The Moorish American - A Brief History

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****The following is a submission from an unknown author it doesn't necessarily reflect the views & opinions of Brother Taalik or the Reality's Temple, if not is accurate please feel free to comment *****


The Moorish Americans

Who are they?

The Moors are not a specific race of people. The word has never been clearly defined and remains ambiguous and confusing. This term has been broadly used to denote various people in North Africa, people who came from Morocco or simply to describe Muslims in general. Christians in the 13th century also referred to the Moors as "Moriscos" and "Mudejares".

A Hebrew Moor and member of the Clock of Destiny told me that we were last known as a ruling power among the European as Moorish. C.M. Bey said what are ancient forefathers were we are that today namely Moorish. Often times. The Moorish Resolution from City Hall in Philadelphia State says that we are of Morrocan descent born in America. So as you can see before we were called Negro, Black, African, African American, West Indian, and Indian we were called Moors that ruled the world and the seven seas.

The word MOORS may have evolved from the Greek 'Mauros' which means 'dark'. The Greeks were in Spain around 500 BC, 300 years before the Romans. The Romans probably pinched it from the Greeks, complete with its original connotation of 'dark'. This might explain why the Latin 'Maurus' translates literally into 'Moors', with no further definition. Borrowing directly from the Greek meaning, this would have been good enough for the Romans to describe the 'dark' skinned people of North Africa. This is all conjecture of course, but its close enough for me.

Circa 46 B. C., the Roman army entered West Africa where they encountered black Africans whom they called Maures from the Greek adjective mauros, meaning dark or black.
Chandler, Wayne B. "The Moor: Light of Europe's Dark Age." Golden Age of the Moor. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick: Transaction Press, 1992: 151-81.

The Webster's New World Dictionary identifies Moors as "a member of Moslem people of mixed Arab and Berber descent." This deletion of "black" or "Negro" from the term Moor is generally recent. Though the word "Moor" originally seems to have been meant to indicate Blacks, it in time came to be applied to Muslims in general, especially the Berbers.
Africans In Early Europe

In any case, the word was first applied officially to the indigenous people of a Roman province in North Africa called Mauretania (Latin = 'land of the Moors'). This roughly corresponds to present day North Morocco and Algeria. The name Morocco is another reminder of the region's "Moorish" past.

When the Arabs swept westward and captured North Africa in the 7th century, the term was revived by Europeans to denote not only the indigenous Negroes and fairer skinned Berbers of North Africa, but the Arabs as well. (Note: It's not me saying that the Negroes were Moors. I'm simply reporting what those stupid European Christians of the time thought. Please send your protest emails back 14 centuries to these people.) Following the Arab conquest of the Berbers, inter-marriages were common and the two races (Berber and Arab) gradually merged together. Did the Berbers and Arabs do the inter-marriage thing with the dark skinned Negroes also? Probably. Who knows what went on behind closed doors. I wasn't there. History references I've seen up to now only mention Berber and Arab and make no mention of Negro and Arab marriages.

Berber identity these days is linked to the language: many of the North Africans calling themselves Arabs are more of Berber origin than Arab. In many areas, Berber identity is considered negatively, principally because many Berber societies are less developed than what is seen in the cities, where almost all inhabitants see themselves as Arabs.
Encyclopaedia of the Orient.

The term 'Moors' later became a convenient blanket term, to describe the collective Muslim conquerors and rulers in Andalucia between 711 and 1492. This is far too general for my liking. To gain a more accurate perspective into the origins of flamenco, we should try to isolate the main racial elements during the 800 years of Muslim occupation in Spain.

(I hope all this isn't putting you to sleep. There are some juicy bits coming up real soon, so stay with me if you like heroic tales of intrigue, betrayal and bloodshed.)

Events leading up to the Muslim conquest of Spain.
After the sudden death of the Visigothic King Witiza (701-711), a rebellious baron and powerful chieftain called Roderic (also known as Rodrigo), with support from within the palace, seized the throne and proclaimed himself king. The church leaders reluctantly gave their blessing to the coronation, realizing that to do otherwise was to incite further fragmentation of a country already in great turmoil.

Roderic's first task was to travel north to suppress the rebel Basques. He knew that if they broke away from his control, other regions would follow their example and his kingdom would soon collapse. In the meantime, the sons of the late King Wittiza appealed to the Muslims of North Africa for assistance against Roderic. The Arab commander Musa however, had other plans.

(The plot thickens.)

The invasion.
In the year 710, a scouting party of 700 Muslim Berbers led by the Berber leader Tariq ibn Ziyad, entered southern Spain and met with little resistance as they established control over the coastline. 20,000 or so non-Muslims within Spain, who welcomed the newcomers as allies rather than conquerors, aided them willingly. Apart from Roderic's enemies, this number included many persecuted Jews and peasants, who hated all Visigoths.

The Visigoths were so busy fighting amongst themselves, they were slow to realize what was really going on. When word of the invasion was finally sent to Roderic, he quickly returned to the south with a small band of men. They were easily overwhelmed and defeated in an ambush and Roderic was killed by Tariq's men on 19th July 711 (around lunchtime).

800 years of Muslim rule

This initial incursion was followed in 712 by a mainly Arab force of 18,000. The non-Arab portion of this number included more Berbers, Egyptians, Yemenis, Syrians and Persians. After many bloody revolts and power struggles, the Arabs took control in 788. The Berbers, despite their assistance in the successful reconnaissance mission, were soon reminded of their subordinate status in the Arab Empire and were virtually treated as second class citizens.

For the next 300 years or so, despite periods of instability, Andalucia flourished as a center of learning, culture and trade under Arab rule.

In the year 1090, a dynasty of Berbers called the Almoravids seized power from the Arabs. In 1147 an opposing dynasty of Berbers called the Almohads muscled their way into power. In 1237, the Arab controlled Nasrid Sultanate overthrew the decaying Almohad Empire and began building the Alhambra in Granada. By this time, all that was left of 'Moorish' held Spain was the southwest corner of the Peninsular. The Christians in the meantime continued their push southward until they finally moved in on Granada in 1492.

To the Christians, Moor simply meant Muslim barbarian. They didn't care where these 'Moors' came from. Their only interest was to evict every last one of them from Spain. The term 'Moorish' can really only be applied with any accuracy to the unique architecture in the region. Because of the dazzling variety of races unfairly lumped together under the blanket term 'Moors', it is far safer to use the word Moorish when talking about influences, and Moor when talking about the people.


Numerous evidence suggests that Muslims from Spain and West Africa arrived in the Americas at least five centuries before Columbus. It is recorded, for example that in the mid-tenth century during the rule of the Umayed Caliph Abdul-Rahman III (929-961), Muslims of African origin sailed westward from the Spanish port of Delba (Palos) into the Ocean of darkness an fog. They returned after a long absence with much booty from a strange and curious land. It is evident that people of Muslim origin are known to have accompanied Columbus and subsequent Spanish explorers to the New World.

