The Incoherence of the Anti-Islam Afrocentrist

Afrocentrist: Is that a kufi? Why are you niggas still dealing with that Arab bullsh%$? You all let those people take your minds out of Africa and put it in Arabia. Ya’ll ain’t nothing but a bunch of brainwashed niggas.

Muslim: Malcolm was not a brainwashed nigga. Muhammad Ali was not a brainwashed nigga. Marcus Garvey was a not brainwashed nigga.

 

Afrocentrist: What’re you talking about?! Garvey wasn’t no Muslim?

 

Muslim: No! But his teacher Duse Muhammad was and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Were it not for this Muslim there would have been no Garvey and no pan-Africanism as we know it. The point is that it is the Muslims who showed black people how to be fearless and reconnect with their African heritage.  

 

Afrocentrist: You cannot be African and Muslim! Point blank period!

 

Muslim: History says otherwise. For that statement to be true you have to disqualify Mansa Musa, Askia Muhammad, Ahmad Baba al-Timbukti, the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the pioneers of pan-Africanism, not to mention our numerous ancestors who were Muslim. It is ridiculous to say that religion can change someone’s ethnicity and race. This a ploy used by Europeans who encountered African Muslims more advanced and educated than themselves and so denied them their Africanity to justify black inferiority. 

 

Afrocentrist: Well, the fact is that Islam is a foreign religion. It is not African. As the late great Dr. Ben Jochannan said “Religion is the deification of a people’s culture.”

 

Muslim: Islam started as foreign to the Arabs which is why the early wars that Muhammad (pbuh) fought were fought against the Arabs. Muhammad (pbuh) never raised his sword to an African nation. In fact, Islam was welcomed and accommodated in Africa before it was welcomed and established in the Arabian peninsula. Furthermore, the first companions of the Prophet’s (pbuh) were ex-slaves many of whom were of African heritage. The Islamic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) turned Arab society upside down and pitted the ex-slave against former slave master where it ended up that the ex-slaves become the masters of their former masters. In fact, Bilal ibn Rabah killed his former Arab polytheist slave owner Umayyah ibn Khalaf. If Islam was an Arab concoction to oppress Black people then explain why the Arab polytheist Jubayr ibn Mut’im bribed his Ethopian slave Wahshi ibn Harb into killing the Prophet, pbuh, uncle in exchange for freedom from slavery. Why was it an Arab polytheist who killed the first martyr of Islam Sumayyah bint Khabbat, a black woman?

 

Islam has always put justice over race and tribe. This is why the Prophet (pbuh) had no problem putting swords in the hands of non-Arabs so that they could fight Arab polytheistic oppressors. If Muhammad (pbuh) were a nationalist why did he tell the Arabs to obey your ruler even if he is Ethiopian? This explicitly rejects an Arab monopoly on power.

 

If we are to apply your purity test to everything in Africa then technically the Yoruba are not African which means Yoruba religion and its new world offshoots are not African either. The Yoruba, those who aren’t Muslim, say in their oral traditions that they came across the Red Sea from Arabia. This means that by your standard that whatever doesn’t start in Africa isn’t African would mean the Yoruba aren’t African. Most ethnographers agree that the Arabs are the descendants of the Axumites. Read Drusilla Houstons Wonderful Ethiopian and the Cushite Empire. The purity test that Afrocentrists use against the Muslims and Islam is politically and ideologically motivated and has no historical veracity. Your own test would disqualify you. 

 

Purity tests are reactionary and the people who administer them fall short of their own criteria. 

 

Afrocentrist: The black woman is god. 

 

Muslim: Who told you this?! 

 

Afrocentrist: It’s clear when you look at ancient Kemetic cosmology and various traditional African traditions!

Muslim: Traditional African religions do not have a female deity as their supreme being. Secondly, there is no African society past or present that ever believed this. You have misinterpreted traditional African culture. Every traditional African society recognizes a supreme being. No member in that society, including black women themselves , considered themselves to be equal to that supreme being. Your “black woman is god” theory is a New Age invention that has no historical veracity. 

