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Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape


The mystery of the apostasy of Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar’s alleged grandchildren

Publication title information

Najma Moosa (2021). The mystery of the apostasy of Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar’s alleged grandchildren: The children of the Rajah of Tambora . Cape Town: Shaykh Shahid Esau

Further detail

Publication type
Books and chapters

This book seeks to resolve an intriguing historical mystery: the identity of Zytie Sara Marouff (alias Care Sale) or Setuela, the wife of the exiled Rajah of Tambora, and the lineage of their Muslim children who, at the Cape, South Africa, both converted to Christianity and entered into Christian marriages. It attempts to determine whether she and her children were descended from Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar, an eminent Indonesian Islamic scholar and a pioneer of Islam at the colonial Cape.

Najma Moosa, through an extensive search, intensive research, dogged persistence, and meticulous unravelling of available and archival sources, has reasonably and persuasively determined her central argument, namely, that it was highly unlikely that Zytle was the biological daughter of Shaykh Yusuf.

Utilising her legal skills, the author effectively demolishes the statements of Reverend Valentijn (a primary source) and those attributed to Dr. Abdurahman and perpetuated by Dr. Hoge, that the Rajah was married to Shaykh Yusuf's daughter. These statements and the stigma of conversion tainting the history of Shaykh Yusuf were therefore colonially perpetrated myths and much of the existing scholarship is derivative, and a pyramiding of secondary sources. This work therefore also fills lacunae regarding an understanding of the stay of Shaykh Yusuf and his family at the Cape. It highlights the impact of unjust colonial laws on innocent Muslim women and their children, who through no fault of their own were "exiled" from Indonesia and Ceylon to the Cape together with their husbands and parents some three centuries ago. These women, bravely and resolutely addressed petitions to the then Governors, all of them recorded in Dutch East India Company (VOC) Resolutions, which had significant legal import. Whlle the petition of Shaykh Yusuf's head wife was eventually successful, the Rajah's wife was denied repatriation. Today, the descendants of the Christian marriages of the Rajah's children can be traced to Indonesian, German, Dutch, French Huguenot and local Afrikaner families, though many may not even be aware of their families' origins.

About the author/s

Najma Moosa

Professor of Law, University of the Western Cape

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