Blueprint for debating Afrocentrists and conscious-community by Professor Shareef Muhammad
1. Assert that Islam in sub-Sahara was an indigenous affair. There were never any Arab-settler colonies, conquering armies, or puppet-African rulers in sub-Sahara west or east. Islam entered sovereign black Africa on their terms, applied on their terms, and disseminated by them.
2. The Arab slave trade took place between mutually autonomous nations where the Africans were not subjected to Arab rule or compelled by Arab or Eastern powers. During the duration of the Arab slave trade African sovereignty was not undermined.
3. Do not attack traditional African religion but rather attack the Afrocentrists’ understanding of traditional African religion. Challenge their assumptions that:
a) Islam completely eradicated traditional beliefs. Explain that because Islamization was an indigenous process the Africans made decisions about what aspects of native practices they would keep.
b) Demand that they tell you which traditional African religion they practice and prove that their practice and understanding have legitimacy anywhere in Africa.
c) Point out that Egypt was never the cultural center of Africa in the eyes of Africans and there were other Africans such as the Nubians who saw them as colonizers and the Dogan who viewed them as persecutors. After all, that is why Dogan left and came to Mali.
d) Spirituality in Africa was never understood and practiced as something apart from
religion. The “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual ” claptrap is American. No tAfrican.
4. Afrocentrism is a cultural product of Western Diaspora. It’s not indigenous to Africa. It is an interpretation of African history based solely on the psychological needs of African-American (particularly) with no regard for historiography or even the facts. It has no probative methods of research.
This is a basic outline of the approaches to the most common Afrocentrist arguments. These can be explored in more depth but the contain the basic logic with which to counter which is: Islam in African was always indigenized and Afrocentrism is an illegitimate and none-indigenous view of Africa and its past.
Professor Shareef Muhammad has taught history at Georgia State University and Islamic studies at Spelman University. He has a masters in history at Kent State University with his thesis on The Cultural Jihad in the antelbellum South: How Muslim slaves preserved their religious/cultural identity during slavery.