About Us

Sejarah dan Peran Pwk. PP Persis Mesir


Sejarah Terbentuknya FOSPI

Keberadaan Perwakilan Pimpinan Pusat Persatuan Islam (Pwk. PP. Persis) Mesir tidak terlepas dari peran serta para alumnus Pesantren Persis dan juga simpatisan Persis yang berada di Mesir. Dalam rentetan sejarah, berdirinya Pwk PP Persis Mesir berawal dari sebuah forum yang bernama Forum Silaturahmi Persatuan Islam (FOSPI). Dimulai pada awal tahun 1960-an, ketika diutusnya beberapa mahasiswa Indonesia, diantaranya Ust. Abu Bakar Yasin, Lc. dan Ust. Jazuli Noor, Lc. Menyusul kemudian KH. Latif Mukhtar, MA. dan ibu Hj. Aisyah Wargadinata, Lc. yang kemudian menjadi istri beliau. Setelah itu, untaian regenerasi sempat terputus hingga awal tahun 90-an. Keberlangsungan para alumni Persis terus berlanjut kembali, ketika tahun 1992 datang 5 orang mahasiswa Persis (4 orang berasal dari Pesantren Persis Bangil dan 1 orang utusan dari DDII Jakarta). Hal ini menjadi tonggak sejarah baru bagi estafeta para mahasiswa Persis yang belajar di Mesir. Sehingga pada akhirnya, dari jumlah 5 orang ini, lambat laun meningkat dan bertambah setiap tahunnya menjadi lebih banyak. Bahkan pada akhir tahun 1995, mahasiswa Persis bertambah menjadi 30 orang. Kemudian pada tanggal 22 Maret 1996 secara resmi FOSPI berdiri.

Kelahiran FOSPI bukan berdasarkan garis instruksi Pimpinan Pusat Persis di Indonesia, melainkan atas inisiatif dan kesadaran kolektif yang menginginkan terciptanya penggodokan para generasi muda Persis sebelum terjun ke dunia dakwah di Indonesia. Walaupun demikian, keberadaan FOSPI bisa dikatakan sangat membantu terhadap sosialisasi Persis ke khalayak yang lebih luas terutama di kawasan Timur Tengah, di samping menjadi kepanjangan tangan PP Persis secara tidak langsung.

Dari tahun ke tahun, anggota FOSPI semakin bertambah banyak. Hal ini erat kaitannya dengan mu’adalah (persamaan) ijazah mu’allimin Pesantren Persatuan Islam dengan ijazah Tsanawiyyah milik Al-Azhar, sehingga alumni pesantren Persatuan Islam bisa langsung diterima di Universitas Al-Azhar.

Kegiatan FOSPI lebih mengutamakan kepada peningkatan sumber daya para anggotanya. Usaha-usaha yang dikembangkan FOSPI dalam kegiatannya meliputi berbagai hal, diantaranya; Pertama, berusaha menghimpun dan mengembangkan potensi mahasiswa dalam upaya meningkatkan pembinaan mahasiswa di Mesir. Kedua, berperan aktif dan kreatif, konstruktif dan inovatif dalam mengembangkan pemikiran keagamaan, ilmu pengetahuan dan teknologi bagi kemashlahatan umat. Ketiga, menjalin dan meningkatkan kerjasama di antara anggota FOSPI dengan berbagai organisasi dan instansi lainnya. Keempat, mengamalkan segala usaha yang sesuai dengan tujuan organisasi.

Integrasi FOSPI Menjadi Pwk. PP. Persis Mesir

Semakin banyaknya jumlah mahasiswa Persis yang belajar di Mesir merupakan sebuah kebahagian tersendiri bagi Persis. Ditambah dengan keberadaan FOSPI sebagai sebuah wadah tempat berkumpul sehingga mampu dengan mudah memobilisasi seluruh mahasiswa Persis yang ada di Mesir. Bahkan anggota FOSPI merambak ke beberapa negara Timur Tengah lainnya, seperti Sudan, Maroko dan Saudi Arabia. Keberadaan FOSPI menjadi kontributor tersendiri bagi Persis, meski secara struktural FOSPI bukanlah bagian dari Persis.

Status afiliasi FOSPI dengan Persis hanyalah berupa emosional belaka. Secara struktural, FOSPI tidak memiliki jalur yang jelas dengan Persis. Baru pada tahun 2001 muncul keinginan para anggota FOSPI untuk memperjelas jalur afiliasi dengan Persis di Indonesia. Pada Musyawarah Anggota FOSPI IV gagasan ini menjadi rekomendasi untuk diuruskan pada kepemimpinan berikiutnya. Pada kepemimpinan berikutnya, yaitu pada masa Arif Rahman Hakim, sehubungan datangnya KH. Shidiq Amin M.BA. ke Mesir status FOSPI menjadi perwakilan resmi Pimpinan Pusat Persis. Maka berubahlah nama dari FOSPI menjadi Perwakilan Pimpinan Pusat Persatuan Islam.

Pada tanggal 1 September 2003 secara resmi Pwk PP Persis Mesir berdiri. Landasan awal mengapa FOSPI harus berafiliasi secara resmi kepada Persis adalah agar kerjasama yang dibangun bisa lebih mudah dan strukturnya jelas. Maka dengan berdirinya Pwk PP Persis Mesir bertujuan; pertama, sebagai wahana pembinaan dan kaderisasi anggota jam’iyyah Persis. Kedua, meningkatkan komunikasi dan konsolidasi Persis di tingkat internasional. Ketiga, memberikan informasi aktifitas pelajar dan mahasiswa Persis di Mesir dan Timur Tengah. Keempat, mengembangkan wajah dan wijhah Persis. Dan Kelima, membantu jam’iyyah Persis dalam menjawab persoalan umat.

Masa kepengurusan Pwk PP Persis Mesir adalah dua tahun. Hal ini mengingat masa kuliah yang biasa dijalani para mahasiswa hanya sekitar empat tahun.

Dalam rentetan kepengurusan, Pwk PP Persis Mesir baru mengalami tiga periode. Periode pertama dengan Ketua Umumnya, Ust. Arif RH, Lc. Dipl. Kemudian dilanjutkan oleh Ust. Yusuf Burhanuddin yang memimpin pada masa tahun 2004-2006. Dan pada Musyawarah Anggota II posisi Ketua Umum jatuh pada Risyan Moehamad Taufik.

* Ditulis oleh Risyan Moehammad Taufik – Ketua Umum Pwk PP. Persis Mesir masa jihad 2006-2008

17 comments on “About Us

  1. please publicize my book dear friends — dennis walker

    ____Australian Writer’s Book on Islam in America: White Western World Recognizes Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam___

    The April 2007 issue of _The Journal of American Studies_, England, has published a review of the book of Dr Dennis Walker _Islam and the Search for African-American Nationhood: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam_ (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2005, $24.95). Pp. 597. ISBN 0 932863 44 2.

    The reviewer, JULIE SHERIDAN notes that of “Dennis Walker’s detailed study evaluates the influence of Islamic traditions, tenets and motifs on the formation of a distinctly African American “nationalist” identity. Walker traces the development of Islam in America from its partial cultural embedment during the colonial period (when Muslim slaves were first transported to the British settlements from Africa) to its current, highly politicized manifestation under the guidance of Louis Farrakhan, the

    charismatic leader of the revived Nation of Islam (NOI).”

    Dr Sheridan takes Walker’s point that Minister Louis Farrakhan has been a constructive leader who has concentrated on building a better future for his people. “Predictably,” she writes “the NOI’s often confrontational stance has drawn vociferous criticism from certain sections of the media, but Walker strives to rescue the sect from the extremist fringe of American discourse by highlighting the quietly integrationist impulses that he believes have always flourished beneath its “nationalistic fig-leaves”.

    Though mindful of the fact that the historical trajectory of the African American people differs in crucial ways from that of once-oppressed white ethnic groups, Walker argues that “the process of carving out a distinctive ‘enclave nation’ or ‘micronation’ in defiance of mainstream (i.e. WASP) society has been a rite of passage for all ethnic minorities wishing to penetrate –– and eventually prosper within — that society.

    Most white Western scholars outside and even in America now agree on this: the Nation of Islam is peace-loving and constructive and a group that has been positive for American life.

    However, Julie Sheridan does defend Jewish nationalist writers and organizations from Walker’s attempts to open them to critical discussion. “In seeking to provide a corrective to what he perceives as the wilful demonization of the Nation of Islam by Jewish American and Anglo-American print discourses, Walker sometimes eschews scrupulous objectivity in favor of what he terms a ‘positive-critical approach’ to the controversial sect. Particularly problematic is his attempt to offer a mitigating context for the notoriously anti-Semitic remarks uttered by Farrakhan during the early 1980s. Walker’s assessment of the ‘harmless’, ‘contrived’ nature of these remarks might carry a little more weight if his study were not so relentlessly skeptical of Jewish American viewpoints on the vexed issue of inter-ethnic relations. In choosing to devote a significant portion of his study to the deconstruction of the “far-from-‘benign’ myth” of a black–Jewish alliance based on a shared historical experience of persecution by white Christians, Walker risks making Jewish American “micronationalists” into the villains of his study. Ill-judged references to “the new Israel-drunk Jewish nationalist elite” and “portly salaried officials of Jewish organizations” do a disservice to Walker’s worthy ambition to intervene in a virulently polemical debate with

    a view to “deflat[ing] fears between U.S. ethnic groups”.

    African-Americans — and other Americans to whom Minister Farrakhan has provided direction and advice — can get Walker’s book and judge for themselves if he has been unfair to the nationalist minority among Jewish-Americans.

    [[Dr Dennis Walker _Islam and the Search for African-American Nationhood: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2005, $24.95). Pp. 597. ISBN 0 932863 44 2]].

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    Dennis Walker, _Islam and the Search for African-American Nationhood: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam_
    uhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam
    by Dr. Dennis Walker

    Book price: $24.95
    ISBN: 0-932863-44-2 * 600 pages

    SUMMARY AUTHOR REVIEWS CONTENTS ORDER
    Special Discount Offer

    Summary

    The presence of Islam in America is as long-standing as the arrival of the first captive Muslims from Africa, making Islam one of America’s formative religions. But the long-suppressed indigenous Islam didn’t resurface in organized form until the 1930s, when it infused the politico-spiritual drive by the Noble Drew ‘Ali and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to address the appalling social conditions of the ghettoized black masses of the North.

    Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam would prove to be the most extensive, influential and durable of African-American self-generated organizations. Combining black cooperative entrepreneurship with indigenous Islam-tinged culture and spirituality, the NOI pursued a collectivist nationalist agenda which sought to advance the black masses’ cause–within America or without it. At its collectivist height, the NOI achieved a $95 million empire of interlocking black Muslim small businesses and farms–providing a model for “bootstrap self-development” by the marginalized and dispossessed, worldwide.

    Bourgeois elements developed within, or engaged by, the NOI sought to weld a united African-American nation out of a range of classes. Outstanding second generation leaders–Warith Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X–would further imbed Islam in Black America, and extend its relations into the international community. Their media offered an informed and critical outlook on both domestic and international affairs that often paralleled progressive analysts.

    What seems clear, after two monumental marches in 1995 and 2005 to the nation’s capital, is that the NOI and African-American Muslims will have substantial input into the future direction of the African-American struggle.

    But it remains ambiguous whether the developing African-American nation will pursue its still-unfulfilled promise through secession, autonomy or long-term integration. To date, indigenous American Islam has been made a bogey by various white elites in order to regiment their own and other ethnic groups.

    ISBN: 0-932863-44-2 $24.95 2005

    About the Author

    Dr. Dennis Walker is a Celtic Australian specialist on Muslim minorities and author of two books on Islam and the national question. He reads five Muslim languages, and is author of numerous scholarly papers, articles and reviews in a number of languages, reflecting his wide travels and areas of interest. He has taught at Melbourne University, Deakin University and Australian National University.

    Reviews

    “Dr. Walker has drawn a portrait of this movement that deserves the attention of scholars. I strongly recommend it to teachers and students studying or writing
    about Islam and the African American experience.”

    — Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang, Howard University
    “It is not very often books of substance on African Americans, Islam and the Nation of Islam are written to set the record straight, or to reveal the truth about an historical legacy in the making. However, Islam and the search for African American, and the Nation of Islam, by Dr. Dennis Walker is an exception to the rule…

    …Dr. Walker’s book sets the record straight for an Islamic, African American and an Arab historical connection, the influences and impacting maze of geographical history, as well as the search for African American nationhood in the 21st century.

    This well documented book offers several defining points of views coupled with the elements of societies’ Black History, The Nation of Islam, race, class, and culture. Dr. Walker’s book also strengthens and confirms the longstanding relevance of media knowledge and networks within the African American communities and its impact on domestic and international relations.

    Islam and the search for African American Nationhood is an extensive scholarly treasure trove of African, Arab and Islamic history. This timely study on Islam and the African American movement and its leaders is worthy reading, yet goes beyond the expansion of the African American experience and its search for Nationhood.”

    — Leila Diab in Muslim Journal

    Table of Contents

    INTRODUCTION
    GLOSSARY
    I. THE NATION OF ISLAM AND ITS SUCCESSORS AFTER 1975: FROM
    MILLENARIAN PROTEST TO TRANS-CONTINENTAL RELATIONSHIPS
    1: TO ELIJAH MUHAMMAD’S DEATH IN 1975
    The Black Muslims’ Original Millenarianism
    The Drive for a New Economy and a New Language under Elijah Muhammad
    Theological Adjustments up to 1975: the Emergence of Warith ud-Deen Mohammed
    Arab World Attitudes to Black Muslims to 1975
    2: POST-1975 BLACK MUSLIM MOVEMENTS
    Relations with Other Faiths, especially Christianity,under Warith’s Leadership
    Coalitionism: The Farrakhan Group’s Attitudes to Christianity
    3: RESPONSES TO THE POST-1973 SOCIAL CRISIS
    The Muslim’s Struggle Against Ghetto Decay, Crime, and Black Lumpen Sub-Culture
    From Elijah’s Rhetorical-Secessionism to Frank Integration
    4: POST-1975 ATTITUDES TO OVERSEAS MUSLIMS AND AFRICANS
    Black Muslim Attitudes to Israel and Middle Eastern Affairs
    The New NOI Starts to Empathize with Powerless Whites in America
    The NOI and Overseas Islamists
    Cargoism
    Black Muslim Attitudes to Africa Below the Sahara
    Farrakhan and Ghana: 1986
    Africa in the 1990s
    5: THE RISE OF FARRAKHAN: THE CHALLENGE FOR WARITH
    1984: Farrakhan and the Jews
    Farrakhan and the East’s Orthodox Islam
    Ongoing Millenarianism
    The Farrakhan-Warith Contest to 1990
    6: MATURE WARITHITE ISLAM
    Classical Muslims and the Modern West
    Jews’ and Arabs’ Ongoing Input into African-American Identity

    II. AFRICAN ISLAM IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN NATION:
    FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICA’S MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETY
    1: ISLAM IN AMERICAN SLAVERY
    Power and Dialogue
    Jihad? Integration?
    Syncretism or Dissimulation?
    Atoms from Islam Transmitted Down New Generations
    Post-1960 Reactions to Slavery and Forced Assimilation
    The Evolving Critique of Christianity
    Original Languages and 20th-century Nationality
    2: JEWISH PARTICIPATION IN SLAVERY AND SEGREGATION
    3: THE ANGLO-AMERICANIZATION OF OTHER WHITES AND THE
    FORECLOSURE OF MICRONATIONALISMS
    The Formation of the Ethnic Groups
    Ethnic Entry into the American Parliamentarist Political System
    4: EARLY ELITE BLACK HISTORIOGRAPHY VIS–VIS ISLAM
    Christianity Marginalized
    Arabic Writings of Africans Recycled
    Qualified Identification with the Wider Arabo-Islamic World
    Muslim Slave-Trade Palliated?
    The Long-Term Legacy for Scholarship
    New Historiography Unites Diverse Black Classes and Groups
    Long-Term Patterns of Meaning

    III. THE DIFFICULT REBIRTH OF ISLAM AMONG AFRICAN-AMERICANS, 1900-1950
    1: SOCIAL CHANGE AND THE BIRTH OF THE MOORS
    The Social Crisis in Which Indigenous Islam Took Form
    African-American Relations with Jews in the Early Twentieth Century
    2: THE MOORISH SCIENCE TEMPLE OF AMERICA
    3: THE GARVEYITE MOVEMENT AND ISLAM
    UNIA Interactions with Middle Eastern Muslims
    The Garveyites’ Responses to Muslim Insurrection Overseas
    Garvey and Zionism
    The Shifts and Opening to Islam in Religion
    The Moors and Political Black Nationalism
    4: THE MOORS EVOLVE
    Increased Awareness of Third World Muslim Countries and Concepts
    Purist Rejection of Arab Authority in Islam
    5: JEWISH-BLACK INTERACTION AND THE EARLY NOI
    Black-Jewish Cultural Relations
    WASP and Jewish Distortion of African-American Culture
    Ameliorism by Jews and Black American Self-Formation of Identity
    6: THE NATION OF ISLAM

