Saturday, June 30, 2012

The rite and rituals of Sheik Hussein Bale

Sheik Hussein (variably Nur Hussein) was a benevolent, virtuous, and religious missionary who lived in Bale around 1300 A.D. Nur Hussein, a comrade of Sof Omar -- another prominent religious disciple of the same era -- is credited for introducing and spreading Islam in the region. There are conflicting reports about Sheik Hussein's ancestry including those that claim he was born in Saudi Arabia. Others suggest, his grandfather, Sayyid Abdallah, emigrated from Saudi Arabia in the way of Somalia sometime before the 12th century.

Baalee dirree shekhusien oromia oromiyaa oromoo
Sof Omar and Bale Mtns
A short trip to Bale Mountains, Sof Omar Caves - up some new gorgeous road heading to Harrar- but detoured off to Awash National Park instead, visited a gorgeous mosque along the way- in the of Spring 2009 - oops a bit of Awassa too.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Al-Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness (Documentary Movie)

Born in 1058 in Tus, Khorasan, in present-day Iran, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was one of the most original thinkers the world has known. Besides being a major influence in the Muslim world, the West has also felt his effect. He influenced major figures of medieval philosophy, such as Thomas Aquinas and Moses Maimonides, who shaped the philosophy of the Latin West. As the author of some 250 books on topics ranging from theology and ethics to metaphysics and philosophy, al-Ghazali came to be known as 'Proof of Islam.' For almost a thousand years he has served as an inspiration for spiritual seekers everywhere as he was someone, like the Buddha, willing to give up everything: wealth, position, family, and comfirt in order to search for Truth. "This film is a remarkable acheivement, capturing not only the drama of Ghazali's life and the texture of the world in which he lived, but also skillfully distilling the significance of major themes in his writings. This is no small feat: the art of dramatizing ideas. I cannot wait to show it in my courses on Medieval Muslim Thought."- Farouk Mitha, University of Victoria, Canada
Hamza Yusuf - Jewels & Pearls (Al-Ghazali Lecture in Turkey)
Hamza Yusuf - Jewels & Pearls (An introduction to the Ihya of Imam Al-Ghazali, a lecture given in Turkey)

  1. ^ at 4:22 a lecture by Hamza Yusuf on the Dajjal
  2. ^
  3. ^ at 4:22 a lecture by Hamza Yusuf on the Dajjal
  4. ^
  5. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). ""If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country”, The Guardian, October 8, 2001". London. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). ""If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country”, The Guardian, October 8, 2001". London. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  7. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). ""If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country”, The Guardian, October 8, 2001". London. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). ""If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country”, The Guardian, October 8, 2001". London. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The 500 most influential Muslims in the world". Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. Archived from the original on October 2, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2010.


Al-Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness

Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History-SUFISM



  New Prisons Being Built By U.S

 New Prisons Being Built By U.S

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black Athena (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece)

Examine the claims of Professor Martin Bernal who questions the assumption of the "Europeaness" of our civilization, placing instead the "black" Egyptians and Phoenicians at the center of the West's origin. Black Athena examines Cornell Professor Martin Bernal's iconoclastic study of the African origins of Greek civilization and the explosive academic debate it provoked. This film offers a balanced, scholarly introduction to the disputes surrounding multiculturalism, "political correctness" and Afrocentrist curricula sweeping college campuses today. In his book Black Athena, Prof. Bernal convincingly indicts 19th-century scholars for constructing a racist "cult of Greece" based upon a purely Aryan origin for Western culture. He accuses these classicists of suppressing the numerous connections between African and Near Eastern cultures and early Greek myth and art. Leading classical scholars, on the other hand, contend that Bernal, like the 19th-century classicists he attacks, uses evidence selectively, uncritically and ahistorically to support his own Afrocentric agenda. They argue that cultural diffusion alone can't account for the distinctive achievements of the Greeks during the Classical Period. Black Athena can help students begin to distinguish between sound scholarship and cultural bias - whether inherited from the past or imposed by the present.

Debate- Dr. Clarke & Professor Martin Bernal debate professor Mary Leftkowitz and Professor Guy Rogers. Mid 90's, Topic of discussion and debate is the book 'Black Athena' written by Professor Bernal.

External links

Short Curriculum Vitae

Martin Gardiner Bernal

1937 Born London.

1957 Matriculated King's College, Cambridge.

1958 1st class Honours in the Preliminary Examination to the Oriental Tripos.

Elected to the John Price Minor scholarship.

1960 Diploma of Chinese language, Peking University.

Distinction in Oral Chinese, Cambridge.

1961 1st class Honours, Oriental Tripos, pt. II.

Elected to the Augustus Austin Leigh Studentship.