The last Muslim stronghold in Spain, Granada, fell to the Christians in 1492 CE, just before the Spanish inquisition was launched. To escape persecution, many non-Christians fled or embraced Catholicism. At least two documents imply the presence of Muslims in Spanish America before 1550 CE. Despite the fact that a decree issued in 1539 CE, by Charles V, King of Spain, forbade the grandsons of Muslims who had been burned at the stake to migrate to the West Indies. This decree was ratified in 1543 CE, and an order for the expulsion of all Muslims from overseas Spanish territories was subsequently published. Many references on the Muslim arrival in the Americas are available. They are summarized in the following notes:

Evidence that show are presents before the coming of the wig party.

l. A Muslim historian and geographer Abul-Hassan Ali Ibn Al-Hussain Al-Masudi (871 - 957 CE) wrote in his book Muruj Adh-dhahab wa Maadin al-Jawhar (The Meadows of Gold and Quarries of Jewels) that during the rule of the Muslim Caliph of Spain Abdullah Ibn Muhammad (888 - 912 CE), a Muslim navigator Khashkhash Ibn Saeed Ibn Aswad of Cordoba, Spain sailed from Delba (Palos) in 889 CE, crossed the Atlantic, reached an unknown territory (Ard Majhoola) and returned with fabulous treasures. In Al-Masudi's map of the world there is a large area in the ocean of darkness and fog (the Atlantic ocean) which he referred to as the unknown territory (the Americas).

2. A Muslim historian Abu Bakr Ibn Umar Al-Gutiyya narrated that during the reign of the Muslim Caliph of Spain, Hisham II (976 -1009 CE), another Muslim navigator Ibn Farrukh of Granada sailed from Kadesh (February 999 CE) into the Atlantic, landed in Gando (Great Canary Islands) visiting King Guanariga, and continued westward where he saw and named two islands, Capraria and Pluitana. He arrived back in Spain in May 999 CE.

3. Columbus sailed from Palos (Delba), Spain. He was bound for Gomera (Canary Islands) - Gomera is an Arabic word meaning small firebrand - there he fell in love with Beatriz Bobadilla, daughter of the first captain General of the island (the family name Bobadilla is derived from the Arab Islamic name Abouabdilla). Nevertheless, the Bobadilla clan was not easy to ignore. Another Bobadilla (Francisco), later as the royal commissioner, put Columbus in chains and transferred him from Santo Domingo back to Spain (November 1500 CE). The Bobadilla family was related to Abbadid dynasty of Seville (1031 -1091 CE).

On October 12, 1492 CE, Columbus landed on a little island in the Bahamas that was called Guanahani by the natives. Renamed San Salvador by Columbus, Guanahani is derived from Mandinka and modified Arabic words. Guana (Ikhwana) means brothers and Hani is an Arabic name. Therefore the original name of the island was Hani Brothers.., such as those starting with Guad-, al-, Medina and others.]

Ferdinand Columbus, the son of Christopher, wrote about the blacks seen by his father in Honduras: The people who live farther east of Pointe Cavinas, as far as Cape Gracios a Dios, are almost black in color. At the same time in this very same region, lived a tribe of Muslim natives known as Almamy. In Mandinka and Arabic languages Almamy was the designation of Al-Imam or Al-Imamu, the person who leads the Prayer, or in some cases, the chief of the community, and/or a member of the Imami Muslim community.

4. A renowned American historian and linguist Leo Weiner of Harvard University, in his book Africa and The Discovery of America (1920) wrote that Columbus was well aware of the Mandinka presence in the New World and that the West African Muslims had spread throughout the Caribbean, Central, South and North American territories, including Canada, where they were trading and intermarrying with the Iroquois and Algonquin Indians....

Geographic Explorations

1. The famous Muslim geographer and cartographer Al-Sharif Al-Idrisi (1099 - 1166 CE) wrote in his famous book Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi-Ikhtiraq al-Afaq (Excursion of the longing in crossing horizons) that a group of seafarers (from North Africa) sailed into the sea of darkness and fog (the Atlantic ocean) from Lisbon (Portugal), in order to discover what was in it and what extent were its limits. They finally reached an island that had people and cultivation.... on the fourth day; a translator spoke to them in the Arabic language.
2. The Muslim reference books mentioned a well-documented description of a journey across the sea of fog and darkness by Shaikh Zayn-eddine Ali ben Fadhel Al-Mazandarani. His journey started from Tarfay (south Morocco) during the reign of the King Abu-Yacoub Sidi Youssef (1286 - 1307 CE) sixth of the Marinid dynasty, to Green Island in the Caribbean sea in 1291 CE (690 AH). The details of his ocean journey are mentioned in Islamic references, and many Muslim scholars are aware of this recorded historical event.
3. The Muslim historian Chihab Addine Abul-Abbas Ahmad ben Fadhl Al-Umari (1300 - 1384 CE, 700 - 786 AH) described in detail the geographical explorations beyond the sea of fog and darkness of Males sultans in his famous book Masaalik al-absaar fi Mamaalik al-amsaar (The Pathways of Sights in The Provinces of Kingdoms).
4. Sultan Mansa Kankan Musa (1312 - 1337 CE) was the world-renowned Mandinka monarch of the West African Islamic empire of Mali. While traveling to Makkah on his famous Hajj in 1324 CE, he informed the scholars of the Mamluk Bahri Sultan court (an-Nasir-eddin Muhammad III, 1309 - 1340 CE) in Cairo that his brother, Sultan Abu Bakari I (1285 - 1312 CE) had undertaken two expeditions into the Atlantic ocean. When the sultan did not return to Timbuktu from the second voyage of 1311 CE, Mansa Musa became sultan of the empire.
5. Columbus and early Spanish and Portuguese explorers were able to voyage across the Atlantic (a distance of 24,000 Kilometers) thanks to Muslim geographical and navigational information, in particular maps made by Muslim traders, including Al-Masudi (871 - 957 CE) in his book Akhbar Az-Zaman (History of The World) which is based on material gathered in Africa and Asia. As a matter of fact, Columbus had two captains of Muslim origin during his first transatlantic voyage: Martin Alonso Pinzon was the captain of the Pinta, and his brother Vicente Yanex Pinzon was the captain of the Nina. They were wealthy, expert ship outfitters who helped organize the Columbus expedition and repaired the flagship Santa Maria. They did this at their own expense for both commercial and political reasons. The Pinzon family was related to Abuzayan Muhammad III (1362 - 66 CE), the Moroccan sultan of the Marinid dynasty (1196 - 1465 CE).

