Pan Africanism : Arab Racism in Africa

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Sekhemu, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    By Dr. Moses Ochone of Vanderbilt University.

    Professor Iliya Harik's piece is a commendable and bold attempt by an Arab scholar to openly discuss the sensitive issu of Africa-Arab relations. There is a need for an open, unfettered dialogue between African and Arabs on the fractured state of relations between the two peoples.

    Professor Harik's write-up is however trapped in the language of denial and obfuscation that has become a key defining feature of Arab responses to charges of racism against blacks. His response sounds eerily familiar, for I have heard many such feeble defenses of Arab racism against blacks--defenses which merely deracializes the racism or emphasize the African roots of North African Arabs. One would normally excuse such defensive posturing were it not for its diversionary implications for understanding the history of Afro-Arab relations--a history preceding Africa's relations with the west.

    In fact, Professor Harik's rendering of the crisis in Darfur is almost offensive to Blacks in that it is not only an intolerable simplification and trivialization of a racist genocide of the part of the Arabized government in Khartoum but also an inexplicable attempt to dilute the fact that race, even if it is mediated by culture, is at the heart of the crisis in Darfur

    Harik claims that Arabs are not "anti-African on any basis." But this is a straw man. Dr. Onyeani never argued that Arabs were anti-African. The allegation, which Harik did not respond to, is that there is a disturbing pattern of anti-African racism in many Arab countries, and that this attitude translates to many Arabs being indifferent to African struggles and sensibilities at a time when black African leaders like Mbeki and Obasanjo are bending over backwards to accomodate and protect the interests of Arab North African nations. Many people, in the interest of Afro-Arab political alliances anid in order not to alienate our North African brothers, do now want this issue discussed. But it should. This is why Harik must be commended for making his post, as disappointing as its contents are.

    It is true that the population of most North African countries are mixed, but it is not a secret that in these countries there is a gradation of human valuation that corresponds directly to skin color, with the most privilaged status being accorded to those perceived rightly or wrongly as being of "pure" Arab stock while those with the darkest skin and curliest hair located on the lowest rung of the social hierarchy.

    In fact, Arab racism is embedded in the history of North Africa itself and in the Arabic language. The Arab conquest of North Africa and the subsequent conversion and marginalization of the original Berbers and Moors of North Africa and parts of the Sahel was undergirded by a racist ethos. Till this day, the Berbers, and other distinct peoples are confinded to the fringes of North African and Norht-west society--in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, etc. The plight of the descendants of blacks (some of who predated the Arab conquest of the 9th century and others who came to North Africa as slaves, captives, and free migrants) is worse than that of the Berbers. In Morocco, Tunisia, and throughout much of the Arab world, the only ticket to social visibility for blacks is soccer. Becoming a soccer star gives a black person access to coveted corridors of society and enables them to "marry up", racially speaking.

    Arab racism is so deep it is inscribed in the semantics of the Arab languange. Till this day, the generic word for a black person is the preface "abd." which translates as "slave." as in "Abd"-allah (slave of God). This rule, among many other racially-loaded ones, applies throughout the Arab-speaking world regardless of dialect and orthography.

    The case of the Sudan is perhaps the most vivid, poingnant, and irrefutable example of Arab racism against black Africans. Let it be noted that until the Janjaweed and their racist and murderous Sudanese government backers gave a bad name to the arot of hating, marginalizing, and murdering blacks, Arabs never quite saw the raiding of black villages for slaves and cattle, especially in Southern Sudan, as a crime. The racism which propels these practices was increasingly authorized by the discourse of the distinction, within Islam, between dar-al-Islam (the abode of Islam) and dar-al-hard (the abode of war and unbelief). For many Arabs, the historical description of blacks as slaves and servile presences in the Arab world is hard to unlearn.

    Arabs still generally regard the Darfur genocide as a public relations disaster rather than a barbaric racist war against black people. After all, we haven't heard any condemnation of the Sudanese government's racist practices from any Arab state. To that would be hypocritical because some of these states themselves condone the racist practices of mavericks or practice anti-black racism in their own official policies. For instance black African immigrants are routinely killed, maimed, and their houses and properties destroyed in Gaddafi's Libya. The same Gadaffi who wants to be the leader of a politically united African super-state. Africans have become jaded about Gadaffi's feeble condemnations of anti-black riots in his country and the ad-hoc and sterile apologies he offers after each tragic episode.

