Achmat Davids deregulated the academy.
Rising from the ranks of social worker to social worker to social anthropologist, to educationist, to cultural historian, to linguist … he refused to be contained by the schools, structures or paradigms peculiar to these disciplines…he brought to each an academic effervescence through his numerous publications.
Meaningful contribution rather than personal achievement: this he demonstrated by his endless hours of painstaking research even to detriment of his personal state of health.
He wrote what he believed and his beliefs inspired him to defend his research even against academic giants…and he emerged triumphant.
He refused to be drawn into idle discourse and in every talk, every paper he delivered he had a positive message for humanity – even if, through his honest forthrightness he appeared controversial.
Achmat is regarded as the leading authority on South African Muslim culture and history, and acknowledged both internally and nationally as an expert on the genesis of the Afrikaans language.
He presented papers at International Conferences in the United States, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malaysia and Indonesia; and has published at least 46 papers both locally and internationally.
Despite his jovial, affable manner, colleagues and his students alike often tasted his hard, uncompromising and thoroughly scholarly academic arguments.
Criticism of a colleague’s or student’s efforts was to Achmat nothing more than an act of chastisement…
"Ek het hom pakgegee.." An inaccurate, unsubstantiated statement was tantamount to an ethical misdemeanor – a lie.
The world acknowledged his academic contribution:
Diploma in Social Science (UCT)
Fellow of the International Programs of Social Workers and Youth Leaders – Ohio State of University (USA)
Master of Arts (cum laude) – Thesis subject: The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims from 1815 to 1915 – a Socio-Linguistic Study – University of Natal (Durban)
Fellow of the Southern African Research Center – Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (USA)
Fellow, Tumbrill College, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (USA)
PhD – Syekh Yusuf Islamic University – Tangerang, Indonesia, 1994 – in appreciation of his research on Cape Muslim history.
Every single scholar who wishes to say anything about Muslims in South Africa will continue to take Davids as his/her starting point for many years to come. Such is his contribution – a truly worthy sad-qatuj-jaaria!