    IV.THE HEYDAY OF ELIJAH:
    HIS ARTICULATION OF IDEOLOGY IN THE 1960S AND 1970S
    1: ELIJAH’S PERIOD CONTEXT
    The Emergence of Bourgeois Nationalism Among African-Americans
    2: NOI PROTEST RELIGION
    The Threat to White America
    Anti-Christianity
    Arabic and Islamic Elements in the Hybrid, Composite Religion
    Monotheism
    Secession from Islam?
    3: RESISTANCE AND ACCOMMODATION TO WHITE AMERICA
    Attraction to Creativity by Whites
    Economic Affiliation to America?
    Parliamentarism, U.S. Institutions
    Southern Background and Regionalism
    U.S. Prisons
    4: THE IMPACT OF ARABS AND MIDDLE EAST ISLAMS
    Middle Easterners and the Borders of World Black Community to 1975
    The Patterns of Ideology and Discourse to 1975

    V. ELIJAH MUHAMMAD’S MUSLIMS IN A CHANGING AMERICA
    1: THE NOI IN ECONOMIC MODERNIZATION OF BLACKS
    Class Status Shifts Through Conversion
    Openings for Affiliating Neo-Bourgeois Muslims to America and Success
    2: RISING ETHNIC TENSIONS IN THE 1960S BETWEEN THE BLACKS AND THE JEWS
    Affinities Between Blacks and Jews
    The Blacks Struggle to Win Control Over Their Education Economic Foci of Conflict
    The Failure and Waning of Jewish-American Liberalism
    Nation of Islam Activists and Tensions of Black Ghettoes With Jews
    3: THE WIDENING DIVERSITY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN GROUPS
    The Black Panthers
    Elijah Muhammad on the New Left and the Campus Revolts
    Elijah on the Factionalization of Blacks
    Muhammad Speaks’ Coverage of Internal America
    4: POSSIBILITIES FOR RELATIONSHIP WITH THIRD WORLD PEOPLES
    Growing African-American Cultural Attraction to Sub-Saharan Africa
    Attitudes to Arabs Among Americanist Integrationists and Secular Black Nationalists
    5: NOI RELATIONS WITH THE ARAB, MUSLIM AND THIRD WORLDS
    Arabization and Islam’s Macro-History
    Religion, Economics, and the Non-White States
    The Israel-Palestine Struggle
    Arabs and Persians
    Wider Muslim World and Other Third World Countries
    Relations with the Communist World
    Relations with Spanish-Speaking States and Hispanic Americans

    VI. THE RISE OF FARRAKHAN IN ELIJAH’S NOI
    1: TENSIONS BETWEEN THE BLACKS AND THE JEWS OVER FOREIGN POLICY TO 1980
    Andrew Young and the Shifts in African-American Relations with Jews, Israel and Arabs
    Young’s Functions in African-American Macro-Consciousness U.S. Foreign Policy and African-American Identity and Institutions-Building
    2: THE FORMATION OF MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN WITHIN THE NATION OF ISLAM (1955-1980)
    African-American Culture and Mass Mobilization
    Farrakhan’s Evolution as Leader from Minister of a Mosque to Deputy of Elijah
    Farrakhan After Wallace Mohammed’s Succession, 1975-1980
    The Young Farrakhan and Jewish Culture and Groups
    3: PERSPECTIVE: ISLAM AND U.S. BLACK IDENTITY TO 1980

    VII. FARRAKHAN’S CHANGING POST-1990 NATION OF ISLAM
    1: RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND CHANGE IN FARRAKHAN’S NEW NOI
    Toward the Humanization of Leadership, and Self-Reflection
    Combating Envy as a Force for Political Fragmentation
    2005: The Quran and the Humanization of Leadership for a United Front of All Blacks
    Neo-Fardian Themes in Farrakhan’s NOI
    NOI Changes and Deepening Engagement with Middle Eastern Islam
    The Threat of Violence and Repression of the Religion
    2: THE MILLION MAN MARCH: INDUCTION INTO ELECTORAL POLITICS?
    The Million Man March of 1995
    Political Mobilization after the 1995 Million Man March Militants: Could the U.S. Systemic Disintegrate?
    3: DISPARATE BLACK CLASSES AND GETTING RICH: CAN THE NOI
    INTEGRATE HUMANE NATIONHOOD?
    The NOI and Nationalist Private Enterprise
    Farrakhan’s NOI and the Black Bourgeoisie’s Economic Nationalism
    Strata and Classes Beyond the Bourgeoisie
    Tentative Incorporation into the System
    The Transformation of NOI Pan-Islamism
    4: AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
    General Non-Muslim African-American Reactions
    Non-Muslim Blacks: Al Sharpton
    The Impact of September 11 on Farrakhan and his Sect
    Movement towards a Median Position between Arabs and Jews
    Abdul Akbar Muhammad: Pan-Islam
    The U.S. Invasion of Iraq
    What Future for Farrakhan’s New NOI and Islam among African-Americans?
    5: THE 2005 MILLIONS MORE MOVEMENT: RESURGENCE FOR FARRAKHAN?
    PERSPECTIVES AND SOME CONCLUSIONS

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  2. From:Dennis Patrick Walker (donxa@hotmail.com)

    FOR PUBLICATION AND TRANSMISSION

    W.D. Warith Mohamed (1933-2008) — Steadfast U.S. “Black Muslim” Leader Who Built a Global Reach_

    by Dr Dennis Walker, Monash Asia Institute, Melbourne 3168, Australia

    The African-American people farewell in “W.D.” Warith Deen Mohamed a Muslim leader who worked to lift up the Black underprivileged and poor into the middle classes, who tried to negotiate better relations with the U.S. system, who built new interaction between Muslims, Christians and Jews of all races in America, on the basis that there was one American people, and who speeded up the entry of African-Americans into the Islamic, Arab and African worlds.

    Wallace/Warith Mohamed assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam in 1975, following the death of his father Elijah Muhammad. Some regarded Warith as having betrayed the black nationalist rhetoric that the NOI vociferated against the “white devils” from 1930. However, already under his father Elijah too these sects’ real enterprise already was the reformation and transformation of the “American Negroes” to make them competitive in the USA’s productive economy and society — not any real nationalist secession. In the economic sphere, Elijah Muhammad founded an empire of interlocking Black Muslim small businesses and farms. It was a black co-operative capitalism with Islamic emblems.

    The Black Muslim bourgeoisie that Elijah’s economic revolution created made sure that Wallace/Warith succeeded Elijah in February 1975. Warith made serious efforts to bring his sect into the mainstream of American life, urging his followers to vote in U.S. elections and enter local, state and national government. When Warith was lifted on the shoulders of 20,000 Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), and thus proclaimed Chief Imam, the American economy was still performing strongly, which made prospects for taking his movement into the economic mainstream look bright. Warith’s integrationism and American patriotism looked an appropriate strategy for black Americans. The rise of oil prices from 1973 onwards, however, gradually sank the U.S. into economic depression: the effects on urban lower-class blacks were severe, and Reaganomics made the economy even less hospitable for Blacks with initiative.

    Despite two tough decades, Warith carried ahead his efforts to build up an Islamic private enterprise around his sect. By the 21st century, the Muslim followers of Warith were present in considerable numbers at all levels of government, and his adherent Keith Ellison became the first Muslim to win a seat in the U.S. Congress.

    I have discussed Warith’s career and roles in my book [Dr Dennis Walker _Islam and the Search for African-American Nationhood: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2005, $24.95). Pp. 597. ISBN 0 932863 44 2]].

    Warith did carry through to completion the great project of his father Elijah Muhammad — the fusion of an atomized ill-treated people into a disciplined and hopeful community.

    In a misunderstanding, some among African-Americans dismissed Warith or “W.D.” as an agent of the FBI and the system. Some moderate stances of Warith were indeed embarrassing, but his critics missed that deeper steadfastness that held beneath the changes of Black Muslim ideology that Warith innovated to meet the transformations in Black conditions and life.

    It was not exactly true that W.D. Mohamed betrayed the nationalist project or militancy of his father by seeking a single American community with whites. Although his was an individualistic Islam that drew closer to that of the Arabs, he kept up a portion of his father’s collectivist religious nationalism. The blending of collective Islamic rituals such as Arabic group-prayers with “Black” economic endeavors continued. While now the property of individuals more often than the sect, the Black Muslim businesses under Warith continued to interlock into an economic circuit that rotates the monies to keep them “within the community” — the Islamic black nation.

    It was untrue that as he sought more integration and American citizenship for his followers, Warith became lukewarm towards the Arabs and Africans. The atmosphere in his sect was rather pluralist. Pan-Islamists for whom Palestine was important could write and print. The circulation of Warith’s newspapers fell far below that of _Muhammad Speaks_ in the heyday of his father Elijah Muhammad. Yet _The Bilalian News_, _World Muslim News_ and __Muslim Journal_ carried dense and well-documented data about the struggles of the peoples of the Arab world and Africa, educating African-Americans about their Islamic and African cultures.

    Warith educated African-Americans to link up with Arabs, Muslims and Africans in the Third World. The young Arabic scholars among his followers today study Islamic law in the original in Syrian and Egyptian universities. The tragedy was that the U.S. polity never utilized those international skills of his movement. America the has never made a just estimate of the contribution the Black Muslims one day could make to building friendship reconciliation and peace between Americans and the Arabs and the Muslim World.

    To his death, Warith continued to call for the full national independence of the Palestinians from Occupation as a pre-condition for a peace settlement between the Arabs and Israel.

    [Dr Dennis Walker _Islam and the Search for African-American Nationhood: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2005, $24.95). Pp. 597. ISBN 0 932863 44 2]].

  3. Dr Dennis Walker. “Islam and Christianity in South Africa under Apartheid: The Black African Dimension” , Monash Asia Institute, Australia.

    During apartheid, mainstream Muslim scholarly journals published from the Western and Islamic worlds discussed Muslim minorities of Indic and Malay descent in South Africa (the African nationalists were using the term Azania). It took longer, though, for them to focus on the changing attitudes of the country’s Black populations to Islam and to the new Muslim states of the Middle East.

    The _Journal of the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs_ in Jeddah, Sa’udi Arabia did try to tap specialists and participants from the country as the supremacy of the white Afrikaners headed for its collapse. Articles on South Africa’s Muslim minorities that appeared in the journal included: W.J. Argyle, “Muslims in South Africa: Origins. Development and Present Economic Status” (JIMMA 3:2 pp. 222-256); S.V. Sicard, “The ‘Zanzibaris’ in Durban, South Africa” (JIMMA 3:1 pp. 128-137); Mogamed Ajam, “Muslim Educational Effort in South Africa: A Report” (JIMMA 5:2 pp. 468-473); J.A. Naude, “Islam in South Africa: A General Survey” (JIMMA 6:1 pp. 21-33); Muhammad Haron, “Islamic Dynamism in South Africa’s Western Cape” (JIMMA 9:2) and S.V Sicard, “Muslims and Apartheid: The Theory and Practice of Muslim Resistance to Apartheid” (JIMMA 10:1).

    Considered only in the perspective of the long-standing Muslim minorities mainly descended from people from South Asia and the Malay world, the prognosis for Islam in Azania did not look very optimistic. The Muslims of South Africa/Azania were only a small proportion of the population: Naude (p. 25) noted that according to the figures for 1980, Muslims constituted only 1.34% of the total population of South Africa, that is 328,900 Muslims out of a total population of 24,615,960. “There is good reason to estimate”, he assessed, “that Muslims will present an even smaller part of the total population of this country in future. By way of contrast at least 56% of the total population of South Africa are Christians.” Most of the Christian population, of course, consisted of indigenous black Africans who had been Christian only for one or two generations. These black Christians often had an ambivalent attitude to a religion brought to them by white Western Afrikaners and British imperialists. Still, there was no doubt that the limited size of South Africa’s Muslim minority, the constricting effects that decades of racial segregation had on its intellectual growth and modernization, the minority’s lack of ideological interaction, or in shared institutions, with Azania’s resurgent African majority until relatively late, and the explosive context of white-black racial conflict, all made Azania’s Muslims a vulnerable minority.

    Despite the question-marks hanging around the future of Azanian Muslims, the minority in the 1980s drew some study in the Islamic heartlands for its substantial religious and intellectual achievements, both in anti-Christian apologetics (Ahmad Deedat was not alone) and in propagation among the African populations. Efforts by South African Muslims of Indian and Malay descent had manifested real dynamism since the mid-1970s.

    Of all JIMMA contributors, Naude was the only one who made substantial reference to recent Black South African (Azanian) converts to Islam. S.V. Sicard’s paper was on a different, compact Black African Muslim minority in Durban descended from enslaved Africans or ex-slaves from Mozambique or Malawi who were Muslim when they arrived in South Africa or who became Muslim soon after. Naude tangentially mentioned the South African Muslims’ drive to win converts from the Black African population, stressing the insecurity that Muslim (like Hindu) Indians were feeling as the Azanian blacks heightened their liberation struggle against the whites and advanced towards the seizure of political power in Azania. Some Indian Muslims, especially in Natal, economically exploited the blacks and collaborated with the ruling Afrikaners in their tricameral “multi-racial” parliamentary charade. In such a situation, “a growing number of South African Muslims believe that the solution to the problems of South Africa lies in convincing the black population that their future is in Islam.” [Naude p. 26]. There can be no gainsaying that Azania’s Indian and Colored Muslims in the 1970s and 1980s showed creditable imagination, dedication and energy, and courage, in communicating Islam to Azania’s Bantus, considering the Muslim minority’s small size and limited resources, financial and institutional.

    _A Christian View of the Spread of Islam_.

    This Islamic missionary activity had won about 15,000 black Azanian converts to Islam in the African townships. The modality of this black neo-lslam in Azania was studied by a number of Christian White South African comparative religionists. J.N.J. Kritzinger wrote a succinct but interesting study of Azanian black neo-Muslims titled “Islam as a Rival to the Gospel in Africa” in _Evangelical Review of Theology_, (5:2, October, 1981). He noted that Islam came to “South Africa” with the exiled Malay political prisoners and slaves who started arriving from 1667 onwards. The other way in which Islam entered was through the arrival of free passenger Indians from Gujarat in 1880, many of whom were Muslims. These Malay and Indian Muslims spread throughout South Africa, mainly as traders and businessmen. “Many of them have learnt the languages of the Black people and are in an ideal position to propagate Islam through literature and personal contacts”. It was only since the 1960s, however, that a concerted effort was made by Indian Muslims to bring Islam to the Black peoples of South Africa. Specific missionary societies were set up for this purpose. Kritzinger characterized the methods used by Muslim missionaries to convert black Azanians as symposia, conventions, lectures, the printing of tracts and books, clinics, distribution of food and blankets, etc. “The missionary approach that is being used and the type of Black people being reached indicate a neo-Islamic modality similar to that of the [heterodox, India-originated] Ahmadiyyah missions and very different from the type of Islam produced by the process of gradual penetration” over centuries in East and West Africa, Kritzinger concluded. His impression in 1981 was that the fastest growth of Islam in the black community had taken place among young black people, especially since the 1976 black youth uprising and riots in the segregated township of Soweto, suggesting that social grievances against specific whites they had encountered and ideological factors played a large role in those conversions, as several Black neo-Muslims more or less confirmed to him in personal interviews.

    The fact that Islam is a post-Christian religion was working in its favour in relation to Christianity among Azanian Blacks, Kritzinger observed in 1981. Islam “comes with the claim of having received the final revelation from God to restore the original monotheism of Abraham to its pristine purity. This claim of possessing the final truth which supersedes Christianity and makes it redundant, gives Islam a decided psychological advantage. The claim of being the original monotheism from which Judaism and Christianity have strayed introduces an anti-Christian element, although this is not equally pronounced in all the modalities of Islam. It is prominent in Ahmadiyyah propaganda and in [Sunni] Muslim missionary societies influenced by their arguments in South Africa”. In the Azanian Black population, for so long segregated, impoverished and oppressed by Afrikaner and Angloid Christian whites, where there was growing rejection of Christianity because of its association with the “Christian national” policy of “separate development”, Islamic anti-Christian propaganda was finding fertile ground. “Islamic propaganda seems to be riding the wave of the anti-White and anti-Christian sentiment let loose in 1976 and providing a viable alternative to Christianity” among Azanian Blacks, Kritzinger noted.

