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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

Alan K. Lamm

Civil War army chaplain and Baptist minister, was born in North Branford, near New Haven, Connecticut, to Ruel and Jereusha Asher. His paternal grandfather had been captured in the Guinea region of Africa at the age of four and was brought to America as a slave. Young Jeremiah grew up hearing fascinating tales of his grandfather's life, which included military service during the American Revolutionary War. Those stories would later inspire Asher in his own life.

Asher's father was a shoemaker who married a Native American woman from Hartford, Connecticut. Jeremiah grew up as a member of the only African American family in North Branford and was permitted to attend school along with white children. At the age of twelve he left school to help out his family financially, and over the next several years he worked as a farmhand, servant, and coachman. In 1833 he married Abigail Stewart ...

Article

Christine D. Baker

fifth Fatimid caliph of Egypt, was the first of the Fatimid caliphs to begin his rule in the newly founded Fatimid capital in Cairo. Born in Mahdiyya in North Africa, he traveled to Cairo in 974 with the Fatimid court when his father, the fourth Fatimid Caliph al-Muʿizz, moved the Fatimid capital from the Maghrib to Egypt. His full name was Al-ʿAziz billah, Nizar Abu Mansur.

Al-ʿAziz became the Fatimid caliph in 975 but, as the third son of al-Muʿizz, his succession was far from assumed. Al-Muʿizz’s oldest son, Tamim, had been passed over for the succession because he was suspected of intriguing against his father with dissident members of the Fatimid court. Al-Muʿizz’s second son, ʿAbdullah, was the favored heir. But ʿAbdullah died unexpectedly in 975 and al-Muʿizz formally recognized al-ʿAziz as his successor. Al-ʿAziz came to power in December 975 when he gave the khutba Friday sermon ...

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

Tyler Cloud

clergyman and civil rights activist, was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was the fifth child of an uneducated railroad employee and a schoolteacher, according to the Hartford Courant. Battles attended Philander Smith College and majored in law at Arkansas Baptist College. After college he studied for the ministry and graduated from the Union Theological Seminary with a bachelor of divinity degree. He was ordained in 1957. His studies were interrupted by World War II, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After the war he returned to his ministry and began serving as pastor in Beacon, New York, and Jamaica, Queens (New York).

In 1961 Battles moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and became pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church, succeeding the late Reverend Goode S. Clark. In January 1960 the church had just eight hundred members He preached there ...

Article

Floyd Jr. Ogburn

soldier and evangelist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was an African servant and his mother was the daughter of Colonel Morgan, an officer in the rifle corps during the American Revolutionary War. As an infant Bowles remained with his father but dwelled with a foster parent in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, until age twelve. After the death of his foster parent, he lived with a Tory family until fourteen, when he joined the Colonial artillery as a waiter to an officer. Two years later he enlisted in the American army and served until the war concluded.

The war over, Bowles traveled to New Hampshire and married Mary Corliss his cousin and the granddaughter of Colonel Morgan Soon after marriage he was baptized and joined the Calvinist Baptist Church in Wentworth New Hampshire Finding the Calvinist denomination too inflexible he later converted to the Free Will Baptist embracing ...

Article

Boyd Childress

white soldier, minister, educator, and administrator. Horace Bumstead was a pivotal figure in the education of African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Born in Boston to well-to-do parents, Bumstead was educated at Boston Latin School and Yale, from which he graduated in 1863. He was commissioned as a major during the Civil War and commanded black troops serving in the Richmond and Petersburg campaigns in 1864 and 1865. After the war Bumstead graduated from Andover (Massachusetts) Theological Seminary in 1870, studied in Europe, married in 1872, and served a Congregationalist church in Minneapolis. In 1875 he joined his Yale classmate Edmond Asa Ware at Atlanta University to teach natural science and Latin; he was named interim president in 1886 and president in 1888.

Bumstead an advocate of industrial instruction as well as of traditional higher education for blacks ...

Article

Genevieve Skinner

Civil War veteran, preacher, and teacher, was born free to an English sea captain and an African American mother on a ship sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. When Angus was two years old, his father died, and Angus and his mother were sold into slavery in Virginia, and later taken to Kentucky. He spent a majority of his early years in Virginia and learned how to read prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, an illegal pursuit for slaves. In 1864, now enslaved in Kentucky, at the age of sixteen Burleigh ran away from his master and enlisted in the Union Army at Frankfort, Kentucky. Upon enlisting Burleigh was trained at Camp Nelson in Kentucky, which was one of the largest areas for gathering African American soldiers during the Civil War. Burleigh became a sergeant with Company G 12th United States Colored Troops U ...