1962 Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship.

1963 Graduate Student at the University of California (Berkeley) invited to join PSA.

1964 Graduate Student at Harvard.

1965 Prize Fellow of King's College Cambridge University.

1966 Ph.D. Oriental Studies at Cambridge University.

1972 Associate Professor in the Department of Government, Cornell University.

1984 Adjunct Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University.

1987 Mellon 'Folding Chair.' for Interdisciplinary Teaching at Cornell University.

1988 Full Professor in the Department of Government, Cornell University.

2001 Retired, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University. 2

Selected Publications
Chinese Socialism Before 1907, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
Black Athena The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization 1: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985. London: Free Association Books. and New Brunswick: Rutgers University.
1988 "The British Utilitarians, Imperialism and the Fall of the Ancient Model," Culture
and History 3: 98-127.
1989 "Classics in Crisis: An Outsider's View In,"
Classics: A Discipline and Profession in Crisis? Ed. P. Culham and L. Edmunds. University Press of America. Pp. 67-76.
"Black Athena and the APA." in
The Challenge of Black Athena " Special issue of Arethusa. Pp.17-37.
1990 "Responses to Critical Reviews of Black Athena: Volume I: in the
Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 3/1:111-137.
Cadmean Letters: The Westward Diffusion of The Semitic Alphabet Before 1400 B.C.
Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.
Black Athena 2: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence. London, Free Association Books; New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
"Black Athena Ten Years After" special issue Talanta.
"Mythologies of Neoconservatism in the American Academy,
New Political Science
Black Athena Writes Back ed. with David Moore Duke University Press.
2002 "A Hot Proposal" pp. 24-43 in II Corno di Heimdall ed Luca Cesari Rimini: La Moderna
2005 "India in the Making of Europe," pp. 37-65 in
Journal of the Asiatic Society vol. XLVI, 4
In Press
Black Athena 3 The Linguistic Evidence.
New Brunswick: Rutgers University; London: Free Association Books
"Moses, Akhenato, and Oedipus," Rivista di Historiografia, Madrid
"Racism in the Origin of Classics" Paper for a conference on "Transferts culturels et historiographie de l’antiquité: L’historiographie gréco-romaine dans l’Europe des XVllle et XIXe siécles "Special Issue of" Rivista di Historiografia.
Tentatively titled monograph "Eleusis, a study in the origins of Greek Religion," which is being sent out for comments and criticisms.
Monograph on the ancient oracular cult at Dodona
Black Athena
I. Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
Black Athena
II into French, Italian, and Japanese.
Book against my work
Black Athena Revisited.
ed. Mary Lefkowitz and Guy Rogers. University of North Carolina Press. 1996.
Book about my work
Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals.
Jacques Berlinerblau. Rutgers University Press.1999.


Indira Gandhi Memorial Gold Medal, from the Asiatic Society of Kolkata, 2005.
Mainichi Shimbun Book of the Year: Japanese translation of
Black Athena II, 2005

Prizes For Black Athena I.

A.N.C. Kwanzaa Prize;

Socialist Review
Book Award. 4

American Book Award 1990.

Prizes For Black Athena II

A.N.C. Kwanzaa Award 1991.

Mainichi Shinbun Book of the Year 2004


Apr. "Black Athena and the Politics of Scholarship" Grinnell College.
"Black Athena and the Politics of Scholarship: New Paradigms in World History" Wells College.
Led Cambridge Alumni Tour of "Imperial China."

. "A Hot Proposal" Rimini: Centro Pietro Manz.

. "Are Classical Studies Sufficient?" De Paaw University.

Feb. "The Afro-asiatic Component in the Greek Vocabulary"
"Black Athena: Her Friends and her Enemies" John Hope Franklin
Humanities Institute Duke University.
"Can the War be stopped?" Great St Mary's Cambridge.

Jan. "Africa en la gènsi d'Occident" at conference on "Άfrica Camina; IV
Congréss Internacional D'estudis Africans del món lbèric." Barcelona.

"Black Athena Again" Wells College.

. "L'Inde et la Chine dans l'éclaircissement franςais," Lecture to Graduate
Seminar on the French Enlightenment at Cornell
"Canetti as Svengali: Direct and Indirect Memories of Elias Canetti." The
German Institute Cornell.

Jan. "India in the Making of Europe," Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture, The
Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
"J.D. Bernal, My Father," Pavlov Institute, Calcutta. 5
Black Athena, and her enemies," Berea College.
"Egyptians in the Hellenistic Woodpile" Conference on Ptolemy
Philadelphus, University of Auckland NZ.