    Muslim missionary outreach among Azanian blacks, especially urban Zulus, was being fostered by the blacks’ own pre-existing growing interest in Islam as a religion of Africa. One of the first mu’adhdhins (callers to prayer) was a Black man, Bilal, a freed Abyssinian slave. “The strong emphasis on the brotherhood of Islam regardless of race, culture, or social standing which is expressed five times daily when Muslims pray shoulder to shoulder in the mosques and above all in the annual pilgrimage to Mecca is very attractive to Blacks especially when compared to racially separated churches or the image of a Christianity which sanctions racial separation”. Islamic propagators in South Africa were stressing in the 1980s that both Christianity and Communism had failed to bring about justice and inter-racial harmony in Africa whereas Islam could. Islam was being presented to Azanians as the “third way” between the extremes of capitalism and Communism in that it allows private property but was argued to have strict safeguards against exploitation. Speaking to the acculturated Anglophone context in which both Indian Islam and Black African protest have unfolded in South Africa, Toynbee was being quoted to the effect that the special contribution of Islam to world history will be to solve the problems of racial discrimination and alcoholism. The universal unity and brotherhood of Muslims, based on the unity of God, the finality of Muhammad’s Prophethood, the uniqueness of the Qur’an, the prayer direction (qiblah) towards Mecca and the use of the Arabic language in ritual worship, was working strongly in the conversion of Black people in S.A. and the U.S.A. to Islam. Kritzinger cited articles in _al-Qalam_, mouthpiece of the Muslim Youth Movement which developed a presentation of Islam along these lines targeted to Azanian blacks.

    Since the early 1970s, then, Islam thus has been articulated in Azania by ethnically Indian Muslim missionaries with attention to facets that have been interpreted to offer dignity and autonomy to blacks as they face racist oppressors.

    Kritzinger concluded from his survey that “apart from the ideological attraction of Islam, which is limited to the politically conscious, the cultic and ritual elements of Islam attract people from a wider spectrum [among South Africa’s blacks]. The call to prayer (adhan) in Arabic announces the presence of Islam and exercises a strange attraction in a Black community even if only for the novelty of it. People come to this new ‘church’, are attracted by the ritual washing, the postures of worship and receive literature. In this ‘centripetal’ way a local Jama’at comes into existence which eventually builds its own mosque or Islamic centre, often with financial help from elsewhere”. One black Muslim “missionary” told Kritzinger in an interview that he has merely to put up a prayer room and start sounding the call in a Black community and he will have ten people more every day.

    Looking to the decade ahead in 1981 as an intellectual representing Azania’s white Christian community, Kritzinger considered it “certain that Islam will grow extensively in the Black communities of South Africa and this is the immediate challenge we have to face. A scare campaign is however not what is needed. It is not a ‘Muslim gevaar’ (Muslim danger) that we must combat or fear. Such a response would not be a mature Christian one at all. We have to face the challenge which Islam presents to us with humility, patience and confidence. We need not panic or withdraw into a defensive attitude. Controlled by the perfect love which casts out fear, we can face the Islamic challenge with courage” (pp. 237-245).

    _Another White Viewpoint_

    Another notable response to the spread of Islam among Black Africans of Azania from the liberal margin of White Christian South Africa came from Reverend Gerrie Lubbe. A Ph.D in comparative religion and lecturer in the Department of Religion at the Universiteit Van Suid-Afrika, Lubbe in a 1984 paper related conversions to Islam by some urban Bantu Azanians to the political militancy that had been mounting amongst Blacks against the apartheid white racist system since the mid-1970s. His analysis, though, hypothesized a somewhat ambiguous relation between conversion to Islam and the new political militancy against whites. In 1976 the Black student youth of the segregated slum of Soweto, Johannesburg, responded to the government’s attempt to impose Afrikaans as a medium of high school education with mass demonstrations against their white rulers’ apartheid system. The 1976 Soweto bloodshed was a turning point in the hitherto atomized Black Azanian people’s social and political consciousness. Lubbe assessed ways in which the new ideology of Islam in Soweto vented and solidified black youth’s resistance to racial oppression by the South African white minority and its government.

    The following formulations and passages from Lubbe’s paper set the new Islam of Black Azanians within the special context of incendiary Soweto.

    Persistent rumors of the rapid growth of Islam within the Black community in South Africa were yet to be confirmed in 1984. The census did not list Blacks (Africans) who follow Islam separately. The 1980 census estimated 8260 Black Muslims in South Africa. An unconfirmed estimate for Muslims in Soweto, Johannesburg, put the figure at 1500. Whatever the exact figures, it was “certain that several Black people, and especially youth, have become Muslims”. There also seemed some link yet to be thoroughly identified, between these conversions and the events which occurred during 1976 in Soweto. New zeal for mission had been triggered off by the ultra-political Iranian Revolution while the 1978 explosion in Soweto “has created a religious vacuum in the lives of many (Black) people. Young Muslims in Soweto stated in personal interviews that Islam basically offers two things, viz, unity and dignity. They readily admit that black churches have become more outspoken against white racism since 1976 but then, they emphasize, Christianity remains a religion without unity. On the other hand the ‘body language’ of Muslims worshipping shoulder to shoulder in a mosque, in spite of theological and other differences has such a tremendous impact that press statements and pledges of solidarity with the oppressed blacks are hardly necessary… Conversion to Islam gives to the marginal people of Soweto and other places in South Africa a sense of worth and dignity and is therefore a humanizing force over and against the dehumanizing character of Apartheid”.

    Social torments in South Africa were pushing many black South Africans towards Islam, but Azanian blacks do assess Islam’s core content carefully and weigh it against the Christianity into which they were born. When Africans make this comparison, Lubbe found, an “important and obviously attractive feature of Islam is the doctrine of Tawhid, the oneness of God. Absolute insistence on Tawhid is at the root of the unity of reality which is so striking about Islam. Unlike Christianity, Islam knows no dichotomy between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’ or between the ‘material’ and the ‘spiritual’. Islam covers every area of life and every human action is consequently seen as _ibadat_ — the worshipful service of slaves to their master”. Black people “with almost monotonous regularity” cited to Lubbe three reasons why they turned to Islam. First, in Allah they had rediscovered the original God of Africa. Secondly, conversion to Islam had invariably been triggered off by some negative encounter with Christianity, be it white refusal to allow them to attend a worship service, derogatory remarks about African culture etc. Thirdly, Christianity is perceived as the faith of the oppressors who are perpetrating apartheid in the name of God.

    By the early 1980s, Islam had become a highly visible minority religion among urban South African blacks, more and more of whom wore the white caps that were its emblem in public places. Both Kritzinger and Lubbe agreed that conversion to Islam by Blacks entailed rejection of whites. Neo-lslam was a spiritual marginalization of whites out of the black psyche that still avoided the violent political confrontation with apartheid through armed insurgency that the African National Congress attempted. This difference was clear in a conversation Lubbe cited with a young Black Muslim in Soweto:

    “As to why Islam has suddenly made inroads into the African townships in this way, Joseph told me that after June 1976 blacks felt themselves to have two alternatives apart from taking up the armed struggle [by fleeing the country and training as guerrilla fighters]. The first was to take the way of Martin Luther King and to follow the path mapped out in Alabama or Georgia. But the second was to see how the real dignity of the black man could not be found in Christianity but was really offered by Islam. The vision of Black unity and dignity given by the shoulder-to-shoulder worship in the mosque where all are equal and each alike the servants of God is very powerful”.

    This neo-Muslim modality of rejection of whites amongst Azanian Blacks explored by Lubbe thus channelled the hostility away from even moderate political opposition to apartheid modelled on the American civil rights movement. The Black Islam developing in Azania in this was paralleling the Black Muslims in America who distil virulently articulated hatred of whites into self-uplift, and into economic competitiveness against whites within their systems, not political protest or physical showdowns. Azanian black African Muslims here would be more open to criticism from Azanian liberation movements for apolitical quietism than such Azanian Christian clergymen as Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu risked ten years imprisonment when in September 1988 he urged blacks and Anglicans to boycott the apartheid system’s nationwide municipal elections: black town councils were a front for maintaining white domination.

    _Christian-Muslim Alliance_

    Like Kritzinger, Lubbe urged his fellow white Christian South Africans to respond flexibly and charitably to the challenge posed by Islam’s expansion among blacks. Lubbe discussed the idea of Christians developing an alliance with Muslims to block communism but rejected such “expediency” as “not suitable if a truthful and honest relationship with Muslims is to be sought and maintained”. Nonetheless, Muslims could be made allies of [liberal] Christians for establishing “justice in our society”:

    “‘White’ Christianity, for as long as it still aligns itself with the ideology of Apartheid, will have a very small, if any, role to play in this process of dialogue and co-operation. Black churches and black church leaders stand before a golden opportunity in this regard. From the side of Black Muslims it has already been hinted that they do not only appreciate and admire the penetrating and challenging questions which black theologians are posing to white Christians, but that they are also looking up to these Christian theologians for showing to Black Muslims the way for a sterner and stronger questioning of Indian Muslims and their participation in the struggle for human rights and liberation in South Africa”.

    Lubbe hoped against hope that Christ would “liberate the Christians of this country to be present, in all humility, among Muslims to witness to them about Christ and about the fact that Christianity, like Islam, is the antithesis of Apartheid”. In their turn, South Africa’s Black Muslims could, he projected, help combat such abuses of Western permissiveness as alcoholism, which had claimed a high toll from Blacks in South Africa. The Muslim converts had offered effective resistance against the waves of immorality in the townships. “In stressing moral uprightness as a prerequisite for real liberation and for finally shedding a slave mentality, Muslims can assist Christians in spelling out a hopeful future for Azania”.

    Lubbe caught sharply the possibility of a de-Indianization of South African Islam posed by the conversions of blacks to Islam as well as to Christianity. He predicted that the awakening of the Black Muslims in South Africa would force local establishment Islam to do away with its ‘foreign’ image. “Islam will be challenged to adopt a more African outlook, not in terms of worship or structure but in terms of involvement in and sympathy with the struggle for liberation. The challenge before South African Muslims of Indian origin is really ‘Relinquish your so-called cultural identity and become an African.’ Islam expresses itself clearly on issues like justice and equality”. However, “many South African [Indian] Muslims find themselves often among the most affluent, not only in black South Africa, but also in the South African society at large. Many of them are cooperating with the present system, serve on government-created bodies which work for the perpetuation of Apartheid and are employing blacks on typical exploitative South African wages and conditions. In truly identifying with the black cause they will most definitely find in their vested interests a major stumbling block” [Reverend Gerrie Lubbe, “Islam in South Africa: Enemy or Ally?”, 1984, mimeographed paper].

    _South African Muslim Groups and Blacks_

    The Durban-based and Arab-funded Islamic Propagation Centre International, directed by Ahmad Deedat, also wooed Azanians in the apartheid era, although without the politicized Islamic liberation theology that was firing the Muslim Youth Movement’s conjunction with the Blacks. Deedat, too, had the acumen to grasp that the future of Islam in South Africa would heavily depend on the attitudes that the Bantu Black majority community was developing toward the faith. He therefore strove in his own lightning-fast way to communicate friendliness and concern on behalf of Islam towards Black South Africans. His Islam-projecting outreaches to Bantu Azanians, however, were more intermittent and less determined than those of such a radical group as the Muslim Youth Movement because of limitations imposed by his organization’s conservative accommodation to the white system in South Africa — and by his energy-consuming role as a globe-trotting Christianity-denouncing polemicist, and international media performer.

    Yet this flair for publicity and communication was no less evident in the overtures which Deedat made to Azanian Blacks suggesting how Muslims both in South Africa and abroad had the vital interests of the Blacks at heart. The privately-funded Phambili Secondary school had 1200 black matriculation pupils most of whom had fled the violence in the African townships. While pupils were registering, a man burst into an office and grabbed the bag containing about R10,000 — the fees paid in by 200 prospective matriculants. “Losing a whole year’s study at this crucial stage in their lives could have meant that [the Black students’] chances of getting a decent job would have been negligible”, said Deedat. Accordingly, the Islamic Propagation Centre responded swiftly to an appeal in _The Daily News_. Gloom made way to smiles when two representatives of the Centre, Mr. Abdullah Deedat and Mr. Goolam Hoosen Agjee, arrived at assembly time and presented a R10,000 cheque. The black students responded with jubilation and an impromptu singing session [_al-Burhan_, IPCI organ, 1:2 April 1988/Ramadan 1408 p. 2].

    A potential problem area was the quietistic, conservative tone of Deedat and his Islamic Propagation Centre that could make enemies among politically activist Muslim Indian South Africans as well as leftist Azanian blacks engaged in the liberation struggle against the white segregationists. The IPC’s two-monthly da’wah crash-courses were training students in a confrontationist way to refute “socialism and other ideologies that seem to have enamored many Muslim youth today” (Ibid, p. 1 ).

    However, most South African Muslim organizations had been more open to activist African political movements, including Marxism-tinctured ones, than Deedat’s group. The Call of Islam group from the mid-1980s organised political funerals and militant demonstrations that confronted white police and armed forces in the streets of Cape Town: the Call of Islam and Qiblah activists raised slogans that Muslims should fight in coordination with the Black townships [Farid Esack, ‘Three Islamic Strands in the South African Struggle for Justice”, _Third World Quarterly_ (April 1988) p. 486]. The Call of Islam would quote ‘Ali Shariati and Mahmud Taleghani and the Mujahidin-i-Khalq of Iran. Its action-theological reflection-action paradigm resembled Christian Liberation theology [Esack p. 491]. Call of Islam activists published articles in _Sechaba_ (London), the monthly journal of the African National Congress (ANC). In one 1986 issue, F. Ali urged South African Muslims to “make apartheid ungovernable …side by side with our non-Muslim Comrades” [Esack p. 496]. The ANC and UDF both identified the Call of Islam as their allies in the Muslim community in the common struggle against Apartheid [Esack, p. 482]. Originally inspired by the Arab World’s Muslim Brotherhood (al-lkhwan al-Muslimun) and by Pakistan’s Jama’at-i-Islami, the Muslim Youth Movement now established links with the Black liberation movements despite their diluted Marxoid tint [Esacks p. 483]. On the other hand, the Qiblah movement of the oft-imprisoned Ahmad Cassim sometimes irritated Black militants by proposing Iran’s “Islamic Revolution” as an alternative methodology to the secular “general liberation movement” [Esack pp. 484-485].

    _The Arab World’s Perception of Azanians_

    Whether Islam will be installed in depth into the post-apartheid black-led Azania may in part be decided by the facilities and expertise at the command of Islamic Organizations in the oil-rich peninsular Arabian states, which continue to financially aid South African Muslim organizations. Deedat himself instanced the link with the philanthropists of Jazirat al-’Arab (Arabian Peninsula) in that he refuted Christianity in extensive lecture tours there, and Arab donors to a great extent have borne the costs of his Islamic movement’s institutional expansion in South Africa. It was in question, though, whether Arab philanthropic individuals and organizations possessed the capacity to monitor the development on the ground of those groups receiving their aid in South Africa.

    African studies in the Gulf and other Arabian universities were still not adequately existent at the time that the freed multi-racial South African state was born. A basis for skilled, flexible interaction with Azanian realities had, however, been provided by Arabic journalism in the last decade among the peninsular Arabian educated classes in particular relative to the Islamic minorities in sub-Saharan Africa. A case in point was the Kuwait Islamic weekly _al-Mujtama’_, founded in 1970.

    _al-Mujtama’_ was the mouthpiece of the Islamist “Society for Social Reform” which in the elections of February 1981 got two deputies (one of them the redoubtable ‘Abdallah al-Nafisi) elected to the Kuwaiti parliament. The Society and its organ organized and publicized donation drives in Kuwait for the Agency for the Muslims of Africa (Lajnatu Muslimi Ifriqiyya). This Kuwaiti charitable relief agency sent 300 Kuwaitis to Africa in 1988 to improve the education, health and water supplies of Muslim Africans all over the continent. The Agency raised more than two million dollars of aid for this purpose.

    Initially, _al-Mujtama’_ was undeniably parochial and communalist, but by the later 1980s was deepening its concern for non-Muslim as well as Muslim Africans and Asians, whom it now perceived had all been victimized together by the white Western politico-economic order. The shift enabled _al-Mujtama’_ to denounce the apartheid regime and South Africa’s ruling white supremacist minority as lethally suppressive of all non-white populations in Azania, non-Muslims as well as Muslims, simultaneously.

