For the first time in the history of a democratic South Africa, a Muslim political party secured a seat in the National Assembly (NA). For this significant reason, the leader and founder of the Al Jama’ah party, Mr Ganief Hendricks, today decided to be sworn in using a replica of the first Quran that was ever written in South Africa.

Mr Hendricks said after the swearing in that for safekeeping the original Quran is currently housed in Awul Mosque in Bo-Kaap, the first mosque in South Africa. The “Quran 1794 Tuan Guru” was written by hand by Tuan Guru whilst he was incarcerated in chains on Robben Island over 250 years ago. Tuan Gura was originally from Malaysia and arrived in South Africa as a slave.

This morning, dressed in a mustard-colour shirt of Malaysian origin and fez on the head, Mr Hendricks took the oath of office in the NA with the replica of that Quran which he had brought with him especially for this occasion.

Tuan Guru was freed years later from Robben Island and the same hand-written Quran was used to pen other copies of the Quran, as none existed in South Africa prior to that. The slaves before Tuan Guru all recited the Quran from memory.

“Over 325 years ago, many Malays came from what is now known as Indonesia. They brought Islam with them. This included one of the better known early Muslims to the country, Sheikh Yusuf. Years after he died many more Malaysians, including Tuan Guru came to South Africa. These Malaysian fled persecution from their colonial masters as they fought for their liberation,” Mr Hendricks explained.

Mr Hendricks said that after Tuan Guru’s release from Robben Island, his hand written Quran was kept in a safe place. “Today I brought a replica along. This is a sign that the values of our party are based on the principles of Quran. We want to share our deen (religion) with fellow law makers. We are not trying to push a religion, rather a way of life guided by the values of Islam.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), I read passages of the original that is housed in the Awul Mosque. But for obvious reasons it is not preferred to travel with such an old relic as anything could have happened to it. So, the leaders of the mosque gave me a copy. It is significant because these Malaysian freedom fighters that came here over 325 years ago, are the real liberation struggle heroes. They fought colonialism then already. They would have been proud to see a Muslim Party taking up a seat in the national legislature.”

Rajaa Azzakani

22 May 2019