Book honours imam

At the launch of There’s a Hero Before #123/Stories of Imam Abdullah Haron, are, from left, Cassiem Khan, from the Imam Haron Foundation; author Imam Ismaeel Davids; and the son and daughter of the late Imam Haron, Professor Muhammed Haron and Fatiema Haron Masoet.

Who were the people who played a part in anti-apartheid cleric Imam Abdullah Haron’s life before he died in police detention in 1969?

Were they his friends, his neighbours, members of his mosque, his teammates, his relatives?

Imam Ismaeel Davids, of Crawford, explores this question in his book, There’s a Hero Before #123 / Stories of Imam Abdullah Haron. The “123” is the number of days Imam Haron spent in police detention.

Imam Haron’s family were among those who attended the book launch at Habibia Primary School in Rylands on Saturday November 21.

Imam Davids is in charge of the Ibaadur-raghmaan Masjied.

The mosque was in Crawford for more than 20 years before it moved to Eden Road, Observatory, last year.

Imam Davids took over the running of the mosque from his father, Imam Ebrahim Sep Davids, when he died in 1998.

Imam Davids has been working on this book for two years in conjunction with the Imam Haron 50th Commemoration Committee (IH50thCC) which was formed in 2019.

“This book is a recollection of people and the stories that they had with the late Imam Haron.

Those are personal stories, from interactions they had with him, like things he told them and the things they knew about him,” he said.

Imam Davids said he had been inspired to work on the book through a close connection his late father had with Imam Haron.

His father was Imam Haron’s student and he took over the Al Jaamiah Masjid in Stegman Road, Claremont, which the anti-activist had run prior to his death.

“Imam Haron had a unique way of interacting with people.

He would merge people from different cultures. He had a creative way of looking at a mosque; he would do a lot of outreach and went to the townships to interact with the people.”

Cassiem Khan, the chairman of the Imam Haron Foundation, contributed to the book’s epilogue.

He said telling the stories of those who had been close to Imam Haron was a good way to remember him.

“There are many great leaders in our struggle and history that have great followers who carry on their work which was inspired by the leaders, and this book is an opportunity for them to tell their story,” he said.

Imam Haron’s son, Professor Muhammed Haron, said the book filled a gap as many stories from people who had been part of his father’s life had not been told until now. “These snippets of interviews in the book help to fill these gaps, it shares some insight from ordinary people’s perspective in their interaction with my father,” he said.

Imam Davids’s other books include 111 Colleen Court, Hasan of the Ajman, Jimmy’s Truck Route, Awesome Nature and Khanyi’s Song.

The book costs R80. Call 083 340 1433 or 082 298 9330 or 021 697 3890 to get a copy.