(Islamic) Inscriptions

1. Anthropologists have proven that the Mandinkas under Mansa Musa's instructions explored many parts of North America via the Mississippi and other rivers systems. At Four Corners, Arizona, writings show that they even brought elephants from Africa to the area.
2. Columbus admitted in his papers that on Monday, October 21, 1492 CE while his ship was sailing near Gibara on the northeast coast of Cuba, he saw a mosque on the top of a beautiful mountain. The ruins of mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qur'anic verses have been discovered in Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Nevada.
3. During his second voyage, Columbus was told by the Indians of Espanola (Haiti), that Black people had been to the island before his arrival. For proof they presented Columbus with the spears of these African Muslims. These weapons were tipped with a yellow metal that the Indians called Guanine, a word of West African derivation meaning gold alloy. Oddly enough, it is related to the Arabic world Ghinaa which means Wealth. Columbus brought some Guanines back to Spain and had them tested. He learned that the metal was 18 parts gold (56.25 percent), six parts silver (18.75 percent and eight parts copper (25 percent), the same ratio as the metal produced in African metal shops of Guinea.
4. In 1498 CE, on his third voyage to the New World, Columbus landed in Trinidad. Later, he sighted the South American continent, where some of his crew went ashore and found natives using colorful handkerchiefs of symmetrically woven cotton. Columbus noticed the these handkerchiefs resembled the headdresses and loincloths of Guinea in their colors, style and function. He referred to them as Almayzars. Almayzar is an Arabic word for wrapper, cover, apron and or skirting, which was the cloth the Moors (Spanish or North African Muslims) imported from West Africa (Guinea) into Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

During this voyage, Columbus was surprised that the married women wore cotton panties (bragas) and he wondered where these natives learned their modesty. Hernando Cortez, Spanish conqueror, described the dress of the Indian women as long veils and the dress of Indian men as breechcloth painted in the style of Moorish draperies. Ferdinand Columbus called the native cotton garments breechcloths of the same design and cloth as the shawls worn by the Moorish women of Granada. Even the similarity of the children's hammocks to those found in North Africa was uncanny.
5. Dr. Barry Fell (Harvard University) introduced in his book Saga America - 1980 solid scientific evidence supporting the arrival, centuries before Columbus, of Muslims from North and West Africa. Dr. Fell discovered the existence of Muslim schools at Valley of Fire, Allan Springs, Logomarsino, Keyhole Canyon, Washoe and Hickison Summit Pass (Nevada), Mesa Verde (Colorado), Mimbres Valley (New Mexico) and Tipper Canoe (Indiana) dating back to 700-800 CE. Engraved on rocks in the old western US, he found texts, diagrams and charts representing the last surviving fragments of what was once a system of schools - at both an elementary and higher levels. The language of instruction was North African Arabic written with old Kufic Arabic script. The subjects of instruction included writing, reading, arithmetic, religion, history, geography, mathematics, astronomy, and sea navigation.

The descendants of the Muslim visitors of North America are members of the present Iroquois, Algonquin, Anasazi, Hohokam and Olmec native people.
6. There are 565 names of places (villages, towns, cities, mountains, lakes, rivers, etc.) in USA (484) and Canada (81) which are derived from Islamic and Arabic roots. These places were originally named by the natives in pre-Columbian period. Some of these names carried holy meanings such as: Mecca (Indiana) - 720 inhabitants, Makkah Indian tribe (Washington), Medina (Idaho) - 2100, Medina (NY) - 8500, Medina and Hazen (North Dakota) - 1100 and 5000, respectively, Medina (Ohio) - 12,000, Medina (Tennessee) - 1100, Medina (Texas) - 26,000, Medina (Ontario) -1200, Mahomet (Illinois) - 3200, Mona (Utah) - 1100, Arva (Ontario) - 700, and many others. A careful study of the names of the native Indian tribes revealed that many names are derived from Arab and Islamic roots and origins, i.e. Anasazi, Apache, Arawak, Arikana, Chavin Cherokee, Cree, Hohokam, Hupa, Hopi, Makkah, Mahigan, Mohawk, Nazca, Zulu, Zuni, etc.

Based on the above historical, geographical and linguistic evidence, a call to celebrate the millennium of the Muslim arrival to the Americas (996-1996), five centuries before Columbus, has was issued to all Muslim nations and communities around the world. There will be a time that the Clock of Destiny will ask all moors to acknowledge this day by wearing the Fez, or flag. This include all supports. We hope this call will receive complete understanding and attract enough support here and abroad
Moors in the Caribbean Islands before Columbus

This is information revealed to all nationals of the Caribbean Islands, and especially the members of the Clock of Destiny Order of the Great Seal.

Ancient America was not isolated from the old world as many historians would have us believe. Knowledge, agricultural products, livestock and other commercial items were exchanged between the two worlds, and Muslims were probably one of the most important contact people before Columbus' voyage.

Evidence leading to the presence of Muslims in the ancient Americas comes from a number of sculptures, oral traditions, eyewitness reports, artifacts, and inscriptions. In Meso-American art we see Africans and Semites in positions of power and prestige, especially in trading communities of Mexico.

A report in Before Columbus by Cyrus Gordon describes coins found in the southern Caribbean region: " the coast of Venezuela were discovered a hoard of Mediterranean coins with so many duplicates that it cannot well be a numismatist's collection but rather a supply of cash. Nearly, all the coins are Roman, from the reign of Augustus to the 4th century AD. Two of the coins, however, are Arabic of the 8th century AD. It is the latter that give us the terminus a quo (i.e. time after which) of the collection as a whole (which cannot be earlier than the latest coins in the collection). Roman coins continued in use as currency into the medieval times. A Moorish ship, perhaps from Spain or North Africa seems to have crossed the Atlantic around 800 AD."

These coins are solid confirmation of the historical reports recorded by Muslim historians and geographers concerning journeys of Muslim adventurers and navigators across the Atlantic Ocean.

In Munuj adh-Dhahab, Al Mas'udi in the year 956 CE wrote about a young man of Cordoba named Khashkhash ibn Saeed ibn Aswad who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and returned in the year 889 CE, Mas'udi wrote: "Some people feel that this ocean is the source of all oceans and in it there have been many strange happenings. We have reported some of them in our book Akhbar az-Zaman. Adventurers have penetrated it on the risk of their lives, some returning safely, others perishing in the attempt. One such man was art inhabitant of Andalusia named Khashkhash. He was a young man of Cordoba who gathered a group of young men and went on a voyage on this ocean. After a long time he returned with a fabulous booty. Every Spaniard (Andalusian) knows his story."

A narration by Abu Bakr b. 'Umar al Qutiyya relates the story of Ibn Farukh who landed in Feb. 999 CE in Gando (Great Canary), visited King Guanariga and continued his journey westwards till he found islands he called Capraria and Pluitana. In May of that year he arrived back in Spain.

Al Sharif al Idrisi (1097-1155) the famous Arab geographer reported in his extensive work The Geography of Al Idrisi in the 12th century, on the journey of a group of North African seamen who reached the Americas. Al Idrisi wrote: "A group of seafarers sailed into the sea of Darkness and Fog (the Atlantic Ocean) from Lisbon in order to discover what was in it and to what extent were its limit. They were a party of eight and they took a boat which was loaded with supplies to last them for months.

