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“The Moors of the host wore silks and colourful clothes which they had taken as booty… their horses’ reins were like fire, their faces as black as pitch, the handsomest among them was black as a cooking pot and their eyes blazed like fire; their horses as swift as leopards, their horsemen more cruel than the wolf that comes to a sheepfold in the night…Oh luckless Spain!” description of the Moors written in the 1200s A.D. and cited in, An Introduction to African Civilizations, by Willis N. Huggins and John J. Jackson, New York, 1937, and in Colin Smith’s, Christians and Moors in Spain vol. 1 2nd edition p. 97.

“…all the peoples settled in the Harra besides the Banu Sulaym are black. These tribes take slaves from among the Eshban to mind their flocks and for irrigation work, manual labor, and domestic service, and their wives from among the Byzantines…” Al Jahiz of Iraq born 776 A.D. on the tribes of the region of Northwestern Arabia found in Al-Fakhar al-Sudan min al-Abyadh.

“Though men of Nubia be Christian, they be as the Moors from the great heat of the sun”, written by English Knight, Sir John Mandeville, (died 1372), cited in J. A. Rogers, Nature Knows No Color Line.

“Red, in the speech of the people from the Hijaz, means fair-complexioned and this color is rare amongst the Arabs. This is the meaning of the saying, ‘…a red man as if he is one of the slaves’. The speaker meant that his color is like that of the slaves who were captured from the Christians of Syria, Rome and Persia.” From Al Dhahabi of Damascus Syria, in Seyar ‘Alam al-Nubala’a, (Biography of Eminent Nobles) cited on p. 55, The Unknown Arabs, 2002, by Tariq Berry.

“As for the black sheep, they are the Arabs. They will accept Islam and become many. The white sheep are the non-Arab Persians and the like. They will accept Islam and become so many that the Arabs will not be noticed amongst them.” From the 15th c. writer, El-Suyuti of Egypt, in Taarikh in El Khulafaa quoting Abu Bakr “a companion” of the Prophet’s interpreting his dream. Cited on p. 80, in The Unknown Arabs, 2002.

Terms to know

Al Harrah – large region of black volcanic rock or basalt covering 15,000 square kilometers in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
Hejaz – The Hejaz stretches along the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba south to Asir and is the site of the holy cities of Mecca and


Today, to repeat the old dictionary descriptions (those up until the 19th and early 20th century from Italy to England) about the Moors being “black” has become controversial in some circles. By the mid 20th century (after the development of the “Mediterranean race”, “hamitic” and “Eurafrican” concepts in physical anthropology), as many African countries won their independence many encyclopedias in the U.S. had begun to describe the Moors as simply “Berbers” and “Arabs”, defining them as “Caucasoids”.

There can be little argument, however, about what the Moors looked like for several centuries in Muslim Spain and Portugal because the bulk of the them were derived from the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula who in that time are described by other Arabicized people, whether Syrian, Iraqi or Central Asian as of a “black” or “dark brown” complexion. Ibn Mandhuri a 13th c. Tunisian born linguist said, “The Arabs call themselves blacks and the fair- skinned people red.” (see Part I) This terminology apparently dated from the time of early Pharaonic peoples in Egypt who used the word “red” in the same way.

Both the original Arabians and Berbers who were called “Mauri” or “Maurusioi” in Europe were responsible for the word coming to mean “black”. Isidore of Seville (5th-6th c.) in Spain wrote that the term meant “blacks”, as did earlier Latin and Greek writers.
Today the term Mavri is still used by Greeks to describe black people.

The irony of history is that early Arab-speaking historians and linguists made a distinction between the Arabs in Arabia and the fair-skinned peoples to the north, and contrary to what may be fact in our day, in the days of early Islam, those called “Arabs” looked down condescendingly on fair-skinned populations and commonly used the phrase “fair-skinned as a slave” when describing individuals in tribes in the peninsula that were pale in complexion. According to the text Iqd el Farid or the Precious Necklace of Ibn Rabbu or Rabbih of Cordoba (born 860 A.D. ), there were very few things as “rare” and “unthinkable” as a fair-skinned Arab. Of course, today due mainly to slavery and conversion of peoples to the “Arab” nationality, the opposite is thought to be true by many in the West.

