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Article

Aaron Myers

In the first half of the nineteenth century, thousands of African slaves were involuntarily brought from the Calabar region of southwestern Nigeria to Cuba in order to labor on the sugar plantations. In Cuba, these enslaved people reconstructed aspects of their language (Igbo) and religious rituals in Abakuás, all-male organizations with closely guarded religious, musical, and dance traditions. The prototype for Cuba's Abakuás can be found in Calabar's leopard societies, groups of highly respected, accomplished men who adopted the leopard as a symbol of masculinity. Today as in the past, Abakuás are found predominantly in the city of Havana and the province of Matanzas and are united by a common African mythology and ritual system.

Abakuás preserve African traditions through performative ceremonies a complex system of signs and narratives in the Igbo language Customarily led by four leaders and eight subordinate officers members of the Abakuás seek to protect ...

Article

Sierra Leonean public intellectual, was born in the southwest Nigerian city of Abeokuta in 1848. His father was from the Krio community in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Many people from Freetown were former slaves originally of Yoruba descent, and still others traded in southern Nigeria by the 1840s. His father may have been a Muslim notable in Freetown, but his Christian missionary uncle took him under his wing. His parents agreed to send him to the Church Missionary Society (Anglican) mission school in Freetown. Though he did not stay long in school, Abayomi-Cole proved to be a formidable intellect. He mastered Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. In the 1870s and early 1880s, Abayomi-Cole made a living as a teacher. His lively intelligence attracted the interest of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which appointed him a catechist in the Sierra Leonean town of Shenge in the Shebro district in 1885 ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

Oromo king of the Gibe region, in southwestern Ethiopia, was crowned in 1878. A year after his accession to power, Abba Jifar invaded the neighboring Oromo state of Gera with around twenty thousand men. This attack on a flimsy pretext was a show of force for the neighboring Oromo leaders, demonstrating his determination to dominate the political landscape of the Gibe region through threat or use of military power, diplomacy, and marriage alliances. He was not destined to dominate the Gibe region as the king of Shewa soon occupied it. Though Abba Jifar could mobilize tens of thousands of men for war, his army suffered from major weaknesses and lack of modern firearms and training.

In fact Abba Jifar came to power at a time of dramatic change in modern Ethiopian history when the clouds of conquest and destruction were hanging thick and low over the future of all ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

last king of the kingdom of Jimma in Ethiopia, scholar, was born in Jiren, the political capital and commercial center of southwestern Ethiopia. As a young man Abba Jobir received the best Muslim education under several prominent Muslim scholars who settled in Jimma during the reign of his famous grandfather Abba Jifar II (r. 1878–1932).

His grandfather was the most famous, wealthiest, and most popular Oromo king throughout Ethiopia during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was a very foresighted politician who had an excellent grasp of the importance of firearms in warfare. He sent agents to the expanding kingdom of Shewa and realized that King Menilek had superiority in weapons; therefore, he peacefully submitted to Menilek. Although four other Oromo kings who resisted Menilek were destroyed, Abba Jifar II signed a peace treaty with the Christian king of Shewa in 1882 In exchange for local ...

Article

Israel Gershoni

the third and last khedive of Egypt, ruled the country from 1892 to 1914. ʿAbbas was the seventh ruler in Mehmet ʿAli’s dynasty, which was established in the early nineteenth century. ʿAbbas came to the throne at the very young age of eighteen in January 1892 after his father, Khedive Tawfiq (r. 1879–1892), died unexpectedly. Born in Cairo ʿAbbas was educated by tutors at the Thudicum in Geneva and later in the Theresianum Military Academy in Vienna.

Unlike his father, a weak ruler who was considered a puppet of the British colonial rule, the young ʿAbbas strove to restore the original khedival status as sovereign ruler, patterned after the model established by his grandfather Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 and to assert Egypt s unique status as a semiautonomous province within the Ottoman Empire ʿAbbas s aspirations clashed with British rule particularly with the authority of the powerful agent ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Algerian politician and public intellectual, was born on 24 October 1899 in the village of Chahna, located six miles south of the Algerian town of Taher. His parents belonged to a peasant family, and his father, Said Ahmed ben Abbas, was a local chief and cattle trader. Abbas had eleven siblings. His father was the state-appointed leader of Chahna from 1889 to 1928.

