In the first part of this series, PROFESSOR MUHAMMED HARON, discussed the recent circulation of three sound clips comprising dhikrs, a portion of the recitation of the Quran during the Taraweeh salaah and extract of a lecture thereafter by Ash-Shaheed Imam Abdullah Haron. He now focuses on some of the students and young people who were in the congregation.
Claremont’s Davids brothers and the Galant boys
AT Al-Jaamia, the Imam encouraged young men and women to participate in the recitation of the dhikr or ‘poedjies’. In addition, he saw to it that the young lads, such as the Galant boys from Draper Street, led the recitals.
Now, as one listened to the liturgies, it is quite obvious that they were melodiously being rendered after each ritual prayer during these special Ramadaan prayers. One could also distinctly hear the young voice of Fareed Galant, who led these special recitations.
Compared to that time, he is now an elderly gentleman who accompanies groups of hajjis to perform Umrah and Hajj.
One of the other memorable voices of that time who followed in the latter’s footsteps was none other than his youngster sibling, namely Abdurahman Galant (Manie).
It was he, Abdurahman Galant, who rendered the adhaan (that is normally called when having to attend one of the obligatory ritual prayers) as the Imam’s body was carried aloft from their Repulse Road home to City Park, where the salaat al-janazah was to be performed.
Very recently, his dear daughter, Fatima Galant, wrote a book capturing part of her father’s life and titled it The Imam’s Bilal.
Fareed and Abdurahman were, however, under the influence of their elder relatives, namely Boeta Saleem Davids and Boeta Hiema. While the former was a quietly spoken fellow, the latter was a sociable and engaging person.
Both of them were proteges of the Imam, and they were the ones who were involved in teaching at the mosque-based madrasah.
They thus trained the Galant boys and scores of others, including this writer.
They taught them not only how to recite but how to live as Muslims in a predominantly non-Muslim environment.
While the older Galant brothers went on to become lead singers in Cape Malay choirs, the younger ones were active in the gadat jama’ats.
So, as we all listen to the ‘poedjies’, one is prompted to think of both Boeta Saleem and Boeta Hiema’s invisible hands; the ones that guided and trained these and so many other young lads from Claremont and the surrounding areas.
Throughout that period, these young boys did not only make everyone feel proud as Mr F described, nay, they felt much more than that, not only because they recited melodiously but because they were viewed as the future leaders in the community.
The Imam, along with his support staff (Boeta Saleem and Boeta Hiema), worked hard in grooming them for bigger roles for the years that lay ahead.
As far as we could comprehend, the Imam had in mind creating a coterie of young leaders who would strive toward achieving greater objectives for he was aware of the negative impact that the notorious apartheid Acts had already had on the community.
Sadly, the Imam was unable to see his plan through and nor did these young lads fully comprehend what was unfolding as the Group Areas Act ripped the community apart.
It first killed their spiritual leader, the Imam, who was among those who were forced to move to designated areas for ‘coloureds’ and, at the same time, thousands were evicted from their homes to the Cape Flats and beyond.
The outcome was that Claremont’s mixed community, of which the Muslims formed an integral part, was scattered, splintered and scarred. They had to start from scratch in building new communities in Manenberg, Primrose Park, Lansdowne and elsewhere.
Amidst these developments, the young lads had to rebuild their lives by having been compelled to adapt to new environments and construct new social circles. These were not easy at all since other factors added to their communal affliction.
Featured image: On September 29, 1969, the salaat al-janazah of Ash-Shaheed Imam Abdullah Haron was performed at City Park, opposite the house where the Imam lived. In the background we can see the upper storey of the house. Abdurahman Galant rendered the adhaan as the mayet was carried from the house. (Photo IMAM HARON FOUNDATION)
This article was first published in the August 2020 print edition of Muslim Views.