As have others before them, the author of The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain, Abdul Wahid Taha, used original sources to detail the settlement of early Arabian Muslims, as well as the later-comers from Syria and elsewhere. Arabians were well into the 14th century usually described as jet black to dark brown and “woolly” or” kinky” haired in texts, whether the authors were early Romans, Midieval Europeans , Syrians, Turks, Iranians or indigenous Arabians. Those Arabs in the peninsula who were no longer dark were considered to have slave origins or had settled among Syrian and other non-Arab populations of fair or “red” complexion. Thus, in the time of Mohammed, a section of the Yashkur clan of the Bakr bin Wa’il (see below) are described in a text and said to have been “so fair in color as if they were slaves.” (See Berry, 2002, p. 61, quoting el-Esfahani in Kitaab el Aghani, vol. 16)

Apparently one can read such a statement in the Kitab al Aiman or Book of Oaths, which in Book 015, Number 4046 says “ We were sitting in the company of Abu Musa that he called for food and it consisted of flesh of fowl. It was then that a person from Banu Ta’im visited him. His complexion was red having the resemblance of a slave.” The Arabs in fact were so “black” that like the Africans they used the term “white” as in the other “dark continent” or Africa, referred to people of plainly brown color with clear skins who were of a very dark tone such as Tuareg and some of the Fulani population in the Sahara (which is why many brown skinned African Americans still are referred to as white when traveling to African countries.) Meanwhile the color of fair-skinned Syrians, Persians, etc. and Europeans was called “red”, while the color of many sub-Saharan Africans were either referred to as “brown” or “green” and only those literally black were called “black” or “jet black”.

The memory of the blackness of the “Moors” as they appeared for over 1,000 years in Europe was so persistent that most dictionaries in.Europe from the British Isles to Germany and Italy continued to describe the word as meaning “the black man” until the early 20th century. (See J.A. Roger’s book, Nature Knows No Color Line for these references.) The phrase “woolly haired” like a Moor as used by the Roman satirist Martial, and descriptions of Moors as “black as jet”, “blacker than ink” (Chanson de Rolande), “black as Satan”(Cantiga 185 of Spain 13th, c.), “black as a Moor”, “black as melted pitch” (Corippus 6th c. and ‘Chanson de Rolande’), “black as burnt brands” ‘black as a cooking pot” (Corippus),etc. continued to appear throughout European literature until the medieval period and became associated with things evil and diabolical or malevolent.(Cohen & Le Sueur, 2003, pp. 13-16) As if the world has been turned upside down, blackness in the early Arab culture as in pre-Ptolemaic Egypt and early Dravidian India (according to Marco Polo), was revered as representative of what was archetypically good, holy and powerful, while in European culture even in early times it appears to have been the exact opposite.

Shakespeare, a thousand years after Isidore of Seville in Spain spoke of the word Maure as meaning black, uses the word “Negro” and “Moor” for the same person in his, Titus Andronicus. The Christian Isidore “underlines the fact that Moors are so named because they are black, and their blackness comes from the heat of the sun (9.2.121-23)” (Ramey, L., 2008). The word “Moor” thus came to be used for many populations and individuals who resembled early Arabians and Berbers or Beriberi and thus it is found a surname of certain Saints in Euorpe depicted as black Africans. In modern times, Peter, the Moorish assistant of Santa Claus in some European countries is often depicted as black as ink. As the Muslim Moors in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa began to assimilate with other people in the later centuries of the Moorish civilization the terms “Tannimoor” (tawny Moor) and “white Moor” came to be utilized in some texts in England and Moro came to refer to any relatively dark Muslim in Spain. Thus, the term ‘blackamoor’ is used in later times for Europeans themselves that resembled Africans, or Africans who resembled Moors.

The term “blackamoor” was used for Haydn and other Europeans not because they were black Moors, but because they were black as Moors. Beethoven who appears in some early paintings dark brown color and frizzled hair, was called “the black Spaniard of Bonn” and “the Moor”. (A certain Frau Fischer, an intimate acquaintance of Beethoven, describes him thus, “Short, stocky, broad shoulders, short neck, round nose, blackish-brown complexion.” From R. H. Schauffler, The Man Who Freed Music, Vol. I, p. 18, 1929). Another European mentioned by Rogers had commented that if he was to come back today he would never have recognized himself from most of his portrayals.)

