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  1. MENASource March 24, 2023 Black Iraqis have been invisible for a long time. Their vibrant culture and struggle must be recognized. By Sarah Zaaimi When roaming the streets of Hila or Baghdad, it is almost impossible to tell who is Sunni, Kurdish, Baha’i, or Mandaean. One community, however, stands out in the intricate cultural, religious, and ethnic mosaic of Iraq due to its largely visible ethnic origins: Black Iraqis. Concentrated in the outskirts of Basra and Zubair in southern Iraq, this community is linked to a dark historical era when Basra was once a prominent center for the slave trade in the Islamic Empire between the ninth and nineteenth centuries. Visible traces of structural racism and xenophobia persist today and can easily be identified in the power relations governing Black Iraqis and the rest of society. Black Iraqis are not only living on the geographical margins of urban agglomerations but also on the margins of society and its structures, with no political representation, no tribal umbrella, locked social mobility, and the constant stigma of being called abd (“slaves”), fahma (“piece of coal”), or other ethnophaulisms in everyday interactions. The community witnessed a short-lived political revival following the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States and, more recently, with the Black Lives Matter movement, as media articles rushed to document this newly witnessed awakening. However, activists in Iraq calling for Black Iraqi rights continue to face violent oppression as members of the community and its activists have become targets of radical groups in recent years and have, unfortunately, opted to tone down their demands. I was lucky enough—through an ethnographic project carried out with other Iraqi researchers—to penetrate the secretive world of Iraqis of African descent and discuss their positionality as a group in Iraq today and their unique Afro-Iraqi memory with local activists, performers, and academics from within the community, as well as with a few United Nations agencies. The observations and information I have included in this piece emanate directly from these fascinating first-hand encounters and debates. Twelve centuries of disgrace Black Iraqis are the descendants of immigrants and enslaved people from Sub-Saharan and East Africa. Their presence in Iraq dates back to the Abbasid empire, starting from the ninth century when some newcomers came to the region as sailors, workers, captured slaves, or enslaved soldiers. They largely originated from the coast of modern-day Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, and other African countries. In the absence of formal statistics, their community leaders estimate their numbers today to be as high as 1.5 to 2 million inhabitants. Black Iraqis are scattered across diverse regions of the country, concentrating in the governorates of Basra, Maysan, and Dhi Qar. There are also a few families in Baghdad, Wassit, and other cities. However, the largest community resides on the outskirts of the cities of Basra and Zubair. Despite slavery being officially abolished in the nineteenth century and supported by Article 14 of the 2005 Iraqi Constitution, which stipulates “equality without racial-based discrimination,” Black Iraqis still endure systematic discrimination, marginalization, and structural racism embedded in historical stigmas and xenophobia against black people in the Arab world, according to activists I spoke to. Iraq is a melting pot of other ethnic, religious, and cultural communities. Yet, many of these groups are “invisible” and can easily fade in the crowd due to similar physical features. In contrast, Black Iraqis are the “visible others” who cannot be unseen or concealed. Hundreds of invisible cultural and social lines segregate the two communities, ostracize Black Iraqis, and reaffirm their otherness in urban design, tribal allegiances, and marriage arrangements. One intriguing conversation I had with a group of non-black Iraqi academics, opened my eyes to the extent of denial most people feel about the subject. I was told repetitively, “We don’t have black and white in Iraq. We are all equal,” and was asked to drop the appellation black Iraqis or Afro-Iraqis and replace it with asmar or abu samra, which means tanned or brown in Arabic. Little did they know how offensive it is to deny the community its blackness and attempt to dilute it with a drop of whiteness. In contrast, the Black Iraqis I have been working with, including Dr. Thawra Yousif, Dr. Abdulkareem Aboud, and Dr. Abdel-Zahra Sami Farag, all influential figures in their community, proudly claim their blackness and celebrate it. Structural racism and the absence of a tribal umbrella have relegated most black Iraqis to the margins of the economy and locked them into a number of small manual jobs as domestic help or performers. According to their representatives, the population also suffers from low educational attainment