The Fortunate Slave

The Story of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo “The Fortunate Slave”

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was born in 1701, Eastern Senegal he was raised in a religious household which led him to memorise the entire Quran at a young age and familiarize himself with the Maliki Madhab (school of thought). Even from a young age, he was revered for his amazing intelligence and incredible memory.

He and his father were slave traders, however, he himself was captured and fell victim to the Atlantic slave trade. When the slavers successfully captured him, they shaved his beard and shipped him off to Annapolis, Maryland in 1731. He was then sold to a family-owned tobacco plantation. Although Diallo experienced tremendous difficulties, he still maintained his daily prayers and Islamic rituals. The family who owned him would humiliate him by mocking him and throwing dirt him when he prayers. This led him to run away from the family, however, he was soon captured and taken to prison.

While he was in prison he met an English lawyer named Thomas Bluett. Bluett was impressed by Diallo’s piety, literacy, intelligence and adherence to faith. Bluett wrote about Diallo in his book ‘Some memoirs of the Life of Job’:

“His memory was extraordinary; for when he was fifteen years old he could say the whole Alcoran [Quran] by heart…”

Diallo wrote a letter to his father who had traveled from Annapolis to England. This letter eventually landed in the hands of James Edward Oglethorpe. James, who just so happened to be the founder of the Georgia colony. Because the letter was written in Arabic, James had the letter translated at Oxford.

James was touched by the struggles presented in this letter. In fact, he felt so touched that he paid money to purchase Diallo’s freedom and bring him to England. Additionally James arranged to have slavery banned in Georgia, however, due to economic pressures in Georgia, the ban was lifted.

When Diallo arrived in England in 1733, he was treated as equals to the white English people. He would talk to them casually (which was uncommon for black people to do so at the time). Black African people were held in low regards in terms of their intelligence seeing them as inferiors to the majority white, so when Diallo would engage in theological debates with Christian priests and Bishops, people were impressed with his intelligence, monotheistic beliefs, and piety.

Before he returned back to his home in Africa in 1734, a portrait was made of Diallo.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo “The Fortunate Slave”

This portrait by William Hoare is no doubt beautiful. It’s a realistic depiction of light and shadows reflecting off his face make it look very realistic. However, that isn’t the reason why this portrait is so special. If you have a look at portraits or depictions of people from African descent during the 18th century you’ll find some things that may disturb you. They are often depicted in ways that exaggerate their facial features in unnatural ways and are often never the subject of any painting, reduced to the background leaving the white man or woman the center of attention.

If you look closely at this portrait and compare it to William’s other portraits you’ll find that Diallo is illustrated as an equal to the white English people. This portrait is first to depict an African Muslim ex-slave that uses the conventions of British portraiture that were common around this time. This is represented in his posture and frontal direction in his position.

Also, another thing to note is that when Diallo agreed to the portrait, he said he’ll do it as long as he is depicted in his traditional garb. But Diallo did not have access to the garb at the time he simply described what the garb looked like, and so what you see is the artist’s interpretation of Diallo’s description. To complete his look, finally, Diallo had hung this red book around his neck for William to illustrate. This is the book is the one of three Quran’s Diallo had written purely from memory.

What is so amazing about this story is that Diallo wasn’t concerned with beautifying himself for the portrait like any of us today would do when taking a picture, but rather he wanted to represent his culture, religion and himself through this image. He didn’t lose his true identity as an African Muslim over two hard years of slavery.

Are most extremists Muslim?

Right-wing extremists are the most dangerous group in America

Contrary to popular perceptions around violent extremism in the United States, a new study by the Anti-Defamation League has found that essentially all murders by extremists were committed by right-wing terrorists.

This finding goes against the main ways we talk about violent extremism, as right-wing violence is almost never acknowledged as a legitimate problem to reconcile.

“For too long, policymakers have focused disproportionate attention on the threat of Islamist extremism, to the detriment of readiness to address many other security issues,” said the researchers from the Anti-Defamation League.

As easy as it is to talk about banning Muslims from entering the United States, or stopping a caravan invasion from South America for the crimes of extremism and violence, to apply the same standards to “conservatives” or “white-people” would be unthinkable, as it should be.

However, this also means that we are yet to fully acknowledge the underlying issues around last years attacks, which made it the 4th-deadliest year in the United States since 1970.

If we want to tackle extremist violence, we need to be serious about where it’s actually coming from.

Jordan’s Mosques Go Green!

