How East Africa Changed the World
Channel: Abdullah Hakim Quick
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Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alameen wa Salatu was Salam ala Seder walima Arkady in the Vienna Mohammed and while Allah He was happy he made about all praise the due to Allah Lord of the worlds and peace and blessings be constantly showered upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad, the master of the first and the last, and upon his family and all of his companions, all those who called his way and follow his son, today of judgment,
my beloved brothers and sisters, to our friends, to those in the viewing audience as salaam wa Alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
another opportunity for us to reflect upon human experience to reflect upon what happened to people who came before us and look at it in relationship to our world today.
2020 is a very unique year, the whole world is going through a great pandemic. And Muslims are in a special position in that not only are we isolating ourselves because of the covid 19 pandemic, but also we have been blessed with the month of Ramadan.
And Ramadan is a time of introspection. It is a time of reflection upon the world. And it is a time when Muslims are advised to get deeply into the book of Allah Al Quran. And we recognize that deport and itself is one third history. One third of the revelation is dedicated to us to the stories of those who came before us.
And Allah subhanaw taala tells us in Surah use of verse one 111
laqad kanopy Casa see him a baritone Leola l Bob, that in their stories in their parables are great lessons for those who reflect for intelligent people. And it is crucial for us to benefit from reflection, to strive to gain wisdom, so that we can come out of the great perils of the day. Because not only are we being assaulted by a physical plague, but there is also a type of food pandemic. There's also a political pandemic. And above all, there is a spiritual plague. And so, by reflecting upon the book of Allah subhanaw taala. By looking at history, maybe inshallah, we can have a more broad based understanding of the world. And along with the revelation, we can begin to
chat our way out of where we are.
true history erases the mystery.
This series that we have been involved in, is dedicated to bringing history from the original sources,
bringing it together with the revelation,
and trying to construct a type of worldview based upon this broad based understanding.
And in looking at East Africa focused is East Africa. And we recognize that East Africa, in our broad perspective, starts from the top of the Red Sea and goes down all the way to the south in Mozambique.
That when we look at this area, this ancient area, we find that on the Red Sea and in the Nile, that movement civilization has been going on for 1000s of years. And it is reported that Arab merchants on the Red Sea, we're applying the sea in their dials in their boats, up and down the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa and over to Southern Arabia, over to India, to the South China Sea. And it is reported that in some cases, the Arab merchants even made it all the way to Japan and Korea. And surprisingly enough, this was long before the time of Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him in the sixth century.
The merchants on the oceans were aided not only by their courage and their understanding of navigation, but they will also naturally assisted by the monsoon seasons and it is the North East.
monsoons that move people naturally along in the ocean between November and March, the Southwest monsoons between April and October. And so, during this time a brisk trade was going on.
trade was happening copper, tin silver, died cloaks tunics were traded for gold, incense, ivory, tortilla shells and other African products into the ocean, Indian spices, jewels, Chinese porcelain, and you can still find traces of this trade in the culture of people in East Africa. Up until today.
When we look back at the recorded information that comes to us after the Egyptian period, we find that in 50 ad, and anonymous Greek traveler who traveled down the Red Sea into the East African coastline, he wrote a book the periplus of the Eritrean sea. And he described navigation not only on the East African coast, but he also talked about navigation all the way to the Indian Ocean.
When the Romans took over, they dominated the trade in the Red Sea.
And the Romans called the east coast of Africa, as Ania.
In the Islamic period, we have understood that a natural connection was happening between the early Muslim state and the African continent. The first higit up were Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him, sent his companions into Alibaba Abyssinia, which now is era terrier and Ethiopia. He sent His followers there to the great Christian Emperor house Hama, under joshy.
This interaction was a historic one. It is a Muslim Prophet, the last of the long line of prophets, who is sending His people who are being tortured and persecuted as refugees across the Red Sea to the great African empire of exome.
And the Christian Emperor, who had a strong belief in one God, not only accepted the Muslims, but gave them sanctuary, and eventually accepted Islam himself.
