There is a close connection between the establishment of Islam in the Cape and Robben Island. During the 18th century a Muslim leader transcribed an important legal text while on the Island. This was later used to encourage the development of an Islamic subculture of resistance in Cape Town.
The Kramat, a Muslim shrine to the west of the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) signifies the relationship between Islam and the Island. It was built in honour of Sheik Madura or the Prince of Madura, Pangeran Chakra Deningrat, who died on the Island in 1754. The Prince’s body was returned to his son in Indonesia and is currently buried in Jakarta. The Kramat on the Island forms part of the estimated 23 Kramats which form part of the “Holy Circle of Islam” surrounding Cape Town. Tuan Guru, the first “Chief Imam” of the Cape and the most influential Muslim leader, was imprisoned on the Island from 1780 to 1793. He was a prince from Tidore in the Ternate Islands and wrote a book on Islamic jurisprudence. This book became the main source of reference for the Cape Muslim community in the 19th century. Other high ranking Muslim men such as Jina Apdulau from Ternate, Hadjee Mattaram and (Norman) Noriman (also known as Imam Norma) from Bantam were also imprisoned on the Island. Reportedly all the Muslims banished to the Island formed a community of worshippers. A community they sustained on the mainland when they were released. In 1967, the current Kramat on the Island was rebuilt by prisoners in a design similar to the one situated on Lion’s Head erected in honour of Ghaibi Shah.