Why are entire races & nations given to suffer, and how can they uplift themselves?
featured image: photo of abdullah yusuf ali (1872-1953) in 1911 (wikipedia)
Dawn of a New Era
Shortly after the adoption of Islam, Kanem rose to be a state of considerable importance and extended its sway over the tribes of the Eastern Sudan to the borders of Egypt and Nubia; the first Muslim king of Kanem is said to have reigned either towards the close of the 11th or the first half of the 12th century (8).
Ibn Battuta gives a good description of the people of Mali under Islam:
‘The Black people possess some admirable qualities. they are seldom unjust, and have greater abhorrence of injustice than any other people. their sultan shows no mercy to anyone who is guilty of the least act of it. There is complete security in their country. Neither traveller nor inhabitant in it has anything to fear from robbers or men of violence.
They are careful to observe the hours of prayer, and assiduous in attending them in congregations, and in bringing up their children to them. On Fridays, if a man does not go early to the mosque, he cannot find a corner to pray in, on account of the crowd. It is a custom of theirs to send each man his boy [to the mosque] with his prayer-mat; the boy spreads it out for his master in a place befitting him [and remains on it] until he comes to the mosque. Their prayer-mats are made of the leaves of a tree resembling a date-palm, but without fruit (9).
Another of their good qualities is their habit of wearing clean white garments on Fridays. Even if a man has nothing but an old worn shirt, he washes it and cleans it, and wears it to the Friday service. yet another is their zeal for learning the Qur’an by heart (10).’
The positive impact Islam had on African society was observed by later Western writers and travellers. Smith notes how:
‘We hear of whole tribes laying aside their devil worship, or immemorial fetish, and springing at a bound, as it were, from the very lowest to one of the highest forms of religious belief. Christian travellers, with every wish to think otherwise, have remarked that the Black person who accepts Islam acquires at once a sense of the dignity of human nature not commonly found even among those who have been brought to accept Christianity (11).’
‘Nor as to the effects of Islam when first embraced by a Black tribe, can there, when viewed as a whole, be any reasonable doubt. Polytheism disappears almost instantaneously; sorcery, with it attendant evils, gradually dies away; human sacrifice becomes a thing of the past. The general moral elevations is most marked; the natives begin for the first time in their history to dress, and that neatly. Squalid filth is replaced by some approach to personal cleanliness; hospitality becomes a religious duty; drunkenness, instead of the rule becomes a comparatively rare exception. Though polygamy is allowed by the Koran, it is not common in practice…; chastity is looked upon as one of the highest, and becomes, in fact, on of the commoner virtues. It is idleness henceforth that degrades, and industry that elevates, instead of the reverse. Offences are henceforth measured by a written code instead of the arbitrary caprice of a chieftain-a step, as every one will admit, of vast importance in the progress of a tribe (12).’
The Islamic impact is also on the economic and cultural levels. Muslims proved to be excellent traders and came to dominate the commercial world, helping to foster progress in sciences, philosophy and technology wherever they settled. Merchants from Arabia and the Gulf opened up the eastern coasts of Africa, from the Horn to Madagascar, to international trade (13). The rich trading settlements of Sofala, Kilwa and Mogadishu became Africa’s outlets to the Indian Ocean. Along the coast, from the Horn to Madagascar, the original Muslim civilisation developed around the Muslim trading settlements: the Swahili civilisation (14).
Browne, and Englishman, who undertook extensive travels in Central African in the years 1799 and 1806 (15), remarks that, among the idolaters of Sheibon and other places, the only persons he saw wearing decent clothes, or indeed clothing at all, were Muslims; that it was to the introduction of Islam a century and a half before his time that Darfur owed its settled government and the cultivation of its soil; and that the people of Bergoo were remarkable for their zealous attachment to their religion, and read the Qur’an daily. In this summary we hear of the use of decent clothing, and the arts of reading and agriculture, attributed to Islam (16).