    In mid-1987 _al-Mujtama’_ offered its Kuwait and other Arab readers one of their rare glimpses in Arabic of the inter-racial crisis in South Africa from within the religious culture and structures of South African Christians themselves. The Arabic article excerpted and criticized the Kairos Document that a cross-section of Protestant, Catholic and independent Bantu Christian clergymen drew up from violent Soweto in August 1985. This Christian declaration had characterized apartheid as a “heresy” by the criteria of Christian theology and denounced its “oppression” and violence against blacks as the source of evil that Christians were obliged by their religion to condemn. The document denounced the racist South African state but also the White Dutch Reformed Churches and other Christians who validated it with “State Theology” as “the devil disguised as Almighty God, the Antichrist” (Kairos 2nd ed., p. 8).

    The Christian document called for “direct confrontation with the forces of evil”, “a radical change of structures”, a “struggle” for liberation and for “God’s peace in South Africa” in coordination with unnamed representative Black “political organizations” (ibid p. 29) .

    On the most marginalized Azanian far-left, Thoko Mdlalose in _The African Communist_ (no. 104, 1986 pp. 18-27) hailed the Kairos Document as the Church’s endorsement of “revolutionary violence against the regime”, yet this may have been tongue-in-cheek. The upshot of the Kairos Document’s militant rhetoric was only that “the Church will have to be involved at times in civil disobedience” as the way “to confront the state in order to obey God” (Kairos p. 36). Thus, the Churches would be the Christian “civil rights” alternative to the insurgent ANC and Marxist PAC (Pan-African Congress) — the path of Rev. Martin Luther King considered but then rejected in favor of Islamic protest by young, Bantu neo-Muslims whom Kritzinger and Lubbe interviewed. Even Azanian Catholic priest Fr. Buti Thlagale had to object that the Kairos Document ‘‘is not radical enough” (_New Nation_ 16 January, 1986 p. 18).

    _al-Mujtama’_s Arabic write-up stitched together Islamic denunciations of South Africa’s Christian churches with the voices of South African Christians as they desperately strove to grapple with the dilemma facing their religion and country.

    The English-like syntax of the Arabic of _al-Mujtama’s_ write-up suggests translation from English-language Azanian Muslim material. The Arabic article did not see even the Christian clergy in South Africa as homogeneous — let along South Africa’s Christians in general — but sharply registered all the tension between, in particular, black African clergymen working amid massive white violence in black townships and the largely white church upper hierarchies. “All the men of religion in the churches of the black townships were witness to massacres against the people and have become obliged to say or do something about what is taking place before their eyes. They can no longer stay silent and leave the whole matter in the hands of the bishops or leaders of the church who issued only very watered-down, moderately-phrased protests”. Thus, this Arabic magazine tended to view the Kairos Document as, at least in part, a product of upward pressure from black (and a few white) Christian clergy confronted with the lethal struggle between working-class blacks and the forces of apartheid at street level. Yet, through separate structures or through the split between grassroots black pastors and the “official church” of apathetic white upper clergy, South African Christianity remained divided into black and white churches. It was a crisis for Christianity, the Kairos Document had warned, that the two churches could not understand Christianity’s prescriptions for the country’s condition of violent racial polarization in the same way, although both the oppressor and the oppressed claim loyalty to the same Church and the same beliefs about Jesus [_al-Mujtama’_: cf. Kairos 2nd ed., pp. 1-27]. The Christian document repudiated “past misuse by ‘State Theology’ of the name of God and biblical texts (Romans 13: 17) to justify racial segregation and subordination of the blacks” and to encourage the latter to submit. This Arabic item, then, was touching on features of historical Christianity that enraged African blacks in South Africa and thereby motivated them to look at the alternative of Islam.

    To a large extent _al-Mujtama’_ excerpted the Kairos Document because its admissions of past Christian complicity with Apartheid damaged the credibility of Christianity. Not quite in fairness, the Islamist Arabic magazine dismissed various churches’ change of policy from neutrality to “political” conflict as verbal solidarity with the blacks, a ploy to finesse the gradual shift of power to the latter. Since white settlement in South Africa, “the church used always either to bless or ignore the savage acts of the white minority against the country’s native population — all of which took place under the eyes of the Church without any response from it at all. But the wily Church realized in recent years how much international pressures that racist Pretoria regime faces force it to change its racist policy: the church then in its turn deemed it better to change its policy on South Africa and move from its absolute support for the white minority to showing a sort of sympathy for the oppressed black majority that is certain to come to power in the country one day or another. That majority had to be won over to the side of the Church before it was too late” (_al-Mujtama’_).

    The introduction to the second edition of the Kairos Document bore out to a degree the above Muslim stricture. Many of those who had abandoned the Church as an irrelevant institution that was justifying and legitimizing the apartheid system “began to feel that if the Church becomes the Church as expounded by the Kairos Document then they would go back to the Church again. Even those who would consider themselves to be ‘non-Christians’ in the conventional sense began to say that if this is Christianity they could become Christians.” The clerics who penned the Kairos document were sniffing the wind and calculating if they could get back into their churches the Blacks whose suffering they denounced. The denunciations of apartheid in the name of Christianity aroused “overwhelming excitement about (the document) in the Black townships. For many, the Gospel become ‘Good News’ for the first time in their lives” (Kairos 2nd ed., p. iii). The shrill but ambiguous verbal support that the Kairos clerics offered to the African struggle for liberation in Azania was meant to staunch the haemorrhage of young blacks out of the churches over to protest Black neo-Islam and secularist insurgent movements. _al-Mujtama’_ may have been right that the militant-sounding clerics were not always inspired by a disinterested humanism in the postures they were now striking to South Africa’s white system!

    Amid all its bitter charges against Christianity in South Africa, _al-Mujtama’_ left no doubt that “the majority” of clergy in most South African denominations had moved from quietism to a new stance of strong verbal condemnation against apartheid. Those who drew up the Kairos Document and the minority in the churches who criticized it as inciting black violence both “belonged to all Christian denominations — Catholics, Anglicans, African Independent Churches and Evangelical Christians.”

    Despite its angry — but perhaps partly pro forma? — denunciations of the churches, and precisely because it was scrappy, the _al-Mujtama’_ article conveyed to Islamist Arab readers, in their own Arabic, the authentic voices of South African Christians (too heavily, alas, white voices) as they responded to a lethal crisis. In evoking the total range of religious and racial communities in South Africa, the Islamist journal prefigured the only approach for Arabs to understand the shifting make-up and problems of the Muslim minority in South Africa and then move to aid it effectively over the long term. [See “al-Kanisah Tukhattitu lihtiwa’ il-Aghlahiyyah fi Janub Ifriqiyyah” (The Church is Drawing up Plans to Contain the [Black] Majority in South Africa), _al-Mujtama’_ 12 May 1987 pp. 31-33].

    Clearly, the Arabic-language Islamic press of the Gulf and nearby regions in the late 1980s had some way to go before it would satisfactorily project South Africa’s Muslim minority in terms of its specific non-Arab cultural characteristics and— even more crucially — convey with the needed sharpness the characteristics, structures and aspirations of the vast black populations that surround Azania’s Muslims. All too often only attenuated and warped echoes of the Azanian Muslims’ own English writings and of the excellent — but English medium — articles brought out on South African Muslims by the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs were projected from the pages of those Arabic journals that stood at the forefront of organizing Arab aid to the minority. The Arabic Islamist press was to have to draw much more on data about the apartheid system and black South Africans that certain secularoid — if ideologically unpalatable — Arabic journals were offering.

    More fundamentally, the time had come for some specialized institute to assume a program of translation into Arabic of detailed academic studies in English covering the key aspects of South African politics and society, in particular the culture and history of its Black majority.

    _Azanian Black Images of Middle Easterners_

    Azanian blacks convert from nominal Christianity to Islam in the context of political sympathy for various Arab and Muslim groups amongst at least sectors of the general Azanian Black population. For a long time the victorious Islamic republican regime in Iran commanded a high reputation among the oppressed Black masses in the townships because of its image as a militant Third World revolution that defied white America. Radical Shi’ite publications in Iran had voiced interest in converting the racially segregated, jailed — and often only nominally Christian — Blacks of Azania to Islam well before Imam Khumayni’s revolution wrested political power from the Shah [Mahmud Hakimi, ‘‘Ilal-Sijn Raqm ... Intabih”, _al-Hadi_ (Qum) No. 1, 1972, pp. 173-178]. Ahmad Cassim’s Qiblah movement projected an insurgent tone and had a fair amount of contact with the Bantu Blacks of the townships between 1983 and 1987: Qiblah appointed itself the defender of the Iranian regime in South Africa even to the extent of disorientedly chanting in Farsi, during demonstrations against the white racist regime, the very same slogans with which Iranians had toppled the Shah. A small group of South African Indian and Malay Sunni Muslims in the al-Jihad movement converted to Shi’ism under the impact of the Iranian revolution and became active in propagating Shi’ite Islam in the Black townships of Western Cape [Esack p. 488].

    The standing that Iran commanded and commands in the eyes of Black Azanians influenced how much religious response they were giving to the pro-lranian, politicized, Islamic organizations striving to convert them to Islam. Other Azanian Blacks felt more attracted to Sa’udi Arabia’s substantial no-strings-attached aid to Indo-Malay Muslim and African organizations in South Africa, and to the oil boycotts Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states waged against the more and more cornered South African regime.

    The more radical Azanian black youth also tended to identify more with the PLO as a Third World Liberation movement than with Israel. The state of Israel fell into disrepute among many Black Azanians because of international rumors that Israel and South Africa exploded a joint nuclear device together in the South Atlantic on September 22, 1979; because Israel supplied other more conventional weapons to South Africa that could be used for internal suppression; and because Israeli companies that set up in South Africa’s puppet internal Bantustan statelets were perceived as exploiting cheap black labour. At various times, the African National Congress and the PLO conducted joint training for their fighters. In late 1986 a leader of the Zionist religious orthodox faction (Mizrakhi) in South Africa, Rabbi Baruch Zaichyk, warned that Black radical groups in the country were “subsidized by arch-enemies of the South African Jewish community including various PLO groups”. Except for “the Zulus” — (=the Inkatha movement of the Kwazulu Bantustan’s Chief Minister Chief Gatsha Buthelezi) — all Black groups, including the ANC “were critical of Israel and Jews” [_Australian Jewish News_ 5 September 1986 p. 2]. Israel tried to counter by offering training courses for Black South African Community Leaders in Israel at the Afro-Asia Institute of the Histadrut (the General Federation of Labor in Israel), to soften the negative image it had among many black Azanians.

    The maverick Libyan ruler Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi caught headlines in even the Azanian Catholic newspaper _New Nation_ when his Foreign Minister urged Nigerian leader Major General Ibrahim Babaginda to set up an African High Command with Libya and then send troops from both countries in a joint expeditionary force to crush Apartheid together. The ringing Libyan declaration gave most Azanians a good image of Arabs and Islam, although some Nigerians saw it as a ploy to psychologically blunt countermeasures that Nigeria might take against Libyan intervention in Chad.

    The international politics images of many Azanian Blacks were thus already sympathetic to Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims and hostile to their enemies before they began to consider Islam. The context of this political world-view is not obstructive when young Blacks reinforce the relationship with the Muslim world further through religious conversion. The Arabophilia and Islamophilia was to come from the very top of the country’s new African establishment following the collapse of Apartheid. The Israelis noted that President Nelson Mandela considered the Palestine Authority Chairman Yasir ‘Arafat a close friend and fellow-revolutionary: such attitudes were to make South Africa a hard posting for Israeli diplomats even into the 21st century [[Suzanne Belling, “New Israeli ambassador faces tough mission in South Africa”, _Australian Jewish News_ 16 February 2001 p. 13]].

    Indigenous Viewpoints From Converted Africans

    The US Black Muslim magazine Muslim Journal at the end of 1986 surveyed the problems faced by the converted Black African community that had crystallized in the segregated African townships of Azania.

    Firstly, the white racist regime’s ethnic separation laws were limiting the contact that African new Muslims could have with the established Indian or Malay Muslims who have the developed Islamic schools and institutions that black converts need. The converts denounced “the numerous State laws enacted for the African which restrict his personal freedom, the most notorious being the Influx Control Law and the Group Areas Act. Taken together, these biological legislations insult human dignity. They restrict the African person to one particular ethnic area by birth where he/she must live and work. Daily scores of Africans are arrested and prosecuted under these laws for entering ‘white urban areas’ without a ‘pass’ permitting them to seek work and live there.

    “Caucasians and Indians who employ or allow these workers to live on their property are also prosecuted for ‘employing or sheltering illegals’. The Group Areas Act which restricts different racial groups to their own areas, is a serious blow to the Muslims in these separate racial compartments. Caucasian Muslims may not marry non-Caucasian Muslims. ‘Black’ Muslims cannot leave their un-Islamic environment and live freely and unrestricted by the Group Areas Law, amongst the Indian Muslims.”

    The segregation and exploitation by white racists were making it almost impossible for many Muslims — just like other — blacks to maintain the family unit prescribed by Islam. Only where cheap black labor was needed in the mines and factories or the city’s municipal cleansing services were Black “migrants” contracted by the State to live in the city precincts in grim male hostels, without their wives and children or other members of their family being allowed to live with them there. Legalized alcohol consumption outlets or “beer gardens” were provided. “Thus, cut off from their wives and normal family life, and addicted to liquors and the services of prostitutes around the hostels, these workers, with frustrated Muslims among them, [would] succumb quickly to the social evils of drunkenness, sodomy, venereal diseases and internal-tribal faction fighting,” this African neo-Muslim viewpoint perceived.

    Other analysts noted “questioning” by African neo-Muslims of of the better-off Indian Muslims on behalf of the huge Black African majority. This particular category among neo-Muslims, though, did not want to stay and fight with the non-Muslim African communities that first gave them birth, but to withdraw from that majority and affiliate to Azania’s Muslim Indians and Malays. This was because the segregated black townships spread by the white apartheid system were seen as deformed societies inhospitable to black neo-Islam. African Muslim communities “want to get out of places like Soweto, Sharpeville and other townships where Muslim families are surrounded by crime and vice. Liquor-brewing coupled with brothels, gambling, muggings, robberies, rapes and murders are the order of the day, according to reports from township Muslims. There are no mosques, madrasahs, jamaa’at-khaanas, or healthy recreational centers for African Muslim families to go to. Children are growing up overwhelmed by vicious un-Islamic influences.” Because of the absence of sound Islamic education, the zealot neo-Muslims worried, several Muslim teenagers whose identity lay only in their Muslim names were inter-marrying with non-Muslims.

    Not only were prostitution and illicit pregnancies rife, but also the indiscriminate raping of [African] Muslim mothers and daughters by criminals who were breaking into homes and dragging off women with utter impunity.

    Christian white South African scholars had predicted an ethnic Africanist protest from converted Bantu black Muslims against the Indian Muslim community that led them to Islam. An ambiguous protest of sorts has now come.

    “While the Government’s apartheid laws are directly responsible for the jahiliyyah [pagan] set-up in African townships, the oppressed township Muslims assert that it was the Islamic jihad duty of the more privileged Muslims to get involved in the struggle to remove the jahiliyyah evil state. But the Indian Muslims, because of their fear of the Government, were not doing this, preferring to turn a blind eye to the plight of African Muslims. The latter pointed out that Islam called on Muslims to condemn loudly and fearlessly the evils in a society that undermines human dignity; and that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and his followers fought relentlessly to remove such evils. The frustration of African Muslims have also given rise to a radical, politicized group among them in the townships, who are challenging the Islamic credibility of Muslim bodies and organizations in Indian areas that claim to be working for the upliftment of the Ummah [comprehensive Muslim ‘people’ or community], but find themselves part of the exploitative privileged class. A group from Soweto and Sharpeville who claim that they are followers of ‘Al-Kitaab Wal-Sunnah’ [the Qur’an and the practice of Muhammad], maintain that the wealthier class of Indian and Malay Muslims are incapable of escaping from the South African exploitative capitalistic system. These privileged bourgeois Muslims living in ivory towers in similar fashion to that of the white racist oppressors were unmindful of the plight of their suffering black fellow-Muslim families.”

    Some of the militant young African Muslims branded the mullahs and tableeghis [Muslim missionaries] involved in generating wealth through capitalistic projects as “hypocrites and imposters because they had become part of the oppressive, exploitative structure.”

    The survey of the concerns and problems of converted African Muslims in the segregated townships made clear that friendly or at least neutral attitudes towards Islam by Christian or secularoid-left Blacks in schools could prove crucial for the survival of the new Black Islam: “In the schools, Muslim children are ridiculed because of their Islamic faith and Muslim dress, particularly the girls who wear hijaab. Black Christian and atheist teachers condemn African children for going to madrasah to study Islam which they brand as ‘Indian and Arab religious nonsense’.” [“In South Africa: Some Muslims are Angry About their Condition”, Muslim Journal (Chicago) 19 December 1986 pp. 3,8]. Christian and left-secularoid teachers were already a key elite in the African townships under apartheid and were to become an even more decisive one in the future after the installation of the non-racial government headed by Nelson Mandela in Azania. The Arab and Muslim countries would be well-advised to demonstrate that they desire to build equal relations with these two black Azanian elites simultaneously with building relationship with African, Indian, Malay and white Muslim Azanians (coreligionists). It will make the Christian and Marxist Azania elites more positive to Black converts to Islam if they know that non-Muslim Azanians too are gaining equal cultural and political benefits from Islam’s core states in the Middle East.