Article

Douglas Morgan

founder of the Church of God and Saints of Christ (CGSC), was born on a slave plantation in Maryland. Crowdy escaped in 1863 and joined the Union army, in which he was assigned to the Quartermaster Corps as a cook for the officers. After the war he purchased a small farm in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Crowdy put his skills as a cook to use with the Santa Fe railroad, which frequently took him to Kansas City, Missouri. There he met a young widow, Lovey Yates Higgins, at a church fair and married her around 1880. At some point in the mid-to-late 1880s, the couple moved to a farm in Oklahoma with their three children, Mattie Leah (who died soon afterwards), Isaac, and August. Crowdy served as a deacon in the Baptist church but does not seem to have been regarded as unusually pious or knowledgeable on religious ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the son of a Revolutionary War veteran of the same name, was born in Wolcott, Connecticut, and served as the first clerk of the African Ecclesiastical Society in New Haven. Although sparse and sometimes conflicting accounts in published literature have confounded records of the father and son, recently genealogical research in Tompkins County, New York, has clearly identified and distinguished the two from original records.

On 18 July 1756 “Prince, the negro servant child of Samuel Riggs & Abigail his wife” was baptized, according to church records in Derby, Connecticut. Although the word “slave” was not routinely used during that period, he was a servant “for life,” valued at £50, and was inherited at Rigg's death by his daughter Abigail, married to a Reverend Mr. Chapman. Duplex enlisted 18 May 1777 in one of the Connecticut regiments commanded by Colonel Sherman and Colonel Giles Russell formed to fight ...

Article

Laura Murphy

writer, sailor, soldier, teacher, and minister, was one of ten children born in North Carolina to Abel Ferebee, a slave and minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and Chloe (maiden name unknown), a slave. When London was young his mother was sold, apparently because of her unwillingness to submit to her master and her ability to beat him in a fight. She was sold to a speculator, who offered to sell her to her husband or his master, who had allowed Ferebee to hire himself out to a local farmer so that they both profited from his labor. When she was subsequently bought by one of the two men—it is unclear which—London and two of his siblings were allowed to move with her, though they all remained enslaved.

Once he was old enough to begin laboring London was immediately set to ...

Article

John G. Turner

was born in Vanceboro, North Carolina to Joseph Freeman, Sr., who built the family’s farmhouse, and Rosa Lee Smith Freeman. He was raised in a Holiness Church, but as a teenager began investigating other religions. At the age of nineteen he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Hawaii, a state with a large Mormon population.

At that time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints banned men of African descent from holding its otherwise broadly held priesthood, thus excluding them from positions of leadership and excluding all individuals of African descent from its most sacred temple ordinances. Despite such open discrimination, Freeman found himself drawn to the religion because of what he described as a deeply personal conversion. With full knowledge of the discriminatory policies, Freeman was baptized into the church in September 1973.

In 1974 Freeman married a Samoan convert to Mormonism Toe ...

Article

Scott A. Miltenberger

Scholars have written more about the religious teachings and writings of Lemuel Haynes than about his life, yet his beliefs were born of his life experiences; each shaped the other, with profound consequences. Haynes was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to an African father and a white mother. His parents deserted him before he was six months old, and Haynes was indentured to David Rose a deacon at the Middle Granville Congregational Church Raised as their son Haynes worked the Roses farm and attended the district school While he was still quite young he experienced an intense religious conversion at the sight of the aurora borealis For the remainder of his life Haynes devoted himself to theology and the Bible endeavors that the Roses happily encouraged With their help and support he immersed himself in religious studies reading not only the Bible but also the sermons of noted ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to free but poor black parents, Hodges received no education in his early years and at the age of ten shipped out as a “waiting boy” on a schooner bound from Philadelphia to the West Indies. Over the next few years he visited many European ports. During the American Revolution a British warship forced his vessel into New York harbor; destitute, friendless, and illiterate, he wandered throughout the region before settling in Warwick, in Orange County, New York. His employer, a man named Jennings, had acquired much property through litigation, actions that prompted his legal victims to plot to kill him. The conspirators brought Hodges into the plot and took advantage of his intemperance, developed during his years as a seaman, to persuade him to perform the killing. On 21 December 1819 Hodges shot his master in the woods The bullet severely wounded Jennings ...

