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24 of the Most Influential Black Muslims in History

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Muhammad al-Jawad (c. April 12, 811 A.D. – Nov. 29, 835 A.D.)

Considered the ninth Imam by the Twelver Shi’i tradition, Muhammad al-Jawad was a descendant of the Prophet and one of the most important Alid figures during his time. Muhammad al-Jawad undertook the responsibility of the Imamate while only 8 years old. His mother, al-Khayzaran (also known as Sabika), was of Nubian or East African origin.



Hieroglyphs from Tomb of Ramses 6 in the Valley of the Kings - Luxor-Egypt

Dhu’l-Nun al-Misri (796 – 859)

One of the most prominent early mystics in the Islamic world, Dhu’l-Nun originated from Nubia and was a legendary alchemist and thaumaturge. He is supposed to have known the secret of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. His teachings emphasized the central role of knowledge (gnosis or ma‘rifa) in attaining higher spiritual realization in Sufism.



Moors in Spain

Tariq ibn Ziyad (d. 720)

Tariq ibn Ziyad was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of what is now Spain and Portugal in 711–718 A.D. Under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I, he led a large army from the north coast of Morocco, consolidating his troops at a large hill now known as Gibraltar. The name “Gibraltar” is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Ṭariq, meaning “mountain of Tariq,” which is named after him.



“The First Islamic Zoologist”al-Jāḥiẓ (781 – 869)

Originally from Basra, Abu Uthman Amr, aka al-Jāḥiẓ, is renowned as one of the most important writers in Islamic history. In addition, he was an accomplished theologian, poet, philosopher, grammarian and linguist. Known as “the first Islamic zoologist,” he authored about 200 books on various subjects. Among his most famous works is his Risalat mufakharat al-sudan ‘ala al-bidan (Treatise on Blacks), an impassioned defense of the superior qualities and accomplishments of the people of sub-Saharan and East Africa.

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