How the term Moor came to refer to Arabians in Europe

The “Mauri” of the Roman and Byzantine (Greco-Roman) eras were mainly the Berbers lining the coasts of North Africa and Iberia. Guiseppe Sergi stated in 1901, “Diodorus Siculus speaks in reference to the expedition of Agathocles , of three Libyan tribes on the coast of Tunisia, the Micatani and Zufoni (see Zafan) who were nomads and the Asfodelodi, who by the color of their skin resembled the Ethiopians” p. 50 The Mediterranean Race. Micatani (also called Uakutameni, Ketama, Mucutateni, Micatani or Maketae in the days of the Byzantine, Roman and Greek colonial settlements) became known as the Kutama or Ketama in later Islamic times. Their remnants are the dark brown people now include the modern Imakitan or eastern Tuareg. The Tuareg appear in African and other documents as people who mixed with “Turks and Tartars”, Syrians and Khorasani merchants from Iran who had settled in North Africa before they moved and settled southward in the Sahel (Niger, Mali, Chad, etc). (See The Bornu Sahara and Sudan by Sir Richmond Palmer).

While the Zenata remnants comprise the modern Iforas or Ifuraces Tuareg of Mali who came from Tripolitania and Libya (called Beni Ifren or Yafren in Muslim texts and Pharusii and Afren in early Latin and Greek texts), Maghrawa and Nafusa or Nafusawa and other dark-skinned Berbers of the Sus and Darawa or Draa. Thus Sergi stated, the oases if Nafzawa and Wed Suef and Wed Regh and other Berbers of the Sus were “of very dark complexion” . They were claimed as descendants of Cana’an by Wah ibn Munabbih. Ibn Khaldun (a 14th c. Tunisian) considered the Zenata the largest confederation of Berbers in North Africa in his day. (Taha, p. 25)

In the western coast (in the area of the Byzantines) between Tunisia and Morocco were tribes of Mauri named in the appendix to the List of Provinces of Diocletian dated to approx. the 4th c. A.D. The “Mauri Mazaces” or “Mazikes” and “Mauri Bavares” or “Babors” whose name was frequently amended to “Berbers”, and Mauri Gentiani of the Kabyle area are listed in the Roman text living in the same region of Mauritania (the region spanning the coast of Western Tunisia, coastal Algeria and Morocco) with such people as the Phrygians, Armeni, Vandali and Isauri (Sauromatians?). (See Mommsen, T., Memoires sur les Provinces Romaines, Paris 1867.)

The Gentiani or Quinquegentiani – meaning 5 tribes – were so-called because they divided themselves into 5 clans as do modern Tuareg and certain nomadic east Africans like the Beja, Somali and ancient Arabians.

According to Taha and others, by early Islamic times, “The coastal areas in what is now Algeria were mainly controlled by two powers: Kutama in the east and Zanata in the west” (Taha, p. 29). The Kutama were the Berbers of the Little Kabylia (Hrbek and Al Fasi, p. 164). These two clans, the Ketama and Zenetes or Zenata, were notoriously “black”’ and “Canaanites” in early accounts. Interestingly while Ibn Butlan 11th c. Christian physician refers to Berber women of the Ketama, Sanhaja and Masmuda as “black”, with “only a few pale ones among them”, the Buja (Beja) women south of Egypt in Nubia and Sudan he classfied as “golden” in complexion. *

“Several Arabic writers claimed the sons of Berr were from ibn Mazigh ibn Canaan Ibn Ham Ibn Nuh (Noah)” according to “Nafousa: Berber Community in Western Libya”, by Omar Sahli citing Dabbuz. ( Retrieved on-line from http://www.tawalt.com/monthly/fessato_1.pdf , July. 12, 2008.) The Mazikes or Amazekzek or Mazazeces are classified as an Ethiopian population in Roman texts. (See Gsell, 1926, p. 17, who quotes Expositio Totius Mundi), while the “Canaani” in traditions of between the 4th to 9th century are referred to as blacks. (See early physical descriptions of the tribe of Kena’aniyya or Banu Kina’anah of Hejaz in Part I.)