 

Muslim: Traditional African religions do not have a female deity as their supreme being. Secondly, there is no African society past or present that ever believed this nor is there an African society that is matriarchal. You have misinterpreted traditional African culture. Every traditional African society recognizes a supreme being. No member in that society, including black women, considered themselves to be equal to that supreme being. Your “black woman is god” theory is a New Age invention that has no historical veracity. 

 

The most outstanding women in African and African-American history have believed in the omnipotent Creator who has no partners and many of them were Muslim. From the scholar warrior Nana Asmau of Nigeria to Safiya Bukhari of the black liberation movement all of the examples of the feminine power have been women who submitted to the Creator and did not worship the black woman.

 

 

Afrocentrists: Why should I adopt religion that justifies enslaving black people. Look, Muhammad owned black slaves. I read it in your hadith.

 

Muslim: The Prophet never kept or owned slaves. These were freed slaves or protected clients.

In the hadith you’re talking about the Prophet bought the freedom of the black slave. He paid double for him in order to show the slave “master” that he valued the freedom of the slave. During that time, Arabs placed different prices for slaves according to their race. A mixed or Roman slave cost more than a black slave.

 

The other hadith about that about Muhammad (pbuh) “had a black slave called Anjasha” is a hazard of translation. The Arabic word translated as “black slave” actually translates “young black man.” The decision to translate Ghulam as “slave” was made by Indians who in Urdu Ghulam means “slave” but this is not the literal translation of the word in Arabic. So again, the Prophet never owned slaves black or otherwise. He didn’t buy slaves he bought their freedom. One of the injunctions made the by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is: “Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and set free the captives.”

Afrocentrist: How can you be a Muslim when dem Arabs hate Black People, enslaved us, and even today mistreat us in their stores they set up in our hood.

 

Muslim: Pointing to anti-Black statements or actions by Arabs does not discredit Islam but is actually proof Muhammad(saw) is a Prophet.

 

Afrocentrist: Huh! Why’s that?

 

Muslim: The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) actually condemed anti-Blackness by Arabs in his final farewell sermon to the world. The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) taught that “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over a Black nor a Black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”

As a Prophet, he had foresight into the prevailing social issues that would plague the world and thus was sure to address it in his farewell sermon.

Thus, with your inability to prove that Arab anti-Blackness is causally connected to Islam & my evidence that anti-blackness is condemned by Islam you’ve committed the non causa pro causa fallacy.

Afrocentrist: non causa pro causa fallacy?

 

Huh? What’s that?

Muslim: It’s latin for false cause. Imagine a person concluding that because when they wake up in the morning the sun comes out that therefore their decision to wake up in the morning causes the sunrise. You would say that person is stupid. Right?

 

Afrocentrist: Yup!

 

Muslim: Well how much more stupid is it to deny Islam which calls for submission to the creator based up the flawed idea that anti-Black actions of Arabs are caused by Islam.

 

In any case, The Afrocentrists’ version of the Arab slave trade is plagiarized Orientalism.

 

Afrocentrist: Orientalism? 

 

Muslim: Orientalism is the stereotypical perspective on Asia andthe Middle-East that embodies the same European colonialist attitude that denies Egypt being apart of Africa. It was intended to bolster the moral supremacy of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants during their transition from slave-driven agriculture to industrialism which would result in the colonization of Africa. The idea of the Arab Slave Trade started with Sir Samuel Baker, David Livingstone, and Henry Morton Stanley. These were British missionaries whose obsession with the Indian Ocean Trade led to them to exaggerate the numbers of slaves taken out of Africa and nature of such the trade.

 

They highlighted the horrors of the trade for the purpose of their own moral crusade, similar to what they do today when they talk human rights violations in an African country to justify invasion. Their reframing the Indian Ocean Trade as the Arab Slave Trade was part of the founding of several central African Christian missionary initiatives carried out during the “Scramble for Africa.” What has trickled down from them over the century is what Afrocentrists and the conscious-community consider to be their knowledge of Arab slave trade. 