    _Future Patterns of Azanian Black Islam_

    It is to be noted that both radical Indian Muslims and converted Black African Muslims in late-apartheid Azania did not follow the path of confrontational anti-Marxism that Marais and perhaps even Lubbe proposed. Rather, both sets of anti-apartheid Muslims adopted stances of coexistence with African Marxists and unity with them in the joint struggle to overthrow the white racist system. In any case, the not whole-heartedly pro-Soviet Marxists were only one element in such insurgent African nationalist organizations as the African National Congress, which members privately described as “a mixed bag.” On the whole, the attitude of opposition or competitiveness to Marxist Africans that Lubbe toyed with would serve no interest of African or Indian Muslims in Azania and could have harmed them over the long term.

    The modernist Muslim organizations have proselytized for Islam among relatively educated African strata in the shanty-towns: knowledge of English is widespread among males of those strata. Nonetheless, the Durban-based Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa in particular early realized that translation and diffusion of Islamic literature in indigenous languages such as Zulu was essential in order to implant Islam permanently among the urban Black African masses in Azania. Primarily, such Islamic organizations offered Zulu versions of the Qur’an and also Islamic position papers addressing alcoholism and other societal evils that the apartheid system imposed on the Blacks.

    Such scattered private efforts were imaginative but insufficient in a country that was changing as rapidly as South Africa was. With the African leadership’s overthrow of white supremacist rule, the case became even stronger for Islamic institutions outside Azania to launch more systematic programs of their own to translate and publish in Zulu and other Azanian languages, leaflets and books that would deepen knowledge of Islam among Black Azanians. In comparison to the da’wah literature published in African languages by Islamic organizations in Azania itself, external Muslim publications in Zulu etc could have a more academic, wider ranging character. Instead of a single interpretation of Islam, a program for publications in Zulu conducted from the Muslim heartlands could offer a range of foci in classical Islam: Hanbalism, Wahhabism, Sufism, the rationalist high intellectualism in ‘Iraq under the classical ‘Abbasid Caliphate, post-classical Sunni scholasticism and Iranian Shi’ism. As well as primary classical Muslim texts and modern quality Muslim interpretations, such programs might also conduct and publish Zulu and Xhosa versions of a few of the more sympathetic works by openminded Western orientalists that present the great Islamic past in styles more intelligible to Africans whose literacy necessarily formed— whether they like it or not— within a white Europe-derived tradition. The Arab and Muslim heartland institutions could also produce Zulu and Xhosa versions of texts of pre-colonial Muslim theological writings from West Africa and historical studies of Black West African Muslim societies and leaders. Such resources will perhaps be more in tune with the Black Azanians’ restoration of African identity and non-Christian, non-Western African history. This would nourish friendship to Arabs, Muslims and Islam in millions of black Azanians even if it did not go so far as to lead them to embrace Islam. This exploratory, relaxed encounter and synthesis will the best guarantee that Muslim communities will flourish into the 21st century in an Azania liberated from Apartheid.

    _Post-Apartheid Developments_.

    The post-Apartheid era of majority rule struck some new Muslim leaders in South Africa as an anti-climax. The older generation of leaders in the struggle against apartheid, such as Nelson Mandela, had built close ties with some SA Muslim leaders and been open in international relations to Arab and Muslim countries that aided them, or in which some lived. But were Muslim organizations getting enough data about Islam and the interests of their minority across to the new generation of African decision-makers that had now assumed leadership in the post-apartheid state? Murshid Davis, director of Johannesburg’s Center for Training and Development assessed (2001) that the 2.5% Muslim minority had passively settled for secondary freedoms in the new order but not seized the range of the potential roles opened by the equal rights and freedom for individuals and political, social and religious organizations guaranteed under the SA constitution. The new Center was striving to train a new generation of students to achieve success in the political and economic life of the new polity and its international relations, rather than hang back. More than Indian or Malay South Africans, most CTD students were Black and mixed-race Muslims. The one year courses were accredited as post-graduate certificates by South African educational authorities that could thus help students to then proceed with masters degrees at seven local and overseas universities. Such course subjects as Islamic studies, _da’wah_ (propagation) and languages were offered to produce effective Muslim missionaries relevant within modernity and to the vital issues of the countries of Southern Africa, such as the campaigns of African governments to reduce AIDS in which Uganda’s Muslim imams and doctors, for instance, had been at the fore [[Abdul Wahab Bashir, “South Africa’s Muslims and Post-Apartheid Challenges”, _Muslim World League Journal_ November 2001/Sha’ban 1422 pp. 24-5]].

    Davis was seeking donations from Arab states to cover the $737,000 per year that the Center would need by 2004. He was insistent that outside Muslim donors had to change their focus from building pretty mosques to the fostering of the long-term skills of overseas Muslim minorities that would help them succeed in mainstreams. Yet his and his Center’s roles could only be sectional for addressing his leading fear that Islam might more and more come to be viewed as an alien or at best marginal faith among the Black majority of South Africans.

    Traditional Black Azanian ideology in the post-apartheid era continued to continued to orientate Azanians to Arab and Muslim forces and regimes that had an image of standing up to America. This could foster more openness to Islam itself among some African Azanians resentful of the influence of America and financial institutions linked to it in the determining of economic policy after apartheid. Voicing concepts of far-extending “black” and “white” blocs in the world like those in Elijah’s old Nation of Islam in the USA before 1976, Nelson Mandela in 2002 assailed the U.S. and Britain as working to invade “black” ‘Iraq on pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction it did not have, while ignoring “white” Israel’s nuclear bombs. “Racism” made the U.S. and Britain go outside the UN once it had come to have “black secretary generals like [Egyptian] Butrus Butrus Ghali, like Kofi Annan,” argued the retired but still vocal and influential Mandela [George E. Curry, “Mandela sees an ‘element’ of racism in the U.S. Plan to Attack Iraq”, _Muslim Journal_ 4 October 2002 pp. 6, 14]. Such communications from the veteran ANC and PAC leaders continue to frame sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabs together as one wide “Black” community in pigmentation broadly conceived — which may in a way be as racist Westerners have defined race — and in other connections or affinities. Interest in Arabs and Iranians remains high among the “black” Azanian public in the 21st century, but the new young governing elite that has emerged since apartheid has more pragmatic, managerial concerns.

    Notes

    _The Kairos Document: Challenge to the Church: A Theological Comment on the Political Crisis in South Africa_ (2nd edition, September 1986: Melboume Uniting Church Southern Africa Support Group, 1988).

    Farid Esack, “Three Islamic Strands in the South African Struggle for Justice”, Third World Quarterly, (April 1988).

    al-Kathulik Yatahashawna Deedat wal-Protestant Yaqbalun al-Tahaddi (The Catholics Avoid Deedat While the Protestants Accept the Challenge) _al-Mujtama’_ 26 April, 1988, pp. 24-25. This article shows the admiration of accultured English-speaking Kuwaiti Muslims for South African Muslims because of their preparedness to publicly debate Christians. Kuwaitis had viewed on local television and from widely-sold video cassettes, the defeat that Deedat triumphantly claimed over U.S. television evangelist Rev. Jimmy Swaggart in a debate: “ls the Bible or the Qur’an the word of God?” The United Arab Emirates fundamentalists’ magazine _al-Islah_ gave a full back page of its July 1988 (Dhul-Hijjah 1408) issue to an English-language advertisement inviting Arabs to attend Deedat’s English language debate in Birmingham, U.K., with Arab Christian Dr. Anis Shorrosh: “Another Great Debate: the Qur’an or the Bible: which is God’s Word’? The advertisement also carried a slip by which Arab readers could order Deedat’s free but petro-dollar-subsidized Arabic and English booklets direct from his IPC’s South African headquarters.

    “Charity: African Muslim Agency: Directly Impacting the Lives of Poor and Needy”, The Kuwait Digest, July/September 1988 pp. 25-28.

    Jean Gueyras. “Koweit: l’emirat sans despotism”, Le Monde 26 November 1985.

    Alistair Sparks, “Taiwanese, Israelis Exploit Cheap Black Labor in South Africa”, Guardian Weekly (London) 26 April 1987, p. 16 Amidst sharpening international campaigns for sanctions against South Africa, Israeli companies took advantage of cheap labor created by the apartheid system. Responding to invitations from South Africa’s white regime and its institutions, Israeli companies set up factories in South Africa’s puppet black tribal “homelands” and “large resettlement camps were millions of black people have been relocated under the Pretoria administration’s system of racial and ethnic separation. With no other work available for black people living in these massive concentrations of poverty, and with labor unions wither inactive or not permitted in theses areas, industrialists are paying factory laborers as little as $7 a week. Few offer such benefits as pension funds, holiday pay, sick pay, medical-aid plans, maternity benefits or even employee canteens. The Israeli factory Aviv Sport, which manufactures sportswear, starts its (black workers) at $9.60 a week while they are being trained, then raises them to $12. That is one-third of the minimum wage for such (black) workers in industrial agreements elsewhere in South Africa”. Ibid

    “Republic Sud-Africaine: L’inexorable montee de la violence et des desordres”, Le Monde, 11 May 1985.

  4. _Current Research: Notes on Muslim Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa and their Links to Arabs_, by Dr Dennis Walker, Monash Asia Institute, Australia

    _ISLAM, THE ARABS AND POLITICS IN POST-INDEPENDENCE GHANA_

    Islam in Late Colonial and Independent Ghana_.

    The attitude of West-tinted governing strata to Muslim compatriots and Islam was similar in one or two, too, there was some openness even among some of the missionary-educated to Arabs as a result of the pan-Arab states’ moral and material support for decolonization. Many West-tinted people who governed, basically secular by reason of the inherent nature of the general Western cultures that mission schools, too, had been spreading despite themselves, had vaguely positive, open attitudes to Islam, but — as with some Christian nationalists in Sen other new states of West Africa where Muslims were minorities, unlike in Senegal. Thereegal — felt distaste for traditional African Islam as it stood as something that was not contributing to progress. These new states’ great need for resources and expertise from abroad, and good images associated with modernizing Arab regimes, made Ghanaian governments court input from Egypt, and as the peninsular Arabian states won more oil revenues, from, for instance, Sa’udi Arabia as well. Some West African regimes held out to the Arab states roles as modernizers of their Muslim minorities whose function would be to replace traditional Islams with new slimmed-down salafite Arab-patterned Islams that were to clear the way to further the educational and economic modernization of the African Muslim minorities.

    Kwame Nkrumah, who led independent Ghana from 1952-1966, was married to an Egyptian (albeit Christian) woman: his “socialist” pan-Africanism was ideologically compatible with the one-party “socialist” pan-Arabism of the Egypt of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser, with which Ghana took part in the “Casablanca group” of the “radical” African states formed in 1960. The 1960 census had set Muslims at 12% of the Ghanaian population, Christians at 42.8% and animists at 38.2%. There were important Muslim communities in the North in particular, and Muslim quarters or zongos in the towns of the South as well as in Ashantiland.

    Political expressions of Islam in the lead-up to, and after, Ghana’s independence were associated with regional and sectional interests and thus outside the Ghanaian political mainstream that formed around Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party (CPP), formed in mid-1949, which was the party that led the country to independence. On the other hand, the atmosphere as Ghana became an independent state was positive to Muslims and the heartlands of Islam given that anti-British broadcasts from Cairo had been one source of encouragement to radical Ghanaian nationalists in 1955. As president of Ghana from 1957-1966, Nkrumah promoted industrialization and health and welfare programs in a way parallel to Nasser’s etatist-nationalist regime.

    During the 1950s and 1960s, Muslims were more numerous in the northern regions of Ghana, particularly in the Ashante areas. Kwame Nkrumah’s had been the only party with strong appeal across all regions of the Gold Coast (Ghana) because it promised industrialization, the mechanization of agriculture, free schooling and hospitals, and to empower ordinary people, in terms of the Ghanaian nation that was being constructed. Thus, it won hands down in the 1951 elections and Nkrumah was released to become proto-Prime Minister. But in the June 1954 general elections the CPP faced considerable opposition in the north from a Northern People’s Party newly-formed, with which was associated a small Muslim Association Party. A small Ghana Congress Party spoke for the reformist intellectuals. Still, the CPP won 71 seats out of 104. But then in 1954 the new CPP government sparked hostility among Ashante farmers when, to fight inflation, it fixed a price for cocoa that was below world market prices. The resultant National Liberation Movement formed at the end of 1954 in Kumasi drew wide support from farmers, Ashante chiefs who disliked the commoners’ party, intellectuals turned off by crass aspects of the CPP, and from the small Muslim Association Party. A shaky jumped-up political Islam had thus become associated with sectional interests in the North that were calling for a “federation” in contrast to the demand for a unitary independence by Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party. Nkrumah’s party was the representative of coherent all-Ghana nationalism in this struggle, so that the CPP convincingly won the final pre-independence polls that the British held in mid-1956, although it predictably fell short of a majority in the North. Nkrumah had no intention of honoring the format of strong regional assemblies that the elections were supposed to usher in. As a government in power, Nkrumah and the CPP moved to knit the country together with an excellent network of trunk roads and opened hospitals and health centers, and spread primary and secondary education to the point of being able to announce the aim of free, compulsory primary schooling. At the same time, a series of punitive measures were enacted against the Opposition which had tried to draw together as a “United Party”. In mid-1958 there was an unexplained “army plot” for which the General Secretary of the United Party was held responsible. The Government reacted sharply with deportation of Muslim leaders, the prohibition of tribal and religious parties, the detention for five years of two opposition Members of Parliament, and the abolition of the Regional Assemblies.

    Clearly, the political Muslims had been on the wrong side of history in the lead-up to Ghana’s independence. Nkrumah and his CPP had both the will and the means as an administration to deliver positive, modern resources and benefits to people throughout the country, which enabled it to build support in outlying areas that had been lukewarm [[Colin Legum, _Africa: A Handbook_ (London: Anthony Blond 1965) pp. 220-221, 197-199]].

    However, an attempt to assassinate Nkrumah in August 1962 made him withdraw somewhat from ordinary social life: this tension and his growing obsession with grand pan-African projects and ideology-formulation progressively put him out of touch with the realities of common-day Ghanaian life with which he had so skillfully interacted in his creative period. He more and more declared himself a “Marxist nationalist” —- although also a drifting “non-denominational Christian” who increasingly consulted traditional Islamic sufi holy men. The one-party system Nkrumah imposed in early 1964 did not change the growing economic crisis and shortages of foodstuffs and on February 24, 1966 he was overthrown in sardonic symbolism by the rightist military while he was away on a state visit to Communist China. Although Christianity was still superficial for most Ghanaians drawn into the web of its educational and other institutions, it won more life within politics when Nkrumah’s critics within Ghana itself and in West Africa blasted Nkrumah for consulting Islamic _mutasawwifs_ in the town of Kankan in leftist Guinea. This non-Christianness was linked prior to (and then by) the officers who seized power (with denunciations of recourse to “fetishes” of old animist African religion by Nkrumah and his colleagues) to his supposed irrational dictatorial tendencies [[These charges were taken up by Col. A.A. Afrifa, a key player in the coup, who had received secondary education in Christian schools in the hope that he would become a priest, but who then chose the army: A.A. Afrifa, _The Ghana Coup: 24 February 1966_ (London: Cass 1967) pp. 123, 43-47]]. (The attitude of the by then mostly Christian but leftist new generation that entered adulthood under the military was to be that Kankan is in Africa and that Nkrumah was within his rights as an African to consult African Muslim clerics there. The new Ghanaian generation that was to be open to Muslims and “the African Arabs” carried forward a positive memory of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and cooperation by his Egypt with the hero Nkrumah’s Ghana) [[Late 1979 conversations at Australian National University with Nyanekeh Blay, then a Christian Ghanaian post-graduate researcher in international law who also supported the Eritrean independence movement, despite his pan-Africanism]].