    Professor Harik is only half right about the Arab-speaking Northern Sudanese. They are a dark-skinned people, although most of them are of mixed Arab and African ancestry. But these folks, by virtue of the Arab penetration of the Sudan and the adoption of Arabic and many aspects of Arab and Bedouin culture, no longer perceive themselves as blacks, or African in any functional way. Indeed, they have long become Arabized. While Harik and I, as historicallyl conscious people, may recognize them only as cultural Arabs, the Northern Sudanese people and their ideologues and rulers have since, for good or ill, racialized their identity and their distinction (which is actually essentially linguistic and cultural) from the people of Darfur

    It is not for me to say whether it is wrong or right to conflate Arabization with Arab racial consciousness, which is the Northern Sudanese people seem to have done. What I do know is that in both its practical expression and its tragic consequences, the attitude of the Arabized Northern Sudanese people and their government towards Darfur is racist.

    So, to conclude, I would say that African-Arab political solidarity and alliances have survived not because of the absence of Arab racism towards black Africans-- as Harik seems to suggest--but in spite of it. Nkrumah, Toure, Mbeki, Obasanjo, and other black African leaders were/are aware of the racism but are/were motivated by avowedly higher ideals and goals in their interaction with North Africa and the entire Arab world. This pursuit of South-South alliances and solidarity has cost Africa dearly in human and material terms. My personal opinion is that we are actually approaching a tipping point as Arab disrespect for black-Africans heightens. The emotional blackmail in the form of charges of black racism against North Africa, which is being subtly invoked by our North African AU members to obscure the treatment of blacks in the Arab world, will no longer be tenable.

    Even beyond the domain of group relations, there is a preponderance of individual anecdotal evidence to support the notion of a pattern of Arab racist attitudes toward blacks. A Nigerian friend of mine (a Muslim) who now lives in london was appalled at the racist treatment that he and other black Africans received when he travelled to Egypt a few years back. The irony is that he was in Egypt as part of the Nigerian delegation to an "African" trade fair.
     
  2. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Salaam Sekhemu.

    There are several world-famous African scholars that refute Dr. Ochone's position:

    Cheikh Anta Diop was one of the premier and most respected and knowledgeable Afrocentric scholars, he was also a physicist and director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, and a noted Egyptologist. In his most famous work, The African Origin of Civilization, his views differ totally from those promulgated by a minority Afrocentric scholars:

    "The primary reason for the success of Islam in Black Africa, with one exception, consequently stems from the fact that it was promulgated peacefully, at first by solitary Arab-Berber travelers to certain Black kings and notables, who then spread it about them to those under their jurisdiction. What is to be emphasized here is the peaceful nature of this conversion, regardless of the legend surrounding it." (Precolonial Black Africa, p.163)

    Additionally, in view of what some Afrocentric scholars claim that African peoples should 'return' to 'their own indigenous African religions,' such as Yoruba, it is interesting to note what Diop had to say about this:

    "African religions, more or less forgotten, were in the process of atrophying and being emptied of their spiritual content, their former deep metaphysics. The jumble of empty forms they had left behind could not compete with Islam on the moral or rational level. And it was on that latter level of rationality that the victory of Islam was most striking. That was the fourth cause of its success." (ibid, p.166)

    An African himself, Diop cannot be accused of making a racist or anti-African statement. He was giving his opinion as an African and as a scholar of high repute. In further dispelling the charge that Islam was forced on African peoples, Diop said the following:

    "During the period of our study, from the 3rd to the 17th centuries, not one conquest was ever launched by way of the Nile...nor was there ever an Arab conquest of Mozambique or any other East African country. (ibid, p.101) He went on to explain precisely why Africans fell in love with the religion of Islam:

    "The Arabs in these areas, who became great religious leaders, arrived as everywhere else individually and settled in peacefully, they owe their influence and latter acceptance to spiritual and religious virtues." (ibid, p.102)

    Africans, as the above shows, were attracted to the spiritual and religious virtues of their Arab brothers. But wasn't Islam forced onto them by the conquering and sword-wielding Arabs? Cheikh Anta Diop said:

