Cape Town on Foot: From the Slave Lodge to Bo-Kaap
Turn right into Dorp Street
Turn right into Dorp Street, the ‘Village Street’. Stop when you are in line with the row of palm trees on your left.
Behind the palm trees is the Auwal Mosque, South Africa's oldest mosque.
The date above the entrance is the year in which an ex-slave named Coridon of Ceylon, and his wife, Trijn van de Kaap, purchased the building with its adjoining warehouse. Both Coridon and Trijn were manumitted slaves. Their daughter, Saartjie van de Kaap, eventually inherited the property and it's still registered in her name. The mosque was completely refurbished in the 1930s and the minaret was added.
Between 1795 and 1802 the British took its first occupation of the Cape. During this period muslims were permitted to meet for worship without fear of prosecution. So Coridon allowed meetings to take place in his modest home. This was the start of what later developed into the Auwal Mosque, once religious freedom was granted to the Muslims in 1804.
Its first imam was Abdullah ibn Kadi Abdus Salaam. He was better known as Tuan Guru, which means 'Lord Teacher'. He had been a prince on the tiny island of Tidore; one of the Maluku islands in Indonesia. Apparently he had conspired with the English against the VOC, was then captured by the Dutch, and brought to the Cape as a state prisoner in April 1780. During his banishment on Robben Island, he wrote three almost faultless copies of the Qur’an from memory. Two of these have survived. He also wrote a book on Islamic jurisprudence, the Ma’rifah al-Islam. It was written in Melayu and Portuguese, but in Arabic script. After his release in 1793, Tuan Guru married a free woman, Kaija van de Kaap. Her surname means she was born in the Cape.
You can start walking up Dorp Street now.
He then began preaching in the disused stone quarry in the lower part of Chiappini Street, until 1804, when he became imam of the Auwal Mosque. He also established a Muslim school which was enormously popular with slaves and free black people. He died in 1807. His walking stick and a copy of his handwritten Koran can be seen in the mosque.