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Kurt J. Werthmuller

Egyptian Christian author, was a patron of Copto-Arabic historical literature, long presumed to be the author of Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighboring Countries, a twelfth-century topographical survey of Christian sites and traditions in and around Egypt. The original author of the majority of that work was, in fact, Abu al-Makarim Saʿdallah Ibn Jirjis Ibn Masʿud, an elder of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Despite confusion regarding its authorship, Churches and Monasteries has proven to be a crucial text for the study of Coptic tradition, Christian-Muslim relations, and the twelfth-century Egyptian state and society in general and was in turn an important source to later medieval chroniclers and topographers.

Although little is actually known about the specifics of the life of Abu Salih his patronage of this important piece of medieval Egyptian historical literature suggests that he was of a well to do socioeconomic class and ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Ahmad Baba was one of the best-known Islamic scholars and writers of his time. Born into the prestigious Aqit family near Tombouctou (Timbuktu) in 1556, he was educated in Islamic theology and law. After completing his studies, he began writing books and treatises on theology, Islamic jurisprudence, history, and Arabic grammar. Over the course of his life he wrote more than fifty-six works. More than half of these are still in existence, and several are still used by West African ulama (scholars). Ahmad Baba also was a great collector of books; he amassed a library containing thousands of volumes. At this time, Tombouctou, ruled by the Songhai empire, was renowned throughout the Islamic world as a center of learning.

In 1591 the sultan of Morocco invaded Tombouctou. Ahmad Baba and other scholars refused to serve the Moroccan rulers and, by some accounts, instigated a 1593 rebellion against ...

Article

Islamic scholar and historian from present-day Mauritania. His name is also spelled Sidi Ahmed ould al-Amin al-Shinqiti. The nisba (name extension indicating place of origin) al-Shinqiti does not refer to the town Chinguetti (Shinqit), but was given to him during his stay in the Arab world. All bidan (Moors) going abroad to the Arab world have the nisba al-Shiniqiti added to their names, no matter from which region or town of the so-called Bilad Shinqit (“The lands of Chinguetti”; present-day Mauritania, Western Sahara, and the Azawad region in northern Mali) they come from. In the Arab world they are generally called shanaqita and their country is known as Bilad Shinqit, even if locally different names were circulating in precolonial times.

Ahmad was born around 1863 64 in the Gibla region of what is today southwestern Mauritania Trarza and belonged to a scholarly family He was from one of the Idaw ...

Article

Curtis Jacobs

was born Geraldine Molly Leotaud on 29 May 1933, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, into a mixed-race, middle-class, single-parent, devoutly Roman Catholic family. Her mother, however, was also a keeper of Shango religion, a legacy of the Yoruba peoples brought to Trinidad during the African slave trade.

She grew up in a hybrid cultural milieu of Christianity and Yoruba religious tradition (called “Ifa” today). She later recalled her early life as a Roman Catholic, with its elaborate ceremonies, and her love of participation in them, when she was allowed to carry the censer. Beginning in her teens, she was an avid student of dance, and met Beryl McBurnie, founder of the Little Carib Theatre, which first opened at Port-of-Spain in 1947. McBurnie, herself a dancer of some repute, was very interested in the traditional dances of the descendants of the formerly enslaved Africans. From 1952 to 1965 Molly ...

Article

Mersha Alehegne

Ethiopian traditional scholar, was born to Memher Sertse Weld and Wolete Kiros in Wabet, a rural village in north Shewa. He began his schooling at his home under his father. He left Wabet for Wadla and later Lasta, where he studied chant (zema) and Geez poetry (qene). His most significant ecclesiastical scholarship studies took place in Gonder, where he was certified in the four departments of the traditional Amharic commentary of scripture and church literature, namely, Old Testament (at Beata Mariam Church), New Testament (at Atatami Mikael Church), the Books of Scholars (at Elfign Giorgis Church), and the Books of Monks (at Hamere Noah Selestu Me’et Church). Throughout his study period, he taught qene at Yohannes Welde Negodgwad Church in Gonder.