    "The Arab conquests dear to sociologists are necessary to their theories, but did not exist in reality. To this day no reliable historical documents substantiate such theories." (ibid, p.102)

    A man who, in some respects, looms larger than Cheikh Anta Diop in the world of afrocentricity is Edward Wilmot Blyden. He lived in the 19th century and is called "The Father of Afrocentrism" by Afrocentric scholars. Here are some of his views:

    "Islam found its Negro converts at home in a state of freedom and independence of the teachers who brought it to them. When it was offered to them they were at liberty to choose for themselves. The Arab missionaries, whom we have met in the interior, go about without 'purse or script,' and disseminate their religion by quietly teaching the Qur'an. The native missionaries - Mandingos and Fulahs - unite with the propagation of their faith-active trading. Wherever they go, they produce the impression that they are not preachers only, but traders...and in this way, silently and unobtrusively, they are causing princes to become obedient disciples and zealous propagators of Islam. These converts, as a general thing, become Muslim from choice and conviction. (Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden, Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race)

    "These converts, as a general thing, become Muslims from choice and conviction..." Does that sound like Islam was forced down the throats of Africans? To the contrary, they were impressed by the practical examples of Islam and its moral code of conduct that stood before them. Blyden's words are very important because he was on the continent before the Europeans colonized Africa. He witnessed the spread of Islam in Africa in the 1800s. It is also worthy of note to see how Blyden contrasts Christianity and Islam:

    "Christianity, on the other hand, came to the Negro as a slave, or at least as a subject-race in a foreign land. Along with the Christian teachings, he and his children received lessons of their utter and permanent inferiority and sub-ordination to their instructors, to whom they stood in the relations of chattels...owing to the physical, mental and social pressure under which the Africans received these influences of Christianity, their development was necessarily partial and one-sided, cramped and abnormal." (ibid, pp.12-13)

    It is a shame that many African-American youths are being misled about Islam by some Afrocentric scholars at a critical time in African-American history when the purifying aspects of Islam are desperately needed in the African-American community - especially amongst the youth.

    W.E.B. Dubois is one of the most important African-Americans in our history, and in American history in general. His name is also known over the entire world as one of the greatest men of our age, and he was an influence to many men and woman of all races and countries all over the globe. His works are studied to this day in America and in the schools of Europe. Here is what he says about Islam:

    "In this whole story of the so-called 'Arab Slave Trade' the truth has been strangely twisted." (The World and Africa, p.68) Dubois further says,

    "Gao, Timbuktu, and Jenne were intellectual centers, and at the University of Sankore gathered thousands of students of law, literature, grammar, geography and surgery. From this Africa a new cultural impulse entered Europe and became the Renaissance. (ibid, pp.211 & 223).

    Contrast the above praise of the religion of Islam with his observations on the Christian Church:

    "Modern slavery was created by Christians; it was continued by Christians; it was in some respects more barbarous than anything the world had yet seen, and its worst features were to be witnessed in countries that were most ostentatious in their parade of Christianity. (ibid, p.44)

    J. A. Rogers was one of the most prolific authors in African-American history. He wrote volumes upon volumes of books on African-American life and African-American history, his most well-known being Sex and Race, in which he demonstrated that many of the so-called 'pure white' kings, princes and queens of Europe were of mixed racial origin. His books are sold to this very day all over America. Here is what this great Afrocentric scholar said about Islam:

    "In short, the Negro was discriminated against in no phase of Muslim life on the grounds of color alone. Islam was the greatest and freest of all great melting pots. (Sex and Race, p.108)

    If Islam had been so harmful to African people, would not this incredibly gifted and prolific scholar have revealed this to the African peoples of the world? He was a man of world-class scholarship who was a genius of world history and the history of the African diaspora.

    Ma Salaam.
     
  3. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    With all due respect brotha Aqil.

    The scope and topic of Dr. Ochone's position has little to do with Islam and everything to do with Arab racism against black people.

    Do you doubt that racism on the part of many Arabs against blacks is a reality, currently in Africa? That in fact Black Africans are catching hell from Arabs because they are Black?
     
  4. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Emeritus Professor Iliya Harik of Indiana University offers a detailed rejoinder to Dr. Mose Ochone's Submission No. 900.

