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philosopher, pioneer of Islamic reformist thought, pan-Islamic nationalist as well as a staunch opponent of British penetration in the East, also known as al-Asadaabadi and al-Husayni, Afghani, was born in October/November 1839 in the Iranian village of Asadaabad. However, he endeavored to hide his origins so as to conceal his Shiite identity. It was with this in mind that he assumed the surname al-Afghani (of Afghan origin).

His father, Sayyid Safdar, is said to have been a modest farmer, but a learned Muslim. From the age of five to ten, Afghani was apparently educated at home, focusing on Arabic and the Qurʾan. Thereafter, he was sent to school in Qazvin and later Tehran, where he received the standard Shiite education.

After several years of study in the holy city of Najaf, Afghani moved to India in approximately 1855 where he first encountered British colonialism By the time he reached ...


George Yancy

philosopher and first African American to receive a PhD in Philosophy in the United States, was born enslaved of enslaved parents, Thomas Chadwick Baker, a Civil War veteran, and Edith (Nottingham) Baker, on Robert Nottingham's plantation in Northampton County, Virginia. Edith was the daughter of Southey and Sarah Nottingham of Northampton County. Thomas Nelson Baker was one of five children.

Describing the influences on his early intellectual life, Baker remembered:

My mother taught me my letters although I well remember when she learned them herself My first reading lesson was the second chapter of Matthew the Bible being the only book we had I never read a bad book in my life which is one of the blessings I got by being poor I began to attend the common schools at eight and learned to love books passionately I used to read through my recesses Evenings I read the Bible ...


Annewies van den Hoek

Christian philosopher lived and taught in Alexandria toward the end of the second century In spite of his topographic nickname Clement did not originate in Alexandria but was born elsewhere possibly in Athens and was of non Christian origin He left a considerable body of writing not all of which survives His official name Titus Flavius Clemens may indicate that his family descended from a freedman of the household of T Flavius Clemens who was consul in 95 CE Before coming to Alexandria Clement traveled around looking for mentors but the only teacher whom he mentions by name is Pantaenus According to Eusebius Pantaenus headed a school of sacred learning in Alexandria and Clement was his successor Other information indicates that Clement left Alexandria in 202 203 perhaps to avoid persecution He may have gone to Palestine as some have argued or to Cappadocia as tradition has it Clement displays ...


Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, scientist, and theologian, was born Abu al Walid Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Rushd. Known in the Medieval Latin West as Averroes, he was one of the most influential commentators on Aristotle and on Plato’s Republic. A philosopher, scientist, and theologian of remarkable ability, Ibn Rushd famously stated that there was no inherent inconsistency between Greek rational thought and Islam. Born in 1120 in Cordoba Ibn Rushd wrote and studied in North Africa as well as in Muslim Spain al Andalus Although his life has often been portrayed as a struggle between rational thought and the tyranny of the African Almohad rulers who reigned in al Andalus Ibn Rushd s thinking was influenced as much by his time in Africa as his time in Spain Popular depictions of Ibn Rushd as an oppressed liberal thinker and as a European stifled by the close mindedness of the ...


Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, physician, and rabbinical scholar, was born around 1135 in that ornament of the world the city of Córdoba in Muslim controlled al Andalus In fact Maimonides would spend his whole life in lands under Muslim control mainly in Morocco and Egypt Also known as Rambam and Ibn Maymun he and his thought were fundamentally influenced by the Islamic and mainly Arabic speaking civilization in which he lived At the same time he had a profound knowledge of Jewish literature and scriptural commentary as well as Greek thought In this way Maimonides integrated the major historical and cultural traditions of the Mediterranean the Middle East and Africa Faced with powerful attacks on Judaism from Christian and Muslim scholars such as Petrus Alfonsi and Ibn Hazm attacks based on a use of Greek reason and logic Maimonides was able to respond with his own application of reason to Jewish theology ...


