An Ottoman saint in South Africa Abu Bakr Effendi

Abu Bakr Effendi served in South Africa in the name of Allah leaving very deep and beautiful traces behind.

An Ottoman saint in South Africa Abu Bakr Effendi

Abu Bakr Effendi was a distinguished personality and worthy of studying both from the viewpoint of the history of Osmanli Devlet and, particularly, due to his role in the history of the South African Muslims.


The title of the dissertation reflects these dual interests, with the emphasis on Abu Bakr Effendi's task and mission to reform and rectify the ideas and religious practices of the
often uninitiated Cape Muslims. Attention will also be given to this scholastic directives to religious leaders and the endeavours towards communal harmony.


The information provided in this dissertation is the result first of all of field work, including conversations in Cape Town as well as in Turkey with descendants of Abu Bakr Effendi in possesion of personal records on the subject. Use was furthermore made of a collection of written material from South African and Turkish libraries. Selected Turkish texts were personally translated into English. All sources were, of course, carefully scrutinized and evaluated.

It should be emphasized that writing a history or a biography on a personality who lived more than a century ago in an era where many records were not kept due to the nature of his personality and duties, was indeed a demanding task. No claims can therefore be made in regard to an absolute coverage of the subject. In the history of the Osmanli Devlet there was no example of a scholar like Abu Bakr Effendi. He was officially dispatched to a foreign country with the purpose of guidance in religion and education at the expense of his government. For this end, he mastered the language of the local people to whom he was sent and eventually even wrote books in it.


He finally died in his adopted country. During this period, he had only returned to his home country once.A strong bridge was built between the Muslims of the Cape of Good Hope and Turkey due to the mission of Abu Bakr Effendi to South Africa. This brought about a friendly relationship and cultural exchanges between the two nations. This reason alone is a good enough justification to study Abu Bakr Effendi's life and activities in South Africa.

We are, however, fortunate that his contributions extended beyond this parameter.

Abu Bakr Effendi al-Amjadî was born in Khashnaw in 1835.
This village laid in the plains of Shehrizûr, 192 km south of Lake Urmia Abu Bakr Effendi belonged to a very religious and highly educated family since the titles of Amîr, Molla and Mawlânâ are all indicatiors of religious leadership or scholars.

His genealogical lineage goes back to the Prophet Mu

åammad (May peace be upon him) and to the Makkan tribe of the Quraish.

Abu Bakr Effendi married twice during his stay in the Cape of Good Hope. He married Rukea Maker on Wednesday 8

th April 1863 in Cape Town. She was the adopted daughter of Hadjie Haron, the saddle-maker of Keerom Street. Rukea was 15 years old, though exceptionally beautiful. It is reported that her natural parents were an English women and a Cape Muslim man. Her mother was still alive, but her father died whilst on a pilgrimage to Makkah. A Turkish author  is nevertheless of the opinion that A. Bakr Effendi's only daughter, Feherna (or Fehime), was from his first wife Rukea. A document from the Cape archives denies that claim. According to this document , two children were born from this marriage. One died in infancy while the other, a boy, seems to have vanished into history.


Abu Bakr Effendi and his first wife Rukea used an Arabic-English dictionary to make known their wishes to each other, and it is not surprising that communication difficulties, together with their incompatibility, led to many quarrels and domestic fights.

Later Abu Bakr Effendi had to divorce her. Prof. van Selms mentions that Abu Bakr Effendi took a second wife after the Rukea's death. This was not true. According to a Cape Archives'document, Rukea Maker claimed maintenance for herself and her son from Abu Bakr at the Cape Supreme Court after her divorce.

On the 30

th of December 1864, Abu Bakr Effendi married Tahora Saban Cook. Tahora was the niece of the famous explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1779) who founded the

Canadian shores.This marriage proved tobe a happy one, produced five sons and a daughter, namely Ahmet Atâullah, Feherna, Hesham Nimetullah, Muåammad Alâuddin, Omar Jalâluddin, and Hussein Fawzy.


Abu Bakr Effendi served in South Africa in the name of Allah leaving very deep and beautiful traces behind. May he and his family rest in peace.




Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Temmuz 2007, 16:03