After the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, Omar Abdullah hottub rhodiola one, the great Caliph, the second Caliph, sent exploratory
see merchants and boats and navy down the Red Sea. But this expedition failed. And he was reminded that the prophet SAW saddam had said, leave the people of Abyssinia alone
as long as the as long as they leave you with ruku habersham Hubba Matata Cuckoo.
And so Omar, ready allow one set that natural pace, that natural relationship between the Arabian Peninsula between the Muslims and those who were living on the East African coastline following the time of the great caliphs, the whole of our Rashi gene. The made calor for the next dynasty, we remember after the rightly guided caliphs, was the made dynasty. The omega Caliph, Abdul Malik, Eben mattawan, sent emissaries into East Africa in 696. And so there was a movement the Romanians recognized the presence of Muslims along the coastline. They recognize that there were scholars there they were people from the family of Prophet Muhammad SAW seldom who will living in the Horn of
Africa and down the coastline. And so even recent excavations have shown the ruins of Masjid and also Muslim burial sites, which dated back once in one case to seven AD AD, another to 850 ad. And these were found in shanga. This is in the l'amour region of present day, Kenya on the East African coastline. And so, the the early settlements were in connection with the Muslims. And we also have remains of ancient masjids the island of Pemba and ghulja, known as Zanzibar, we find the connection and the remains are still there up until today. And so that brisk trade was going on that natural interaction between the Muslim world the Arab merchants and the people along the East African
and looking at East
Africa as a whole, we recognize by the Rift Valley. That is, it is connected to the interior. And at that time, a huge expansion was in its climax from the year 1000 BC, a great nation called the Bantu nation expanded itself from the area of Cameroon's and Nigeria. And they started moving east.
They were carrying metal. They changed the civilizations, they conquered, they organized, and the Bantu people, organized complex civilizations and societies, not only in Central Africa, but they reached all along the East African coastline. And they went south into what is now South Africa. And so, it is the connection between the Bantu nation that had developed complex societies, with philosophy, with language, with justice, with hierarchy with all the different aspects of political and economic life, they came in contact with the Arab merchants on the coastline. And so the Swahili culture then develops. And LMS Rudy Rahim Allah, Who is considered to be the Emir of the Islamic
historians, the greatest of Islamic historians and travelers made two journeys into East Africa. And he wrote in his book merujuk, the hub where my adeno Johansson. This is a famous set of writings of lmsw Rudy, where he describes many parts of the world. In 1945, he noted that there was a brisk trade that was going on between the Arabian Gulf and the East African coastline. And he wrote about a type of African language that started to have Arabic words in it and Persian words, and he was noticing this African language, something different. This language was later known as key Swahili. And so, that connection, that marriage, so to speak, not only physically between the Arab merchants
and the and the Bantu nations, but also linguistically, culturally, socially, it continued to happen. And we can find in the chronicle of Lamu, and the chronicle of kilwa, you will find some ancient reports about the formation of that new Swahili society
in terms of its its concept of God,
the ancient Bantu people had gone through a stage of evolution. And they had reached the point where the concept of the great cosmic spirit willunga this great spirit, or the one God was dominating all of their lesser gods, and they were perfectly set for the coming of Islam. And so it is again, that that marriage of the African tawheed, the monotheism in Africa, and the message of the last prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, which made it a natural marriage and interaction and Islam began to spread and people entered into Islam and crowds. And so, the Swahili culture is developed. And this name Kiswahili comes from Swahili, Sahil is your coast Swahili is the plural So
literally, Kiswahili is the language of the people on the coastlines. And this song. Culture, developed very dynamic culture developed and impacted not only language, but it also impacted food, clothing, marriage concepts, and when Islam came in, with a, an organized form of life, with political form of life, with economic form of life, with a way to organize your city and your nation, the Swahili people began to thrive. And between 1100 to 1300 ad, a number of city states develop along the East African coast, we find places such as Mogadishu medica, but our Patty shanga llamo melendi Mombasa Pemba en booja, known as Zanzibar, mafia kilowatt
The Comoros islands and many others start to spring up an amazing set of city states and a merits develop where a strong culture springs up that not not only is benefiting from the last revelation, but also is benefiting from international trade. And so amongst the ancient people there, you can actually find Chinese goods, Indian goods, Arabian goods, you will find different products from the interior of Africa. It all blends together into this amazing culture, which surprised a lot of the international travelers when they reach that part of the world. A Sharif and idrisi Rahim Allah, another great Islamic historian, geographer and traveler. He visited on Pooja Zanzibar and Muscat in
Oman in the 12th century. And he was amazed at what he saw. He was amazed at the the the civilization he was amazed at the level that the people were on. Even battuta rahima hula who is considered to be probably the greatest international trout traveler who ever lived even greater than Marco Polo. He visited that area. And he went to Mombasa to Mogadishu and to kilwa in the 14th century. And he actually interacted with the people of a famous city state that was known as kilwa.
