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‘Do not treat men with scorn, nor walk proudly on the earth: Allah does not love

the arrogant and the vain-glorious. Rather let your gait be modest and your voice low:

the harshest of voices is the braying of the ass.’



In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Note: Below you will find Quran Sura 31, the revelations of Muhammad, the 7th-century Arabian prophet. Some say Muhammad was the last prophet, which may indeed be true for the Arabs. But for me there remains Nathaniel Turner of Southampton (1800-1831), whose 1831 Confessions I have interpreted within an African-American context. It is an interpretation that remains under-read and under-appreciated. My reading of Turner's theological perspective was only accomplished after a reading of both the Quran and the Bible and a historical study of American Christian religion and theology.

All other interpretations of Turner fall short, including those by today's black theologians. They undervalue Turner's religious perspective and his humanity. Some consider him an abolitionist, which he was not; others desire to make him a Baptist preacher, which he was not; still others, like Black church theologians, want to make him a churchmen, which he was not; others deflate him to being a mad man, which he was not. Nor was he simply a mystic. For me he was a true prophet, a martyr, and Christ figure. A man who sacrifice all in the name of that which is just and holy.

The 174th anniversary of Turner's Holy War in Southampton, VA will occur 21 August 2005.

But to return to the Quran. Luqman it is said was a kinsman of long-suffering Job. They say too he had been a slave. But what is distinct about him is his faith and his endurance. This particular English translation works best for me. It is extremely poetic. At one point I could recite it from memory. One might also say that this sura translation helped me to create my own voice.

My paperback copy of the Quran, which is falling apart, was given to me by Edward James, who I believe was in the Education Department at University of Maryland, College Park. I did not read it until a decade later. But I kept it with me. And when Louisiana wore me out and I returned to rural Virginia in 1987, I read it and it gave me solace and it reaffirmed my faith in things greater than my own ego.

Maybe,  it will serve some of you who read it now or a decade later. In any eventEnjoy! Take heed!Rudy

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Alif lam min. These are the revelations of the Wise Book, a guide and a blessing to the righteous, who attend to their prayers, pay the alms-tax, and firmly believe in the life to come. These are rightly guided by their Lord and will surely prosper.

Some there are who would gladly pay for a frivolous tale, so that in their ignorance they may mislead others from the path of Allah and make fun of it. For these We have prepared a shameful punishment.

When Our revelations are recited to them, they turn their backs in scorn, as though they never heard them: as though their ears were sealed. To these proclaim a woeful scourge.

But those that have faith and do good works shall enter the gardens of delight, where they shall dwell for ever. Allah’s promise shall be fulfilled: He is the Mighty, the Wise One.

He raised the heavens without visible pillars and set immovable mountains on the earth lest it should shake with you. He dispersed upon it all manner of beasts, and sent down rain from heaven with which He caused all kinds of goodly plants to grow.

Such is Allah’s creation: now show me what your other gods created. Truly, the unbelievers are in the grossest error.

We bestowed wisdom on Luqman, saying: ‘Give thanks to Allah. He that gives thanks to Him has much to gain, but if any one denies His favours, Allah is self-sufficient and glorious.’

Luqman admonished his son. ‘My son,’ he said, ‘serve no other god instead of Allah, for idolatry is an abominable sin.’

(We enjoined man to show kindness to his parents, for with much pain his mother bears him and he is not weaned before he is two years of age. We said: ‘Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me shall all things return. But if they press you to serve, besides Me, what you know nothing of do not obey them. Be kind to them in this world, and turn to Me with all devotion. To Me you shall all return, and I will declare to you all that you have done.)

‘My son, Allah will bring all things to light, be they as small as a grain of mustard seed, be they hidden inside a rock or in heaven or earth. Allah is wise and all-knowing.

‘My son, be steadfast in prayer, enjoin justice, and forbid evil. Endure with fortitude whatever befalls you. That is a duty incumbent on all.

‘Do not treat men with scorn, nor walk proudly on the earth: Allah does not love the arrogant and the vain-glorious. Rather let your gait be modest and your voice low: the harshest of voices is the braying of the ass.’

Do you not see how Allah has subjected to you all that the heavens and the earth contain and lavished on you both His visible and unseen favours? Yet some would argue about Allah without knowledge or guidance or illuminating scriptures.

When it is said to them: ‘Follow what Allah has revealed,’ they reply: ‘We will follow nothing but the faith of our fathers.’ Ye, even though Satan is inviting them to the scourge of Hell.

He that surrenders himself to Allah and leads a righteous life stands on the firmest ground. To Allah shall all things return. As for those that disbelieve, let their unbelief not vex you. To Allah they shall return and He will declare to them all that they have done. Allah has knowledge of their inmost thoughts.

We suffer them to take their ease awhile, and then will sternly punish them.

If you ask them: ‘Who has created the heavens and the earth?’ they will reply: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Praise, then, be to Allah!’ But most of them are ignorant men.

His is what the heavens and the earth contain. He is self-sufficient and worthy of praise.

