In the last few chapters of El Hajj Malik Shabazz’s autobiography he made a statement about the Moorish Empire. Elijah Muhammad also made a statement about the Moors in the Theology of time.
“Now then, once you see that the condition that we’re in is directly related to our lack of knowledge concerning the history of the Black man, only then can you realize the importance of knowing something about the history of the Black man. The Black man’s history—when you refer to him as the Black man you go way back, but when you refer to him as a Negro, you can only go as far back as the Negro goes. And when you go beyond the shores of America you can’t find a Negro.”
“So if you go beyond the shores of America in history, looking for the history of the Black man, and you’re looking for him under the term Negro, you won’t find him. He doesn’t exist. So you end up thinking that you didn’t play any role in history. But if you want to take the time to do research for yourself, I think you’ll find that on the African continent there was always, prior to the discovery of America, there was always a higher level of history, rather a higher level of culture and civilization, than that which existed in Europe at the same time.At least five thousand years ago they had a Black civilization in the Middle East called the Sumerians.”
“Now when they show you pictures of the Sumerians they try and make you think that they were white people. But if you go and read some of the ancient manuscripts or even read between the lines of some of the current writers, you’ll find that the Sumerian civilization was a very dark-skinned civilization, and it existed prior even to the existence of the Babylonian empire, right in the same area where you find Iraq and the Tigris-Euphrates rivers there.”
“It was a black-skinned people who lived there, who had a high state of culture way back then.And at a time even beyond this there was a black-skinned people in India, who were Black, just as Black as you and I, called Dravidian’s. They inhabited the subcontinent of India even before the present people that you see living there today, and they had a high state of culture. The present people of India even looked upon them as gods; most of their statues, if you’ll notice, have pronounced African features.”
“You go right to India today—in their religion, which is called Buddhism, they give all their Buddhas the image of a Black man, with his lips and his nose, and even show his hair all curled up on his head; they didn’t curl it up, he was born that way. And these people lived in that area before the present people of India lived there.The Black man lived in the Middle East before the present people who are now living there. And he had a high culture and a high civilization, to say nothing about the oldest civilization of all that he had in Egypt along the banks of the Nile. And in Carthage in northwest Africa, another part of the continent, and at a later date in Mali and Ghana and Songhai and Moorish civilization—all of these civilizations existed on the African continent before America was discovered.”
“This is why you find many Italians dark—some of that Hannibal blood. No Italian will ever jump up in my face and start putting bad mouth on me, because I know his history. I tell him when you talk about me, you’re talking about your pappy, [Laughter] your father. He knows his history, he knows how he got that color.”
“Don’t you know that just a handful of Black American troops spent a couple of years in England during World War II and left more brown babies back there—just a handful of Black American soldiers in England and in Paris and in Germany messed up the whole country. Now what do you think ninety thousand Africans are going to do in Italy for twenty years? [Laughter] It’s good to know this because when you know it, you don’t have to get a club to fight the man—put truth on him. Even the Irish got a dose of your and my blood when the Spanish Armada was defeated off the coast of Ireland, I think around about the seventeenth or eighteenth century; I forget exactly, you can check it out. The Spanish in those days were dark. They were the remnants of the Moors, and they went ashore and settled down in Ireland and right to this very day you’ve got what’s known as the Black Irish. And it’s not an accident that they call them Black Irish. If you look at them, they’ve got dark hair, dark features, and they’ve got Spanish names—like Eamon De Valera, the president, and there used to be another one called Costello.”
“These names came from the Iberian Peninsula, which is the Spanish-Portuguese peninsula, and they came there through these seamen, who were dark in those days. Don’t let any Irishman jump up in your face and start telling you about you—why, he’s got some of your blood too. You’ve spread your blood everywhere. If you start to talk to any one of them, I don’t care where he is, if you know history, you can put him right in his place. In fact, he’ll stay in his place, if he knows that you know your history. West African cultures Also, at that same time or a little later was a civilization called the Moors. The Moors were also a dark-skinned people on the African continent, who had a highly developed civilization.”
“They were such magnificent warriors that they crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in, I think, the year 711, eighth century, conquered Portugal, what we today know as Portugal, Spain, and southern France, conquered it and ruled it for seven hundred years. And they admit that during this time Europe was in the Dark Ages, meaning darkness, ignorance. And it was the only light spot; the only light, the only light of learning, that existed on the European continent at that time were the universities that the Moors had erected in what we today know as Spain and Portugal.”