He mentioned in his writing, he mentioned abal abal, Mustafa Hassan, who was a pious Amir. And not only was he ruling his people with wisdom, but he was being visited by the Lama, the scholars coming from Mecca and Medina. And so even battuta actually writes about this connection between Mecca, Medina, and kilowatt as a city state. And he described the people as being clean and organized and very pious. They were members of the Shafi right, they follow the method or the school of thought of Imam Shafi, Rahim Allah. And
he when he describes the area, and it's amazing, he said, kilowatt is one of the most beautiful and well constructed towns in the world. The whole the whole of it is elegantly built. And when Ibn battuta is talking about is one of the most beautiful towns in the world. This is not watching television or reading a book, even but to to actually traveled around the world. He actually lived in Sri Lanka, in India, China, Indonesia, throughout Arabia, throughout North Africa, where he was originally from. And so he describes kilowatt as a beautiful place. And another interesting report. And this is part of our records. And it comes from a Portuguese writer, who in the time of Vasco de
Gama, a Portuguese leader, he visited Cuba in 1502. And so, the Portuguese write up in describing the town and I want you to reflect upon even present day level, present days Zanzibar, I want you to reflect on a classical Islamic town. This is the level that the Swahili people had reached in their beautiful Islamic culture. He writes as follows. The city is large, and is have good buildings of stone and mortar with terraces, and the houses have much Woodworks. The city comes down to the shore, and is entirely surrounded by a wall and towers, within which there may be 12,000 inhabitants. The country all around is very luxuriate with many trees and gardens of all sorts of
vegetables, citrus, lemons, and the best sweet oranges that were ever seen.
sugarcane, figs, pomegranates and a great abundance of flocks, especially sheep. The streets of the city are very narrow, as the houses are very high of three and four storeys, and one can run along the tops of them upon the terraces as the houses are very close together. And in the port. There were many ships, and so he is describing a bustling culture. He is describing an amazing society that Ibn battuta considered to be one of the most
Beautiful cities that he's ever seen in the world.
Another amazing report comes out of Chinese literature. And that is the journey of the great Chinese Admiral Chandra.