Bernard Lewis quotes a Saint named Ephrem of Nisibis, Turkey, saying that Noah said, “Accursed be Canaan and may God make his face black,… whereupon the face of Canaan and Ham became black…” Lewis on the same page also mentioned Ibn Qutayba of Iraq who between 828 – 89AD asserted, “Wah ibn Munabbih said the sons of Ham were changed into blacks’ some of his children went to the West…Fut settled in India and Sind, Kush and Kan’an’s descendants are the various races of blacks: Nubians, Zanj, Qaran, Zaghawa, Ethiopians, Copts, and Berbers. (Kitab al-Ma’arif, ed. Tharwat Ukasha, 2nd ed. (Cairo, 1969) p. 26)’ ” found on page 124 in Race and Slavery in the Middle East. an Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, 1992.

More famously, a version of the 6th century Talmud of Babylon (Iraq) is said to say about Ham, “because you have abused me in the darkness of the night, your children shall be born black and ugly; because you have twisted your head to cause me embarrassment, they shall have kinky hair and red eyes; because your lips jested at my expense, theirs shall swell; and because you neglected my nakedness, they shall go naked”.

The sedentary Berbers controlling much of the Atlas were Masmuda who were the “blacks” of the writings of Abu Shama of the 1200s, “black Africans” of Nusrau Chosroes ruler from the 11th c. Iran and Ibn Butlan, Christian physician of Iraq.** Masmuda descendants are today also known as Shluh, Chleuh or Shil’ha (ancient Sylli or Psylli) and they had branches on the Mediterranean coast including the Haskura, Barghwata and Ghamara. Masmuda along with the various Tuareg and Fulani tribes of Sanhaja and Zenata settled in Seville, Córdoba, Badajoz, and Almería in the Iberian Peninsula. The word “Berber” referred originally to these peoples thought traditionally to have come in waves from pre-Islamic Arabia and Palestine.***

The main Berber dynasties in Spain included the Al- Murabidd’un or Almoravides – composed mainly of two veil-wearing Tuareg tribesof the western Sahara- the Massufa and the Lamtuna (now the Aulamidden Tuareg of Niger) and the Goddala (anciently “Gaitules” – used in later times for Fulani of the Sahara or Beni Warith or Waritan Sanhaja and the Dara’a or Dra’a) and the Al- Muwahhid’un or Almohades, of Masmuda and Mande (Malinke or Mandinke) origin, between the 11th and 13th centuries.


The Central Arabian region called “the Nejd” extended as far as the Euphrates in early Islamic times. The Arabians that came from this region in early Islamic times are well known and the descriptions of the tribes quite telling. The inhabitants of the Nejd included the clans of Wa’il and Rabi’a or Ka’b ibn Rabia of the Beni Amir bin Za’zaah clans of the Qays. Included in the tribes of Beni Amir or Ka’ab were the Jada’a, Numayr, Muntafiq, Uqayl, Qushayr, al Harith, Khafaja, Kilab and Kulaib bin Ka’b.

Genealogy of the Rabi’a Clans (Rabiyah, Rebi’a)

Rabi’a tribes included the Wa’il (the ibex) ibn Qasit, whose sons were Anaeza (the “she goat”) bin Wa’il (or Ans bin Wa’il) and Ma’aza (the “he goat”), Bakr or Baghira (the camel) bin Wa’il and Taghlib or Taghluh bin Wa’il. Bakr, Taghlib and Ans were son s of Wa’il ibn Qasit. By 1400 A.D., al Maqrizi speaks of the Rabi’a as the most numerous of the Arab tribes in southern Egypt.

The Bakr bin Wa’il and Taghlib bin Wa’il Origins and Descriptions

The tribes of Banu Bakr included the Shayban or Sayban mentioned in early texts of Yemen as a “batn” or clan of the Mahra, a people of Oman and Hadramaut. The Mahra as mentioned in previous articles are described in Arabia as a people “tall” and “dark brown” and fuzzy- haired who claim to have come from remote times from Africa. Other Mahra related clans of the Bakr known as Hanifah (now Khanafir of the Yemamah area) and Yashkur (represented recently by the Mahra clan of Bait Ishkaron) were also settled in the Yemamah region of Nejd. In the this region was the town of Al Falaj (Peleg) controlled by the Kab subdivision of Beni Amir ibn Sa’sa’ah, which in the 6th century extended toward the southern part of “Aliyat Nejd”.