Jordan is looking to a solar-powered future for it’s mosques and schools

Jordan is setting an example for the rest of the world with a nation-wide push to switch to renewable energy sources.

Since 2014, this push has focused on the nations many mosques, which are now almost all powered by solar energy.

Schools and public buildings have also led the charge in adopting solar energy.

The aim for Jordan is to make its capital city, Amman, completely carbon-neutral by the year 2050.

“The main reason for the use of solar energy is religious duty,” said Ahmad Al Rawashdeh, the Imam of the Ta’la al-‘Ali mosque in Amman. Islam urges conservation of nature’s resources, he said, and “warns against extravagance”.

This initiative is particularly effective due to Jordan’s plentiful sunlight, with the country getting 300 sunny days every year.

These kinds of natural advantages will be essential if Jordan, and other Middle-Eastern countries, want to shift away from their overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels. Despite the push for solar panels, 96% of Jordan’s energy comes from fossil fuels imported from its neighbours.

May Allah reward Jordan for this initiative and give all nations the ability to switch to sustainable energy sources.

Muslims Help Homeless during Snowstorm

Muslims Help Homeless during Snowstorm


A snowstorm swept in and overtook Seattle Washington this past couple of days burying a large proportion of the city under the snow. Reports say that homeless people were the victims of the storm as they found no shelter to keep themselves warm.

Some Muslims from Seattle took it upon themselves to help those who were in need at a time where it is extremely dangerous to sleep outdoors. MAPS (The Muslim Association of Puget Sound) have taken the initiative to provide 14 hotel rooms for 28 residents. Considering the expensive costs of renting hotels, these Muslims stepped up to the task stating that their religion teaches them this. Nickhath Sheriff, the founder of the social services arm of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound said: “Our Muslim faith teaches us to take care of our neighbours during times of need”

May Allah bless those all around the world who are in the service of the needy.

How to respond to Bullying

Bullying, Suicide and High School with Belal Assad

In a new series titled “Conversations”, we are joined by Sheikh Belal Assad who shares his thoughts on the recent spike in bullying incidents against Muslim teenagers.

Belal Assad is a high school teacher based in Melbourne, Australia with many years of experience dealing with Muslim teenagers and social issues.

In this episode he touches on the Islamic perspective of bullying and abuse from the Quran and Sunnah.

He also specifically delves into the Quranic verse;

“Woe to every scorner and mocker”

(Quran 104:1)

and it’s relevance to bullying discourse.

The talk also reveals some unfortunate truths regarding suicide and self harm in the community as a result of the increased bullying and abuse in today’s society.

We hope you benefit from this short discussion and we invite your feedback for future episodes in the future.

 

The life of Mansa Musa

The Extraordinary Life of Mansa Musa, the Wealthy African Muslim King

Before Jeff Bezos (current wealthiest man in the world), before Bill Gates and before Warren Buffett there was Mansa Musa (1280 – 1337).

‘Mansa’ meaning “Sultan” (king) or “emperor” is the title given to Musa Keita, the tenth king of the West African Islamic Mali Empire. He ruled Mali from 1312-1337. In this period the Mali kingdom was said to have the largest produce of gold in the world. This lead to Mansa Musa to be one of the richest people in history. He was known to have been enormously wealthy; reportedly as being inconceivably rich by contemporaries.

A Devout Muslim, he would spend much time fostering the growth of Islam within his empire. He wanted Mali to become the central hub of knowledge for Islam in Africa so he wanted to attract as much attention to the Mali empire as possible. So he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in the likes the world has never seen.

Mansa Musa embarked on a 4000-mile journey to Mecca with a caravan that stretched as far as the eye can see. The number varies across different sources, with some reporting 60,000-strong caravan consisting of attendants, camels, slaves and etc. His caravan men were all wearing expensive brocade and Persian silk.  They each carried with them gold staffs, had there own organised horses and handled bags. His slaves also carried gold with them. Mansa Musa provided all necessities feeding his entire company including the animals. Ibn Khaldun later interviewed one of the emperors travelling companions. The man claimed that the emperor would entertain them with rare foods and confectionery.

Not only would he spend his wealth on his caravan and it’s attendants but he would also give away his gold to any poor person he would meet on his route to Mecca.  It was said that he gave so much gold away and spent so much of his gold in Cairo in particular, the city underwent mass inflation which destabilised the economy and took years to recover. Tales of his wealth spread to Europe. Everywhere he went he would build mosques and universities so much so that It was said that he would build a mosque every Friday.

