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Nine Kramats across South Africa to be recognized as national heritage sites

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By Tauhierah Salie

Nine Kramats across South Africa including the Kramat (shrine) of Sheikh Yusuf in Macassar has been identified as historical burial places.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte made the announcement in Maccassar on Heritage day, noting that the areas will be recognized as national heritage sites.

This announcement was made during a visit to the Kramat in Macassar, along side Science and TechnologyMinister Naledi Pandor.

The South African Muslim community consider the Kramat of the late Sheikh Yusuf to be one of its most revered places. Sheikh Yusuf is widely regarded as having brought Islam to the country for the first time in 1694, after having been exiled from his Indonesian home by the Dutch.

First deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council, Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, said the shrines should always be regarded by the Muslim community as sacred. Allie explains that the historic significance should be recognized.

‘’What has been declared for the Muslim community are outstanding (announcements) and with the political intervention, it will speed up this (particular) process. It would mean that these kramats will recognised by the Heritage Council and will be able to registered as places of Heritage for the Muslim community,” said Allie.

“Hopefully, the moment we have that declaration, we have envisaged that the day to further entrench (our heritage). Our youth can be content that these places will be preserved.”

Allie commended the surrounding communities for maintaining the shrine of Sheikh Yusuf “to preserve the identity of Islam in order to know where we come from”.

Chairperson of the Cape Mazaar Society, Mahmoud Limbada said for the past two years they have been involved in this process of having sites declared as heritage. Limbada expressed concern over whether the process will be completed by April 2019, having described it is being lengthy. He highlighted that it also requires public participation, which has not yet been initiated.

Limbada added that the Awliya (saints) that have been nominated requires authentication and their contributions to the culture of Islam in South Africa must be considered.

Chairperson of the Tana Baru Trust, Dr Adil Basier, said first prize would be having both the Tana Baru and the prayer quarry in Bo Kaap being declared National heritage, as it holds significance for the first Jumuah having been completed there. Basier also expressed doubt over the time frame given, citing the amount of evidence that is required for the application to be successful.

The process is expected to be completed by April 2019.

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