A 1993 reprint of E.J. Brill’s First Encyclopedia of Islam,1913-1936, Volume IX notes that Dawasir (Banu Daws or Dushariya) claimed Taghlib as one of their branches. Dawasir were descendants of the Ad-Daus or Daws of the early Azd and had lived in the Yemamah in the southern part of Nejd in early times. In the same area was the town of Al Falaj (Peleg) controlled by the Kab subdivision of Beni Amir ibn Sa’sa’ah who in the 6th century extended toward the southern part of Aliyat Nejd. Jadah, “a division of the Ka’b” were defeated north of al Falaj by the Hanifah of the Bakr bin Wa’il.” (from Najd Before the Salafi Reform Movement).

Descriptions of the appearance of the Dawasir in the writings of 19th c. Europeans are similar to the descriptions of the other inhabitants of the Nejd. One source from 1829 reads, “The Dowaser are said to be very tall men, and almost black. In former times they used to sell at Mekka ostrich feathers to the northern pilgrims, and many pedlars of Mekka came here in winter to exchange cotton stuffs for those feathers.” See John Lewis Burkhardt, Travels in Arabia. Vol. 1.


The British came to know the Dowaser (Dawasir) through their piracy in the Persian Gulf.

According to, The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain, (Taha & Taha, 1989), the tribes of Bakr bin Wa’il “settled in the whole of Elvira and Calatrava” in Spain. While the Taghlib bin Wa’il inhabited Priego. The clan of Matruh also of the Bakr settled 100 kilometers northwest of Granada.

The movement of the tribe of Namir ibn Qasit was the last major movement of the Bakr bin Wa’il ibn Qasit (or Casit) from Yemamah into Iraq. Numayr ibn Casit settled in Barajila in Spain. Other sub-groups of Bakr settled in Iraq were the Ijl and Dil or Dhuhl. According to tradition the Namir or Numayr ibn Casit had actually occupied Babylon in ancient times. The name of Kassit probably corresponds to the Biblical Khasdim or Kushites of Chaldea. As other Arab genealogists say Numayr was son of Arfakshad (or Aur Khasdim which Kamal Salibi identifies with the name of Wariyah Maqsud in the southern Hejaz near Yemen. (See The Bible Came from Arabia, 1982)

Ka’b Bin Rabia bin Amir bin Sa’sa’ah: Settlements in Arabia

Having left the Hejaz of Western Arabia before the Christian era, many of the tribes of of the Hawazin were domiciled in Central Arabia (the Nejd) with a stronghold in Yemamah at the time of the Prophet. After taking up the banner of Islam the tribe of Ka’ab bin Rabia, a son of Beni Amir bin Za’za’ah, and Ka’ab’s descendants, Uqayl bin Kaab, Muntafiq bin Uqayl bin Kaab (to whom belonged the tribe Khuza’il), Jada’ah bin Ka’ab, Kilab and Kulaib bin Ka’b, Al Harish bin Ka’b and their sub-clans left the southwest of Yemamah (north of the Rub al Khali) around the 8th-9th century and headed for Iraq and Syria in support of other Arabian followers of Mohammed who had settled those countries.

During the Abbasid era which began in the 8th c., most of the Hawazin clans of the Banu ‘Amir bin Za’za’a moved from southern Najd into Iraq and Syria.

The Uqayl bin Ka’b were among the last to leave, settling on the banks of the Euphrates controlling Mosul (Mawsil)and other regions of Mesopotamia. They first came to power in Diyarbakr where they served as a buffer against the Kurds. According to Iraq After the Muslim Conquest, already in the area of the southwestern Euphrates were offshoots of the Namir ibn Casit, Banu Taghlib bin Wa’il and Bakr bin Wa’il ibn Casit who had settled in the region in the pre-Islamic Christian era coming from the Yemamah region. (see Morony, p. 218) (Also, many early pre-Islamic tribes of Central Arabia were Christian before being converted to Islam.0

By the 16th century, the clans of Ka’ab son of Rabia of the Banu Amir bin Za’za’a began immigrating to Iran from Iraq settling in the Khuzestan region of Iran. By the late 19th century, they were comprised of a group of tribes still “near black” in color living in the region of Khuzestan, Iran and around the Persian Gulf and the Shott al Arab where the Tigris meets the Euphrates in southern Mesopotamia. They were the Kaab, (Cha’ab or Chub), Kuleib, Kilab, Al Muntafik (or Afek), Khuza’il, Khafajah, Uqayl or Aqil, and Jada or Iyad, all documented descendants of Beni Amir bin Sa’sa’a of the Hawazin bin Mansour who in turn descended from the Qays bin Ailan.

