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Stephen Cory

Sufi leader who has been referred to as “the Junayd of the West,” played an important role in the early development of Sufism within North Africa. One of his disciples, ʿAbd al-Salam ibn Mashish, was later the spiritual master for Abu al-Hasan al-Shadili, founder of one of the most influential North African Sufi movements.

Abu Madyan was born in the town of Cantillana near Seville in Muslim Spain He lost his parents early in life and was raised by his older brothers who regularly mistreated him The Moroccan biographer al Tadili d 1229 30 included biographical comments from Abu Madyan s writings such as the shaykh s explanation of how he finally escaped from the control of his brothers Abu Madyan relates that he fled from his home only to be captured by a brother who intended to kill him because of his many escape attempts His brother attacked him ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born Timothy Drew in North Carolina, Noble Drew Ali received little formal education. At age sixteen he began performing as a circus magician and traveled the world, during which time he was influenced by Eastern religions, including Islam with its racial inclusiveness. He concluded that American blacks were Moors, that they had descended from the Moabites of Canaan, and that their true home was Morocco. Ali also believed that before the American Revolution, which began in 1775, blacks had been free. Only at the Continental Congress of 1779 had blacks been forced into slavery and stripped of their Moorish identity.

In 1913, based on these principles, he founded the Moorish Science Temple of America in Newark, New Jersey, and published the Holy Qu'ran (Koran) of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science as a catechism Membership requirements were the acceptance of Moorish identity and ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

religious leader and founder of the Moorish Science Temple, was born Timothy Drew the son of former slaves in North Carolina Much of his life is shrouded in mystery that he and his followers helped to create He was apparently orphaned and claimed at various times that he was raised by Cherokee Indians and that he was a descendant of Bilali Mohammed a heroic African Muslim Sufi who had been enslaved in the United States Without parents and with little formal education Drew may have joined a traveling circus and been influenced by such extravaganzas as the Barnum and Bailey pageant The Wizard Prince of Arabia He further claimed that at the age of sixteen he was taken by a gypsy woman to North Africa and there studied with a Moroccan mystic in the Essene Schools As a test of his wisdom and worthiness he was placed inside an ...

Article

Alessandra Vianello

charismatic Islamic leader whose influence spread from Somalia to the whole of East Africa and beyond. His full name was Aways Mohammed al-Qadiri.

He was born in Brava a coastal town in Southern Somalia the son of Mohammed Mahadh Bashir and Faduma Barow The family had humble origins some Italian sources claim that the father or one of his immediate forebears had been a freedman of the Tunni the Somali clan settled in and around Brava In the course of his life Sheikh Aways married several times Five of his wives Bay Aliow bint Bobo Doyo bint Mahadh Abdallah Amo bint Bana Tahir Bora Fatima bint Mohammed Muhyiddin and Hawa Shego are mentioned in the Civil Register of the Court of Brava Of his children a daughter Dede was immortalized in verse by the judge and scholar Abd al Aziz al Amawi who probably married her and a son Shaʾir ...

Article

Martin A. Klein

leader of a Muslim jihad that briefly controlled the western part of Senegambia, was best known as Ma Ba, Maba Diakhou Bâ, or as Ma Ba Diakhou, with Diakhou being his mother’s name. He is also called Amath Ba.

Ma Ba was born in a clerical family that had migrated from the strongly Islamic Futa Toro dominated by Halpulaaren to a Wolof community in the Mandinka state of Badibu located on the north shore of the Gambia River As a boy he studied the Qurʾan with his father and then at schools in the Wolof kingdoms of Kajoor and Jolof He later in turn taught the Qurʾan in Jolof where his mother had been born While there he married Maty Ndiaye the niece of the Burba Jolof the head of the Jolof kingdom and probably forged ties that proved useful in later conflicts When his father died sometime in the ...

Article

Charles C. Stewart

Mauritanian religious leader and founder of a school, was the grandson of his namesake known as “Sidiyya the Elder” (Sidiyya al-Kabir) and was raised by his uncles in the scholarly setting of his father and grandfather’s camps in southwestern Mauritania. His father, Sidi Muhammad, died in 1869 during a cholera outbreak when Baba was seven years old only one year after the death of Sidiyya al Kabir This was a moment when his lineage the Ntisha it was one of the dominant ones within the larger Awlad Abyiri a clerical lineage group that during his grandfather s time had risen to be among the most influential political forces in the region of Trarza southwestern Mauritania Sidiyya the Elder had spent a dozen years in the Kunta campus of the Azaouad adjacent to Timbuktu in the early nineteenth century and he brought back to the village that he founded at ...

Article

Bridget Brereton

was also known as Leonas Bath, Jonas Barth, and Muhammed Bath. It is not known when he was born, though it must have been in the last third of the eighteenth century, nor is his birthplace known. He claimed to have been the “Sultan of Yullyallhad” (or Fullyallhad), but this place name has not been identified. Most likely he was born in the region known to Europeans as Senegambia, the area between the Senegal and Gambia rivers, where the people known in the Caribbean as Mandingoes originated. He was probably a Mande speaker and may have belonged to the Susu ethnic group. He was certainly a Muslim and from an elite family, since he received an Islamic education as a boy and arrived in the Caribbean literate in Arabic.