Sanya Osha

John Mbiti’s work has been central to the debates within African religious thought and modern African philosophy. His corpus also has attracted the attention of many critics—a large number of whom have not been complimentary, which in turn has led to the establishment of an engaging tradition of founding discourses related to the modern African condition. John Mbiti’s prolific career as an academic produced several major texts: African Religions and Philosophy (1969), African Concepts of God (1970), and New Testament Eschatology in an African Background: A Study of the Encounter between New Testament Theology and African Traditional Concepts (1971 Mbiti s oeuvre has had an impact on both traditional religious thought and contemporary African philosophy and as such he has been criticized for not properly defining the boundaries and internal features of these two separate forms of discourse In major ways Mbiti dwells on ...


Alejandro Gortázar

in the first half of the nineteenth century, was born on 15 October 1766 in Rio Grande de San Pedro, a city in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). His mother was Juana de Sacramento, a Benguela woman from Angola. His father was Ventura, a Mina Dajome man (from Dahomey, currently Republic of Benin). Molina was born on the ship that brought his family to Brazil to be sold as slaves. His parents married in 1765 in Rio Grande.

Molina’s parents were both personal servants to José de Molina (1707–1782), a Spanish military man who came in 1759 to Banda Oriental with the Cevallos expedition to delimitate the Spanish imperial territory in Banda Oriental. Ventura saved José de Molina’s life in 1765 and was rewarded his freedom in return but he preferred to remain with his master Juana his mother was enslaved in Portuguese territory and became a ...


Mathias Hanses

classicist, Congregationalist preacher, and the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the youngest child of Henry Moore and his second wife Rebecca (née Beasley). Louis would in his early years have witnessed the black community's enthusiasm toward such new freedoms as political participation. At the same time, he suffered the hardships besetting his family of twenty-eight in the transforming Deep South. Before Louis turned ten years old, his home state's race relations started slipping toward their “nadir.” Alabama endured Ku Klux Klan terrorism and voter intimidation; a “Redeemer” government rose to power in 1874 as black workers and sharecroppers fell into economic dependency on their former owners; and in 1876 federal Reconstruction efforts were sacrificed to political deal making which further impeded blacks access to polls and lecterns Still increasing numbers of African Americans came to ...


Joy G. Kinard

public orator, college president, philosopher, and clergyman, was born Joseph Charles Dozier in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to Emily Pailin, a freeborn woman, and Charles Dozier, a former slave and ship carpenter. While Joseph was a young boy, Dozier moved away to find work in Baltimore, Maryland, at a shipyard. Joseph's mother later married David Price, and Price adopted Joseph as his own son. In 1863 the Price family moved to New Bern, North Carolina, which was controlled by federal troops at the time. While in New Bern, Joseph attended St. Andrews Chapel, a parochial school, and he attended the Lowell Normal School of New Bern in 1866. Beginning in 1871 he began teaching in Wilson, North Carolina, where he stayed for the next four years. He attended Shaw University in Raleigh in 1873 for a brief period. In 1875 he ...


Eric Fournier

philosopher and Christian bishop, was a member of the elite society of the late Roman province of Cyrenaica (present-day Libya). He was a highly educated traditionalist devoted to Neoplatonist philosophy, which did not prevent him from becoming bishop of the metropolitan city of Ptolemais at the beginning of the fifth century CE. Synesius is known through his own writings, and especially his corpus of 156 Letters, an important source of knowledge for the daily life of late antique Cyrenaica. This dependency on his own writings to establish his biography, however, renders the chronology of his life vexingly uncertain.

Born around 370 CE from a well to do family Synesius was sent to complete his education in Alexandria c 390 along with his beloved brother Evoptius There the two brothers attended the school of the famous Hypatia who initiated them to the mystical aspects of Hellenic philosophy Scientific observations including ...