19th Century Physical Descriptions of the Banu Rabia bin Amir bin Za’za’ah

The Iranians called the Ka’ab or Cha’ab, the “Tsiab”. While it has also been written Chub. In 1881 G. Rawlinson wrote, “The Cha’ab Arabs, the present possessors of the more southern parts of Babylonia are nearly black and the ‘black Syrians’ of whom Strabo speaks seem to represent the Babylonians.” From The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: Or, The History, Geography, and Antiquites of Chaldœa, Assyria, Babylon, Media, and Persia, Vol. II

Elsewhere, Rawlinson refers to the Ka’b of the Banu Amir and their sub-tribe of Montefik (or the al-Muntafiq bin Uqayl bin Ka’b) as having the complexion similar to that of “Abyssinians” and “Galla” Ethiopians. from Vol. 1 of The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient World: Or, The History, Geography, and Antiquities of Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Perisa parthia and Sassanian aor new Persian Empire. , Vol. 1 (07) p.35.

In 1885, the British Surgeon General Edward Balfour put out The Encyclopedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia, which in copying Rawlinson speaks of them as a “tall, martial race, strong limbed and muscular” well known for their pirate exploits in the Persian Gulf. They still occupy at this time “the lower part of Mesopotamia”.

1894 – Another adventurer describes the Banu Amir bin Sa’Sa’ah Arabs domiciled in Iran (Khuzestan) in the 19th century. “The faces and limbs of these Arabs were almost black from constant exposure to the sun. They were nearly naked and their hair was plaited in long tresses shining with grease…” p. 85 of Henry Layard’s, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana and Babylonia, published 2003 – first publishing 1894. (Muntafiq, Afiq or Afej bin Uqayl “a subdivision of the Khaza’il” were called “the most powerful tribe in southern Babylonia” see in E.J. Brills First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913 – 1936 ) by M. Th. Houtsma. The Khafaja, a branch of the Muntafik commanded the road from Basra to Kufa in Mesopotamia (Iraq) as late as the the 19th century.

The Khaza’il inhabitants of the town of Lamlun are also described both as resembling the Bishariin who live in Nubia and Sudan and as “Melanian” by Lenormant. (See also Richard Francis Burton The Book of the Sword republication in 2006, fn. on p. 143. According to Henri Lenormant in, Magie Chez les Chaldaeans, “Part of the marshy region around the Persian Gulf was inhabited by people who were nearly black. A remnant of these are yet extant in the Lamlun whom the French traveler, Texier has described and who are allied …to the Bisharis…” p. 518-519. The Bishari are located in Sudan.

Ka’ab bin Rabi’a, of the Banu Amir: Their Settlements of “Moorish” Spain

In the early Islamic era on of the leader of the Kab bin Amir bin Sa’sa’a (Za’za’a) tribe was Sulayman bin Shihab. “Some of his kinsmen settled in a village called Tighnar, Tignar, northwest of Granada.” (Taha & Taha, p. 136).

The clan of Uqayl bin Ka’b bin Amir lived in Jaen, Guadix and Manisha, Mentesa in Spain. (Taha & Taha, p. 144). Two clans of the al Muntafiq bin Uqayl bin Ka’b settled Spain in Guadix. They were known as Banu Sami and Banu Hajib. (Taha, p. 144), while Qushayr or Qusayr from the Ka’ab bin Amer bin Sa’sa’a colonized Jaen and Elvira.
A 10th or 11th century compilation called, Akhbar Majmu’a fiy Fath al Andalus mentions the Ka’b bin Amir clans of Uqayl, Qusayr, al Harish, Kilab fighting the Banu Muharib clans and the Hawazin bin Mansur and Sulaym bin Mansur over the leadership of Andalusia. (see Taha & Taha, p. 228) The physical descriptions of these clans of the Muharib and Mansur “Moorish Arabs” have each been recounted in both Part I and Part II of this article, as well as other articles on this blog.

To be continued – Part III – Fear of Blackness: Descriptions of the Yemenite or South Arabian Tribes and their Settlements in Spain


Cohen, W. B. & Le Sueur, J.D. The French Encounter with Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880, Indiana University Press, 2003.