Chandra, who in the 15th century, became the Admiral of probably the greatest fleet in human history at that time, he was originally a Muslim, coming from a Mongolian background, a Muslim background, and his people were conquered. He was taken into the court of the Ming Dynasty. And because of his natural capabilities, he he rose up in the positions, and he became one of the great admirals of the Ming Dynasty, to the extent that he was chosen to lead the Imperial fleet. So the stories of changhua,
the great Muslim, who was a servant of the Ming Dynasty, but also a believer in the one God. He made seven amazing voyages in the 15th century. And included in these voyages. For those who are into history. Many believe that he actually even went to the Americas. But on the fourth voyage, as he's traveling through from China, and down into Indonesia, and into Sri Lanka, moving through the oceans, with a huge fleet of ships, and he reaches the Persian area Hormuz. There he meets emissaries who came from the Swahili lads from Malindi, from berawa, from Mogadishu. He met them there in Hormuz. And he was surprised to see that amongst the gifts and products that the Swahili is
were bringing into the Persian area, they had a huge animal, we now know as a giraffe, and this shocked to Chinese and they thought it was like a unicorn or some mystical creature, that that that cake that appeared in the literature. And so he convinced them to come back with him to China. And they gave the gift to the emperor of the Ming Dynasty. And the people were amazed by the stories that were coming from East Africa. It was known, the trade was known, because the Chinese were getting the gold, the spices, the ivory, the African products coming out of that region, from ancient times. But they didn't know about the people. They didn't understand about the animal life
and something about the culture of the people there. On the fifth voyage, changhua Rahim Allah, he visited Persia, Yemen, Mogadishu. But our Malindi and the Chinese anchored in 1418 on Padre Island. And legend has it that the Swahili people woke up one day, and they saw 300 ships coming out of the ocean. It was an amazing Armada, the Chinese state and East Africa for some time, to the point where they even married some of the local people. And the famau people have seen you, on Petey Island actually claimed Chinese ancestry. And for those who have visited the area, you can see the Chinese blood, you can see that interaction between a Chinese person and an African person. And so a brisk
trade was going on. The Chinese were bringing in this silk they were bringing in porcelain. They would also get pepper from over in Sri Lanka and the other areas. And they would trade for the spices for the gems for the precious woods, even for medicines and textiles. And so an amazing interaction is going on. And that interaction was one of the most successful trade routes in the world at the time. People speak about the Silk Road. And that is the northerly route that went from China, over from Mongolia, Turkistan
Persia, all the way down into Turkey. This is the famous Silk Road, which eventually when it reached Constantinople, now Istanbul, it was a medium point between Asia and Europe. And so this was
Probably the most successful trade route in the world at the time. But what is not so recognized by the general public is that the southern route was also an amazing trade route. We have so much interaction was going on. And we find that in terms of the culture, the porcelains, the silks, the spices, and of course from Southern Arabia, the frankincense and the mirror, it people benefited from this, not only in their physical life, but in their spiritual life. Frankincense was burned in their temples, the beautiful incense and the into the perfumes were being used. And then the Chinese silks were coming into the East African area, the beautiful porcelains were coming in. And so this
is an international fusion of culture, moving along the trade routes, and at the core of this in East Africa, were the Swahili people. And so, that trade route was one of the most important movements of civilization of human beings at the at the time in the ancient world. And the Islamic faith as well moved along with the merchants, because Muslim scholars and Allah Ma and people of Dawa of the call moved along with the merchants. They entered into East Africa. They moved along the trade routes. They moved from Southern Arabia, over into Sri Lanka, up into what is now Bangladesh. They also moved into Kerala, which is the west coast of India and down into Malacca, Malaysia, into
Indonesia. The missionaries also went up into the Philippines. And so that whole area we see are followers of your mama Shafi Rahim Allah. And it's surprising because people generally think of Indian people, or Pakistani people as Hanafi Muslims, the Hanafi, right, but on that coastline in Kerala, they actually Shafi and the same traditions and we find some of the oldest matches in Southeast Asia, along the coastlines. So whether it be Bangladesh, Kerala, Malacca, Indonesia, all the way to the Philippines, that interaction,
