Thursday, December 22, 2005

Where did Muslims migrate before they went to Madina?

A Short Presentation at the Conference on Muslims and the Political Development in Southern Africa, in Johannesburg, 23 to 25 April 1999.

By Usman Bugaje

Islam and Africa are inextricably linked. Africa provided the first place of refuge for the first generation of Muslims, fleeing from the intolerance and oppression of the Makkan Arabs. That Islam first crossed to Africa even before going to Madina, is a matter of profound significance, the wisdom of which we are yet to fathom and may unfold in the future. Africa may have well been preserved for a role in the future, indeed it has a great potential for a role in the future.
Islam in Africa is, therefore, as old as Islam itself.

By the first century of Islam, Islamic communities and polities have emerged and continued to develop, grow and spread in the continent. Where ever it reached in the continent, it spread learning, liberated peoples from the shackles of parochialism and ignorance, boosted trade and commerce, built states of varying complexities and created culture and civilisation.

In many parts of Africa literacy started only after the spread of Islam and to this day a great many African languages are written using the Arabic script despite calculated and concerted efforts to obliterate it. By introducing literacy, boosting trade, creating centres of learning, Islam triggered unprecedented movements of peoples bringing about social integration at a scale never seen before and yet unmatched by any modern state creation. The Bilad al-Sudan, the stretch of Savannah grassland from Sene- Gambia to the Nile valley is a good case in point.

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