Muslim New Year march in Bo-Kaap

Cape Town - 180916 - Bo-Kaap Muharram March Honours Pioneers of Islam. The annual Muharram March through the streets of Bo-Kaap is held to inaugurate the Islamic New Year. Photographer: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

To mark the start of the new Islamic Year, hundreds of people took part in the Muharram march in Bo-Kaap on Sunday September 1.

The march was organised by the Boorhaanol Islam Movement in association with the Tana Baru Trust with an aim to commemorate the sacrifices of the great leaders in the Muslim community.

As Heritage Month kicks off in September, the legacies of both Imam Abdullah Haron, who was murdered by apartheid police in September 1969, and Sheikh Muhammad Salih Abadi who is respected and admired for dedicating his life to the teaching and recitation of the Qur’an, were remembered.

Boorhaano Islam Movement spokesperson, Mohammad Groenewald, said they chose these leaders because it is the 50th anniversary of the death of Imam Haron and 20th anniversary of the death of Sheikh Muhammad Salih Abadi.

“Remember we came here as political prisoners and slaves, the Qur’an started of as a revolution in this country and that tradition of memorising it was kept alive by him and we have to celebrate these heroes,” he said.

He said they don’t only want to celebrate their heroes but ensure that the next generation remembers them.

He said these kinds of events are significant and important to ensure that we remember all those who have led great struggles for the freedom that people enjoy today.

“This is also to urge all South Africans to celebrate their own heroes and not foreign heroes. We sometimes know more about other countries’ heroes, musicians and artists than our own.”

Mr Groenawald said they are afraid if they don’t keep alive these important events, they will be soon lost.

“We’ve faced gentrification in the area and by not celebrating them, we contribute to it,” he said.

He said they try to involve the young minds in such events for educational purposes.

He said they expand the children’s knowledge through educational quizzes.

“They are excited to answer the quizzes and this is one of our focus areas, to educate them so that they can take away something after attending the march,” he said.

The march passed by the most historic landmarks and heritage sites in the area such as the Auwal Masjid and the Tana Baru – the first official cemetery that was given to the Muslim community and where most of the faith’s local pioneers are buried.