Wednesday, 24 April 2013

From the Madrasah to the Museum: The Social Life of the Kietaabs of Cape Town

This article was written by Saarah Jappie, Researcher, University of Cape Town:

Ebrahiem Manuel's story of his kietaab and how he traced his ancestors' lineage to Sumbawa, Indonesia
Muslim heritage in Cape Town
Islamic manuscripts of Cape Town
Kietaabs of Cape Town
Kietaabs as schoolbooks in madrasah
Importance of kietaabs (kitabs) written in Jawi script in Cape Town Malay Muslim community
Arjun Appadurai's theory on social historical objects and archival biography
Contested uses of Jawi Islamic literature
Tombouctou Manuscripts Project
Jawi text and Patani identity
Linguistic change: Cape Arabic-Malay was replaced by Cape Dutch, which evolved to become Afrikaans today
Madrasah education at the Cape began during the time of slavery
The first official Muslim School was founded in 1793 in Cape Town, South Africa
Malay was the lingua franca at the Cape
Bahasa Bugis (Buginese) and Tamil were also spoken, written and used at the Cape\
The earliest extant Arabic-Afrikaans manuscript was written in the1840s by Imam Qadi Abdul Salaam, who was popularly known as “Tuan Guru” (“MisterTeacher”)
“Tuan Guru” was a Tidore prince from the Ternate islands of eastern Indonesia. He arrived at the Cape as a political convict in 1780 and was incarcerated on Robben Island until 1793. He wrote the entire Quran from memory.
The imams came from diverse backgrounds
The madrasah accepted slaves and Free Black students
Free Black” or “vrijzwarten” refers to manumitted slaves
“Malay” becamea a racial sub-category of “Coloured” during apartheid South Africa
Handwritten kietaabs were used for teaching purposes at madrasah in South Africa
One of the most popular texts copied and circulated, is the Umm Al-Barahin (“TheMother of Proofs”), also known as the Sanusiyya, after its author, influential AlgerianAsh’arite scholar, Muhammad ibn Yusuf Al-Sanusi (1787-1859), and Die Twintig Siefaat (“The Twenty Attributes” of God/ 20 Sifat Allah)
Koples boeke was a notebook which characterized the madrasah educational system
Talismanic kietaabs (azeemat reference books) including the azeemats (amulets) were written and used by the Muslim Sufis who arrived to live in the hostile social environment at the Cape.
Abdulkader Tayob, Islamic Resurgence in South Africa: The Muslim Youth Movement (Cape Town, 1995)
Abdulkader Tayob commented that Cape Sufism had secret knowledge and held secret meetings
The Cape Muslims, slaves and settlers believed in charm cures and practised them as they were effective. They were said to practise "Malay tricks".
Academic, poet and Malay enthusiast I.D. du Plessis wrote a novel about the adventure of 3 young Afrikaaner boys who went to see a doekoem (dukun) in Java
Doekoem or dukun were charm makers as well as spiritual healers
Witch doctors are magic men
Tuan Nuruman @ “Paay Schaapie,” was an exile banished to the Cape from Batavia in 1770. He made azeemat to help slaves escape in 1786 but it failed and he was sent to Robben Island.
Ajami manuscripts are used for daily social communication
Shift in education from traditional madrasah to mainstream schooling system resulted in literacy shift from Arabic to Latin (initially in Afrikaans and later in English)
Evolution on non White literacy at the Cape
Development of the Muslim mission school at the Cape
Development of mainstream schooling system at the Cape
"Bapak" Ismail Petersen had ~7 Jawi kietaabs. He burned incense every Thursday night but did not understand the reasons for doing so. Much of his kietaabs were burned by his brother which made him sad.
Many Cape Muslim families own kietaabs but can't read nor understand them; they merely possess them
Kietaabs were disposed by burning
The inside cover of the kietaabs contain family tree of the author and link them back to their forefathers
The kietaabs are passed down from master to students or interested individuals, not necessarily family members
Kietaabs become Cape Muslim family heirlooms
Many foreigners studied manuscripts of the Cape Muslims, including Dutch Adrianus van Selms in 1950s, German Hans Kahler in 1960s-1970s, and Achmat Davids in 1980s
Simon's Town Heritage Museum
Malaysian and Indonesian researchers began to study at the Cape Jawi manuscripts in mid-1990s, after apartheid ended
Malaysia, Indonesia and the Cape share their cultural legacies of the Malay World
Pusat Manuskrip Melayu, Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia researched the Cape Jawi manuscripts in 1996
Hassiem Salie is the President of the South African Melayu Cultural Society (SAMCS)