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PART 1: UNDERSTANDIN G HISTORY
o History is usually regarded as a record of past events that are arranged in some semblance of order so as to be capable of interpretation. o Historians select information and arrange it according to their understanding or their mandate. History is, therefore, never objective. o In many instances, History is used to maintain the status quo or tell the story of the conqueror. o Napolean Bonaparte once said, “History is a myth that is agreed upon.” o Euro-Centric thinking has had a profound impact on our perception of ourselves as Humanity in the 21st century. o Europe is always depicted as “up” or north and civilized and developed. Greenwich Mean Time is universally accepted as the basis of all time zones. o Based on a different vantage point in the cosmos, Cape Town could be the top of the Northern hemisphere and Timbuktu could be the basis of time. Muslims and non-European people need to deconstruct history [His-Story] and relate events from their own perspective. o Even the size of Africa was distorted on the maps as in the case of the maps of Gerhard Mercator, the 16th century European cartographer. o The modern map [based on the Mercator Projection] shows North America as one and a half times the size of Africa. In reality Africa is three and a half times the size of the United States. Greenland, for Mercator, was almost as large as Africa but in reality Africa is 30 million square kilometers compared to Greenland’s two million.
o Africa is larger than India and China put together and capable of absorbing many times over the acreage of all of the colonial powers that have ravished its land over the centuries. o In 1967, another German, Arno Peters, produced the Peters Projection Map that is a more accurate representation of the size of the continents. He still, however, put Europe at the top of the world. The maps drawn by the famous Muslim cartographers of the past placed Europe at the bottom of the world. Future mapmakers may want to return to the original format. o The name Africa can be traced back to ancient Berber, Roman, Greek and Arabic sources. It referred to a sunny place and was used by the Muslims to refer to their western base in present Tunisia, Ifriqiyaa. So Africa in a modern sense was derived from an Islamic/Arabic word! o European conquers used the term Africa to mean a dark, backward place. Some historians tried to separate Ancient Egypt from Black Africa because of the technological achievements. o What is Africa and who are Africans? Who is an Arab? These may be some of the most important questions of the new century. o Definitions of Africa have been numerous. Here are a few: The racial definition: This understanding restricts Africa to the Black populated parts of the continent. The continental definition: This is the basis of the African Union and tries to restrict Africa as a continent. The power definition: This definition excluded parts of Africa that were under “non-African” control. A fourth definition connects Africa with Arabia and does not stop at the colonial borders. [See Mazrui-The Africans, A Triple Heritage]
o African people regardless of their color, hair texture or origin will have to come up with broad, all-inclusive definitions to facilitate a rebirth of culture and technology.
o Muslims need to benefit from the lessons of those who lived in earlier times. People who do not know their history will be lost in the present and unable to plan properly for the future. Almighty ALLAH
has revealed in [Qur’an: Surat An-Nahl: 36]
ولقد بعثنا في كل أمة رسول أن اعبدوا ال واجتنبوا َُِْ َ ّ َ ُ ُ ْ ِ َ ً ُ ّ ٍ ّ ُ ّ ُ ِ َ ْ َ َ ْ َ ََ ِ ْ ََ ْ ّ َ ْ ّ ُ ْ ِ َ ّ الطاغوت ۖ فمنهم من هدى ال ومنهم من حقت عليه ُ َ َ ْ ّ ُ ِْ َ َ ُ ّ ُ َ ِ َ َ َ َ ْ َ ُ ُ َ ِ ْ َْ ِ ُ ِ َ ُ ََ ّ الضللة ۚ فسيروا في الرض فانظروا كيف كان عاقبة َ ِّ َ ُ ْ المكذبين
“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah)." Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).”
o Muslims should not be Euro-centric, Afro-centric or Indo-centric but “Makkah-centric”. History needs to be “our story” not “his story”. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Daniels, Robert V., Studying History and Why, USA, 1966. Mazrui, Ali, The Africans, A Triple Heritage, New York., 1986. Thomson, Ahmad, Making History,
ISLAM IN THE NEAR WEST PART 2: THE FIRST HIJRA TO ALHABASHA
o In the early Makkan period, the persecution of Quraish gradually became intolerable. o After five years of Prophethood, Prophet Muhammad
sent his followers away to Al-Habasha across the Red Sea, to seek sanctuary from torture and murder. o The Prophet ( ρ ) encouraged them, saying “If you go to Abysinnia [it would be better for you], for in it there is a King who will not tolerate oppression. It is a land of truth. Go until such time as ALLAH( Ι ) shall relieve you from your distress.” [Authentic Hadeeth, Reported by Ahmad] o Twelve men and four women, including ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and Ruqayyah bint Muhammad ( ρ ) made the journey. After settling in Al Habasha for a few months, the Muhaajireen got word that Quraish had embraced Islam so they returned to Makkah. o Notables of Quraish has prostated towards the Ka’bah with the Prophet Muhammad ( an-Najm. The awe-inspiring words of ALLAH ( Ι ) had captured their imaginations. They were denounced by they fellow polytheists and the repression continued. o A larger group of emigrants, subsequently left Makkah and headed towards Al Habasha. 83 men and 19 women escaped the persecution and sought refuge with the righteous emperor of Axum, As’hamah.
who had had before them Surah
o Quraish sent delegations, led by ‘Amr ibn Al-‘aas and Abdullah ibn Abu Rabee’ah to bring the Muhaajireen back to Makkah. The polytheists used bribery and lies to carry out their plan. o When the king summoned the Muslims to defend themselves, Ja’far ibn Abi Talib addressed the king and read from Surah Maryam. The Emperor, As’hamah and his court wept and gave full protection to the Muslims. o In the year 6 A.H., a letter from Prophet Muhammad ( ρ ) was delivered to An-Najaashi and he secretly embraced Islam. (see a copy of this letter below) As’hamah sent his son, Armah and 60 riders to announce his Islam in Al-Madinah, but they perished in the Red Sea during their journey, o Despite a near revolution in al Habasha, the Muslims lived there for a number of years until they are called to Madinah to join the Islamic state. o An-Najaashi, Ashamah, died as a Muslim and the Prophet
made Janazah for an absent person and proof that Muslims had entered Africa not as conquerors but as humble refugees. o Almighty ALLAH ( Ι ) revealed the following verse in response to criticism of the Janazah of An-Najaashi:
وإن من أهل الكتاب لمن يؤمن بال وما أنزل إليكم وما َ َ ْ ُ ْ َ ِ َ ِ ُ َ َ ّ ِ ُ ِ ْ ُ َ َ ِ َ ِ ْ ِ ْ َ ْ ِ ّ َِ ِ ۗ أنزل إليهم خاشعين ل ل يشترون بآيات ا ّ ثمنا قليل ً َِ ً َ َ ِ ِ َ ِ َ ُ َ ْ َ َ ّ َ ِ ِ َ ْ ِ ْ َِ َ ِ ُ ل ِ أولٰئك لهم أجرهم عند ربهم ۗ إن ال سريع الحساب ِ َ ِ ْ ُ ِ َ ّ ّ ِ ْ ِ َّ َ ِ ْ ُ ُ ْ َ ْ ُ َ َ ِ ُ َ
“And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the Verses of Allah for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is Swift in account.” [Surat Al-‘Imran: 99]
o Fifteen Sahabah died during the Hijra to Al Habasha. Many are buried with An-Najaashi in Negash, Tigray Province. o Some of the recorded Abyssinian Male Companions of the Prophet (
are the following:
Sayyidna Bilal ibn Rabah, Manhaj al Habashi, Abu Bakrah al Habashi, Shuqran al Habashi, Dhu Makhmar al Habashi, Khalid ibn al Hawaari, Khalid ibn Rabah (Brother of Bilal), Aslam, Saar, Yasaar, Aslam al Habashi, Hilal, Wahshi, Asim, Naa’il, Laqeet, Ji’aal, Ibrahim, Abraha ibn Sabah, Abraha ibn Fathoom, Ayman and Anjasha al Habashi o Some of the female companions are as follows: Umm Ayman (Barakah), the dry nurse of the Prophet
, Sa’eerah, Barakah, the servant of Umm Habeebah, Ghafeerah bin Rabah (sister of Bilal), Nab’ah Al Habashiyyah
o It is also recorded that 32 Abyssinians migrated to Madinah with Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib. They joined the young Muslim community and dedicated their lives to the establishment of Islam. TRANSLATION OF THE LETTER In the name of ALLAH (
From Muhammad ( ρ ) As’hamah Emperor of Al-Habasha.