Feb. "African Language Families and the Greek Vocabulary," Florida
International University.
"African Language Families and the origin of Greek", Universities of Witwatersrand, Durban, Fort Hare, Capetown, and Stellebosch

Sept. Lead Cambridge Alumni Tour along the "Silk Road"

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Learn English Baro Afka Ingiriiska


Brazil - An Inconvenient History

Haiti and The Dominican Republic- The Roots of Division

WritingsAs a writer, Blyden is regarded widely as the "father of Pan-Africanism". His major work, Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race (1887), promoted the idea that practicing Islam was more unifying and fulfilling for Africans than Christianity. He argues that the latter was introduced later, mostly by European colonizers. Blyden believed it had a demoralizing effect, although he continued to be a Christian. He thought Islam was more authentically African. His book was controversial in Great Britain, both for its subject and because many people at first did not believe that a black African had written it. In later printings, Blyden included his photograph as the frontispiece.

Blyden supported the creation of a Jewish state in Israel and praised Theodore Herzl as the creator of "that marvelous movement called Zionism."

The Muslim Factor in the Afro-Brazilian Struggle Against Slavery

Yusuf A. Nzibo

JOURNAL Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs

Vol. VII, July 1986, No. 2, pp. 547-556.


Despite the fact that Muslim slaves were among the 'principal architects' of Afro-Brazilian emancipation from slavery, historians have largely tended to minimize their contribution. A lot of attention is focused on the white-led abolitionist movements that emerged in the post-1870s (when 'cracks in the facades' of the institution of slavery were already apparent) and on the non-Muslim slave rebellions and mass flights from plantations that occurred in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in the period 1886- 1888. The Muslim Afro-Brazilian contribution is generally confined to the 'nine Bahian revolts' of between 1807-1835.

Our aim in this paper is to demonstrate that the disintegration of slavery in Brazil was neither the monopoly of white middle class Christians nor of the non-Muslim Afro-Brazilians. Muslims played a very active role in resisting servitude right from the time when they first landed in Brazil in the seventeenth century. They resorted to a variety of forms of protest against their conditions, including crime, escape, and insurrections.

Muslims as Captives in Brazil

Many of the Muslim slaves forced into servitude in Brazil came from West Africa; they were Hausa, Fulani and Yoruba. Once in Brazil, they were stripped of everything, forced to adopt Christianity, and to abandon their languages in favor of Portuguese. Many of them, however, managed to preserve their personality, their culture and religion. This was due to the fact that these slaves came from a common political and cultural background, and could therefore easily regroup themselves under new leaders. Common languages, culture, and the presence of people who could be readily relied upon to provide either ethnic or religious leadership, helped to forge new bonds of unity in Brazil. Pierre Verge states:

Leader figures emerged from the mass, which to the eyes of the whites appeared, amorphous and anonymous. These groups could maintain part of their cultural heritage. The (new leaders) could by virtue of their prestige impose the cultural forms of their own native lands upon slaves belonging to their ethnic groups.1

Many of these slaves, since they possessed skills useful to the slavocrats, were employed as negro de ganho (street slaves). They were deployed as porters, stevedores, ironworkers, masons, carpenters, carriage - and cabinetmakers, printers, sign and ornamental painters, silversmiths, lithographers, sculptors in wood and stones, small shopkeepers, and street merchants.

In analyzing the nature of the negro de ganho. T.M. Turner argues:

A correlation can be seen to exist between urban residence and a professed adherence on the part of the slave to Islam. In the nineteenth century Kidder and Fletcher wrote Muslim slaves were thought to be very bad house servants and were therefore allowed to live in Salvador and pay a fixed portion of their earnings to their masters.2

The status of negro de ganho gave the Muslim slaves a sense of independence, which helped them to keep the spirit of freedom alive. Their activities also brought them into contact with house slaves from their own ethnic backgrounds. Those who were involved in loading and unloading of the slave vessels trading with Africa were able to obtain the latest news from their homelands, which they passed on to their friends. Thus, the bonds with Africa remained firmly tied, and even enabled the few among them who had managed to buy their freedom to return back home.

Many of the Muslim captives, especially the Hausa, were staunch believers in Islam. They organized into a powerful sect and endeavored to impose their faith on other Africans (slaves or freemen) in Bahia. Muslim scholars and clergy continued to preach the Qur'an, made conversions among their companions in distress and incited them to wage) jihads' against the infidels who held them in servitude.

