“In 711 A.D., the Black Moors and others sailed across the straits of Gibraltar and invaded Europe. They stayed in Iberia for centuries. Although they could be brutal at times, their efforts helped lift Europe out of the ‘Dark Ages’ and ushered in the Renaissance. In 705, al Khina was defeated and killed. Her defeat was feasible only because of the lack of unity among the various black groups. In any case, her death was a terrible blow to Africans. Hassan Bin Numans successor, Musa ibn Nusair, completed the conquest of North Africa, including Morocco, with the exception of Ceuta. Among those African chiefs who converted to Islam was one Tarik, later governor of Mauritania. He had fought valiantly against the Arabs before his capture and conversion to Islam in order to preserve his life ad still maintain his position as general. A great warrior, he was to play a prominent role in the Moorish conquest of Spain.” See Moorish Europe By Aylmer von Fleische
The Moors were by no means the first Blacks to have invaded Europe. In addition to the Grimaldi Man, known to have entered Europe in prehistoric times, around 700 B.C. the Nubian, Taharka, then a general and not yet king, invaded Spain where he was known as Tarraco., Al Makkary in his work, The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain, recounted how Spain was once hit by a terrible drought. That was over 3,000 years ago. Later, on, Africans who had staged an abortive revolution were expelled and left for Spain, settling at modern day Cadiz under the leadership of Batrikus, his Latin name. His African name is unknown. Everywhere they went they set up civilizations, staying and ruling Spain for over a century before being uprooted by the Romans. During the fifth century, the Romans began to lose Spain to the ‘barbarian’ tribes such as the Alans, Suev and Vandals who occupant the North, Southern and Western parts of the country. By the end of the seventh century, the Visigoths had extended their rule all over the Iberian Peninsula.” See Moorish Europe By Aylmer von Fleische
“The earliest of dwellers of Arabia were themselves black, referred to by various names such as Kushites, Adites, Thamudites or Vedoids. With the encroachment of Whites and Asiatics, known as The Red Race to the Arabian Peninsula, the original black inhabitants were pushed back to the south western arts Oman, Yemen and Hadramaut, known as Arabia Felix or Hay Arabia. Black Dynasties in early Arabia included those of the Mineans, the Sabeans and the Himyarites. Himyar was a descendant of Cush through Seba. The relationship between The Red Races, of the North and the black Arabians was tenuous at best.”
“However, the inevitable amalgamation occurred between the different races in the peninsula. Mohammed’s ethnic group, the Koreysh, claimed to be descendants of Ishmael through Hagar. A carving of a huge head near Medina with unmistakable African features is widely believed to be that of Ishmael. The black Koreysh ethnic group itself is said to be a branch of one of the oldest dynasties of Arabia, the Kinana. A major division into two ethnic groups later occurred, and the lateral branch of the family is said to have the Koreysh, claimed to be descendants of Ishmael through Hagar. A carving of a huge head near Mediina with unmistakable African features is widely believed to be that of Ishmael. See Moorish Europe By Aylmer von Fleische The black Koreysh ethnic group itself is said to be a branch of one of the oldest dynasties of Arabia, the Kinana. A major division int two ethnic groups later occurred, and the lateral branch of the family tree is said, to have mixed with “The Red Race,” creating in effect the Abid Shem family, ancestors of the Harb, the Abu Sofian, the Muawiya and the great Ummayyah family.”
