Professor Najma Moosa launches her new book. Photo: UWC
Professor Najma Moosa launches her new book. Photo: UWC

UWC’s Prof Moosa launches book which fills the gaps of Muslim history in the Cape

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Nov 9, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - A professor at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has launched their new and fourth book which focuses on filling the gaps of Muslim history in the Cape.

Professor Najma Moosa, from UWC’s Law Faculty has been in academia for more than 30 years and her latest book’s theme is centred on the persistence and bravery of two Muslim woman, wives of political exiles in their persistence to petition the Dutch for repatriation from the Cape more than 300 years ago.

The book is titled The mystery of the apostasy of Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar’s alleged grandchildren: the children of the Rajah of Tambora.

The book focuses on the accepted narrative that during the Dutch rule in the late 1600s when Yusuf and Rjah were exiled to the Cape from Indonesia, Rajah’s children converted to Christianity and married Christian spouses.

In her book, Moosa offers an alternative view on whether it was Yusuf’s grandchildren who converted to Christianity.

Shaykh Yusuf was an eminent Indonesian Islamic school and a pioneer of Islam in the colonial Cape.

Professor Najma Moosa launches her new book. Photo: UWC

Speaking about her book, Moosa said she stumbled upon the subject in an odd way when she was asked to present a paper to an international journal on religious freedom in the global south.

She said she could not find conclusive evidence to support the view that Rajah was married to Shaykh Yusuf’s daughter.

“I also realised that not much has been written about the history of the Cape Muslim community.

“The Dutch did not keep detailed records of the lives of political exiles and their families.

“I therefore decided to write my own book to fill what I found to be a gap in Cape Muslim history,” Moosa said.

The professor, who is a National Research Foundation rated researcher, did research this resulted in the revelation of the tenancy of the wives of Shaykh Yusuf and Rajah who petitions to the governors were recorded by the Council of Policy, the Dutch East India Company’s highest authority at the Cape, and these formally documented resolutions carried great legal weight.

“This was more than 300 years ago. Cape Town women can learn much from their examples when it comes to standing up for their rights as Muslim women,” Moosa said.

But, while her book may be launched, she is not just letting time pass her by and she is already working on her next book which will focus on the substantive aspects of Muslim personal law.

All proceeds made from the sale of the book will go towards students and the community.

To purchase a book contact Shaykh Shahid Esau on [email protected] or find it online at Clarke’s Bookshop.

[email protected]


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