HOW AFOSA STARTED?
Islam was brought to South Africa by political exiles from South East Asia where they had been waging battles against European colonisation. Then the Muslim immigrants from India joined them. This established Muslim community who were predominantly Shafi or Hanafi, over the years became a very strong and influential part of broader South African society.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran planted the initial seed of shi’aism in this region. There were those Muslims and non-Muslims who identified themselves with the Islamic Revolution, not only within a political context but also with its ideological status. This started off with whatever material they could find on the subject from what ever sources. Shi’a institutes in East Africa, Pakistan, Iran and USA played an important role in re enforcing the belief in Ahlul Bait (a.s.), but more importantly provided the argument to convince others thereby slowly swelling the ranks of newborn shi’a community across the country.
This thirst had grown and there were requests for a Shi’a ‘Alim to come and lay a solid foundation of Shi’aism. This request was met, and a Shi’a ‘Alim ( Sayed Aftab Haider) came to settle in South Africa for this express purpose. This in itself served to bring together various scattered Shi’a groupings throughout the country under one umbrella, the Ahlul Bait (A.S) Foundation of South Africa (AFOSA).
AFOSA (AHLUL BAIT AS FOUNDATION OF SOUTH AFRICA)
AFOSA was established in 1991 to serve as umbrella body and spokesperson for shi’a and their rights on various levels nationally and internationally. Jamaats, groups and organisations affiliated receive the principle guidance, support and direction from the mother body but at the same time they are independent in management and running of their affairs and activities.
The Ahlul Bait trust is registered wing of AFOSA, which manages finances, and all assets of shi’a communities in the country.
WESTEREN REG ION
A – CAPE TOWN AREA
In Cape Town the Shi’a community consists of different individuals and groups started their activities and religious programmes from their homes and occasionally from Sunni mosques. Sometimes they held their programmes in a small center in Guguletu, which belongs to a Shi’a group by the name of Al-Jihad. The Shi’a community gradually started to swell and bigger premises were needed for their programmes. They moved to a rented office but became too small after a few years and eventually they moved to their own premises, which was originally a church. It was changed into Ahlul Bait Islamic Centre, which consists of a mosque, library and other offices. This premises also serves as Afosa’s national head office. Plans for development of this centre are in process.
B – PHILLIPPI AND MBEKWENI AREA
In 1997 an I slamic Center was built in Phillippi under the auspicious of Afosa, which serves also as a madressah for the local black community in that township. In the same year Afosa bought another property in Mbekweni (Paarl) and established Fatima Azzahra Center of Mbkweni, which also serves as a mosque as well as madressa for children in the area.
A – JOHANNESBURG AND PRETORIA
Gauteng is the financial capital and business hub of the country. Here also the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) started in conjunction with other regions mainly amongst the indigenous people in the African townships. During the early years activities started in homes and garages of the brothers except in some areas where they made use of temporary premises. Over the years these communities had grown bigger in size and developed. At this moment there is a medium size Center (A l Abbas-mosque and Madressa ) in the process of establishment in Garankuwa Township near Pretoria.
A huge plot has been purchased in Kwa Thema, near springs for the purpose of the establishment of Al MuStafa Islamic Complex. In Katlehong the community is making use of a scout center, which they are leasing, from the locl council. At a later stage even amongst the Indian communities, small groups of people found the truth in the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s.). They started their activities in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas from their homes. They are also in dire need of appropriate premises for their programmes and maddressah.
In recent years a number of Pakistani Shia youth and some khoja families migrated from African countries and settled in the main Johannesburg Area. This new Shia group along with Lebanese and Iranian migrants are presently renting a building for their religious programmes in Muharram and Ramadan. Plans for the purchase of new suitable premises are in the pipeline for the near future.
A number of local and foreign Muballigeen are also working in the different areas of this region.
B – KROONSTAD
In 1998 as a result of the hard work of our local mubballigeen a small community of Muslims in African areas of Kroonstad became Shia. They do not have any center there but they are striving hard for growth of their community and planning for the establishment of a Mosque.
C – BLOEMFONTEIN
There also a few brothers mainly students accepted the school of Ahlul Bait (A.S.) came together and started activities in FORM OF A SMALL ISLAMIC GROUP FROM UNIVERSITY CAMPUS.