“Despite all the mixture, it is clear tht eh dusky skin was still much in evidence among the Ummayades. The historian, Toynbee, has said: “The Primitive Arabs who were the ruling element of the Umayyad Caliphate called themselves ‘the swarthy people’ with a connotation of racial superiority and their Persian and Turkish subjects ‘the ruddy people’ with a connotation of racial inferiority. Black Africans have left their mark on the early history of the Arabian Peninsula.” See Moorish Europe By Aylmer von Fleische In Dr. Wesley Muhammad, PhD’s article “Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?” he gave the following excerpts from, Black Arabia and The African Origin of Islam (2009).” Click Here
“In his work, Islam’s Black Legacy: Some Leading Figures (1993), Mohammed Abu-Bakr includes among 62 leading Black figures of Islam the Prophet Muhammad himself. Abu-Bakr rightly notes: According to Muslim tradition, Prophet Muhammad descended in a straight line from Ishmael’s second son Kedar (Arabic: Qaidar), whose name in Hebrew signifies ‘black’…From the sons of Kedar inhabiting the northern Arabian desert, sprang the noblest tribe in Arabia, the Koreish (Quraish), the tribe from which Prophet Muhammad descended.” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“As we have also discussed above, the Arabian Qedar were a black tribe akin to the equally black Nabateans, and these two were in someway related to the Quraish, the black tribe par excellenceof ancient Makka. As Robert F. Spencer remarks: “It is said that the Quraish explained their short stature and dark skin by the fact that they always carefully adhered to endogamy.” al-Jahiz (d. 869), the important Afro-Iraqi scholar of ninth century Baghdad, noted in his KitabFakhr al-Sudan ala al-biyadan (The Boast of the Blacks over the Whites): The ten lordly sons of Abd al-Mutalib were deep black (dalham) in colour and big/tall (dukhm). When Amir b. al-Tufayl saw them circumambulating (the Kaaba) like dark camels, he said, “With such men as these is the custody of the Kaaba preserved.” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“Abd Allah ibn Abbas was very black and tall. Those of Abu Talibs’s family, who are the most noble of men, are dark skinned, black and tall (sud).” This report is important for our discussion, not only because Abd al-Mutalib and his ten black sons were pure Arabs, but also because they are also the family of the Prophet, Abd al-Mutalibbeing his paternal grandfather. The Syrian scholar and historian al-Dhahabī (d. 1348) too reported that Abd Allah ibn Abbas, Prophet Muhammad’s first cousin, and his son, Alī ibn AbdAllah, were “very dark-skinned.” Alī ibn Abu Talib, first cousin of the Prophet and future fourth caliph, is described by al-Suyuti and others as “husky, bald…pot-bellied, large-bearded…and jet-black (shadīd al-udma).” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“Ali’s son, Abu Jaffa , according to Bin Sad’s (d. 845), described Ali thusly: “He was a black-skinned man with big, heavy eyes, pot-bellied, bald, and kind of short.” This convergence of blackness, nobility and Quraishī ethnicity is further demonstrated in these lines attributed to the seventh century CE Quraishī poet, al-Fadl ibn al-Abbas, called al-Akhdar al-Lahabi “The Flaming Black”. Al-Fadl is the Prophet Prophet Muhammad’s first cousin and he said: “I am the black skinned one (al-Akhdar). I am well-known. My complexion is black. I am from the noble house of the Arabs.” Ibn Manzour (d. 1311) notes the opinion that al-ahkdar here means aswad al-jilda, ‘Blackskinned’, and signifies that al-Fadl is from the pure Arabs, “because the color of most of the Arabs is dark (al-udma).” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“Similarly Ibn Berry (d. 1193) said also: “He (al-Fadl) means by this that his genealogy is pure and that he is a pure Arab (arabi mahd ) because Arabs describe their color as black (al-aswad).” Thus, al-Fadl’s blackness (akhdar) is the visual mark of his pure, Quraishī background, being born of a pure Arab mother and father. The Quraish consisted of several sub-clans. Abd al-Mutalib and his descendents, including Prophet Muhammad, belonged to the Banu Hashim. Henry Lammens takes notice of “les Haśhimites, famille où dominait le sang nègre” (“the Hashimites, the family where Black blood dominated”).” See Moorish Europe By Aylmer von Fleische “Lammens remarks that they are généralement qualifies de آدم = couleur foncée” (“generally described as adam =dark colored”).” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“But the Banu Hashim were not the only sub-clans noted for their blackness. The Banu Zuhra, the tribe from which the prophet’s mother, Amina bint Wahab, hailed, was likewise noted for its blackness. See for example the famous Saad ibn Abī Waqqās (d.ca. 646), cousin of Amina and uncle of Prophet Muhammad. He is described as very dark, tall and flat-nosed. Prophet Muhammad, it should be noted, was quite proud of his uncle Saad whose military contributions we shall discuss below. We are told that once Prophet Muhammad was sitting with some of his companions and Saad walked by. The prophet stopped and taunted: “That’s my uncle. Let any man show me his uncle.” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“This blackness of the Quraish tribe is not insignificant to the religious history of Islam. The Quraish were the custodians of the cult of the Kaaba in pre-Quranic Makka and at religious ceremonies they would declare nahnu ahlu Allah (“We are the People of Allah”) and throughoutArabia they were known as ahlu Allah, the People of Allah. In other words, the black tribe par excellence was also the Allah-tribe par excellence and custodians of the cult of the Black Stone. Nevertheless, or rather as a consequence, Prophet Muhammad’s greatest struggle was with his own kinsmen, this black, Allah-venerating Quraish tribe. In the end, however, it would be the black Quraish that became the foundation of Islam in its inception, at least in the short term. Not only were the Sunni caliphs drawn from them, but the Shiite Imams, descendents of the black Alī ibn Abu Talib, were likewise black Quraishi Arabs.” See Was The Prophet Muhammad Black or Caucasian?”