    I have read Dr. Moses Ochone's response to my short note regarding Arab affinity with Africans. Of course, a public space is for debate, hence I appreciate his response to my brief note, no matter how critical his response happens to be. The main question is how to address the various issues. Scraping the bottom of the jar to find fault with one side and foment more aggravation is not what I call a desire for understanding and improving of relations. To hold the entire Arab people responsible for the crazy record of Qadhafi, for example, toward black Africa, not to mention the world at large, and for the oppression by the military regime in Khartoum for its crimes in Darfur is, to say the least, unfair.

    I have never said there is no racism in the Arab countries. If there is a country in the world where there is no sort or degree of racism, I would like to be guided to it. It is just that when compared with racism among nations of the world, it does not seem that racism among the Arabs stands out as a pronounced phenomenon. Let us not forget that the term "Arab" is often used to refer to Arabic-speaking peoples of different ethnicities and geographic locations, a very large number of whom are black Africans. Still, whatever there is of racism among the Arabs, it is a legitimate subject for discussion.

    Arab states in particular should be blamed for not condemning Khartoum for its brutal suppression of the uprising in Darfur and its extensive violations of human rights. That does not mean that they should also be blamed for those crimes themselves, which after all are committed by a black African government against its black citizens. As for Qadhafi, he has committed as much outrage against Arabs as against black Africans. After reading Dr. Ochone's statement one wonders whether Arabs in the east should accuse an Arabized Berber leader of an African race like Qadhafi of being racist against Semitic Arabs? Is not that where the logic in Dr. Ochone's charges leads us?

    Racism is not the monopoly of any nation and we all know that it is an evil rife in Africa itself, especially in Nigeria and other nations. What is one to say about Hutus and Tutsis, for example? Even in the Sudan, if the behavior of the Khartoum government toward the rebellious Dinkas in the south is to be described as racist, which to a certain extent it might be, so can one describe the attitude of the Dinkas toward the people of the north. The Sudan, like many other African nations, is made up of different ethnic groups (or tribes). But I still consider the problems of the Sudan to be predominantly cultural and political.

    As for the Arabic word "abd," I defy anyone to find it used in contemporary Arab media to refer to a black African. The word used in modern times for blacks is "zunj," which is of old Arab origin too. Moreover, the association of the word "abd" with "slave" is figurative, because the root of the word stands for "worship," "adore," i.e. one who gives himself to the "lord" or anyone else. Yet, the association with slavery is significant and should be discussed as part of the historical relations of the two peoples.

    Historical relations should definitely be brought up in their good and bad features. However, selecting grievous activities to incite further disapproval and hostility is not history, nor does it serve anyone, least of all the parties concerned. Arabs and Africans have had - since the middle of the last century - bonds of political identity in the face of colonialism and oppression. They have continued in the post-independence period to stand together to uphold the interests of African Asians. Arabs at present are overwhelmed by their problems of inferiority in the world order, and by the return of neo-colonialism to their midst, some of it by their own fault and ineptitude. They may be excused if they are not showing as much interest in sub-Saharan problems.

    But let us not forget their time-honored interests in Africa. Jeune Afrique, the prominent journal, is a project created by a Tunisian. In Egypt, Butros Ghali devoted his career from the start to promoting African issues in the Arab world and in general. The Ahram Center which he founded in Cairo had a central interest in Africa, and its leading journal, al Siyasah al Dwaliya, for decades now has given extensive attention to African affairs. Arab funds of the oil-rich Gulf countries have financially supported African development. Should the Arabs now complain that Africans do not love them or are not interested in them because there is no comparable evidence in sub-Saharan Africa of interest in the Arab world?

    It is clear that there are currently irritating problems disturbing Arab-African relations. It should, though, be addressed with good will. Why not call for a dialogue with Arab scholars, intellectuals, and politicians to improve understanding and relations? Would not that be more productive than searching for little causes that will foment hostility and disarray among peoples of the developing world who need each other badly?

    (Iliya Harik, Emeritus Professor, Indiana University, Department of Political Science, www.polsci.indiana.edu/ircd)

    http://www.utexas.edu/conferences/africa/ads/915.html
     
  5. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    With all due respect, Do you honestly think the Arab needs for you to come to his defense.

