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The Islamic Finance Handbook: A Practitioner's Guide to the Global Markets by REDmoney

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Chapter 26South AfricaMinority Muslim Markets Making Major Moves

Amman Muhammad

Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Banking Division, First National Bank

Muslims have resided in South Africa for 360 years. Around 1654, the Dutch East India Company established the Cape of Good Hope as a halfway port for its ships travelling between the Netherlands and the East Indies. It was also to serve as a penal settlement for convicts and political exiles from the East. Among those political prisoners were probably the first Muslims reported to land on South African soil, two years after the white settlement of the country had begun.1 Those political prisoners and exiles would lay profound and deep-rooted foundations that would ultimately allow the Islamic faith to thrive, prosper, and play a pivotal role in the ultimate development of South Africa.

This foundation of faith was such an important inspiration that many Muslims played significant roles in the fight against apartheid, the government-legislated system of racial segregation designed to strip nonwhite people of the most basic human rights. Apartheid's core principles were diametrically opposed to the teachings and practice of Islam. The long-awaited first democratic elections in 1994 that brought Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress to power also brought a number of Muslims into the parliament.

Muslims in South Africa are believed to number between 1.2 and 2 million people, making up 2 percent of the nation's population. ...

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