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But it was a party of Jinn, and, as, at lying down, he had neglected through

weariness to invoke the protection of Allah, so now, sudden fear kept him

from using that simple precaution, and left him at the mercy of the demons.



The Name of Allah Be Round About Us

Folklore from the Holy Land


The people of Palestine, Christians as well as Muslims, believe in the existence of a race if beings of preadamite origin, called by the general name of "Jinn." Whilst the angels dwell in the heavens and have various offices and forms differing according to their respective abodes (those in the lowest heaven, for instance, being shaped like cows; those in the second, like falcons; in the third, like eagles; in the fourth, like horses, and so on), the Jinn are said by the learned to be created out of the fire of the "simûm" which they describe as a fire lacking both heat and smoke.

They are said to dwell chiefly in or amongst the Jebel Kâf, the range of mountains which surrounds the earth. some of the Jinn are good Muslims, and do not injure their human co-religionists, but the greater number of them are unclean infidels who take up their abode in rivers, fountains, cisterns, ruined buildings, baths, cellars, ovens, caves, sewers, and latrines. Some of them choose as dwellings cracks in the walls or under the door-steps or thresholds of inhabited houses, so that it is very dangerous for people, especially females, to sit on a door step in the evening when these night -prowling evil spirits may do them grievous bodily injury.

The jinn are believed to be able to assume any shape they please and to change it at pleasure. Among the peasantry, there is current another story as to their origin. It is that our mother Eve, on whom be peace, used to bring forth forty children at a birth, But being unable to nurse more than half that number, she picked out the twenty best ones and threw the others away. She told Adam on each occasion that she had borne only twenty; but he did not believe her.

Adam therefore asked Allah to let any children she had thrown away live underground and go abroad at night when all men sleep. Thus the Jinn came into being.

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The Jinn are envious of us men and women, always on the watch for a chance to injure us; and unless we say, "Bismillah," whenever we begin any work or take anything out of our stores, they succeed in robbing us. There is, at the present day, a man living at Aïn Kârim who has experienced this to his cost. He has a silly, forward daughter, who, in spite of frequent warnings from her parents and neighbors, will not invoke the Name. He was a man of substance, and brought home provisions in plenty, yet the blessing of Allah did not rest upon his property.

At length, perplexed and discouraged, he had recourse to a great sheikh, who asked, "whom have you in the house?" 

"My wife and daughter."  

"Does your wife invoke the Name of Allah?"

"I would not have married her if she had not done so."

"Does your daughter also 'name'?"

"I regret to say she does not."

"Then," said the sheikh, "don't let her touch anything about the house, and get rid of her at once!"

The father acted on the sheikh's advice. And no sooner had he disposed of his daughter in marriage than the Jinn ceased to trouble him. But the bridegroom, till then a thriving man, has not now enough money to buy oil to keep a lamp burning through the night. [None but the poorest will sleep without a night light.]

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Not only are the Jinn men and women like ourselves, but they can, and sometimes do, intermarry with other sons and daughters of Adam, often against the will of the latter, when these have neglected to ask the protection of Allah. In proof of this I will relate an incident that occurred some years ago.

There was a man of the village of El Isawìyeh, in the valley north of the Mount of Olives, who, going down to reap his harvest in the neighborhood of Ushwah, near Artûf, was not heard of for nine years. It was said he had been devoured by a hyena. But in the end he reappeared and told his story. He was sleeping one night on the threshing floor to protect his store of dhurra when he was awakened about midnight by a sound of voices drawing near. Supposing it to be the tax-gatherer and his assistant "Khayâleh," he lay quite still for fear of being beaten.

But it was a party of Jinn, and, as, at lying down, he had neglected through weariness to invoke the protection of Allah, so now, sudden fear kept him from using that simple precaution, and left him at the mercy of the demons. He did not realize who they were till it was too late and had become their victim. All he knew at first was that a woman came and smote his forehead, and the blow bereft him of all strength of will. She made him follow her, and he obeyed blindly.

When they had gone some distance from the threshing floor she told him she was his wife, and that, unless he submitted to her desire, her brothers who had seen him follow her, would kill him horribly. Soon afterwards her brothers came up, when he saw that they were jinns. They told him he had become one of themselves, and would thenceforth be invisible to the eyes of men.

Nine years he belonged to the Jinn, and took part in all their depredations, till one day, when they were lying hid among some ruins, he noticed how his companions kept away from one of the walls on which was a luxuriant growth of feyjan or rue, and himself, out of curiosity went towards it. At a shriek from his jinnìyeh of "Don't go near those plants!" he ran and plucked whole handfuls from the wall. Then, looking around, he saw that the Jinn had vanished, and he was free to return to his human family.

When the fellahìn, his neighbors, disbelieved this story, he asked after a woman named "Ayesha," and was told that her husband had repudiated her because she robbed him and gave his goods to her brothers. There was no other supposition that could account for the way things vanished from his house. Thus, one day, he had filled a large "khâbieh" or mudbuilt bin with barley, but when he opened it on the morrow it was empty, and, in spite of his wife's protestations, he believed her to be the thief.