As a boy Abbas attended primary schools at Jijel and then entered secondary school at the lycée at Skikda in 1909. After Abbas passed his baccalaureate examinations, he entered the French army medical service for three years. Afterward, Abbas enrolled in the pharmacy school of the University of Algiers. In 1931 he set up his own pharmacy in Sétif after having graduated from university Abbas strongly supported the ideal of equal rights for Arab and Berber Muslims and European Christians in Algeria under French ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Considered a hero of anticolonial resistance by many contemporary Algerians, Abd al-Qadir created an Arab-Berber alliance to oppose French expansion in North Africa in the 1830s and 1840s. He also organized an Islamic state that, at one point, controlled the western two-thirds of the inhabited land in Algeria. Abd al-Qadir owed his ability to unite Arabs and Berbers, who had been enemies for centuries, in part to the legacy of his father, head of the Hashim tribe in Mousakar (Mascara) and leader of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood. In 1826Abd al-Qadir and his father made a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. When he returned in 1828, Abd al-Qadir s own reputation as an Islamic religious and cultural leader grew and both Arabs and Berbers looked to him to lead the resistance against the French who ...

Article

Cathlyn Mariscotti

Egyptian Islamic scholar and prominent writer of Arabic literature, was born on 18 November 1913 into a conservative religious household in Dumyat (Damietta) in the Egyptian Delta. She was a descendent, on her mother’s side, of a shaykh of the Al-Azhar, the prestigious mosque and university in Cairo, and her father taught at Dumyat Religious Institute. Well acquainted with her family history, ʿAbd al- Rahman sought to continue this proud tradition. She began learning basic reading and writing skills before the age of five in a kuttab in her father s village This early instruction prepared her to read the Qurʾan ʿAbd al Rahman s later education became more difficult however as her father did not believe that girls should be educated outside the home because secular education did not provide proper instruction for them As a result ʿAbd al Rahman s mother would continually intervene to help her ...

Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian jurist, government official, and author of one of the most important and controversial books of the twentieth century on Islam and politics, Islam and the Foundations of Governance. This short book, published in 1925, caused a storm of protest, and ʿAbd al-Raziq was arraigned before a jury of Egyptian religious leaders (including the grandfather of the late-twentieth-century al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri) and officially stripped of his status as a religious scholar (ʿalim).

Abd al-Raziq was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to a well-known and relatively well-off family. He studied at Al-Azhar University. Although he was too young to have known the prominent Egyptian ʿalim Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), his work appears to have been influenced by Abduh’s break with prevailing orthodoxy. Abduh was the highest jurisconsult (mufti) in Egypt at the time of his death. In 1915 ʿAbd al Raziq became a ...

Article

Anne Elise Thomas

Egyptian composer, musician, and film star, was born in the early 1900s, either in Cairo or in the village of Abu Kibir, Sharqiya Province. There is confusion regarding both the date and the place of his birth. Two official identification cards in his possession listed his birth in 1910 but in the two different locations named above. ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s contemporaries have suggested that he was born sometime between 1896 and 1907 their suggestions are supported by reported incidents of his early musical life and encounters with important historical figures of the 1910s His early years were spent in the Bab al Shaʿrani quarter of Cairo where his father Muhammad Abu ʿIsa ʿAbd al Wahhab was shaykh religious scholar and caretaker of the neighborhood mosque ʿAbd al Wahhab was one of five children born to his father and Fatima Higazi his mother Early on ʿAbd al Wahhab was enrolled by ...

Article

Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian nationalist, was born in Constantine in East Algeria on 5 December 1889 to a scholarly and religious household. His family claimed to have descended from the founder of Algiers, Bologhine Ben Ziri, and held the position of notables who valued learning both Eastern and Western.