If all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to replenish it, were ink, the writing of Allah’s words could never be finished. Mighty is Allah and wise.

He created you as one soul, and as one soul He will bring you back to life. Allah hears all and observes all.

Do you not see how Allah causes the night to pass into the day and the day into the night? He has forced the sun and the moon into His service, each running for an appointed term. Allah is cognizant of all your actions, for you must know that He is the truth, while that which they invoke besides Him is false. Allah is the Most High, the Supreme One.

Do you not see how the ships speed upon the ocean by Allah’s grace, so that He may reveal to you His wonders? Surely there are signs in this for every steadfast, thankful man.

When the waves, like giant shadows, envelop them, they pray to Allah with all devotion. But no sooner does He bring them safe to land than some of them falter between faith and unbelief. Truly, only the treacherous and the ungrateful deny Our revelations.

Men, fear your Lord, and fear the day when no parent shall avail his child nor any child his parent. Allah’s promise is surely true. Let this life of this world not deceive you, nor let the Dissembler trick you concerning Allah.

Allah alone has knowledge of the Hour of Doom. He sends down the rain and knows what every womb conceals.

No mortal knows what he will earn tomorrow; no mortal knows where he will breathe his last. Allah alone is wise and all-knowing.

Source: Dawood, N. J., translator • The Koran • Penguin Books • Baltimore, MD. • 1966

posted 7 November 2007 

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Luqman (also known as Luqman The Wise, Luqmaan, Lukman, and Luqman al-Hakeem Arabic: لقمان‎) was a wise man for whom Surat Luqman (Arabic: سورة لقمان‎), the thirty-first sura (chapter) of the Qur'an, was named. Luqman (c. 1100 BC) was believed to be from Africa. There are many stories about Luqman in Arabic and Turkish literature and the primary historical source is the Tafsir ibn Kathir. The Qur'an does not state whether or not Luqman was a prophet, but some people believe him to be a prophet and thus write Alayhis salaam (A.S.) with his name. Wikipedia

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Luqman(A.S.) was born in the Continent of Africa. He grew up in the jungle and walked barefoot. Only the lower part of his body was covered in a loin cloth. His daily encounter with wild animals and life in the jungle made him strong and fearless. It was his habit to think deeply over nature around him, from which he learnt new and fascinating things daily.

One day while sitting in the shade of a tree, he fell into a deep sleep, He clearly saw an Angel before him who gave him the good news that Allah had chosen to favour him. He was given a choice. He could either become a Prophet or ask for wisdom. Luqman (A.S.) chose wisdom. When he awoke, he became aware that his senses and understanding had sharpened. He felt in complete harmony with nature and could understand the inner meaning of things, beyond their physical reality. Immediately he bowed down and thanked and praised Allah for this wonderful gift. . . .

The kind owner had instructed his family to free Luqman (A.S.) after the owner's death. When his owner died, Luqman (A.S.) was granted freedom. Luqman (A.S.) travelled on and eventually settled among the Bani lsraeel. He was appointed as judge during the rule of Prophet Dawood (A.S.) , and was respected by all for his wise and fair judgements. He married and raised a family. Maseeh

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Koran Exordium: In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creation. The Compassionate, the Merciful, King of the Last Judgment. You alone we worship. To You alone we pray. Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have favored, not those who have incurred Your wrath, nor those who have gone astray. Amen.

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Antar the Arabian Negro Warrior, Poet and Hero—That men of Negro blood should rise to distinction in Arabia is not at all singular. By language and ethnological conformation the people of the Arabian Peninsula belong to the great Semitic group of the human family. But the proximity of Africa to Arabia carried the slave trade at a very early period to that soil. Naturally, as a result of intermarriage, thousands of Negroes with Arabian blood soon appeared in that part of Asia. This was especially true of the midland and southern districts of the peninsula. To-day, after several centuries of such unions, there is found in southwestern Arabia, in northern and central Africa an ever-increasing colored population of vast numbers, known as Arabised Negroes. Many of these have become celebrities whose achievements form an integral part of Arabian civilization and Mohammedan culture.1 Emerging from this group came Antar, the most conspicuous figure in Arabia, a man noble in thought, heroic in deed, an exemplar of ideals higher than those of his age and a model for posterity.

Antarah ben Shedad el Absi (Antar the Lion, the son of the Tribe of Abs), the historic Antar, was born about the middle of the sixth century of our era, and died about the year 615. Some accounts give the year 525 as the date of his birth. By Clement Huart, a distinguished Orientalist, he is described as a mulatto.2 "Goddess born, however," says Reynold A. Nicholson, "he could not be called by any stretch of the imagination. His mother was a black slave."3 All authorities agree that Shedad, his father, was a man of noble blood and that his mother was an Abyssinian slave. . .

The Battle

       By Antar

There where the horsemen rode strongest

I rode out in front of them,

Hurled forth my battle-shout and charged them;

No man thought blame of me.

Antar! they cried; and their lances

Well-cords in slenderness, pressed to the breast

Of my war-horse still as I pressed on them.