, the Beneficent the Merciful the Messenger of ALLAH to An-Najaashu,
Peace be upon he who follows guidance. As to what follows
Verily for you I praise ALLAH ( Ι ) , the one whom there is no deity except Him, The Sole King, The Holy, The Source of Peace. The Protector and The Guardian. I bear witness that Jesus, the son of Maryam is the spirit belonging to ALLAH ( Ι ) and His Word that He cast into the chaste and excellent virgin, Maryam. She thus became pregnant by means of His spirit and His inspiration with Jesus in the same manner that He created Adam with His Hands. Verily I invite you and your armed forces to ALLAH
, Most High.
Thus I have delivered the message and given you counsel, therefore accept my counsel. Peace be upon he who follows the Guidance. AN-NAJAASHI’S RESPONSE To Muhammad, the Messenger of ALLAH ( Najaashi ALLAH (
from As’hamah, An-
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Peace be upon you, Oh Prophet of ALLAH and mercy and blessings from . Surely there is no Deity but ALLAH. Ibn Al-Atheer, Al Kamil Fit-‘Tareekh, Dar ulKutub Al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1987. As for what follows Ibn Ishaaq, As-Seerah An-Nabawiyyah LiIbn Ishaaq, Dar-ul-Kutub- Al-‘Ilmiyyah, Your message had reached me, Oh Messenger of ALLAH ( ρ ) and Beirut, 2004. that which you mentioned concerning Jesus is exactly as you have stated. Ibn Jareer, At-Tabari, Tareekh At-Tabari, Dar-ul-Ma’aarif, Egypt. We have understood your message to us and have gotten close to your nephew (Ja’far ibn Abi Talib) and his companions. I bear witness that you Ibn Hishaam, Seeratun-Nabi Li’Ibn are the messenger of ALLAH ( Ι Hishaam, Dar-us-Sahaabah Li-Turath, I ) and I have confirmed that truth. Tanta, Egypt, 1995. have pledged allegiance to you and your nephew. I have embraced Islam on his hands for ALLAH
( Ι Ibn Katheer, of all the worlds. ) , Lord Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah,
Dar Hajr, Egypt. Mahdi Rizq ALLAH Ahmad, As-Seerah AnNabawiyyah Fi Daw Al-Masaadir AlAsliyyah, King Saud Univ., 1992. Sameer Abdul Azeez Mannesi, Islaam Najaashi Al-Habashi, Dar ul-Fikr Al-‘Arabi, 2001. Sayyid ibn Saadiq Al-Wullu, Manhal al-‘Atshaan Fi Tareekh Al-Habshaan, Addis
PART 3: IN DEFENSE OF MONOTHEISM
o The true followers of Jesus ( ρ ) spread the teachings of Tawheed to the East and the South of Palestine after his demise. They were known as the Nazarenes for they maintained the Law of Moses, confirmed the Oneness of ALLAH ( Ι ) and the Prophethood of Jesus, the son of Mary. For this, they were persecuted by the Roman Empire.
o Another group of the followers of Jesus ( ρ ) adopted the teachings of Paul who had not been a follower of Jesus yet claimed the witnessed Christ on the Damascus road. Paul claimed that the teachings were not exclusive to Jews and that is not necessary to follow the Law of Moses. His followers were called Christians and his doctrine lead to the divinity of Christ and the Crucifixion concept. o By 312 A.D, when the power of Rome was centered in Constantinople, Constantine became Emperor and set out to unify Christianity and extend the power of the empire. He united the Sabbath of the church with the pagan day of worship, “Sun-Day” and adopted the “cross”, a pagan symbol, as the official symbol of Christendom. o The teachings of Jesus as preserved by the Nazarenes had spread far and wide and by the 4th Century were lead by Arius, a Libyan priest. He refused to accept the innovations of Paul and declared openly that Jesus ( ρ ) was a Prophet and a human being. These views were not acceptable to the official Roman church that still maintained the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the original sin and the Crucifixion. o Constantine tried to unite the two divisions of Christianity but to no avail. He called a council of all the Bishops of Christendom in 325 A.D. It resulted in the acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity as the “true doctrine of ‘orthodox Christianity.” The four gospels of the New Testament, none of them eye-witness accounts were given official status. All other accounts of Jesus either banned or put into hiding.
o After the Council of Nicaea, possession of any other Gospel was officially considered an offense. The Unitarians were labeled as “Heretics” and over one and a half million were killed. Arius, himself, was poisoned and died in Constantinople in 336 A.D. The official Roman Catholic Church had become subservient to the Roman Emperor and the imperial designs of the Empire. o Despite the widespread persecution, the Unitarians (or Arians) were able to survive and permeate the populations of Syria, Palestine and North Africa. According to the Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu, there were three types of Christians in Egypt in
the early 7th Century: the Roman Catholics, The Egyptians Coptic’s and the Arians. o The Prophet(
In the Name of ALLAH (
’s Letter to the Romans:
, The Beneficent, the Merciful
From Muhammad, the Messenger of ALLAH the Emperor of Rome.
Peace be upon he who follows the guidance. As to what follows: Verily I invite you with the Call of Islam. Accept Islam and you will saved. Accept Islam and ALLAH ( Ι ) will give you two rewards. If you turn away, then yo will be accountable for the sins of the Areesiyeen (Arians).