“Britons began their seaborne trade in the Mediterranean basin and the east Atlantic during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and repeatedly found themselves, merchants and sailors alike, clashing with Turks and Moors. At the end of the sixteenth century, numerous Britons were taken captive in regions extending from the Ottoman Levant and the North African regencies to Morocco, all the way to the Atlantic half a century later (1640), there were “thousands” of captives in Algiers and Sale, according to an Act of Parliament. But by the beginning of the eighteenth century, Britain had succeeded in establishing its control over the major commercial and maritime zones, and although captives continued to be taken (mainly as a result of the ship wreck), their numbers declined dramatically, ending completely at the beginning of the nineteenth century.” (Page 1)
“Numerous literary critics have written about the impact of captivity on British “identity,” “hybridity”, “multiculturalism,” and “performativity,” while others have interpreted Elizabethan and Jacobean literature (drama in particular) in the light of captivity. Historians have studied the captivity of Europeans in the early modern Mediterranean and Atlantic, emphasizing its violence and anti-Christian motivations, and extrapolating from the seizure of Britons (and Continental Europeans) a casus belli that resulted in the European commercial and maritime domination of the basin.” (Page 1)
“Notwithstanding the pillage committed by all parties, Christian and Muslim alike, and notwithstanding the indiscriminate nature of captivity in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic the scholarly and popular focus has been chiefly on North Africans and their Islamic anti-christian design. Such focus has led to parallels with recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere thus the baginos of the seventeenth century in North Africa have been compared to the Stalinist Gulag, while the Muslim pirates of early modernity have been seen as precursors of modern day Middle Eastern terrorist and of Somali pirates.”(Page 1)
“It’s unfortunate that the study of North African and Mediterranean captivity has been underpinned, as Gordan M. Sayre has noted, by geopolitical events since 2008. For, allusions to contemporary geopolitical events ignore historical specificity and invoke the Orientalist doctrine, described by Edward said, that all Muslims are alike in their position to the West, that their actions never change, and that the piracy of the Mediterranean Algerians in 1608 continues among the Somalis of the Indian Ocean in 2008. (Page 1)
Such comparisons raise serious historiographical concerns about the ideological motives of captivity scholarship since those motives do not remain confined to the ivory towers of academic agreement or disagreement Muslim piracy, slavery, and terrorism serve in stoking contemporary Islamaphobia because they ignore completely ‘Christian piracy, slavery, and “terrorism” (per Janice E. Thomson) that occurred at the same time in the same waters. With the exception of a few careful historians whose work I will be citing frequently, scholars and popular authors continue to demonize the “Barbary Corsairs,” and by extension Muslims, at the same time that the media entertainment industry romanticize ‘Christian’ corsairs.” (Page 1)
“The pirates of the Caribbean, who were contemporaries’ o the “Barbary Corsairs,” have been celebrated in theme parks in Disney Worked, in “Pirates’ Dinner Adventure” in Orlando, Florida, and in the Johnny Depp film sequence Pirates of the Caribbean. No denunciation of the ‘Christianity’ of those pirates is on record, neither now or in the early modern period when numerous reasons were presented t the King Charles II in 1670 why “privateers should not be wholly discontinued in the West Indies. The focus on captivity and piracy by the Barbary Corsairs’ that excludes the concurrent captivity and piracy by the ‘Christian Corsairs’ serves to confirm a binary between evil and good, Muslim and Christian, African and European.”(Page 1)
Captivity of ‘Christians’ by ‘Muslims’ has become one the dominate motifs in the study of early modern relations between the ‘West’ and ‘Islam’ in the same manner that the accounts of captivity of English colonist by Indians in Cotton Mather’s Decennium Luctuosum (1699) became, as Louise K. Barnett has observed, “the central experience of white-Indian relations. Although the white colonist forced Indians out of their lands, theological and scholarly studies have remained focused on the whites who were captured by the Indians and on their ordeals and tribulations. As Pauline Turner Strong has argued, the number of Indians captured by the Colonist was by far higher than the number of colonist captured by the Indians, and that “it is in large part through….the suppression of the colonist’ role as captors of Indians that the selective tradition of captivity has gained its ideological force” in American studies.” (Page 1)
