Umm Abdillah | Radio Islam Programming | 2013.03.27
There are very few South African Muslims who have turned to the back of their 13-line Quraans and not wondered about the Waterval Islamic Institute. Of interest to many of us was how an obviously Muslim organization (in the times of crippling apartheid) managed to secure the address: P. O. Box 1, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa. In many ways the ‘one’ in the postal address is indicative of the Waterval Islamic Institute being the first to spark a series of da’wah flames that now light up many Islamic institutes in our country and beyond.
Waterval Islamic Institute (WII) land, more commonly known as Mia’s Farm, will host the 1434 – 2013 Tabligh Jama’ah Ijtima over the Easter weekend in the Gauteng region, Insha Allah. Given the historic relevance that Mia’s Farm was also venue to the very first Tableegh Ijtima in SA in 1970, Radio Islam paid tribute to the legacy of the organisation; its founding members, and long serving staff via a series of interviews. This valuable oral curation is available in the form of podcasts on our website.
According to information proffered by our guests, the land (over 2000 hectares) was purchased in 1934 and registered as the Waterval Estate Ltd. Due to the cruel segregation of Apartheid, good schools, if any, were a rarity, especially for Indian boys and girls. In 1939 construction began on the farm for hostel facilities for the schooling, madrasah and hifdh classes offered at the WII. Boarders included lower to middle income children from near and afar and the children of the owners. The farm also accommodated staff members who served in the Mia Family business interests. According to information gleaned from a printout commemorating The Waterval Students Reunion (1938-1984), it began in 1940 with 120 boarders and 4 teachers.
From 1940-1948 the school was run in the hostel itself and to later have its own building and sports fields; an alma mater to many whom later became founding members of Darul Ulooms and Hifdh Madaris in our country. Among those who did part of their schooling, hifdh, offered dhor or taught at Mia’s Farm were Mufti E. Desai, Ml Madani of Camperdown, Mf E. Saalejee of Isipingo, Ml Haroon Abbasoomar of Isipingo, Ml Abdool Hamid Ishaaq of Azaadville, Ml Yusuf Karan, Ml Shabir Saloojee of Zakariyyah Park, Ml Qaasim Sema of Newcastle, and Qari Ismail Desai of Umzinto.
The vision and sincerity of Ml Muhammad Mia (a student of Ml Anwar Shah Kashmiri) and his sons manifested in:
- A printing press that provided maktab syllabi and printed material (5 para Quraan, Yasaarnal Quran, Duroose Fiqh and other printed literature) on behalf of the Jamiat Transvaal.
- A home for initial Jamiat activities including moon sighting.
- A formula for structured hifdh and dhor classes. Till the mid 80`s, there was a severe shortage of huffaz in South Africa. Hafiz Abdur Rahman Mia Sahib (1919 - 2005) played a great part in alleviating this problem and his graduates were sent to innumerable posts in South Africa.
- Sporting and academic excellence for boys and girls. The first matric exams were written in 1961. In 1965 a 100% pass was achieved in the Senior Certificate exams.
- A halfway home for the provinces’ Welfare Dept: orphans and abandoned children who were never turned away. It even housed Italian prisoners of WW II.
- A dynamic schooling syllabus that included Arabic, Urdu, Gujarati and Persian.
- A wood-work centre, glass factory and dairy which nurtured the importance of financial self-sufficiency and created the tools for them.
- The stepping-stone for those who wanted to further their Aalim Faadhil studies in Deoband, Dabhel and other Indian Darul Ulooms under the auspices of marhoom Mufti Ebrahim Sanjalvi (ra).
There is much that has been mentioned in the interviews about the personalities who were the cornerstones of this establishment. May Allah fill their lives or qabrs with light, Ameen. Mia’s Farm served to the best they could within the discipline parameters dictated by that era.
In recent years Waterval Islamic Institute has changed course. In 1984 the secondary school moved to Marlboro Gardens. The hifdh infrastructure evolved to support a wide network of maktabs in many southern African countries - where thousands of less fortunate and forgotten children of this Ummah learn to love Allah and our Deen.
We learn important lessons from the legacy of Mia’s Farm:
- The financial and moral aid of honest Muslim businessmen to Deen and the spread of Deen are lauded by the words of our beloved Nabi (pbuh): “A truthful and honest trader will be a companion of the prophets, the righteous and the martyrs on the Day of Judgment.” [Tirmidhi]
- Women (many who belonged to the family) worked tirelessly in the female hostel and in the classrooms to provide education and housing for both boys and girls. The adage “she rocks the cradle with her right, and staves off the sword of Disbelief with her left” encapsulated. Their efforts can never be undermined or overlooked.
- The value and reach of printed material must never be underestimated. “Knowledge is captured by writing it.” Arabic Proverb.
May Allah reward the sincerity of the founders and workers of this landmark institute and grant us all sincerity, dedication, devotion, patience and perseverance to serve the religious needs of our communities justly. Ameen.