ْ ُ َ ْ َ َ َ َ ْ َ ٍ َ َ ٍ َ ِ َ َٰ ِ ْ َ َ َ ِ َ ِ ْ َ ْ َ َ ْ ُ قل يا أهل الكتاب تعالو ا إلى كلمة سواء بيننا وبينكم أل نعبد إل ال ول نشرك به شيئا ول يتخذ بعضنا َُ ْ َ َ ِ َّ َ َ ًْ َ ِ ِ َ ِ ْ ُ َ َ ّ ّ ِ َ ُْ َ ّ َ َ بعضا أربابا من دون ال ۚ فإن تولوا فقولوا اشهدوا بأنا ّ َِ ُ َ ْ ُ ُ َ ْ َّ َ ِ َ ّ ِ ُ ّ ً َ ْ َ ً ْ َ ِ َ ُ ِْ ُ مسلمون
“Say (O Muhammad SAW): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: "Bear witness that we are Muslims."” [Surat Ale’Imran: 64]
o Islam’s first northern bridgehead in Africa was Egypt where a comparatively small Muslim force led by ‘Amr ibn Al ‘Aas was able to overthrow the unpopular and foreign Byzantine ruler. They were assisted by the local Christians (Coptic and Arian) who played a critical role in the victory. o ‘Amr was visited by representatives of the Berber people who wanted to enter Islam. They were sent to the Khalifah ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab who welcomed them and shed tears when they described themselves. ‘Umar declared that the Prophet
had prophesied the opening of the lands of people of this description.
o Under the Caliphate, Islam spread rapidly among the masses of the people and soon became the leading religion of the lower Nile. o The struggle against Roman oppression and domination continued and Muslim forces continued Westward along the Mediterranean coast. They met stronger resistance as they advanced. Byzantine armies attacked from the coast and pagan Berber tribes descended from the mountains. o ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi, leader of the Muslim forces, established Qayrawaan (Kairouan) in 670 A.D. as the spiritual and operational capital of Islam iin North Africa. It was strategically located in the desert in order to prevent attacks from the mountains or the sea. o Qayrawaan later became the seat of Islamic authority in the region and the educational centre of learning. o Great scholars, especially of the Maliki school of thought, formulated their ideas in the spacious Masjid ‘Uqbah ibn Nafi’. Important decisions were made by the Western leaders of Islam in these courtyards. o The spread of Islam in Africa was independent of the military confrontations and a result of migration, trade, and the wandering of scholars and holy men. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING o Non-Arab peoples who adopted or came in contact with Islam
became familiar with Arabic as a language of religion and trade Ibn Khaldun, Tareekh Ibn and scholarship. Khaldun, Dar ul-Fikr, Beirut, o In 705, Hassan ibn Nu’man founded 2001. and the areas Tunis became known as “Ifriqiyyah”. Khan, Muhammad Moljum, The Muslim 100, Kube Publishing Ltd., Leicestershire, U.K., 2008. Sulaiman, Faadil, Ad-Difa’a ‘anNafs min Dawaafi’ Fath AlMuslimeen LiMisr, M.A. Thesis, American Open University, 2008. Thomson, Ahmad, ‘Ata’ur – Rahman, Muhammad, For Christ’s Sake, Taha Publishers, London, 1989. Thomson, Ahmad, Islam in
PART 4: AFRICAN/ MUSLIM PRESENCE IN EUROPE
o In 708 A.D., Musa ibn Nusair was appointed governor of the Western lands of Islam (North Africa). He succeeded in consolidating Islamic rule throughout the region and presented Islam to the Berber people. As a result, the Berbers, especially the former Arians, entered Islam in droves and the teachings of monotheism reigned supreme. o Qayrawaan remained the capital of Western Muslims and the seat of Islamic educational and spiritual authority. o In contrast, across the Mediterranean Sea, the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) lay in the darkness of tyranny and oppression. The reigning Visigoth ruler Roderick subjugated the masses, enriched the elite and spread Trinitarianism throughout the land, o King Roderick ruthlessly punished the Jewish population with the approval and support of the Catholic Church. o The people of Iberia began to call for land reform and an equal distribution of wealth. As this call for liberation from the despotic rule of the Trinitarians intensified, Musa ibn Nusair pondered the idea of launching an assault from the south. o Ilyan (Julian), the Christian governor of Ceuta (in Morocco) who had accepted Islamic sovereignty, met with Musa in Qayrawaan and encouraged him to liberate the Iberian Peninsula from Visigoth rule. Ilyan’s daughter had been violated by King Roderick in the Visigoth capital, Toledo, during her stay in Spain.
o In 711 A.D., Musa sent his general Tariq ibn Ziyaad who used boats provided by Ilyan and motivated his small force to assault the armies of Roderick, and begin the liberation of the peninsula with the promises of the help of ALLAH (
o Tariq landed at Gibraltar that now takes his name (Jabal Tariq) and succeeded in defeating Roderick’s huge army of over 100,000 men with only 12,000 soldiers. This victory opened the door for the rest of the peninsula and Tariq swiftly conquered a large part of Iberia before retiring to Toledo. o In 712 A.D., Musa crossed the straits with a large army and opened up a number of major cities. Everywhere, the Muslim armies went; they treated the locals as equals and ruled with justice and fairness. As a result of their exemplary behavior, large numbers of people entered into Islam. o Musa and Tariq stayed in Al-Andalus for three years, liberating the cities and spreading Islam far and wide. All but the mountainous corner of the northwest remained out of their reach. They would have continued on to Damascus via Europe if the Caliph had not halted their march. o For the next forty years, the people of Al-Andalus enjoyed their new freedom and lived under leadership chosen by Damascus, Qayrawaan and sometimes themselves. They needed a force to unite their land and consolidate their identity. o In 755 A.D., ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Mu’aawiya arrived in Al-Andalus fleeing Abbasid persecution. The people rallied behind his leadership and appointed him Amir. The Falcon of Al-Andalus united the country and ruled for 32 years, o Abdur-Rahman made Cordoba his capitl and throughout his life embellished Al-Andalus with aqueducts, gardens, hospitals, schools, public baths and a vast amount of public works. He purchased the cathedral of Cordoba for 100,000 dinars and began the building of the Grand Mosque of Cordoba, the largest house of worship in Western Europe. o As its height around 1000 A.D., Cordoba had over 200,000 houses, 600 mosques, 900 public baths, 50 hospitals, and several large markets that catered for all branches of trade and commerce, including 15,000 weavers! The streets were lit for 10 miles in any
direction, an innovation that took London and Paris 700 years in achieve! o Al-Andalus became the most populous, cultured and industrious land of all Europe and remained so for centuries. Jews and Christians lived side by side with their Muslim rulers and flourished culturally, economically, and educationally. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Adil SAeed Bashtaawi, AlAndalusiyeen Al-Mawaarikah, Cairo, 2001. ‘Isaam-ud Deen AlFaqi, Tareekh AlMaghrib wa-Al-Andalus, Cairo, 2001. Shakir Mustapha, Al-Andalus fiTareekh, Ministry of Culture, Damascus Syria, 1990. Thomson, Ahmad, Islam in Andalus,
PART 5: RISE AND FALL OF CIVILIZATION
ISLAMIC REVIVAL IN AL-ANDALUS AND NORTH AFRICA
o The arrival of Muslims marked, not only a fresh start for Spain but for the whole of Europe. Through Islamic Spain, Muslims introduced concepts of tolerance, civil society, arts, sciences, mathematics and philosophy that Europe had never seen before. It was the start of a new Renaissance in civilization that we are still benefitting from today. o In 912 A.D., ‘Abdur-Rahman III took over the leadership of AlAndalus and ruled for 50 years. He abolished all of the taxes that were contrary to Islamic law, encouraged agriculture and trade and laid the foundation of national prosperity. o After securing the borders of the country, he began the project of building an amazing complex of palaces and garden called Madinat-az-Zahra. It was considered to be one of the wonders of the world at that time.