Mungo Park, educated as he was for the Scotch Church, and cruelly persecuted as he was throughout his travels by the ‘Moorish banditi’, Smith notes would not be likely to be a friend of Islam, and many of his remarks show a strong bias against it: his testimony, therefore is all the more valuable. His travels lay almost exclusively among Muslims or semi-Muslim tribes, and he found that the Black people were everywhere summoned to prayer by blasts blown through elephants’ tusks. On reahing the Niger, the main object of his wanderings, he found, to his surprise, that Sego, the capital of Bamharra, was a walled town, containing some 30,000 inhabitants, that the houses were square and very often white-washed, and that there were Muslim mosques in every quarter. ‘The view of this extensive city,’ he writes, ‘the numerous canoes upon the river, the crowded population, and the cultivated state of the surrounding country, formed altogether a prospect of civilisation and magnificence which I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa’ (17).
His impression of the women was most favourable. ‘I do not recollect,’ he says, ‘a single instance of hard-heartedness towards me among the women. In all my wandering and wretchedness I found them uniformly kind and compassionate.’ One of the first lessons in which the Mandingo women instructed their children was the practice of truth. (18)
Mungo Park adds: ‘the beverages of the pagan Negroes are beer and mead, of which they frequently drink to excess. The Muslims amongst them drink nothing but water’ (19).
As to education, Mungo Park found schools and active teachers everywhere (20). In Africa, we are assured, at all hands, that the Muslim population has an almost passionate desire for education. Wherever Muslims are numerous, they establish schools themselves; and there are not a few who travel extraordinary distances to secure the best possible education (21).
The Reverend Edward Blyden, a native Black African and Christian missionary, counters those who attack Islam, and says:
‘If those Christians who are so unmeasured in their denunciations of ‘Mohammedanism’ could travel, as I have travelled, through those countries in the interior of West Africa, and witness, as I have witnessed, the vast contrast between the pagan and ‘Mohammedan’ communities- the habitual listlessness of the one, and the activity and growth, physical and mental, of the other; the capricious and unsettled administration of law, or rather the absence of law, in the one, and the tendency to order and regularity in the other; the increasing prevalence of ardent spririts in the one, and the rigid sobriety and conservative abstemiousness of the other- they would cease to regard the ‘Mussulman’ system as an unmitigated evil in the interior of Africa’ (22).
Western Efforts to Block the Progress of African Civilization
The Western slave trade, which reached its peak in the 18th century, shattered not just Muslim communities, but the whole of African society and economy, and permanently. Garaudy and Howitt explain how this disastrous impact in great detail (23). It is not that African society, as generally held in Western writing, was initially backward, thus clearing the conscience of the slave traders from their responsibility in its backwardness, but rather, as a whole, Black Africa, in the 15th century, before slave trading, Garaudy explains was not inferior to Europe (24). Coming from Goa or Egypt, Islam penetrated as far as Chad, and met in Nigeria and old black civilisation, which was remarkable for its art, possibly tributary to Mediterranean classical influences, which it soon adopted (25). The African states of Ghana, Mali and songhay shared in the great age of Islamic civilisation from the 9th to 16th centuries (26). On his return from his pilgrimage to Makkah in 1324, Mansa Musa brought back with him the Muslim poet and architect Es Saheli, who built the famous mosques and learning academies of Timbuktu and Gao (27). Timbuktu ranked with Alexandria, Fez, Seville, Cordova and Constantinople as a great centre of learning (28). Blyden speaks of the story of the Hejazi jurist who sought employment in Timbuktu, but who, finding too many scholars went on to Fez where he found employment more easily. He quotes with relish many honourable appearances of a black skin in Islamic literature, as an encouragement to African learning (29).
Economically, the textiles of Congo and Guinea were as high quality as those of Europe; Nigerian decorated hides and leather were appreciated in Europe, getting to it via North Africa; and metal works, of copper in particular, of Katanga and Zambia, and iron works of Sierra Leone, were much superior to those they were made to import by force later from Europe (30). The Empire of Ghana was a thriving commercial centre, and its large capital, Kumbi Saleh, was an important centre of trade and scholarship, where Islamic theology and history were studied (31). In Zimbabwe, Rhodes mercenaries and traffickers found huge constructions, and mines well exploited. Bronze metal in Benin was better quality than the Portuguese. European superiority was only in terms of gun fire (32).