Ben Badis’s brother studied law in French establishments, while he pursued a career in religious studies at the Mosque-University of Zeituna in Tunisia. Prior to that, he studied in Constantine under the patronage of his tutor Hamdane Lounissi, a follower of the Zawiya al-Tijania religious order.

While in Tunisia he came under the influence of the Islamic Salafi movement, which called for the purification of Islam from the effects of charlatanism and obscurantist practices through teaching Muslim communities about the salaf early Muslim leaders and their pure Islamic ways This often involved attacks on the shaykhs of religious orders as well as official imams ...

Article

leader of the Mahdist movement in Sudan, was the posthumous son of Muhammad Ahmad ibn ʿAbdallah, the Mahdi, and of Maqbula bint Nurayn Muhammad al-Fadl, a princess of the Fur royal house. He spent much of his childhood at Omdurman, where he and his relatives were subordinated to the Khalifa Abdallahi. During the Anglo-Egyptian pacification of the country after the battle of Omdurman (1898), he was wounded in an affray that left two of his brothers dead.

Until World War I the family of the Mahdi suffered from the colonial regime’s policy of suppressing the Mahdist cult and guarding against religious heterodoxy in general. Alarmed, however, at the possible effects in Sudan of the Ottoman sultan’s alliance with the Central Powers in 1914 the Anglo Egyptian regime conciliated the major Sufi leaders and ʿAbd al Rahman the generally accepted successor to leadership of the Mahdist movement Proving ...

Article

the Khalifa Abdallahi of the Sudan, was born at Turda in Darfur, the son of Muhammad Adam, a holy man of the Taʾaisha Baqqara whose grandfather had migrated from farther west. Living among the Rizayqat as a soothsayer, Abdallahi was taken prisoner in 1873 by the forces of al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur, the Jaʾali Arab merchant prince, who was on the verge of conquering Darfur. Later, in a famous episode, Abdallahi professed belief that al-Zubayr might be the Mahdi, the deliverer prophesied in certain Islamic traditions. At some point after his release Abdallahi, with his father and brothers, set out on the pilgrimage to Mecca, but he settled in southern Kordofan.

From the time of their earliest acquaintance, at al-Masallamiyya, Abdallahi appears to have been convinced that Muhammad Ahmad ibn ʿAbdallah was the Mahdi. What role he played in the Mahdi’s manifestation in 1881 and in some critical events immediately ...

Article

Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian emir and anticolonialist leader, was born on 6 September 1808 near Mascara in the west of Algeria. His full name was ʿAbd al-Qadir bin Muhieddine; he is known in the Arab east as ʿAbdel-Kader al-Jazaʾiri and in Algeria as al-Amir ʿAbd El-Kader.

His father, Muhieddine al-Hassani, was a Sufi shaykh who followed the Qadiriyya religious order and claimed to be a Hasani (sharif ) descendent of the Prophet with family ties with the Idrisi dynasty of Morocco. As a young boy, ʿAbdel-Kader trained in horsemanship, and from this he developed his love for horses, about which he wrote some beautiful poetry. He was also trained in religious sciences; he memorized the Qurʾan and read in theology and philology. He was also known as a poet who recited classical poetry and wrote his own poetry, mostly centering on war and chivalry.

In 1825 ʿAbdel Kader set out with ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian Muslim theologian, modernist, and reformer, was born in the Gharbiya Province of Lower Egypt, the son of ʿAbduh ibn Hasan Khayr Allah, a peasant farmer, and his wife, who was descended from the Bani ʿAdl clan. He grew up in the village of Mahallat Nasr and received a traditional education, learning the Qurʾan by heart. In 1862 he was sent to the madrasa (Islamic college) in Tanta. There, he perfected his Qurʾan recitation and started to learn Arabic grammar, by the then normal method of memorizing texts and commentaries without explanation from his teachers.

