South Africa's Islamic Minority
South Africa's unique location helped shape the distinct character of Islam there, principally through contact with Asia, Egypt, Iran, and the Arabian Peninsula, allowing beleaguered South African Muslims to look beyond their borders for support. As early as 1626, Shaykh Yusuf, a Sufi saint brought from Indonesia by the Dutch East Indian Company, founded an active Muslim community. Later, Muslims from India came to Natal and the Transvaal, and differences between the communities remained pronounced over such issues as political activism, the place of women, and the use of Arabic. In recent times, Imam Abdullah Haron emerged as a martyr following his death at the hands of police in 1969. Extremist groups like Achmat Cassien's Qiblah and People Against Gangsters and Drugs (PAGAD) resorted to terrorism under the guise of Islam. Muslim numbers remain among the lowest in any country in Africa, and the historic split between ancients and moderns, conservatives and progressives, remains undiminished.
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