It was Western Christendom, and above all the slave trade it inflicted on Africa, which destroyed these progresses of the African continent, and made the prosperity of the slave-trading nations (33). In 1540, only 400 Africans were deported, a figure which rose to nearly 300,000 every year in the 18th century (34). Due to losses during capture, transportation, deaths at the plantations, etc., 100 million Africans perished as a result of the slave trade (65).
This article was an excerpt of al-Djazairi, S.E., A Short History of Islam, The Institute of Islamic History, Manchester: 2006
(1) J.S. Trimingham: the Influence of Islam; op cit; p. 53
(2) Ibid; pp. 62-3
(3) Ibid; p. 67
(4) Ibid; p. 68
(5) Ibid; pp. 68-9
(6) on the day of Judgement each person will be held responsible for his deeds. ‘The fate of every man have We bound upon his neck…, neither shall any laden soul be charged with the burden of another’; sura xvii.13, 15, vi 34 [Qur-aan 17.13, 15; 6.34]
(7) J.S. Trimingham: The Influence of Islam; op cit; p. 57
(8) C. H. Becker: Geschichte des ostlichen Sudan; Der Islam; vol 1; Strassburg; 1910; pp. 162-3
(9) Ibn Battuta: Voyages d’Ibn Battuta, Arabic text accompanied by Fr tr by C. Defremery and B.R. Sanguinetti, preface and notes by Vincent Monteil, I-IV, Paris, 1968, repring of the 1854 ed; vol 4; pp. 421-2
(10) Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa; tr and selected by H.A.R. Gibb; George Routledge and Sons Ltd; London, 1929; pp. 329-31
(11) R.B. Smith: Mohammed; op cit; p.38
(12) Ibid; pp. 42-3
(13) D.T. Niane: General History of Africa; op cit; p.2
(14) Ibid; p. 3
(15) See Pinkerton: Voyages; vol xv and xvi
(16) In R.B. Smith; Mohammed; op cit; p. 44
(17) Mungo Park’s Traves; Cap I. Nd fin; in R.B. Smith: Mohammed; op cit; p. 45
(18) In R.B. Smith; Mohammed; op cit; p. 46
(19) Mungo Park; Cap VII; in R.B. Smith: Mohammed; op cit; p. 46
(20) In R.B. Smith: Mohammed; p. 47
(21) Ibid; p. 41
(22) Ibid; pp. 50-1
(23) R. Garaudy: Comment l’Homme; op cit. W Howitt: Colonisation an dChristianity. op cit.
(24) R Garaudy; Comment l’Homme; op cit; p. 271
(25) E Perroy: Le Moyen Age, Presses Universitaires de France, 1956; p. 525
(26) D. M. Traboulay: Columbus and Las Casas; University Press of America, New York, London, 1994. p. 69
(27) Ibid; p. 70
(28) G.O. Cox: African Empires and Civilisations; New York; 1974; p. 161
(39) Blyden in N. Daniel: Islam, Europe and Empire; Edinburgh University Press; 1966; p. 314
(30) R. Garaudy: Comment l’Homme; op. cit; p. 271
(31) D.M. Traboulay: Columbus and Las Casas; op cit; p. 69
(32) R. Garaud: Comment l’Homme; op cit; p. 271
(33) E. Williams: Capitalism and Slavery; North Carolina; 1944. Catherine C. Vidrotitch: Villes Africaines; op cit; at p. 1390. M. Craton: Sinews of Empire: A short history of British slavery; Garden City; NY; Doubleday; 1974
(34) R. Garaudy; Comment l’Homme; op cit; p. 275
Islam was revealed in Arabic in the Arabian Peninsula, but what does it actually say about Arabs? What is their place in Islam and Islamic history? And does this apply to today’s modern musta’rab (Arabized people) or only to the original Arabs?
Arabs & Islamic Culture in Islamic History
Enmity to Islam
- The first opponents of Islam were Arabs. They tortured and killed Muslims, even spearing a woman- Sumayya- in her vagina.
- The people Muslims had to flee from, several times, were Arabs.
- The first army Muslims fought was an army of Arabs.
- The first munafiqeen (hypocrites) were Arabs. They pretended to be Muslims ready to fight with Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, then betrayed him.
- The first murtadeen- renegade apostates- and false prophets were Arabs.