Black Brotherhoods (lrmandades Pretos) or Self-Aid Organizations

lrmandades Pretos provided a cushion for Afro-Brazilians, whether as slaves or freemen, against a cruel and competitive white-dominated society. They sprang up in response to a common desire on the part of the Afro-Brazilians to form officially recognized corporate entities that would take care of their welfare. They looked after the welfare of their fellow members, gave them medical and legal assistance, and helped those still in bondage to buy their freedom. They presented to the Crown appeals from slaves whose masters had refused all reasonable offers for manumission. Christian lrmandades like that of Our Lady of Rosary and that of Ransom in Rio de Janeiro were founded specifically for aiding those in bondage to buy their freedom.

lrmandades were also important to those who were freemen, as after manumission their masters as well as the church and state left them to their own fate. What of the Muslim slaves? Did they organize similar organizations? While it is clear that the Portuguese were bent upon whipping out any Islamic tendencies, one cannot help but assume that since many of the Muslim slaves were negro de ganho, paying their masters a fixed daily sum, they must have been in a better position to sustain themselves. The various contacts they had with each other would also have provided a ready forum for welfare associations to take care of themselves. Donald Pierson informs us that:

Often (the Muslims) banded together to mature schemes of revolt, to buy the freedom of a favorite friend, or to work under a leader for the liberation of all. The order in which they secured their freedom was ordinarily determined by lot, the earliest liberated remaining with the group until the last was purchased, after which they sometimes returned to Africa, paying their passage with what they had earned.3


The early forms of manifestation of freedom by the Afro-Brazilians both Muslim and non-Muslim were the quilombos (fugitive settlements), established by runaway slaves in the various parts of Brazil. Arthur Ramos in his book The Negro in Brazil noted that:

From the beginning of slavery, escapes were frequent. The escaped slaves, called locally, quilombolas, often gathered together in organized groups, known in Brazil as quilombos. These movements were most marked during the seventeenth century when the famous Palmares Republic was formed and to a more or less equal extent in the nineteenth century when the famed holy war of the Moslem Negroes broke out in Bahia.4

The most outstanding of these quilombos was the Republica dos Palmares, which R.K. Kent described as "a true African state"; organized in the state of Alagoas in northeast Brazil and which spanned the entire seventeenth century. When it was founded, has not so far been established, but according to Kent this quilombo, between 1672-94, withstood on the average one Portuguese expedition every fifteen months.5 Nascimento tells us that:

From 1630 to 1697, this 'Black Troy' resisted twenty-seven attacks by the Portuguese, the Brazilians, and the Dutch, who for some time dominated the state of Pernambuco, Palmares...(with) about 30,000 people... led by its king Zumbi, presents the first heroic and desperate outcry of the Africans in the lands of the New World (emphasis mine).6

In a recent study, however, Joel Rufino dos Santos disagrees with the earlier scholars concerning the single identity of this 'republic' arguing that: 'There was never a quilombo in Palmares, contrary to what people think, but a net-work of black palenques (palisade hideouts for runaway slaves) communities: Macaco, Amaro, Subupira, Osenga, Zumbi, Acotirene, Tabocas, Andalatituche, Alto Magano, Curiva, Danbrabanga. (Contemporary authors have never used the word quilombo to designate these communities. They called them mocambos (hideouts), which comes from the quimbundo mabambu.7

Despite the Portuguese Crown taking stern measures, it did not deter blacks from fleeing and establishing quilombos.8 Fugitives from the mines and plantations also established settlements in the rough hinterland, to the west and south of Sepucahy. The Portuguese Crown organized several expeditions against these settlements and all of them were defeated by these heroic Afro-Brazilians who were determined never again to return to slavery.

These quilombos sustained themselves not only through heroic acts of Afro-Brazilians, but also through commercial compacts with white businessmen. Gold and silver taken in raids and the agricultural crops raised in quilombos were usually bartered for firearms and utensils. These white merchants also sold at a handsome price advance information upon planned raids by the fazendairos and the crown. Research is needed in this area to determine the level of Muslim participation.

The Bahia Insurrections of 1807-1835

In the province of Bahia, and especially its capital Salvador, serious Muslim rebellions took place between 1807-1835. The Muslim slave community was made up of Hausa, Tapas, Mandingo and Fulahs, etc. Most of the Hausa slaves were staunch Muslims who converted many Yoruba, Geges (Ewes), and others into Islam. During this period Muslim slaves were able to exercise considerable influence upon non-Muslim slaves. Islamic influences appear to have spread beyond the province such that by 1835 Salvador was recognized by Muslim slaves in such provinces as Rio de Janeiro, Ceara and Pernambuco as the seat of the Imam in Brazil. In all these places I'abbe Etienne Ignace argues:

Islamism had flourished in the dark of the slaves' huts, with teachers and preachers from Africa to give instruction in reading the Koran.9