    I will respond to Iliya Harik's discourse very shortly. Suffice it to say, I think it's fairly clear that Dr. Ochone was not holding all Arabs accountable for the atrocities committed against black Africans on the part of Arabs.

    The problem is with the leaders of the Arab league et al. The various heads of Arab states that have been conspicuously silent on this matter.

    However you have not answered any of the questions I've posed to you.

    Is it your contention that some of these very same Arab nations are now friends of Africa?

    How many Arab countries in Africa have black Africans who do NOT identify as Arabs in positions of authority.

    For those that might not be aware, let us be mindful that Africans in Africa are still being enslaved and killed in the Sudan and Mauritania, by Arabs and Africans who Identify as such.

    http://www.destee.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38729

    Arabs and misguided Africans can intellectualize and talk about what needs to be done about racism, but I know one da*n thing for sure, and that is our people are dying and suffering at the hands of this devil who calls himself an Arab.

    So I say death to him the rest of his kind, Death to anyone, black or arab that kills, rapes or enslaves the African. Enough is enough
     
  6. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Peace Sekhemu.

    The ancestors of the Arabs - Abraham's son Ishmael and Isaac's son Esau and their descendants - mainly married Hamites, like Egyptians and Canaanites. Consequently, the Arabs are Hamites. On the other hand, Isaac and Jacob married women from the bloodline of Abraham and Sarah, who were Shemites, which is derived from the Hebrew word “shem,” meaning “name.”

    Abraham's bloodline is outlined in Gen. 22:20-29. Nothing is said of Sarah's lineage, but Abraham made it clear that his request for her to "say you are my sister" (Gen. 22:23 and 20:2), wasn't a lie, since she actually was his half-sister. (Abram said to King Abimelech: "Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.")

    Whereas children are 50% related to each of unrelated parents, and 100% to each other, the 50% Abraham and Sarah's child Isaac received from each of their parents was mixed with genes of both of them. While it will take a mathematician to work out this equation, when it comes to Ishmael the mathematics is easier since his parents were unrelated - his mother being a Hamite from Egypt (Gen. 25:22). What is important to note, however, is that the percentage Shemite genes in Ishmael's children was halved by 50% from the 50% he received from Abraham. This 50% was again halved in the next generation, and it kept on being halved down the line - since we can assume that his offspring didn't marry into Isaac's family, except perhaps for a very few exceptions. By the 5th generation his descendants only had 3.2% Shemite genes, and it dropped to less than 1% by the 10th generation.

    So Syrian President Bashar Assad’s statement - "We are also Shemites" - is therefore technically wrong, although there are exceptions - like himself - in that it is said that his grandmother was Jewish. His territory and northern Iraq was the area where the Jews originated, causing a sector of the population to be closer to Shemites than the Arabs from, say Edom. They will be, for instance, descendants of Aram, the Chaldeans, etc.

    That area and part of southern Turkey was also occupied by a nation whose land Israel was to receive, namely the Hittites, and King David did actually manage to conquer them and occupy their territory, causing Jews to dwell there and increase the percentage of Shemite genes in the population. Most of Israel - and a portion of Judah - never returned from their exile to Babylon, to west of the Jordan river, also increasing the Shemite content of the gene pool in the area east of the Jordan. A large number of Arabs were originally Jews who lost their Jewishness when they became Muslims, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

    Although some Arabs have Jewish genes, the general Arab populations are Hamites, the descendants of Ham, who was Noah's son. According to Gen. 9:20-24, Noah began to raise grapes after the flood, and got drunk one day. While drunk, he lay naked in his tent. Ham saw his father naked, and told his brothers Shem and Japheth about it. They went into the tent with their faces away from him, and covered him. When Noah awoke, he realized what had happened, and cursed his grandson Canaan (Ham’s son) to be the servants of Shem and Japheth:

    “When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him. He said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.’” (Gen. 9:24-27)

    It is also interesting to note that this verse implies that the descendants of the three brothers will always be linked along the lines God knitted them together by means of Noah's blessings on them. This, of course, applies to Ham as well…the progenitor of the Hamites, who were the original Arabs.
     