rates, unemployment, and poverty. Additionally, there is not a single Black Iraqi holding a high-ranking position in the government, nor do they have any political representation. Recently, human rights activists from the community have suffered assassination attempts and violence to oppress their demands, according to international reports. A secretive African intangible heritage Black Iraqis have maintained a vibrant cultural heritage, blending their Sub-Saharan and East African traditions and rituals with those of Mesopotamia. This distinctive intangible heritage has been dissolved or dissimulated sometimes for better integration and assimilation in the predominantly Arab and Islamic context of Iraq. Many aspects have survived and continue to flourish today. Black Iraqis possess a distinct dialect combining Swahili and Arabic, a particular genre of chanting, drumming, and tambourine performances, and continue to practice African-derived healing and exorcism ceremonies, which they practice secretly in remote huts called makkayid, away from the judgmental eyes of curious Arabs. The body of literature documenting the diverse aspects of this culture remains sparse, as most studies solely focus on human rights concerns affecting the community rather than its ethnographic, cultural richness, avowal, and ascription of self and group. There are also few, if any, efforts to examine the stereotypes surrounding Black Iraqis through advocacy or education programs in an already highly contentious and fragmented social and political context, which widened the gap and emphasized disparities and stigmas regarding this community living in Iraq since the ninth century. This dire economic and social situation contrasts with the community’s rich contribution to the cultural and artistic diversity of southern Iraq. Black Iraqi folklore and musical heritage have been transferred throughout the generations, maintaining original African names, such as the musical genres of bib, ankroka, gonbasa, al-liwa and the nuban, according to Dr. Abdelkarim Abdulkareem of the University of Basra and Abdel-Zahra Sami Farag. They also continue to use original drum and wind instruments with African ties like amsondo, kikanka, bato, and sarnai, while the performers hold mixed-gender dances dressed in vibrant embellished garments and animal skin belts. These traditional spectacles clearly set black Iraqis aside from the rest of the Iraqi gender-segregated society and are a strong staple of their African origins and identity. Abdel-Zahra Sami Farag, a local activist and performer, also revealed to me that members of the group regularly gather in the makkayid, where they perform folkloric and exorcism rituals. Social cohesion is one of the main challenges facing Iraqi society today. Post-2003, many ethnic, cultural, and religious communities found themselves without state structures or a tribal umbrella that provides kinship support and protection that both Arabs and Kurds enjoy—both highly tribal societies. Black Iraqis are among these communities without tribal safeguards, legal status, or political representation. While other communities have received extensive media and academic attention after the invasion, Iraqis of African descent remain in the margins as an under-documented, under-studied, and highly visible “other” within. Sarah Zaaimi is the deputy director for communications at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East programs.
  2. Assalamo alaikum, I was wondering whether there were any Prophets that were black or of very dark colour? If there were, who they were, and how do we know for sure about the colours. Also, what about the prominent Prophets, such as Hazrat Isa (A.S.), Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.), and others, what complexion where they of? It's just a general curiosity, and I'm not targeting any sensitive topics or such, just want to gain some knowledge because as i've grown being taught about such personalities, but for some odd reason i'd only think of them as white or fair prophets, i guess its just how we've been wired to think, even as children, even though i don't remember my parents or teachers ever specifying such a thing. Looking forward to all the feedback,
  3. Sheikh Haj Ahmad Hanif lectures about Shia Islam Sheikh Abdul Jalil I tried to tell them Sheikh Usma Abdul Ghani Hadith of the day (Sheikh usam a Abdulghani ) ‏‪Sheikh Usama Abdulghani - Hadith of the Day‬‏:‏ Sheikh Zakzaky (#freeZakzaky) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDUXcLvD_1W0LsvBYMCM2bg6jisd6D6fL
  4. Assalam-O-Alaikum !! May Allah Shower his Blessings upon you All. I am not a Good English Speaker. So, Please understand my words. After doing research on Shia Books, I came to know about Black Clothing which is Makrooh. But why and how? Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him) wore Black if I am not wrong. Someone told me Imam Jafar Sadiq prohibited from wearing Black shoes and Black Clothes. Is it true? Jazaak Allah Khair.