    The constructive wish of non-Muslim governing Ghanaians for involvement by Arab Muslims in the modernization of the lagging Muslim minority continued after the military deposed Nkrumah in 1966, for instance under the National Redemption Council regime of Ignatius K. Acheampong (1972-1979). The wish to tap that Arab help for functions in development and in the modernization of Muslim citizens was voiced, for instance, at a mid-1972 ceremony marking the Birthday Anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad held at the Burma Camp in Ghana. Major R.J. A. Feli, a member of the National Redemption Council, urged Islamic countries to give financial and material assistance to Ghana’s Muslims to enable them to build “more acceptable places of worship” and establish English and Arabic educational centers. [=Poverty-stricken Muslims in Ghana, even where numerous, often lacked real mosques so that they were reduced to praying in the open or within Christian structures, use of whose space they cadged]. Here we again have the sense by those with power in the new African states of traditional Islam as something embarrassing in modernity, and a quasi-desperate wish for the Arab states to act to lift up those minorities educationally.

    Major Feli said such assistance would not only be appreciated by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of Ghana but also by the National Redemption Council, and he added that, as custodians of the Islamic Religion, the Islamic countries were under an obligation not only to see to the propagation of Islam, but to ensure that mankind lives in an atmosphere of peace and harmony at all times and in all places [=he wanted the Arab countries to diffuse ideas of composite nationalisms along with Islam in a Ghana that still had to be integrated]. He congratulated King Faysal of Saudi Arabia for what he described as the wonderful assistance his government and people had given to the Muslims in Ghana, and he urged Ghana’s Muslims to come together in the interests of Islamic peace and solidarity and to respect and “always be guided by the incomparable and selfless principles laid down by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s Blessings and favor)” [ie. they had to stop brawling with each other]. Alhaji Mahmoud Lamptey, Chief Imam of the Ghana Armed Forces, in his turn called on the Muslims in the Armed Forces to be loyal to the Government, and to close their ranks and come together as one people in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet (may peace be upon him); he later led the assemblage in prayers for the National Redemption Council and the continued prosperity of the Nation [[“Islamic States Asked to Aid Ghana’s Muslims,” report from Tijiane K. Enum, _al-Jihad_ (Capetown) Jumadal-Ula 1392 p. 11]].

    _ISLAM AND POLITICS IN POST-INDEPENDENCE UGANDA: 1963-1979 —1_

    The great East African Muslim intellectual ‘Ali Mazrui in 1979 took issue with “journalistic estimates” that set the Muslims of Uganda at not more than 3% of its population: he put them closer to 12% though this was still very much a minority as he conceded. Under the British and following independence they “had been among the most socially despised of the nation’s people”, in contrast to the disproportionate power and influence they were to win under ‘Idi Amin [[Ali Mazrui, “Language Policy After Amin”, _Africa Report_ September-October 1979 pp. 20-22]]

    In the years following Uganda’s independence in 1963, the President, Milton Obote, faced many problems in integrating the feudal kingdom of Buganda into a single Ugandan state. Obote was also faced with the at that time less prominent problem of antagonism between the Nilotes of the partly Islamized and more isolated North, and the Bantu of the more Christianized and educated South. The North’s Nilotic peoples had got into the modernization process decades late. Efforts by the Northern leaders to bring their region into the mainstream of national development made them liable to be accused of wishing to favor “the North” with its Islamic contacts against the South. These elements were taken up and manipulated by politicians in the North and the South. Religions thus became a factor in Uganda’s modern political development as the 6% Muslims, much less advanced at independence, increasingly entered the contest for development and political favor.

    A Muslim Ugandan lumpen-bourgeoisie had taken shape in the Obote years, although its formation under the British had been hampered by WASP Islamophobia that had kept them out of mission schools. Changes to rectify the North’s lesser development and under-representation, and the worse under-representation of its Muslims, bore only slow fruit. The Uganda Muslim lumpen-bourgeoisie was becoming dissatisfied with measures that were not adequately delivering to them the extent of political and economic power that they felt their ratio in the total population should have entailed. Despite the Southern complaints, the overwhelming majority of senior posts in Obote’s cabinets always remained filled not by Northerners but by the more educated Southerners. More or less the same ratio of Southerners to Northerners continued in his ministries up to his fall as existed before the crisis of 1966 when Obote’s federal troops crushed the autonomous feudality of Buganda, and Uganda, in effect, became a unitary republican state.

    An incident towards the end of 1968 showed that elements in the Muslim community now becoming more militant or radicalized might in frustration join in political opposition against Obote by the Ugandan literate classes in general. Under the sweeping new Emergency Powers Act, a member of parliament, Mr. Abu Bakar Kaakyama Mayanja, and Rajat Neogy editor of the magazine _Transition_, were arrested in November 1968 and charged with having “brought into hatred or contempt the President, Dr Obote” by repeating a “rumor that the appointment of Africans to the Uganda judiciary had been held up, mostly for tribal reasons.” In a letter in _Transition_, Abu Mayanja had at least gone through the motions of dismissing the rumor of such a sidelining of the recommendations of the Judicial Service Committee for appointments, but he had assailed Obote’s government as “happy to retain colonial laws to suppress freedom of association and expression.” His own fate certainly bore that out: his January 1969 trial found him not guilty, but he was only rearrested under the new emergency regulations and _Transition_ ceased to appear [[Colin Legum and John Drysdale, _Africa Contemporary Record: Annual Survey and Documents 1969-1970_ (Exeter: Africa Research Limited 1970) pp. 216-217]].

    These arrests were widely criticized abroad as leveled at the intellectual freedom that _Transition_ championed, but, in fact, other suspicions may have developed in the mind of the Government so far as Abu Mayanja was concerned. Although he had started his political life as a radical nationalist, he had in recent years moved increasingly towards leadership within the Muslim community. He became prominent in the affairs of the East African Muslim Association which was in rivalry to the National Association for the Advancement of Muslims with which Mr A. A. Nekyon was involved. There had been a clash between the two rival Muslim groups in the remote Karamajong area which had led to violence and killing. Mayanja, it was alleged, had been on a trip to the Middle East in August to seek support for his Association’s activities. The authorities also seemed to suspect that there was a secret agreement between the East African Muslim Association (whose patron was H.H. the Aga Khan) and the Kabaka Yekka which was working for the restoration of the Kabaka to his now non-existent Bugandan throne [[Legum and Drysdale, _Africa Contemporary Record 1968-1969_ (Africa Research Ltd 1969) pp. 231, 234-5]].

    Summing up, in the first years of independence most Ugandan Muslims could envisage no escape from the geographic isolation and economic backwardness crushing their community save some client relationship to established Christian-dominated political parties. This Muslim approach was personified by A. A. Nekyon, the Muslim community leader, who until the 1966 troubles played the role of “close adviser” to Premier Milton Obote. But now it had become possible that a more militant, politically activist Muslim approach, or synthesis of approaches, could develop. Already, some Uganda Muslims were striving to involve the Arab states, which might not stand silent in the event of any repression of their Muslim brothers-in-faith in Uganda. Still, the activists, perhaps too highly educated to be representative of the Muslim masses of Uganda, in their turn were trying to construct common interest and identity with their peers among the liberal “Christian” Ugandans, as the accommodationists were with another faction of non-Muslim Ugandans.

    Under Obote, pan-Islam was for a time not salient for some important Muslims who were advancing or on the make, and certainly not in affairs of state. Uganda’s Muslim minority did not have much input into the foreign relations that Obote’s post-independence system constructed. Uganda had an agreement with Israel for training its air force, although Muslims everywhere were tending to become more hostile to the expanding Zionist state as the 1960s proceeded. Some votes by Uganda during its tenure of membership of the Security Council had been unsympathetic to Israel in the wake of its 1967 expansion, and pan-African linkages to secular Arab regimes and care to court Uganda’s Muslims contributed to such gestures by the governing elite. PM Obote’s policy was one of non-alignment and thus balancing: he chose the Soviets to train another equal section of his air force. Israel had trained some African Muslims in the Ugandan armed forces and they seemed willing to act in ways that would fit into its interests. Now chance events shifted more power to barely literate Muslim elements in the military. After his 1967 abolition of the feudal kingdoms within Uganda, Milton Obote purged his army and police of Southern elements to replace them with Northern, mostly Muslim, personnel who, he perhaps thought, might be more loyal to his regime. Notable was his detention of Brigadier Opolot, who was replaced as Chief of Staff and Military Adviser to the Cabinet by the Muslim Brigadier ‘Idi Amin, whose place as army commander was in turn filled by another Muslim Brigadier Suleiman Hussein, and by another Northerner, Pierino Yeree Okoya.

    This strengthening of Muslims in the military for some time did not look likely to promote pan-Islamic ideas and Muslim communalist protest currents in Uganda. In that country, Islam and Arabic were variables of identity whose functions changed according to the contexts of other variables that were stronger. Forms of pidgin Arabic current in Northern Uganda were a case in point. Amin’s Kakwa tribe and thus he himself spoke a mutation of auxiliary Arabic that a portion of Muslims in Uganda nonetheless shared with some Christians in the North — and with many non-Muslims in the Equatoria province of the Southern Sudan. Most Muslims in Uganda were converts or children of converts. Creolized Arabic for them could function as a medium for social relations with pagan or Christian Southern Sudanese — seen as close African relatives — as much as with farther-removed Muslim Arab groups that were more different in some ways. As a commander in the Ugandan armed forces, Amin accordingly acted as a conduit to get Israeli arms through to anti-Arab rebels in the Southern Sudan. Obote’s Uganda was the only government that refused to receive delegations that Khartum sent to all African states following the 1969 Left-Arabist coup headed by Ja‘far al-Numayri, and the country may have harbored anti-Arab emigres active in the South [[Legum and Drysdale, _Africa Contemporary Record_ 1969-1970 pp. A68, B218. The Sudanese embassy protested at vocal spokesmen for the rebels operating from Kampala, but the government assured that it would not allow people admitted as refugees to conduct political or other (=military) activities from Uganda]].

    To preempt his own elimination, Amin seized power from Obote in January 1971, and Israel’s influence in Uganda increased for a time. The conjunction of Amin with the Israeli society of his trainers had extended to matters scatalogical. But Israel may have refused to give Amin some military resources for use against neighboring states. Then Amin’s confiscation of Israeli companies in Uganda opened up into tightening conjunction with Arab nationalist states such as Libya and with Palestinian nationalists that provoked the Israeli attack on Entebbe international airport in July 1976. The Ugandan media came to assume a tone of ideological engagement with Arab anti-Zionism and the Palestinian cause. But research is needed into whether the final anti-Zionism of Amin’s Muslim military clique may not have already been ethnically latent in their first engagements with Israeli society, and the sub rosa intimacies that had not always been good for either party.

    The expectation of the Israelis had been that they could have long-term relations with Muslim Africans: that the ones in Uganda at least did not have a comprehensive anti-Muslim drive or world-view in politics. The Israeli foreign affairs and military personnel believed that mutual interests, not the religions, of the parties, would determine the interactions between Israelis and Ugandans. ‘Idi Amin interacted intimately with Israelis in his earlier military career. Yet the innermost reactions of Muslim Ugandan soldiers remain to be investigated. Amin may have been radiating sub-texts and alternative possibilities even at the height of his alliance with Israel: the Arab press did briefly note it when on a visit to Israel he prayed in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque which was a symbol of Palestinian nationalism [[Interview with Muhammad ‘Awf August 15, 2004]]. (Or was he just signing that Islamic piety and Israel could go together for Muslim Africans?) After Amin expelled the Israelis, an anti-Zionist discourse surged up in official communications and in the Ugandan media. Had the Muslim Ugandans in question already harbored such feelings when they were in Israel or cooperating with Israelis? How much Arab propaganda had been getting through to Muslim Ugandans while their state was still friendly to Israel and had it already had impact? To some extent, anti-Israeli actions and statements under ‘Idi Amin had been designed to win aid from Arab states, yet there may have been other ideological and cultural factors at work as well.

    That the ‘Idi Amin regime of 1971-1979 was a government with more links to Islam and Arabic provided a friendlier setting for efforts to consolidate the shaky Muslim middle classes and to nourish the growth of a literate Islamic clergy and intellectual life on Arab and Pakistani lines. He at first was at pains to avoid any impression that his government as such would give any special corrective facilities or allocations to the underdeveloped Muslims. Amin perhaps revered the institutional might and value of the Christian churches in Uganda, most crucially in education. In September 1971 he asked that four of his sons be trained as Roman Catholic priests at a ceremony in which he laid the foundation stone for the Bukalasa Seminary’s library. In a speech after a mass conducted by Archbishop Belloti, General Amin urged that the “firm African character” the seminary inculcated be exploited to the utmost [--- all such statements could have had in them masked hostility to the stronger group the Christians]. Present at the ceremony was Catholic acting Chief Justice Ben Kiwanuka, a politician who was a former PM [[_Daily Nation_ (Nairobi) 6 September 1971]]. These words of Amin, along with his visit — the first by a Muslim head of state — to Israel, made Arab World Islamists and Pakistan’s Jama’at-i-Islami papers repudiate him as “a henchman of the Zionist state of Israel and the Vatican.” Amin’s self-abasing gestures, though, could not placate the mission-educated ultras among Catholic and Protestant Ugandans with their stance that their Muslim compatriots were sub-humans and not to be allowed in modern institutions or positions. Catholic high clerics in particular now went out of their way to place “Christianity” — which was to say their own stratum and its long-term interest — at the center of a political campaign against Amin and his colleagues, which led to the arrest of Benedicto Kiwanuka. There developed a “confrontation [that] is being led personally by the Catholic Archbishop of Rubaga, who has called for a nine day’s period of special prayer which is due to end in a religious gathering at the Buganda Martyrs’ Place” [[Colin Legum, “Amin Close to War”, _Observer_ 24 September 1972]]. It was a spiritual violence that courted death and mayhem in order to contrive a harsh dichotomization, uniting religion and politics, between Muslims and Christians — a binary opposition crafted from both sides by new bourgeoisies and clergies to replace the very diluted roles Christianity and Islam hitherto had had within the day-to-day African culture of Ugandans.

    —2_ [Dr Dennis Walker, c/o Balaclava Post Office, Melbourne 3183, Australia]

    Amin had to give or arrange some nourishment for the Muslim minority as Protestant and Catholic churches moved against him in disregard of his dignity-sapping overtures on seizing power.

    Torture and killings by ‘Idi Amin’s military and intelligence forces had become frequent enough by 1973 for the International Commission of Jurists to denounce them. At that point, though, Amin still retained high credibility among Ugandan Muslims as a good-hearted if slandered leader with the practical skills as well as will to transform the conditions of their sect. Amin’s sharp focus on the nuts and bolts of uplifting Muslims was clear in his speech of 1 June 1972 on the inauguration of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council. The speech shows a man who was becoming a dictator moving to firm up his country’s 6%-15% Muslim minority as a subsidiary constituency that he was likely to need more and more now. But while he had a shrewd sense of needs of the new Muslim professionals and lumpen bourgeoisie he courted, they had set out to him in detail systematic approaches to actualize the needs, and had some bargaining power to make him move to deliver. Amin’s speech also pointed forward to possible radical internationalization of Ugandan Islam as Middle Eastern governments and institutions moved in much more strength into Uganda to fill the vacuum left by the exit of Israel and by Amin’s hamstringing of some meddling Christian churches.

    But all endeavors to improve the conditions of a range of Muslim classes had to face the fragmented and often fossilized nature of Islam in Uganda. General Amin was giving the Muslim minority, in the range of its elements, electric shock treatment to galvanize them into getting an act together. With brutal realism, he portrayed the — his — minority as “stagnant,” as having been almost disintegrated and brought to “extinction” by a host of unqualified Muslim leaders “who have sought to use our religion for the promotion of their own personal, political, tribal or sectional purposes to the exclusion of the welfare of the Muslims as a whole in this country.” The divisions had set off fighting in mosques, including one or two deaths. Thus, although 100 years earlier Islam had been “the first of the modern [sic] religions to be introduced into this country,” its growth has been by far the slowest and its impact, by comparison with other religions [=Christianities], “unimpressive”. Amin and his colleagues meant the new Uganda Muslim Supreme Council to settle those leadership disputes and divisions over interpretations. He also promised uneducated Uganda Muslims that the Council, in bringing unification, would end nightmarish features that practising their religion had long held for them. Various groups and sects had dealt with separate airlines and travel agents for the _hajj_, making it easier to overcharge and cheat pilgrims. An illiterate Ugandan lady unable to communicate in Arabic or English found in Jeddah that the leader of her group had missed her plane, leaving her without money, to starve. The leader of another rival group turned her away. Her family was informed she had died in Arabia: she was, though, afterwards brought home after two months of suffering. If the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, and the planned National Secretariat for Muslims, streamlined facilities for rituals of Islam — another need: setting one common, unifying date for each major Islamic festival — the ‘Idi Amin regime would garner support from the masses of the Muslims.

