By Aneeqa Du Plessis
In the heart of Athlone is a school that has been built on sacrifice, struggle and continuous striving. Tuesday marked a significant day for the Al-Azhar high school as it unveiled their first-ever school hall after being in existence for 25 years. The hall was named after Shaykh Abdul Hamied Gabier, a prominent local scholar and a pioneer of the Al Azhar institute of Cape Town. Shaykh Gabier was a part of the delegation that liaised between the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt to make the high school a reality. Al Azhar was established in November 1994 with the signing of an agreement between the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and the Al-Azhar University.
Al-Azhar is an affiliate educational institution of the MJC. The school provides both ordinary secular education in accordance with the Western Cape Education Department curriculum, as well as Islamic education.
Shaykh Riad Fataar, the second -deputy of the MJC and chairperson of the Al-Azhar Education Board, told the audience at the unveiling that the new multi-purpose hall relished in the joy of staff, management and students.
“Today has truly been a day of thanks. We give thanks to Allah, and we give thanks to mankind, [and] to those who have supported the MJC and the Al Azhar Institute,” Shaykh Fataar said enthusiastically.
The Institute is devoted to guaranteeing high-standard learning for children in all age groups. It prides itself with a strong commitment to accessibility and diversity. The open-door policy welcomes all who desire to provide a better quality of care, preparedness and education for their children.
Faried Boltman, a trustee of the South African Muslim Charitable Trust said the Al Azhar school hall was an undeniable need, and discussions to transform the plot of land has been coming on for several years. The plot of land that now holds the multi-purpose hall saw students making salaah (prayer) in the cold winter rains, as well as hold their assembly’s in the hot summer sun.
A Grade 11 student at Al Azhar, Hamaada Ismail was elated with the hall, saying it will alleviate any financial burden that the school would have usually faced.
“It’s exciting because before when we had functions it was always a big stress. We [would] always have to hire out a hall which would come with hiring caterers and then the stress of having to accumulate funds would go on the students.”
The inauguration of the Shaykh Gabier hall left many emotional, as well as Shaykh Hamied Gabier himself. Shaykh Gabier spoke fondly of his memories having to liaise with Al Azhar University in Cairo, as well as the importance of patience. He reiterated that Allah is with those who endure hardships with patience.
Shaykh Gabier was bashful in his acceptance and acknowledgement as tears rolled down his cheeks as he received the honour of having the hall named after him. He paid tribute to his late father and reminded those in attendance to above all “put Allah first and goodness will come to you”.
The principal Ashiek Manie said the achievement would not be possible without the will of Allah and the help of generous donors. Donors that contributed to the construction of the hall are the South African Muslim Charitable Trust, Good Hope Construction, Awqaf SA, SANZAF and several others.