 

Afrocentrist: I don’t take from Orientalists or whatever they’re called. I’m a student of Chancellor Williams, John Henrik Clarke, and Ben Jochonnan. These men were not Eurocentristsmy friend but rather men of prodigious scholarship who were not afraid to ask the hard questions like the one I am asking you. 

 

Muslim: Those men: Chancellor Williams, John Henrik Clarke, and Ben Jochonnan relied on the Orientalist canon for their perspective on the Arab slave trade. Their bibliographies testify to this. When you look in their books and the sources they drew upon it was the Western cannon of Orientalist thought about slavery in Indian Ocean Trade that they based their assertion. It is the irony of Afrocentrism that when it comes to the subject of Islam it is based squarely on Eurocentrism. 

 

Afrocentrist: You’re not attacking their facts. What did they get“wrong” about the Arab slave trade? 

 

Muslims: For starters no one was calling it the Arab Slave Trade until the European, namely British, involvement in East Africa. Without the moral crusade of European colonists like the East India Company and later: The London Missionary Society and the Church Missionary Society the Indian Ocean Trade doesn’t become known as the Arab Slave Trade. The Indian Ocean Trade predates the Arabs and the rise of Islam by over a thousand years. Some say that this commercial enterprise dated back to Harappa of ancient India. The point is that it acquires the name “Arab” slave trade because of the obstacle that Islam poses to the British being able to spread Christianity in the region and usurp African sovereignty. But Islam had been present in that part of Africa since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and it had nothing to do with slavery. Slavery is not how East Africans in East Africa become Muslim. It was not the process of Islamization. Before the 18th century the Arab slave trade was never singled out as destructive to Africawhich was in the middle of a renaissance. Rather the Indian Ocean Trade was treated like every other enterprise that African kingdoms had been engaging in since time immemorial. During the entire time over the course of a thousand years of African-Arab trade sub-Sahara Africa remained sovereign. 

 

Afrocentrist: Wait! Are you saying that the Arab slave trade was benign and that it was the Africans’ fault that Arabs enslaved Africans?

Muslim: What I am saying is what Walter Rodney said in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. He said that “term Arab Slave Trade is a historical misnomer since bilateral trade agreements between myriad ethnic groups across the proposed ‘Zanj trade network’ characterized much of the acquisition process of chattel, and more often than not indentured servants.” The Arab Slave Trade was as much African and the primary commodity was gold. It never occurred to anyone to call it the Arab slave trade until British missionaries in the 19th century started referring to it as such. Interestingly, the most aggressive period of slave raiding in East Africa is when European took control of the Arab slave trade so that all of the slaves that were being routed into the plantations of Zanzibar were serving British owned industry.

The Arab slave trade can not be held up as a cause of African decline or Arab prosperity and it certainly is not the equivalent to the trans-Atlantic slave trade which unlike the Indian Ocean Trade was invented by Europeans in the modern age with the intention of trafficking slaves exclusively from Africa which has had a direct impact on creating the wealth and power gap between European and Western nations and the rest of the world.

Afrocentrist: But what about castrations?

Muslim: Castrations is another sensationalized topic that Afrocentrists inherited from their Orientalist progenitors. It is certainly not a practice sanctioned by Islam. The Quran and the ahadith explicitly forbid maiming of slaves. The Arabs adopted the practice from the Byzantines and applied it to the slavesguarding the harems. 

Afrocentrist: You said that the Quran and hadith forbid the maiming of slaves. So then you acknowledge that Islam allows slavery?

 

Muslim: I think the problem we are having here is that you are misinterpreting my in depth analysis of historical events as apologia. I’m not defending Arabs who never exerted control over African in their societies. What I am objecting to is your Arab exceptionalism which says that Arab imperialism and slave trade marked a break in history from the traditional, standard practices of the time and that it jump started Africa’s decline. This is false and any examination of history prove this didn’t happen. 

 

Afrocentrist: Arab enslavement of Africans was widespread and was used to build Arab empires.