Mansa Musa
1375, Catalan Atlas depicts the African Muslim King

He finally came back to his home country after a year with scholars and architects to build mosques and universities to spread the knowledge of Islam across his kingdom. He urbanised cities such as Timbuktu and built a legendary mosque called Djinguereber Mosque which still stands till this day. After his 25 years in power, Mansa Musa died in 1337 leaving behind a legacy that was legendary and put Mali on the world map. It also helps to erase any stereotypes that there were no successful African kingdoms and that civilisation stemmed from foreign invaders or traders.

Who was Sultan Abdul Hamid II

Who was Sultan Abdul Hamid II

Sultan Abdul Hamid II was the last great Caliph to have ruled the Muslim world.

Born in 1842, Abdul Hamid ruled the Ottoman Caliphate for 33 years, from 1876 to 1909.

He is renowned for reviving the zeal of the Muslim world at a time the Caliphate was falling to European encroachment and nationalism. By instilling the love of Islam into the hearts of his people, he was able to unify their ranks and repel any potential division.

During his reign he paid off 90% of the Caliphate’s debts and built several universities, libraries and schools.

He also famously renovated Makkah and Madinah and went to great lengths to uphold the sanctity of the two Holy cities. He established hospitals, barracks and infrastructure within them and ensured they were well safeguarded. He also equipped Makkah with a modern water system to protect the precinct from relentless flooding.

In the 1800’s he commenced the construction of the Hijaz railway which ran through Istanbul, Palestine, Syria and ended in Madinah. He also strategically ensured that the rail tracks were incompatible with European trains to protect the Holy Cities from any potential European invasion.

His expertise in both politics and leadership was in fact noted by many of his contemporary rivals. German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II stated that “I have learned the game of politics from Abdulhamid.”

English Admiral Lord John Fisher also described Sultan Abdülhamid as being the “Most skillful and quick thinking diplomat in all of Europe.”

He vehemently resisted European imperialism with an iron fist and fiercely fought to protect Palestinian lands from the hands of corruption. When the founder of the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl offered to give 150 million pounds of gold in exchange for some land in Palestine, Sultan Abdul Hamid II replied:

“I advise Dr. Herzl not to take any further steps in his project. I cannot give away a handful of the soil of this land for it is not my own, it is for all the Islamic Nation that fought for the sake of this land and watered it with their blood. The Jews may keep their millions. If the Islamic Caliphate is one day destroyed then they will be able to take Palestine without a price. But while I am alive, I would rather push a sword into my body than see the land of Palestine cut and given away from the Islamic State. This will not be. I will not start cutting our bodies while we are alive”
(The diary of Theodore Herzli, Vol. 1)

He upheld his firm stance to safeguard Palestine up until his overthrowal by the secular Young Turks in 1909. He fought against their bid to establish a Jewish state in Palestine and was consequently exiled because of this.

“I quit being Caliph because of the oppression and threats by the Young Turks. This group insisted that I approve the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. I rejected this proposition. They finally offered 150 million British gold pieces. I rejected this as well and I told them: ‘I would never agree with you even if you offer not 150 million British gold but all the gold in the entire world. I served the Muslim community for more than 30 years. I did not let my forefathers down. Following my final response, they agreed on my dethronement and sent me to Thessaloniki. I pray to Allah, I did not accept to establish a new state on Palestinian lands on the Ottoman State and the Islamic community.”

After being forced into house arrest, he lived to witness the domain he once ruled suffer tremendously at the hands of European colonialists. They violently devoured the resources of the Muslim world and instilled division into their ranks.

He famously once stated that “Had I been ruling the Ottoman Empire I would have kept the Europeans fighting each other, and Muslims could have continued to live in peace.”

On February 10th, 1918 he woke up for the Fajr drawn prayer and washed himself. He held his wife’s hand, kissed her and supplicated for her. He then proclaimed “Allah! Allah!” in a loud voice and passed away.

He was laid to rest in a mausoleum in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, beside his grandfather Mahmud II and his uncle Abdülaziz.

May Allah have mercy on the great Sultan Abdul Hamid II and grant him the highest ranks of Paradise for his service to the Muslim Ummah.

Source:

Ottoman Records and Archives.

Some info sourced from Professor Yakoob Ahmed (Ottoman Historian- Istanbul University)

Why is the world silent about Hakeem and Nada?