succeeded in not only spreading physical goods, but also spirituality, and the last revelation of Islam. And so a type of cultural unity developed amongst the people of the area. Scholars, Allah traveled back and forth to different places. And I can even remember in living in Cape Town in South Africa for a period of time, that the scholars from Indonesia traveling along these routes, actually made it all the way to Cape Town and to other parts of southern Africa. And so it is an international trade and interaction. Now, looking at East Africa, again, we recognize it's not only the coastline, but it also is the interior. And this is where the de Swahili merchants made amazing
explorations. Elon Musk Rudy Rahim. Oh, hello. Again, the great Amir of the historians wrote from back in the 10th century, he spoke about the journey of Arab merchants, Swahili merchants, as far as as cape Delgado, which is in the northern province of Mozambique. And so, into that region along the coast in the south, the Swahili merchants then moved into the interior. There are river systems and beezy river system. There are major rivers that move from the the coastline moving in, and the Swahili merchants traveled to the interior. And they traveled along the river systems mainly for gold. It is a there is a misunderstanding that they were traveling for slaves. But slavery was not a
major Islamic institution at that time. slaves were being used by people all throughout the world as a means of carrying goods. And so the Swahili merchants then moved inland to the Great Zimbabwe. And Zimbabwe had one of the most active gold mines in the world. And so the trade from Zimbabwe to the coastline was the best one. And there is a recorded report, which came we still have from a Portuguese traveler in 1511 Antonio
Fernandes and he writes about following the well worn trade route from sofala, which is on the coastline in Mozambique, to the King chisaki of Zimbabwe. And so the Trade Centers were set up along the coast, along the rivers, Trade Centers, all the way to the Great Zimbabwe. And you can still see, in Zimbabwe, the ruins of a major civilization,
which developed from the African people living there, the Shona and and the Bantu people in the interior, and also their connection with the Swahili people on the coast. Islamic teachings were moving along as well. And the trade and the teachings of Islam reached Malawi. It reached not only Zimbabwe, but Zambia, and all the way to Uganda. And in South Africa, It is reported that even in Limpopo and Mpumalanga that these are present day South Africa, that the Swahili merchants reach this area and the gold trade coming out of South Africa was reaching the coast. The Swahili merchants also reached Uganda. And because of their interaction with the people, their character,
and how they were dealing, they impressed one of the princes of the Buganda people. And in present day Kampala, there is a major Valley there are hills around this valley, and the great princes of the Buganda control different sections from the hill, one of the princess wanted to embrace Islam. But he had a problem. And that is that the prince according to the customs of the Buganda people, that you're not supposed to spill the blood of the prince. And in order to accept Islam, you have to be circumcised. And so he had to make a choice. And he chose to become Muslim. He accepted Islam, and controlled his Hill, controlled his people. And through that Islam spread and Uganda, and there
is still a very strong presence in that region. And so Islam had spread to the interior, the connection between the coastline again, this is East Africa, this is the business that is going on, which is connecting the interior of Africa, Southern Africa, to the coastline to Persia, to Indonesia to China, it is it is an international connection that is going on.
In the 15th century,
after the fall of Granada, in Spain, and Andalus. Muslims had lost their authority in Western Europe, after having lived there for over 700 years.
The Muslims then had to flee. They were conquered by the Catholic King and queens, Ferdinand and Isabella, and the Portuguese as well established their Catholic Kings and Queens. And so from there, and expansion happened. This is really the first modern, you could say, European expansion. And it was the Portuguese because the coastline in Lisbon, it is that area with the Muslim navigation. And you know, and the Muslim Navy was based. And so the Portuguese then, having inherited this information, conquering the Muslims and taking this information, they became some of the strongest people on the oceans. And so in the 15th century, the Portuguese realized they could not easily
travel through the Middle East. The Turkish nations were there, the Arab nations, the Muslims were strong in this region. So they couldn't make it through without dealing with the Muslims. And so they were looking for a way around the Middle East. And so they started to move along the shores of Africa.
And with the help of certain raumati sailors, they went around South Africa, of course, they call it the Cape of Good Hope, because they were hoping to go around the Muslim world. And they traveled around the Cape of Good Hope. And they began to conquer. They had this Conquistador mentality that they were fighting the crusades, and everywhere they went, especially when they saw Muslims, they immediately began to fight.
