Emerging and Challenging Voices in the House of Islam South Africa’s “African” Muslims

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Muhammed Haron



South African Islam has always been associated with the Cape Malay and Indian communities throughout the twentieth century. As a consequence, Islam as a religious tradition was seldom associated with other ethnic groups. Toward the end of apartheid and during the era of democracy there has been tangible evidence of its growth among African ethnic communities. This essay, which looks at this phenomenon from roughly 1961-2001, reflects upon South African Muslims’ demographics with special focus on the African Muslim communities and analyzes the position of African Muslims alongside their coreligionists by concentrating on randomly selected case studies. I seek to demonstrate how certain representatives from the selected communities, via internal developments and external influences, have had significant input in terms of changing the face of Islam in southern Africa. The essay is prefaced by a theoretical frame designed to assist in understanding the development of an African Muslim identity and the emergence of an African Muslim community.

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