The Claremont Main Road Masjid (CMRM) extends its deepest condolences on the passing of one of Cape Town’s foremost spiritual leaders and Muslim intellectuals, Shaykh Yusuf Da Costa.
Shaykh Yusuf passed away at his home in Kensington on Monday evening 3 December 2018 at the age of 83, surrounded by family, loved ones and students. Shaykh Yusuf was the Southern African Khalifa, official representative of Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad `Adil al-Haqqani, the current Grand Shaykh and head of the Global Naqshbandi Muhammadi Sufi Tariqa Order.
Under Shaykh Yusuf’s leadership the Naqshbandi Sufi Order in South Africa worked almost exclusively among the poorest of the poor all over Black townships in Southern Africa, providing much needed basic needs and establishing Islamic centres. In 2012, Shaykh Yusuf invited the Claremont Main Road Masjid (CMRM) congregation to establish a twin relationship with the newly established Naqshbandi Muhammadi Masjid in Dunoon, outside Milnerton. For the past six years CMRM’s solidarity work with the Dunoon community has become a key part of its Jihad Against Poverty mission.
Shaykh Yusuf’s sterling work among the poor resonated with his inspirational and radical views on the third pillar of Islam, Zakah. In his Preface to an English translation of the renowned Arabic text, Fiqh al-Sunnah, on Zakat by Sayyid Sabiq, Shaykh Yusuf wrote the following:
“Zakah is essentially a means devised to solve the problem of poverty, and it involves taking from the rich of their property for re-distribution among the poor, and the doing of this until such time as ‘the wealth ceases to circulate between the wealthy’. Zakah is therefore a means of bringing about socio-economic change and development; and by taking from the rich it ensures a more equitable distribution of the wealth of a country and so helps to bring about the end of the exploitation of man by man.” (Translator’s Preface to Zakah: The Third Pillar of Islam by Sayyid Sabiq, translated by Yusuf da Costa and published by the Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa, 1994).
Shaykh Yusuf was also a renowned and talented educator. He taught at Salt River Muslim School (Kipling Street), Livingstone High School and was a former principal of Crestway High school in Retreat. Under his leadership, Crestway become one of the only so-called “coloured” schools that offered the Xhosa language as a subject. Shaykh Yusuf completed his doctorate in Geography and retired as Associate-Professor and Head of the Department of Didactics at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Together with the late Cape Muslim historian, Dr. Achmat Davids, Shaykh Yusuf da Costa, published a ground breaking book, Pages from Cape Muslim History (Shuter & Shooter, 1994).
During his retirement, Shaykh Yusuf dedicated his life exclusively to pursuing his spiritual goals. His complete and total dedication to the spiritual path of rahma or mercy is perhaps best illustrated in the following quotation from him: “In the Bismillah hirrahman nirrahim Allah Almighty introduces us to His two most important Names, ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim. Both these Names have to do with mercy. In my senior years I use these names as a major anchor for what I do as a Muslim, and I depend to a maximum degree on these names for the path that I’m going to walk after my life in this world. I think of my Lord as Most Merciful, and I depend on His Name of Mercy to ease my burden in the Hereafter. I think that Bismillah hirrahman nirrahim should be like that for all of us.
We make du`a and pray that Allah, the Most Compassionate, pardon Shaykh Yusuf, have mercy on him and grant him a high place in Jannah, Insha-allah. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family, loved ones and the Naqshbandi Muhammadi Tariqa during this sad time. May they find strength in their beautiful memories of Shaykh Yusuf, his immense scholarly and social contributions and most of all his great spiritual legacy.
To Allah we belong and to Allah we all will return.