A similar suppression has dominated the study of British and other European captives in North Africa, and as in scholarship on North America where the “heathenism” and “savagery” of the Indian precipitated suppression of the Indian perspective, so in the prevailing scholarship on ‘Muslim’ captors and ‘Christian” captives. From R.L. Playfair’s work about North Africa with its ominous title, The Scourge of Christendom, to the many book blurbs and titles about “Christian slaves” and “Muslim masters,” there is emphasis on irreconcilable religious polarization that captives shape to much of the critical body of literature on the “Barbary Corsairs” and allows for the continued use of the term “Barbary coast” in contemporary scholarship, a term that was never used by the North Africans themselves and that does not appear on any modern atlas.” (Page 1)
First the Euro Christian did not see only Muslims as their adversaries to be captured, tortured, and enslaved. Jews too were captured, making the Muslim and the Jew fellow victims of the ‘Christian Master.’ In their piracy and privateering, Western Europeans captured Jews from North Africa, selling or exchanging hem in the manner they did Muslims. After, all in the early modern Islamic world lived the largest number of Jews in the world, spread from the interior of Morocco all the way to the Ottoman Levant and beyond. In North Africa, Jews were employed at court, were sent as diplomatic emissaries and a Jew serving the Moroccan ruler (Mulay Zaydan) turned pirate and captured three Spanish ships.”
There were many occasions when Jews appealed to Muslim authorities to help them against Europeans: Mulay Ismail (reg. 1672-1727) defended and supported their causes in Morocco, as did the Beys and Deys of the regencies. Actually, when Ismail sent Hayyim Tulidanu as ambassador to England, he indicated clearly that the Jew was a “dhimmi of our house,” and because he was of “our house,” he was to receive all honor due to an ambassador. A letter from the British consul in Algiers described how “Turks, Moors and Jews” demanded justice from the Dey “on score of a British Satia freighted by their friends from Tunis to this place.
In 1751, and at the signing of a treaty between the British Consul-General, William Petticrew and Sidi Muhammad of Morocco (reg. 1757-1790), the latter insisted on an article that his “Subjects, whether Jewish or Muslim, should not be prohibited from living and working in Gibraltar.” In December 1715, George Paddon, the British ambassador to Morocco, wrote from Gibralter: In this Garrison [Gibraltar] of Moors and Jews about the Number of our Captives in Mequiness, Subjects of Mulay Ismail & some of those Jews Principals who have the handling of the Emperors Money and pay him yearly use for the same. The only way to make them weary…is to use the Jews here as the poor Christians are used in Barbary rather worse…to seize on their Goods, they being all belonging to the Moors, to put in Prison the Chief, making the others work at the fortifications, to keep all manner of Trade from them, in ships to hover on the Coasts and what should strictly examined & under pretext be brought in & rummaged well for contraband Goods… the Jews at Mequiness fr the sake of their Brethren here would help in procuring a lasting Peace. I wish the Jews in my Power I have & am well assured that the Chief of the Jews at Salee & one Pettet a French broken Merchant have been the sole occasion of our Rupture.” (Page 5-6)
The capture and enslavement of Jews by Europeans encouraged an English resident in Morocco to inquire in 1716 from secretary of state, after an English ship had been seized by pirates, “whether he may not size the Moors & Jews Inhabitants of Gibraltar by way of Reprisal for the cruel usages of British Captives. Because Jews were part o the North African politics, they were viewed by Europeans as part of the enemy and therefore legitimate slaves. Secondly, the Christian slaves on board the Muslim galleys were rarely Easter Christian Arabs or Greeks-unless they were living in west European countries. In the period under study and in the eastern Mediterranean of the Ottoman Empire lived the largest indigenous Christian population outside Western Europe. A French captive in Algiers in 1619 wrote that 3,000 families of free Christian merchants (presumably Catholic) and 179 Greek (Orthodox) families were living in the city and over 20,000 free Christians in other parts of North Africa, outside the Spanish and Portuguese colonies.” (Page 5-6)Read More
“Prior to the spread of Islam into Hausaland, the inhabitants toiled under a variety of pagan beliefs. Though varying in detail from one community to another, these pagan beliefs usually revolved around a high distant god (ubangiji), who was not actively connected to everyday life, and was supplemented by a chain of supernatural forces (iskoki) directly in touch with men and controlling their everyday lives. Natural resources such as agricultural land, forests, rivers, iron ore and salt deposits were believed to be in the custody of certain of these iskoki. Harmony with the iskoki was understood to be essential for a good harvest and for the success of such pursuits as hunting and fishing. Therefore, farmers, hunters and fishermen performed sacrifices and rituals, usually around stones, trees or places believed to be the habitat of the iskoki, to maintain harmony and secure their livelihood. Such conditions naturally supported a class of priests (bokaye) who acted as intermediaries between them and the people.