“These were African universities that they set up in that area. And they ruled throughout that area, up to a place known as Tours, where they were stopped by a Frenchman known in history as Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer. He stopped the invasion of the Africans, and these were Africans. They try to confuse you and me by calling them Moors, so that you and I won’t know what they were. But when you go home, look in the dictionary. Look up the word M-o-o-r; it will tell you that Moor means black. Well, if Negro means black and Moor means black, then they’re talking about the same people all the time. But they don’t want you and me to know that we were warriors, that we conquered, that we had armies. They want you and me to think that we were always nonviolent, and passive, and peaceful, and forgiving. Sure, we forgave our enemies in those days—after we killed them, we forgave them. [Laughter and applause]”
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The Doctrine of Discovery is one of the earliest examples of classical international law—that is, the accepted legal norms and principles that control conduct between different states. The Doctrine was developed to regulate European countries’ actions and conflicts over exploration, trade, and colonization of non-European countries and was used to justify the domination of non-Christian, non-European peoples. The Doctrine was developed in Europe over several centuries primarily by the Catholic Church, Spain, Portugal, England, and the other colonial powers. There were two bases for the Doctrine: (1) the alleged authority of the Christian God and (2) the ethnocentric idea that Europeans had the power and the justification to claim the lands and rights of indigenous peoples around the world and to exercise dominion over them.
Scholars have traced the expansion of European rule and culture, and especially the Doctrine, to early medieval times, and in particular to the Crusades to recover the Holy Lands during the years 1096–1271. In addition to other justifications for the Crusades, the Church and various popes established the idea of a universal papal jurisdiction, which “vested a legal responsibility in the [P]ope to realize the vision of the universal Christian commonwealth.” This papal responsibility, along with the idea of a “just war,” offered support for Christian-led “holy wars” against infidels and was especially apparent in the Crusades.
In 1240, Pope Innocent IV, a canon lawyer, wrote a legal commentary on the rights of non-Christian peoples. His work influenced both the development of the Discovery Doctrine and the writings of Francisco de Vitoria and Hugo Grotius, famous sixteenth and seventeenth century legal theorists. In his commentary on a papal decree from 1209, Pope Innocent IV asked whether it was “licit to invade a land that infidels possess or which belongs to them?” Innocent ultimately answered “yes,” because such invasions were “just” wars, fought for the “defense” of Christians and for the re-conquest of Christian lands. In answering this question, Innocent focused on the authority of Christians to legitimately dispossess pagans of their dominium—their sovereignty, lordship, and property rights.
He conceded that pagans had some natural law rights and that Christians had to recognize the right of infidels to own property and govern themselves. Yet, he also held that the non-Christian’s natural law rights were qualified by the papacy’s divine mandate. Because the Pope was entrusted with the spiritual health of all humans, the Pope also had a voice in the secular affairs of all humans. Of course, a “pope can order infidels to admit preachers of the Gospel . . . [and if they do not] they sin and so they ought to be punished . . . and war may be declared against them by the Pope and not by anyone else.” Consequently, the Pope was duty-bound to intervene in the secular affairs of infidels if they violated natural law, as defined by Europeans, or if they prevented the preaching of the gospel.
In discussing the invasion of non-Christian countries to “defend” the faith, Pope Innocent IV borrowed from the writings of Saint Augustine, a fifth century scholar, and from earlier popes. Augustine had written that it was proper for Christians to re-conquer lands which had been seized by infidels. In addition, he claimed that Christians had the right to invade nations which practiced cannibalism, sodomy, idolatry, and human sacrifice, reasoning that such wars were a defense of Christianity, to “acquire peace,” and thus, were “work[s] of justice.” Pope Innocent IV also found support for holy wars in papal actions nearly two centuries earlier. Immediately preceding the official start of the Crusades, Archdeacon Hildebrand—later Pope Gregory VII, 1073–1085—negotiated a papal treaty with a French Count to fight a holy war against the Muslims in Spain.