  7. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Islam and Slavery: Emancipation Recollection

    In recognizing the hardships and inhumane injustices our great-grandparents suffered, let us not forget that theirs was a struggle consistent with Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his fraternity before and after Cuffy (real name "Kofi"), the Akan slave in the Dutch colony of Berbice in present-day Guyana, who in 1763 led a revolt of more than 2,500 slaves. Like Malcolm X inspired into El Hajji Malik el-Shabazz, millions of the daughters and sons mirculously continue to relive that tradition intrinsically.

    In 1838, Lord Madden learned the same from the Maroons in Accompong and their undying allegiance to Uthman dan Fodio's call, a Shehu who wielded power from as far as Africa in the 19th century. As a matter of fact, the first settlers of free Black slaves entered Canada in 1700 from the South, believing this was the proverbial Canaan - the land of the Israelite exodus. Not withstanding the strong acculturizing culture, the Negro nannies stood strong in their long dresses and head ties - the symbolic hijab - survived as the uniform of the Baptists. They trained their children to such etiquette as 'wash the hands and the feet before sleeping' - the Islamic ablution known as wudhu.

    The pride of Black achievements stems the psychological humiliation of being associated with the media-painted poor and violent Africa. Although, parallel speaking, its innate motivation to know that my culture and roots lie in the resemblances of Hannibal and Tariq - the great conquerors of the Berbers. Such information empowers the chipped future for independent religious thinking and unbiased Black scholarship. Dr. Ali Mazrui repeatedly proves that the imperialism imposed after the European intervention was synonymous with tyranny and "enslavement by signature" - something that the Holy Qur'an abhors with six unambivalent verses.

    Maybe it's time we ask ourselves why the 35% Muslims of the 50 million West Africans trafficked to the New World - producing the likes of Simone Bolivar of Venezuela and Mohamed Sesei of Trinidad - aren't historically and logistically discussed in history lessons and Afrocentric seminars, even until today, of how Islam spread in Africa. Undoubtedly, Islamic belief among the African people was not safe from pagan influence, and did not reach the Africans in its perfect state.

    Nevertheless, the spread of Islam had its distinct effects. It has spread monotheism and driven out heathenism, which was based on the worship of spirits that were symbolized in the mean forms of animals and inanimate objects. The spread of Islam in Africa has helped in the encouragement of education, because in every lodge there was a school that taught reading, writing, and the Qur'an. Islam has also introduced moral values higher than those of heathenism; it has prohibited adultery and winebibbing; it has introduced cleanliness through its required ablutions; it has introduced fraternal gatherings for prayer; and it has created a spirit of cooperation in the agricultural communities of Africa.

    A faith must fulfill the needs of both intellectuals and ordinary people. Intellectuals need food for thought and ordinary people need simplicity. These two aspects are well-considered in Islam. Islamic rationalism, intellectualism, mysticism and ideals appeal to intellectuals; its simplicity appeals to the ordinary masses. "Islam does not have a complicated creed." It is a very simple religion when compared with the Christian religion. The Muslim says 'There is no god but God and Muhammad is His Prophet.' From this simple statement Muslim belief goes on. The simplicity of the Muslim faith made it popular with Africans. Also Islam was much readier than Christianity to fit into the African way of life.

    Christianity could not offer them anything but confusion and contradictions. It is easy enough to understand some of the factors that make Islam such a powerful attraction to pagans, whether in some parts of Africa or elsewhere. They are impressed by the manifest superiority of the Muslim's concept of the true God. Islam is strongly entrenched in Africa today. It is looked upon as a measure of defense against the West and white dominance. Dr. MacDonald states: "In the combination of the necessarily dominant European race with Christianity lies the greatest problem of the Christian missionary. In the modern world, at least, Christianity has never been able to try its weight and breadth to obliterate the distinctions of race. To have done that with success is the glory and the danger of Islam."