These rebellions were organized mostly by Hausa, Fulani and Yoruba Muslims who were bound together by a common culture, language and Islam. A number of historians regard these insurrections as jihads directed against the non-believers. Clyde-Ahmed Winters maintains that the Afro-Brazilian Muslims 'accepted the Sharia's division of the world into dar-al-lslam (abode of Islam), the land of the Muslims, and dar-al-harb (abode of war), the land of people outside the abode of Islam. Therefore, jihad was seen as a means of transformation of dar-al-harb into dar-al-lslam ....'10 The idea of a jihad in a military context, with its emphasis on the motion of continuous struggle against non-believers and recognition of Allah as the sole deity, tended to keep alive the spirit of solidarity in the Muslim slave communities of Brazil. Conspiracies for these revolts were hatched in 'mosques' where religious propaganda reached its greatest intensity and influence towards the middle of the nineteenth century. Streets in the city of Salvador became an important channel for communication and served as meeting places for conspirators such that they were considered by whites unsafe and were therefore to be avoided.

The instigators of the 1807 rebellion appear to have been slaves from Northern Nigeria. The rebellion was often formulated and the plans devised in the streets of Bahia where ganho slaves conducted their business. As Turner argues, 'in the urban area the Muslim slave... remained his own master; his responsibility to the master being primarily economic'.11 They were thus able to successfully retain their culture and identity more than any other slaves. After the 1807 rebellion a law was passed prohibiting slaves from walking on city streets after 9 p.m. without the permission of their masters and those violating this law were to be taken prisoner and given a hundred lashes. However, these measures proved useless for the Afro-Brazilians were not deterred from organizing rebellions. Arthur Ramos argues:

Uprooted from their habitat, these courageous war-like and aggressive blacks refused to become docile slaves in the New World. Their reaction was not the sorry protest by which so many slaves cried out against their lot. Their aggressiveness was a direct social heritage from the century old wars of religion that had assured the spread of Islam in Africa.l2

These urban slaves (negro de ganho) could easily formulate plans for rebellions, as they were able to maintain a spatial distance between themselves and the white society. J.M. Turner argues:

The fact that the negro de ganho successfully dealt with a money economy and earned a weekly wage gave him a different perspective from the slave on the plantation, In a sense the urban slave was experiencing a quasi freedom; quite understandably his goal would be the achievement of total freedom, either by its purchase, or its seizure.l3

The rebellions of 1807 and 1808 were easily defeated due to a lack of proper organization on the part of the slaves themselves. Further revolts occurred on January 4, 1809, when 'Nigerians' and 'Dahomeans' launched a revolt 'destroying and ravaging everything in their path " and when attacked by government troops they offered very stiff resistance. In these revolts Hausa secret societies known as Ogboni or Osugbo played an important role in organizing these rebellions.

Analyzing the impact of these rebellions, J.M. Turner writes:

These early rebellions instigated in large part by the Muslim slaves wee a real and constant source of fear for whites living in Salvador and throughout the state of Bahia. The Muslim's desire to achieve freedom and their potentially great influence by example, over large numbers of non-Muslim slaves served as a source of anxiety for the whites who were numerically much smaller that the slave population. The events in Haiti where slaves set up a black republic also served to reinforce the plantation owner's fear of a general slave rebellion and what would be the ensuing social upheaval in Brazil. The owners were convinced that once a mass rebellion began, its ultimate goal would be the elimination of all whites in Brazil.14

On February 28,1813 Hausas in Bahia staged a heroic rebellion when some 600 heavily armed men at four o'clock in the morning burned houses and slave quarters in protest against slave oppression, and in the suburb of Itapoan killed any white that offered the slightest resistance. These outraged Afro-Brazilians fought desperately and preferred to die rather than surrender. Despite the heavy repression that followed with innumerable Afro-Brazilians being imprisoned, lashed severely, condemned to forced labor, executed and some being deported to the penal settlements in Mozambique, Benguela and Angola, plots and conspiracies continued unabated.

Smaller insurrections occurred in 1814 and 1816 in Bahia organized by the same group of Afro-Brazilians of Nigerian decent. As a result the government was forced to outlaw slave congregations known as batuques in the city of Salvador. However, this only led the slaves to shift their meeting places to the very heart of the white community -- slave huts. As a result revolts were again staged in 1816 and 1826, with the leadership still provided by the urban slaves with the Muslims taking a dominant role.

