Ebrahim Jadwat – changing the Islamic Landscape in South Africa

Nation builder, Mr Ebrahim Jadwat in a rare interview featured on Radio Al-Ansar’s Friday night programme, 90 minutes expressed concern about the future of Muslims around the world.

He said that we are living in trouble times and that the onslaught on Muslims was at an unprecedented level. But he believes that a better future is in store for all human beings. His contributions spans close onto 50 years from hosting youth camps to leading anti-apartheid movements against the tyrannical National Party regime. Outspoken, daring and challenging the forces of darkness wherever he found them,  MrJadwat expressed love and concern for all oppressed people in the world. A commentator on international issues, he is also regarded as a dependable voice on Middle Eastern issues.

He played an important role in introducing Sheikh Ahmed Deedat to the Middle East and nominated him as a candidate for the prestigious King Faisal Prize.  Sheikh Deedat contributed to the struggle against high-powered Christian missionaries who attacked and tried to destroy the morale of Muslim community in South Africa.

Mr Jadwat has been an activist not only in the Muslim community but also in the greater struggle of the South African nation. He was one of three major founder members of the Muslim Youth Movement (MYM)which was launched on December 16, 1970 at the A I Kajee Memorial Hall and elected Adv Hafez Abu Bakr Mahomed as its first president.

EbrahimJadwat succeeded Abu Bakr Mahomed as President of the MYM and it was during his tenure in office, that he steered the organization on a collision course with the apartheid regime.

He was associated with getting leading Muslim scholars and leaders to visit South Africa, amongst them, MaulanaFazlur Rahman Ansari, Dr Ahmad Sakr and Dr Ahmed Totonjee. In a tribute to DrSakr, MrJadwat said: “The day DrSakr set foot in South Africa was the day the Islamic landscape changed for Muslims in this country.  He inspired a whole generation of people that went on to do big things. The MYM was fortunate to get someone in the calibre of Ahmed Sakr because, at the time, we were still groping in the dark. He came like a whirlwind and brought ideas that planted the seeds of many Islamic institutions that continue to flourish in the country, such as the South African National Zakaah Fund (SANZF), the Islamic Medical Association, Islamic banking, the youth leaderships groups such as the Muslim Student Association (MSA), camp projects, dawah movements, and so on. He was principally responsible of freeing Shaykh Ahmed Deedat from As-Salaam so he could go out and do worldwide Dawah work.

During his tenure MrJadwatformalised the establishment of a series of organisations like the South African Zakaat Fund, Al Qalam Newspaper, LajnatulAtibba, Jaame Limited, Islamic Da’wah Movement [IDM], Association of Muslim Accountants and Lawyers [AMAL], Islamic Relief Agency [ISRA]. “One of the issues we were confronted with, at the time, was the crisis of identity. During that era, Muslims in Natal and Transvaal referred to themselves as ‘Indians’, but DrSakr changed that by raising the Islamic banner with the slogan: “I am a Muslim first, Muslim last and Muslim forever”.

“That slogan reverberated throughout the four corners of the country. Being a person of Muslim Brotherhood background (Ikhwaan), his message of justice and liberation came through loud and clear, culminating in the first Islamic leadership programme. It also led to Muslims – who had pursued a Marxist struggle ideology – to embrace an Islamic paradigm, which led to the formations of many powerful liberation struggle groups such as the United Democratic Front, Call of Islam and Qibla,” said Mr Jadwat.

The depth of his knowledge of the journey of Muslims in South Africa came to the fore when he commented on the death of respected scholar, Mr Abdullah Deedat: “In the early days, he played a significant role in the revival of Islam in South Africa. Up to the very end, Deedat (82) was a regular personality on Islamic radio stations and ITV, expounding the works of Allama Iqbal, the great scholar, writer and the chief motivator of the founding of Pakistan. Like his elder brother Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, Abdullah Deedat, shared a burning desire for the Noble Quran and recently appealed to all Muslims to read the Noble Quran with meaning and understanding. He also called for Muslim unity.

“Deedat was fluent in Arabic, Urdu, Persian and a gifted linguist in general. He was a stalwart in the earlier period of the revival of Islam in South Africa. Mr Deedat was sponsored by the Arabic Study Circle with three other colleagues to study at the famous Al Azhar University in Cairo.

“Upon their return, they established the Islamic Academy and I was one of the first students of this academy at the Anjuman School in Leopold Street. Thus began our introduction to the Quran. They embarked on translation projects including the teachings of the Hadith, Islamic History and the Arabic language.

“This was our journey on the remarkable introduction of an in-depth study of the deen. In the early days, Abdullah and his colleagues, the late Ismail Manjra, late EbrahimMahida and Yusuf Jacobs, formed the Al Mujadid group, which at times, challenged Ulama.” said MrJadwat.

Abdullah Deedat had a life-long love for the works of Allama Iqbal, also having being part of the Iqbal Study Group in Durban. Until recently, he held a weekly ITV programme on Allama Iqbal. He was passionate about awakening the Muslims to the deen of Islam, particularly the youth. “For those of us who associated with Murhoom Abdullah Deedat, his demise is a great loss to all those who love Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). Abdullah was passionate about the revival of Islam and dedicated himself to the very end to the cause. May Allah grant him the best in the Akhira,” he added.

Copies of MrJadwat’s interview on CD can be obtained from Radio Al-Ansar, West Road, Overport, and Durban. Farook Khan – 90 Minutes – Al-Ansrar – 16 March 2018.


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