“Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, either man or woman. The one of you is of the other.” – Qur’an
Shamima Shaikh was a woman whose life was dedicated to the struggle for justice, as well as continuing the deep commitment she held to upholding what she believed was the true message of the Qur’an: justice, peace and love. She considered herself an Islamic feminist, and worked within Muslim communities for women’s rights as both an activist and a journalist.
She was born in 1960, in what was then known as Louis Trichardt (today known as Limpopo Province) in South Africa. She was the second oldest sibling out of six. Her parents, Salahuddin and Mariam Shaikh, raised her quietly in Pietersburg until she completed her matriculation in 1978. She would head off to the University of Durban-Westville, where she would spend a year, only to return to home for unknown reasons. She later returned to university, where she studied Arabic and Psychology, as well as awakening her desire to become involved in social justice. At the time of her return to university, the political climate of Durban-Westville had been charged, mostly due to the new apartheid reforms that had been passed in South Africa. She became involved in the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), where members had been working towards ending the oppressive environment in the academic environment. She would only stay with AZAPO for two years after completing her time at university and would go on to teach at primary and secondary schools located in Pietersburg, as well as marry her partner Na’eem.