o In 976 A.D., Muhammad ibn ‘Aamir, known as Al-Mansur, established his authority as Caliph and built another incredible palace called Az-Zaahira on the banks of the Guadalquivir river in Cordoba. Both palaces were eventually destroyed in civil wars. o The body politic of the Muslims divided and divided again. Within fifteen years of Al-Mansur’s death, the whole of AlAndalus was carved up into numerous small kingdoms, each with its own ruler. They fought amongst themselves, often enlisting the aid of the Trinitarian Christians, who were only too happy to oblige. o An over abundance of wealth, squabbling over power, tribalism and abandonment of the Sunnah lead to internal corruption and an imminent attack by the forces of the Trinitarian north. o Around 1039-49, Abdullah Ibn Yasin, a teacher from the Dar-al Murabitun school of the Souss region of Morocco under the guidance of the scholars of Qayrawaan, influenced the Berber tribes of the Sanhaja and the Lamtuna to unite and embrace a strict form of Islamic Practice. o The Murabitun movement immediately found support from the settled populations of North and West Africa. They took control of much of the Sahara region and under the leadership of Abu Bakr ibn ‘Umar made Marrakesh as their capital. o Ibn Yasin went south and established Ribats on the rivers of West Africa. He was killed in battle in the southern Sahara but the movement continued to expand. o In 1061, Yusuf ibn Tashfin, a leader of the Lamtuna, was appointed Amir of Morocco. He was tireless, austere leader who gained the unshakeable allegiance of his followers. o In 1086, Yusuf ibn Tashfin, responded to a call for aid from AlMu’tamid, the ruler of Seville, who had been forced to pay tribute to Trinitarian Christian rulers. When asked about the danger of bringing the Murabitun to Al-Andalus, he replied, “Better to be a camel driver than a swine-herd”. o In response to Al-Mu’tamid, Ibn Tashfin sent a huge army to AlAndalus and decisively defeated the Christian ruler Alfonso IV at Sagrajas. He returned with his troops to Africa.
o In 1088, Ibn Tashfin was called again to repulse the Christian advance. The Murabitun were victorious but after a third landing in 1090, they took control of the whole of Muslim Andalus themselves. The Muslim rulers become corrupt, divided and treacherous. o The Murabitun were meticulous in their practice of the Qur’an and Sunnah and based their movement on three aspects: Calling people to righteousness, repelling injustice and forbidding any taxation not permitted by the Shari’ah. o They gained control of Southern Spain, North Africa and across the Sahara desert. When they established justice and adhered to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, they were successful and maintained control over a vast expense of land. When they succumbed to the enjoyments of the world and became corrupt, their rule came to an end. The cycle of rule, spoken about by Ibn Khaldun in his Muqaddimah, came to pass. o Around 1121, the Muwahhidun movement was formed in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco by Muhammad ibn Tumart. He was a Berber from the Masmuda tribe, who later became known as Al Mahdi. He based his movement on Tawheed and sought to purify Islam in North Africa and Al-Andalus. o Ibn Tumart died in 1130, but his successor ‘Abdul Mu’min ‘Ali conquered most of Muslim North Africa and Al Andalus. The dying Murabitun empire was revived and Islam was able to flourish once more among the population of Southern Spain and North Africa. o Al-Muwahhidun ruled all of southern Spain and North Africa until their decline around 1212 A.D. The south was gradually lost except Granada that held out as the stronghold of Andalusian Muslims till 1492 A.D. o Al-Andalus and the Islamic civilization that shone in its lands for over 700 years is one of the clearest examples of the importance of practicing Islam in all spheres of life. Even Muslims who establish Islamic societies are subjected to the rise and fall of nations that has plagued society all over the planet.
PART 6: ACROSS THE SAHARA DESERT TO WEST AFRICA
LESSONS IN ISLAMIZATION
o In 734 A.D., the Amir of Ifriqiyyah sent out trade mission to cross the Sahara. They found large amounts of gold originating in wellprotected mines below the Niger River of West Africa. o Wells were dug along the major traditional trade routes. TransSaharan commerce began to flourish at an unprecedented level. o The knowledge of early West Africa is almost completely dependant on historical writings in the Arabic language. In the 8th
century, Al Fazari indicated the existence of the state of Ghana, The Land of Gold. o In 1068, the Andalusina geographer, Al-Bakri’s book, Books and Routes, gives us a detailed picture of trade and politics in the Western Sudan. He brought valuable information about three powerful states: Ghana, Takrur, and Gao. o The capital of Ghana included a Muslim town and a royal town. The two were separated. This allowed each group to maintain and practice different religious rites that may have been offensive to the other group. The Muslims served the King as scribes, accountants, trade advisors and translators. They benefitted society and the non-Muslim ruler gave them autonomy and protection. This relationship of tolerance and autonomy is the basis of a mutual co-existence where Islam can spread peacefully. o There is no solid evidence of a conquest of Ghana by the Almoravids (Al-Murabitun) but according to Az-Zuhri and Al-Bakri, Ghana came under the influence of Al Murabitun when they penetrated the Sahara region. After their entry into Ghana, the kind remained in place and Al-Murabitun focused on spreading Islam and calling to righteousness. o In 1150, Al Idrisi, writing in Sicily, presented a picture of Takrur as a strong Islamic empire. The ruler had become a Muslim around 1040 A.D. o Takrur, a Wolof/Berber state was won over completely to Islam by its King War Jabi (died in 1040). Takrur represented a state that demanded the practice of Islam in all spheres. There was no compromise with un-Islamic lifestyle and practices. Non-Muslims could live within the state but Islam had to be dominant. o The King of Gao, on the other hand, was describes as a Muslim whose royal emblem was Islamic but whose subjects, for the most part, still worshipped Idols. In addition to this, pre-Islamic customs abounded and were practiced along side Islamic lifestyle. This approach not only allowed for the existence of the two systems, but also integrated their practices into the dominant way of life. o These three forms of co-existence between Muslims and people of other faiths became the basis of Islamic movements in West Africa and in some cases, the foundations of dynastic rule.
o Even today, Muslim minorities are faced with varying circumstances and evolving societies. SUGESSTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Ali Kettani, Rihlah Ibn Battuta, Mu’assassah ArRisaalah, Beirut, 1990. As-Sa’adi, Tareekh As-Sudan, Libraire D’Amerique et D’Orient, Paris 1981. Clarke, Peter West Africa and Islam, London, 1982. Salaah-ud-Deen Al Manji, Mamlakatu Mali, Dar ul-Kutub Al-Jadeed, Beirut,
PART 7: ISLAM IN ANCIENT MALI
THE IMPORTANCE OF TIMBUKTU
o Islam reached the Mandinka in the 11th century but in the 13th century, the King of Mallel accepted Islam. Al-Bakri wrote about
this encounter where a Muslim cleric succeeded in convincing the King to believe in One God, ALLAH a miracle.