When Emperor Tewodros II held court in Debre Tabor it was customary that priests teachers and other higher dignitaries of the church in Gonder travel ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese evangelist and translator was born in Gombe a village inhabited by Kakwa speaking clans in the northeastern corner of the modern day Democratic Republic of Congo This community suffered greatly from slave raids launched by Zande chieftains like Zémio and Mopoï living to their north in the late nineteenth century However the threat of northern raiders was hardly the only challenge for the young boy His name Akudri signified one who waited since he was born after his mother was pregnant for more than nine months He also bore his father s name Dada which means one who has no family This would indeed be Akudri s own fate since an epidemic of meningitis killed his parents and all his siblings when he was very young The boy barely survived himself A grave was dug to prepare for his funeral by other people in the village but he managed ...

Article

Richard Watts

Amadou Hampaté Bâ was born in the town of Bandiagara, approximately 500 km (300 mi) northeast of Bamako, Mali, and belonged to an important family of Marabouts (Muslim religious leaders). Bâ’s father died when he was two years old, and he was adopted and raised by a chief in the region. Educated at French schools in Bandiagara and Djenné, about 200 km (124 mi) from Bandiagara, Bâ nonetheless managed to continue his traditional Islamic education with famed Islamic teacher Tierno Bokar, a man whose wisdom Bâ later immortalized in Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar (The Life and Teachings of Tierno Bokar, 1980 It was also at this time that Bâ encountered Kullel a storyteller and traditional educator who gave Bâ his first lessons in the African oral tradition Bâ later earned the nickname Amkullel Little Kullel and he honored his teacher by titling the first volume ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Bairu Tafla

prominent Ethiopian church scholar, monastic head, and first Ethiopian archbishop and patriarch, was renowned for his chastity, his religious devotion, and his unflinching loyalty to Emperor Haile Selassie I rather than for his reforms and/or teachings.

Like most Ethiopian dignitaries, his early life is obscure. The available sources give different years ranging from 1877 to 1892 as his birth date. Similarly, a document of the Orthodox Churches Conference in Addis Ababa asserts that he stayed in exile in Jerusalem during the Italian invasion while Baʿeda-Maryam, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on his biography, asserts that he was a fugitive in his own country. There are also discrepancies in the dates of his early ordinations and appointments.

Son of Debtera (church precentor) Wolde Tsadeq Selomon and Emmet lady usually a widow Wolette Maryam Bayyu Gebre Giyorgis as Basilios was known before he became patriarch was born in the subdistrict of Metta ...

Article

Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

Article

Stefania Capone

a renowned figure of Bahian Candomblé, was born to African freed parents on 16 October 1859, in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. His father, “Tio” Eliseu do Bonfim, was an Egba, one of the Yoruba subgroups, and held an African name, Areojè, related to the Yoruba cult of Egungun, the ancestor masks. According to Lima (1987, p. 50), his father was brought to Brazil as a slave in 1820 and liberated in 1842. He returned to Africa to bring back the ancestor mask of his family, Egun Ilari, becoming one of the strongest defenders of African traditions in Brazil (Santos and Santos, 1969). Martiniano’s African name, Ojeladé, is also an ojé (title) transmitted within Yoruba families that worship Egungun.

Martiniano’s mother, Felicidade Silva Paranhos, was brought to Brazil when she was a child. Tio Eliseu bought her freedom in 1855 and she became his ...

Article

Kip Lornell

gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Lucy's mother was widowed several months after Lucy's birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, Tennessee, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother's meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family's insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child, Campbell's older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school, winning awards in both penmanship and Latin. Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School (later Booker T. Washington High School as the class valedictorian she ...

Article

David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian minister, educator, and womanist ethicist, was born in Concord, North Carolina, the daughter of Corine Emmanuelette Lytle, a domestic and Avon saleswoman, and Esau Cannon, a millworker, both of whom were elders in the local Presbyterian church. Cannon grew up with three sisters, three brothers, her parents, and her extended family in the Fishertown community, a part of the rural, segregated town of Kannapolis, North Carolina, the home of Cannon Mills. Her earliest work was as a domestic, cleaning the homes of nearby white mill workers. At the age of seventeen Cannon graduated from George Washington Carver High School and then enrolled at nearby Barber-Scotia College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1971 with a BS in Elementary Education.

