On the 2 April 1694, Sheikh Yusuf of Makassar, the Nephew of the King of Gowa arrived in the Cape Colony to serve his political banishment at the hands of the Dutch East India Company. Sheikh Yusuf’s home became a sanctuary for the slaves of the Cape, and it was from these slaves and political exiles that the first cohesive Muslim community in South Africa emerged. In 2005, Sheikh Yusuf was Posthumously Awarded the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Gold, by the President of the Republic of South Africa, for his contribution to the struggle against colonialism.
In 1794, the first Mosque in South Africa was established. Named the Auwal Masjid and based in Dorp Street, Cape Town, this mosque was established during the continuing era of slavery, and established its roots during this era of social and political prejudice at the hands of the Dutch, then British Colonialists, with the Muslim community struggling for social and political rights in a time when the practice of Islam was a criminal offence. This Muslim Community was lead by Imam Abdullah, also known as Tuan Guru, who was one of the first political prisoners on Robben Island, having spent thirteen years imprisoned on the Island by the Dutch from 1780 to 1793.
Similarly, for the past 300 years, many Muslim individuals and institutions across South Africa have followed in the footsteps of Sheikh Yusuf and Imam Abdullah, and played significant roles in the struggle for Justice, Equality and Freedom in South Africa, with some paying the ultimate price.