They sailed for eleven days till they reached turbulent waters with great waves and little light. They thought that they would perish so they turned their boat southward and traveled for twenty days.

They finally reached an island that had people and cultivation but they were captured and chained for three days. On the fourth day a translator came speaking the Arabic language! He translated for the King and asked them about their mission. They informed him about themselves, then they were returned to their confinement. When the westerly wind began to blow, they were put in a canoe, blindfolded and brought to land after three days' sailing. They were left on the shore with their hands tied behind their backs, when the next day came, another tribe appeared freeing them and informing them that between them and their lands war a journey of two months."

This astonishing historical report not only clearly describes contact between Muslim seamen and the indigenous people of the Caribbean islands but it confirms the fact that the contact between the two worlds had been so involved that the native people could speak Arabic!

In October, 1929 Khalid Edhem Bey discovered by chance in the library of Serallo, in the city of Istanbul, a map in parchment made in the month of Muharram of the year 919 AH (March 1513).

The rare and valuable geographical letter contained, among other legends, the following note: "This chapter explains how this map has been made. Such a map nobody owns at present. By the hands of this poor man it has been composed and now elaborated." The discovery was important. As already stated it had to do with a parchment in Turkish writing painted in several colors. It represents the western zone of the world. It comprises the Atlantic Ocean with America and the western rim of the world. The other parts of the world, which undoubtedly the map also included, have been lost.

The author of the map, Piri Muhyid Din Re'is is not unknown. He was a famous navigator and mapmaker who died about 1554-1555. He wrote a handbook on navigation in the Aegean and the Mediteranean Seas, which was known as Piri Re'is Bahriye. Perhaps the map found by Khalil Edhem Bey was a part of this handbook which had been presented to Sultan Selim I in 1517 which would explain how the mysterious parchment was found in Serallo.

Despite the numerous voyages undertaken by the Muslims of Spain and North America, their contact remained limited and fairly secretive. The most significant wave of Muslim explorers and traders came from the West African Islamic Empire of Mali.

When Mama Musa, the world renowned ruler of Mali, was en route to Mecca during his famous pilgrimage in 1324, he informed the scholars of Cairo that his predecessor had undertaken two expeditions into the Atlantic Ocean in order to discover its limits, Al 'Umari in his Masalik al Absar fi Mamalik al Amsar reported from his information the following: "I asked the Sultan Musa, says Ibn Amir Hajib, how it war that power came into his hands. 'We are,' he told me 'from a house that transmits power by heritage.

The ruler who preceded me would not believe that it was impossible to discover the limits of the neighboring sea. He wanted to Find out and persisted in his plan, he had two hundred ships equipped and filled them with men and others in the same number filled with gold, water and supplies in sufficient quantity to last for years. He told those who commanded them: 'Return only when you have reached the extremity of the ocean, or when you have exhausted your food and water.' They went away; their absence was long before any of them returned. Finally, a sole ship reappeared. We asked the captain about their adventures.'

'Prince,' he replied, we sailed for a long time, up to the moment when we encountered in mid-ocean something like a river with a violent current. My ship war last. the others sailed on and gradually as each one entered this place, they disappeared and did not come back We did not know what had happened to them. As for me I returned to where I was and did not enter the current.'

"But the emperor did not want to believe him. He equipped two thousand vessels, a thousand for himself and the men who accompanied him and a thousand for water and supplies. He conferred power on me and left with his companions on the ocean. This was the last time that I saw him and the others, and I remained absolute master of the empire."

This report reveals that the Manding monarch made great preparation for the journey and had confidence in its success. His captain, who reported the violent river mid-ocean, must have encountered a mid-ocean current. Two voyages across the Atlantic by Thor Heyerdahl in papyrus vessels, inscriptions found in Brazil, Peru and the United States, proven linguistic transfer into native Amerindian languages, and numerous cultural evidences of Manding presence have established the contrary.

The Manding made contact with the closest land mass to the West African coast, Brazil. They appear to have used it as a base for exploration of the Americas and traveled along rivers in the dense jungles of South America and overland till they reached North America.

Many of the Manding cities of stone and mortar have been reclaimed by the jungle but a large number of these cities were seen by the early Spanish explorers and banderiristas (land pirates). One of these banderiristas, a native of Minas Geres, has provided many examples of the Manding script and description of the cities in the interior of Brazil.

From Brazil these explorers went west and north of Brazil, They left Brazil but when they reached Lake Titicaca, they were attacked. According to Cieza de Leon, many of these bearded explorers were killed.

But they left the legacy of writing among the Indians of the Koaty Island of lake Titicaca, whose ideograms are the same as that of the manding scripts and ideograms. The South American expeditions went as far as the Pacific coast, where on a rock on the shore near Ylo, are written the following "Kye Nghe-gyo ghe-su. Kye-ngbe-ta-wo-nde." ["Man. To pursue worship, to mature and become matter without life. Man pursues a cavernous place, i.e, a grave or hole in the ground."]

In Arizona, they left inscriptions which show that the Manding explorers also brought a number of elephants to America with them. Writings and pictographs found in a cave at Four Corners, Arizona discuss the characteristics of the desert.

In Panama the mandinka had such an effect that they are classified as part of the indigenous people of the area. One expert on Middle American traditions, L'Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, wrote: "It is thus that today we distinguish the indigenous people of Darien (Panama) under two names, the Manding and the Tul: whose difference perhaps yet recall their distinct origin."

In 1513, when Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Spanish explorer, reached Panama, he and his party discerned the presence of African people. One of the recorders of the activities of Balboa in 1513, Gomara wrote: "When Balboa entered the Province of Quareca, he found no gold, but some black slaves belonging to the king of the place. Having asked this king where he obtained these black staves he (Balboa) received as an answer that people of that color lived quite near to there and that they were constantly at war with them." Gomara adds "that these Blacks were entirely like the Blacks of Guinea." As late as the mid-nineteenth century, a number of Manding place names still survived in Panama.

From Panama, the Manding traveled north to Honduras. Ferdinand Columbus, the son of Christopher Columbus, recorded black people seen by his father in northern Honduras, he wrote: "But the people who live further east [of Pointe Cavinas] as far as Cape Gracios a Dios are almost black in color," and adds that they "pierce holes in their ears large enough to insert hen's eggs..."

To the southwest, near the Nicaraguan border at Tegulcigalpa another group of Blacks were reported, possibly by Columbus, They were known as "Jaras and Guabas." These names appear to be the same as Jarra in Gambia, Dira in Senegal and Mali which represent a very ancient clan and territorial designation among the Mending - Sarakoles; and "Kaba or Kubba" a name associated with literary or religious people of Islam. These names are clearly part of the legacy left by the early Manding explorers who came from Mali. They are still used in Africa today.

