Muslim Personalities Who Were Black In Early Islamic History

A brother named Dawud Walid is fighting Muslim color prejudice by telling the stories of dark-skinned Islamic heroes.  According to the project’s Facebook page’s ‘About’ section, “This page was started for Black History Month to share blog entries about prominent black figures in the early history of Islam.”

It’s an excellent page.  Go have a look (Facebook page).  Support the book.

I commend the brothers and sisters involved, but I do have one criticism:  They missed all the big fish.  As far as early Muslims go, we don’t have to stick to the tired slave narratives of freed slaves and sons of “black” slave women.  We can start from the top:

The Rightly Guided Caliphs

For reference only. NOT intended to represent a historical personage.

Umar

Yousef ibn Al-Zaki ibn Abdel Rahman Abu Al-Hajjaj Al-Mizzi said in his book Tahdheeb Al-Kamaal:

“He (Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RAA) was black-skinned (very adam), tall, thick-bearded, bald, ambidextrous, and he dyed his hair with henna and katim…Zarr ibn Hubaish and others described him this way – they described him as very adam complexioned (black-skinned). This is the way that he was described by most scholars knowledgeable of the biographies and the stories of the people of the past and their news.”

Ibn Saad and al-Hakim have recorded a description of Umar as Abu Miriam Zir, a native of Kufa described him. Zir said:

“I went forth with the people of Madina on a festival day, and I saw Umar walking barefoot. He was advanced in years, bald, of a tawny colour-a left handed man, tall, and towering above the people.”

Uthman

For illustration purposes ONLY.  NOT intended to represent an actual historical personage.

For illustration purposes ONLY. NOT intended to represent an actual historical personage.

“He was not tall or short. He had a handsome face, a long beard, dark skin, wide shoulders, and he would dye his hair with saffron. He would cap teeth with gold.”

‘Abdullah bin Hazm said: “I saw ‘Uthman, and I never saw a man or woman more beautiful than him.”

as-Sa’ib said: “I saw him dying his beard yellow, and I never saw an old man more handsome than him.”

Ali

ali

In his book Tarikh Al-Khulafaa (The History of the Caliphs), Imam Al-Suyuti described Ali ibn Abi Talib as follows:
و كان علي شيخا سمينا أصلع كثير الشعر ربعة إلى القصر عظيم البطن عظيم اللحية جدا قد ملأت ما بين منكبيه بيضاء كأنها قطن آدم شديد الأدمة

Ali was a heavyset, bald, hairy man of average height which leaned toward shortness. He had a large stomach and a large beard which filled all that was between his shoulders. His beard was white as if it was cotton and he was a black-skinned man.

Read more: http://savethetruearabs.proboards.com/thread/4#ixzz3fcTVK69W

* َAl-Hafidh Al-Dhahabi describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here in his book Taarikh Al-Islaam:

وعن الشعبي قال: رأيت علياً أبيض اللحية، ما رأيت أعظم لحية منه، وفي رأسه زغبات. وقال أبو إسحاق: رأيته يخطب، وعليه إزار ورداء، أنزع، ضخم البطن، أبيض الرأس واللحية. وعن أبي جعفر الباقر قال: كان علي آدم، شديد الأدمة، ثقيل العينين، عظيمهما، وهو إلى القصر أقرب.

* Ibn Jawzi describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) in his book Safwat Al-Safwa.

* Al-Balaadhari describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here in his book Ansaab Al-Ashraaf:

وكان علي آدم شديد الادمة، ثقيل العينين، ضخم البطن، أصلع ذا عضلات ومناكب، في أذنيه شعر قد خرج من أذنه، وكان إلى القصر أقرب

* Al-Suyuti describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here in Taarikh Al-Khulafaa:

‏‏”‏‏و‏ ‏كان‏‏ ‏علي‏ (بن‏ ‏ابي‏ ‏طالب )‏شيخا‏،‏ ‏سمينا،‏ ‏‏أ‏صلع،‏‏ ‏كثير‏ ‏الشعر،‏ ‏ربعة‏ ‏الى‏ ‏القصر،‏ ‏عظيم‏ ‏البطن،‏ ‏عظيم‏ ‏اللحية‏ ‏جدا،‏ ‏قد‏ ‏ملأت‏ ‏ما‏ ‏بين‏ ‏منكبيه،‏ ‏بيضاء‏ ‏كأنها‏ ‏قطن،‏ ‏آدم‏ ‏شديد‏ ‏الأدمة‏”‏.‏

* Ibn Abdel Barr describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

وسئل أبو جعفر محمد بن علي بن الحسين عن صفة علي رضي الله عنه فقال: كان رجلاً آدم شديد الأدمة، مقبل العينين عظيمهما ذا بطن
أصلع ربعة إلى القصر لا يخضب

* Ahmed ibn ‘Amru ibn Al-Dahhaak Abu Bakr Al-Shaibaani describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib (RAA) as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

ومن ذكر علي بن أبي طالب
ابن عَبْد المطلب بن هاشم بن عَبْد مناف بن قصي بن مرة بن كعب بن لؤي يكنى أبا الحسن رَضِيَ الله تعالى عنه واسم أبي طالب عَبْد مناف بن عَبْد المطلب واسم عَبْد المطلب شيبة بن هاشم واسم هاشم عَمْرو بن عب مناف واسم عَبْد مناف المغيرة بن قصي واسم قصي زيد بن كلاب بن مرة بن كعب بن لؤي وكان آدم شديد الأدمة ثقيل العينين عظيمها وقد قالوا أعمش ذا بطن سمنا أصلع دون الربعة عظيم اللحية رضوان الله عليه

* Al-‘Allaama Mohamed ibn Talha Al-Shaafa’ie describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

كان عليه السلام آدم شديد الادمة، ظاهرة السمرة، عظيم العينين، أقرب إلى القصر من الطول لم يتجاوز حد الاعتدال في ذلك، ذا بطن كثير الشعر، عريض اللحية، أصلع أبيض الرأس واللحية

* Al-Safadi describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

وكان رضي الله عنه رجلاً آدم شديد الأدمة ثقيل العينين عظيمهما، ذا بطن أصلع ربعة إلى القصر لا يخضب

Ibn Asaakir says in Taarikh Dimisq:

وقال زهير بْن معاوية : كَانَ علي يكنى أبا قاسم ، وكان رجلًا آدم شديد الأدمة ، ثقيل العينين عظيمهما ، ذا بطن ، أصلع ، وهو إلى قصر أقرب ، وكان أبيض الرأس واللحية ،

Zuhair ibn Muawia said:  “Ali had the kunya Abu Qaasim and he was shadid al-udma (black-skinned) with big, heavy eyes, a big belly, bald, leaned toward shortness, and he had white hair and a white beard.”

