The African Qurʾān: Ramadan Remedies for Racial and Religious Intolerance

Sapelo Square

by Dr. Rudolph B. Ware

—“We tell you the best tales in what We have revealed to you of this Qurʾān ”—

Qurʾān , Sura Yusuf, 12:3

“The night of my Ascent, I saw Moses who was a tall, brown-skinned, kinky-haired man.”

Authentic Saying of the Prophet, Saḥīḥ Bukhāri, 462

The Qurʾān, as a rule, is colorblind. It is the Universal Book. God cares about hearts and deeds, not skin color and hair texture. So the Qurʾān, unlike other Holy books, lacks racial markers. The only partial exception to this is the specification that the first human, Ādam (as)—whose name meant black in old Arabic—was formed from fermented black clay. Given Ādam’s origins maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that many (probably most) of the tales of the Prophets in the Qurʾān take place in Africa, or that Black folks figure prominently even in stories set…

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