Moreover, Pope Urban II, 1088–1099, granted Spanish crusaders the same papal indulgences that were granted for making pilgrimages to Jerusalem.47 Urban thereafter issued the first call for crusades to the holy lands in 1095, and he continued to link crusades with pilgrimages by granting indulgences for crusaders, just as he had done for participants in the holy war with the Moors. WILLIAMS, supra note 4, at 34–37. See generally ERDMANN, supra note 28, at 306–54 Poland’s position, however, was the same as Pope Innocent IV in 1240: infidels possessed the same natural law rights as Christians, and, therefore, their lands could only be invaded to punish violations of natural law and to facilitate the preaching of the gospel.54 The Council accepted Poland’s argument.55 Future crusades, discoveries, and conquests of heathens would have to proceed in accordance with the emerging legal standards of European Christianity.
The Council of Constance was called in 1414 to settle three major disputes, including the Knights’ claim to Lithuania. The Knights argued (1) that their territorial and jurisdictional claims could be traced to papal bulls from the Crusading era, which had authorized the complete confiscation of the property and sovereignty of non-Christians; and (2) that infidels lacked dominium and therefore were subject to Christian control. These standards supported the idea that pagans had natural rights, but that they also had to comply with European concepts of natural law or risk being conquered. Thus, the Council of Constance formally defined the Doctrine of Discovery. The Church, and secular Christian princes, had to respect the natural-law rights of pagans to own property and to govern themselves, but not if they strayed too far from European normative views.Read More
Ezaldeen, Muhammad Born: 1886 Died: 1957 Occupation: founder of the Addeynu Allahe Universal Arabic Association From: Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. Detroit was directed by the temple’s first leader, James Lomax who formed what may have been called the “Mohammedan Church Temple.” Noble Drew Ali reportedly personally came to Detroit to remove Lomax from his position and accused him of grafting funds from the temple, though at his trial a month later, Lomax was found innocent of the charge. The schism, though, still resulted in violence, including a shootout with police, six months before Ira Johnson’s in Chicago. Ultimately, the Detroit temple schism had major implications for the future of Islam in America. Fearing for his life, Lomax fled from Detroit and ended up in, first, Turkey, where he struggled to start a colony for African American Muslims, and then Egypt where he was trained by an important emerging Sunni organization. Now going as Muhammad Ezaldeen, he returned to the U.S. in late 1936 and became, with Sheik Daoud Faisal, one of the leading African-American Sunni leaders in the 1930s to 1950s, organizing and uniting Muslims all along the East Coast (from New York to Florida) and as far west as Detroit. His group, the AAUAA, which still exists today, even developed connections to Malcolm X.
This is a photo from the MSTA convention in 1928, and in this front row of people are MSTA leaders from that time. Noble Drew Ali is standing and wearing a white turban and robe. Lomax/Ezaldeen is the man standing to the right of Drew Ali See Notes on the MSTA Schisms in Detroit and Pittsburgh, 1928-29 You can download this paper atAcademia.edu website: Click Here Muhammad Ezaldeen founded the Addeynu Allahe universal Arabic Association, an early Sunni Muslim organization comprised predominantly of African Americans, in the late 1930s. Ezaldeen, who received his religious education in Egypt in the 1930s, was a pioneering figure in the spread of Sunni Islam among African Americans. Perhaps his most noteworthy contribution was the design of a religious curriculum that both adhered to the main teachings of Sunni Islamic tradition and addressed the particular social and political concerns of African Americans.
Ezaldeen was born James Lomax on October 14, 1886, in Abbeville, South Carolina. After attending school in Columbia, South Carolina, he traveled north to Chicago, where he was a founding figure of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MST) in 1926. He was appointed to lead the MST temple in Detroit. In a 1928 photo, Lomax appears directly next to Noble Drew Ali, perhaps symbolizing his proximity to power in the MST. During this decade, he was also known as Lomax Bey and Ali Mohammed Bey and became a regional governor of the group, but in 1929, after political infighting, Ezaldeen left the MST and never returned.
In 1930, Ezaldeen reportedly traveled to Turkey under the name Ali Mohammed Bey to deliver a petition to Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk on behalf of African Americans facing prejudice and legal segregation in the United States. The petition included a proposal to relocate a group of his followers to Turkey to settle on any underpopulated farming land. Harkening back to the ideal of the yeoman farmer who could determine his own fate, the idea that African Americans could be free only by owning and farming their own land had deep roots in U.S. and African-American history. For Ezaldeen, land was the key to the liberation of 20th-century blacks still largely economically dependent on whites. Although Ezaldeen’s hopes to relocate to Turkey did not materialize, reports of his travels abroad caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which regularly tracked African Americans who had any ties to foreign persons or states.
