Sheikh Abubakr Effendi who was born in Khashnaw in Turkey around 1835. His ancestry goes back to an aristocratic Quraish family of Mecca. Abubakr Effendi was a brilliant student and his exceptional talents came to the attention of the Turkish Sultan when Abubakr was sent by his family as part of a delegation to beg for help from the Sultan after a lost harvest in their community in 1861 led to great famine.
He arrived in the Cape in 1862 at the request of the Cape parliamentarian de Roubaix who negotiated with the British and Turkish governments for an independent religious scholar to be sent to the Cape. De Roubaix was sincerely interested in the plight of the Cape Muslim community who at that time were bedevilled by continued doctrinal disagreements and mosque related disputes.
Abubakr Effendi had a massive impact on Islam at the Cape and his influence on the culture of the community was tremendous. He was the founder of the Hanafi Math-hab (School of Thought) at the Cape and was also responsible for the introduction of the red fezzes worn by men and the face-covering attire of Cape Muslim women. He was well schooled in Islamic Law and had a thorough working knowledge of all four schools of thought.
His greatest contribution to Cape Muslim society was his “Bayannuddin” (“the explanation of the religion”). It was one of the earliest and most comprehensive books written in Arabic-Afrikaans. It ran into 354 pages with prefaces in Turkish, Arabic and Afrikaans. It was published as a gift by the Turkish Government to the Muslims of Cape Town.
Abubakr Effendi died on the 29 th June 1880 at the young age of 45 but having accomplished a great deal in his lifetime.