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Article

Elizabeth Heath

The Almoravids movement of Abd Allah ibn Yasin conquered parts of northwestern Africa and later Spain during the eleventh and twelfth centuries and converted the defeated populations to Malekite (Maliki) Sunni Islam. Little is known of Abd Allah ibn Yasin's life prior to 1035, when as a student he was visited by a Sanhadja Berber chieftain and invited to return home with him to teach his people the true faith of Islam A devout Muslim Abd Allah ibn Yasin was scandalized by the lax and immoral practices of the Sanhadja Berbers He encouraged them to convert to Malekite Sunni Islam imposing a strict interpretation of Qur anic law Eventually he even restructured the Berber s military to conduct jihads holy wars in accordance with the Qur an By 1041 however the Berber chieftains resented the religious scholar s rule and sent him away Abd Allah ibn Yasin and ...

Article

Stacey Graham

bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, theologian, author, and doctor of the Church, is significant for his staunch opposition to Arianism, his prolific theological works, and his exile-ridden episcopate during a tumultuous time for Church and imperial politics. His most influential work is the seminal hagiography of Western monasticism, Life of Anthony.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria Egypt probably in the year 296 though possibly as late as 300 At an early age he came to the attention of Alexander the patriarch of Alexandria who ordained him as a priest and brought him into the patriarch s service Alexandria in the fourth century cultivated a mixture of intellectual philosophical and religious schools of thought from its long standing pagan Jewish and Christian communities The city was economically vital as the main grain supplier for the imperial capital at Constantinople and it ranked third among the four patriarchates in the early ...

Article

Will Gravely

African Methodist Episcopal minister and bishop, was born of mixed parentage in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent his early and middle years. Apparently self-educated, he worked as a boot maker and shoe repairman; he married Maria (maiden name unknown), with whom he had six children. Associated with the city's community of free people of color, Brown earned a reputation for assisting slaves in purchasing their freedom and for teaching and advising both free and enslaved African Americans in the region.

Soon after his religious conversion and his joining of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church, Brown was licensed to preach. In that role he had greater access to the slave population as well as to groups of free African Americans. As the number of blacks grew, both generally and within the African church in Charleston, Brown emerged as their leader. As a result of an 1816 dispute over a ...

Article

Donald Yacovone

minister, author, and abolitionist, was born in North Bridgewater (later Brockton), Massachusetts, to James, a successful businessman, and Sarah Dunbar Easton. Easton'sTreatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States (1837) was the nation's first systematic study of racism and stands with David Walker's Appeal (1829) as among the most important writings by African Americans during the early nineteenth century. The seven children of the Easton family blended African, American Indian, and white ancestry. Thus, the concept of “race,” as whites began to redefine it in the early nineteenth century, possessed little meaning to the Eastons. Indeed, one of Hosea Easton's brothers married into North Bridgewater's most distinguished white family.

James Easton had been a much respected businessman in the greater Boston area and a Revolutionary War veteran and viewed ...

Article

Anaïs Wion

Ethiopian Christian saint, was born in the region of Serae (in present-day southern Eritrea) on 21 Hamle under the name of Ma’eqebe Egzi. His father, the makwannen (governor) Krestos Mo’a, and his mother, Senna Heywet, entrusted him to the care of his maternal uncle Dan’el, a member of a ruling family of Eastern Tigray and abbot of Qorqor Maryam monastery in Gar‘alta who went by the monastic name of Zakaryas. He conferred on his nephew the monastic vows and his monastic name, Ewostatewos.

There are several hypotheses as to where Ewostatewos first settled after he left Qorqor Maryam One theory suggests that he settled in Serae which became the core of the Eustatean monastic network although it seems strange that Ewostatewos would have freely chosen this remote and non Christianized area to begin his preaching His first foundation would have thus been Debre Serabi Another hypothesis sustained by the very ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

charismatic religious reformer, Mahdi, founder of the Almohad movement, is one of the most important but almost the most enigmatic of medieval North Africans. The basic details of the life of Muhammad ibn Tumart were contested within the sources. Estimates of the date of his birth in the Berber, Moroccan village of Igilliz-n-Warghan or Numarkan in the Anti-Atlas Mountains south of the Sus Valley vary between 1078 and 1098. His name, “Tumart,” is Berber. When he was born, his parents proclaimed, “a tumart inu issak ayiwi,” which means, “Oh my joy comes from you child.” Born into a noble line of Berber chiefs or ugallids, and able to claim Arab heritage as a sharif a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad Ibn Tumart s claimed dual identity would help him later in life as he preached a fundamental interpretation of the Arabic Qurʾan to the Berber Masmuda Mountain ...

Article

Bob Greene

activist, coachman, cook and waiter, was born in Gray, Cumberland County, Maine. His parents are unknown, but they could have been Boston Reuben and Zeruiah Lewis, who were married 6 December 1783 in New Gloucester, Cumberland County, Maine. Boston Reuben could have been the “Boston Black” listed in the 1790 federal census as living in New Gloucester, Maine, with four “other free persons” and the “Moston Ruby” in the 1800 federal census living in Gray with seven “other free persons.”

Reuben Ruby moved to Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, where he married Jennett C. Pierre (1805–1827) on 23 October 1821. Their only child, William, died at the age of three. Two years after the death of first wife, Ruby married Rachel Humphrey (1805–1861) in Boston, Massachusetts, on 23 December 1829 They had at least six children with three living to ...

Article

David E. Swift

black Presbyterian minister and reformer, was born in New Jersey and brought up in Schenectady, New York, the son of R. P. G. Wright, an early opponent of the American Colonization Society's program of returning American blacks to Africa. His mother's name is unknown. He was named after a distinguished Massachusetts jurist, Theodore Sedgwick, whose defense of a slave woman against her master's claim of ownership had effectively abolished slavery in that state.

Wright received a good education in spite of rejection by a number of colleges to which he applied. After several years at New York's African Free School, he was admitted into Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey in 1825 at the age of twenty-eight. Well treated there by both fellow students and faculty, he graduated in 1828 thus becoming the first African American to complete a theological seminary program That same year Wright ...