People were used to doing business along the coastline. It was an international trade. There were no conquering armies. There were no Conquistadores. But the Portuguese came through, and they subjugated cities in East Africa, and they built forts on the coastline and they can
connected in the East African coastline to Adam in Yemen, to hold a moose to go out in India to Calcutta, in India to Gujarat. All of these areas, the Portuguese connected these areas and subjugated the people dominated the trade for a period of time, and they introduced flourishing slave trade. And so really, for the first time, slavery was being introduced not as a means of
carrying goods as a means of the relationship between employer and employee, which was all over the world because slavery continued in the world. Up until the 19th century, they introduced the slave as the means as the means of production that is the product. So this is different than looking for gold, or looking for ivory, the slave becomes the product and the Portuguese introduced this and the people resist and the local sua healy's, were resisting and finding the Portuguese overwhelming, they're huge forts on the coastline, you can still see in Mombasa and Malindi and in many places, you will see the Portuguese forts. There are many Muslims coming from Southern Arabia, having
fighting skills, and ocean skills. They came together with the Swahili Muslims, and they defeated the Portuguese.
But the problem that happened after the Portuguese were driven out, in 1812, a division broke out between the people of Mombasa and llamo. And this infighting going on amongst the Swahili is caused the Romanians to come in, they broke it up, they took over and they established peace in the in the region. But Soltani, say inside of Oman, after having established peace in the region, and the woman is looking at this area, as a fear seeming place with an amazing type of culture. They decided to subdue the whole Swahili coast. And so the woman is subdued the Swahili coast and continued the slave trade of the Portuguese. And this is one of the difficult times one of the sad times in our
history, we have slavery as a means of production, where people were actually the main products it developed. And so the plantations, the slave trade continued, it never reached the level of the Atlantic slave trade. And those who would say that it did have to bring the proof. Because with the Atlantic slave trade, we can see that millions of people were transported from Africa, into the Americas. And the result, the remainder is the people in Brazil and the Caribbean, in the United States, there are black people. But it was not the same in East Africa. The humanities were involved in this. And it's only really from 1812 until the late 19th 2020, early 20th century, when they were
subdued by the colonial powers, that you actually find slavery. And so it existed. And it is not within Islamic mandate to do that. It was counter Islam that they were involved in. And Swahili culture still flourished, even under this difficulty. And so what is important to recognize that Swahili culture has evolved over 1000 years
before the coming of the Manny's Swahili culture was a beautiful blending together of the Bantu African culture of the Arab Society of the Persian shirazian other people who are coming in, they were no conquering armies that came into East Africa. There are no stories of Army subduing the people and sub subjugating them and forcing them to become Muslims. It was a natural blending, that that brought about a beautiful culture.
It is important for us to recognize this because there's a tendency for orientalist historians to immediately talk about slavery, whenever they talk about Swahili slavery, whenever they talk about East Africa slavery, no, this was not the basis of the society. It is a beautiful society, blended together through natural interaction of people and connected to Arabia, Persia, Southeast Asia to China all the way to Japan and Korea. It is one of the most important international trade routes in ancient times and is this Swahili culture
that is still there on the East African coastline.
The language has spread. Many nations are now speaking Swahili, you know, as a main main lingua franca as a main way of speaking, to unite all of their languages in East Africa. Swahili is still making great contributions, intellectual contributions, scientific contributions, artistic contributions. And it's important for us to understand this, when we see that people in this region are suffering in a drought, when we see that the pandemics that the the international disease of the economy, you could say that the economic plague is striking the people of this region, we have to recognize that this is a great civilization. And the people there have have an amazing culture,
which has evolved over 1000s of years, and still is making great impact in the world today. And so this is the world of the Swahili. This is the world of East Africa. From the ancient times of the ancient Egyptians, funny shots of the ancient Queen Pharaoh of Egypt, trading with the Somalis and potluck from the hemmati people of Yemen, trading with East Africa, from the Arab merchants plying their way along the coastlines, following the monsoon winds, from their connection to India, and their connection to Sri Lanka, their connection to Southeast Asia, and that beautiful fusion that went on. This is a celebration. It's a celebration of culture. It's a celebration of spirituality.
And we can only pray that Almighty God Allah would bless the people of this region and would enable them to revive their culture and to continue to contribute to the onward flow of civilization. I leave you with these thoughts. And I asked a lot to have mercy on me and you were Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.