 

Muslim: Africans were not the principal slaves in the Arab world. The Arabs had their fair share of European and Persian slaves. Turks from the Caucasus region made up the majority of slaves in the Arab world at one point and were used by the Arabs in their militaries. The purity test of Afrocentrists denies the historical agency that Africans had in acquiring Islam and the fact that there are more African Muslims than any other ethnicity within the Muslim world without a single sub-Saharan nation being conquered by Arabs. 

 

Afrocentrist: But the Arabs were an imperial force who conquered North Africa and spread Islam through violence.

 

Muslim: There was no Arab empire that lasted for more than 100 years. The Arabs ceased being a political power within the Muslim world at the end of the Umayyad dynasty in the seventh century. Islam was introduced to West Africa during the Trans-Saharan Trade 200 years later and in East Africa Islam had been established there before it was established in Arabia. Also, the nature of Arab empire needs clarity. There was no central Arab headquarters from where the rest of the Muslim world was directed. So what you’re calling the Arab empire never included sub-Sahara.  

Also, unlike other empires the Arabs were overtaken by the very people they enslaved who turned around and enslaved them. 

 

The Arab empires were short lived and not a single one of them was built by slave labor. 

 

Afrocentrist: The Arabs did extract over 20 million Africans as slaves. Depleting Africa of its human resources. 

 

Muslims: Are you sure? There were no census records like there existed with the Trans-Atlantic Trade. Most agree that these numbers were inflated by British missionaries to justify British intervention in East Africa. They are pure speculation based on some of the motives we talked about. What we know is this: The Arabs had no distinct military advantage over the Africans which is why they were never able to conquer any sub-Saharan kingdom. The first time they tried was when after establishing themselves in Egypt they tried to invade Nubia. They were defeated and forced by the king of Nubian to accept an armistice known as the Baqt Treaty. In this treaty the Nubians offered to supply 365 slaves per year to the sultan of Egypt as a gesture of ending the hostilities. Thus, the idea of sending slaves to Arabs was initiated by Nubia. The Arabs lost and were in no position to demand or do anything. The idea of the Arabs being able to extract large numbers of slaves without the consent of African rulers would have been impossible. 

Muslim: Islam in sub-Sahara was an indigenous affair and not an extension of the North or the Middle East. There is not a single tribe in Africa today that was forcibly converted by Arabs or Berbers. It was voluntarily embraced and disseminated by the Africans themselves. One need only compare African Islamic kingdoms in sub-Sahara West Africa and see that they are so distinct from anything in the North or the Levant that there is no way the former can be considered an imitation or extension of the latter. They had very distinct motives and political interests. 

Afrocentrist: What about East Africa? You can see they gave up their culture for the culture of the Arabs.

Muslim: East Africa and the Arabian peninsula already have cultural similarities and shared history that predates Islam. Before the Arabs took slaves from East Africa Ethiopia possessed Arabia from Yemen up to Mecca in pre-Islamic times. Read Al Jahiz The Glory of the Black Race. Ethiopians had Arab slaves before Arabs had African slaves and the Arabs actually showed deference to Africa. Drusilla Houston’s book Wonderful Ethiopians and Ancient Cushite Empires.   

Afrocentrist: I don’t know. Arabs are still oppressing our people. 

Muslim: Arabs have no control over sub-Sahara today anymore than they did then. What black people both on the continent and in the Diaspora suffer from is not Arabism but Eurocentrism and white supremacy which are manifested in today’s anti-black racism throughout the world. Take for example the Libyan pirates who are capturing African’s and selling them. They are working for the Italian government to help curve immigration into Italy. The Arabs are not part of sub-Sahara African politics. The Chinese exert more influence than any other foreigner besides the European. They are parasitic and it is Africans who’ve invited them. The whole “Arabs are taking over” is played. Learn what’s going on.  

Afrocentrist: So what does Islam have to offer?

Muslim: Discipline and fearlessness. It possess the elements of peoplehood. As a nation within a nation it provides for us the very things that were damaged and lost during the violence of slavery and oppression. It has a track record of social and economic development. It is the only thing today that causes the white power structure to lose sleep. This is the legacy of the Muslims. You should stop this foolishness and look into Islam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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