  5. A big big very big Propaganda is made today to prove that Khorasan means Afghanistan, and Taliban is mentioned as bearer of those Black Flags. This is total false. Let us destroy this propaganda with Allah's help. Insha-Allah. Firstly, this Black Flag was the sign of SHIA community for the last 1400 years and still it is till today. Secondly, the main Khorasan is present in Iran today, and it's center is Mashhad. This is the same Mashhad which is the center of Religious Activities in Iran and almost all religious leadership is coming from this city. Thirdly, Khurasan-e-Buzurg (Greater Khurasan), which existed during the Era of Prophet Muhammad (saw), it also did not contained the areas of Afghanistan where Pushto is spoken (where Taliban has got their support). No, but it also contained only those Areas of Afghanistan where Farsi (Persian) is spoken and these areas are deadly against Taliban. The Pushto speaking area, where Taliban have support, that area was known as "Sindh" and areas of Ghazni and Qandhar etc. were included in it. The eastern area from Sindh was known as Hindustan. While the western area from Sindh was known as Khurasan, and it's boundaries were Merv, Balkh and Hirat (i.e. non-Pushto speaking areas). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:An...ighlighted.jpg Description Map showing Ancient Persia in light yellowish and the the land called Sind (most of today's Afghanistan and part of Pakistan) in pinkish.A number of ancient references are made to the names shown in this map. Ibn Batutta writes in 1333 AD: [1] "We travelled from there to Naysabur, one of the four capitals of Khurasan.... We travelled thence to Parwan, where I met the amir Buruntayh. He treated me well and wrote to his representatives at Ghazna enjoining them to show me honour. We went on to the village of Charkh [Charikar], it being now summer, and from there to the town of Ghazna. This is the town of the famous warrior-sultan Mahmud ibn Sabuktagin, one of the greatest of rulers, who made frequent raids into India and captured cities and fortresses there. His grave is in this city and is surmounted by a hospice. The greater part of the town is in ruins and nothing but a fraction of it remains, though it was once a large city. It has an exceedingly cold climate, and the inhabitants move from it in the cold season to Qandahar, a large and prosperous town three nights journey from Ghazna, but I did not visit it. We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen. Their principle mountain is called Kuh Sulayman... From Kabul we rode to Karmash, which is a fortress belonging to the Afghans... On reaching Sind I followed this practice and bought horses, camels, white slaves and other goods from the merchants. I had already bought from an Iraqi merchant in Ghazna about thirty horses and a camel with a load of arrows, for this is one of the things presented to the sultan. This merchant went off to Khurasan and on returning to India received his money from me. After crossing the river of Sind called Panj Ab, our way led through a forrest of reeds, in which I saw a rhinoceros for the first time. After two days' march we reached Janani, a large and fine town on the bank of the river Sind. Its people are a people called the Samira, whose ancestors established themselves there on the conquest of Sind in the time of al-Hajjaj [712 A.D.]" Although I do not want to favor any nationality, but the authentic Sunni collections contain many traditions which is in favor of the Persians. I just quote some of them here: Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 6.420 Narrated Abu Huraira: While we were sitting with the Prophet Surat al-Jumu'a was revealed to him, and when the Verse, "And He (Allah) has sent him (Muhammad) also to other (Muslims).....' (62:3) was recited by the Prophet, I said, "Who are they, O Allah's Apostle?" The Prophet did not reply till I repeated my question thrice. At that time, Salman al-Farisi was with us. So Allah's Apostle put his hand on Salman, saying, "Even if Faith were at (the place of) Ath-Thuraiya (pleiades, the highest star), then some men or man from these people (i.e. Salman's folk) would attain it." The next tradition right after the previous one: Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 6.421 Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said "Then some men from these people would attain it." Do you still have Doubts about who are these People of