oa Alternation - Indian Muslims in South Africa: continuity, change and disjuncture, 1860-2000

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



Islam is a minority religion in South Africa. According to the 1996 census there were 553,585 Muslims out of a total population of forty million. Indian Muslims make up one of the two largest sub-groups, the other being 'Malay' 1. The majority of Indian Muslims are confined to KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, while most Malays live in the Western Cape. This has resulted in deep differences of history. culture and religious traditions. In post-apartheid South Africa Islam has moved from the private domain to public spaces. The most conspicuous illustration is the militant activities of the Cape-based group, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD). Notwithstanding the differences among Muslims, there has been a tendency on the part of many commentators to lump Muslims together2. This paper will focus on Indian Muslims, both because their experience is different to that of Malay Muslims and because Cape Muslims have been relatively well researched in comparison to their Natal counterparts. As a result of the efforts of Tayob (1999), Davids (1980), Jeppe (1995) and da Costa (1994), great progress has been made in charting the history of Cape Muslims.

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