    Even Christian missionaries with obvious prejudice against Islam confess. "Certainly Islam rises far above that narrow prejudice against the Negro which characterizes too largely the white Christians." This is illustrated by Dr. E.A. Freeman's statement: "The law may declare the Negro to be equal to the white man, but it cannot make him his equal." Or in Mr. Thomas Carlyle's assertion that, "God has put a whip in the hand every white man to flog the Negro." Muslim history abounds with examples of distinguished Negroes. Bilal ibn Ribah was the first African convert; he was a favorite friend, companion and secretary of Prophet Muhammad (saw); the first muezzin or caller to prayer, whose voice represented the voice of humanity in Islam's call to prayer (as against the bells in Christianity and the shofar in Judaism). Bilal represents a black man's position in Islam and Islamic equality. He was once addressed by the great prophet somewhat in this way: "What shoes were those you wore last night? Verily, as I journeyed into Paradise and was mounting the stairs of God, I heard your footsteps before me, though I could not see." Not only was Bilal the first black convert, but he was the first black preacher of Islam.

    Since Islam is an anti-racial religion, it appeals to natives and encourages them to be preachers of Islam. This is why Islam is not identified with any particular race, and thus free from the onus of identification with white devils or black racism. Muslim contributions to the development of Africa and African culture are many. Muslims refused to treat the African as an inferior, but following the example of the Prophet (saw), extended to him the hand of brotherhood and equality. They continued to emancipate people from slavery and to liberate colonized people from colonization. Africans mastered Arabic and some native African languages adopted Arabic terms and expressions, such as Hausa, Yoruba and Swahili. In providing a written language, a literate and learned administrative class, and, above all, a bond of union that cut across ethnic considerations, Islam was a powerful factor in nation-building in West Africa. Northern Nigeria had a well-established system of government with laws and law courts and a financial administration based on Islamic law.

    African Muslims established international relations with the Islamic world, and set up Islamic schools and colleges that gained wide fame. Youth from all over the Muslim world came to Tombouctou (Timbuktu) in Mali to study law and surgery at the University of Sankore; scholars came from North Africa and Europe to confer with the learned historians and writers of the black empire. Abdel Rahman al-Sa'adi, a Timbuktu intellectual who wrote a history of the Sudan in 1655, had a private library of 1,600 volumes. The University of Sankore and other intellectual centers in Timbuktu had a large and valuable collection of manuscripts in several languages. Scholars travelled to Songhay to check their Greek and Latin manuscripts. Ahmad Baba, born in Mali in 1556, composed many works on Islamic law, and at least 13 of these are still in use by the Ulama of West Africa.

    Another history of the western Sudan had been composed in Arabic by the Malian Mahmud Kati, who was born in 1468. This vigorous activity of Muslim scholarship and writing has never ceased in West Africa, but has grown and spread with the passing of the years. The history of Islam in 'O people, listen carefully, your Lord is one Lord, there is no doubt about it. Your ancestor is one ancestor, there is no doubt about it.' North Africa teems with examples of black rulers who achieved greatness in the opinion of contemporaries, irrespective of color or race.

    The history of Africa is full of examples of Sudanese jurists who attained the position of Imams, Qadis, and Muftis, and whose books were known in the whole Muslim world. Because the goal of Islam is the emancipation of all men from the yokes of every type of servitude to other men, the Prophet (saw) and his companions liberated slaves, and the Qur'an commands the emancipation of slaves in six separate verses. The British abolished slavery in 1807, after it had become - due to the industrial revolution - less profitable and less vital to England. Prior to 1783, however, all classes in English society presented a united front in favor of the slave trade. The monarchy, the church and public opinion in general supported it. Benjamin Disraeli, the Jewish-English prime minister elected in 1868, condemned the emancipation of slaves as "the greatest blunder ever committed by the English people."

    Long before the emancipation of slaves in America in 1863, the Muslim government of Futa Toro in Senegal abolished slavery by law in 1788, despite the fierce opposition of French slave traders. The French complained to the Imam, asking him to change his mind and do away with the law, but the Imam refused and followed his refusal with a return to the slave agents of a number of presents they had given him, adding that all the riches of that company would not make him change his mind.

    Then there is the slavery bias in the image of Islam. The history of the Arab slave trade in eastern Africa has rubbed off on the image of Islam in the region. This was aggravated by the propaganda use of the Arab slave trade by European imperial powers to justify their own colonization of East Africa, and by the use of the Arab slavery by Christian missionaries in promoting their own Gospel. Even on the issue where Islam is much-maligned by Western writers - that of slavery - Islam played a positive role. In eastern Africa one of the pretexts that Britain used for colonization was the effort to end the Arab slave trade. This immediately gave British colonialism the high moral ground of a crusade against the Arabs. Imperial and missionary schools in East Africa continued this tradition of legitimizing British imperialism by demonizing the Arabs. The disgraceful Arab trade in slaves played into the hands of the scheming European imperial powers - at the expense of both Africa and the Arab world. In any case, Muslim slavery elsewhere in Africa was multi-racial (slaves could be white, brown or black...so could their masters).

