The uniqueness of Darul Uloom Newcastle can be summarized as follows. It is the first formal institute of Higher Islamic Studies in South Africa. Thus it is fondly referred to as the “mother” of all Darul Ulooms in South Africa. It is the only such institute in which the medium of instruction is via the English language. At its inception, it could easily have been one of a handful of such institutes globally, in which Islamic values and ethos was delivered via the English language. Thus it was on the 13th May 1973 that the doors of Darul Uloom Newcastle were officially opened to the first batch of nine students. The suggested site was the St. Dominic’s academy (a Roman Catholic Convent), in Newcastle. It was lying vacant for over 15 years. Negotiations with the Newcastle Municipality and other stakeholders were held regularly over a period of three years before the acquisition of the said site was approved. This process of negotiation eventually resulted in a meeting that was held at the Newcastle Country Club, to discuss ways and means of obtaining the academy. After lengthy deliberations, it was decided that a company made up of fifty donors be formed. Each individual will then contribute R2000.00 towards the purchasing of the academy, for which the municipality offered at a price of R83, 000. This in brief was how Darul Uloom Newcastle was acquired.
A few more months passed after the acquisition of the land, before classes could commence. This was to allow for the necessary renovations to be completed and to ensure the premises were suitable for lodging. The first official classes began on the 9th of September 1973. For the first three years, Maulana Sema (r.a.) alone taught the students, whilst his wife cooked their food and did their laundry. He attended to all the administration work and other work related to the running of the Darul Uloom.
As the years passed, Darul Uloom became deeply embedded in the hearts of the South African Muslim population. It became known for its ability to accommodate students from all sectors of society. Thus you will find students from your more affluent areas as well from the indigenous populations of South Africa. In addition to this, because the medium of instruction is English, and English being a universally accepted language, Darul Uloom has constantly been flooded with foreign students.
The course offered at the Darul Uloom is unique. It extends over 6 years and although the medium is English it does not alienate the student from the true sources of Islamic knowledge. Thus it enabled its graduates to enjoy a position in which they are completely comfortable within orthodox Islamic circles as well as empowering them to persue the academic and secular fields available within the general society. Darul Uloom through the years has been blessed with many well-known luminaries, locally and globally. This both as part of the teaching staff and as visitations throughout the years.
It is often said and rightfully so that the success of anything can be gauged from the level of its acceptance nationally and internationally as well as how it has withstood the onslaught of time. Since the Darul Uloom has been in existence since 1973 and is growing from strength to strength, this is ample proof in itself not only to the dedication of its current staff but also to the strength of the foundation laid by its founders and well wishers.