The Companions (Sahaaba) in General

project-1587-Bilal

Only one got painted the right color

Most of the people living in Arabia were Arabs, the original Arabs (as opposed the the Arab diaspora of Arabized مُستَعرَب peoples) were related to Sub-Saharan Africans in appearance and every other way.  So, in general, it’s safe to assume that any Arab Sahaaba was “black” unless sound traditions prove otherwise.*

Conclusion:  Islam is neither colorblind nor racist.  It’s real.

muslim-children-from-around-the-world

Color does matter.  It does exist.  If not, it would not have been mentioned in the Qur-an.  If not, it would not have been mentioned in the ahadith.  It’s a perfectly valid subject, and like every subject, it must constantly be revisited, “dusted off” as it were, to prevent misconceptions from creeping in.  Think about it, if there were valid conversations about skin color all along, would there be so much racism in the Ummah now?

——————–

*Read below for descriptions of the Pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabs:

Bertram Thomas, historian and former Prime Minister of Muscat and Oman, reported in his work ‘The Arabs’:
“The original inhabitants of Arabia…were not the familiar Arabs of our time but a very much darker people.  A proto-negroid belt of mankind stretched across the ancient world from Africa to Malaya.  This belt…(gave) rise to the Hamitic peoples of Africa, to the Dravidian peoples of India, and to an intermediate dark people inhabiting the Arabian peninsula.  In the course of time two big migrations of fair-skinned peoples came from the north…to break through and transform the dark belt of man beyond India (and) to drive a wedge between India and Africa…The more virile invaders overcame the dark-skinned peoples, absorbing most of them, driving others southwards…The cultural condition of the newcomers is unknown.  It is unlikely that they were more than wild hordes of adventurous hunters.”

Modern dark-skinned descendants of ancient Arabians like the Qarra and Mahra of Oman told colonial observers they originated in Africa.

“(Regarding) [t]he origin of the Arab race…
the first certain fact on which to base our investigations is the ancient and undoubted division of the Arab race into two branches, the ‘Arab’ or pure; and the ‘Mostareb’ or adscititions…
A second fact is, that everything in pro-Islamitic literature and record…concurs in representing the first settlement of the ‘pure’ Arabs as made on the extreme south-western point of the peninsula, near Aden, and then spreading northward and eastward…
A third is the name Himyar, or ‘dusky’…a circumstance pointing, like the former, to African origin.
A fourth is the Himyaritic language…(The preserved words) are African in character, often in identity. Indeed, the dialect commonly used along the south-eastern coast hardly differs from that used by the (Somali) Africans on the opposite shore…
Fifthly, it is remarkable that where the grammar of the Arabic, now spoken by the ‘pure’ Arabs, differs from that of the north, it approaches to or coincides with the Abyssinian…
Sixthly, the pre-Islamitic institutions of Yemen and its allied provinces-its monarchies, courts, armies, and serfs-bear a marked resemblance to the historical Africo-Egyptian type, even to modern Abyssinian.
Seventhly, the physical conformation of the pure-blooded Arab inhabitants of Yemen, Hadramaut, Oman, and the adjoining districts-the shape and size of head, the slenderness of the lower limbs, the comparative scantiness of hair, and other particulars-point in an African rather than an Asiatic direction.
Eighthly, the general habits  of the people,-given to sedentary rather than nomad occupations, fond of village life, of society, of dance and music; good cultivators of the soil, tolerable traders, moderate artisans, but averse to pastoral pursuits-have much more in common with those of the inhabitants of the African than with those of the western Asiatic continent.
Lastly, the extreme facility of marriage which exists in all classes of the southern Arabs with the African races; the fecundity of such unions; and the slightness or even absence of any caste feeling between the dusky ‘pure’ Arab and the still darker native of modern Africa…may be regarded as pointing in the direction of a community of origin.”
(The Encyclopedia Britanica [9th Edition; 1:245-46 s.v. Arabia) (http://blackarabia.blogspot.com/2011/09/were-black-arabs-who-founded-islam.html)
The dark-skinned South Arabian today is short and “extremely round-headed (brachycephalic)” but he was no doubt originally much taller and dolichocephalic (long-headed) like the so-called Hamites of East Africa.
In the 13th century CE the Muslim traveler Ibn al-Mujāwir described the Mahra as “tall, handsome folk” in his Tārīkh al-mustabsir, 271.1.17 and early pre-Christian skulls found in Hadramawt were markedly dolichocephalic.
It has been suggested that the ‘definite change’ in the racial constitution of the people of Hadramawt resulted from the invasion and inbreeding of brachycephalic whites such as Armenoids or Persians.
Henry Field suggested that Arabia’s current ethnography is the result of the mixing of two distinct basal stocks: The dolichocephalic (long-headed), dark-skinned Mediteranean/Eur-African and the brachycephalic (round-headed) fair-skinned Armenoid. See his “Ancient and Modern Inhabitants of Arabia,” The Open Court 46 (1932): 854 [art.=847-869].

Dolichocephalic (

Armenoid Kurd with Brachycephalic (

These findings are corroborated by Persian sources describing their first impression of their Arab Muslim conquerors.

“When Fredon (mythical hero) came, they (the black people) fled from the lands of Iran and settled on the coast of the sea. Now, through the invasion of the Arabs, they (the Zing-i-Siak posht (i.e. the black skinned negroes)) are again diffused through the country of Iran.”