In 1931, Ezaldeen traveled to Egypt, where he remained until 1936. During his five years in this Muslim country, Ezaldeen studied Islamic religious traditions under the auspices of the General Centre World Young Men Muslim Association, which reported that he “embraced Islam, and stayed in the hospitality and good care of the General Centre for five years.” According to other reports, he also studied, although to a lesser extent, ancient Egyptian culture and history and was trained to be a tour guide of the historical sites. Ezaldeen may have also studied at al-Ahzar University, one of the oldest continuously operating universities in the world, but evidence for that claim is inconclusive.
Once he returned to the United States, Ezaldeen put his training to use by establishing an organization devoted to community development and the teaching of the Qur’an and the sunna, or the traditions of the prophet Muhammad. From 1936 to 1938, he lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he tried to establish the Addeynu Allahe Universal Arabic Association (AAUAA) in August 1938. The first branch formally incorporated was in Camden, New Jersey, in August 1938. Unable to secure a charter by state officials, he left for Buffalo, New York, where, it is reported, some local residents were anxious to learn Arabic. On October 29, 1938, Ezaldeen was chosen as imam, or leader, of a nascent community of black Muslims, and sometime thereafter, he incorporated a unit of the AAUAA in West Valley, New York.
Over the next five years, Ezaldeen’s followers contributed part of their salaries, often earned in factories around Buffalo, to the purchase of a farm. Called Jabul Arabiyya, or the “Mountain of Arabic-Speaking People,” this farm became the first headquarters of the AAUAA. Ezaldeen instructed members to build homes, a mosque, stores, and a jail so that they could establish their community life and govern themselves according to shari’a, or Islamic “law and ethics.” Financial and social challenges brought hardship, but a 1946 article in the Buffalo Courier-Express pictured a vibrant, if poor, farming community that tended to livestock and educated children in a small house on the farm. Another unit of the AAUAA soon emerged in Hammonton, New Jersey, outside Philadelphia, now called Ezaldeen Village.
In 1941, Ezaldeen relocated to Newark, New Jersey, where he eventually moved his headquarters above a curtain shop at 95 Prince Street. It is unclear why he moved to Newark. One observer has speculated that the move may have had something to do with the wishes of his wife, Set or Karema, who at one point may have also been a Moorish American. She lived in the East Ward of Newark upon her death in 1995. Prince Street had become a thriving commercial center, and there was an active MST community in the vicinity at 230 Court Street. An article in the Newark Evening News of September 26, 1940, states that by that year there were more that 1,200 members of the MST there.
Ezaldeen proceeded with the establishment of the new AAUAA unit, which became a competitor to the program and teachings of the MST. The AAUAA offered courses on the Qur’an, the sunna, the Hametic (Black) Arab heritage, and the Arabic language. Tensions between the MST and the AAUAA were evident but kept to a minimum and did not contain Ezaldeen’s influence. Wahab Arbubakar, a student of Ezaldeen’s, recalled that when he met Ezaldeen, he spoke about the one true Allah, the prophets, the holy books, and the hereafter. Arbubakar had not known much about Islam prior to meeting Ezaldeen; he recalled that the most profound religious teaching he heard from Ezaldeen was the al-fatiha (opening chapter of the Qur’an) and the adhan, or “call to prayer.”
Ezaldeen also taught his students that the term Arab was a linguistic term and not a racial one. Although he taught that the original Arabs were black (Hametic), the emphasis in his teachings was placed on language and faith, not race, as the highest form of identification for a person. Malik Arbubakar, son of Wahab Arbubakar, stated that “Professor Ezaldeen was keen to pointing out that we were Hametic Arabs and he taught us that just because our foreign-born brothers and sisters came from Arabia and other Muslim countries, did not give them any greater claim on al-Islam than we had.”
Ezaldeen adopted two flags for the organization. One symbolized the belief in the Islamic faith and the other was the flag of the United States of America. The first was described as the Universal Al-Islamic flag. Green in color, it featured two crossed golden swords and Arabic writing containing the declaration of Islamic faith that “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This flag and the U.S. flag came to symbolize Ezaldeen’s desire for a marriage between what he described as the best of Eastern and Western values. Ezaldeen thought of Islam as an integral part of the American identity of African Americans.