Doggedly strove we and rode we.

Ha! the brave stallion! Now is his breast dyed

With blood drops, his star-front with fear of them!

Swerved he, as pierced by the spear points.

Then in his beautiful eyes stood the tears

Of appealing, words inarticulate.

If he had our man's language,

Then had he called to me.

If he had known our tongue's secret,

Then had he cried to me.

Deep through the sand drifts the horsemen

Charged with teeth grimly set,

Urging their war-steeds;

I urged them spurred by my eagerness forward

To deeds of daring, deeds of audacity.

Source: Gutenberg / A.O. Stafford: Antar, The Arabian Negro Warrior, Poet and Hero The Journal of Negro History VOL. I., No. 2 April, 1916.

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Africans in the Arabian Gulf—Well, one interesting indicator of that is names.  You have people who are identifying themselves as affixed to tribes.  They have Bedouin tribal names, and in some ways this parallels the way that, for example, a slave in the United States would have the name of the family that owned him.  Washington.  Jefferson.  These are the names of African Americans today.  They reflect the fact that their origins were those slave-holding families.  You have similar relationships and nomenclature in the Gulf, names that I heard and asked people about, who were obviously of African stock.  I'd say, "This is obviously a Nejdi Tribal name, and yet you would appear to be not have Bedouin origin, but of African origin, or some combination." 

So he would say, "No, my family goes back a long way as clients of that tribe.”  “Clients” denotes a range of relationships to a patriarchy that has included slaves and indentured servants.  So I'm certain that that could have happened in the 19th century, but it also could have happened much earlier as well.

In general—and this is a broad generalization—I think it is fair to say that in the Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, a large number of African ethnics who are nationals in those countries are lower on the socioeconomic ladder.  That said, there are notable exceptions, including senior people in politics and government in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.  When you have conversations with Gulf nationals of African origin, they are not necessarily acculturated to welcoming discussions of family genealogy and African roots, or asking the sorts of questions that might help situate their particular family history in the context of broader histories of cultures and peoples in Africa.  So it is not necessarily common to find people who'll wax poetic on their family origin, and their odyssey from Africa, and in some circles it's kind of a taboo topic as well.  People don't like to dwell on the slave history of the country. AfroPop

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The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali

By Ian Gibson

In his detailed and excellent book on Dali, Ian Gibson has documented Dali’s identification with fascism in Spain from the very beginning. During the civil war, Dali never came out in support of the Republic.  He did not collaborate, for example, in the Paris Fair in 1937, where Picasso presented his Guernica, aimed at raising funds for the Republican cause.  And he soon made explicit his sympathies for the fascist coup of 1936 and for the dictatorship that it established in a letter to Buñuel, a well-known filmmaker in Spain.  He made explicit and known his admiration for the figure and writing of the founder of the Spanish fascist party (La Falange), José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and used in his speeches and writings the fascist narrative and expressions (such as the fascist call “Arriba España”), referring to the special role Spain had in promoting the imperial dreams over other nations.  He sympathized with the anti-Semitic views of Hitler and celebrated Franco’s alliance with Hitler and Mussolini against France, Great Britain and the United States.  He also welcomed the “solution to the national problem” in vogue in Nazi and fascist circles at that time. Dali became the major defender of the Franco dictatorship in the artistic world. 

He was also, as Spanish fascism was, very close to the Church and to the Vatican of Pope Pius XII, indicating that modern art needed to be based on Christianity.  His loyalty to the fascist dictatorship continued to the very end, defending the state terrorist policies that included political assassinations, even in the last moments of that dictatorship.—counterpunch

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

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Ataturk: Lessons in Leadership

from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire

by Austin Bay

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Muslim visionary, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey. The West knows him best as the leading Ottoman officer in World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli—a defeat for the Allies, and the Ottoman empire’s greatest victory. Gaining fame as an exemplary military officer, he went on to lead his people in the Turkish War of Independence, abolishing the Ottoman Sultanate, emancipating women, and adopting western dress. Deeply influenced by the Enlightenment, Atatürk sought to transform the empire into a modern and secular nation-state, and during his presidency, embarked upon a program of impressive political, economic, and cultural reforms. Militarily and politically he excelled at all levels of conflict, from the tactical, through the operational, to the strategic, and into the rarified realm of grand strategy. His ability to integrate the immediate with the ultimate serves as an important lesson for leaders engaged in the twenty-first century’s great military struggles. He became the only leader in history to successfully turn a Muslim nation into a Western parliamentary democracy and secular state, leaving behind a legacy of modernization and military and political leadership.

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The New New Deal

The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era

By Michael Grunwald

Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obama’s policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDR’s and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obama’s long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. It’s carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deal’s unemployment insurance system. It’s revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money.

Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the world’s largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the world’s highest-speed Internet network.  Its main legacy, like the New Deal’s, will be change.

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Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times.

What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation? What scares non-Muslims about openly supporting liberal voices within Islam? How did we get into the mess of tolerating intolerable customs, such as honor killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo?

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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