, through prayer and
o Sunjata Keita (Mari Jata), a hunter, magician and nominal Muslim united the Mandinka and defeated Sumanguru of the Susu. He became the founder og the Mali nation that was named after the hippopotamus, the largest creature in the river. o Mali transformed from a small Mandinka (Malinke) kingdom into a multi-ethnic empire with its expansion from the upper Niger eastward and into Sahel. o Through control of the Saharan trade, Mali kings could also perform pilgrimage to Makkah and come in contact with the wider Muslim world. o Mansa Uli made pilgrimage to Makkah and expanded Mali to include Walata, Gao, and Timbuktu. o Mansa Sulayman (ruled 1337-1359 A.D.) built mosques and strengthened Islamic culture throughout the empire. Ibn Battuta visited Mali during his reign and was impressed by the security, the concern for the study of the Qur’an and the elaborate public observance of the Friday prayer (Jumu’ah). o Mansa Musa made pilgrimage to Makkah in 1324 A.D. He carried so mch gold with him that he changed the economy of every country that he entered. o He was described in Cairo as a pious man who strictly observed his prayers and recitation of the blessed Qur’an. He was hosted by the Bahri Mamlukes of Egypt who escorted his entourage through the Arabian peninsula to the holy sites. o On his return, Mansa Musa brought back books, scholars, architects, and missionaries. He built mosques and empowered Muslims wherever he was able too. o On arriving in Timbuktu, Mansa Musa found an empire of knowledge called Timbuktu and paid special attention to develop it. o Timbuktu was founded by a Tuareg client woman who needed a mosquito-free base to protect the goods of her nomadic clients.
She dug a well, some 12 kilometers (8 miles) north of the Niger River floodplain along the southern edge of the Sahara. This small, seemingly insignificant campsite, known as “Tin-Buktu” or the place (or well) of Buktu became the cornerstone of the thriving, bustling city. o It provided a natural meeting place for the Tuareg, the Arabs, the Wangara, the Songhai, the Soninke, and the Fulani, as well as a central marketplace for the gold of the south and the salt and goods of the Mediterranean. o A symbiotic relationship formed between the merchants and the tent dwelling Tuareg. Soon the mosques and madrasahs appeared as traders and scholars began to flock to the city. o Mansa Musa, on his return from Makkah commissioned his chief architect, the Andalusian Abu Ishaq As-Saheli to build the largest house of worship in the whole of West Africa and a spacious royal palace. The grand mosque called Jingarey Ber or Al-Masjid Al-Kabir is still standing and has been the primary site for Friday prayers in Timbuktu since that time! o Timbuktu later became a centre of learning and a producer and exporter of rarae and valuable Islamic books. Famous Muslim travelers like Ibn Battuta and Hassan al-Wazzan (Leo Africanus) visited Timbuktu and were amazed at the high level of scholarship and the insatiable love for the study of the Arabic language and the blessed Qur’an. o Hassan al-Wazzan wrote: “Hither are brought diverse manuscripts or written books, which are sold for more money than any other merchandise.” o At the height of the city’s golden age in the 16th century, Timbuktu boasted over 150 schools and a major university at the Sankore Mosque that enrolled over 25,000 students. o Timbuktu also became a principal staging point along the pilgrimage roué to Makkah and thus, became a central point of scholars and travelers to the Middle East and a perfect base for the dissemination of Islamic knowledge and ideas. Thousands of manuscripts were stored in private collections and coped by local scribes for use in the many institutes of learning.
o Today many of these great works have been unearthed from private collections and stored documentations center. The most famous is the Ahmad Baba Center for Documentation which began its collection around 1970 and now become one of the chief cultural projects of the African Union. o Timbuktu with its thousands of manuscripts and its deep legacy destroys racist notions of Black inferiority and educational backwardness. Timbuktu gives solid proof of a powerful African past and an unbroken chain of African scholarship. o Timbuktu also brings out Islam’s great legacy of development in Africa and its proper place in the annals of African achievement. It’s well preserved lessons of spirituality and peacemaking may very well hold some of the answers to today’s complex problems of war and never ending conflict.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Kati, Mahmud, Tareekh alFattash, (Ed. And Trans.O. Hondas and M. Delafosse) Paris 1964. Levtzion, Nehemia, Ancient Ghana and Mali, London Methuen, 1973. Saad, Elias, Social History of Timbuktu, Cambridge University Press, 1983.
ISLAM IN THE FAR WEST
PART 8: THE GOLDEN AGE
OF ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION
o The term “Black Ages” is usually used to describe an era that spanned some 1000 years between 400-1500 A.D. Undoubtedly, Europe had sunken into a state of ignorance, barbarism and gloom but this territory only constituted a small portion of the known world. o The world of Islam experienced a “Golden Age” of discovery and achievement between 622-1492 A.D. The message of Tawheed had spread from Arabia to chine in the east, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Russian steppers in the north and the East Africa coast in the south within 100 years! Society after society Islam without compulsion and remained that way for hundreds of years. This is a phenomenon unparalleled in history. o The concept of Tawheed (monotheism and unity) after confirming the unity of God, united humanity into one single family and considered knowledge as a blessing wherever it was encountered. o Muslims possessed something unheard of in the 7th century-open minds. They not only stumbled upon the teachings of the ancient societies as they traveled throughout the earth but they searched for it! Within a short period of time, they were able to recover much of the earliest sources of wisdom of human civilization. They assembled the writings of the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Syrians, Persians, Greeks and other people.
o Storehouses of knowledge were found in libraries in Alexandria, Constantinople and in the dust of monasteries and temples. o These scholarly writings were translated and often assimilated into Islamic thought. Most of this translation occurred in a 200 year period spanning the 9-11th centuries. In some cases, Muslim rulers paid translators the weight of the book in gold as an incentive. The most prestigious center of learning was Baghdad’s Bayt ul-Hikmah that led the way in the 800’s. o Muslim scientists from all over the world gathered together with scholars from Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and even Zoroastrian background in the halls of Baghdad, Cordoba, Cairo and other centers of Islam. They developed the scientific method and perfected it by performing precise experiments based on their own theories and those of the ancients. o Most history books entirely omit contributions made by the Muslim scholars during this period but an objective look at the sources of modern science and scholarship will show that only did the Muslims preserve ancient knowledge but they also laid down the foundations of modern thought. o Some of the sciences originated by Muslims are as follows: Algebra, Anesthesia, Biology, Botany, Cardiology, Chemistry, Dermatology, Embryology, Emergency Medicine, Geology, Metallurgy, Modern Surgery, Modern Medicine, Modern Arithmetic, Optics, Parasitology, Pharmacology, Pulmonary Medicine, Toxicology, and Urology. o Sciences advanced by Muslims: Acoustics, Agronomy, Anatomy, Calculus, Electrochemistry, Engineering, Genetics, Geometry, Geophysics, Meteorology, Physics, Taxonomy, Thermodynamics and Zoology. o Latin names of some of the famous Muslim scholars: Averroes (Ibn Rushd), Avenzoar (Ibn Zuhr), Avincenna (Ibn Sina), Alpetragius (AlBitruji), Alhazen (Al-Haytham), Alkindi (Al-Kindi), Albucasis (AzZahrawi), Algorismus (Al-Khwaruzimi), Albategnius (Al-Battani), Rhases (Ar-Razi), Jabir (Jabir bin Hayyan), Omar Khayyam (Umar Al-Khayyam). o Some of substances and devices introduced to Europe by Muslims: Pendulums, cotton, paper, glass, mirrors, crystal, street lamps, colored glass, satin, pepper, paper money, postage stamps, book