Gsell , S. (1926). “La Tripolitaine et Le Sahara au IIIe Siecle de Notre Ere.” Memoires de L’Academie d’Inscriptiones et Belle Lettres, 1926, 43.

Hrbek, I & El Fasi, M. (1992). General History of Africa Africa from the 7th to the 11th Century by Ivan Hrbek, M. El Fasi, Unesco International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa, Volume III University of California Press, p. 164.

Juhany, Uwaidah M. (2002). The Najd Before the Salafy Reform Movement: Social Political and Religious Conditions During the Centuries Preceeding the Rise of the Saudi State.Garnet and Ithaca Press.

Morony, M. (2005). Iraq After the Muslim Conquest. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ramey, L. (2008). “Monstrous Alterity in Early Modern Travel Accounts:
Lessons from the Ambiguous Medieval Discourse on Humanness” in Esprit Createur, (48)1.

Sergi, G. (1901). The Mediterranean Race: The Study of the origin of European peoples The Walter Scott Publishing Company.

Taha, A.D. (1989). The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain, Routledge.

*Eleventh century Mesopotamian Iraqi physician Ibn Butlan, quoted by historian Bernard Lewis, said of the Berber women brought into Iraq as concubines, “Their color is mostly black though some pale ones can be found among them. If you can find one whose mother is of Kutama, whose father is of Sanhaja, and whose origin is Masmuda, then you will find her naturally inclined to obedience and loyalty in all matters, active in service, suited both to motherhood and to pleasure, for they are the most solicitous in caring for their children.”“

**Nasr i Khusrau, an Iranian ruler described the Masmuda soldiers of the Fatimid dynasty as “black Africans”. See Yaacov Lev, “Army, Regime and Society in Fatimid Egypt, 358-487/968-1094?, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 19.3 (1987) p. 342.

***Tradition has it that Canaani from Hejaz who took over Syria and then Egypt from the Hejaz known as Amalekites or Amlukh and,Ad. Under their leaders Teras or Dharis (Diodorus of Josephus) and Shadad or Hadad they ruled in Egypt for a few hundred years and then spread to the Maghreb. Later came other Canaani pushed out from their origin homelands in the southern Hejaz by “Joshua son of Nun” who settled first along the Nile and in the rift region of Abyssinia before colonized north Africa and the “troglodyte’ area of Africa. Among the earliest references to “Berbers” was in the troglodyte area of Ethiopia and Somalia south of Berenice by the author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, written between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D.

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7 thoughts on “FEAR OF BLACKNESS PART II – Dana Marniche”

  1. Correction – *Eleventh century Mesopotamian Iraqi physician Ibn Butlan, quoted by historian Bernard Lewis, said of the Berber women brought into Iraq as concubines, “Their color is mostly black though some pale ones can be found among them. If you can find one whose mother is of Kutama, whose father is of Sanhaja, and whose origin is Masmuda, then you will find her naturally inclined to obedience and loyalty in all matters, active in service, suited both to motherhood and to pleasure, for they are the most solicitous in caring for their children.”“

    Correction readers – This was quoted not by Bernard lewis but by Martha A. Brozyna in Gender and Sexuality in the Middle Ages: A Medieval Source Documents Reader 2005 p. 303

  2. [quote]The term “blackamoor” was used for Haydn and other Europeans not because they were black Moors, but because they were black as Moors. Beethoven who appears in some early paintings dark brown color and frizzled hair, was called “the black Spaniard of Bonn” and “the Moor”. (A certain Frau Fischer, an intimate acquaintance of Beethoven, describes him thus, “Short, stocky, broad shoulders, short neck, round nose, blackish-brown complexion.” From R. H. Schauffler, The Man Who Freed Music, Vol. I, p. 18, 1929). Another European mentioned by Rogers had commented that if he was to come back today he would never have recognized himself from most of his portrayals.)[/quote]

    I’m happy with this quote from Rogers. Yet in some cases he did not realise that the white colour on portraits was fake, as he speaks of Charlotte- Sophie of Mecklenburg Strelitz as ‘a nordic’ type. In reality she was quite brown and frizzy haired.
    This brings us to ‘looking like a Moor’ or ‘being a Moor.’ These people should be regarded as Europeans and African Europeans, who used the images of Moors as symbols of their black identity. At some time they became the nobility and kings of Europe and regarded their colour as superior to whites. The word Moor to me is an old fashioned way of saying ‘Classical African.’ The African type which has all the classical featrures of the African Man: black skin, frizzy hair, subnasal prognatism, flat nose, thick lips etc. The Moor in western art stands for the figure of a symbolic Moor in heraldry and on portraits, and are symbols of blue blood, who were the highest nobility.

