Cape Muslims & Habib Umar brief history
The Cape Muslim community has progressed rapidly over the past three centuries. It is a diaspora that has managed to achieve what most others have not: hundreds of Halal meat-markets and restaurants throughout the city; independent Islamic banks and Islamic window services within conventional banks; Muslim radio stations, television channels, magazines, newspapers; Islamic institutes and colleges that attracts students from around the globe; and over a hundred masjids. All of this and we are a mere 3% of the country’s population.
The question is from where does it all begin and how?
Sh. Yusuf from Macassar, the founder of Islam in the Cape, was a leading scholar, spiritual leader, resistance fighter and scrupulous devotee. After benefitting from the leading scholars of Indonesia, Sh. Yusuf traveled through Yemen to the holy lands of Makkah and Medinah. He benefited from the luminaries of the two sacred sanctuaries, specifically the great Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Hasan al-Kurdi al-Kurānī. It was there where Sh. Yusuf was initiated in the Khalwati order and received the title “Tāj al-khalwatiyyah” – or the Crown of the Khalwatiyyah. However, it is Sh. Yusuf’s journey through Yemen, Hadramout, that would possess far reaching effects on the Cape Muslim community.
The Hadramout valley in Yemen is home to probably the largest branch of the Prophetic household, the
Ba‘alawiyyah. Bā in the Yemeni dialect refers to banī or banū, the sons of ‘alawiyy, who was the grandson of al-Imām al-Muhājir Ahmad bin ‘Isā, the 7th generation grandson of the Our Master, Muhammad sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam. The great Shaykh Yusuf an-Nabhani said in his work, Riyād al-Jannah, “The different generations of the Ummah of Muhammad sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam are unanimous that the Bā‘alawiyy family has the most authentic lineage to the Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam; they are most knowledgeable; the greatest devotees; the most virtuous; …. As for the great scholars and chosen Awliyā of the family, they are the people of illumination and spiritual secrets in the present and past. They are greater in number and radiance than the stars in the sky. Those who follow them are guided through their blessing… All of this is on account of the blessing of their grandfather sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam.”
Imam AbduLlah ibn Alawi al-Haddad, the composer of the famous Ratib al-Haddād – better known locally as “Ratiepul Gaddat” – is one of the luminaries of the family. It was long believed that while Sh. Yusuf from Macassar travelled through Yemen, he met with Imam Haddād, studied under him and received initiation in the Bā‘alwiyy order from him. This belief was later supported when our teacher, Ml. Taha Karaan, shared with me an interesting quote from the an-Nafa’is al-Alawiyyah, where Imam al-Haddād mentions the name of one of his students, Yusuf from Java.
After a life filled with sacrifice and devotion to the cause of Allah, Sh. Yusuf eventually surrendered to the colonizing Duch East Indian Company, against whom he was leading the jihad. They expelled him to the island of Sarandīb, later known as Ceylon, for ten years, and thereafter to the Cape. And thus the first seeds of Islam were planted in the Cape, “Perhaps,” says Allah, “You dislike something and Allah has placed in it much good.” Despite Sh. Yusuf’s influence by various orders and teachers, it is clear that the practices that he and others of the early settlers implemented in the Cape were those of the Bā‘alawiyyah. Specific in this regard were the litanies of his teacher, Imam AbduLlah ibn Alawi al-Haddād. The prevalence of the Rātib al- Haddād and his morning and evening devotions, al-Wird al-Latīf, bears testimony to this. In addition, many of the established practices stem from that particular family. To mention a few: the dua after the tarāwīh salah; the three recitations of Surah Yāsīn on the eve of ruwa or laylah nisf min sha‘bān; and the recitation of the Mawlid Sharaf al-Anam which could easily be considered the official mawlid of Hadramout, among other practices.
Some of our senior scholars such as Ml. Yusuf Karaan have emphatically stated that it was these litanies and practices – that of the Bā‘alawiyy family specifically – that kept the Muslim community intact and Islam alive.
Cape Town is indeed blessed that one of the saints of the Bā‘alawiyy family, al-Habib Umar bin Muhammad bin Salim bin Hafiz, will be visiting our shores on a 3-day spiritual outreach program from the 12th to the 15th of April. Habib Umar comes from Tarim, Hadramout, and is a direct descendant of Rasulullah sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam. He is also the founder and rector of Dar al-Mustafa, a world-renowned seminary for traditional Islamic education. Habib is considered the leader of the Ba’alawiyy order, and the Imam Haddad of our time.
Habib Umar is an international dignitary, and addresses Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He conducts annual spiritual tours that have taken him from Australia in the east to the USA and Canada in the west. He now comes to the southernmost tip of Africa.
We pray that the Cape community draws utmost benefit from, we are proud to say, one of their own spiritual fathers.
Moulana Abdurragmaan Khan ~ Founder and director Dar al Turath al-Islami, in Athlone and senior lecturer at dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah. he is alos co-ordinator of the forth coming South African tour of Habib Umar
Page 22 – Mulsim Views – Reposted with permission by Author
<photo id=”1″ />