In the 1826 rebellion, the Yorubas of Bahia set up a quilombo in the hinterland at Urubu, a few kilometers from the city of Salvador. Here they not only defended themselves but went further and staged a counter attack by invading Estrada do Cabula. It took several fierce engagements by government troops to defeat these Afro-Brazilians under the commandership of a woman named Zefarina, who was in the end taken prisoner and had her arms cut off. This, however, did not deter Afro-Brazilians who were determined to remain free and as a result, further revolts were staged in 1827, 1828 and 1830. In this last revolt the Yorubas after capturing firearms and ammunition from hardware shops, took a police station in the suburb of Soledade. These Afro-Brazilians caused extensive destruction to the city of Salvador before a large army with superior firepower finally subdued them. In this heroic resistance 50 Afro-Brazilians were killed, many were taken prisoners and others fled to the quilombos.

The most serious insurrection took place in 1835 with the rebellious Muslim leaders corresponding in Arabic and waging a jihad against oppression. The madrassahs in Salvador served as politicizing grounds for Muslim slaves with the Ma'alims instructing their students to wage a jihad against whites, free mulattoes and other slaves who had adopted the 'enemy's religion' and who had refused to rise up in the name of freedom. Amulets (gris-gris) contained both verses from the Qur'an and the rebels wore statements that were anti-Christian, written in Arabic scripts. Charles Walker claims that many of the slaves and all the Ma'alims could write in Arabic and all the Muslims in Bahia could recite some suras from the Qur'an.I5

In this great insurrection of January 1835 a number of genuine leaders stood out: Luiza Mahin, an 'African princess' and mother of Luis Gama the Brazilian 'martyr and Saint' of the abolition of slavery. She was one of the most outstanding leaders whose house became a center for meetings of the leaders of this great revolt; Pacifico (or Lieutan to his associates) was another extraordinary leader who was not only an Imam but also a practical agitator in whom every discontented slave found an adviser and a counselor as to how freedom might be obtained; Elesbao do Carmo (popularly known as Dandara) was another Imam who attained a high degree of influence among the Bahia Afro-Brazilians. He was an agitator for 'revolutionary change'; so were Belchior, Gaspar da Silva Cunha, Luiz Sanim, Manoel Calafate, and Aprigio. The 'ceremonies and teachings of Islam were preserved in the huts of all these Muslims, and the Hausa tongue (was) employed for a more effective diffusion of these precepts or of tidings of the insurrections which were planned.'I6 Much of the written correspondence among the leaders was in the Arabic script.

In order to understand the driving force behind these insurrections it is important to analyze the background of these Muslims who refused to submit to slavery. There is no doubt that the cultural and political background of these people in Africa, to a large extent, explains their refusal to submit to Christianity and be subdued by slavery. Gilberto Freyre, the famous Brazilian sociologist informs us that:

Mohammedan Fulahs and Hausas, who appear to have led the various slave revolts ... came from the kingdoms of Wurno, Sokoto, and Gando, which possessed an advanced form of political organization, a well-defined religious literature with native works composed in Arabic characters, and an art that was strong and original, superior to the anemic Portuguese imitations of Moorish models. Slaves such as these could not be expected to conform to the role of mere artistic puppets for the Portuguese, nor could the holy water of Christian baptism all of a sudden extinguish the Mohammedan fire that was in them (emphasis mine).17

Freyre argues:

... men of Mohammedan faith and intellectual training - were culturally superior to some of their European, white, Catholic masters. More than one foreigner who visited Brazil in the nineteenth century was surprised to find the leading French bookseller of the Empire's capital had among his customers Mohammedan Negroes of Bahia; through him these remarkable Negroes, some of them ostensibly Christian but actually Mohammedan, imported expensive copies of their sacred books for secret study.I8

He admits that:

The truth is: in the slave sheds of Bahia in 1835 there were perhaps more persons who knew how to read and write than up above, in the Big Houses.I9

After the failure of the 1835 revolt, the Brazilian government decided to whip out the influence of Islam upon the slaves. Islam was considered as the source of inspiration upon the slaves that caused them to refuse submission. The government therefore embarked on a systematic policy of eliminating Islam by either killing all the slaves associated with it or deporting free Afro-Brazilians back to Africa. Roger Bastides informs us that:

...After the Hausa revolts in the first half of the nineteenth century ... leading exponents of Black Islam were either condemned to death or deported to Africa; and the faithful, deprived of their priests, were absorbed by that large group of Negroes generally referred to as 'fetichists '. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were still one or two Muslim candombles in Bahia (though no trace of them survives today), and another sect at Alagoas, that of' Aunt Marceline; syncretized with the Yoruba cults.20

Thus with the Afro-Brazilian Muslim persecuted, killed and forced to leave Brazil, and Islam destroyed as a force, the slavocrats were able to temporarily contain the slaves until after the 1850s. After this, new forces emerged and the Afro-Brazilians were to acquire an ally (the white middle class that was struggling for political recognition) in fighting for their freedom.

