Learning from the past prepares one for being able to cope with the future. History is made up
of strings of relationships. This article follows a historical line from colonialism, through
apartheid to post-colonialism in order to illustrate inter-religious relations in South-Africa and
how each context determines these relations. Social cohesion is enhanced by a post-colonial
theology of religions based on the current context. By describing the relationship between
Christians and Muslims during the 17th–18th centuries in the Cape Colony, lessons can be
deduced to guide inter-religious relations in a post-colonial era in South Africa. One of the
most prominent Muslim leaders during the 17th century in the Cape Colony was Sheik Yusuf
al-Makassari. His influence determined the future face of Islam in the Cape Colony and here,
during the 18th century, ethics started playing a crucial role in determining the relationship
between Christians and Muslims. The ethical guidance of the Imams formed the Muslim
communities whilst ethical decline was apparent amongst the Christian colonists during the
same period. The place of ethics as determinative of future inter-religious dialogue is
emphasised. Denial and exclusion characterised relationships between Christians and
Muslims. According to a post-colonial understanding of inter-religious contact the equality
and dignity of non-Christian religions are to be acknowledged. In the postcolonial and postapartheid
struggle for equality, also of religions, prof Graham Duncan, to whom this article is
dedicated, contributed to the process of acknowledging the plurality of the religious reality in
Sonnekus, Theo(University of Pretoria, 2009-11-04)
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