Islam spread into Hausaland as a result of the transregional movement of scholars and traders. This is popularly thought to have occurred at some time in the fourteenth century. Available historical evidence, however, suggests that Islam reached Hausaland much earlier than this and that it was not limited to one direction or to one group. The ancestors of Usman dan Fodio, for example, moved into Hausaland in the fifteenth century under the leadership of Musa Jokollo and settled in the Hausa State of Gobir. Working day and night, collectively and individually, formally and informally, these assorted indigenous groups carried the message of Islam throughout the length and breadth of Hausaland. As it had in other parts of Bilād as-Sudan, in Hausaland too Islam transformed the socioeconomic and political structures, boosting the economy and paving the way for the emergence of numerous independent Hausa states such as Kano, Zaria, Katsina, Gobir, Kebbi, Zamfara and Daura.
With the spread of literacy and the accompanying flow of Islamic literature, Hausaland became increasingly incorporated into the wider Islamic fraternity, with its people becoming well informed about Islamic thought and ideas and about the history, geography, politics and economy of the known world. Eventually, Islam emerged as a political force in the latter part of the fifteenth century, bringing changes in the political leadership of some major Hausa states. Foreword These developments were particularly notable in Zaria, Kano and Katsina, which at that time formed the core axis of Hausaland. The leadership of these states in that period is still remembered for the bold changes they effected in their administrations to make them conform to Islamic standards. In Kano, for example, Muhammad Rumfa invited Shaykh Muhammad al-Maghili, a North African Muslim jurist of international repute, to advise him on administering an Islamic government.
Al-Maghili’s visit to Kano was of great significance to the process of Islamization in Hausaland, for his books and religious rulings (fatwās) gained wide circulation. One of his books, Taj ad-Dīn Fī Mā ‘Ala-l-Mulūk, described as a comprehensive treatise on government, seemed to have been highly influential throughout Hausaland. As Islam gained strength in Hausaland, its significance as a pilgrimage route and center of learning increased. By the sixteenth century, the reputations of some Hausa state capitals as centers of Islamic learning – Kano and Katsina in particular – were already high enough to attract many Muslim scholars and students. The Ḥajj, serving as a permanent link with the rest of the Muslim world and a source of continuous flow of Islamic thought and ideas, further reinforced the intellectual development of Hausaland.
In due course, an educational system with a clearly defined curriculum and methodology was fashioned along the lines of Sankore University of Timbuktu, from which it seemed to have received its greatest impetus. However, the Moroccan invasion of Songhay at the end of the sixteenth century, with its attendant seizure of Timbuktu, weakened that intellectual impetus and upset the political stability of Hausaland, because the power of Songhay had kept some of the leaders of the Hausa states in check. With the rise of another axis of power in Hausaland, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the almost equally powerful Hausa states engaged in continuous and devastating interstate warfare without a clear winner emerging. Quite naturally, the security, economy and learning of Hausaland were affected by this situation. Though learning continued, even in these difficult circumstances when movement was restricted, there were many obstacles to the spread of knowledge. Entrenched in warfare and desperate for victory, rulers in Hausaland were willing to go to any lengths to win battles, even if it meant violating the limits set by Islam. Political leadership gradually degenerated into tyranny and corruption resulting in injustice, oppression and misery for most of the people.
The consequent materialism and permissiveness gave the receding paganism a chance to resurface and some Muslims started once more to mix Islamic practices with traditional pagan rituals. Muslim scholars, who form the backbone of any Muslim society, were also affected by the pervading decadence. Some gave support to the tyrannical order by joining the rulers, whereas others withdrew into silence, leaving only a few courageous scholars to raise objections and to point accusing fingers at the tyranny and corruption around them. One of the few, who dared to raise his voice and who in fact organized a jihad, was Shaykh Jibril ibn ‘Umar, with whom Usman dan Fodio studied and from whom he may have acquired his fervor to revive Islam and to restore the Sunnah. It was out of this rising tide of discontent on the one hand and expectation on the other that Usman dan Fodio emerged. How Usman responded to this challenging situation is precisely what this book is about. Because this work has been produced outside of a conventional scholastic environment, it is blessedly free from those pointless academic technicalities for which universities today are so well known.