Some of the Muslim Africans of Honduras called themselves "Almamys" prior to the coming of the Spaniards. They were related either to the Africans of northern Honduras seen by Ferdinand Columbus or the "Jaras or Guabas" of Tegulcigalpa. Giles Cauvet in Les Berberes de l'Amerique while making an ethnographic comparison between Africa and America stated, "...a tribe of Al-mamys inhabited Hondura....having preceded by little by the arrival of Columbus there." He adds that the title Almamy does not antedate the twelfth century of our era which is the earliest date the Black African Muslims would have been conveyed to the American Isthmus." In the Manding language 'Almamy' was used for Al Imamu - prayer leader or chieftain.

Another part of the pre-Columbian African hereditary legacy is that left with the Carib people from whose name we derive the word 'Caribbean,' One of their scholars wrote in The Daily Clarion of Belize on November 5, 1946, "When Christopher Columbus discovered the West Indies about the year 1493, he found there a race of white people (i.e., half breeds) with wooly hair whom he called Caribs, they were seafaring hunters and tillers of the soil peaceful and united. They, hated aggression. Their religion was Mohammedanism and their language presumably Arabic."

On the other hand the British Honduras Handbook states that the Carib "are very clannish and speak a language of their own which they guard jealously. It appears to be basically an African dialect with a strong admixture of French, Spanish and English words."

The Black Caribs, also had a number of clearly Islamic practices like the complete prohibition of the eating of the flesh of swine which they called "coincoin or bouirokou."

The Handbook of South American Indians describes the Caribs with the following: "The most prized possessions of the [Carib] men was the Caracoli, a crescent-shaped alloy of gold and copper framed in wood which the warriors obtained during raids upon the continental [South American] Arawak. Some of the Caracoli were small and served as ear, nose, or mouth pendants; others wee large enough to be worn on the chest. They were a sign of high rank, being passed down from generation to generation, and worn only on a ceremonial occasion and during journeys."

Islamic words having a West African, Manding root have been found in native languages not only in the Caribbean region, but also in North America.

The renowned American historian and linguist, Leo Weiner of Harvard University in 1920 wrote a controversial but well documented work entitled Africa and the Discovery of America. He proved in it that Columbus was well aware of the Mending presence and that the West African Muslims had not only spread throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, but they reached Canada and were trading and intermarrying with the Iroquois and Algonquin Indian nations!

Columbus had recorded the fact that Africans were trading with the Americas. In the narrative of his third voyage he wrote: "Certain principal inhabitants of the island of Santiago came to see him, and they said that to the southwest of the island of Huego, which is one of the Cape Verdes distant 12 leagues from this, may be seen an island, and that King Don Juan was greatly inclined to send to make discoveries to the southwest and that canoes had been found which start from the coast of Guinea and navigate to the west with merchandise."

Columbus later recorded "... That after he would navigate, the Lord pleasing, to the west, and from there would go to this Espanola in which route he would prove the theory of the King John aforesaid: and that he thought to investigate the report of the Indians of this Espanola (Haiti) who said that there had come to Espanola from the south and south-west a black people who have the tops of their spears made of a metal which they call 'guanin' of which he had sent samples to the Sovereigns to have them assayed, when it was found that of 32 parts 18 were of gold 6 of silver and 8 of copper."

Not only was the knowledge of the Presence of Muslims in the Americas known by early Spanish and portuguese explorers, but Muslim geographical and navigational information actually was the foundation of the European expansion. Vasco da Gama is reported to have consulted with Ahmad ibn Majid on the West coast of Africa. Ibn Majid is regarded as the author of a handbook on navigation on the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Southern China and the waters around the West Indies.

In actuality the whole colonization of the Americas by the Spanish was an extension of the Reconquest (Recanquista) of the Iberian peninsula. Muslims had ruled much of Spain for over 700 years dominating Europe culturally, educationally and economically.

The early explorers were, in many cases, Spanish soldiers who had fought in Africa and sailed the seas to destroy the power of Islam. They recognized the influence of Islam wherever they journeyed and did everything in their power to convert the people to Catholicism. When Hernan Cortes, conqueror of Mexico arrived in Yucatan he named the area "El Cairo."

The men of Cortes and Pizarro, some of whom had taken direct part in the struggle against Muslims in Africa or Spain called the Indian temples mezquitas (Spanish for masjid, mosque).

By a rare paradox the first Christian to see the American land, Rodrigo de Triana or Rodrigo de Lepe, on his return to Spain became a Muslim abandoning his Christian allegiance "because Columbus did not give him credit nor the King any recompense, for his having seen before any other man, light in the Indies."

During the rule of Ferdinand the Catholic, in spite of excesses against Islam in Spain, some of the Moriscos who traveled to the Americas as explorers, soldiers and laborers began practicing their true faith and succeeded in propagating Islam to the Indians. A series of laws were decreed in order to stop the flow of Muslims free or enslaved, to the Americas and to win back the Muslim native Indians. The following shows the attitude of the Spanish hierarchy to this pressing problem.

"The King: To our officials who reside in the city of Seville at the House of trade in the Indies. We are informed that because of the increase in the price of Negro slaves in Portugal and in the islands of Guinea and Cape Verde, some merchants and other persons who intend to have them for our Indies have gone or sent to buy Negroes in the islands of Sardinia, Majorca, Minorca and other parts of the Levant in order to send them to our Indies because they say that they are cheaper.

And because many of the Negroes in those parts of the Levant are of the race (casta) of the Moors and others trade with them and (since) in a new country where at present our holy Catholic faith is being established it is not fitting that people of this quality should go there, in account of the difficulties that could come from it. I order you that under no circumstances or by any means shall you consent to the passage to our Indies, islands or tierra firma of any Negro slaves who may be from the Levant or who may have been brought up there, or of other Negroes who may have been reared with Moriscoes, even though they be of the race of Negroes of Guinea. Made in Valladolid, July 16, 1550. Maximilano. The Queen. By order of His Majesty, His Highness in his name Juan de Samano. Seal of the Council."

In another edict, the King wrote: "You are informed that if such Moors are by their nationality and origin Moors, and if they should teach Muslim doctrines, or wage war against you or the Indians or who may have adopted the Muslim religion you shall not make slaves by any means whatsoever. On the contrary you shall try to convert them or persuade them by good and legitimate means to accept our holy Catholic faith."



The Revolt of the Moriscos was one of the first real challenges to Philip's authority that he had to deal with within Spain. The Moriscos were converted Moors who held no important state positions in Spain.

The Moriscos communities in Spain had not been integrated and they remained closely associated with the Turks which lead to suspicions over their loyalty. In 1568 there was an outbreak of strife in Andalusia (the Cadiz and Malaga area) which was symbolic of the bitter relationships between the Moricos and the Christians in southern Spain. In simple terms, the Spanish did not trust the Moriscos and doubted that they were loyal to Madrid. The 1568 rebellion was known as the Rebellion of Alpujarras. The Moriscos had long term grievances but it was short-term ones that sparked off the revolt.

