Pan Africanism : Islam and Slavery: Emancipation Recollection

Discussion in 'African American History Culture' started by Aqil, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 3, 2001
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    New York
    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, 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 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 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 masters).

    What is more, 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 (saw) 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 relations.

    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: "There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad (saw), 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" (Surah 49:13)
  2. pdiane

    pdiane Well-Known Member MEMBER

    United States
    Jul 1, 2003
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    So i guess the Muslims who enslaved Africans and treated them worse them Eurpeans, according to several prolific African writers, weren't listening to Prophet Muhammad and reading the Holy Quaran as the Muslims today that kill and mame Africans and people in general. As the Muslims who discriminate and enslave our people in the Sudan. ( A whole nother subject that needs deep discussion).

    Brother Aqil, I am not against Islam by no means, my husband is a Senegalese African Muslim as I follow some of the teachings myself and beleive and practice the 5 principals. However, I am not naive enough to think that any Religion is the all and all. I just can't go there. It makes one fanatical when one thinks like that.

    I certainly will not put Islam above Yuroba, Santaria, Ancient Kemeten philosophy or any Afrakan created spiritual system. No way.

    Islam was brought to those crazy Arabs because of their horrific uncivilized behavior, like burying thieir girl babies, killing each other for no reason, you know what they are still doing today. Islam is not making the waves it needs to make in the Arab world. They don't help so-called Black Africa in hardly anyway. They are oil rich nations that won't even join the so-called African Union. They could care less about Black people. Sorry, but that is all I see. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    We as Black people, in most cases try to practice Islam and Chrisitainity the way Prophet Muhammad and Jesus wanted us to. If not, we would be bombing, maming and killing Arabs and white folks, talking about 'remember slavery".

    But no, we are willing to not only follow these religions that were in many cases forced on us, but take those religions to another level and come up with the Adhan, like Bilal, gospel singing, Timbucktu, Latergical dancing, Tabaski, and the list goes on. We are so spiritual!!!

    Arabs on the other hand use Islam to profess superiority. Look how they treat our Afrakan people in Morocco, leave them out in the desert to die. These people make me sick!

    Sorry Brother Aqil, I'm ranting, but I want you to know how I feel. I have known for a while now and I know you are a devout Muslim. God bless you in your journey brother. Thank you for sharing this article, however, it doesn't make me feel better about Islam Arabism, they have a lot to prove.

    Peace to you.
  3. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Aug 24, 2002
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    The Diaspora
    They have as much to prove as White Christian Missionaries! Their words simply do not match their deeds!
  4. Dual Karnayn

    Dual Karnayn Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Nov 5, 2005
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    Islam doesn't promote slavery but does condone it under certain circumstances.

    And so do I.

    I know I'll never be anyone's slave, so the term no longer offends me.

    Too many people...when they hear the word "slave" they automatically think Black folk and get up-tight and if we're the only ones who've ever been enslaved.

    But when I hear the word "slave" I immediately think of Easter Europeans.