(Bundahishn (Creation of the Origins)- A Zoroastrian text)

[Note: in these last sentences allusion is made to the Blackness of both the original inhabitants of Iran, and of the Arabs.]

iranian women

You’re saying that the real Arabs are Black?!  What do these historians know anyway?  They’re not Arab or Muslim.  They’re colonialists and Orientalists out to distort Islamic history.

True.  Who better to ask than the Arabs themselves?  How did the Arab historians, grammarians, linguists and pre-Islamic poets describe themselves?  Let’s see:

  “Red (al-hamra’) refers to non-Arabs due to their fair complexion which predominates amongthem. And the Arabs used to say about the non-Arabs with whom white skin was characteristic, such as the Romans, Persians, and their neighbors: ‘They are red-skinned (al-hamra’)…” al-hamra’ means the Persians and Romans…And the Arabs attribute white skin to the slaves.

(Ibn Manzur [Lisan al-arab IV: 209, 210]) http://blackarabia.blogspot.com/2011/09/in-islam-does-color-of-prophets-matter.html

Couldn't many

Couldn’t many “white” people be more accurately described as “red”?

Al-Mubarrad (d. 898), the leading figure in the Basran grammatical tradition, claimed: “The Arabs used to take pride in their brown and black complexion (al-sumra wa al-sawād) and they had a distaste for a white and fair complexion (al-umra wa al-shaqra), and they used to say that such was the complexion of the non-Arabs.”

Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd, Shar nahj al-balāghah, V:56.http://www.blackarabia.blogspot.com/2013/04/his-daddy-was-black-his-momma-was-black.html

Lisan El-Arab (an old Arabic dictionary) mentions Shamar’s explanation of the hadiths that say that the prophet Mohamed (pbuh) said that he was sent to the blacks and the reds. Shamar explains the hadiths as follows:

قال شمر: يعنـي العرب والعجم والغالب علـى أَلوان العرب السُّمرة والأُدْمَة وعلـى أَلوان العجم البـياض والـحمرة،

“He means (by the blacks and the reds) the Arabs and the non-Arabs and the complexion of most Arabs is brown and jet-black and the complexion of most non-Arabs is white and red.”

Hmm...  Let's think about that.

Hmm… Let’s think about that.

Shams El-Din Mohamed ibn Ahmed ibn Othman El-Dhahabi (died1374 A.D.) explains the hadith that mentions that a man was “red-skinned as if he was one of the slaves” as follows:

يريد ألقائل أنه في لون ألموالي ألذين سبوا من نصارى ألشام وألروم و ألعجم

“The speaker means that the man was the color of the slaves who were captured from the Christians of Syria and from the Romans and the Persians.”

Thus, it was common for the Arabs of the past to describe a light-skinned person as having the color of the slaves. This is a known fact.   Ibn Mandhor (1232-1311 A.D.) says in his book Lisan El-Arab:

سبوطة الشعر هي الغالبة علـى شعور العجم من الروم والفرس. و جُعودة الشعر هي الغالبة علـى شعور العرب

“Non-kinky hair is the kind of hair that most non-Arabs like the Romans and Persians have while kinky hair is the kind of hair that most Arabs have.”

lank hair

Lank hair

true arabs 2

Kinky Hair

The Arabs of the past also used the word green to mean black. El-Fadl ibn El-Abbas ibn ‘Utba El-Lahabi said:

وأَنا الأَخْضَرُ، من يَعْرِفُنـي؟ أَخْضَرُ الـجِلْدَةِ فـي بـيتِ العَرَبْ

I am the green one. Who knows me? My skin is green. I am from the family of the Arabs.

Bronze is a copper alloy (combination of copper and tin) and when exposed to air and moisture, it will develop a greenish layer of build-up on its dark brown surface.  Hence the association of green with dark-brown skin.

Bronze is a copper alloy (combination of copper and tin) and when exposed to air and moisture, it will develop a greenish layer of build-up on its dark brown surface. Hence the association of green with dark-brown skin.

Ibn Mandhor, the author of Lisan El-Arab says this about the verse:

يقول: أَنا خالص لأَن أَلوان العرب السمرة

He says that he is a pure Arab because the color of the Arabs is brown (dark).”

In Lisan El-Arab, Ibn Mandhor also quotes the author of El-Tahdhib, Saad El-Din Masud ibn Umar El-Taftaazaani (1312-1389 A.D.) as saying the following about the verse:

فـي هذا البـيت قولان: أَحدهما أَنه أَراد أَسود الـجلدة؛ قال: قاله أَبو طالب النـحوي، وقـيل: أَراد أَنه من خالص العرب وصميمهم لأَن الغالب علـى أَلوان العرب الأُدْمَةُ،

There are two sayings about this verse. One is that he meant that he had black skin. This is what Abu Talib El-Nahwi said. It is also said that he meant that he is a pure unmixed Arab because most Arabs are black-skinned.”

Abdella ibn Berry (1106-1187 A.D.), the “King of the Grammarians” as he was called, said the following about the verse:

قال ابن بري: نسب الـجوهري هذا البـيت للهبـي، وهو الفضل بن العباس بن عُتْبَةَ بن أَبـي لَهَبٍ، وأَراد بالـخضرة سمرة لونه، وإِنما يريد بذلك خـلوص نسبه وأَنه عربـي مـحض، لأَن العرب تصف أَلوانها بالسواد وتصف أَلوان العجم بالـحمرة. وفـي الـحديث: بُعثت إِلـى الأَحمر والأَسود؛ وهذا الـمعنى بعينه هو الذي أَراده مسكين الدارمي فـي قوله أَنا مسكِينٌ لـمن يَعْرِفُنـي، لَوْنِـي السُّمْرَةُ أَلوانُ العَرَبْ

“El-Jawhari attributed this verse to El-Lahabi and he is El-Fadl ibn El-Abbas ibn ‘Utba ibn Abi Lahab and he meant by green the brownness (darkness) of his complexion and he meant by that the purity of his genealogy and that he was an unmixed Arab because the Arabs describe their color as black and they describe the color of the non-Arabs as red. Like the hadith says, ‘I was sent to the red and the black. And this is exactly what Miskeen El-Darimi meant when he said: ‘I am Miskeen, for those who know me. My color is brown (dark), the color of the Arabs’”.