Reacting against this, according to his own account, he ran away from the college and returned to his village, intending to become a peasant rather than a scholar. In this condition he married in 1865 at the age of sixteen But after various vicissitudes he resorted to his great uncle Shaykh Darwish Khadr who ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

university professor and Imam, was born in 1885 in Abu Gerg village in Minya, Upper Egypt, to a wealthy and prestigious family. His father, Hassan Abdul Razik Pasha, was a prominent politician, and his mother, Khadooja Abdul Salam Al Shureiy, descended from a famous family in Upper Egypt. He studied at Al-Azhar under Sheikh Muhammad Abdou, who deeply influenced his ideologies. After obtaining his Alamyya certificate in 1908, he traveled to France to complete his studies at the Sorbonne University and then the University of Lyon. Upon receiving his doctorate, he settled in Lyon to teach the Arabic language and Islamic Law. World War I put an end to his stay in France. By the end of 1914 he returned to Egypt, where he worked as an employee at Al-Azhar and then a judge in the Islamic courts. Upon his appointment in 1927 as an associate professor at ...

Article

Erica Campbell

was born the son of Mildred Abdulah (née Hughes), a housewife, and Walter Abdulah, a civil servant, in Woodbrook, Trinidad. He attended Queen’s Royal College, a secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, Port of Spain, from 1937 to 1944. From there, he moved on to earn a bachelor of arts degree, with a major in zoology, at the University of Pennsylvania (1946–1950); a bachelor’s in theology at Trinity College in Canada (1951–1954); a master’s of theology at Union Theological Seminary (1962–1965); and a doctor of ministry degree at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (completed in 1993).

It is clear that education played an important role in Abdulah s life as revealed not only by what he achieved academically but also by what he did when he attained those academic credentials His has been a lifelong journey of learning which has been the foundation ...

Article

Elena Bertoncini Zúbková

Swahili novelist, was born in Makunduchi village in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) in 1918. Even though he was a Muslim, he was educated in a missionary school. After completing his secondary education in 1938, he worked for the Civil Health Department and edited the Swahili Bulletin in the Department of Agriculture on his island. His complete biography remains obscure. He lost all his family in January 1964 during the bloody revolution that overthrew the sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government but took a heavy toll of victims among the population as well.

Abdulla’s first novelette, Mzimu wa watu wa kale (Graveyard of the Ancestors, 1960), aroused lively interest among the critics for its innovations: the abandonment of the folktale tradition, omnipresent in Swahili fiction of those days, and the concern for literary style. It won first prize in the East African Literary Competition of 1957 ...

Article

Mohamed Adhikari

South African medical doctor and politician, the most significant political leader of the South African Coloured community during the first half of the twentieth century, was born in Wellington near Cape Town on 12 December 1872. He was the eldest son of nine children born to Abdul Rachman, a greengrocer, and his wife Kadija Dollie. Descended from grandparents who were manumitted slaves, his graduation as a medical doctor from the University of Glasgow in 1893 was a signal achievement. After two years of postgraduate study in London, he returned to Cape Town in 1895.

Abdurahman entered public life in 1904 when he became the first black person to be elected to the Cape Town City Council. Except for 1913–1915 he represented Wards 6 and 7 District 6 for the rest of his life Abdurahman exerted substantial influence on local government because of the exceptional support he enjoyed ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

The cultural and economic center of the Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan surrounds the Ébrié Lagoon on the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf of Guinea. Historians are not sure when people first inhabited the area, but modern settlement dates from the early sixteenth century. Later in the century the Ébrié people selected the area as the site for three fishing villages—Locodjo, Anoumabo, and Cocody. Portuguese traders explored the area for a brief period in the seventeenth century, but Europeans largely ignored it until French Colonial rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1903 the French chose the settlement as the endpoint for a railway connecting Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) to the coast, and a small town soon developed around the train station. The lack of a viable port, however, initially stifled the town's growth.

In 1934 shortly after the completion of the rail link to the Upper ...