In 1943, Ezaldeen joined Wali Akram (1904–94), a former Ahmadi Muslim American and founder of the Sunni Muslim mosque in Cleveland, in an effort to unite Sunni African-American Muslims around a common agenda. Ezaldeen’s work in propagating the faith, especially among African Americans, had been recognized by Akram, and together they organized a meeting to establish the Uniting Islamic Society of America (UISA). Its 1943 conference, held in Philadelphia, was hosted by Ezaldeen’s AAUAA, and Akram was elected president of the new organization. As president, he drafted a “Muslim Ten Year Plan” and assigned responsibilities to the delegates. Ezaldeen was given a prominent role as spiritual adviser to the group, and members of the AAUAA were also assigned to important posts.
Differences of opinion between Akram and Ezaldeen on matters of religion, dawah methodology, and community development, however, curtailed the organization’s progress, and it dissolved by 1946. The backgrounds of both men were factors that contributed to some of the disagreements. While Akram had been a Muslim in the United States for at least 20 years, Ezaldeen had been the only one from America to formally study Islam in a Muslim country. The knowledge and political recognition that Ezaldeen acquired from Egypt certainly helped to legitimize him as an authentic teacher of Islam in the United States.
As Ezaldeen’s reputation for being a learned man in the religion grew, especially in the Mid-Atlantic States, he attracted more members to the AAUAA. Among his most prominent students in the Newark and New York area were Wahab Arbubakar, Heshaam Jaaber, Akeel Karam, Musa Hamad, and Daoud Ghani. In Newark, even followers and sympathizers of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad would sometimes visit Ezaldeen when he established the AAUAA on Prince Street because they respected him for his knowledge of Islam. Members of the Council of the Brothers, a social reform organization of the 1950s, would sit down with Ezaldeen and listen to his teachings.
In the years after the last conference organized by the UISA, Ezaldeen’s health began to deteriorate. He suffered health problems after having stepped on a nail while building a house for his family in West Valley. His leg had to be amputated, and then he lost his remaining leg due to a life-threatening infection. He used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Many people, both local and foreign, continued to visit him at his Prince Street location in Newark. By the 1960s, the AAUAA unit that Ezaldeen founded in Newark remained small compared to the growing local branch of the Nation of Islam, but it retained its status as a national association. Members could be found in Hammonton, Whitesboro, and Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cleveland; Columbus; Buffalo; Rochester, New York; and Jacksonville, Florida.
Ezaldeen died on June 5, 1957, and was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey. Throughout his life, Ezaldeen shared his knowledge of Sunni Islam and confronted the racism suffered by his followers. He played a major role in helping to establish Islam as a lasting part of African-American and American religious life.
Dannin, Robert. Black Pilgrimage to Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Hakim Quick, Abdullah. Deeper Roots: Muslims in the Americas and the Caribbean from before Columbus to the Present. London: TaHa Publishers, 1996.
———. Islam and the African in America: The Sunni Experience. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Islamic Academy of Canada, 1997.
Nash, Michael. Islam among Urban Blacks, Muslims in Newark, New Jersey: A Social History. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2008.
Walker, Dennis. Islam and the Search for African American Nationhood. Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2005.
Text Citation (Chicago Manual of Style format):
- Naeem Nash. “Ezaldeen, Muhammad.” In Curtis, Edward E., IV, ed. Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE01&iPin=EMAH0092&SingleRecord=True (accessed May 24, 2015).
In the meantime Adams and Jefferson were attempting to conclude a treaty with Tripoli. The initiative, relative to this, had been taken by one Abdurrahman, a Tripolitan ambassador in London. To an acquaintance he had expressed surprise that Adams had not left a card as the other foreign ministers had done, and could explain the omission only on the basis of his country’s being at war with the United States. “We will make peace with them, however,” he was reported to have said, “for a tribute of a hundred thousand dollars a year—not less.”
This event led to the first of a series of conferences regarding relations between the United States and Tripoli. Adams paid Abdurrahman a visit, and on that occasion the two men discussed a state of war existing between their respective countries. Adams inquired why there should be such hostility in view of the fact that there had been no “injury, insult, or provocation on either side.”
To this query the Tripolitan replied that the Barbary States, and Turkey, were the “sovereigns of the Mediterranean,” and would permit no nation to navigate it without a treaty of peace. He then produced a commission from his government, granting him wide powers in the negotiation of treaties.Read More