Article

A. K. Bennison

was the second and most successful ruler of the Idrisid dynasty, which ruled northern Morocco from 789 to 985. His full name was Idris ibn Idris ibn ʿAbd Allah al-Hasani.

Among his achievements was the construction of the city of Fez, a project initiated, but not fully realized, by his father, and the promotion of Arabo–Islamic culture among local Berber tribes. Today, Moulay Idris II is venerated as the “patron saint” of Fez, and his shrine stands close to the city’s great mosque, the Qarawiyyin. However, his saintly status dates to the fifteenth century, when the cult of holy men and women became common in Morocco, rather than to his own era. Regular use of “Moulay,” a title of respect meaning “my lord,” in reference to Idris II also probably dates to this era.

The sources for the life of Idris II are hagiographic We cannot be certain about the ...

Article

Michael Twaddle

Ugandan military and religious leader claimed to have been born in the small kingdom of Koki in present day Uganda Knowledge of Kakungulu s earliest years is clouded by clan disputes in the great lakes region of East Africa Nowadays there are claims by two men to have been his father and four women to have been his mother Initially these claims arose out of the declaration by Kakungulu himself toward the end of World War I that he was no longer a member of the large and influential lungfish clan of Buganda because he had been born a prince in the neighboring kingdom of Koki Retrospectively it is easy to point to personal disappointment as being a possible explanation for this change of heart following an affair between his wife and a young brother in the lungfish clan as well as genuine uncertainty whether his actual biological father had ...

Article

Clayborne Carson

King gained national prominence as a black civil rights leader and, during his final years, as a critic of American military involvement in Vietnam. In his memoir, Stride Toward Freedom (1958), King recalled that when initially exposed to pacifism, he concluded that war “could serve as a negative good in the sense of preventing the spread and growth of an evil force.” Only after becoming familiar with Gandhian notions of nonviolent resistance was he convinced that “the love ethic of Jesus” could be “a potent instrument for social and collective transformation.” As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King became a nationally known advocate of civil disobedience. He led protest movements in Montgomery (1955–56), Birmingham (1963), and Selma (1965), Alabama, that demonstrated the effectiveness of nonviolent tactics in spurring passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 ...

Article

Heike Behrend

Ugandan spirit medium, prophet, and leader of a military force involved in the Ugandan civil war in the 1980s, later named Alice “Lakwena” after a spirit that took possession of her. She was born Alice Auma in 1956 in Bungatira, a village near Gulu in Acholi, Northern Uganda, as her mother, Iberina Ayaa’s, second child. Her father, Severino Lukoya, worked as a catechist for the Church of Uganda. In 1948, before she was born, he had a vision; in 1958, after he had fallen from the roof of his house and believed that he had “gone straight to heaven,” a voice called out that spirits would come to his children and that one child had already been chosen. It did not become clear to him that Alice was the chosen child until January 1985 when she began preaching the word of God Thus her father had experienced ...

Article

Zambian prophet, was born near Kasomo Village in the Chinsali District of northern Zambia in the early 1920s. She was named Mulenga Lubusha at birth, and was later baptized with the Christian name Alice. Her mother, Musungu Chimba, and father, Lubusha, were members of the royal clan of the Bemba kingdom, the Crocodile Clan. Further details about her mother are unknown; her father was a village policeman who fought for the British during World War I and was a messenger for the colonial administration.

Lenshina married Gipson Nkwale soon after puberty and had a child with him After the death of Gipson she was cleansed and inherited according to Bemba custom by his cousin Petros Chintankwa d 1972 with whom she had five children She relished her position as a mother and is remembered fondly by her children She campaigned for the material and spiritual well being of all but ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese religious leader and Roman Catholic cardinal, was born on 12 December 1917 in Léopoldville (Kinshasa) to Remacle Ngalula and Jeanne Bolumbu. His father was Luba and his mother was Mongo. From 1931 to 1934, he received instruction at Mbata-Kiela, where future president of the Republic of the Congo (today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo [former Zaire]). Joseph Kasa-Vubu was one of his classmates. From 1934 to 1937, he attended seminary at Bolongo, before attending the Kabwe seminary, where he prepared for the priesthood for eight years. On 6 June 1946 he was ordained into the Roman Catholic priesthood. After serving as a teacher at a seminary, he was assigned a series of positions as priest in different neighborhoods in Léopoldville in the 1950s.

Like many other Western educated Congolese Malula was extremely frustrated with the continued paternalist policies of the Belgian colonial government Malula coauthored ...