Enmity to Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, and His Family
- Arabs tried to assassinate Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, a grave sin of the Children of Israel condemned in the Qur-an…
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The ‘animal’ form and behavior which man adopts for the external vehicle of his consciousness does not make man an animal, any more than the hirsute coverings of the animal render it part of the plant kingdom. (177)
Creationism vs. Darwinism: The False Dichotomy
The way in which these esoteric allegories and metaphors have been simplistically travestied by ignorant medieval theologians and then allowed to maintain their existence by modern ‘creationists’ causes nothing but confusion. The fact that these distortions are currently regarded as the only alternative to Darwinism and its theory of evolution by chaotic natural selection, shows just how far modern understand both of Nature’s workings and of ancient philosophical teaching technique has gone astray.
Creation as understood by the Ancients
We start with a set of clearly stated assumptions –
- There are planes or states of being and consciousness other than those of which we humans are generally aware.
- A state of being and a state of consciousness are not the same.
For example, we and the animals and plants and minerals all exist within the same objective, terrestrial state of being; but humans both experience and rationalize higher states of consciousness which the other kingdoms cannot access.
- Whilst a state of consciousness may require some form of bodily organism in order to perceive and experience it, that bodily form and its faculties must be appropriate to the associated state(s) of being within which the consciousness itself exists. (169)
Why there’s no missing link
The ancient tradition had it that there was an absolute break between the soul nature of each kingdom in Nature – hence there could never be any such thing as the objective ‘missing evolutionary link’ which Darwinian evolutionists hope to find.
Thus, the ‘animal’ form and behavior which man adopts for the external vehicle of his consciousness does not make man an animal, any more than the hirsute coverings of the animal render it part of the plant kingdom. (177)
The Reality of Enlightenment
Understandably, just as our considerably expanded consciousness gives us access to perspectives of possibility of which the Animal kingdom does not even begin to be aware, so the spiritual Adept – having made an equivalent onward transition – is said to have access to a range of faculty and inclusively wider perception of which we can only be aware in theory, or by virtue of descriptions passed down. However, something of it has been perceived by humans in fragmentary moments of deep mystic introspection. (174)
It is commonly imagined by the majority of people that just because a being is far more evolved spiritually, its nature must be all sweetness and light and thus a permanent joy to be in contact with all the time. However, there is no rational justification for this entirely simplistic viewpoint. The psychic power and influence in any ordinary person’s aura becomes supercharged through either intensity of subjective focus of simple enthusiasm. It is due to this that the infectiously magnetic nature of open enthusiasm or of flaming oratory is capable of developing in others a sense of group purpose and involvement – and this for either good or evil. Charisma is a very double-edged faculty.
But just imagine to what degree a really advanced being’s presence would be expected to produce automatic side-effects in a less powerful aura. It would be equivalent to that of a small-scale generator put right in the immediate vicinity of a powerful electro-megnetic force field’, in other words, complete disorientation and ‘electrical overload’. Thus, one of the major effects of spiritual development involves an inevitably commensurate increase in psycho-spiritual power which needs to be approached (or used) very carefully. (172)
If God is Real, Why Won’t He Show Himself?
Practical common sense should in any case tell us that the power of such a divinity making even a fraction of its presence felt within an unprepared individual nature would result in no less than immediate disintegration of all that person’ faculties of sensory perception – if nothing else. As Euripides is reputed to have said, ‘Those whom the gods wish to destroy [for their arrogance], they make mad’ Even in the potential case of the gods appearing in the vicinity of ordinary mortals for any length of time for supposedly beneficial reasons, we would anticipate psychologically disruptive side effects.
Sexy women in bikinis really do inspire some men to see them as objects, according to a new study of male neurology.
Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.
Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as “I push, I grasp, I handle,” said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University.
And in a “shocking” finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another’s intentions.
This means that these men see women “as sexually inviting, but they are not thinking about their minds,” Fiske said. “The lack of activation in this social cognition area is really odd, because it hardly ever happens.”
Pervasive stereotypes of black women have worked to deny them dignity and rights. The “jezebel” image, stereotyping black women as sexually loose, has its roots in slavery to justify the systematic raping of enslaved women. It is in fighting this image that I see long dresses, or the hijab, as tools of liberation.