Another sacred site has been violated in Cape Town – this time the resting place of the auliya Sayed Abdul Haq Al Quadri. The kramat or mazaar of the great saint is situated within Deer Park in Vredehoek at the foot of Table Mountain.
Mahmoud Limbada, chairperson of the Cape Mazaar Society (CMS) said he received a distressed call from visitors to the shrine on Sunday afternoon reporting that the kramat had been vandalised. Some CMS members were dispatched to the scene and found one side of the wrought iron around the kabr had been broken off and faeces had been smeared on one wall. There is no caretaker living on-site as the kramat is located in Table Mountain National Park and the mazaar is an open grave with no structure.
The incident yesterday has sparked concern and speculation over whether it is linked to the recent desecration of the Mowbray Muslim cemetery, which saw 80 gravestones removed and placed in a cross formation inside the makbara. Society chairperson Mahmoud Limbada suspects that satanic motives are behind the desecration of the Mowbray burial grounds but he does not think the damage to the kramat was necessarily religiously motivated.
“I don’t think it was anything religiously inclined, it was more vandalism,” he told VOC News.
Limbada said the incident has been reported to the authorities and they now look forward to progress in the case.
“The matter has been reported to police. I don’t know how far we can go with that, but inshaa’Allah lets hope we can get to the bottom of it.”
Despite the significant damage, nothing was taken from the site, said Limbada.
He added that while it is mostly clean up and repairs that are needed to restore the kramat to its original condition, he is concerned with what might be a growing trend of desecrating Muslim sites.
Limbada warned that although these kramats are not national heritage sites yet, they are in the process of being officially declared as such. Once the declaration is made, anyone guilty of vandalism will be charged and found liable in a more severe manner for desecrating a national heritage site.
Unfortunately, many kramats are not adequately secured to prevent vandalism – due to restrictions and regulations preventing construction and settlements in South Africa’s national parks. The shrine is situated in a mountain ravine, adjacent to a fast-flowing mountain stream. To reach it from the Deer Park side the stream has to be crossed. Leading from the stream is a pathway, neatly laid out with mountain stones which in turn leads to five red painted steps. These steps lead to a platform in the centre of which the grave is situated.
Very little is know about this Sayed Abdul Haq. According to the CMS, the title ‘Sayed’, on the nameplate at the grave suggests that he might have been a descendant of the family of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The followers of Sayed Abdul Haq have remarkable respect for their spiritual guide due to the upkeep of the shrine and its surroundings.
“Oral history relates that the grave of Sayed Abdul Haq was discovered by a lady who used to do her washing at the mountain stream. She regularly saw a person performing his prayers at this site. Where he came from and other details of his history are unknown. All that is known about him is that he was a member of the Qadariah Tariqa,” according to the society’s website.
Al Jama-ah party said it was “deeply concerned” over the vandalism of the shrine as it occurred more than a week after the desecration of the graves at the Mowbray Muslim Cemetery.
“Sayed Abdul Haq, was brought to South Africa in chains by the Dutch colonialists with hundreds of slaves from Malaysia and Indonesia. The shrine is situated on the slopes of Table Mountain within the nature reserve. Along the mountain stream lay several pious individuals,” said the party in a statement.
Al Jama-ah has questioned the police’s failure to respond to calls made about the incident. The party said it has also appointed private investigations into the desecration of graves at the Mowbray Cemetery said they would soon know if there is any link between the two incidents.
VOC News has contacted the police and is awaiting comment.