Ibn Mandhor says in his book Lisan El-Arab:

والعرب إِذا قالوا: فلان أَبـيض وفلانة بـيضاء فمعناه الكرم فـي الأَخلاق لا لون الـخـلقة، وإِذا قالوا: فلان أَحمر وفلانة حمراء عنوا بـياض اللون؛

“When the Arabs said that a man or a woman was ‘white’, they meant that the person was honorable. They weren’t talking about his/her complexion. When they (the Arabs) said that a man or a woman was ‘red’, they meant that his/her complexion was white.

The famous, old Arabic dictionary Lisan El Arab also quotes the author of El-Tahdhib, Saad El-Din Masud ibn Umar El-Taftaazaani (1312-1389 A.D.) as saying:

التهذيب: إِذا قالت العرب فلان أَبْـيَضُ وفلانة بَـيْضاء فالـمعنى نَقاء العِرْض من الدنَس والعيوب… لا يريدون به بَـياضَ اللون ولكنهم يريدون الـمدح بالكرم ونَقاءِ العِرْض من العيوب، وإِذا قالوا: فلان أَبْـيَض الوجه وفلانة بَـيْضاءُ الوجه أَرادوا نقاءَ اللون من الكَلَفِ والسوادِ الشائن

“When the Arabs said that a man or a woman was white, they meant that the person had a faultless honor…they didn’t mean white skin. What they meant by this was to praise the person for his/her generosity and faultless honor. When they said that a man or woman had a white face, they meant that the person had a complexion free of blemishes and free of an unattractive blackness.”

http://savethetruearabs.blogspot.com/2009/08/cure-for-racial-prejudice-against-dark_5648.html

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stockholm syndrome 7

The last issue you raised is the current situation in Saudi Arabia.  I have not followed it closely, but my understanding is that certain countries have tried to put safeguards in place to protect its nationals from the sexual and physical abuse that Gulf countries are notorious for.  Saudi Arabia, to my understanding, has responded by denying work visas for citizens of these countries, which are effectively economic sanctions, considering the remittance income these countries get from their citizens in Saudi Arabia.  We can assume that this is basically accurate, and you will soon see that it doesn’t even matter if it is.

Saudi Arabia, quite simply is not an Islamic “state”.  It is not a “caliphate” or ‘khilafa’.  2 of Islam’s holy lands- Makkah and Madeena- are in it’s borders.  But it is not governed by sharee’ah, or “Islamic law”.  It is a hereditary absolute monarchy.  Domestic and international political goals, Bedouin culture, racial and national pride, foreign interests, and economic interests are all parts of its politics and workings.  Islamis, of course, to be found there, but it is only one factor of many.  So why is it, when most people know or can easily guess that all these factors are at play, that Islam gets blamed for everything that happens in Saudi Arabia?

Ignorant people are of two types:  those who turn away from the truth and those who are simply unaware.  Muslims can fall into one of these categories, and some do.  I anticipate your pointing out of the Muslims who are in clear violation of some of the principles I have summarized.

They are not a proof against Islam; Islam is a proof against them.

An Open Letter to David Cameron

Open Letter to Mr. Cameron

To The Rt. Hon. David Cameron

Prime Minister 10 Downing Street

 

Dear Mr. Cameron

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

 

“For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” ( The saying of Abraham, Quran 6:79)

We are deeply dismayed by your statements made in the Munich Security Conference on the 5th February 2011. Your speech was misleading, ill-timed, counter-productive. You have insulted the Muslims you are meant to serve and have demonstrated a failure to understand the Muslims and their faith.

 

A Muslim, literally, means one who has submitted his will to God. We bow our head in prayer to Allah, five times a day, in submission to Him and Him alone. We only have one Master, and we are Muslims first. Our beliefs in our values, and in what we hold to be right and wrong is dictated not from an elected parliament, but from Allah (God) as revealed in the Quran and the teaching of last Messenger, Muhammed (Peace be upon him) and consensus of the Muslims. Furthermore, we believe that this life is a test, that after our death we are accountable before Allah on a Day of Judgement, and we will all be given recompense according to our deeds. This, above all, is what motivates us:

Every human being is bound to taste death: but only on the Day of Resurrection will you be requited in full [for whatever you have done] – whereupon he that shall be drawn away from the fire and brought into paradise will indeed have gained a triumph: for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion. 3:185

 

We readily accept and work to strengthen the meritorious institutions of British society, especially those that exist because of the common origin of the Muslim and Judaeo-Christian tradition that British values were derived from: of honesty and moral integrity; of altruism and neighbourliness; of social, political, and economic justice. We encourage Muslims to do whatever they can, even while being a minority, to assist in increasing the general good and minimising harm in society, even if it be by an act as small as removing something harmful from a walker’s path. We seek to work towards a peaceful society in Britain.

 

We encourage Muslims to work for the benefit of the people of Britain, for no one’s sake but Allah’s. We will go further to say that we endeavour to work with greater sincerity for the betterment of Britain and its people than any Prime Minister or an elected parliament does, for we seek no worldly gain. We would be insincere citizens if we failed to share with Britons what we believe will bring them peace and tranquility in this life and in the hereafter. Our role models are the Prophets of God, among them Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed (peace be upon them all). As one Prophet said:

“I wish not, in opposition to you, to do that which I forbid you to do. I only desire your betterment to the best of my power; and my success can only come from Allah. In Him I trust, and unto Him I look.”

 

But Muslims will not be bullied by ‘muscular liberalism’ into compromising on their teachings and the principles of their faith as Christiandom and others may have done, nor will we be forced to embrace values that oppose the faith of millions of Muslims in Britain, Europe and the world over. Interpretations of British values change as governments do, and what may be in keeping with liberal values may be completely unacceptable to our belief, whether it be mocking God and His Prophets, the alcohol culture with all its ills, and any cohabiting out of wedlock between man and woman, this being the only relationship Islam recognises. Are we still to be forced to embrace such liberal values and promote them? What values allow the fighting of illegal wars that kills thousands to spread democracy by the gun or of staunchly supporting nations that deprive a people of a land their rights and oppresses them? Are these British values?