D – PIETERSBURG
Some students of the University of the North started a small Shia study circle. They use the prayer facilities of the University for their activities.
A – DURBAN
Here a small group of brothers met in the mid-80 by making use of their houses, civic centers as well as in libraries from where they conducted their classes. Alhamdulillah 1998, they could manage to establish Imam Husain (A.S) Mosque. In recent years they started working among the African people in the townships.
B – PORT ELIZABETH
In Motherwell a township area in Port Elizabeth a small group of brothers came in contact with Shia brothers of Gauteng and started their own jamaat. At the moment they share Mosque facilities with the Sunni brothers.
PUBLIC AWARENESS PROGRAMMES:
Beside traditional commemoration programmes organised by our Shia Communities on different occasions, AFOSA felt the need to introduce the rich history, culture and message to the broader society in a way that is relevant to the present situation. We mainly used two important occasions over the last decade to educate and enlighten the general public about Ahlul Bait (as).
|2. The Birthday of Lady Fatima Az- Zahra (as)||Over the years various seminars and conferences were being held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on the above topics. Gatherings were attended and addressed by a wide spectrum of the society, which includes Sunni Ulema, prominent political figures and social persons from different spheres of the society. These programmes helped a great deal in making the public aware of the Immaculate Ahlul Bait(a.s) and their message.|
|3. Imam Hussein (as) Programme||For the past seven years we have sought through this programme to introduce the name of Imam Husain (A.S) in the society. Previously, days of Muharram were exclusively dedicated to a time of celebration in line with Ummayad traditions. As a direct result of this programme and similar efforts, the face of this society has changed dramatically.|
Ideological Development Programme :
The purpose of this programme is to ensure:
- Ideological Islamic Upliftment of Shi’a community
- Promotion of school of Ahlul Bait (A.S)
The following programmes have been organised:
A) Evening classes on Aqaid, History, Fiqh, Ahlaaq
- The Centre and Jamaats.
- By Ulama, Mubaligeen or other capable brothers and sisters across the country.
B) Idealogical Classes
- Imam Jafer Sadiq Course-1997
- Introduction to basics of Islam and School of Ahlul Bait (A.S) 1998-1999
- Numerous other similar courses are being held in the regions on different occasions, like during school holidays and long weekends etc.
C ) Madrasatul Imam Husain (A.S)
This is the Islamic School (basic teachings), which runs across the country for children and youths in some areas weekly and others on a daily basis by Mubaligeen and capable brothers and sisters.
Following Madrassas are active:
- Ahlul Bait Centre (Ottery) Once a week, Saturdays .
- Bilal House (Garakuwa) Daily
- Al-Mustafa Centre (Kwa-thema) daily
- Ahlul Bait Centre (Phillipi) daily
- Ahlul Bait Centre (Mbekweni) daily
- Imam Husain Mosque (Durban) daily
D ) Ideological Training Camps:
- Numerous National Camps and gatherings were organised in 1993,1994,1995 &1998 with the participation of different brothers and sisters across the country. Besides these National Camps, number of regional training and development Camps were also organised.
|1993:||Paarl, Cape Town|
|1994:||Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal|
- Each of these camps were a major success in tying together all the threads of this movement nationally, allowing the membership to share ideas and assist one another through their difficulties. Basic Aqaid, Fiqh issues, and certain issues relevant to our society were dealt with. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient funds available to sustain such an activity.
All-important dates in the Islamic calendar such as Birthdays of Imams, Martyrdoms, etc (especially Muharram and Ramazan ) are paid reverence to by the Ahlul Bait community nation-wide. All followers converge in the various regions for these important events, to share in these experiences. They are usually marked by speeches and plays, which are prepared by members of the local community. The occasions are usually the means we have at our disposal to introduce the culture and teachings of the Ahlul Bait (a.s.).
INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE
The office receives and distributes relevant local and international information to all branches, endeavouring to keep the South African Shi’a community in contact and abreast with Shi’a worldwide. Another important function is that the office has become a central point for the dissemination of important information regarding Fiqhi issues, such as the sighting of the moon, Khums, marriage, etc
TRANSLATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS
Alhamdulillah, as a result of hard work of our brothers in Gauteng, Dua-e Kumail was translated into Zulu . It is printed in Arabic, English and Zulu, as well as attached transliteration.