Black Flags? If you still have doubts about identity of these people, then just read the following "Sahih" tradition of Rasool Allah (saw), and all doubts will be removed. Insha-Allah. Sunnan Ibn Majah (Sunni Book Online Link) (A Sahih Hadith, see Authentication here and here): - حَدَّثَنَا عُثْمَانُ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا مُعَاوِيَةُ بْنُ هِشَامٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، عَنْ يَزِيدَ بْنِ أَبِي زِيَادٍ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، عَنْ عَلْقَمَةَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ إِذْ أَقْبَلَ فِتْيَةٌ مِنْ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ فَلَمَّا رَآهُمُ النَّبِيُّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ اغْرَوْرَقَتْ عَيْنَاهُ وَتَغَيَّرَ لَوْنُهُ قَالَ فَقُلْتُ مَا نَزَالُ نَرَى فِي وَجْهِكَ شَيْئًا نَكْرَهُهُ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ إِنَّا أَهْلُ بَيْتٍ اخْتَارَ اللَّهُ لَنَا الآخِرَةَ عَلَى الدُّنْيَا وَإِنَّ أَهْلَ بَيْتِي سَيَلْقَوْنَ بَعْدِي بَلاَءً وَتَشْرِيدًا وَتَطْرِيدًا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ قَوْمٌ مِنْ قِبَلِ الْمَشْرِقِ مَعَهُمْ رَايَاتٌ سُودٌ فَيَسْأَلُونَ الْخَيْرَ فَلاَ يُعْطَوْنَهُ فَيُقَاتِلُونَ فَيُنْصَرُونَ فَيُعْطَوْنَ مَا سَأَلُوا فَلاَ يَقْبَلُونَهُ حَتَّى يَدْفَعُوهَا إِلَى رَجُلٍ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتِي فَيَمْلَؤُهَا قِسْطًا كَمَا مَلَؤُوهَا جَوْرًا فَمَنْ أَدْرَكَ ذَلِكَ مِنْكُمْ فَلْيَأْتِهِمْ وَلَوْ حَبْوًا عَلَى الثَّلْجِ ‏"‏ ‏ Narrated by Alqamah from Abdullah bin Masood: One day we were sitting with Holy Prophet(s) when some children from the house of Bani Hashim came there. When the Holy Prophet(s) saw them, tears welled up in his eyes and he became pale. Ibn Masood said that he told the Holy Prophet(s) "Your face reflects axiety".The Holy Prophet(s) stated:"Exalted God has granted us,the Ahlulbait, Hereafter instead of wordly pleasure. After me,soon my Ahlubait will face calamity,harship and misery till people having black flags will rise from East and seek justice,which will be denied them.They will wage war,they will be supported and will be given what they were demanding.They will not accept until it is handed over to one from our Ahlulbait (i.e. Mahdi) .He will fill the earth with justice as it was filled with unjustice.Whoever amongst you is alive at that period, should try to reach them even if he has to tread on ince in that persuit." ANALYSIS of This Hadith 1) People of Ahle Bait (family of Prophet) will face calamity. (While Nasibi Sapah Sahaba deny calamity of Fatima (salam Allah Alaiha), and also believe that YAZID is promised for Paradise due to fabricated hadith of First Naval War and Caesar's City (read it's fabrication here) 1.1) Rasool Allah started weeping upon the calmities of Ahle Bait, but here is Sapah Sahaba who never weeps for what happened to Hussain in Karbala. Just see who are Ahle Bait? Were it wives of Muhammad (saw) who were driven out of their homes ? Or were it progeny of Muhammad (saw) who faced calmities? 2) People will rise to assist them with BLACK FLAGS [Need we to tell you who are the holder of these Black Flags throughout whole History in all these passing centuries?] 3) These people are those, who are SAD FOR THE Calamites upon Ahle Bait (family of Prophet), and they love Ahle Bait above all. Need I still to tell you more who are the people who are indicated in these Ahadith of Mahdi? The Flag of Rasool Allah (saw) was of black colour We are quoting from authentic work of Ahl'ul Sunnah "Sunnan Abu Dawud", vol 3, page 22, Kitab-ul-Jihad, and "Tirmidhi Shareef", vol. 1, page 528: "There was a special flag of Rasool Allah (s), whose name was "Uqaab" and it consisted of curtain of Ayesha's house. And its colour was black." It is written in book Akseer-ul-Abadaat, page 263: " Ali told Malik-e-Ashtar that I have a Standard, which I never took out before. And it was the first Standard of Rasool Allah (saw) and he told me that a time will come when you will fight with rebels. Then Ali (as) took out that Standard, which became old. When people saw the Standard of Rasool (s), they started weeping in loud voice. And all those who found the way till Standard, they kissed it." So, where are those who declare the Black Flag of Shias to be an Innovation. Where are the those who declare kissing the flag and weeping in loud voice to be an Innovation and misguidance.
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