The First Maktab in South Africa – 1793
On the 06 April 1780, a prince by the name of Imaam Abdullah ibnul Qadhi, famously known as Tuan Guru was brought to the Cape of Good Hope as a prisoner of the Dutch. He was imprisoned at Robbin Island for fighting against the Dutch Rule in Indonesia. He hailed from Tidore in the Ternate Islands of Indonesia. His lineage traces up to Sayyidinah Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
In prison he wrote a few copies of the Qur-aan Shareef from memory and also authored a book called “Ma’rifatul Islam wal Imaan”, a book on Islamic Fiqh and Aqaaid. This shows the calibre of a Haafiz and an Aalim he was.
After spending 13 years in prison, he was released in the year 1793. He then went to live in Dorp Street, Cape Town.
Imaam Abdullah’s first concern when he was released was the establishment of a Madrasah and the building of a Masjid. He immediately established a Madrasah in a warehouse in Dorp Street which was the very first maktab established in South Africa. There were no specific teaching times as he spent the entire day teaching adults and children. This Maktab / Madrasah became the means of establishing Islam in South Africa as well as spreading Deen throughout our country.
It was for this reason that he gained the title “Tuan Guru” which means “Mister Teacher” in the Indonesian language.
In the year 1794 the government gave some allowance to the Muslims to build a masjid. Tuan Guru wasted no time and converted the Madrasah into a Masjid which became famously known as the Awwal Masjid, the very first masjid established in South Africa.
This Masjid is still standing in Bo-Kaap and a copy of the Qur-aan Shareef which was written by Tuan Guru in the prison of Robbin Island is still preserved in this Masjid.
Ta’limi Board (KZN)