Remember all of the outrage around Rahaf Mohammad al-Qunun, the Saudi Arabian refugee who barricaded herself inside a hotel in Thailand? Well, there are other refugees from the Middle-East looking for safety, but they have been nowhere near as successful in getting it.

Remember the case of Rahaf Mohammad al-Qunun, the Saudi refugee who barricaded herself inside a hotel in Thailand? Whilst she was quickly accepted as a refugee in Canada, there are many others who wait in limbo for months, if not years, with no end in sight.

One such refugee is Hakeem al-Arabi, a footballer who was tortured for alleged dissent towards the Bahraini government. He was 19 at the time. In 2014 he fled to Australia and was granted refugee status. However, in 2018 whilst on his honeymoon with his wife, he was arrested by the Thai government on the basis of an Interpol notice put out by the Bahraini government. Whilst this notice was quickly removed, he has remained behind bars ever since.

There is also the Yemeni refugee Nada Ali, who attempted to enter Canada illegally in 2017, and has been waiting ever since to be granted asylum after fleeing war-torn Yemen.

This has raised the real question of why Rahaf’s case was resolved within a single week, whilst scores of others continue to wait for any official recognition and assistance.

Many have pointed out that in these very similar cases, one major difference was Rahaf’s exuberant rejection of Islam, which she has repeatedly publicised on social media. Eating pork and drinking wine have been received by many in the west as “acts of liberation” which proved her place in Canadian society.

Meanwhile, however, the cases of Hakeem and Nada continue unresolved, which may be in part due to their continued commitment to their faith.

Australian Judge Criticises Quran

Justice Desmond Fagan says the Qur’an needs to be denounced by Muslims

According to this Australian Judge, the problem with terrorism is the Qur’an. And that’s not the only he has said about Islam.

Whilst sentencing 2 young extremists, Justice Des Fagon said Muslims should denounce some verses of the Qur’an.

He also claimed that  terrorists’ moral conviction might be weakened if Muslim leaders made a clear public disavowal of the verses

His comments were criticised by many Muslims, who said those verses did not “unmistakably instruct believers” to commit violence.

“All Muslim associations that are registered and well-known in Australia have condemned acts of violence and have condemned the use of terrorism,”

said Silma Ihram, President of the Australian Muslim Women’s Association.

“So to hold us to account for the misinterpretation and misuse of our holy book is inappropriate.”

Justice Fagan also said last year that Australia was under attack by a group of Muslims who wanted to impose Sharia Law

Is it right for a judge to comment on a religious text?

According to the Muslim legal Network, it isn’t.

“His honour’s commentary… conflates crime and religion, which risks fuelling Islamophobic attacks and further division,” they said in a statement

We hope that such comments will not be repeated in future.”

Palestinian Teenage Girl Shot Dead by Israeli Soldiers

Israeli Soldier Kills Teenage Girl

While Samah Zuhair Mubarak was walking to checkpoint carrying her school bag, she was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers.

Mubarak was 16 years old and it was believed she was carrying a knife attempting to stab an Israeli soldier.

However, no Israeli soldier was harmed during the incident.

Israeli police have released footage has to what had occurred that seems to have been edited.

The video shows Mubarak wearing a black niqab and carrying her school bag approaching the az-Za’ayyem checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.

It shows an altercation from a distance in which a person appears to stumble or lunge forward, and then a fall backward onto the ground.

It is uncertain as to what had occurred seconds, prior to the incident as the video has been altered.

There is also footage of soldiers handcuffing the clearly immobilised Mubarak who is lying on the ground while another soldier points a rifle at her.

It was reported by many local media organisations that first responders were prevented by the Israeli soldiers to aide Mubarak.

It is evident through the images that have been released by the Israeli police or those circulating social media that no attempt was given at saving her life by medical personnel or examination of her body.

In reference to such incidents in the past, Amnesty International has stated that it is “a basic duty under international law to provide medical aid to the wounded, and failure to do so – especially intentional failure – violates the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

Israeli forces took Mubarak’s body away to an unknown location via ambulance, this is done to prevent her family from burying her according to tradition.

A family member told Palestinian media that following the killing of Mubarak, her father Zuhair Mubarak was summoned for interrogation, but then detained at Ofer military prison.

Samah’s uncle, Fathi al-Khalidi said,

“Samah has childish personality, she has no extremist thought or ideology, she comes from a religious family, we are all religious, and she would not do what Israel claims.”

Samah is the third Palestinian child to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2019.