One of the main functions of the office is to organise books and literature from different resources in the world and distribute among the people across the country for the purpose of propagation and teaching. We also published small booklets and notes about Islamic ideology and opinions like a book on Imam Husayn (A.S) and another book on Qur’an in Islam.
AL HUJJAT is our bi-monthly bulletin, which presents Shi’a opinion and defence accusations against us. It is in extremely importance project for us but unfortunately because of the lack of funds it is not in seculasion from last year. Two other Shi’a areas of Kwa-Thema and Katlehong have recently started publishing their local Islamic newsletters in English and Zulu, spreading the Message of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
A few other books on Aqaid and Fiqh are also being translated into indigenous languages and Insha’Allah will be printed in the near future.
SOCIAL WELFARE AND MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES
The following are some of the empowerment and welfare activities that the Foundation has embarked on in various areas:
- Sewing classes
- Computer training classes
- Matric students assistant classes
- Counselling of Marital problems
- Counselling for drug problems
- Co-operation with different development programmes from both governmental and non-government organisations.
- Working with other organisations and groups (Muslim and non Muslim) for the purpose of promotion of peace and harmony in the society like participation in Inter-Faith conferences and activities.
PARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS:
One of the highlights of 1999 was our participation in the World’s Parliament of the World’s Religions which were held in Cape Town, South Africa where the Foundation had two stalls. We exhibited mainly Shia literature. We also had the honour of having a few prominent Shia Alims from London, Lebanon, Iran etc attending who not only delivered speeches but also had informal discussions with numerous people of different faiths. Many questions were put to them and they had to explain a lot. Our Sunni brethren also had their questions answered concerning Shia’ism and their beliefs etc.
South African Broadcasting Corporation
Our brothers in Gauteng in the past years Alhamdulillah could manage to secure a few good slots on National TV occasionally like Muharram and International Muslim Women’s Day. We are also trying to acquire some regular slots on TV and Radio for propagation and presentation of the message for the broader society.
Brothers and sisters from the AFOSA jamaats of Kwa-Thema and Katlehong have also featured twice in TV slots allocated for different religions, and they have recently recorded again for the same TV programmes.
Two Islamic Radio Stations
We also have two Islamic Radio Stations operating in the Cape region with the huge listener ship of over 500,000 and the teachings of Ahlul Bait (A.S) has featured prominently on several occasions. We recognise this as an important medium for promoting the teachings and are trying to secure a regular slot for the Foundation.
Hajj and Ziyaraat Project
In October 1994 a Hajj Training Course was initiated to teach the Followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) the details of Hajj. The course had been videotaped, and the tapes were sent to the various regions as learning material. Since then numerous groups had gone for Hajj and Ziyaraat under the auspices of Afosa.
OUR PATRONS AND SUPPORTERS:
1. OFFICES OF THE HONOURABLE LEADERSHIP AND OTHER GRAND MARA’JE , ISLAMIC REPUBLIC
2. AHLUL BAIT WORLD ASSEMBLY, TEHRAN
3. WORLD FEDERATION OF KSIMC, LONDON
4. AFRICA FEDERATION OF KSIMC, DAR-ES-SALAAM
5. BILAL MUSLIM MISSION OF KENYA AND TANZANIA
6. WORLD AHLUL BAIT ISLAMIC LEAGUE, LONDON
7. IMAMIYA MEDICS INTERNATIONAL, USA
8. NASIMCO, TORONTO, CANADA
9. ANSARIAN PUBLICATIONS, QUM
10. MASJID IMAM HUSAYN (A.S.) KUWAIT
11. ISLAMIC SEMINARY OF PAKISTAN
12. INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ISLAMIC STUDIES, HOUZA- E- ELMIA, QUM
13. AND VARIOUS OTHER ANONYMOUS DONORS
May Allah reward them on account of Beloved Ahlul Bait (A.S).
This piece is taken from the website of the Ahlul Bait (as) Foundation of South Africa.
See on-line at: http://www.afosa.org/Aboutus1.php