There had been a revolt in 1499 but from 1500 to 1550 an uneasy truce existed. In 1508 the Moriscos had been forbidden to wear their traditional costumes and their ancient customs were banned.

However, these laws were on paper only and were not enforced. The Moriscos did preserve links with Islam in that they spoke Arabic and preserved Arabic culture and this failure to become Spanish offended many in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. Spanish Christians claimed that the Moriscos were sexually promiscuous and that they maintained family vendettas. This all fuelled suspicion and a number of Moriscan communities were forced to live in mountainous regions to exclude them from Spanish life.

From 1500 to 1550, civil and ecclesiastical authorities were at odds with each other on what action to take and combined action failed to materialise. This allowed the Moriscans time to develop a new balance of power.

The area in question where this took place was governed by the Count of Tendilla from the Mondejar branch of the Mendoza family. To maintain their position the Moriscans developed a "special relationship" with Tendilla. The position of the Moriscans came to be closely dependent on the ability of the Mondejars to maintain their position at court against increasing intrigue against them.

From 1540 to 1550, the position of the Mondejar family was severely undermined and this increasingly affected the Moriscans position. It also coincided with a chronic economic and religious crisis.

The Moriscans depended on silk for their trade. In the 1550s the export of woven silk was banned and in 1561 a huge tax was put on Granadan silk. This severely hit the Moriscans. Also at this time the Inquisition was very active especially in investigating the ownership of land in Granada. The Inquisition confiscated much land owned by the Moriscans despite the pleas of Tendilla who needed the tax paid by the Moriscans on the land they owned to pay for his own troops.

Combined with these, the Catholic Church went on the offensive. It cured its own problems of absenteeism and poor work done by the clergy and the appointment of a new Archbishop of Granada (Pedro Guerrero) lead to a more forceful campaign by the Church to fully convert the Moriscans to Christianity.

In November 1566, a reform of Moriscan habits were agreed to.

In January 1567 the reforms were published. They were only an attempt to enforce earlier decrees so they were not novel. 1) Arabic was forbidden 2) Traditional Arabic dress was forbidden 3) the Moriscans were to "abandon their traditional habits" (this was a reference to their supposed sexual habits). The Moriscans sent a deputation to Madrid to plead for the reforms not to be introduced but Pedro de Deza was put in charge of enforcing them. It was this attempt to introduce these reforms that sparked off the revolt.

Why were the reforms introduced?

Nobody had bothered to do so for the previous 50 years so why now?

The answer involved 3 people.

A successful enforcement would greatly enhance the prestige of de Deza at court. It would also give him an advantage over the Mendoza family. The Deza and Mendoza families had been fighting out an age-old family feud and Deza did all he could to embarrass someone (Tendilla) who was known to be lenient towards the Moriscans.

The President of the Council of Castille was Cardinal Espinosa. He was a classic orthodox Catholic and he disliked Tendillas leniency towards the Moriscans. He was also concerned that the region was experiencing an administrative breakdown which might result in social unrest. His solution was simple - remove Tendilla and put the region under the control of the President of the Audiencia who happened to be de Deza. This would ensure stability Espinosa claimed and at this time Philip II was very much under the influence of Espinosa.

Philip himself needed stability in Granada because of the threat of the Turks. In 1565, three Moriscan spies had confessed that there was a plan for the Moriscans to seize the Granadan coast as the Turks attacked Malta. Logic dictated that the Turks would then concentrate an attack on Spain aided by the Moriscans who held Granada. This all confirmed the fears of Philip II and to prevent even the merest chance of this happening, Philip agreed to the enforcement of the reforms.

This enforcement caused a revolt by the Moriscans. It broke out in 1568 and confirmed to Philip that the Moriscos could not be trusted and that Islam was about to attack Spain using the revolt to aid them. The terrain proved very difficult for a military campaign but Tendilla, using his local troops, fought some brilliant campaigns. Fearing that he would be too successful and that his power base would expand, Philip II replaced him with his own half-brother called Don John of Austria. He, however, had to wait for his men to arrive from all over Spain. This gave the Moriscos time to organise themselves and it took him until 1570 to put down the revolt.

Philip II needed a solution to the problem and he decided that he would disperse the Moriscos throughout Castille in small isolated villages and he then replaced them with 50,000 Spaniards. However, between 60,000 and 150,000 Moriscos continued to live in Granada and all this solution did was spread throughout Castille some very angry people who in their own minds had done nothing wrong and had been punished for no reason at all.

This had a knock-on effect economically in that the Moriscos had always been advanced in their approach to work and they now had little time for Madrid and Spains economy was affected accordingly. They had no incentive to work hard for the country and combined with Spains poor economic standing further pushed down Spains financial and economic standing.

Africans in Early Europe

Contrary to popular notions, the first encounter of Africans and Europeans spans centuries before the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Africans and Europeans have shared the same continent since the most ancient times. Africans have been portrayed in European art as monsters and gods, slaves and conquerors, servants and kings, sorcerers and saints. They have been seen in prehistoric France, early Britain, ancient Greece, Rome, Islamic Spain and more. Below are just a few accounts of Africans in Early European history.
1897BC Egyptian king Sewosret colonizes Greece: founds Athens (Legend)
202BC Carthaginian Hannibal defeats Rome
256BC-253AD Thousands of Africans serve in Roman army
711-1492AD Islamic North and West Africans and Arabs invade and rule Spain
827AD Moors begin invasion of Sicily and Rome

It is generally accepted that the earliest evidence of anatomically modern man come from the African continent. These migrants soon spread out across the Earth. It is not until around 60,000 years ago that some of these inhabitants begin undergoing drastic phenotypic change thus branching off into the many different physical "racial types" we see today. The first homo sapiens sapiens enter Europe around 40,000BC replacing existing Homo neanderthalis types by 28,000BC. (Photo and Information courtesy of Europe in Prehistory and Nature Magazine
The Ancient Mediterranean

The ancient Mediterranean has long been home to Africans. In ancient Greece Africans figured prominently into many aspects of society and contact between the two groups was frequent. Black types can be found as early as Minoan Crete and are mentioned frequently in later Grecian writings. The Greek historian Herodotus stated, "Almost all of the names of the gods came into Greece from Egypt...The Egyptians were the first to introduce solemn assemblies, processions, and litanies to the gods, all of which the Greeks were taught to use." The relationship of several Greek deities to African deities has long been noted. Examples include the following: Athena to Neith; Hermes to Thoth; Hesphatus to Ptah. It is also Herodotus who tells us of the legend which lists the Egyptian king Sewosret (Seosteris I, II, or III) as the colonizer of Greece and founder of Athens. Alexander the Great, like many of his fellow Greeks, had a great respect for African religion. After his conquest of Egypt, he sought the advice of the oracle of the African god Amen. Thereafter he denounced his own father, Phillip of Macedonia, and proclaimed himself the son of Amen. He even went so far as to have his body buried in the Egyptian city he built for himself, Alexandria. Here he is pictured wearing the ram horns of Amen on a silver coin dated around 300BC. (Photo and Information courtesy of Black Spark, White Fire by Michael Poe , Blacks in Antiquity by Frank Snowden, and Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization by Anthony T. Browder)