The imaginative capacity, analytic insight and unique style of the author give the reader a rich and profound account of the great phenomenon that is the Sokoto jihad. By drawing on the rich intellectual inheritance of the Sokoto khilāfah, and relying on the original Arabic works of the Sokoto jihad leaders and 9 Foreword their contemporaries, the author has rescued the reader from the distortions, misconceptions and fabrications, which permeate the works of European scholars and their heirs. For almost a century, the Muslim mind has been under the sway of imperialism, especially as manifested in its educational institutions. Muslim history has been distorted and all access to the true message of Islam has been denied. The Muslim personality has been under persistent attack and the Muslim mind fed entirely on euro-centric thoughts and ideas. Muslims, therefore, have lost self-confidence and have developed an inferiority complex. This has led to meekness and docility and a tendency to readily imitate European thought. However, history, it is said, has a habit of repeating itself and Islam, with its characteristic resilience, is reviving itself from within the very fortresses of imperialism.
More and more Muslims are seeking out their true history and the true message of Islam, and abandoning the false goals they have been pursuing. Coming at a time when an increasing number of Muslims are working to develop Islamic solutions to their problems, this book will provide them with an important part of their history and will help them define their own future. For, indeed, a people without a past are a people without a future. At this critical point, one hopes and prays that Muslims will not betray their history because if they do so, history will certainly betray them. The Most High has informed us: “You who have iman! If any of you renounce your deen, Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble to the believers, fierce to the unbelievers, who do jihad in the way of Allah and do not fear the blame of any censurer. That is the unbounded favor of Allah which He gives to whoever He wills. Allah is Boundless, All-Knowing.” Qur’an 5:54Read More
In 1969, Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian adventurer crossed the Atlantic ocean from the North African port of Safi, arriving in Barbados, West Indies. His craft was made by local Africans of indigenous papyrus. For his journey he relied on the southbound Canary Current off the coast of the Iberian peninsula and the western coast of Africa, and the Northeast Tradewinds that blow westward towards the Caribbean region.
The voyage has been suggested to indicate that it was technically possible to cross the Atlantic in medieval western Africa. See Islam and Muslims in the American continent: Islam in America before Columbus. Beirut: Center of historical, economical and social studies. Quick, Abdullah Hakim; M’Bow, Amdou Mahtar; Kettani, Ali (2001). Pg. 34
According to studies and research conducted by Clyde Winters, the Olmecs were Africans from the Mandinka region of West Africa. They used the Mende script to write and they spoke the Mende language, the same language spoken by Cinque in the movie ‘Amistad’.
In his book Massaalik al-absaar fi mamaalik al-amsaar (The pathway of sight in the provinces of the kingdoms), the historian Chihab ad-Dine Abu Abbas Ahmad bin Fadhl al-Umari (1300-1384) describes an expedition into the Atlantic.
He relates a story obtained from the Mamluk governor of Cairo, Ibn Amir Hajib. While Mansa Musa was visiting Cairo as part of his pilgramate to Mecca, Ibn Amir Hajib asked how he had succeeded to the throne, and this is what Ibn Amir Hajib reported he was told:
The ruler who preceded me did not believe that it was impossible to reach the extremity of the ocean that encircles the earth (meaning the Atlantic): he wanted to reach that (end) and was determined to pursue his plan. So he equipped two hundred boats full of men, and many others full of gold, water and provisions sufficient for several years. He ordered the captain not to return until they had reached the other end of the ocean, or until he had exhausted the provisions and water. So they set out on their journey. They were absent for a long period, and, at last just one boat returned. When questioned the captain replied: ‘O Prince, we navigated for a long period, until we saw in the midst of the ocean a great river which flowing massively. My boat was the last one; others were ahead of me, and they were drowned in the great whirlpool and never came out again. I sailed back to escape this current.’ But the Sultan would not believe him. He ordered two thousand boats to be equipped for him and his men, and one thousand more for water and provisions. Then he conferred the regency on me for the term of his absence, and departed with his men, never to return nor to give a sign of life.
It is reported that a fleet landed in Brazil in around 1312, in the place now called Recife and that Pernambuco is allegedly an aberration of the Mande name for the rich gold fields of the Malian jurisdiction of the Moorish Empire.
The Mende script found on monuments at Monte Alban in Mexico, has been deciphered and it was found to be identical to the Mende script used in West Africa. Afterwards, the language was found to be the very same language spoken by the Mende of West Africa.