bindings, clocks, soap, astrolabes, compasses, slide rules, flasks, surgical instruments, windmills, artificial teeth, spinning wheels (for textiles), globes, citrus, fruits, eye glasses, porcelain, gun powder, cables (shipping), velvet, almanacs, encyclopedias, saddles, and leather shoes. o In the 1930’s, Walt Taylor recorded approximately 1,000 English words of Arabic origin. Some of these words are as follows: admiral (amir-al-bahr) alcohol (al-quhul), alcove (al-qubba), algebra (al-jabr), algorithm (al-Kawarizimi) almanac (al-manaakh), amber (anbar), arsenal (dar sina’ah), assassin (hashasheen), caliber (qalib), camphor (kafur), cheque (sakk), chemistry (alkimiya), cotton (qutn), lemon (leymun), magazine (makhaazin), mattress (matrah), mansoon (mawsim), sugar (sukkar), syrup (sharab), typhoon (tufaan), and zero (sifr). o The scholars of Europe recognized the achievements of the Muslims and began to frantically translate their works. Thousands SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER of Latin renditions were produced mainly in the 13th-15th centuries. READING o This massive transfer of knowledge came about because there Arjam, K, The Miracles of were European scholars who stayed in Islamic Spain. Gerard of Islamic Science, Cedar Rapids, Cremona (A.D.1187) spent many years in Toledo and translated Iowa, USA, 1992. over 90 Arabic works in Latin. This included Ptolemy’s Almagest and Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine. In addition to The Hidden Al-Djazairi, S.E., this, paper manufacturing had been introduced into Europe and Christian Debt to Islamic Civilisation, th armies succeeded in capturing cities Al-Hikma Press, Oxford, Bayt like Toledo by the 11 century. They found the works intact and relied on Spanish Jews to 2005. carry out translations. Al-Djazairi, S.E., The Golden o European scholars made great contributions toof Islamic Age of Decline science and literature but to omit the Islamic achievements of this age is one Civilsation, Bayt Al-Hikma the greatest deceptions in history (HIS-STORY!) Press, Oxford, 2005 Ahmad, Nafis, Muslim Contributions to Geography, Lahore, Sh.M Ashraf Publications. Bernal, J.D., Science in History, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A 1965. Nasr, S.H., Science and Civilisation, N.Y., U.S.A. 1976 Sarton, G., Introduction to the History of Science, vol.1&2, Baltimore, USA, 1927. TAYLOR, W., Arabic Words in
PART 9: MUSLIM
PRESENCE IN THE AMERICAS
o Astronomy was one of the first sciences Muslim scholars were attracted too. The importance of the direction of Makkah as the Qiblah of prayer and the place of the Pilgrimage made all Muslims concerned with direction and their relationship with the heavens. o During the Golden Age of Isla, Astronomy became a precise science for the first rime. Muslim astronomers understood that the spherical shaped earth rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun. o In 830 A.D. Caliph Al-Mamun of Baghdad, who established Bayt-ulHikmah, commissioned his astronomers to study the findings of
Ptolemy, Greece’s greatest astronomer. On of his staff, AlFarghani, published a book that became the main authority for Astronomy in Western Asia and Europe for nearly 700 years! o Muslim scientists mastered the art of the production of astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe, quadrants, sextants, and armillaris of various types. Even European explorers like Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Magellan used Islamic astrolabes and often had Muslims to operate them. o Muslim accomplishments in Geography were staggering as geographers of Islam wrote thousands of pages about the lands and people of the world. They published the world’s first almanacs, atlases and encyclopedias as well as producing complex road maps and globes. Perhaps their most astounding achievement was the development of the magnetic needle that led to the first true compass. o During this era, the whole of Europe believed that the earth was flat and those who tried to prove otherwise were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and executed. o In the 10th century, a brilliant scholar and traveler from Baghdad, Abul Hasan Ali Al-Mas’udi, travelled throughout the known world reaching southern Africa, India, China, and Korea. In his famous book, Maruj-adh-Dhahab wa Ma’adin al-Jawhar (The Meadows of gold and Quarries of Jewels), he intimately described the countries that he had seen. He also drew a map of the world in 957 A.D. that showed an “unknown territory” that could be the Americas. o Abu Abdullah Muhammad Al-Idrisi, the top cartographer of the “Golden Age” made an accurate globe of the world in the 12th century for Roger II, the King of Sicily. He had also determined the sources of the Nile River and the cause of its floods. He was the first geographer to apply scientific methods to the study of the topography of the earth. o Ibn Battuta, the greatest traveler in history, covered 75,000 miles at a time when there was no advanced method to travel. In 1325, he left his home in Tangiers, Morocco and stayed on the road for 30 years, recording societies in the remotest parts of the world. o Muslims were also great navigators and controlled the world’s shipping industry for over five hundred years. They developed the lateen sail, modern rudders, and made possible deep-water
explorations. Yet, almost no mention is made in European history books of this amazing contribution to human civilization. o Around 965 A.D., Al-Masu’di wrote about the journey of a young man of Cordoba, named Khashkhash ibn Sa’eed ibn Aswad. He had sailed into the Atlantic and made contact with people with on the other side. He returned in the year 889 A.D. o Abu Bakr ibn ‘Umar Al-Qutiyya wrote about Ibn Farrukh who visited the Canary Islands in 888 A.D. and then returned. o In the 12th century, Al-Idrisi described in his extensive work, Kitab al-Mamaalik wal-masaalik, a group of 8 seafarers who left Lisbon and entered the Atlantic Ocean. They were caught in turbulence and were eventually captured and brought to a King who had an Arabic translator who told them the journey home would take 2 months. o In 1517 A.D., Piri Reis, a famous Turkish Navigator, presented to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, an astonishing map that depicted the accurate latitude and longitude between Africa and South America. It also had details of the South American coastline. o A report in Before Columbus by Cyrus Gordon described coins found in the southern Caribbean region: “…off the coast of Venezuela was discovered a hoard of Mediterranean coins with so many duplicates that it cannot be a numismatist’s collection. But rather a supply of cash. Nearly all the coins are Roman, from the reign of Augustus to the 4th century A.D. Two of the coins however are Arabic of the 8th century. o It is the latter that gives us the terminus a quo (i.e. time after which) of the collection as a whole (which cannot be earlier than the latest coins in the collection). Roman coins continued in use as currency into the medieval times. “A Moorish ship, perhaps from Spain or North Africa seems to have crossed the Atlantic around 800 A.D.” o Muslims were using the current to cross the ocean. Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian scientist crossed the Atlantic from Safi, Morocco and landed in Barbados in the West Indies in the 1960’s, thereby proving that pre-Columbus crossings were possible.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Gordon, Cyrus, Before Columbus, Crown Publisher, N.Y. 1971. Quick, Abdullah Hakim, Deeper Roots, Muslims in the Americas and the Caribbean from before Columbus to the present, (3rd Edition) Cape Town, South Africa 2007. Van Sertima, Ivan, African Presence in Early America, Journal of African Civilization, 1987. Weiner, Leo, Africa and the Discovery of
PART 10: AFRICAN/ MUSLIM PRESENCE IN THE AMERICAS
o In 1324 A.D., when the emperor of Mali, Mansa Musa, made his famous pilgrimage to Makkah, he was interviewed by the informant of the well k own geographer, Al-‘Umari wrote in his
work, Masaalik al-Abrar fi Mamaalik al-Amsar, that Mansa Musa’s predecessor desired to discover the limits of the neighboring sea, so he outfitted 2,000 ships, a thousand for his men and a thousand for his water and supplies and ventured into the Atlantic. He never returned to Africa. o Examination of inscriptions found in Brazil, Peru and the United States, as well as linguistic, cultural and archaeological finds offer documented evidence of the presence of African Muslims in the early Americas. (See A.H. Quick, Deeper Roots). o Alexander Von Wthenau, professor of Art History at Mexico City College from 1939-1965 put together a series of terracotta figures, masks, pottery and other items that clearly showed the presence of Western African Muslims before Columbus. o The early Mandinka explorers were undoubtedly carrying large amounts of gold with them. Gold trade with the Americas is established through gold analysis, linguistic findings and eyewitness reports. In a description given by Christopher Columbus himself, the Native people of the Caribbean called gold, guanine (similar to the Mandinka Kanine or Ghanin). The gold was found to be of 32 parts: 18 of gold, 6 of silver and 18 of copper. This was a common West African alloy dating back to the 13th century. o In The Journal of the Third Voyage, Columbus also noted that the Indians “brought handkerchiefs of cotton, very symmetrically woven and worked in colours like those brought from Guinea.” o In Panama, the Mandinka had such an impact, that they were classified as part of the indigenous people of the area (Mandingas and Tule). In 1513 A.D., Balboa found Black people in Panama that he described as entirely like the Blacks of Guinea. o In Honduras and Nicaragua the African Muslims were described as Jaras and Guabas (West African names). One tribe called themselves “Almamys” (from Imam). o Actually, Spanish conquistadors found African people all over the Caribbean region. Some were identified as “Black Caribs” or “Garifuna” a distinct indigenous group. o Some European scholars insisted that these Black Caribs were the result of black slaves mixed with the local native population but
this argument could not explain their presence before the slavery period. o The Garifuna people in Central America have maintained a number of Islamic practices like avoiding the eating of pork and retaining their own African based language. o Many more clear proofs would probably have been found among the Native populations had it not been for the Spanish “scorched earth” policy of destroying all writings and remnants of Native culture. o After surveying a growing number of archaeological, linguistic and historical proofs for the presence of Muslims in the Americas before Columbus, the researcher becomes aware of a massive cover-up.