 

What we believe to be wrong and unjust, we will exercise our right to speak out against. You cannot speak of a belief in the freedom of speech and religion while in the same breath denying the Muslims the right to proclaim and preach their belief. You thus make ‘freedom of speech’ an empty slogan. You either accept that people – British Muslims included – have a right to believe in the values that their religion teaches, or that the state regulates our beliefs and our values as in a ‘thought police’ that incriminates and sanctions citizens for what they may believe even if they break no law. This, in essence, is what you propose. If so, then how different is that from communist dictatorships that repress those voices that oppose the state’s ‘values’? You are travelling down a road that will end with sanctions being placed on Muslims for simply believing in Islam and the Quran.

 

The Islamic faith does not teach extremism. But the Prime Minister, MPs and non-representative think-tanks with their own prejudices will not dictate to Muslims what constitutes a correct Islamic understanding and what does not. You would be ill-advised to be directed by any biased coterie of individuals with neo-conservative leanings or those who seek to undermine Muslims to forward the cause of other interest groups. The government has already, on the basis of such misinformation, branded mainstream Muslim individuals, events and organisations as extremist, reinforcing the perception that your government is unable to make an impartial judgement about its Muslim citizens. This reality makes your speech a cause for even greater concern among British Muslims.

 

In your speech you stated regarding terrorism that the “threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam”. This is not true. The 2008 TE-SAT report of European terrorism confirmed that in 2007, only 4 out of 583 (0.007%) attacks were ‘Islamist’ in nature. In 2006 it was 1 in 498. The main threat comes from separatists and left-wing groups. Why do you seek to exaggerate the threat from Islamists when the facts state otherwise? It is irresponsible for you to further sour the relationship between a minority and the community at large, where there is already evidence of much anti-Muslim feeling. Statistics demonstrate that by sheer numbers alone there are more non-Muslims who feel hostility to Muslims (more than 20% in UK) or than vice versa. While singling out Muslims in the attack on multiculturalism, you made no mention of some Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs who have been united for a common cause of hatred against Muslims in various guises under the banner of the EDL who were marching on the same day that you spoke. Rather than countering this unhealthy Islamophobia that is sweeping across Europe, you contributed to it. That you were on German soil should have reminded you of the consequences of contributing to hatred against minorities.

 

The most insulting and disdainful of your remarks directed to the Muslims was the threats of withholding funding from whom you think are extreme. Do you think that the strength of our conviction in our values is measured against paltry handouts or opportunities for photoshoots with MPs? Muslims do not need such money nor do they have any need to share platform with such ministers, and certainly not if these are meant to bribe them away from their principles. Reliance and trust upon Allah are the bedrock of our faith. What is the entitlement of any citizen – regardless of religion –should be granted to them. If the government decides to wrongfully withhold this from a Muslim individual or group because of ill-informed reservations about their beliefs, then it is the government that should be held accountable. It is time Britain comes to terms with the reality of Muslims as part of Britain with the differences that we have between us. If this is what you want to confront, and this is how you want to browbeat Muslims with ‘muscular liberalism’ then do, for we will, with God’s help, will be even harder-nosed in standing up for our faith, for we are responsible for this before God. We will always turn to Him and His guidance and we will, Insha’Allah (God willing) have the mettle to remain patiently steadfast on our faith and speak what we believe to be right:

Say: “O my people! Do whatever ye can: I will do (my part): soon will ye know who it is whose end will be (best) in the Hereafter: certain it is that the oppressors will not prosper.” 6:135

 

Your speech has led to much upset in the Muslim community. While you may win over many right-wing and possibly racist voters, you will lose Muslim voters who will not forget your remarks in four years’ time. But it is not votes, but a sense of justice and perspective that should guide you. We hope you reconsider your statements and reassess the direction this government is taking with regards to the rights of Muslim citizens of Britain, and not join Europe’s growing far-right.

– from Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad

Strange Marriage: The Beginning…

By all normal expectations, we shouldn’t have been married. 

In Pakistan and South Asia, there is the issue of caste.  If anyone from there tells you any different, they’re covering it up to fit in.  It is not as all-encompassing in Pakistan as it is in India, but it is very much a part of marriage decisions.  I can prove it.  Go to any Muslim magazine.  Flip to the back.  You’ll see matrimonials.  Read the ads.  You might see, for example, the word “Rajput”.  That’s a caste.  They want to marry someone from their caste.  They only want to marry someone from their caste. 

On top of not being in her caste, or any that I know of, I’m a kalloo, a black.  Anti-dark skin and anti-African racism has the potential to unite the world.  It is one thing that most cultures seem to agree on, including, sickly, dark-skinned people and Africans themselves.  If anyone from anywhere tells you this isn’t true, just go to where they’re from and ask any dark-skinned people or Africans about that.  Or, when you visit a country, compare how many dark-skinned people you see on the street compared to how many you see on TV.  The only ones you’ll see are in the “before” portion of the skin-lightening cream commercials.

And Pakistan is a controversial country to be connected to, to say the least.  A lot of people fear it, or outright hate it.  I remember driving a newly-wed couple from their wedding to a hotel for their honeymoon.

“Are you married, too?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, really?  Where’d you get married?”

“Pakistan.”

Silence…

We really do make an odd-couple.  We’re over a foot apart in height.  I’m black, she’s white.  I’m the far-flung rebel, she’s the goody-goody homebody.  I’m extroverted, she’s introverted.  And our cultures and languages are vastly different.

“Why did you say yes when they asked if you wanted to marry me?”

“I don’t know.”

That’s the answer I always get when I ask, and I believe it.  When she asks me, I can’t come up with anything different.

Life is like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.  Remember those?  You read through a situation and it ends with the character facing two choices: 

Choose A and turn to page X. 

Choose B and turn to page Y. 

Your choice, in turn, leads to two more choices.  But you didn’t know what they’d be until you’d already turned the page to them.

Except in life, you can’t turn back the page.  That choice is never available to you.  You don’t come to the options of consequences of your choice, and decide to go back and pick others.  You can only continue to choose.  And that’s it.  There’s no other way to describe it.