    1. I think it s from Rogers that I had first seen the painting of Charlotte-Sophia and his mention in one of the books that she was actually described as a brown or like like Josephine, Napoleons wife who was said to have covered her face with makeup to lighten up. I agree that Moor for a time seems to have become synonomous with the classical black African type.

    1. trying to get information of the Ad,Kush, and or the Ethiopian people in or around Mecca Central Arabia) in and or about 5000 BC, if ANYONE KNOWS Pleas contact Shabazz, doing research on this area in relationship to a broader subject

      1. I have actually posted some of this info elsewhere.

        5000 years B.C. the Arabian peninsula was occupied by the same peoples occupying East Africa as well as some peoples of the Ubaid culture of Mesopotamia. The lithic industries up to that point in the Rub al Khali and other places are tied to the Saharan neolithic industries as well as the Doian and other industries of Somalia and the Horn. Was Mecca even around at that point? Who knows.

        What is known is that a little more than 500 years ago the Chinese manuscripts say this about Mecca and the Hijaz region. See below –

        The Account of Ma Huang of the 15h century reads,
        “… from Zhida (today’s Jedda/Jiddah) you go West and after traveling for one day you reach the city where the king resides. It is named the capital city of Moqie (Mecca)… They profess the Muslim religion. A holy man first expounded and spread the doctrine of his teaching in this country, and right down to the present day the people of the country all observe the regulations of the doctrine in their actions, not daring to commit the slightest transgression.
        The people of this country are stalwart and fine looking, and their limbs and faces are of a VERY DARK PURPLE COLOR ” See Mancall, P. C. (2006). Travel narratives from the age of discovery: An anthology. Oxford University Press.pp.126 -127; Waley-Cohen, 2000, The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese history. NY: W.W. Norton and Company.

        “Red, in the speech of the people from the Hijaz, means fair-complexioned and this color is rare amongst the Arabs. This is the meaning of the saying, ‘…a red man as if he is one of the slaves’. The speaker meant that his color is like that of the Christian slaves who were captured from Syria, Rome and Persia.” From Al Dhahabi of Damascus Syria, in Seyar al Nubala’a.

        What is also known is that many of the remnants of the original people of Ad also known as Azd such as the Dawasir still occupy Wadi Yemamah and Wadi Dawasir in the Nejd (Central Arabia).

        Among the black or near black original Arabs still lining the coasts of western Arabia and the Levant are the Kinahniyya, Qureish, Hudhayl or Hatheyl and Lahiyan (Lihyanites), Tayyi, Huweit’at,. Khath’am, Abs and Dawasir (Azd) to name a few. Kush was an early name for the Tihama region according to ibn Mudjawir. (See G. Rex Smith, A Traveller in Thirteenth-Century Arabia: Ibn al-Muj?wir’s T?r?kh al-mustabir London: Ashgate, 2008 83 Eng. 109.)

        In addition the Kahanim of Arabia in Khaibar 60 miles from Medina were also described as mainly black – “At the end of eight days we found a mountain [Khaibar] which appeared to be ten or twelve miles in circumference, in which mountain there dwell four or five thousand Jews, who go naked or six spans, and have a feminine voice, and ARE MORE BLACK THAN ANY OTHER COLOUR. They live entirely upon the flesh of sheep, and eat nothing else. They are circumcised and confess that they are Jews; and if they can get a Moor (Muslim) into their hands, they skin him alive.” pp. 14-15 (1997) The Itinerary of Ludovico di Varthema of Bologna from 1502 to 1508 translated from the original Italian by John Winter Jones.

        Benjamin of Tudela (12th century) noted that the Jews of Khaibar (Chaboras) also known as Banu Nadir were “descendants of the Re’uben, Gad, and Menasseh tribes and that they numbered 50,000, including scholars and war heroes who fought against their enemies.”

  3. thank you Sister

    im Moorish American, and ive been trying to connect the dots reguarding the lost connection with my people here in America (Blacks and moors)

    i get alot that

    look foward to reading more of ur blogs that relate to my teachings.


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