o Vasco da Gama is reported to have consulted Ahmad ibn Majid on the West coast of Africa. Ibn Majid is regarded as the author of a handbook on navigations of the Indian Ocean, the Read Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the South China Sea and the waters around the West Indies. o Columbus was, therefore, not the discoverer of America but merely a pretender who mimicked the voyages of earlier explorers and began a dark period of colonialism and genocide that is still plaguing the world. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Columbus, Ferdinand, The Life of Admiral Christopher Columbus, Trans and annotated by Benjamin keen, Rutgers University Press, 1959. Taylor, Douglas M., The Black CArib of British Honduras, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Inc., N.Y., 1951. Von Wuthenau, Alexander, Unexpected Faces in Ancient America, Crown Publishers, N.Y., 1975. Williams, Eric, From Columbus to Castro, the History of the
PART 11: MUSLIM PRESENCE IN EARLY AMERICA
o During the Catholic conquest of Al-Andalus, the Spanish Inquisition, an organized genocide began in 1493 A.D. o In the conquered areas, any sign of Islam could lead to death at a burning stake. The famous case of Elvira, the Christian, who did not eat pork, changed her linens on Saturday and was burned at the stake, was a good example. o Some scholars estimate that 2 million Jews and 3 million Muslims were killed. Hundreds and thousands were also driven out of their homes and exiled. o Muslims were labeled Moors, from Maurus or dark-skinned in Latin. Those who submitted and became slaves and servants were known as Mudejares (sevile, domesticated or imposters). The Muslims who were baptized were known as Moriscos (Chrisitan Moors) and the Jews called Morenos. o Special badges, separate facilities and special clothes were assigned to these people. Moriscos remained tailors, silversmiths and artisans. o By 1412 A.D., over 100,000 books were burnt in Spain and over a million were destroyed by the time of the final conquest. o The Islamic response to this oppression was based on Jihad and Hijra. Those who could not leave were encouraged to resist silently. o A fatwa from the Mufti of Wahran, Ahmad Bu Jumu’ah AlMaghraawi in 1504 A.D., allowed Islamic compulsory acts to be done indirectly like Tayammum done with a tap on the wall, Salah made with the eyes or Zakah given as a gift. o Refugees from Al-Andalus spread all over the Muslim world, especially North Africa. Many refugees became Barbary pirates, slaves or artisans on the boats sent to the new world.
o The colonization of the Americas by the Spanish was an extension of the Reconquista (so-called reconquest) of the Iberian Peninsula. The early explorers were in many cases, Spanish soldiers who had fought in Spain and Africa and sailed the seas to destroy the power of Islam. o They recognized the influence of Islam wherever they journeyed and did everything to convert people to Catholicism. When Hernan Cortes (the conqueror of Mexico) arrived in Yucatan, he named the area “El Cairo”. o During the rule of Ferdinand, the Catholic, in spite of excesses against Islam in Spain, some of the Moriscos, who traveled to the Americas as explorers, soldiers and laborers, began practicing their true faith and succeeded in propagating Islam among the Indians. o On July 31, 1502 A.D., a Spanish ship in the Caribbean reported a strange 40 ft long Moorish ship with 40 men and women dressed Moorish attire. The woman covered their faces. o In 1566 A.D., the Spanish established St Elena, South Carolina. It was captured by the English in 1567 CE and its inhabitants, many of whom were Moriscos fled into the mountains of North Carolina. o In 1586 A.D., Sir Francis Drake with 30 ships raided the Portuguese in Brazil and freed 300 Moorish galley slaves. He left them on Roanoke Island in America. o By 1654 A.D., reports of breaded Portuguese silversmiths were appearing. They were said to “drop to their knees many times daily to pray”. o In 1784 A.D., Tennessee Governor John Sevier met with these people. In the early 1700’s, Jonathan Swift, an Englishman, married a “Makkah Indian”. o A people called Melungeons (In Turkish, “people whose life has been cursed”) were identified in Appalachian region of the USA. o In 1990 A.D., Dr. James Guthrie found that the blood samples of these people were the same as the population of North Africa, Turkey, Iraq, and the Mediterranean region. They also suffered similar illnesses like sarcoidosis.
o The Melungeoins are found today all over the Unites States, especially the east coast. They were usually classified as a separate category of people, not Black, White or Indian. o Based on the study of Brent Kennedy, The Melungeons, any person of any person of any race with the following names living in the south east of America could be in this group: Adams, Adkins, Bell, Bennet, Berry, Bowling, Chavis, Coleman, Collins, Gibson, Goins, Hall, Jackson, Lopes, Moore, Mullins, Nash, Robinson, Sexton and Williams. o Famous Melungeons include Nancy Hanks, wife of President Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Kettani, Ali, Inba’aath al-Islam Fi’l- Andalus, Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan, 1992. Kennedy, N. Brent, The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People: An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America, Mercer University Press, U.S.A., 1997.
