it may seem, the very seeds of Ahmadiyyat were sown
by the very body of people that oppose us today, viz. the Muslim
clergy of South Africa. It was as far back as approximately 1926
that they invited the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din to come and speak
in the Cape Town Civic Hall when he and Lord Headley visited South
Africa at the invitation of some businessmen from Durban, Natal.
They had much respect and praises for him and frequently published
his articles and that of M.M. Ali in their local newspaper, the
It was only some years later that the first Ahmadiyya Movement
was formally established by my late uncle Mr. Dawood Sydow. The
organization was then known as The Mediator Islamic Association
and was affiliated to the Central Anjuman in Lahore. A regular monthly
magazine was published and Mr. Sydow kept the flag of Ahmadiyyat
flying high with inspiring lectures, extensive debates with missionaries,
maulvis, scholars of religion and just about all seekers of the
truth from all walks of life. He also wrote some booklets in defence
of the truth, several pamphlets and articles for The Light and
spent a number of years in Lahore during the sixties. His remarkable
achievements stem from the fact that he only had a standard two
education. He would often, however, in a light-hearted manner boast
that when he joined Ahmadiyyat, he in fact became a student at the
'University of Muhammad'.
As a result of chronic asthma, he was forced to retire from public
life somewhat prematurely and in October 1979 he breathed his last.
May Allah shower his Mercy on his soul!
In 1980/81 Maulana Jaggoe from Holland visited our country. He
urged us to change our name to the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam
(Lahore) South Africa, which we subsequently did. He also urged
us to acquire our own premises for a Centre. On his departure, we
immediately set in motion plans for raising funds for a Centre.
We applied for a welfare number to allow us to raise public funds
on a large scale. As required by law, we advertised our application
in two local newspapers. When this news of our intentions reached
the Maulvis, they became so incensed that they started on a full
scale, what they called, 'jihad' against our Jamaat. Every mosque
under their control was given instructions to preach against Ahmadis.
Many pamphlets depicting Hazrat Mirza Sahib in the most vile way
were widely distributed throughout the Province. Those politically
motivated amongst them made such baseless allegations that we were
abetting the apartheid regime in order to incite the public against
us. A committee of ten was appointed by them to conduct a witch
hunt and hound out Ahmadis.
At that time, to say that our membership was 100 would have been
an exaggeration. We were but a small inexperienced group and we
feared for our safety. In June 1982, after much deliberation, we
applied to the Court for an interdict to restrain our opponents
and stop their vicious attacks on our Jamaat. This was the beginning
of a long drawn-out litigation, the result of which is two Supreme
Court judgments in our favour wherein our opponents have been found
guilty of defamation of the worst kind. These two judgments in our
favour are, of course, due to the excellent evidence led by the
late Hafiz Sher Muhammad of blessed memory as also the assistance
of our brothers and sisters from as far afield as London, U.S.A.,
Canada, Fiji, Holland etc. After the second judgment, however, our
opponents lodged an appeal which was granted and will be heard on
about the 23rd of this month.
I earnestly appeal to everyone to pray for its successful outcome
and that the matter which has now lasted nearly thirteen years,
reach a fitting finality.
Despite the legal wrangling, I pray for the day when we could reach
an understanding with our co-religionists to forget our petty differences
and work together in propagating Islam in our country; because the
hand of man can find no nobler work under the sun than Isha'at
Islam (promulgation of Islam). You do not give others one good
word, one true word, one righteous word, but as the day follows
the night it recoils on you and imbues you with the same good, the
same truth, the same righteousness multiplied manifold.
With the upliftment of the once deprived nations of our country,
I see that the time is now ripe to have the Quran translated in
their languages. I have identified three languages, viz. Xhosa,
Zulu and Tswana. I have already had fruitful discussions about this
need with the authorities in charge of the Quran translations. I
also feel that we should spread our propagating network to embrace
our nearest neighbours such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Swaziland,
Botswana and Mozambique, and if the need for Quran translations
in those countries exists, recommendations for addressing those
needs will be made by us. The acquisition of literature and of a
Centre for Jamaat activities are a definite high on our agenda and
we welcome the support of all jamaats to assist us in our efforts
in whatever possible way they can.
Finally, to the hosts of this convention, for your generosity and
hospitality, on behalf of the brothers and sisters in South Africa,
I thank you all and may Allah bless and reward you.