Ivan Van Sertima provided the following in an Article Entitled – Mandingo Traders in Medieval Mexico “Mandingo [Mandinka] Traders in Medieval Mexico “The Mandingo [Moors] practiced settled agriculture, and they must therefore have had fixed settlements in South and Central America. But their traders, by the very nature of the occupation, were nomadic, ever on the move. Passing through unfamiliar and sometimes hostile territory, they built temporary bases for their defense.
Some of these bases, built on elevated mounds, strongly resemble West African stockades. A comparison of the Peul African stockade from F. Moors’s Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa with Le Moyne’s drawing of a Florida stockade made in the mid-sixteenth century (responded in De Bry’s De Commodis et Insularum Ritibus Virginia) is most striking.
Both are circular, built of heavy upright posts, have an identical gate entrance, contain rows of circular huts, and within both the stockades are two fields. It is important to point out in this connection that the Peuls were part of the complex of peoples within the medieval Mandingo [Moorish] empire, and that their presence in pre-Columbian America has been further established by Jules Cauvet’s discovery of an amazing number of animal names shared between them and Guarani, an American tribe.
There were several bases from which the African [Moor] traders spread in the two Americas: from the Caribbean in the Songhay period (circa 1462-1492); from the northeastern South America in the Mandingo period (1310 onward) into Peru; and from a base in Darien (Panama) moving along roads marked by the presence of burial mounds into and beyond Mexico, as far north as Canada.
These burial mounds provide further witnesses to their presence and the lines of their dispersal. Within them, among the usual native items, are to be found pipes with West African heads and totems (see Chapter 11), other Negroid figurines and gadwals, and blue white shells.
These shells have been found in such quantity and so selectively “stored” (akin in typology to a coin collection) as to suggest very strongly that they were used as money, a practice familiar to West Africans but alien to the pre-Columbian American, for whom shells had simply a ritual and ornamental, not a monetary value.”
See The African Presence in Ancient America – They Came Before Columbus Author: Ivan Van Sertima Article Entitled – Mandingo Traders in Medieval Mexico Pgs. 103-104Read More
Berbers and Others: Beyond Tribe and Nation in the Maghrib By Katherine E. Hoffman, Susan Gilson Miller
Berbers and Others offers fresh perspectives on new forms of social and political activism in today’s Maghrib. In recent years, the Amazigh (Berber) movement has become a focus of widespread political, social, and cultural attention in North Africa, Europe, and the United States. Berber groups have peacefully yet persistently laid claim to ownership over broad areas of creativity in the arts, politics, literature, education, and national memory.
The contributors to this volume present some of the best new thinking in the emerging field of Berber studies, offering insight into historical antecedents, language usage, land rights, household economies, artistic production, and human rights. The scope, depth, and multidisciplinary approach will engage specialists on the Maghrib as well as students of ethnicity, social and political change, and cultural innovation.
The terms Leo’s ethnography illustrate the unsettled lexicon in use during this period. “Moors,” derived from the ancient Mauri, is a term, like “Turk,” sometimes meaning simply “Muslim” (just as for the Spanish, who would called the Muslims of the Philippines “moros”).
Here they are synonymous with (Muslim) “Africans,” whether black or white, but all Berberophone and primarily rural. More usually, especially in English, however, “Moors” are urban sophisticates, descendants of the Andalusian refugees to North Africa like Leo himself.
From the sixteenth century through the first decades of the nineteenth, endless energy was expended on the classification of a population that constantly eludes categorical capture. One careful account asserted that “Shelluhs” (ishelhin) in southern Morocco speak a language entirely separate from that of “Berbers” (of the Middle Atlas and Rif) further north.
The first European Berber grammar and dictionary assembled between 1788 and 1790 in Paris and Algiers on the other hand, insists that from the Sous to Jerba, the “Berbers” (who live in tents on the plains, like the Arabs) and the “Chuluhs” and “Cabayles” (inhabitatns of the mountains) speak “the same langauge” and “are everywhere nothing but one selfsame people…..the remnats of Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks and Vandals.” As for “Cabayles” or “Qabyles,” the term generally appears to mean simply “tribes” (from the Arabic qaba’il), i.e., rural people-most likely Berberophone, but not labeled as suc. Those that Napoleon’s spy, Boutin found among the “Turks, Jews, Negroes, Greeks, and Armenians, Moors or Agerians’ and Mozabites” of Algiers in 1808 were to him “mountain Arabs called Kabyles.”