PART 12: AFRICAN/ MUSLIM PRESENCE IN
o According to some estimates, as many as 15-30% of the African slaves and political prisoners taken to the Western Hemisphere by Europeans were Muslims. o In the early (American) colonies, the slaves were initially taken from the Native (Indian) population but they refused to submit to slavery in their own lands. Then poor White settlers were used as slaves but that was also unsuccessful. Finally, the European colonists looked to Africa, since the climate was similar to the Caribbean, Brazil and the American South. o Millions of African people of almost all West African tribes, languages and religions found themselves in bondage in the Americas. Ashanti, Wolof, Coromanti, Ibo, Yoruba, Mandinka, Fulani, Hausa, and Susu, all became victims of this vicious practice.
o Countless numbers of people died in the Middle Passage between the African and American coasts. Many people resisted and slave revolts and suicide was common on the slave ships. o Muslims resisted European slavery from its inception on the African continent. Shaykh Nasir al-Din of Mauritania in 1673 stated: “God does not allow rulers to raid, kill or enslave their people. He has to, on the contrary, guard them from their enemies. The people are not made for the rulers but the rulers are made from the people.” o The Almamy (Imam) of the Futa Toro threatened the French Governor in Saint-Louis in a letter dated March 1789: “We are warning that all those who will come to our land to trade (in slaves) will be killed or massacred if you do not send our children back. Would not somebody who was very hungry abstain from eating if he had to eat something cooked with his blood? We absolutely do not want you to buy Muslims under any circumstances. I repeat that if your intention is to always buy Muslims you should stay home and not come to our country anymore. Because all those who will come can be assured that they will lose their life.” o The first slaves were brought to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies around 1518. Later, the English, French and Dutch joined the trade. o The Senegambians (ladinos and bozales) were the first Africans to be sold to the “New World”. In 1522, the Wolof of Hispaniola led the first African slave revolt in the history of the Americas. They also rebelled in Puerto Rico and Panama. o One of the leading forces in the resistance to slavery was the Muslim population who by the very nature of their faith were independent and unwilling to submit to oppression. o Muslims were identified by the slave records as Mandingos, Mahomatens and infidels and were generally more feared by their masters. o In 1833, Muslims were identified as Mahomatens by Gertrude Carmichael on the islands of Trinidad and St. Vincent.
o Robert Madden, a British magistrate discovered a society of Mandingo slaves who spoke Arabic and wrote letters to the Jamaican countryside. A Wathiqah or document calling for the rebellion sparked a great slave revolt in 1821-22. o In 19th century Trinidad, a Mandingo free society was formed which freed Muslim slaves and established its own land in Trinidad. o One of the leaders of the revolution of Haiti (1753-1757), Makandal, was a Muslim religious leader. o A sizeable presence of Muslims was noticed buy a Swedish traveler in Cuba. o The great rebellion of the Bush Blacks in Surinam was led by Arabi and Zamzam. o A large population of Muslims was identified on the island of Exuma in the Bahamas. o A series of rebellions took place in Brazil around 1835. The resistance was so intense that some of the slaves were allowed to return to West Africa. o Despite the large presence of Muslims in the Americas the slave masters succeeded in converting the next generations to Christianity by prohibiting Islamic practices and forcing name change. Adultery, pork and alcohol became essential parts of slave life. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Alford, Terry, Prince among slaves, Oxford Univ. Press, N.Y. 1977. Austin, Allen, African Muslims in Antebellum America, a Sourcebook, Garland Press, N.Y. 1833. Carmichael,Gertrude, Domestic Manner and Social Conditions of the White, Coloured and Negro Population of the West Indies, Negro Universities Press, N.Y. 1833. Diouf, Sylviane A, Servants of ALLAH, African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, N.Y.U. Press, N.Y., 1998. Madden, R.R. A Twelve Month’s Residence in the West Indies during the Transition from Slavery to Apprenticeship, Carey, Lea.
PART 13: FAMOUS AFRICAN
MUSLIMS IN SLAVERY
o A number of eye witness reports, written documents, autobiographies and records have come to the surface in recent years. This new body of evidence has enabled historians to reconstruct the lives of a number of Muslim slaves. Some of them
were scholars who wrote the Qur’an and other important Islamic texts from memory. o Ayyub ibn Sulayman (Job Ben Solomon) was born in 1700 in Bundu, Eastern Senegal, enslaved and taken to Maryland. He was a scholar who prayed 5 times per day and wrote the whole Qur’an from memory and eventually returned to West Africa. o Abdur Rahman ibn Ibrahim was born in Timbuktu in 1762, enslaved in Mississippi and returned home in 1829. o Yarrow Mahmoud was born in the 1700’s and died at the age of 128 after 70 years in slavery. Umar ibn Sayyid wrote his own story in Arabic and it still exists. o Mohamed Kaba from Bouka from the Malinke of Guinea was studying to be a judge when he was captured 20 and deported to Jamaica. o Abu Bakr Sadiqa, a cleric from Timbuktu was captured and taken to Jamaica in 1834. He wrote extensively in Arabic about his life and times. o Francois Makandal born in Guinea, a Marabout, led a slave revolt just before the great revolution in Haiti. o Salih Bilali was captured at 14 riding from Jenne to Kianah. He spent over 60 years in slavery on St.Simon’s island, Georgia. o Bilali Muhammad, a former cleric, was enslaved on Sapelo Island, Georgia in the early 1800’s. o Old Lizzy Gray, a Muslim woman, who died in South Carolina was reported to have said after here so-called conversion to Christianity, “Christ built the first church in Makkah and his grave was there”. o Fatima or Phoebe was the wife of Bilali Muhammad and well known in the Sapelo Islands. o African Muslims suffered greatly under the brutal system of European slavery. They were forced to forget their native languages and Arabic was, for the most part, outlawed.
o It was forbidden to pray, fast or practice any aspect of Islamic lifestyle. Pork was forced upon slaves as the main staple meat. Families were broken up and children were scattered. Islam remained only as a dormant seed in the minds of African people in the Americas. o African Muslims left a legacy of Tawheed, Tahaarah (purity) and calling to righteousness. This legacy still lives on today in the numerous Islamic movements springing up all over the hemisphere.
PART 14: LESSONS FROM THE WESTERN SUNRISE
o History should be told from all perspectives and not just the perspective of the conqueror or ruling elite. o The first contact with Africa in the time of the last Prophet Muhammad (salla ALLAHu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was the first Hijra where Muslims entered the continent as refugees. o The Prophet was concerned with the well being of the monotheists in other lands and the safety of society from oppression. o Early Unitarian Christian people stood together with the Muslims in North Africa against the oppression of the Byzantine Romans. o Islam entered the Iberian Peninsula as a liberating force and not a manifestation of Moorish/Arab imperialism. o Muslims had a profound influence on Europe during its “Dark Ages”, keeping the light of knowledge burning and enabling Europeans to experience as Renaissance of knowledge. o Islam spread throughout Africa and much of the known world through contact made by merchants, mystics and pious people. o Islamic empires in West Africa were highly developed and provide a rich history of Islamisation. o Qayrawaan, Marrakesh, Cordoba, Toledo, Seville, Fez, Timbuktu, and other Islamic cities were great centers of learning during the “Golden Age” of Islam (622-1492 A.D.) o Powerful revivalist movements like Al-Murabitun and AlMuwahhidun revived Islamic teachings in Muslim lands at different points in history. o Muslims entered the Americas long before Christopher Columbus and formed a distinguishable part of American societies.
o African Muslims in the Americas resisted European slavery from its inception and are now being recognized as an important part of American history. o African Muslims in slavery distinguished themselves through piety, literacy and stubborn refusal to be assimilated into the melting pot of colonial life. o Muslims in the Americas have left a legacy of Tawheed, Tahaarah (purity) and calling to the good and forbidding evil. Even today, these concepts are crucial factors in making Islam the fastest going religion in the Western Hemisphere.
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