It doesn’t matter why I did what I did, because it’s already done;  but I’ll still try to tell you.  For one, the taste of adventure intrigued me.  I’ve always wanted something different.  There’s always been something about where I am- wherever I am- and who I am- though the most part I love- that I’ve hated.  I’ve always wanted to be different, to do different.  Whenever I look at the road that’s paved for me, I step off it and walk on the grass.  It’s softer on my feet. 

I used to be so filled with rage, and I still am, but no longer consumed by it.  I wanted revenge against the society I was born in.  You know what I hated the most?  Humiliation.  I hated the fact that I was in America because my every second there was a reminder that my ancestors had been dominated, ripped from their lands and history, my history, raped and enslaved.  I hated my own- the European trophy on the grave of my African and Native American ancestors.  I looked around and all I saw was people being abused, and taking it.  It was unfathomable.  Talk about my mama, and I woulda beat you up, but you know what the real insult was?  Telling me what to do.  Who did you think you were that I would obey you?  Who did you think I was?  I will not do what you say, even if it’s what I want to do, for the exact reason that you told me to do it.  I will correct you.  Further, I will humiliate you for your arrogance against me.  I will make you wallow, publicly, in the humiliation you dared to believe I would accept.

I remember once, in 2nd grade, there was an assembly.  So the teacher told us to line up and get ready to go.  I can’t tell you why, but I refused.  She made every threat, but I would not get in line with the rest of the class.  Finally, she turned off the lights and led the class out.  I called her bluff and stayed right there, until the assembly finished and they came back.  Her blunder was that I had no bluff.  There was nothing anyone could do to me, no threat that I could even imagine, that was worse than living with humiliation.  I could endure anything except shame.  Living with the memory of oppression was a worse fate than death.

You know what really used to trip me out?  Watching everybody tripping out on me.  I’d be looking at them taking orders and conforming and I couldn’t believe it.  Couldn’t they see they didn’t have to?  How could they ever want to?  I mean I was there setting the example, fighting for all of us, right in front of their faces.  It hurt me to watch them endure what in my eyes could only be suffering, and I was fundamentally, absolutely bewildered that they couldn’t see the point.  I was really popular, these were my friends.  I was the class clown, class rebel and honor roll student, all at the same time.  Everybody liked me and was probably a little leery of me at the same time.

So everything and everyone feels familiar and utterly foreign to me at the same time.  There’s no crowd I don’t feel lonely in, no people I can consider wholly mine, none who consider me wholly theirs.

That’s probably why I travel, why I’m free.  I have nothing to gain or lose.  I feel like I can do anything.  There’s nothing to hold me back.  I’m always on the outside looking in, and the inside looking out.  It’s not so much that I transcend, it’s that everywhere is the same.  There are just the obligatory adjustments of language, currency, time zone, etc.  Hard times ain’t a hurdle for me.

So that’s why I said yes to the marriage.

Sometimes people say, “I wish I could’ve done that.”  Not about this “strange marriage” but other things I’ve done, like transferring to another university, or studying abroad.  I’m like “Why couldn’t you have?  You could’ve applied as easily as me…”  But it wasn’t the practicalities they were talking about.  It is only now, and I mean at this exact moment as I am writing to you, that I realize what it was really all about.

You can’t dream.

In Sociology, I learned that institutionalization means taking the present reality for granted to the extent that you can’t imagine anything else, even if you don’t like it, even if it feels wrong.

You can’t even picture yourself even trying.

This isn’t what you want, you’re not who you want, but at least you know what’s on the next page.  If you start choosing your own way, you won’t know, and that’s why you don’t choose it.  I don’t blame you, because I’m as scared as you.  But what I’m scared of is what’s on this page, and what I know is on the next one.  What I’m scared of is the way we feel right now.  The reason I take the risk isn’t because I’m stronger than you.  I have no idea what’s gonna happen next and I swear to God that I’m afraid.  But I know it’s our only chance, and that’s why I take it.  I’m not brave-  I’m just less afraid of change than the misery of things staying the same.

And that’s all this story is really about when you think about:  a choice.  One simple choice, and all the choices that were opened or closed to me after it.  Marry the girl or not.  At the same time, so much of that choice was beyond my choosing.  Her father chose Islam over culture and that gave his daughter the choice.  She, in turn, chose yes, which gave me the choice.  There is a verse in the Qur-an which is translated as “and you do not choose except as Allah Chooses”.  Before we choose anything, so much has been chosen before it for us to even be able to.

___

Now I’m gonna ask you a question, the answer to which is a question, that only I can answer.

Ready?

Do you know what my friend just texted me, tonight, right before I started writing this chapter?

“Based on the story i’m reading on the net. have you been back home with your wife yet?”

The answer’s no and yes:  no, I have not taken her to the land of my upbringing;  yes, for we are home wherever we are.  Wherever we arrive, we project an aura, the same aura, from our hearts, and its beams meet itself right at the top of wherever we are, then we bring it down, then it fills the entire space that we are in.  Then we are home, in our love, in our special culture.

Our dream is the only home we have, and by Islam we realize them:  that every person was made to live in peace- wholeness within, unity without.  Every person has the right to inherit that peace, the duty to uphold it, and the responsibility to pass it .  It is only that, truly, that unites my wife and I, across the chasms of culture, background, and personality:  we share the same dream.

Don’t underestimate them:  dreams are the most powerful things in this world. And the most dangerous.  Name anything, and we have more than enough of it.  Maybe they’re being squandered or hoarded, but there’s more than enough water, food, land, oil, everything.  The one thing there isn’t enough of is room for everyone’s dream to come true.  It is for this alone that wars are fought.  This, not money, is the root of all evil, for money is only a means to achieve.  This is the source of every lie- for at all times, every effort is being made to create your dream for you, because your dreams determine your choices.  Everyone wants you to choose as they have chosen, because in life, really, there are only 2 choices:  wake up to your dream one day, or somebody else’s.

Choose wisely.

The Osama Dialogues: Part 3

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver Obama: “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, in fact, he slaughtered many Muslims.

…so have you, Barack Hussein…

Now that he’s dead, can we start looking for the REAL 9-11 culprits? Or do we already know who they are?

