MANUSCRIPTS REVEAL HORN OF AFRICA’S ISLAMIC HISTORY

islamic-manuscript_1600

This manuscript comes from the collection “Shaykh Kamal” located in Aggaro in Western Ethiopia (Jimma zone). It is not dated but very likely from the 19th century. It contains Islamic devotional poems and hymns. This particular section of a poem in praise of the prophet Muhammad written by Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Fayyumi (14th century) on the basis of the “Poem of the Mantle,” a very renowned panegyric of the Prophet which the famous Arabic poet Muhammad al-Busiri (d. 1294) composed. The marginal notes are explanations and clarifications of some difficult passages of the text. (Credit: U. Copenhagen)

Researchers have identified and analyzed more than 2,000 Islamic manuscripts in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia.

Traditionally, scholars in Islamic studies have not associated the Horn of Africa with the Muslim world, which is why the Islamic literary tradition of this part of Africa has not been studied in detail before.

“SCHOLARS FROM THE FIELDS OF ISLAM STUDIES AND AFRICAN STUDIES HAVE LONG NEGLECTED THE HORN OF AFRICA…”

The researchers have digitized the manuscripts and created a database that will enable other researchers to study the fragile manuscripts and contribute to the research into this previously neglected literary tradition of Islam.

“Scholars from the fields of Islam studies and African studies have long neglected the Horn of Africa because they tend to find the area atypical of either field and primarily associate it with the Christian traditions of the Horn’s largest country Ethiopia. But as our research project has shown, there has been a rich and distinct Islamic literary tradition in the Horn of Africa that dates back at least to the 17th and 18th centuries,” explains Alessandro Gori, associate professor from the University of Copenhagen who is the principal investigator of the Islam in the Horn of Africa project.

“The manuscripts indicate that Muslims in certain parts of the Horn area seem to have had a penchant for composing devotional or mystical texts that people have gathered to recite or ‘sing’ accompanied [for example] by clapping hands and drums—although they would not have used the word ‘sing’ as it can become problematic in an Islamic context,” he adds.

“This is something that is characteristic of and particular to the Horn’s Islamic tradition, but it is still recognizably Islamic of course; you may compare it to the Lutheranism of Denmark that is different from, say, the Lutheranism of Northern Germany. But it is still Lutheranism.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FUTURITY.COM

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LOST ANCIENT MUSLIM CITY DISCOVERED IN ETHIOPIA COULD REVEAL DETAILS OF ISLAM’S HISTORY IN AFRICA

harla-mosqueA lost city thought to be more than 1,000 years old has been discovered in Ethiopia and may offer insight into Islam’s origins in the country.

The settlement, located near Ethiopia’s second largest city of Dire Dawa, in the east of the country, consisted of buildings constructed with large stone blocks, which gave rise to a local myth that giants lived there. Researchers believe it may date back as early as the 10th century.

Archaeologists discovered a 12th-century mosque in the settlement at Harlaa, as well as evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. The team, from the University of Exeter and the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, also found artifacts from as far afield as India and China, suggesting that the region functioned as a hub for foreign traders.

Prophet Muhammad died in the mid-seventh century, and Islam is thought to have spread to the East African coastline sometime in the eighth century. But an earlier tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad sent some of his first followers to Abyssinia—modern day Ethiopia—in the early seventh century.

Senegal, where Christians and Muslims live together in peace

15114530511516878353By Cristina UguccioniI
“If relations between Christians and Muslims in other countries were as serene as those living in Senegal, there would be more peace on earth. Here the cohabitation between the faithful of the two religions is neither a theme nor a motive for discussion since it is lived as a fact”. These are Flavio Facchin’s words, a 55 years old priest, belonging to the Congregation of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, he is currently the treasurer of the Senegalese missions. He arrived in this country 20 years ago and for a decade he led the parish of Maria Immacolata, the only parish in Parcelles Assainies, a large suburb of Dakar where most of the population is of Islamic faith (95%, as in the rest of the country).

The gift of a crucifix
On July 16,2016, during a solemn ceremony, Moussa Sy, the Muslim Mayor appointed Father Flavio honorary citizen and gave him the keys to the city because of the many works that the missionary, together with the parish, promoted for the benefit of the whole community.

“I remember that the mayor wanted to give me a personal gift on that day,” Father Flavio says. It was a painting that portrayed the crucifix. I was moved by the gift and surprised by the choice: I was expecting it to feature the Virgin Mary as Muslims take Her very much into account and even come to church to pray before the statue of Our Lady. Instead, the mayor chose the crucifix, which in Muslim culture is little understood. I remember that in his speech he said, “My second religion is the Church. For him Christianity identified with the church he had had the opportunity to know. We have been working together for many years looking for the best solutions to help the population and there has always been great understanding among us”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MALAYSIA HERALD

The biggest divide between African Muslims and Christians isn’t their religion

rtx143iw-e1483956070345In many countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Muslim and Christian communities coexist side by side. But a huge gap exists between them when it comes to educational attainment, with African Christians more than twice as likely to have formal schooling than their Muslim counterparts, a Pew Research Center study shows.

