By Edward E., IV Curtis
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Additional resources for Islam in Black America: Identity, Liberation and Difference in African-American Islamic Thought
Moreover, argued Blyden, Islam had never been the kind of vehicle for terror and genocide that Christianity had been. ”28 BLACK MESSIANISM AND UNIVERSALISM IN BLYDEN’S LATER THOUGHT The above section makes clear that Blyden viewed Islam as capable of serving a very particularistic purpose, namely, as a tradition that could foster African nationalism and help to develop African civilization. But Blyden’s particularistic use of Islam did not mean that he viewed Islam as an exclusively black tradition.
I seemed to hear the echo of those illustrious Africans. . 17 To make the link between the Pyramids and his own Liberian nationalism perfectly transparent, Blyden then engraved the word, “LIBERIA,” with his name and the date, 11 July 1866, on the entrance to the ancient wonder. In so doing, Blyden revealed the nationalist purpose of his trip. Unlike many of the Euro-American pilgrims and travelers whom he quoted in his book, Blyden did not travel to the Middle East to ﬁnd some mysterious and exotic backdrop for the struggles of his own soul.
27 For Blyden, the presence of racism in Arab society did not reﬂect poorly on Islam, since he regularly observed sub-Saharan Muslims mounting effective challenges to Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912) and the Paradox of Islam 33 this racism based on Islamic traditions themselves. Educated Sudanese Muslims, Blyden said, knew the difference between what Arabs do and what Islam says to do. In fact, he had often heard them quoting Sura 9:97 (which he mistakenly identiﬁed as verse 98): “The Arabs are most stout in unbelief and hypocrisy, and are more likely not to know the bounds which God has sent down to His Apostle” [Blyden’s translation].