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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Memory of Imam Haron in Consolidating Muslim Resistance in the Apartheid Struggle
Author:GŁnther, Ursula
Periodical:Journal for the Study of Religion
Geographic term:South Africa
biographies (form)
History and Exploration
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
Politics and Government
About person:Abdullah Haron
Abstract:Imam Abdullah Haron, who died in detention in 1969, became a symbol and icon for the Muslim struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the late 1970s. Of particular interest for this essay is not his life or the circumstances of his death as such but the complex dynamics of creating a martyr of Imam Haron after his sacrifice had nearly fallen into oblivion. The author's approach is inspired by the concept of the 'invention of tradition', a process involving the creation and construction of symbolic or ritual complexes, which is normally used to explain the phenomenon of nationbuilding, but which also provides tools to explain developments within the Muslim community. The historical reconstruction of political attitudes among Muslims in the late 1950s and 1960s, in comparison to the 1970s and 1980s, reveals the dynamics of creating a martyr or a legend at a time when the need for role models for Muslims involved in the liberation struggle was obvious. Imam Haron's memory suggests a continuity of the Muslim struggle against oppression. However, an in-depth analysis shows that this is a historical transfiguration rather than experienced reality. Furthermore, it reveals how Muslims relate to their recent past, especially concerning the phenomenon of the invention of tradition. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]