Islam was brought to Southern Africa on a slave ship bound for the seaside city of Cape Town, the first Qu’ran being ‘carried’ and written entirely from memory.
While allowed, the religion was practiced with difficulty as muslims suffered from the oppressions of colonialism, slavery, white minority rule and the apartheid regime. Since then, and with recent global geo-politics, forced and voluntary migrations, it has flourished with every Muslim person who came to South Africa, on journeys of heartache or fear, sometimes excitement; holding onto prayers.
There is something to be said about this intangible phenomenon and its people, and the threads which bind them together.
Faith is one of these threads that reach from the depths of the soul to the frontiers of the physical, the individual to the communal. Faith lengthens and transcends borders and is a force which keeps people together, (re)creates and shapes communities as they attempt to re-establish home in a new place.
It has many influences and diverse ways of cultural practice and accents. The practices are often a replication of origins or an amalgamation of a home left behind and a new land that sometimes dictates an adjusted way of observance and worship.
South Africa is a developing country and it has become a haven or a last hope for those who have chosen to leave or who have lost their homes; for many, prayer and observance, together and in solitude, becomes the embodiment of connectedness, rootedness and reminiscence.