The first Muslim politician of South Africa Ahmet Ataullah Bey, 1865-1903.
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Ahmet Ataullah Bey was a South African intellectual and politician who served the South African Muslims in the last quarter of nineteenth century. Ataullah Bey played prominent role in South African history as the first Muslim activist and politician in the country. His endeavours to participate in political affairs at the Cape and be voted into parliament were of significant importance, highlighting his challenges as a person of colour at the height of white supremacy in South Africa. This paper attempts to illuminate in part the challenges faced by Ataullah Bey during his life. Ataullah Bey also served as a Turkish emissary for the Ottoman State under the Caliphate during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan II. His activities provide insight into the policies of Abdul Hamid Khan II and show the social conditions of the nineteenth century Muslim world. Ataullah Bey came from a very established and well educated family and his ancestors were great Ulama in the Ottoman State throughout history. This short biography deals with Ataullah Bey’s educational and political activities from his childhood to his death. It also illustrates his significant endeavours in South Africa as well as in Singapore in light of the broader political and historical context. Details about Ataullah Bey’s family are also presented in this paper. The text concludes with Ataullah Bey’s unfortunate death in Singapore at the fairly young age of thirty-nine.