The economic prosperity enjoyed by Brazil in the post-1850 period due to the increase in world demand for Brazilian coffee, ushered the country into a new era of modernization. As a result of the introduction of railways, and the expansion of commerce, industrial enterprises and banks, there emerged small middle class groups in the urban areas that were unattached to slavery. This new group was soon to challenge the hold that the landed aristocracy had over the political affairs of the country. It saw slavery and the institution of monarchy and its 'feudal' trappings as an obstacle to economic and industrial development and modernization of Brazil. As a result of their grievances, urban-led abolitionist movements began to appear in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in 1880 and these gave a lot of support to blacks who were revolting against slavery. They encouraged slaves to flee from the plantations in the 'underground railroad' style and seek sanctuary in urban areas such as the city of São Paulo where slavery was actively condemned.

Slave rebellions, organized protests and mass night from plantations so shook the foundations of the slave institution that by 1887 it convinced many fazendeiros that an urgent solution had to be found for the system of slavery. The Golden Law of 1888 that abolished slavery in Brazil was mainly due to the alarming mass flight of slaves from plantations and the use of violence by both slaves and the abolitionists. Their combined action was therefore responsible for the crumbling of this deeply rooted institution of slavery in Brazil.

The Back-to-Africa Movement

After the suppression of the 1835 rebellion negro de ganho and free men who were Muslim or suspected of being Muslim were victimized as troublemakers. Many were either killed or deported back to Africa. It was therefore a direct result of this increased oppression that societies were formed to charter ships to return Afro-Brazilians to the West African Coast. Traditions of emigration, however, do go as far as the eighteenth century. During the early emigrations of the nineteenth century, Muslims were joined by a large number of Christians who were also escaping from a cruel slavocrat society. In fact the number of Christians was soon to outnumber that of the Muslims as more of them left for Africa immediately before and after the abolition of slavery in 1888.

The majority of these men who returned to West Africa, whether Christians or Muslims, established small businesses or trading operations in Badagry and Lagos in Nigeria and in Whydah, Agoue and Porto Novo in Dahomey (Benin). The two countries were chosen as settlement areas mainly as a result of the strong commercial ties that the towns had with Bahia. These were also ports from which many of the slaves were shipped to Brazil. Some of the returnees became masons, builders or skilled artisans utilizing skills they had acquired in Brazil. Many of the merchants traded in palm oil and textile goods from Europe. A small group returned to agriculture owning small plots of land and utilized European techniques and fertilizing agents. Their chief products were palm oil, corn plants, cotton, and cassava. Some were also involved in the slave trade, especially the Catholic Afro-Brazilians of the town of Agoue.

Afro-Brazilians repatriated to Lagos after the 1835 rebellion known as Aguda are reported to have arrived about 1840. Their numbers rose gradually from 1,237 to 1,800 especially after 1847 when the guarantee of safety and encouragement was received from Chief Tapa Osodi. The increase in repression in Brazil also contributed to a large extent to this increase in the numbers of returnees. However, the number of these men never equaled those of the ex-slaves who migrated from Sierra Leone and settled mainly in Badagry. Sierra Leone was one point where the British temporarily settled liberated slaves before they were encouraged to return to their former 'homelands'. Notable among Aguda families in Lagos a number of Muslims were to be found. These were Martin, da Silva, Tiamiyu Gomez, Yahya Tokunbo, Salvador and Agusto. The Muslims in Lagos settled mainly on Bamgbose Street where they built several mosques -- Olosun, Alagbayun, Tairu Eko, and the Salvador Mosque.2I Many of these Muslims brought a lot of skills that were useful to the local Muslim society in Lagos. T.G.O. Gbadamosi in his study of the growth of Islam among the Yoruba observed that:

Among them were many tailors, carpenters, masons, master bakers, etc. Their practical skill and talent enhanced their position in the society and benefited the (local) Muslim community considerably. For example, the building of the large central mosque in Lagos was at one time abandoned by the local architects; the work was, however, taken up and completed by Sanusi Alaka, a talented Muslim trainee of Senor Joas da Costa, the leading master-mason in Lagos. On completion, the mosque was generally regarded as one of the stateliest buildings in Lagos.22

While some of the Muslim Afro-Brazilians did manage to eventually find their way inland to their former homelands, many chose to remain in Lagos. Gbadamosi argues:

Some could not remember their original homes; some were born abroad and knew little of the interior; some held back because of dismaying tales of hardship, theft and the like which were told about the interior; and some simply preferred to remain in Lagos where they settled and carried on with their trade and religion.23

What was the impact of these men on the local Muslim population in Yorubaland? The Afro-Brazilian Muslims, as respected men of talent and overseas experience, helped to enhance Islam in the Lagos area. According to Gbadamosi, these men injected a strong dose of confidence and courage among the Muslim population such that by 1841 Friday congregational prayers were held publicly on a spot later known as Animasaun Lane. They played an important role in transforming the attitude of local Muslims towards Western education and modernization. Having come from a Western background where their religious faith had been under constant test, it was easy for them to overcome fears of the possibility of their children being converted into Christianity if they were sent to schools. This move thus encouraged the other Muslim groups to send their children to schools, which were mostly run by Christian missions.

