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July 04, 2014

5 Kramats in Cape Town that you need to visit

As a Muslim, growing up in Cape Town has been a truly enriching experience for me. I get the modernism that comes with living in a Western country, while still being true to my religion. Did you know? South Africa is the second most halaal-friendly country in the world, and the Muslim community in Cape Town is the largest in the country.

This week we look at five Kramats in Cape Town that you need to visit.

The white and green Kramat of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah al Qadri on Signal Hill Road

A Kramat, or Karamat, is a holy burial site of notable Sheikhs, otherwise referred to as Auliyah, in Islam. Over 20 recognised Kramats are dotted across the Peninsula, with three of them nestled in the outer Cape Town districts of Faure, Caledon, Rawsonville and Bains Kloof. The locations of the Kramats in these regions play an important role in fulfilling the “circle of Islam” – a 250-year-old prophecy that connects all tombs into one full circle. Some of them include:

1. The Kramat of Sheikh Yusuf

Address: Faure, Macassar, Cape Helderberg

Sheikh Yusuf, known as the father of Islam in South Africa, was an Indonesian Muslim first exiled to the Cape as a prisoner by the Dutch settlers. He is remembered for his contribution towards the struggle against colonialism. He was also the first to read the holy Qur’an in South Africa and shortly thereafter the first Muslim community was created in South Africa.

2. The Kramat of Sheikh Mohammed Hassen Ghaibie Shah al Qadri

Address: Signal Hill Road, Cape Town

The beautiful Kramat of Sheikh Mohammed Hassen Ghaibie Shah al Qadri is situated at the top of Signal Hill. The white square structure with a green dome was built to look like a mini mosque. The Kramat is particularly worth visiting, not only for its spiritual reasons, but also because it offers spectacular views of the Cape Town city centre as well as the Atlantic seaboard. Sheikh Mohammed Hassen Ghaibie Shah al Qadri was a follower of Sheikh Yusuf.

3. The Kramats of Sheikh Abdurahman Matebe and Sayed Mahmud

Address: End of Klein Constantia Road, Constantia Cape Town

Sheikh Abdurahman Matebe and Sayed Mahmud were two religious leaders who were exiled to the Cape as prisoners of the Dutch settlers. They were both the last of the Malaccan Sultanates – a group founded by the Sumatrian prince, Megat Iskander Shah, who adopted Islam. Their Kramats, situated in Constantia, are important because they serve as a daily reminder of the Malaccan Sultanates Islamic influence in the Indonesian islands.

4. The Kramat of Tuan Guru

Address: Top of Longmarket Street, Bokaap

Tuan Guru was a prince from the Trimate islands who was exiled to Robben Island, where he wrote a book on Islamic Jusipudence as well as several copies of the holy Qur’an from memory. His books became the reference work of the Cape Muslims in the 19th century and much of what we as Muslims practice today has been carried over from these books. Tuan Guru made various significant contributions to the Islamic faith such as fight for a venue for the community to perform Friday prayers and establishing an Islamic school (madrasah). The Kramat of Tuan Guru is located in the BoKaap Muslim cemetery.

5. The Kramat of Tuan Matarah

Address: Robben Island, Western Cape

Tuan Matarah, also known as Sayed Abduraghman Motura, was a learned and religious man. His contribution to spreading the word of Islam has been significant in establishing the Muslim community in the Cape. He was also well-known for bringing comfort to prisoners on Robben Island when they were ill. Tuan Matarah passed away on Robben Island, and his Kramat serves as a respected shrine for remembering his influence of Islam in Cape Town.

Find more interesting things to do in Cape Town with this comprehensive Islamic map of Cape Town. Or follow Cape Town Tourism on Twitter.

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