The man who had been with the Jinn explained that he had asked for the woman on purpose to prove her innocence and his own truthfulness. He had been present when the barley was carried off by the Jinn, who knew that the Divine Name was not habitually called upon in that house. Other things that had been missed from the village while he was away had been carried off in like manner. 

Since that time everyone has been careful to gather handfuls of the plant rue, and to keep it in his house. And no good man will begin a piece of work without invoking Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. And no respectable woman will take even a handful of flour from its receptacle without likewise calling on the Most High.

Source: Folklore of the Holy Land--Muslim, Christian, and Jewish by J. E. Hanauer. Edited by Marmadeke Picktall. London: Duckworth and Company, 1907, 1910.

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Africans in the Arabian Gulf—Well, one interesting indicator of that is names.  You have people who are identifying themselves as affixed to tribes.  They have Bedouin tribal names, and in some ways this parallels the way that, for example, a slave in the United States would have the name of the family that owned him.  Washington.  Jefferson.  These are the names of African Americans today.  They reflect the fact that their origins were those slave-holding families.  You have similar relationships and nomenclature in the Gulf, names that I heard and asked people about, who were obviously of African stock.   I'd say, "This is obviously a Nejdi Tribal name, and yet you would appear to be not have Bedouin origin, but of African origin, or some combination."  So he would say, "No, my family goes back a long way as clients of that tribe.” 

“Clients” denotes a range of relationships to a patriarchy that has included slaves and indentured servants.  So I'm certain that that could have happened in the 19th century, but it also could have happened much earlier as well.

In general—and this is a broad generalization—I think it is fair to say that in the Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, a large number of African ethnics who are nationals in those countries are lower on the socioeconomic ladder.  That said, there are notable exceptions, including senior people in politics and government in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.  When you have conversations with Gulf nationals of African origin, they are not necessarily acculturated to welcoming discussions of family genealogy and African roots, or asking the sorts of questions that might help situate their particular family history in the context of broader histories of cultures and peoples in Africa.  So it is not necessarily common to find people who'll wax poetic on their family origin, and their odyssey from Africa, and in some circles it's kind of a taboo topic as well.  People don't like to dwell on the slave history of the country. AfroPop

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Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification (2009)

By David Waldstreicher

Taking on decades of received wisdom, David Waldstreicher has written the first book to recognize slavery’s place at the heart of the U.S. Constitution. Famously, the Constitution never mentions slavery. And yet, of its eighty-four clauses, six were directly concerned with slaves and the interests of their owners. Five other clauses had implications for slavery that were considered and debated by the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and the citizens of the states during ratification. This “peculiar institution” was not a moral blind spot for America’s otherwise enlightened framers, nor was it the expression of a mere economic interest. Slavery was as important to the making of the Constitution as the Constitution was to the survival of slavery.By tracing slavery from before the revolution, through the Constitution’s framing, and into the public debate that followed, Waldstreicher rigorously shows that slavery was not only actively discussed behind the closed and locked doors of the Constitutional Convention, but that it was also deftly woven into the Constitution itself.

For one thing, slavery was central to the American economy, and since the document set the stage for a national economy, the Constitution could not avoid having implications for slavery. Even more, since the government defined sovereignty over individuals, as well as property in them, discussion of sovereignty led directly to debate over slavery’s place in the new republic.

Finding meaning in silences that have long been ignored, Slavery’s Constitution is a vital and sorely needed contribution to the conversation about the origins, impact, and meaning of our nation’s founding document.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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Ataturk: Lessons in Leadership

from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire

by Austin Bay


Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Muslim visionary, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey. The West knows him best as the leading Ottoman officer in World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli—a defeat for the Allies, and the Ottoman empire’s greatest victory. Gaining fame as an exemplary military officer, he went on to lead his people in the Turkish War of Independence, abolishing the Ottoman Sultanate, emancipating women, and adopting western dress. Deeply influenced by the Enlightenment, Atatürk sought to transform the empire into a modern and secular nation-state, and during his presidency, embarked upon a program of impressive political, economic, and cultural reforms. Militarily and politically he excelled at all levels of conflict, from the tactical, through the operational, to the strategic, and into the rarified realm of grand strategy.

His ability to integrate the immediate with the ultimate serves as an important lesson for leaders engaged in the twenty-first century’s great military struggles. He became the only leader in history to successfully turn a Muslim nation into a Western parliamentary democracy and secular state, leaving behind a legacy of modernization and military and political leadership.

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I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters 

Edited by Michael G. Long

Bayard Rustin has been called the “lost prophet” of the Civil Rights Movement, a master strategist and organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and a deeply influential figure in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Despite these achievements, Rustin often remained in the background, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Published on the centennial of his birth, and in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters  are his words shining through a collection of more than 150 of Rustin’s letters. His correspondents include major figures of his day — for example, Eleanor Holmes Norton, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker and of course, Martin Luther King Jr. “I have file boxes full of Rustin’s letters that I tracked down in archives across the country,” said book editor Michael G. Long.

“The time it took to complete the research was much longer than I had predicted, not just because of the number of letters I had in hand, but also especially because for their high quality. It was incredibly difficult to weed out those letters I really liked but that did not serve the purpose of putting together a publishable narrative of letters. And there are quite a few of those that are topically fascinating but not easily fitting for a narrative.”phillytrib

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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