6 people like this.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver I was in NYC on 9-11, & all I can say is: never forget…

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=loose+change+final+cut&aq=1

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2296490368603788739#

… and you just don’t get it

you keep it copacetic

and you learn to accept it

and oh, you’re so pathetic

Colleague Z Are you saying it wasn’t Al Qaeda? That’s news to me.

 

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver check out the videos, and there’s also a group called “architects and engineers for 9/11 truth”. that’s a start, not the finish, but there’s more than evidence out there to question the official story. there are two kinds of americans in my view: those who believe the george-washington-and-the-cherry-tree story and those who know he was the richest man inamerica when he became president, and forced soldiers to

fight at the threat of death. red pill, blue pill…

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver here’s some further reading:

http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/07/201071994556568918.html

http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/08/201081811555316381.html

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2010/09/201094155358615769.html

these illustrate how and why the war on terror is forged and waged, in addition to what’s in the aforementioned video links…

Former Colleague/Coffee Mate You are a knucklehead! Osama himself claimed responsibility many times. Why not listen to him? Daniel, I know you are bright, but to think that Bin Ladin did not do these things is to wander far off into conspiracyland my friend.

Former Schoolmate ‎”It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” -Samuel Adams

Austin Muslim Former Colleague/Coffee Mate, who told us that Osama himself claimed responsibility many time? If you are going to base your facts on doctored videos of him speaking in arabic then your argument doesn’t stand. To this day, we have yet to know who was behind the attacks. If you think for a second that our govt. would never lie to us (wmds inIraq), then honestly nothing can change your mind.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver I think it’s more important to evaluate evidence and analyze arguments, than to just pick a side. We all have certain inclinations, so only by thinking can we overcome our inclination to be inclined. I don’t care as much about someone agreeing with me as I do about that said someone constantly reading, thinking and self-evaluating.

The Osama Dialogues: Intro. + Part 1

The Osama Dialogues are a cut-and-paste of Facebook discussions surrounding posts I published about Osama bin Laden.  From Obama to Osama to Wills & Kate, no stone has been left unturned.  You’ll laugh, you’ll get pissed, you’ll agree…

…but you won’t regret reading them…
 Feel free to leave a comment and/or add me as a friend on Facebook!


*****

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver: A civilian’s a civilian, and Bush/Obama have admittedly directed the killing of many, many more of them than Osama bin Laden is even accused of. Is anyone out there ready to admit, though, that ‘democracy’ and “American” (military/industrial) ‘interests’ (hegemony), rather than Islam-“ism”/extremism/fundamentalism that is the true threat?

Like ·  1 person

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver Would people be more justified if they danced at the news of their deaths?

Like ·  1 person

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver Do they not see how their own logic is a proof againt them?

Like ·  1 person

Former Colleague/Coffemate Daniel, Justice is the thing Americans are celebrating

Colleague Z’s Husband They have NEVER sanctioned the killing of civilians!

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Former Colleage/Coffeemate: i agree. i’m only pointing out that if this is justice, similar retaliation against american leaders could also be considered justice, for they are guilty of some of the same crimes, in particular overseeing the killing of civilians. i don’t think though, that many people on either side are intellectually or morally mature enough to see things from the other side…

Former Colleague KSA Until proven guilty Osama was definitely a ‘civilian’ – the very method of his death (shooting an unarmed man in the head) shows how low we have sunk – I don’t hear any reports that he was able to defend himself or was armed. All I here wa…s a women tried to shield him (even if you consider him evil he was basically an old defenseless man confronted by a well armed group of determined well trained soldiers). It is amazing that a woman faced down several soldiers….she should be commended for her bravery. Sometimes you have to respect the bravery of your enemy. This kind of mutual respect was very clear throughout WWI and WWII – we have lost that altogether. What was the point of shooting Osama? By doing this we just lost the best source of information we could ever dream of – unless of course he was spirited away to some foreign prison (Gitmo) to be tortured year after year (more likely). At least question him put him on trial and let him prove his guilt or innocence to prove that we still have some shreds of humanity and are better than those who unleash terror in the world (GWB, Hitler, Saddam, Mubarak et al). Until we understand are enemy and respect that he too has a voice people will only resort to horrific acts of violence in a vain attempt to be heard. Dialogue not war is the only lasting answer – to kill a human soul (even a blackened soul) and then profit from T-Shirt sales and the media frenzy shows we have no more human dignity. It is a dark day for the West and can only

1 person likes this.

Former Colleague KSA Only good I see coming from this is that once and for allPakistan has to admit they tolerate if not openly sponsor terrorism. The other good news (especially good if you’re an Indian) is thatPakistan’s air defense is non existent….

Colleague Z So are we, in fact, saying that the 9/11 victims do not get to be considered innocent civilians? Are we saying that the attack was okay becauseAmerica has killed civilians in the past? If so, and 9/11 was an act of war, then Osama does not get to hide behind the word ‘civilian’ either.

Colleague Z’s Husband I can not argue with pure fiction. If you choose to go down the road of complete uneducated conspiracy theories then that leaves facts by the way side and thus truth can not be found in your minds because the moment your presented with something you just don’t like you simply change the facts to soot your fantasies. So intelligent conversation and discussion are no longer yours to have.

Colleague Z’s Husband ‎”…to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Z’s Husband: i think what you are saying is absolutely true, for every perspective or side of an argument or debate. the truth is, speaking for my self, i am not knowledgeable about OBL or 9/11. i simply have not put in the time to investigate beyond a few videos, articles or conversations. and i am not well-studied enough in the sciences involved to draw a conclusion that i could reasonably expect others to accept.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver there is a science of knowing. either you are knowledgeable about a thing from having studied or rare cases of people with verifiable intuition (e.g. einstein). if you do not fit either case on a given subject, you can still gain knowledg…e/certainty from someone who is knowledgeable/intuitive AND trustworthy. what other way is there to know something? you either study or are intuitive, or you pay attention to someone you know and trust who has studied or is intuitive. this i consider direct knowledge.

Colleague Z People who hate Bush try to find ways to blame Bush for 9/11. People who hateAmerica try to find a way to blameAmerica for it. People who watched the news after 9/11 heard Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden claim responsibility for it and watched Palestinians dance in the streets to celebrate it. What are we, as Americans, supposed to think?