The term was applied to the populations of the Atlas and the Dahra south and west of Algiers as well as to those of the Djurdjura and Babors to the east, and in 1830 the French army’s first proclamation s addressed “ila sukkan madinat al-jaza’ir wa ahali al-qaba’il,” “to the inhabitants of the city of Algiers and the people of the tribes,” i.e., to the rural population at large.
In the early 1840s, an English traveler still described Algeria as the land of “the Moors, Kabyles, Arabs, Turks, Jews, Negroes, Cologlies [kuluglari, descendants of Turkish fathers and local mothers] and other inhabitants.”
If the inexact nature of this “ethnic” may seen from outside is itself instructive about the practices of categorization that our sources felt were important, it also illustrates how all such sources are external attempts to categorize a social reality that is not fully grasped. What their terms may or may not have meant to those so designated, and how they might have designated themselves, is far from self evident. The appropriate question here is, how useful it is to look in these sources for the ethnic distinctions of the sociological knowledge familiar to us, and how useful is that knowledge for understanding the cultural differences of the world they describe? Of-course, there are Arabs and Berbers, in some sense–as communities of language and heredity–in these narratives. But this distinction is far from clear; much less can it be assumed to convey adequately self designations, or understandings of cultural difference, among the people concerned.
The classifications of outside observers, however, do carry a naturalizing force of their own, especially when combined with the particular kinds of categorizing practice enacted by the modern state. Sociological “error” is after all, a way of making history, and perfectly capable of producing the conditions of its own truthfulness. From the mid-nineteenth century onward, new social and political dispensations structured around observations of linguistic and legal practice materialized categorical distinctions between “Arab” and “Berber” in more “orderly,” but much less subtle, ways.
It was not so much that, for the first time since the fourteenth century, French ethnography amounted to a “rediscovery of the Berbers as a nation in their own right” via the discovery and publication of Ibn Khaldun. Rather, the discovery of Ibn Khaldun and the reading of his categories-the great umam (in nineteenth-century terms, “nations”) of the word- through nineteenth century preoccupations with romanticism and antiquity as well as with the imperial rule and scientific racism, constituted “the Berbers” as a single definable “nation” (and/or “race”) in their own right– or rather, in the eyes of their self-appointed re-discoverers.
As Brett and Fentress observe, “Just as the Berbers [as such] had been invented by the Arabs for the purpose of Arab conquest and the Arab empire, so now they were finally resurrected by the French as a subject race to be kept apart from their Arab neighbors in the interest of French Hegemony,” and in the interest of their own “civilizational” advancement. French colonial mythology portrayed “Barbary,” Berber North Africa, as an eternal “land of conquest” destined to be the domain of a Western imperial invocation. Writers in this vein though to find ” the Berbers” a hardy, enterprising and martial race of uncertain provenance but clearly distinct from “the Arabs,” naturally belonging to a renewed Mediterranean sphere of Occidental influence.
In response, the Arab Islamic cultural nationalism of the mid-twentieth century created adoctrine of Mahgribi nations rooted in ethnic and spiritual homelands further east. The Berbers, as bani Kan’an (sons of Canaan”), having migrated from the Middle East in depths of proto history, were “Arab” in temperament and ancestry, Muslim by adoption and destiny. Nationalism riposted to the narrative of salvific, civilizing empire rescuing the Maghrib from “anarchy” and “despotism” with a civilizing mission of its own, rooted in the distant past of an independent people now promised their ultimate redemption from local “superstition” as well as foreign oppression.
Three converging factors reordered North Africa’s ethnic-cultural landscape between the 1880s and the mid-1940s, all products of the combined and interdependent development of colonialism and nationalism. First came a newly widespread, newly canonical definition of Islamic orthodoxy advocated by the salafi reformist movement. Second was the exclusive identification of “Arabs” and Arabic with Islam. Both by colonial observers obsessed with the dangers of “Arab” subversion and “fanaticism”, and by the spokesmen of cultural nationalism fascinated by the intellectual and political reinventions both of “Islam” and of the “Arab” taking place in Egypt and Syria. Third was a correlative reimagining of “Berbers” as something other than primarily Muslims. Even as Berber-phone nationalist activist adopted Amazigh (meaning “free” or “noble”) identity in the service of anti-colonial struggle, Arabophone nationalist ideologues were redefining “the Berbers” as primordial ancestors destined to disappear in a sacred salvation history now imagined as that of the Arab -Muslim nation. For colonial writers, they would indeed “disappear” if prudent colonial policy could not “save” them.Read More