Home Featured Awqaf SA commissions ‘Leaders and Legacies’ project

Awqaf SA commissions ‘Leaders and Legacies’ project

by Zahid Jadwat

NPO Awqaf SA has launched an educational empowerment project called ‘Leaders and Legacies’. Several books will be commissioned to shed light on the lives of historical leaders.

“Awqaf South Africa is an institution that promotes waqf, and part of this idea of waqf – the primary objective – is empowerment, legacy building. Part of that would be collaborating internationally to try and keep the legacy of education and dawah very much strong in our Islamic communities,” said Shahista Thokan, the COO of the organisation.

Awqaf South Africa has commissioned writings of biographies of various leaders as well as their stories, which they bring to the fore in the form of Book launches.

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Book launch

The first of these biographies, Evaluating Shaykh Yusuf Al-Makassari and Imam Abdullah Tidore’s ideational teaching, will be launched virtually on Saturday (23 July).

The launch programme will include remarks by high-level diplomats and deliberations by a panel of experts. Among them would be the former Indonesian Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Salman Al Farisi, and Director General of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), H.E. Zane Dangor. The panellists include Prof. Suleman Dangor and Shafiq Morton.

Thokan explained that the guests were specifically chosen to maximise the impact of the launch.

“The purpose of the collaboration was to maximize the exposure of the book launch, utilising the networks and the connections between Awqaf South Africa as well as the Indonesian government. Each side then contributes with the aim of this publication reaching the intended communities,” said Thokan.

“Naturally, we would need representatives of both sides – South Africa as well as Indonesia as guests to actually deliberate, review [and] speak on the topic. These speakers were then hand-picked for their expertise, knowledge, their experience in Islamic culture, their passion for the heritage and the formation of Islam,” she said.

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Shaykh Yusuf (1626-99) and Imam Abdullah Tidore (1712-1807) were the founders of Islam in South Africa. Various contributors authored the book on their respective legacies, which the Indonesian Embassy in South Africa will publish.

In 1693, Sh. Yusuf was exiled to the Cape of Good Hope. He then went on to establish Islam in the Cape. Together with his two wives, Yusuf was housed on the farm Zandvliet. The remote location was meant to minimise his influence on the Dutch East India Company’s (DEIC) slaves.

However, Yusuf’s settlement soon became a sanctuary for slaves, forming the first cohesive Islamic community in South Africa. His influence remains entrenched in South African Muslim society, especially in the Cape.

Tidore, also known as Tuan Guru, is well-known for writing the first copy of the Qur’an in South Africa entirely from memory. He founded the country’s first madrasa and wrote several treatises on Islamic Law.

“The book was [written] to reanimate the role of Sheikh Yusuf and Tuan Guru, and their impacts on the South African community, which ultimately helped with the enhancement of bilateral relations between South Africa and Indonesia. It’s the perspective of these leaders and how they contributed to growing Islam,” said Thokan.

“It’s something that’s going to be sustained in the long term and not just the relief work. I think that’s so important for the next generation of Muslims coming forward; to understand our different elements of Islam,” she said.

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