The presence of Blacks in the ancient Mediterranean figure significantly into the mythology. Quite a few important figures are designated the title "Ethiopian" within Greek texts. These include Andromeda, heroine of the Perseus myth, and Memmnon of the Illiad saga. Pictured above is another such figure, the sorceress Circe of the Odyssey. Here she is seen offering a magic potion to Odysseus (Ulysses). The painting is displayed upon a Grecian vase dated back to the 5th century BC. Circe's niece was Medea, the sorceress responsible for helping Jason secure the legendary Golden Fleece. (Photo and Information courtesy of Blacks in Antiquity by Frank Snowden)
Islamic Spain

In 711AD Spain was invaded by Islamic invaders who would rule there for the next hundred years. These invaders would build lasting monuments and influence the culture of Europe in the area of science, medicine, literature and music for centuries to come. Among these invaders were Arabs, Berbers and West Africans (Almoravid period). The latter types would be called by Europeans, Moors. Just what racial grouping these Moors belonged to is a perplexing question. In most modern texts, the Moors are regarded as white Mediterranean-type tribes who existed in North Africa at the time. Black Africans are discounted from these Islamic invaders, except perhaps in the role of a few minimal slaves. However the answer to the Moorish racial makeup is by no means so simple. According to the old versions of the Oxford English Dictionary, the Moors, as early as the Middle Ages and as late as the 17th Century, were "commonly supposed to be black or very swarthy, and hence the word is often used for Negro." However more modern texts, such as Webster's New World Dictionary, identify Moors as "a member of Moslem people of mixed Arab and Berber descent." This deletion of "black" or "Negro" from the term Moor is generally recent. According to historian Wayne Chandler, "Although the term Moor has been put to diverse use, its roots are still traceable. Circa 46BC the Roman army entered West Africa where they encountered black Africans which they called "Maures" from the Greek adjective 'mauros,' meaning dark or black." Though the word "Moor" originally seems to have been meant to indicate Blacks, it in time came to be applied to Muslims in general, especially the Berbers. During the European Renaissance explorers, writers and scholars began to apply the term Moor to Blacks in general. Pictured above are Black Moorish noblemen playing chess while being waited upon by white and black servants. This European work is dated at 1283AD. (Photo and Information courtesy of Blacks in Antiquity by Frank Snowden, Golden Age of the Moor ed. by Ivan Van Sertima, Black Brittanica by Edward Scobie and National Geographic Magazine)

In the Arab literature there is little mention of the word Moor. Rather the term Berber is used to describe these non Arab peoples who occupied the Maghrib (Islamic North Africa west of Egypt). The term Berber may have been derived from the Latin "barbari," a forerunner to the English "barbarian." Webster's New World Dictionary states that the term Berber refers to, "any of a Moslem people living in North Africa." Though this definition is extremely vague, the stereotypical idea of a Berber often depicted in literature and the media are of Caucasoid Semitic types. Anthropologist Dana Reynolds contends that the Berbers emerged as the result of admixture between non-African populations who moved into the Maghrib during the second millenium BC and the more ancient African indigenous inhabitants. This would account for the variance noted among the Berbers even in ancient times. According to Roman documents, among the Berbers were the "black Gaetuli and black-skinned Asphodelodes." Procopius in the 6th Century, in comparing another North African racial group to the Moors, states that they were "not black-skinned like the Moors."Harold A. MacMicheal pointed out that African Blacks such as the Tibbu and Tuwarek, resembling the ancient Nigiritians of the Sahara, are Lamta Berbers by origin. The Haratin of Morocco and Mauritania have also been called "Black Berbers." The Berber clans that were most instrumental in the Moorish conquest of Spain were the Nafza, Masmuda, Luwata, Hawwara, Zanata, Sanhadja and Zugwaha. Writing of the women of the Berber clan the Sanhadja confederation a Muslim scholar states, "Their color is black, though some pale ones can be found among them." It would seem that no monolithic racial type fits the Berbers. In the European Romance of El Cid some of the Berber women are described. A "black Moorish woman" named Nugaymath Turquia is said to lead a contingent of 300 Black Moorish "Amazons." They are described as "negresses" with their heads shaven, leaving a topknot. They are members of the Almoravid Dynasties which occupy Spain in 1086AD. Though not homogenous, the Almoravids held a heavy Black population which is not surprising as they originate in southern Morocco and Northern Senegal in western Africa. In all probability most Moors were probably North African Berbers of various phenotypic make-up. Yet the deemed "black-a-moors" among their number, even if a minority, left a lasting impact in the medieval European psyche. Pictured above is a veiled Berber Moibt Themin warrior; typical of the Almoravid types which dominated Spain in the 11th Century. (Photo and Information courtesy of Golden Age of the Moored. by Ivan Van Sertima- articles by Dana Reynolds, Runoko Rashidi and Wayne Chandler)

The legacy of Blacks in Europe lasted well beyond the Islamic period. They appear frequently in literature, iconography and historical writings. Following the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, many can be found throughout Europe. Over a million Moors, of various ethnic and racial types, settled in France. Others moved into Holland. Of interest is the story of a Moorish orphan in the Netherlands by the name of Zwarte Piet. This mythical black boy was sometimes associated as a helper to the equally mythical Sinterklaas (Santa Claus). By 1507 there were numerous Moors at the court of King James IV of Scotland. One of them was "Helenor in the Court Accounts, possibly Ellen More, who reached Edinburgh by way of the port of Leith and acted a principal role in 'the turnament of the black knight and the black lady,' in which the king of Scotland played the part of the black knight." Ellen More incidentally is also called "Black Elen." There were at least two other Black Moorish women of the royal court who held positions of some status as they are said to have held maidservants and expensive gowns. There is also mention of a "Nageir the More." In 1501 one of the King's Minstrels was Peter the Moryen or Moor who is described as Black. Frederick II (1197-1250), of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, maintained a close relationship with the remaining Moors in Sicily. He retained a Moorish chamberlain who was constantly at his side. Though breaking the Muslim powerbase in the region, he also solicited their aid in his struggle with the papacy. After resettling conquered Muslims on the Italian mainland at Lucera, the monarch was said to have recruited an elite guard of 16,000 Moorish troops, many of them no doubt Africans. Within Sicily there was even a structure named, "The Gate of the Blacks." Pictured above is a statue of a Black Norman Knight (St. Maurice?)from the 14th Century. (Photo and Information courtesy of Black Britannica by Edward Scobie ,The Image of the Black in Western Art by Ladislas Bugner, and Golden Age of the Moor ed. by Ivan Van Sertima)

