Nelson Mandela & Muslim Prisoners’ Story

In this video “Nelson Mandela‘s Prison Cell”, Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadh, narrates one of his visit to South Africa. He went to the infamous island of Robben where Nelson Mandela was jailed for about 20 years. He talks about his meeting with Muslim prisoners.

A little bit of history: Robben island was used throughout the years for many things. Isolation of mainly political prisoners, a leper colony, animal quarantine station, and it was declared an official prison by the apartheid government in 1959. The first prisoners were sentenced to the prison in 1961.

 Dr. Yasir Qadhi explains how he felt while entering the cell of N.Mandela and explained that he had sincerity in his fight for freedom.

Something that isn’t well-known about this island is that some of the first prisoners were Muslims who fought against the colonization of their lands by the Dutch and the British. They were sent to South Africa by the colonizers who tried to stop their influence in Indonesia, Malaysia, Africa and India almost 300 years ago.

Mandela, on his release from prison, visited the oldest mosque in Cape Town as a sign of respect for the Muslim contribution to the struggle for justice. He always respected their fight for freedom.

If you are interested in knowing more about  Muslims who were imprisoned on Robben Island at the time of N.Mandela and how they joined his cause, you can check for Ahmed Kathrada (nicknamed “Kathy” by South Africans) who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1963.

(*) A musallah (Arabic: مصلى‎,) is an open space outside a mosque, mainly used for prayer in Islam.The word is derived from the verb صلى (ṣallāh), meaning “to pray”. It is traditionally used for the Eid prayers and the funeral prayers as per the Sunnah.

Muslims in Post-Apartheid South Africa