Bath was captured either in 1804 or 1805 by non Muslim slave traders and brought to Trinidad as an enslaved ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Sarduana of the Sokoto caliphate and prime minister of northern Nigeria, was born on 12 June 1909 in the city of Rabbah in northern Nigeria. Bello’s father Ibrahim was the grandson of Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817), the religious leader who founded the Sokoto caliphate in the early nineteenth century. Ibrahim was also the chief of Rabbah.

Like many northern Nigerian Muslim leaders Ibrahim sought to build close ties with the British colonial administration and sent his children to Western schools Bello first attended to a Western primary school in the provincial capital of Sokoto He learned to speak English fluently at Sokoto Middle School but he also continued to develop his Muslim faith Bello then graduated from Sokoto and decided to become a teacher With his father s blessing Bello enrolled at Katsina Teachers College where he spent five years Once Bello successfully finished his studies at Katsina ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Ahmadu Bello was a descendant of royal blood: his grandfather, Atiku na Rabah, was the seventh sultan of Sokoto in the years 1873–1877; his great-great-grandfather, Usuman dan Fodio (1754–1817), founded and ruled the Sokoto Caliphate. Throughout his life, Bello relied on his illustrious ancestry as a source of political power.

Bello studied at the Sokoto provincial school and then trained as a teacher at Katsina College. He received less Western education than did other prominent Nigerian politicians. Nevertheless, his status and family connections smoothed his ascent to power. Although his cousin Abubakar beat him out for the highest traditional position, the sultanate of Sokoto, Abubakar granted Bello the high position of sardauna, or military commander of the caliphate.

As regional administrator and sardauna, Bello achieved considerable power during the 1940s. His most significant advance, however, came with his membership in the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in 1951 Shortly ...

Article

Bilali  

Allan D. Austin

Muslim leader and plantation manager, was born in Africa, sold into slavery, and transported to the Bahamas and then to Sapelo Island, Georgia. His name is also given as Bilali Mahomet and Bul‐Ali. Almost nothing is known about Bilali's life in Africa, but his fellow Fula or Peul (originally Malian) friend, Salih Bilali, who was enslaved on the neighboring island of Saint Simons, said that Bilali came from the village of Timbo, in Futa Jallon (later Guinea). This was an important Muslim educational and political community and the homeland of another Fula, Ibrahima abd al‐Rahman, who was enslaved in Mississippi. Bilali's strict adherence to Muslim ways and the book he wrote in Arabic show that he paid attention to his teachers in Africa. In the Bahamas Bilali married at least one of his four known wives before being brought to Georgia around 1802 He had a ...

Article

W. S. Tkweme

militant political activist and religious leader, was born Hubert Geroid Brown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the youngest child and second son of Eddie C. Brown, a laborer for Esso Standard Oil, and Thelma Warren, a teacher. According to his own account, Brown was a rebel from the earliest days against the color biases of his community as well as the authoritarianism and Eurocentric curricula of the schools in Baton Rouge. He identified with youth street culture and its heroes, whose verbal and physical jousting he extolled in his 1970 memoir Die Nigger Die! His facility at signifying or “playing the dozens” earned Brown the “Rap” sobriquet that he was to carry throughout the first phase of his public career.Brown attended Southern University in Baton Rouge from 1961 to 1963 but dropped out to pursue his growing interest in the civil rights movement Following his brother Ed whose ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and religious leader. Hubert Gerold “H. Rap” Brown was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1943. He attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, studying sociology from 1960 to 1964. He then relocated to Washington, D.C., where he became chairman of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), a civil rights organization. During his brief tenure with the NAG, Brown attended a high-profile meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Much to the chagrin of more moderate black leaders, Brown refused to show deference to the president, instead rebuking him for the state of American race relations.

In 1966 Brown joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), becoming director of the Alabama Project. In 1967 at the age of twenty three he was elected chairman of the organization Brown led SNCC in a transition away from the nonviolent philosophy of the early days of the civil ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Hubert Brown was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1962 he dropped out of Southern University to join the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG) at Howard University. In 1965 he became chairman of NAG. Labeled an extremist by the media for his nationalist views, Brown was an outspoken advocate of Black Power in the United States. In May 1967, when Stokely Carmichael stepped down, Brown was elected national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

That same year, Brown was charged by the states of Maryland and Ohio with inciting violence. He was harassed by the police and targeted by the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). While under indictment, Brown was arrested for transporting weapons across state lines. He resigned as SNCC chairman in 1968 Later that year he was sentenced to five years in prison on federal weapons charges ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Wallace D. Fard, also known as Fard Mohammed, entered public life in Detroit, Michigan, in the summer of 1930. Coming from obscure origins, perhaps Egyptian or Hawaiian, he peddled “notions”—trinkets, silks, and raincoats—to residents of Paradise Valley, a predominantly African American neighborhood of Detroit. Fard claimed to have come from Arabia, identified his goods as the wares of African peoples, and satisfied his customers—many of whom were uprooted Southerners—by providing them with a sense of cultural identity and stories of a common heritage. At first he moved from house to house, talking of his travels, but soon popular interest in his anecdotes encouraged him to move his storytelling to a hall.