In Dahomey the Afro-Brazilian Muslims played a very important role in their society and had a similar impact as those in Nigeria. Families of Marcos, Moreira, de Souza, and Jose Paraiso constituted the pillars of the Porto-Novo Islamic community. The leading figure was Paraiso who had established himself as a merchant in the town before 1850. He became an advisor to king Sodji and helped with the drafting of a protectorate treaty for the town in 1863. While these Afro-Brazilians played a prominent role in the local Muslim community affairs, they remained a distinct group with a Latin American heritage that was apparent in the language they spoke (Portuguese), in the choice of their clothing -- white suits and Panama hats, and in the European architectural style of their mosques.


Afro-Brazilian Muslims played a key role in undermining the institution of slavery in Brazil. Despite repression and forced conversion to Christianity, many rose in the name of Allah to register their protest against continued subordination. Many sought freedom by fleeing from their masters and establishing quilambos in the hinterland. We, therefore, need to re-examine some of these quilombos to establish whether Islamic institutions did exist in the slave-free zones established in the hinterlands of Northeast Brazil where there were a lot of Muslim slaves. Many of the Muslim slaves and freemen in the urban areas joined hands to form mutual-aid societies, the equivalent of irmandades pretos, to free their fellow Muslims from bondage, and also to take care of their welfare in a society that cared little for a black man more especially if he was a Muslim. Serious research is needed in this particular area to be able to know how these societies functioned, their membership, their source of finance, and who provided the leadership.

Though the Brazilian imperial government embarked on a campaign of harassment and annihilation against the Muslims in the post-1830s, the impact of Islam and Muslim leaders among slaves was already felt. It was therefore the sacrifice and the courage of the Muslim slaves in the beginning of the nineteenth century that was to inspire and keep alive the spirit of freedom among the Afro-Brazilians who were able to force the abolition of slavery in 1888.


Pierre Verger, "African Cultural Survivals in the New World: The Examples of Brazil and Cuba", Tarikh, Vol. 5, No.4, 1978. p.79.

J. Michael Turner. "Os Pretos na Africa: Brazilian Slaves in Dahomey - A Preliminary Investigation," Mimeo, Boston University. 27 March 1970, pp.2-3.

Donald Pierson, Negroes in Brazil: A Study of Race Contact at Bahia, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale & Edwardsville, 1967, p.39.

Arthur Ramos. The Negro in Brazil, The Associated Publishers, Washington. 1951, p.25.

R. K, Kent, "Palmares: An African State in Brazil," Journal of African History, Vol. 6, No.2. 1965, pp.162-3.

Abdias do Nascimento, Racial Democracy in Brazil: Myth or Reality. Mimeo. University of Ife. Ile-Ife, 1977,pp. I3-5.

Joel R. dos Santos, "Memorial Zumbi: Brazilian Blacks Re-encounter Their History," Second African Diaspora Institute Conference, Nairobi. 23-29 August, 1981. p.2.

Charles R. Boxer. The Golden Age of Brazil. 1695-/750: Growing Pains of a Colonial Society, University of California Press, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1962. p. 186.

I'abbe E'tienne Ignace, "La Secte Musulmane des Males du Brasel et Revolte 1835". Anthropos, Paris, Tom.IV, January-March, 1909, p.10.

Clyde-Ahmed Winters. "The Afro-Brazilian Concept of Jihad and the 1835 Slave Revolt" Afrodiaspora: Journal of the African World, Vol. 2, No.4, 1984, p.87.

Turner, Op. cit., p. 3.

Ramos, op. cit., p. 44.

Turner. op. cit. p. 3.

ibid. p.4.

ibid. p.6.

Ramos, op. cit. pp. 50-51.

Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization, (Translated by Samuel Putnam), Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1956, p.315.

Freyre, New World in the Tropics, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1966, p.117.

Freyre, Masters and the Slaves, p. 299.

Roger Bastide, African Civilizations in the New World, Harper & Rowe Publishers, New York, 1971, p. 105.

T.G.O. Gbadamosi, The Growth of Islam Among the Yoruba, 1941-1908, Longman, London, 1978, p. 28.

ibid, p. 30.

ibid, p. 29.

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