    Furthermore, Muslim slavery allowed for so much upward social mobility that sometimes a slave dynasty took over power. This was true of the dynasty of the Mamluks, who ruled Egypt for several hundred years. "Mamluks" means, "The Owned Ones." When the Muslims conquered Egypt at the time when Omar ibn al-Khattab was the Caliphate, a Muslim leader, who happened to be a black man named Ubaydah ibn Thamit, took a party of the Muslims to meet Muqawqis, the Christian leader of Egypt. When the Muslims came to Muqawqis, with Ubaydah in the lead, Muqawqis was frightened by the color of his skin. 'Get this black man away from me and bring someone else,' he demanded. The Muslims refused. They insisted that Ubaydah was the best among them and was their leader who they obeyed and whose judgment they deferred to. They told Muqawqis that the color of a person does not matter to them. Finally, Muqawqis had no choice but talk to the leader of that Muslim delegation. Slavery and Islam Arabs have little, if any sense of a color bar. Socially, they treat a slave, however black, as one of themselves. In the Hijaz, I was sitting in the audience chamber of an Amir who was a relative of King Saud when an pensively-dressed old Negro belonging to the King entered the room. After rising to greet him, the Amir seated the slave beside him and served him his food with his own hands. Arabs raise slaves to positions of great power, often trusting them more than they do their own kin.

    The Holy Prophet (saw) told the master that his slave was his brother who must eat the same food he eats, wear the same quality of clothing that he wears, and that he must not - under any circumstances - be beaten or mistreated, or made to do any work beyond his strength. The Qur'an regards the liberation of slaves as one of the highest virtues, so much so that the freeing of a slave is the best expiation for many sins. The Shariah gives the slave a definite legal status and specifically spells out his rights to humane treatment and the terms by which he can be freed. In the annals of Islamic history, we find slaves holding the highest positions of prestige and honor, including commander-in-chief of armies, slave-kings, and indeed whole slave dynasties, like the Mamluks of Egypt. "Violent acts are unacceptable, and when these acts are directed toward groups based on their religion, race, ethnic origin or other special population groups, they are especially heinous."

    The solution is faith and unity in the form of the Shahada: "There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger." In ancient times the concept of human inequality, which was prevalent everywhere, gave rise to social injustice in every society. In modern times, this concept has been further strengthened by Darwin's theory of evolution, according to which mankind was regarded as having achieved differing levels of development, the apex being white European civilization. Given this state of affairs, it is just not possible for anyone to alleviate human suffering. That being so, how can there be any motivation to act out of a sense of justice? With the advent of Islam, all such ideas based on an inherent inequality lost ground. Here is a Qur'anic reference:

    "Men, we have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might get to know one another. The noblest of you in Allah's sight is the most righteous of you. Allah is wise and all-knowing" (Sura 49:13)

    http://www.understanding-islam.com/related/text.asp?type=rarticle&raid=273&sscatid=451
     
  8. uplift19

    uplift19 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    interesting discussion...

    I find myself inclined to agree with both of you on certain points.

    Bro Aqil:

    It is clear that all Arabs are not Black, just as all Latinos are not Spanish (white). Arab nationalism and racism are impediments to the ideal of Islam you speak of. Since it is clear that racism has permeated the muslim world, what is the solution in your view?
     
  9. Blaklioness

    Blaklioness Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I'd like to know how the Arabs racial 'mixture' has made them any less an oppressor/enslaver/murderer of Black/African people??? I certainly don't see it. Further, (while I don't intend any inherent disrespect here) hasn't Islam been used as much as Christianity and other religions to maintain control over its practitioners?
     
  10. uplift19

    uplift19 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I would say just as much as the "race" of the Tutsi or Hutu. Or even better, just as much as Islam being an Arabic word has to do with the religion.

    There are some who argue that ALL "organized" religion simply seeks to control people. Do you agree with that notion?
     
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