The study, which looked at the number of years of schooling both groups received based on age and gender, showed that 65% of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa had no formal education—the highest anywhere in the world. By contrast, 30% of Christians in the region had not enrolled or completed any form or level of schooling.

The Pew findings drew on census and survey data from 151 countries—36 from sub-Saharan Africa—and analyzed educational levels among believers of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and the religiously unaffiliated. In 18 out of 27 countries with substantial Christian and Muslim populations in the region, Muslims trailed Christians by at least 10 percentage points. Nine countries had education data on Muslims only (Comoros, Gambia, Niger and Somalia) or Christians only (Cape Verde, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe).

Christianity and Islam are the two dominant religions in sub-Saharan Africa, together accounting for more than 93% of the population. Given the dropping child mortality and high fertility rates in the region, much of the worldwide growth of Islam and Christianity is expected to take place there in the coming decades. By 2050, for instance, four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

FULL ARTICLE FROM QUARTZ 

The hospital that unites Christians and Muslims

19796746801471598210TANGUIETA: “The coexistence among Christians and Muslims, here in Benin, is serene: I often say that, if the relationship between the faithful of these two religions was like this everywhere, we would not see the dramas that cause so much bloodshed in many areas of the world today!” These are the words of Brother Fiorenzo Priuli, 70 years old, a surgeon, and a beacon for thousands of patients in Africa; a WHO (World Health Organization) consultant for AIDS and infectious diseases, who was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic. Of himself, he says: “I am grateful to the Lord who has called me to collaborate with him in the wonderful work of treating those who suffer and protecting life.” For more than 40 years, he has lived in a small town in the north of the country, Tanguiéta, where he runs the St John of God Hospital, a centre of excellence in African medicine, founded in 1970 by the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of St John of God, known as the Fatebenefratelli. At the time, it offered 82 beds; now there are 415.

The history of this great hospital, which has also become a university centre, speaks of the beautiful bond that is manifest between human beings of different religions when they share responsibility towards an injured human, and ally themselves, giving their best to lift up the lives that have been downtrodden by illness: strong ties that transcend the boundaries of states.

A common goal: Healthcare
The hospital physicians, including interns, number 25, while the paramedic and administrative staff consists of three hundred people. “Many are Muslim (such as my deputy in the operating room, who recently married a Catholic nurse) and the relationships between all of us are excellent,” says Bro Fiorenzo. “We work together day and night, driven by a common goal: to try to provide the best possible assistance to the thousands of patients who come here, often after facing long and exhausting journeys. Every year, we have 18,000-20,000 new patients (of which 5,000 are children) who come from neighbouring countries (Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria): 14,000 are hospitalized, while others receive outpatient care.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD, MALAYSIA ONLINE 

Ethiopia’s Christians mark Ramadan alongside Muslims

ethiopiaBy Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

The sun had already sunk below the blood red horizon in Addis Ababa’s neighborhood of Semien Mazegaja as Jemal Ahmed and his wife Kebedech Aliyu prepared for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Sitting in their neat one-bedroom home with their year-old twins Ismael and Issac sleeping nearby, Jemal, a Muslim, and his Orthodox Christian wife Kebedech explained how their different faiths did not prevent them from honoring each other’s religions.

“Thanks God, we lead a happy and cheerful marriage,” Jemal, 31, told Anadolu Agency. “We are faithful to our beliefs and a marriage that made us one.”

Speaking in a soft voice, Jemal explained how he and Kebedech, 29, would fast and pray together during Ramadan. “I also accompany her in every religious event and Lent,” he added.

Their cross-religious marriage is reflected in their children’s names,” Jemal said. “Ismael and Issac are Christian and Muslim names so the kids will appeal to both religions and be what they would be.

“They are already Muslims, according to the teachings of Islam and our agreement.” Turning to his wife, he asked: “Is it not?”

“Hum,” she coughed and burst into merry laughter.

“This is a tradition in Ethiopia,” she said. “They have a religion that has accepted me wholeheartedly.”

In Ethiopia, which is home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, Sunni Muslims make up around 34 percent of the estimated population of 97 million.

According to Islamic scholar Ahmed Abdurrahman, Ramadan in Ethiopia has always been marked by interaction between Muslims and Christians.

“Here there is no segregation,” he said. “No Christian- or Muslim-only neighborhoods. We have lived as one single indispensably linked community ever since Islam arrived in Ethiopia.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AA.COM.TR 

Kenya honour for Muslim hero who protected Christian bus passengers

kenyaA Muslim teacher in Kenya who protected Christians on a bus after it was attacked by Islamist militants has been posthumously honoured for his bravery.

Salah Farah was shot in the attack in north-eastern Kenya in December and later died from his bullet wound.

The insurgents told the Muslims and Christians to split up but he was among Muslim passengers who refused to do so.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was awarding the Order Of The Grand Warrior to Mr Farah “for his act of courage”.

It is one of the country’s top honours and is awarded by the president for exemplary service to the country.

In previous attacks in the area, Somalia-based al-Shabab militants have killed Christians and spared Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC NEWS