Although Fard initially prescribed foods and moral codes, he began to address deeper theological concerns as his popularity grew. He cited the Bible, not to teach Christianity but to debunk it espousing instead the Islamic ...

Article

Zachery R. Williams

controversial Nation of Islam leader. Louis Eugene Walcott was born in the Bronx, New York. His mother, Sarah Mae Channing Clarke, of West Indian heritage, raised him and his brother Alvin in a deeply religious household. As a youth, Louis attended the local Episcopal church and served as an altar boy.

The discipline he received early in his life contributed to his academic success at high school in Boston. There, he graduated with honors and began his love affair with the violin. At the age of thirteen, he acquired experience playing with the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony. He attended Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina for two years before leaving in order to pursue his musical interests. Subsequently he performed in Boston as a calypso singer.

In 1955, at the age of twenty-two, Louis was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation ...

Article

Louis Farrakhan is the head of the Nation of Islam, a black religious organization in the United States that combines some of the practices and beliefs of Islam with a philosophy of black separatism. He preaches the virtues of personal responsibility, especially for black men, and advocates black self-sufficiency. Farrakhan's message, which has appealed mainly to urban blacks, draws on the tradition of black nationalists who have called for black self-reliance in the face of economic injustice and white racism. His more inflammatory remarks have caused critics to claim that he has appealed to black racism and anti-Semitism to promote his views.

Born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York, New York, Farrakhan grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Winston-Salem Teacher's College in North Carolina and worked as a nightclub singer in the early 1950s. In 1955Malcolm X a minister for the Nation of Islam ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

leader of the Nation of Islam, was born Louis Eugene Walcott in the Bronx, New York City, to Sarah Mae Manning, a native of St. Kitts, who worked as a domestic. Farrakhan's biological father was Manning's husband, Percival Clarke, a light-skinned Jamaican cab driver. By the time young Louis was born, however, Manning had left Clarke and was living with Louis Walcott. Manning hoped her baby would be a girl and have a dark complexion like herself and Walcott. Nevertheless, when the child was born male and with a light complexion, she named him Louis and listed Walcott as the father (Magida, 10). Walcott stayed with the family during their move to the Roxbury section of Boston in 1937, but departed shortly thereafter.Raising two young children alone during the Depression was difficult, but Sarah Mae kept her boys from harm and attended to their ...

Article

Kurt J. Werthmuller

controversial caliph and imam of the Isma’ili Shi’i Fatimid dynasty of Egypt (so named for its claims of lineage from the Prophet’s daughter Fatima), was born to the caliph al-ʿAziz bi-Llah and a wife or concubine whose identity remains unconfirmed, in al-Qahira (Cairo), the capital of the Fatimid state in Egypt since its foundation in 973. His full name was Abu ʿAli al-Mansur Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. He fathered a son, his successor ʿAli al-Zahir (1005–1036), by a favorite concubine, Amina Ruqayya, and a daughter Sitt Misr (Lady of Egypt). As al-Hakim was only 11 years old when he succeeded his father al-ʿAziz after the latter’s death in 996, al-Hakim’s guardian-tutor and most trusted adviser, Barjawan, seized the opportunity of a brief political crisis to essentially run the Fatimid state in al-Hakim’s name. This came to an end in 1000 when the teenaged caliph tired of Barjawan s ...

Article

Thaddeus Russell

religious and labor leader, was born, according to his own statement, in Lowell, Massachusetts. According to the Harlem historian Roi Ottley, however, Hamid was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At various times he also claimed to have been born in different places in the South. Little is known about his early life, including his parents' identities. According to Ottley, his original name was Eugene Brown. In an interview with writers from the Works Progress Administration, Hamid claimed to have been taken to Egypt at the age of nine, then to Athens, Greece, where he received his schooling through the university level. According to the interview, he returned to the United States in 1923 and began to work for the William J Burns Detective Agency in St Louis Missouri and Memphis Tennessee Hamid soon left that job and moved to Chicago where he joined the Ahmedabad movement an ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

was born in Valencia, Spain in Rabi II 595 (according to the Islamic calendar), or January/February 1199, and is considered one of the greatest writers of the twelfth century. His full name, Abu ʿAbd Allah Ibn al-Abbar al QudaʿI, means “Son of the Seller of Sewing Needles,” indicating that his family was probably part of the small-scale merchant class in Muslim Spain.

As a young man Ibn al-Abbar witnessed the devastating battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 which turned the tide against the Almohads in Muslim Spain Divided and defeated the Muslim west began to fracture His early master Ibn Mardanish ruler in Murcia converted to Christianity possibly as a means of forming an alliance with other Christian rulers and averting the capture of his city Although Ibn al Abbar did not follow his master in converting he had no scruples about working for an ...