    However, upward pressure from the small new modernist Muslim bourgeoisie determined the clarity of some functions of the new Council. A Chief Qadi, able to issue authoritative rulings from Islam and thus unite the brawling Muslims, was now invested for the first time in Uganda’s history. By organizing the distribution of scholarships from Arab and other Muslim-majority states, the Supreme Council would greatly promote the training of a literate Muslim clergy imbued with Arabic. But the new Muslim bourgeoisie was determined to get into the modern professions that were the preserve of “Christian” Ugandans. ‘Idi Amin took up their drive to multiply themselves. Muslims in Uganda were lagging far behind in “secular education” and the new Supreme Council would “augment present facilities to accelerate the rate of educational advancement of the Muslims in Uganda.” [=This project would not be confined to upgrading the run-down Qur’anic schools that already existed --- education traditional and religious]. At the inauguration were high-ranking guests from Mecca, Egypt, the Sudan, Libya and Pakistan, and Amin projected that “this new relationship will grow from strength to strength”. The scholarships the Arabs offered in their states would help make Ugandan Islam Arabic-literate and more Arab in concepts and motifs over the long term. But the modernist Muslim neo-bourgeoisie also saw the Arab states, Arabic and study there as another source for modernity: secular, West-patterned subjects and professional specializations could be studied in, for instance, Cairo and Damascus. In any case, Amin and those collaborating with him were in a sense inventing or constructing a novel Ugandan “Muslim minority” that had never been integrated before. Himself a Muslim from the Nilotic North, his speech sketched a sort of macro-history of Islam in Uganda, taking in the first spread of Islam in the royal family of the (Bantu) kingdom of Buganda, and the vain efforts of its Kabaka Sir Daudi Chwa in 1924 to settle an early dispute on matters of ritual prayer that had split the Muslims back in that era too [[Speech of 1 June 1972 by President Amin on the occasion of the inauguration of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council: “Historic Speech by Ugandan President”_al-Jihad_ (Cape Town) 4:14 Jumadal-Akhir 1392 pp. 5-7]]. (Amin as commander-in-chief had led the attack on the Kabaka’s palace when Obote decided to crush autonomous Buganda: now his delimitation of Ugandan Islam to include Buganda’s Bantu and the South would help him live down that violence and where he came from). Amin’s drive to link all Muslims, whatever their languages, together over all areas of Uganda was the novel project of an emergent Muslim modern bourgeoisie now taking shape, a bourgeoisie that may have drafted the language of Amin’s speech for him. Yet the gutsiness and realistic social vision, the avuncular frankness and the sheer appetite for life that repeatedly breaks through the Latinate phraseology, was very much that honest Kakwa soldier’s.

    The Muslim neo-bourgeoisie in Uganda was often shambolic in the 1960s and 1970s, and projects and institutions to develop the minority from 1971-1979 precarious and thrown together over no adequate foundation. Yet at the top was a thin layer of some very good fresh-faced intellectuals almost perfect in both literary Arabic and English. Traditional Muslim clerical leaders in the Uganda of 1971 presented a dispiriting spectacle of ignorance and infighting that was sure to make any Ugandan think thrice before entering Islam. But the young Uganda Muslim activists compensated with an aggressive drive to propagate: they believed that they would convert the Christian educated classes themselves, wholesale. Their drive to make Islam and Arabic a respectable component within the courses at Kampala’s Makarere University was one long-term element in that thrust. They were pleased that some young Christians were now coming to the mosques and reading English-language Qur’ans and literature there, not considering that the coming to power of ‘Idi Amin and the resources and chances that would now flow to his coreligionists might now have been giving Islam a certain luster to bourgeois non-Muslims who wanted to make it. For young Muslims with hopes, black suits and briefcases of quality, the atmosphere in Uganda in the early 1970s was upbeat as they orated in Arabic in religious and other conferences across the Arab world. They carried, though, a multi-linguistic burden much heavier than that of “Christian” or agnostic elite Ugandans who had only had to learn English (a malfunctional burden in itself) for a literary language. One emerging Muslim Ugandan historian in 1973 (who had to leave to a university in the Sudan as Amin fell in 1978) wistfully told me that he had “spent half my life learning” the superb modern neo-classical literary Arabic with which he angled for resources for his people at Arab international conferences.

    Under Amin, Uganda Muslim intellectuals who spoke at conferences or gave lectures in the Arab countries to be sure lobbied scholarships in Islamic and secular-modern fields there. But they also asked any academics from the West who attended to try to arrange scholarships specifically marked for a Ugandan Muslim from their governments when they went back to this Anglo-Saxon country or that. (Given the better facilities that mission-educated Christian Ugandans had attended, the young Muslim Ugandan intellectuals did not expect that Muslim candidates would win many scholarships to Western universities by criteria that took no account of sectarian disadvantage). They wanted to develop a Muslim identity and a better Arabic, but this was a new Muslim elite determined to get something like the Western or West-patterned educations and professional functions that the Christianizing bourgeoisie had won.

    With President ‘Idi Amin’s encouragement, an Institute of Islamic Studies was established at Makerere University in Kampala, with the aspiration that it would operate like any other faculty. This was announced by the Minister of Justice, P.J. Nkambo Mugerwa, who presided over the first meeting of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council at the International Conference Center at the end of April 1972. The meeting was attended by 10 to 11 Muslim leaders from each district. Would the Islamic heartlands states now become able to move more quickly to get resources to African Muslims who needed help? The Ambassador of Pakistan, Air Vice-Marshal M. Khyber Khan, donated 20 Islamic books to be given to the Institute for the foundation of an Islamic library; he promised more. The minority’s fissiparousness was as much a threat to it as disdain from the thinly-Christianized established Ugandan educated classes: Mugerwa urged the Muslims to be honest and to do what they believed in and not otherwise and work as a team to preclude scandal. But it was not just that the government of ‘Idi Amin was trying to strengthen or build a Muslim constituency: it also was meeting the specific demands coming from that constituency below. At that first meeting of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council in April 1972, “most leaders from the districts complained that Muslims were left far behind in every sphere, whether administration or education… [They] pointed out that for the advancement of the country scholarships should be distributed equally so that educated Muslims also got a chance to go abroad, and not only to Arabic-speaking countries.” In reply, the Minister of Justice told them that their suggestions would not only be considered as problems of Muslims alone, but also of all the people because they affected the whole country [[“Faculty of Islamic Studies in East African University at Kampala (Uganda)”, _Yaqeen International_ (Karachi) July 22, 1972 pp. 61, 72]]. The pattern here for Uganda is similar to that in Ghana and Senegal where some Christian or in name Christianized members of governing secular elites did welcome with a constructive stance resources from the states of the Middle Eastern heartlands of Islam because the forms of education and literature those offer had enough functionalism and modernity in them to help guide traditional African Muslims towards the mainstreams of the new nationalist African states. At least some Christian governing Africans did have good intentions to Muslims, identifying with them as another section of the Nation whose advancement would make all its elements more prosperous and stronger.

    The later part of the period of Amin’s rule put in question whether such a judicious and positive relationship between new African mainstreams or states and essentially modern Arab Muslims was feasible. Sa’udi Arabia and Libya offered substantial economic aid to the Amin regime and Uganda in general, as some non-Muslim elite Ugandans understood. The PLO also established businesses in Amin’s Uganda, but these too could not be made profitable and develop amid the lack of confidence that Amin’s regime inflicted. A female aristocrat of Uganda who conducted many of his regime’s foreign relations found the Arabs concerned congenial and serious and that the economic aid and opportunities they delivered could have set off real development had it not been for the spreading disorganization under the dictator that left the country unable to absorb that aid [[See _Princess Elizabeth of Toro: the Odyssey of an African Princess : An Autobiography_ (New York: Simon and Schuster 1989: first published 1983)]]. al-Qadhdhafi’s airlift of 1,500 troops to Kampala when Tanzania’s cold Julius Nyerere invaded Uganda in late 1978 was a distinguished peak of fusion between Arab regimes and sub-Saharan Muslim minorities — but one that could not save Amin’s dispirited armed forces. Their collapse was followed by firings and killings of Uganda’s Muslims that for a time looked set to destroy them as a coherent community in Ugandan life, after Tanzania brought the now mortally-wounded Obote back. Under the new repression by Obote, “foreign links” to Arab countries that wanted to help them became difficult for Uganda’s Muslim minority. Yet the Uganda Supreme Muslim Council somehow survived, and then slowly rebuilt an organized, reasonably modern community life, although the attempt to attach serious teaching and study of Arabic and Islam to Uganda’s secular tertiary institutions collapsed with Amin’s exit.

    The period of the rule of ‘Idi Amin and other nominally Muslim soldiers from 1971-1978 saw a cultural-linguistic shift in Ugandan public life because their English was much poorer than that of the educated civilian elite they overthrew: they thus preferred to address their countrymen in the Swahili that had been established in East African barracks under the British. Dr ‘Ali Mazrui wondered in 1979 if ‘Idi Amin had bequeathed a basis for establishing Swahili alongside English as official languages in Uganda: such a governmental and parliamentary Swahili would then aid a regional union with Tanzania and Kenya where the language had been much stronger, and more fostered by state structures [[‘Ali Mazrui, “Language Policy After Amin”, _Africa Report_ September-October 1979 pp. 20-22]].

    _EGYPTIAN INTERACTION WITH SUB-SAHARANMUSLIMS IN THE 1960s AND 1970s_

    The writers of the neo-Salafi movements that became prominent in Arab Islam after 1967 engaged with Africa’s underprivileged Muslims but took no fair account of previous efforts after 1952 from the Nasserite Egypt that that Muslim Brothers tradition hated. My final text will argue that the multiple perspectives of Nasserite Egypt — Islam, but also secular Arabism and engagement with non-Muslim black African regimes and pagan African cultures — helped make that system’s engagement with African Muslims more judicious and truly helpful.

    Some sense that, despite variation in hues, the Arab and the other Africans shared some elements of blood and race, was one of the motives of al-Azhar intellectuals who strove to diffuse an anti-imperialist Islam in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. There was also some acceptance, not just of Christian compatriots but of pagan pasts or cultures as components for national integrations and new partly-secular states in which a new engaged Islam would flourish nonetheless. The Shaykh ‘Abdallah al-Mashadd in 1962 felt that Nasser’s United Arab Republic was bound to the other parts of Africa by “a single continent sited at the center of the world. The blessed Nile connects us to many other of its lands and we are the sons of a single race (jins wahid) and Islam unites us to 85 million in all its corners. From our land [in Pharaonic antiquity] rose the sun of civilization in the ancient world, and all the African states in the medieval and modern ages drew [from Egypt]. Our interests, aims and hopes are the same.” Al-Azhar was educating 300 from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar; from Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, the Ivory Coast, Dahomey and Nigeria 100; and from South Africa 15: all were being trained to go back home not just as religious preachers but to open schools to teach “freedom and independence”, whose struggles they might come to head, although this world-aware Shaykh thought such non-Muslim independence leaders as Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya were on the right track. This Egyptian who had been in al-Azhar’s fact-finding missions in Africa appreciated such indigenous African Muslim leaders as ‘Umar Taal, and Samory (Samadu Ture: 1830-1900) who resisted the initial French conquests. But he did not have an open stance to the pagan African cultures that an Islam that came through trade had replaced centuries before, identifying them with “cannibals” [[al-Shaykh ‘Abdallah al-Mashadd, “Athar al-Islam wal-Azhar fi Nahdat Ifriqiya” (The influence of Islam and al-Azhar on the Renaissance in Africa) _Minbar al-Islam_ 19:7 December 1961 pp. 58-60. The Guinean (Mandingo) Muslim reformer and military adventurer Samory Toure (ca. 1830-1900) founded a powerful kingdom in West Africa and resisted French colonial expansion from 1883 to 1898. At its height in the early 1880s, Samory's rule extended from the Upper Volta region in the west to the Fouta Djallon in the east. When a French military column ejected his forces from the Soudan, he tried to reestablish his kingdom in the upper Ivory Coast colony, where he pillaged Kong (1897) and Bondoukou (1898). Pursued by French troops, he was captured on the upper reaches of the Cavally River on September 29,1898: he died in exile. See Yves Person’s magisterial biography, _Samori: Une revolution Dyula_ (Dakar: IFAN 2 vls. 1968)]].

    Yet, the adaption of the salafite Islam of al-Afghani and ‘Abduh that was radiating out from Nasserite Egypt had in it some nationalist ecumenicism that could fit into the nation-building efforts of the new African states. An at points ignorant Egyptian article of 1962 highlighted Islam as a rallying-point for resistance to imperialism. Imperialism realized that Islam was a threat to it not so much as a religion but as one strong expression of unity and nationalism in the Arab and Islamic East. Islam binds the Muslims to their land and nationality including to their Christian Arab brothers: to maintain its exploitation of resources, Imperialism fought “every thread that connects Africans and Asians to each other.” The article had some intimate acculturation to Westerners, extracting anti-Islamic themes from the battle-hymns Mussolini made his conscripts sing as he shipped them off to conquer Libya [[Dr. Badawi ‘Abd al-Latif, “Mustaqbal al-Islam fi Ifriqiya l-Hadithah” (The Future of Islam in the New Africa), _Minbar al-Islam_ 19:12 May 1962 pp. 78-80]].

    There was a sense in some Nasser-era Islamic items of reciprocal cultural exchanges between Africans. An account was given of Timbuktu’s past role as a center that spread Arabo-Islamic culture in sub-Saharan African from 1336. The Kings of Songhai, in particular Askia Muhammad (16th century) presided over the period in which Timbuktu reached its literary peak, in part in a context of her exchanges with religious scholars of Cairo, some of whom came to lecture. Timbuktu fell under Moroccan rule from 1561-1750. The Arab writer gave a list of 15 Arabic works by Ahmad Baba, Timbuktu’s greatest scholar [[Dr. Abd al-Rahman Zaki, “Timbuktu: Markaz al-Thaqafah al-Islamiyyah fi Qalb Ifriqiya” (Timbuktu: the Center of Islamic Culture in the Heart of Africa) _Minbar al-Islam_ 21:5 October 1963 pp. 69-70]].

    It is true that there were lapses of sympathy. The mass-circulation magazine _Minbar al-Islam_ under Nasser sometimes projected a sense that Egyptians and Arabs did not have many fundamental things about Islam to learn from black Africans. The assumption of some of these writers was that the Arabs had a lot, or everything, to teach the Africans, and nothing to learn. For the most part, the Islam that was being projected to Africa from Egypt was that of Muhammad ‘Abduh: it was streamlined, modernity-seizing, politically activist and anti-imperialist and in its anti-imperialism derided traditional Sufi tariqahs or brotherhoods whether in Africa or the Arab World as instruments that the imperialists manipulated. It was a new activist Islam impatient of all old things that formed after the first period of Islam whether in Africa or the Arab countries.

    More than political unity between Christian and Muslim Africans/Arabs, the attitudes to African pagan religions were problematic. Still, Egyptian nationalist ideologues had had serious interest in pagan Pharaonic culture and religion from the 1920s. More secular-minded Egyptian academics and writers associated with Nasser’s institutions and his pan-African projects, including the Islamic plane, had an attitude that non-Islamic, non-Christian African cultures had worth and were worth engaging with in many aspects. For such Egyptian writers there was no reason why Islam had to destroy all culture and religious quest that preceded it: there could be synthesis. One article discussed some details of the composite beliefs and practices of the Yaw Muslims in Malawi [[Dr. Mahmud Salam Zanati, “al-Islam wal-Taqalid al-Ifriqiyyah: al-Islam wal-Nizam al-Ummi” (Islam and African Customs: Islam and Matriarchal Systems) _Minbar al-Islam_ 23:2 June 1965 90-93]]. al-Azhar was producing communications that had a sense of parallels, an ecumenical readiness to see something good, at least a striving towards God, in religions other than Islam [[‘Ali al-Khatib, “al-Samtu fil-Adyan” (Silence in Religions), _Majallat al-Azhar_ 37:7 January 1966 pp. 393-395]].

    Islam in its projection from Nasser’s industrializing Egypt was able to win over some Africans who were getting good West-derived educations from schools with evangelizing drives. In Ghana, Alfred Kobinawa had piously sought God but voiced revulsion when a pastor in his church pointed to an image of a helpless crucified Christ and said “this is God the Creator of the Universe and his mother Mary”. His feverish prayers to God to guide him were answered when he came across a procession of Muslims and took the name of Abd Allah in mid-1953. His wide readings in books about various religions had already fueled his quest for the absolute monotheism he now found in Islam. When he cut off wine and cigarettes, his brother followed him into Islam, and he subsequently converted another 57. He came from the 1959 pilgrimage to get a 5-year scholarship to study in Egypt the language of his religion that he loved. He would return to Ghana to preach the reform of its inadequate local Islam and stand in the face of the missionaries who were spreading everywhere [=the coming radical Christianization of Ghanaian society]. [[“Alfred Kubinawa alladhi Asbaha ‘Abd Allah Kubinawa”, _Minbar al-Islam_ 19:10 March 1962 pp. 145-147]].

