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Islam and Blackness by Jonathan A.C. Brown

It is commonly claimed that Islam is antiblack, even inherently bent on enslaving Black Africans. Western and African critics alike have contended that antiblack racism is in the faith’s very scriptural foundations and its traditions of law, spirituality, and theology. But what is the basis for this accusation?

Bestselling scholar Jonathan A.C. Brown examines Islamic scripture, law, Sufism, and history to comprehensively interrogate this claim and determine how and why it emerged. Locating its origins in conservative politics, modern Afrocentrism, and the old trope of Barbary enslavement, he explains how antiblackness arose in the Islamic world and became entangled with normative tradition. From the imagery of ‘blackened faces’ in the Quran to Shariah assessments of Black women as ‘undesirable’ and the assertion that Islam and Muslims are foreign to Africa, this work provides an in-depth study of the controversial knot that is Islam and Blackness, and identifies authoritative voices in Islam’s past that are crucial for combatting antiblack racism today.

About the Author

Jonathan A.C. Brown is Professor and Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of Slavery & Islam, Misquoting Muhammad and Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, all of which are published by Oneworld. He lives in Virginia.

Table of Contents

  1. INTRODUCTION: READING AND MISREADING

The Argument of This Book

The Virtues of Black Africans . . . Sudan, Habash, Zanj?

Blackness or blackness? The Question of Capitalization

Blackness in the Modern Muslim World

Antiblackness in the Modern Muslim World

Roots and Branches of Antiblackness

The Color Line in Other Times and Places

Misreading for Race and the Burdens of the Present

Guidance After Waywardness

  1. THE BACKGROUND OF RACE AND RACISM

Race and Reality

Race and Racism: Origins and Modern Developments

Racialization, Religion, and Color

When is Something or Someone Racist?

Was Islamic Civilization Racist?

  1. BLACKNESS CONTESTED

Blackness as Phenotype, White as the Norm

Blackness as Sin, Barbarism, and Filth

Black as Metaphor; Metaphor Shaping Reality

Blackness as a Political Condition

Blackness as Non-Being: Afropessimism

So What About Antiblackness and Islam?

  1. THE WESTERN NARRATIVE OF ISLAM, SLAVERY, AND ANTIBLACKNESS

The Roots and Branches of Afrocentrism

The Problems with Afrocentrism and ‘Arab-Islamic Slavery

Enduring Templates: Moorish Bondage and the Arab Slave Trade

Gathering the Threads: Arab-Islamic Slavery and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Narrative of Barbary Captivity

  1. THE PROPHET, ARABIA, AND THE RISE OF ANTIBLACKNESS

The Easy Answer

Black Crows: Why was Blackness Bad in Arabia?

Blackness in Body and Metaphor in Arabia

The Rise of Antiblackness, Part One: Black as Slave

The Rise of Antiblackness, Part Two: Black as Hypersexual, Black as Stupid, Black as Animal

  1. ANTIBLACKNESS IN THE QURAN AND SUNNA?

Tyranny of the Present

Blackened and Whitened Faces in the Quran

The Forgery of Antiblack Hadiths

Raisin-Headed: The Question of Antiblack Racism in the Sunna, Part One

Two for One: The Question of Antiblack Racism in the Sunna, Part Two

  1. ANTIBLACKNESS, SUFISM, AND VENERATION OF THE PROPHET

Casual Antiblackness, or Black as Human?

The Prophet’s Color and Black Muslims

Antiblackness and Insulting the Prophet

Black as Beautiful

  1. ANTIBLACKNESS IN MALIKĪ MARRIAGE LAW

The Conundrum of Custom

Desirability and Blackness in Maliki Law

  1. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE LAW? ISLAMIC HIERARCHY OR ISLAMIC EGALITARIANISM

Justifying Hierarchy in Suitability (kafāʼa)

Islamic Civilization and Natural Hierarchy

A Useful Analogy: Islamic Law and Caste in India

Egalitarianism Resurgent: Jahiliyya, Caste, and Tribalism

What is the Purpose of the Law?

  1. CONCLUSION

Miscegenating Our Way Out

Can Discrimination Be Legitimate?

Miscegenating Our Way Out

Can Discrimination Be Legitimate

Bibliographic Information

Title: Islam and Blackn

Author (s): Jonathan A.C. Brow

Publisher: ‎ Oneworld Academics

Length: 416 Pages

ISBN:‎  978-0861544844

Pub. Date: December 13, 2022

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