Steve Howard

Sudanese philosopher, author, and Islamic religious reform leader, was born in the Blue Nile town of Rufa’a in the Gezira, the heart of Sudan’s Sufi establishment. Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, known to his followers as “Ustadh Mahmoud” (“teacher”), was the founder of Sudan’s preindependence Republican Party, which he subsequently led to become a religious reform movement known as the Republican Brotherhood. The movement advocated a moderately progressive approach to the role of Islam in the contemporary world, with an emphasis on social equality, particularly for women in the context of rethinking sharia law. His best known book, The Second Message of Islam (1968; trans. Abdullahi An-Na’im, Syracuse, 1987), detailed his understanding of a modern conceptualization of Islam. He married Amna Lotfi and had a son (deceased) and two daughters, Asma and Somaya.

Taha s education was the religious then secular mix that became increasingly common as the British introduced formal schooling ...


Jeremy Rich

missionary and philosopher, was born Frans Tempels on 18 February 1906 in Berlaar, a town located in the Anvers province of Belgium. After completing his primary and secondary education in Belgium, Tempels decided to become a priest. He began his seminary training at Thielt, Belgium, with the Catholic order of the Franciscan Minor Friars on 17 September 1924, and was ordained a priest on 15 August 1930. For three years he served as a priest in Belgium, but then was assigned to work as a missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then the Belgian Congo). On 3 November 1933 Tempels left for a three week voyage to Diolo a town in the diocese of Kamina located in the southern province of Katanga He initially expected the Congolese people to obey listen and stay quiet Despite his thoroughly ethnocentric views at the beginning of his missionary ...


Zachery R. Williams

African American philosopher, public intellectual, theologian, and activist. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cornel West was raised the grandson of a Baptist minister. The influences of the black church made an indelible impact on his emerging consciousness. In his youth, he obtained a reputation as highly intelligent and outspoken regarding matters of inequality.

As an adolescent growing up in Sacramento, California, West came under the influence of the Black Panther Party. It was during this crucial period in West's maturation that he acquired his abiding interest in democratic socialism. Early on, he came to view black progress through a global lens. Among the parallel influences on West were the writings and activities of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Wylie Evers. There was no doubt in the eyes of many that West was on his way to becoming a scholar-activist.

In 1970 ...


Marian Aguiar

Cornel West was born in Oklahoma, a place once envisioned as a homeland for Native Americans displaced by European colonization, and for African Americans acting on the freedom promised by emancipation. The grandson of a Baptist minister, he was reared in the Baptist Church, and the church has remained a significant presence in his life since. Even as a child, West was articulate, outspoken, and politically engaged. In elementary school he convinced a group of his classmates to stop saluting the flag to protest the second-class citizenship afforded to African Americans.

West encountered the activities of the Black Panther Party while living in Sacramento, California. The Panthers informed his early thinking about democratic socialism and acquainted him with an internationalist vision for black enfranchisement. He was also inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, as well as by the music of John Coltrane ...


David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian theologian and ethicist, was born in Alcolu, South Carolina, the son of Anderson James Williams and Bertha Bell McRae. He spent his early years on the farm his family had purchased soon after emancipation, where nearby the Westminster Presbyterian Church stood on a corner of the family property. But he spent most of his youth growing up in racially mixed Homestead, in metropolitan Pittsburgh, where he attended Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Williams graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an AB from Washington and Jefferson College in 1947, and he earned his master's degree from the same institution in 1948. He enrolled in Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned his bachelor of divinity in 1950. Later that same year the Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained Williams as a minister.

In 1954 Williams received his master of sacred ...


The little information known about Zara Yacob’s life is derived from the autobiographical nature of his philosophical treatise, which he wrote in the mid-seventeenth century. Yacob was born in 1599 (or 1592 in the Julian calendar) near Aksum, the ancient capital and center of religious learning in present-day Ethiopia. He followed a traditional training within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a Christian church. Yacob studied music, qene (poetry or hymns), and especially the biblical Psalms of King David.

After studying the scriptures for ten years Yacob taught for four years in Aksum Living as a monk he acquainted himself with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church which had been introduced to Ethiopia by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries beginning in the middle of the sixteenth century During this period the competition between the Catholic and the Ethiopian church was fierce and many people linked adherence to the Orthodox Church with the very ...