Naqshbandi in the Cape Townships:
In the history of South Africa, the political system of apartheid segregated people on the basis of race and ethnicity. In Cape Town, this greatly hampered the spread of Islam to the local African people.
The majority of Cape Town’s Muslims generally reside in the city’s suburbs, while most of the African population is housed in relative poverty in townships on the outskirts of Cape Town. At one time it was illegal to enter the townships. Today many people do not go there because of bad attitudes towards and fear of the “Blacks”.
In October 2000, the embers of Islamic spirituality in Cape Town were set ablaze by the maiden visit to the city by the great spiritual luminary, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil Al-Haqqani, the 40th Grandshaykh of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. For three weeks, local mureeds of the great Shaykh reveled in his company, and before his departure, he instructed them to further the spread of Islam in the local African townships.
In 2003, one of the local Naqshbandi mureeds, Abdurrashied Davids, went to visit Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, who was instructed to spread the Naqshbandi Dhikr among the African population. On his return to Cape Town, Abdurrashied conveyed the directive to the Shaykh Yusuf da Costa who is the local khalifah of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim. At the beginning of 2004 the local Naqshbandi mureeds started a program of interaction with some of the Muslims in the local townships. The main intention was to bridge the gap between the broader Islamic community and the township community through the remembrance of ALLAH (SWT).
Every Sunday morning, some of the mureeds go to a different venue in the townships to do the Khatmul-Khawajagan Dhikr, after which lunch is served by the mureeds and all eat together. On Friday evenings, Muslims from the townships are transported by taxis to attend the group Khatmul Khawajagaan Dhikr in a suburban mosque. Local mureeds hold regular fundraising events to sponsor the taxis and food. As part of the 1424 Eid-al-Adha celebrations, a group of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim’s mureeds performed a Qurbani ceremony in the Delft Township and distributed the meat among the local residents.
The Naqshbandi ladies group, An-Nisa, also started offering classes to reverts in the townships at the request of the local community, teaching basic Islam to the township ladies. At one of the township “centres”, an educare was also started to assist the local ladies.
At the same time, the mureeds have started assisting in the upgrading of some of the dilapidated buildings used as Islamic “centres” in the townships. These venues provide a place to pray, teach, eat and make dhikr. This upgrading included the construction of proper ablution facilities, enabling men and women to have access to proper water facilities.
Alhamdu lillah, from these humble beginnings, the first fruits were borne when one of the local township imams, Imam Yusuf, as well as some ladies, took bay’ah into the Naqshbandi Tariqah. Two weeks later, a township man reverted to Islam after the weekly Khatmul Khawajagan Dhikr at the Pelican Park Masjid. The week after more young people came forward to recite the Kalimatush-Shahadah, and to become mureeds.
Due to the existing poverty, it also became necessary to economically empower township Muslims. In this regard, empowerment projects were initiated; with the assistance of the South African National Zakah Fund. Sewing and wood-working activities were kick-started. A sponsor was also found to fund the Islamic education of four young township Muslims. It is intended that these young adults would become future leaders of the township communities.
This piece is taken from the website of Naqshbandi Muhammadi SA.
See on-line at: http://naqshbandi.org.za/content.aspx?contentId=2