On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X
Tydskr. letterkd. vol.45 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2008
Suleman Essop Dangor
Suleman Essop Dangor is Professor of Islamic Studies, School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuan Guru - the first official imam at the Cape - used Malayu as the medium of instruction in the Dorp Street madrasah (Muslim religious school) which he established at the end of the 18th century. This changed in the middle of the 19th century when Cape Dutch was adopted as the language of instruction. While the children were familiar with this language they could not read the Latin script since they were barred from attending the public schools. Cape Muslims could, however, read the Arabic script which they had to learn for liturgical purposes - though they could not speak Arabic. To overcome this conundrum, numerous scholars and teachers began to translate Arabic texts into Cape Dutch and then transcribing these in the Latin script. These "readers" came to serve as official textbooks in the madrasahsat the Cape. This article traces the development of this genre of literature which came to be known as Arabic-Afrikaans, comments on manuscripts that were identified by Adrianus van Selms, Achmat Davids and Hans Kähler and highlights the daunting challenge of transcribing Afrikaans phonetically in the Arabic script.
Key words: Arabic, Arabic-Afrikaans, Afrikaans Literature, Cape-Dutch, Cape Muslim history
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1. It appears that the ability to read and write the Arabic script was widespread in the Cape Muslim community (see Davids 1989: 1).
2. Mujtahid refers to a scholar who is qualified to formulate independent decisions in theological and legal matters. Rawafid (lit.: "those who refuse") - historically the term is applied by Sunnis to the Shi'ah; it refers to the refusal by the Shi'ah to accept the legitimacy of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, "Umar and 'Uthman. The Wahhabis are members of an 18th century reformist movement founded by Muhammad ibn "Abdul al-Wahhab, a Hanbali scholar, in Arabia.
3. Mawlid (birth) refers to commemoration of the Prophef s birthday. Ja'far ibn Hasan al-Barzanji was a 14th century Islamic poet who wrote an epic poem called "Ruwayats" which expounds the heroic deeds of the Prophet of Islam. This poem is often referred to as "Maulid Barzanji".
4. al-Hadramiyyah is derived from Hadramawt, a region south of the Arabian peninsula.
5. This term refers to a popular invocation in praise of God.
6. This term refers to signs of the Day of Judgement.
7. Davids (1991c: 2) claims that the author of this work was Sheikh Abu Bakr Abdurauf.
8. Tawhid (lit.: the oneness of God) is the defining doctrine of Islam. It means the unity and uniqueness of God as Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
9. Ratib al-Haddad refers to the litanies or spiritual hymns compiled by Abdallah ibn Alawi al-Haddad; al-Hisn al-Hasin (lit.: the invulnerable fort).
10. Koplesboeke were handwritten readers containing sections of Islamic books or texts compiled for the learners.
11. There are four major Sunni schools (madhahib,sing.: madhhab) of Islamic law. The overwhelming majority of Cape Muslims belonged to the Shafi'ite school. However, Abu Bakr Effendi belonged to the Hanafite school, so he established the Ottoman theological school where he would be free to promulgate his teachings.
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