The Renaissance and Beyond

Pictured here is Allesandro De Medici, the Duke of Florence who lived from 1510-1534. Allesandro was of biracial parentage, his mother being an African serving woman (not a slave) and the seventeen year old Cardinal Giulio de Medici who later became none other than Pope Clement VII. On being elected Pope in 1523, Cardinal Giulio was forced to relinquish the lordship of Florence but he appointed a regent for his thirteen year old son Alessandro who had just been created Duke of Penna, and a nephew, Ipollito. Historian Mario de Valdes y Cocom Alessandro states that Allesandro wielded great power as the first duke of Florence. He was the patron of some of the leading artists of the era and is one of the two Medici princes whose remains are buried in the famous tomb by Michaelangelo. As Cocom states, "The ethnic make up of this Medici Prince makes him the first black head of state in the modern western world." (Photo and Information courtesy of Blurred Racial Lines- article by by Mario de Valdes y Cocom)

Pictured above is Alexandar Sergeievich, Russian poet and author who founded the literature of his language with epic and lyric poems, plays, novels, and short stories, was born in Moscow on May 26, 1799. His African lineage stemmed from his great grandfather Ibrahim Petrovich Gannibal. Gannibal was given as a personal gift to the Tsar Peter the Great and though functioned merely as a page, became a type of son to the Russian Emperor and an important figure in the royal court. The Queen of Poland was said to be his Godmother. Alexandar Pushkin followed well in his grandfather's footsteps of noteriety. In 1817 he joined the ministry of foreign affairs in St. Petersburg where he became a member of an underground revolutionary group. In 1820 he was exiled to the Caucasus for his seemingly anti-Tsarist work, Ode to Liberty. Nevertheless, Pushkin continued to hold official governmental posts and in that same year published the lengthy poem Ruslan and Ludmila which earned him a reputation as "one of Russia's most promising poetic talents." In an unfinished romance, The Negro (or Blackamoor) of Peter the Great, Alexander Pushkin attempts to create a biography of his great-grandfather. For his political ideologies he was dismissed from government service in 1824 and banished to his mother's estate. His banishment ended in 1826 after a pardon from Tsar Nicholas I. In his normally flamboyant posture, Pushkin died in a duel defending his honor from a scandal over his young wife and her suggested rival lover. Of him the Encyclopedia Encarata writes, Pushkin provided a literary heritage for Russians, whose native language had hitherto been considered unfit for literature. His lyric poetry and his simple, vivid prose were invaluable models for the writers who followed him. For this Pushkin has often been called, "the father of Russian literature." (Photo and Information courtesy of Blurred Racial Lines- article by by Mario de Valdes y Cocom and Encyclopedia Encarta)
Moorish Filipinos

Muslims, about 5 percent of the total population, were the most significant minority in the Philippines. Although undifferentiated racially from other Filipinos, in the 1990s they remained outside the mainstream of national life, set apart by their religion and way of life. In the 1970s, in reaction to consolidation of central government power under martial law, which began in 1972, the Muslim Filipino, or Moro population increasingly identified with the worldwide Islamic community, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia, Libya, and Middle Eastern countries. Longstanding economic grievances stemming from years of governmental neglect and from resentment of popular prejudice against them contributed to the roots of Muslim insurgency.

Moros were confined almost entirely to the southern part of the country--southern and western Mindanao, southern Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago. Ten subgroups could be identified on the basis of language. Three of these groups made up the great majority of Moros. They were the Maguindanaos of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; the Maranaos of the two Lanao provinces; and the Tausugs, principally from Jolo Island. Smaller groups were the Samals and Bajaus, principally of the Sulu Archipelago; the Yakans of Zamboanga del Sur Province; the Ilanons and Sangirs of Southern Mindanao Region; the Melabugnans of southern Palawan; and the Jama Mapuns of the tiny Cagayan Islands.

Muslim Filipinos traditionally have not been a closely knit or even allied group. They were fiercely proud of their separate identities, and conflict between them was endemic for centuries. In addition to being divided by different languages and political structures, the separate groups also differed in their degree of Islamic orthodoxy. For example, the Tausugs, the first group to adopt Islam, criticized the more recently Islamicized Yakan and Bajau peoples for being less zealous in observing Islamic tenets and practices. Internal differences among Moros in the 1980s, however, were outweighed by commonalities of historical experience vis-à-vis non-Muslims and by shared cultural, social, and legal traditions.

The traditional structure of Moro society focused on a sultan who was both a secular and a religious leader and whose authority was sanctioned by the Quran. The datu were communal leaders who measured power not by their holdings in landed wealth but by the numbers of their followers. In return for tribute and labor, the datu provided aid in emergencies and advocacy in disputes with followers of another chief. Thus, through his agama (court--actually an informal dispute-settling session), a datu became basic to the smooth function of Moro society. He was a powerful authority figure who might have as many as four wives and who might enslave other Muslims in raids on their villages or in debt bondage. He might also demand revenge (maratabat) for the death of a follower or upon injury to his pride or honor.

The datu continued to play a central role in Moro society in the 1980s. In many parts of Muslim Mindanao, they still administered the sharia (sacred Islamic law) through the agama. They could no longer expand their circle of followers by raiding other villages, but they achieved the same end by accumulating wealth and then using it to provide aid, employment, and protection for less fortunate neighbors. Datu support was essential for government programs in a Muslim barangay. Although a datu in modern times rarely had more than one wife, polygamy was permitted so long as his wealth was sufficient to provide for more than one. Moro society was still basically hierarchical and familial, at least in rural areas.

The national government policies instituted immediately after independence in 1946 abolished the Bureau for Non-Christian Tribes used by the United States to deal with minorities and encouraged migration of Filipinos from densely settled areas such as Central Luzon to the "open" frontier of Mindanao. By the l950s, hundreds of thousands of Ilongos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs, and others were settling in North Cotabato and South Cotabato and Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces, where their influx inflamed Moro hostility. The crux of the problem lay in land disputes. Christian migrants to the Cotabatos, for example, complained that they bought land from one Muslim only to have his relatives refuse to recognize the sale and demand more money. Muslims claimed that Christians would title land through government agencies unknown to Muslim residents, for whom land titling was a new institution. Distrust and resentment spread to the public school system, regarded by most Muslims as an agency for the propagation of Christian teachings. By 1970, a terrorist organization of Christians called the Ilagas (Rats) began operating in the Cotabatos, and Muslim armed bands, called Blackshirts, appeared in response. The same thing happened in the Lanaos, where the Muslim Barracudas began fighting the Ilagas. Philippine army troops sent in to restore peace and order were accused by Muslims of siding with the Christians. When martial law was declared in 1972, Muslim Mindanao was in turmoil.

The Philippine government discovered shortly after independence that there was a need for some kind of specialized agency to deal with the Muslim minority and so set up the Commission for National Integration in 1957, which was later replaced by the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities. Filipino nationalists envisioned a united country in which Christians and Muslims would be offer...