The African Presence in Muslim Lands

Publié le par hort

By Runoko Rashidi

The Arabian peninsula, first inhabited more than 8,000 years ago, was early populated by Blacks.
Once dominant over the entire peninsula, the African presence in early Arabia is most clearly traceable through the Sabeans. The Sabeans were the first Arabians to step firmly within the realm of civilization. The southwestern corner of the peninsula was their early home. This area, which was known to the Romans as Arabia Felix, embraces the country that is today called Yemen. In antiquity this region gave rise to a high degree of civilization because of the fertility of the soil, the growth of frankincense and myrrh, and the close proximity to the sea and consequently its importance in the trade routes. The Sabeans have even been called "the Phoenicians of the southern seas."

On of the earliest known Sabean construction project was probably the Marib Dam (possibly South Arabia's most enduring technical achievement) . Serving the South Arabians for more than a thousand years, the Marib Dam is traditionally believed to have been conceived by Lokman, the sage and multi-genius of pre-Islamic South Arabia. In effect, the Dam was an earthen ridge stretching slightly more than 1700 feet across a prominent wadi. Both sides sloped sharply upward, with the Dam's upstream side fortified by small pebbles established in mortar. The Marib Dam was rebuilt several times by piling more earth and stone onto the existing structure. The last recorded height of the Marib Dam was slightly more than forty-five feet.

Before the advent of Islam southern Arabia already possessed the sacred Kaaba sanctuary, with its black stone, at Makkah. Diop claimed that "The Kaaba was reputed to have been constructed by Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar the Egyptian (a Negro woman), historical ancestor of Mohammed, according to all Arab historians." "In Egypt he [Abraham] had married a Negro woman, Hagar, mother of Ishmael, the Biblical ancestor of the second Semitic branch, the Arabs. Ishmael was said to be the historical ancestor of Mohammed."

The city of Makkah was considered a holy place and the destination of pilgrims long before the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad himself, who was to unite the whole of Arabia, appears to have had a prominent African lineage. According to al-Jahiz, the guardian of the sacred Kaaba--Abd al-Muttalib, "fathered ten Lords, Black as the night and magnificent. " One of these men was Abdallah, the father of Muhammad. According to tradition, the first Muslim killed in battle was Mihdja--a Black man. Another Black man, Bilal, was such a pivotal figure in the development of Islam that he has been referred to as "a third of the faith." Many of the earliest Muslim converts were Africans, and a number of the Muslim faithful sought refuge in Ethiopia because of Arabian hostility to Muhammad's teachings.

Publié dans world

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