The Global Arrogance and Africa
Hojjat al-Islam Hashmi Rafsanjani
Former President of Islamic Republic of Iran
Friday Prayer Sermon 5: (July 6, 1984)
In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and Allah's peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and upon his descendants, the infallible Imams. I seek refuge with Allah (SWT) from the accursed Shaytan. Allah Almighty says in His Holy Book:
"Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice, doing of good (to others) and giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency, evil, and oppression; He admonishes you that you may be mindful."(16: 90)
The issues which we have so far dealt with include a comparison between Islam's attitude towards the problem of racial discrimination and that of the global arrogance towards it which claims to advocate human rights.
In the last two or three khutab (sermons), we made references to the bad conditions and crimes committed caused by racial discrimination in America and in the Far East as related to the Western arrogant powers. In today's khutbah, we are referring to the black-populated continent of Africa to provide you with a general overview of the oppressions committed on the people of other continents of the world by the whites and their axis, that is, Europe and America. You will hear something about Africa and the blacks, but you, particularly the young generation, know little of what these pretenders of human rights have brought on the oppressed people of this black continent. Our discussion covers the period of five hundred years back, that is, when Christopher Columbus discovered America.
And then the navy and shipping facilities were placed at the disposal of the Europeans, and the arrogant powers moved towards other continents. They gradually brought science and technology at their service and with this gigantic weapon caused havoc to the world. Because the continent of Africa is adjacent to Europe, the distance between the two is very short through the Strait of Gibraltar. These two continents are located on the two sides of the Mediterranean. Europe is in the north and Africa in the south, so it is very easy for Europe to exploit Africa.
In a word, from that day on, Africa was turned into the supply depot of Europe. Such an interpretation is by no means an exaggeration. As far as manpower is concerned, during the period when they relied on man's physical power, Africa provided this power for global arrogance. As far as raw materials and vital economic arteries are concerned, Europe would paralyze even today, if those were not provided for it by Africa. The situation was worst in the past. Africa is a continent with about fifty independent countries, that is, with about fifty votes in the United Nations.
It has one-fourth of the entire land of the world. It possesses great facilities, for instance, 32 per cent of the entire hydroelectric energy of the world is available in Africa. (Hydroelectric energy means electricity provided by water-power from waters, waterfalls, and rivers). about 68 per cent of all the water of the world flows and is dynamic, and if the flowing water of Africa is controlled, it constitutes 32 per cent of the water-power of the world. It stands at top insofar as the mines are concerned. 20 per cent of the mines discovered in the world are in Africa. Many mines in Africa have not yet been discovered, because no one has gone to the virgin forests. 12 per cent of the world's uranium (a chemical element, heavy grey radioactive metal), which is the most important metal needed by the world's top industries, is found in Africa. 16 per cent of the entire oil of the world is so far discovered in Africa. The best and most important copper of the world is in Africa.
Geographically too, it is located in such a way that it has dominant access to the Indian Ocean, the Arab world, and the Mediterranean Sea. As a whole, it is a very sensitive area. One side of the two large straits of the world, the Suez Canal and Gibraltar, is held by the Africans. If these people were left to work and live on their own; today, they would have lived better and with more welfare than the Europeans.
There are some people who say that the Africans had nothing from the beginning. They even feel the Africans owe them something. In European books, the following has been written: "We granted them civilization, knowledge, and hygiene." Now they even hold claims against the Africans, while in these five hundred years, the Africans have lived in the most terrible way possible in the world. Even today, they live in the worst possible conditions.
These problems also exist in Asia and Latin America, but today we are talking about this continent, so that the world and our youth and children would realize what these five hundred million white European people brought on the world, and how much they owe to the world, and how much the world has a claim against them, and why they still deceive the people. These issues must be clarified under this vital discussion on the social justice. In the past five hundred years, Africa has three specific periods: Three hundred years marked the `period of slavery' when Europeans tried to seize slaves from Africa and during this period the most important export item of Africa was slaves. Then there was a `period of official colonization'. Now we will define colonization. They officially called a country "a colony" when they brought it under the rule of the mother government; For instance, France in Congo or Britain in India took control of everything.
After the period of colonization which has been superficially lifted by the United Nations in the recent times, neo-colonialism which is in fact worse than colonization, commenced. The neo-colonialists perform the same deeds in the form of turning the country into a protectorate and other forms. Through slavery, the Europeans took away the breath (life) of Africa. Those who will conduct further studies on the subject can realize what miseries the Europeans brought on the Africans. At least to realize the condition of slave-holding by the Europeans, I urge them to read the book entitled: "Uncle Tom's Cottage"; or, if they have this film they should show it to the youth. Surely, this is only a part of the entire matter. Anyhow the number of the slaves exported from Africa causes one of the complexities of the history.
They put the number between ten to one hundred million. The Europeans themselves say that more than ten million slaves were disembarked on the shores of Europe and America, and were delivered alive. African researchers, however, say that one hundred million slaves have been taken away over the said period. Now we take the same number, as they say, (i.e.,) ten million but truly the figure is much higher than this. They exported the slaves for menial hard tasks to Latin America, North America, and Europe. For example, they put the blacks to strenuous work in the mines, porter ages, tropical farms, ports, and sultry places. They claimed that African slaves had the greatest physique and power to work. The slaves they took were aged between twenty and thirty-five years, that is, the best age for man to work. They did not buy slaves younger than twenty years, and older than thirty-five years. On the other hand, the ratio was two men to one woman. In other words, when one went to buy slaves, he bought ten men and five women (slaves), because larger number of men died in the mines and due to strenuous labour. On the other hand, a large number of these men used to live in places such as the forests and the mines in Africa where there were no women.