    A contribution by Senegalese who had studied at al-Azhar denounced the efforts of the French authorities to end Arabic-medium education in Senegal. Despite all their efforts, the Union of Islamic Culture and various charitable organizations such as the Jam’iyyat al-Falah had established primary schools to teach Arabic in the main towns. Their preachers were conveying Islam through speeches, mosque sermons and articles in weeklies to counter the missionaries, and to expose the official Islam that the French authorities maintained. The writer, Basamba Hamid, appealed to the new Administration for Contact with Islamic Peoples lately set up by Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf (Islamic Endowments) to send qualified Egyptians to teach Islam and to unite the Muslims — to break through the “barbed wire” set up by imperialism and the lies it propagated in Africa and other Islamic states. Egypt should concentrate on providing educations to Africans who came, in al-Azhar and in secondary schools and in Cairo University’s faculties of medicine, commerce, engineering, literature and law so that they could return to apply the knowledge back home. The Ministry of Awqaf should supply literary and religious books and curricula to help the Senegalese associations truly make Arabic a living language in the schools they were setting up. The writer thanked Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser, “the leader of Arab and Islamic nationalism” for his painstaking attention to the needs of Senegalese studying in the United Arab Republic [[Basamba Hamid, “al-Islam wal-Senegal”, _Minbar al-Islam_ 18:1 June 1960 pp. 104-107]].

    African Muslim women as well as men communicated directly to Arab readers by contributing interviews and articles. Minbar al-Islam conducted an interview with a Miss Salimah Salim who had come from t Congo to Cairo with her sister to study Arabic — “the language of the Islamic religion”. She set the ratio of Muslims in the Congo at 20% of its overall population. The Congo was a scenic country whose mineral wealth had made the saliva of the imperialists flow. Salimah was dissatisfied with the traditional societies of her people “which have not yet progressed because the presence of imperialism there hampers its progress and civilization”. However, there had emerged a number of educated women leading the movement for women’s emancipation. She was impressed that Egypt’s modernization had provided openings for women. The aspect of Nasser’s new Egypt that had impressed her was the activity of its optimistic women. She hoped that her rapid progress in Arabic would enable her to study in Egypt to become a doctor ["al-Mar'at al-Muslimah fil-Kunghu" (Muslim Women in the Congo) Minbar al-Islam 19:6 November 1961 p. 177].

    Muslim women in Black Africa who wanted development and better opportunities for their sex sought lessons from Egypt’s socially activist feminists, who had kept up some emotional connection to Arabic and Islam: women in Muslim West Africa now had curiosity to learn more about both. When the wife of President Modibo Keita of Mali visited Egypt in 1962, she called in on the Women’s Association in Cairo and vowed to organize a women’s movement after her return to Mali. She had been accompanied by women social workers charged to study the institutions founded by women’s movements in various countries for guidelines for Mali. Mali’s women under the French had received French-medium education in schools and memorized the Qur’an without understanding: now, with independence, Arabic was taught alongside French in the schools they attended. The wife of the Malian ambassador in Cairo, Mrs. Ruqayyah, was pleasantly surprised by Egypt’s rapid progress (part of “the struggle binding all Africa’s struggling peoples together”): its women were sisterly. Women in Mali were thrusting through its outworn old customs to social and cultural equality with men [[“al-Mar’at al-Muslimah: Haramu Safir Mali al-Sayyidat Ruqayyah” (Muslim Women: the Wife of the Mali Ambassador Mrs. Ruqayyah) _Minbar al-Islam_ 19:12 1962 pp. 143-144; cf interview in ibid pp. 17-19 with her husband Ambassador Modibo Diallo. For Senegal's ambassador see M1 19:3 August 1961 pp. 15-17 and November 1961 19:6 176-179].

    It was a process of reciprocal education between Arab and sub-Saharan African Muslims. Najat Ahmad al-Zaniri gave a sharp overview of the 114-odd tribes making up the population of Nigeria, and of Nigerian marriage customs: she approved of those “progressive movements calling for campaigns against polygamy” and for “the liberation of women and greater rights than she enjoys at present” — although not everything had been wrong about all traditional Muslim societies given that women traders had virtually controlled commerce in some parts of Nigeria. The general impression of the article is of a serious desire by an Egyptian woman to understand Nigerians or Africa and a fact-oriented drive to help the development of modernist forms of Islam like, or derived from, the West-accommodating salafite Islam that Muhammad ‘Abduh had developed in Egypt at the beginning of the century and which had also relinquished polygamy [[Najat al-Zaniri, “al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah … fi Nayjiriya” (The Muslim Woman... in Nigeria), _Minbar al-Islam_ 21:3 August 1963 pp. 190-191]].

    _Minbar al-Islam_ termed newly-independent Nigeria a great pearl that the British had done nothing to develop, in particular in the North. In the context of his awareness of the power of Federal Prime Minister, Abu Bakr Tafawa Balawa in the new state, ‘Abduh Badawi published a brief review of the life and formation of Uthman Dan Fodio (1754-1817) who built a state led by the mainly pastoral Fulani people in current-day Northern Nigeria — [one which tried to conquer not merely pagans but other Muslim states that Dan Fodio claimed needed to purge pagan survivals under the guidance from him they could not do without]. [[Badawi, “Uthman Dan Fodio” _Minbar al-Islam_ March 1961 18:10 pp. 57-8]].

    While they may have hoped for some diplomatic benefits back, it is unlikely that Nasser and his colleagues seriously expected any swift political returns from most of the bales of Arabic publications they shipped off in such huge quantities to Muslims in the emerging, shaky states of sub-Saharan Africa. There was something generous and altruistic — a pride that finds self-esteem in constructive engagement with others and helping others even when the latter are outside Islam — in this Islamic and pan-African self-projection coming in the 1950s and 1960s from a cash-strapped Egypt that did not have any operative oil-wells in that historical era.

    Overall, Nasserite Egypt’s Islam-fostering activities in sub-Saharan Africa kept within the frame of a forming pan-African system to be fulfilled in the OAU (Organization of African Unity): Egypt did not aid Muslim populations to challenge the new quasi-secular regimes even when those were West-aligned, and in fact tried to strengthen those systems and did help make them more functional by helping make sub-Saharan Muslims more literate and modernity-attuned in their religion.

    The issue of Israel and its roles was always the wild-card and became even more so after her defeat of Egypt and the Arab states in June 1967. Penetration by Israel in Black Africa was an issue connected to diverging cultural assumptions among the various religious confessions in Black Africa to which neither the Arab states nor the African Muslims could remain indifferent. Okoi Arikpo, an Ibo scholar, wrote: “A short while before the military coup of January 1966, the then [Muslim] Premier of Northern Nigeria shocked many Nigerian journalists by declaring that, for him, the State of Israel did not exist. In other words, the Government of Northern Nigeria did not recognize the legal Government of Israel. Many Nigerians considered this statement an affront to the Federal Government, which under Schedule I of the Independence Constitution had exclusive jurisdiction over external affairs” [[Okoi Arikpo, _The Development of Modern Nigeria_ (Penguin Books:1967) p. 135]]. Seen from the viewpoint of the Western civilization and the then rightist _Time_ magazine, Israel legitimately existed like the Crusader kingdom before it. Seen through the Muslim ethos, Israel was an attack from outside on the heartlands of Islam, a modern Crusader kingdom that had snapped the territorial continuity of the Arab and Islamic lands: some thought that state’s removal was one condition for that Arabo-Islamic world’s resurgence.

    The form relations with Israel took thus could become a test-case of the degrees to which a given newly-independent African state was affiliated to wider worlds and their civilizations. For those sections of Muslim Africans interested in pan-Islamic matters, recognition of Israel by the early 1960s already looked a calculated provocation that formally detached their lands from the larger world of Islam. For many Christians in the Western-educated elites ruling Black Africa, insistence that the Arab-Israeli dispute does not concern Africa, and diplomatic recognition for Israel, was an important token of their countries’ link to the international civilization of the West, just as, internally, Israeli military assistance was a valuable reassurance against pre-existing unrest among Muslim elements. The issue of Israel gave stronger focus to long-simmering tensions between Muslim Africans and somewhat Christianized Africa who had more political clout than they. In Nigeria’s tragic case it boded ill for the country’s and Africa’s future unity that quite a few educated Christian or animist Nigerians felt that the refusal of their Muslim countrymen to share their positive view of Israel somehow justified — or was one of the “injustices” that justified — the January 1966 physical liquidation of Muslim Nigeria’s outstanding political leaders, notable among them the Federal Prime Minister, Abu Bakr Tafawa Balawa, and the Northern Premier, Ahmadu Bello, that was to plunge Nigeria into a linguistic and religio-communal civil war, the consequences of which were to develop in Nigerian politics for decades to come.

    There were dangers in the efforts of movements of Muslim unrest in Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad and Senegal from the 1950s to involve the Arab and larger Muslim Worlds in Black Africa’s internal affairs. From the point of view of the most radical sub-Saharan Muslims orientated to insurgency, this strategy was a logical device to counter the Western commitment to client African governments allegedly hostile to Muslim culture and interests. However, most Arab governments were far from eager to move even against African governments that became allies of Israel. Nasser’s Egypt was wary about getting involved with movements intent to hasten the collapse of Haile Selassie’s feudal empire. True, one Zionist publicist, David Kessler, after a visit to Ethiopia, reported that “the so-called Eritrean Liberation Movement, which is causing a great deal of embarrassment to the Ethiopian Government, is simply an indication of the Arab ambition to control the only remaining stretch of Red Sea Coast which is not in their hands” [[_The Australian Jewish News_ June 5, 1970 p. 13]]. Such politics-targeted views ignored, or were attempts to obscure, the reality of increasingly profitable trans-African trade that, more than pan-Islamic sympathies or expensive ambitions to expand, guided most Arab states in their dealings with sub-Saharan African governments in the 1960s and 1970s. It did remain true, however, that popular feeling in the Arab countries at some point might push their governments to involve themselves in fighting in some African states if ill-treatment of Muslims there became glaring. Some populations of the Eastern Sudan, for example, are linguistically and ethnically closely related to some lowlander Eritreans, and the influx of Muslim refugees from Eritrea with their tales of Ethiopian Christian atrocities more than once pushed the Sudan and Ethiopia to the brink of armed confrontation. It was to prevent this that the government of Nasser’s UAR (United Arab Republic — Egypt) arranged for Abu Bakr ‘Awadullah, Sudan’s deputy premier, to attend the talks in Cairo between President Nasser and Haile Selassie in June 1970. According to UAR Foreign Minister Mahmud Riyad, “the object of the talks was to strengthen Ethiopian-Sudanese relations” [[_The Egyptian Gazette_ June 7, 1970 p. 1]].

    ‘Abd al-Nasser and Haile Selassie had been at pains to maintain workable relations with each other. On the other hand, Egypt’s officials and media had been concerned at Israel’s penetration of Ethiopia in the early 1960s. Emperor Selassie took care to attend the 1970 funeral of Nasser. As the insurrection spread and became more violent in Eritrea in the 1970s, _Minbar al-Islam_ under Sadat voiced pan-Islamic support for the mixture of Muslim and Christian Eritreans fighting for independence [[Muhammad Fahmi ‘Abd al-Latif, “Sha’bun Muslim fi Ifriqiya Yukafih al-Isti‘mar” (A Muslim People in Africa struggling Against Imperialism) _Minbar al-Islam_ 23:1 January 1975 pp. 100-101]]. Already back in September 1961, the UAR English quarterly _The Scribe_ had carried an article on Israel’s economic penetration of Ethiopia, although without raising any question of plural nationalities in Ethiopia (including Eritrea). The article emanated a cold attitude to the regime of Haile Selassie which was monarchical in that era of the Arab cold war between the “progressive” and the “reactionary” states.

    _ISLAM AND NATIONALISM IN ERITREA: 1941-1975_

    An Italian colony from 1889 until the collapse of Fascist Italy’s control in 1941, the 3,500,000 people of Eritrea, 50% Muslim, then came under British rule. Congruently with America’s strategic interests, the modern-minded Eritreans were forced in 1952 into a union with a feudal Ethiopia that was “pro-Western” at that time. The “country” won independence from Ethiopia in 1993. There had been in the early 1950s some differences of attitude between (a) the linguistically diverse populations of the coast which were Muslim, had Arabic as their lingua franca and wanted independence and (b) the Christian populations of the highlands which were not literate in Arabic and shared the Ge’ez liturgical language with

    • DENNIS WALKER, Islam and the Search for African-American Nationhood: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2005; 597 pp.

      This enormous study clinches the importance of Islam for African-Americans. But it is an ‘Americanized’ Islam, even in its more radicalized forms. The book covers in depth many of the main features of the Black Muslim movement from its stridently millenarian phase under Elijah Muhammad, its attempt to reach rapprochement with transnational Islam under his son Warith(uddin) Muhammad, and the return of the millenarian ‘bite’ with Louis Farrakhan’s noisy ‘sectlet’ running alongside the settling of an ‘acceptably American’ Muslim ‘Establishment’ under Warith (now recently deceased).

      Walker goes much further than his prior published articles in this book. Indeed it is a huge and daring exposure of the issues and postures involved in this extraordinary American new religious movement called The Nation of Islam. He explores more deeply than anyone before him the background to the movement in African religious life, with Islam [as one religion of Africans enslaved in America] a forgotten shadow in the history of the Western slave trade, and thus he argues how Islam can be said to have been ‘reborn’ on American soil among oppressed blacks. And he further goes on to explain the huge rise in influence and popularity of Louis Farrakhan, who was side-lined by Warith after Muhammad’s death, but who becomes the leader of the astounding Million Man March to Washington of 1995.

      Farrakhan, notorious for revitalizing Elijah Muhammad’s strident millenarian rhetoric and for his anti-Zionist vitriol, has actually integrated the Nation of Islam into the black bourgeoisie business world through his active media endorsement of private entrepreneurship. Despite keeping up an anti-Christian (and anti-Israeli) tones, he nonetheless keeps up dialogue with the black Christians, and also the marginalized Latin American communities within the United States, with a vision of a “Millions More” march and movement in view. Walker concludes by asking what chances the Nation has of uniting the oppressed “black classes” of North America.

      The volume is carefully documented, and reflects Walker’s known attention to detail and the intricacies of influences and causal factors, nowhere better illustrated than in his attention to the Druzes in the whole story and to Malcolm X, the Black Panthers and black Marxism.

      Garry W. Trompf, Professor of Religious Studies,

      University of Sydney, Australia

  5. Ping-balik: Anonymous

  6. _Will Malay Survive in Southern Thailand?_
    by Dr Dennis Walker,
    Monash Asia Institute,
    Monash University,
    Australia 3145.

    In government-recognized Islamic schools, Malay adolescents in Southern Thailand are taught to read Jawi Malay in a fashion that does not provide accurate literacy in it — but does provide a basis for literacy.
    Standard literary Malay is a language without newspapers or magazines in Southern Thailand. It has no presence in the modernity that the Thai State’s universities and apex colleges teach. No lectures are given in standard literary Malay in any modern subjects at Prince of Songkla University (Pattani City Campus), or at any other. Literary Malay is a thin language in the psyches of Malay adolescents when they enter PSU or other Southern campuses. Once on campuses, the students have to get through a never-ending conveyor belt of print-materials ion Thai, and increasingly English, so that their print-Malay fades away from lack of use or access.
    Whether literary Malay will survive in Thailand will be decided by the young Malay students at the universities and colleges of Southern Thailand. Their basic social unit is the group of five students enrolled in the same subject who sit at tables in college libraries and try to help each other understand the terms and concepts of their subjects. The subjects are taught in Thai and English. This time-consuming process of group study could get transformed from a force that displaces, marginalizes, and excludes Malay into an enterprise that carries Malay forward with it alongside Thai and English. Malay language clubs, perhaps just informal clubs not announced, can be formed that would distribute a Malay-Thai-English list of the vocabulary of each subject to the enrollees. The small groups of five students could then use the Malay equivalents side by side with the Thai terms in their study discussions. A point would come at which the students would then only use the Thai terms sometimes. The product of this linguistic restructing of tertiary study would be small groups of Malay Muslim students who would have a composite language of discussion for study that would be a composite made up Malay, Thai and English — the new medium of modernity and science.
    Will Arabic-script Malay survive at all in Southern Thailand? The political leaders of Thailand know that Malay is an important language of ASEAN, and they therefore want to keep the language alive among their Patanioan sons and daughters so that the Thai Malay can carry out their function as guides and intermediaries to help the Thai in general conclude those very lucrative deals with Malaysia and Indonesia.

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