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver going back to ObL/9-11, very few people have direct access to the facts with the knowledge to understand them. very few people know and trust someone with such access and understanding. (books of course, preclude having to actually talk t…o somebody, but the author’s credentials should be verified.) as such, no matter what people think about ObL/9-11, they should be most sure of the fact that thinking is all they do about it. you don’t know. and if you unjustifiably claim to know what you only think, you are feeding the “conspiracy theories” of the other side. “most people think they know, but i know that most people only think.” i for one am unconvinced by any explanation that has been offered of ObL/9-11 simply because i have not had the chance to meet my own standards of verifiability, and no one i’ve met has either. i think it is dishonest for most of us to feel otherwise…See More

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Z: the 9/11 civilians were innocent civilians, but who killed them? who killed them? we’ve all heard a lot, but what can anyone be sure of unless they review the evidence themselves, or if the accused are put on trial if they can be? without that everything else is speculative/incidental. without producing the methodology, evidence and results of thorough studies, or a conviction in a convincingly-fair trial, each person is just forcing everyone else to doubt his/her claim and therefore convincing them, by default of their own. it’s vicious cycle of baseless bravado and doubt fed by all sides.

Colleague Z Well, I thought someone claiming responsibility answered that question..

 

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver the last thing i’ll add now is: (1) i don’t hate bush. i disagree with him but i respect him as a fellow human, husband and father (i’ve even met his daughters at a high school party). i disagree with people disrespecting him or talking about him in ways which they would not like with themselves. (2) my doubts about ObL/9-11 are not based on my being a Muslim. they started when i was in NYC on 9-11, and, generally, before that. i simply have never let anyone make up my mind for me, and until now, i’ve not been presented with anything fully convincing, from EITHER side…

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver @ becky: are you in the office? we coulda done this over coffee… anyway, you’re right, and this is why i am of the opinion that he should have been put on a trial in which this statement of his, after being verified, would have led to an easy conviction. would that not have put all rational doubts to rest, and saved the masses from the temptation of irrational far-flung theories?

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague’s Husband: the drone strikes in pakistan andafghanistan alone refute what you are saying

Colleague Z’s Husband We do not in any way target civilians on purpose the only civilians are accidental causalities of war. By implying that we do target civilians you are either ignorant of the facts or your trying to istugate the uneducated masses to belive the lies.

Colleague Q There are people who consider the Iraqi and Afghani people killed by US forces as collateral damage… There are people who consider the ones killed on 9/11 as collateral damage too.

 

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Q: (as salamu alaykum) this is part of my point. and i’m sure neither you nor i fit into either of these groups, btw.

@ Colleague Z’s Husband: let’s assume for the sake of (not having an) argument that

you are correct. even so, the taking of a life, even if

unintentional, still incurs a penalty. if a man oversaw or a group committed voluntary manslaughter against hundreds of people, what

would you say the penalty should be? would they not be told to stop? (i’m anticipating the excuse that it is to stop terror, but is it not then terror and indiscriminate killing itself?) we’re moving towards something like the film “minority report” where people are punished

for crimes we anticipate them committing. either way, i’m not taking sides, for the Qur-an says to seek justice even against yourselves.

i’m only calling for all criminals to be punished, and all murderers

to be executed, after convicted in a fair trial, unless their victims’ families accept a ransom from them and choose to forgive. would you call that fair?

Colleague Z’s Husband Ah but you see the huge difference is that those radical Islamist who killed innocents in 9/11 did it on purpose. the causilties of war done by our troops are regretted by even the most battle hardened soldiers. The brainwashed morons who killed innocents in 9/11 and those morons who support it, kill innocents and think its ok matter of fact they celebrate it. that is called evil. So please don’t even compare those who accidently kill the innocent and regret what has happened to those who take pride in shedding innocent blood.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Z’s Husband (and this point is also pertains to Former Colleague/Coffeemate’s last comment on this post): this is one issue on which we are unlikely to agree.

Allah says in the Qur-an that mankind is the most argumentative thing, which is a criticism, not a compliment. Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “do not argue, even when you’re right”. i find that as an injunction never to argue, for when does one argue, except when they feel they are right? so i’ll leave you with a question whose answer i also seek: have you or any trustworthy, knowledgeable person you know well observed evidence, from a thorough investigation, about the 9/11 culprits? if the answer is yes, please pass that to me. if it is no, then how can you or anyone in a like position insist that it was Islam-“ists” and, further, that it was ONLY Islam-“ists”?

Moving from that point, both accidental and intentional killing, in every legal system that i know-U.S., Judeo-Christian, Islamic, etc.- incur a penalty. i only insist that such penalties be incurred by all. doing so would prevent the accident. (perhaps visualizing another perspective would be useful: what if hindus were accidentally killing christians in the your country while trying to target criminals? how acceptable would you find it?)

Black History Month: Bilal ibn Rabah

The Gregorian month February is known (in the United States, at least) as Black History Month.

From the Annals of Black History, we bring you…   Bilal ibn Rabah.

Bilal was an Ethiopian who answered the call to Islam in secret because he was enslaved to a man who opposed the new religion. He never submitted his heart to even the worst torture, until Abu Bakr purchased his freedom, whereupon Umar declared “Abu Bakr, our master, has freed our master.” Bilal would eventually get his revenge against his former oppressor in the battle of Badr.

Bilal was the first Muslim to ever sound the melodious athan, or call to Islamic prayer. When the Muslims conquered Mecca in a bloodless campaign, it was he, who climbed atop the Ka’aba, to which all Muslims pray, with his black feet, and called the world to prayer in Islam’s holiest city.

Edward Blyden, himself a black man, wrote in 1874:
“The eloquent Adzan or Call to Prayer, which to this day summons at the same hours millions of the human race to their devotions, was first uttered by a Negro, Bilal by name, whom Mohammed, in obedience to a dream, appointed the first Muezzin or Crier. And it has been remarked that even Alexander the Great is in Asia an unknown personage by the side of this honoured Negro.” (1)

To this day, you can find Muslims of all races who are proud to name their sons Bilal.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilal_ibn_Rabah_al-Habashi#References