In August 1971 Cannon enrolled in Johnson C Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center ITC in Atlanta where Dean James H Costen encouraged her ...

Article

Edison Carneiro was born and lived in Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia. Unlike many mestiços (people of indigenous and European descent) from his generation who denied their African origins, Carneiro dedicated his studies to the customs and traditions of the descendants of Africans in Brazil, particularly regarding religious ritual. This was pioneering work at the time, when African religions were still repressed by the Brazilian government. Carneiro is considered to be the first person to systematically record the practices, beliefs, and history of the Afro-Brazilian people. Among the rituals developed by Afro-Brazilians, Carneiro identified the Nagô rituals as the only authentic variant of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, as opposed to the Bantu rituals. In his search for the pure African religion, he considered the Bantu sect to be a degenerated form of African religion.

Carneiro combined his studies with a strong political activism He participated in the ...

Article

N. Gregson Davis

Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) was a major literary figure, statesman, and intellectual leader, both in the francophone Antilles and in the international arena, from the middle of the twentieth century. As a young social activist, he played a formative role in the articulation of the seminal concept of négritude, a neologism that he is credited with having invented. As literary artist he has achieved global recognition for his poetry and lyric drama in signal ways; for example, his lyric volume Corps Perdu (Lost Body) was published in a deluxe edition with illustrations by Pablo Picasso in 1950; several of his poetry collections won literary prizes in metropolitan France (e.g., the Prix René Laporte for Ferrements [1960], and the Grand Prix National de la Poésie for moi, laminaire … [1982]). La Tragédie du roi Christophe The Tragedy of King Christophe a play based ...

Article

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 ...

Article

David B. McCarthy

musician, educator, and prominent Presbyterian, was born Melva Ruby Wilson in Due West, South Carolina, one of five children of Azzie Lee Ellis Wilson and John Theodore Wilson Sr., both of whom were college graduates and teachers. Because the local black public schools were unaccredited, her parents sent her to a black boarding school, Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, at the age of fourteen. Two years later, at the age of sixteen, she entered Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. There she met fellow student James Hutten Costen. She graduated with a BA in Education in 1952 and married Jim Costen the day before he graduated in 1953. They eventually had two sons and one daughter, James Jr., Craig, and Cheryl.

Costen taught elementary school in the Mecklenburg County school system from 1952 to 1955 the year her husband ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishpoet who lent his pen to the anti‐slavery cause. Cowper was a supporter of international commerce, which he saw, idealistically, as the means by which mankind could share in God's bounty. In his poem Charity (1782), trade is described as ‘the golden girdle of the globe’, and Cowper writes of the ‘genial intercourse’ between nations effected by 18th‐century mercantile activity. The slave trader, however, betrays the principle of mutuality underpinning international commerce and brings shame to a Christian nation such as Great Britain (‘Canst thou, and honour'd with a Christian name | Buy what is woman‐born, and feel no shame?’). Religion apart, the slave trader also betrays the spirit of the age, its growing championing of liberty. To Cowper, the existence of slavery calls into question the very nature of humanity:

Then what is man? And what man, seeing this

And having human feelings does not blush ...

Article

Yusuf Nuruddin

Harold Cruse (8 March 1916–20 March 2005), an iconoclastic social critic and a largely self-educated cultural historian, achieved distinction as the preeminent African American dissident public intellectual of the 1960s. Although he authored several books, his reputation rests largely on his monumental work The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), a flawed yet brilliant, imaginative, sweeping, and provocative polemic. A thematically united collection of essays, Crisis presents a withering assessment of the black intelligentsia for its self-defeating embrace of both liberal and radical integrationist politics, especially its involvement in the Communist Party, of which Cruse was once a member.

Within the Communist Party and other leftist organizations black political interests according to Cruse historically have been subordinated to white political interests including Jewish and white ethnic nationalisms As a remedy Cruse calls upon the black intelligentsia to abandon its bankrupt integrationist strategies and embrace its ...