They regarded one woman sufficient for two men. In their economic calculations, they had reached the conclusion that an important prerequisite of buying a slave was that he (or she) should have already suffered with the disease of small-pox, otherwise they would not buy them. This was because the areas might have given rise to smallpox and so the slaves might have been affected by small-pox and might have died. The slave, therefore, must have had the scars of small-pox on his (or her) face. They seized the slave by force in Africa, and they had charged the heads of tribes and areas of Africa with the responsibility to take' people as slaves. In other words, two tribes used to fight against each other, and then they used to place at the disposal of the Europeans those captives fit for becoming slaves. There were also brokers who worked in this way. In America and Europe; there were hang-outs where they bought and sold slaves. One of them is this same Lloyds, this big insurance company of the world, which now has as much power in the world as equal to several countries.
There were coffee-houses on the coasts of Britain which were the hang-outs of those who sold slaves. From such a position, it has now reached its present status. They used to bring the slaves on foot which they took from any part of Africa up to the coast. Now see how many of them were killed during the fights and how many were injured while taken captive. This is beyond reckoning. When even general diseases occurred, as they later put down, 15 to 20 per cent of the slaves died in the ships en route from the coasts of Africa to America or Europe. The storehouses in the bottom of the ships were not like now facilitated with beds and hygienic lamps. These were rather storehouses where they kept the animals. The slavers used to hurl the slaves into these storehouses and threw some food for them, so that the slaves ate and answered their calls of nature in the same place. Even when the slaves were bought, they were kept with great tortures under terrible conditions with manacles and had to work in such bad conditions. When they worked in the mines, the gendarmes kept a watch over them, so that they would work properly. They had to work between 12 and 16 hours a day, whereas others worked only 8 hours.
The Result of the Crimes of the Americans and Europeans in Africa
Now I am presenting before you some statistics which are indeed very astounding, interesting, and very expressive. In the statistics drawn out from history (these statistics cannot be accurate but are based on estimation and are relatively precise), in the year 1650, i.e., about 334 years ago in the 17th century, the population of Africa stood at 100 million and of Europe at 103 million. One hundred years later, the population of Africa became 700 million and of Europe 144 million. One hundred years later, Europe had a population of 274 million, but Africa again had a population of the same one hundred million. Fifty years later, i.e. , in the year 1900; Africa had a population of 120 million and Europe 424 million.
In these 250 years, the population of Europe has increased by more than four times, while the population of Africa has been increased by only 20 million (people). All historians are of the view that the reason why the population of Africa has stood the same as before is because of slavery which took away the virile and productive powers, and brought about in their place, the diseases, epidemics, massacres, and the like. In this way, Africa has paid the price for the development of Europe and America. Of course, after the last century, i.e., between the years 1900 and 1983, Africa like other backward nations, has witnessed a leap in population which has increased to about 400 million against 600 to 700 million population of Europe.
As a result of the massive crimes committed by the Europeans against the Africans, the population of Africa has stood the same in the entire period of about 350 years when the world populations have increased by four or five times. The only self-evident reason for this has been slavery in which the Americans and Europeans both have a share.
Now that slavery has been abolished, you may think it was a humanitarian act. It might be possible that some people such as Abraham Lincoln had humanitarian feelings. But on the whole, the arrogance movement reached the conclusion that slavery is no longer of any worthwhile use. When they entered the era of industrialization, a Western capitalist said: "The African slaves are good for agricultural and non-technical work, as well as for the work in the mines, which do not need complicated tools, but for running sophisticated and expensive machines, they are no good, because they damage the machines and paralyze the work."
They realized that slavery is not compatible with the technical and industrial work. They cunningly launched a grand movement and abolished the slavery. The flow of slaves from Africa towards Europe, America, and other areas of the world arrogance was then stopped. The slaves then turned into official workers which you see now. Thus, if the Turkish, Arab, and African workers are taken away from them, their work will suddenly suffer a stoppage. If the butcher French people were able to empty their factories from Muslim workers of North Africa, from the economic and not the humanitarian viewpoint, they would not hesitate for a moment to do so. At any rate, with all the resources enumerated, Africa has presently turned into this miserable form which you are witnessing now.
The Difference between the Per Capita Income and Expenditure of the Poor Countries and Those of the Rich Countries
I will present before you two or three figures of international statistics, so that you would see what crises the Europeans have done to the Africans. They say that presently the average per capita income is about U.S. $ 4,000 in developed countries such as America and elsewhere, but in Africa its average is U. S. $ 140. Of course, this average is not tenable for all countries, because countries, such as South Africa, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria are in good condition. When the average of the income of these countries, as well as the poor countries, is taken, the figure U. S. $ 140 is obtained; otherwise, a country such as Congo has an annual per capita income of U.S.$ 52, and Chad less than U.S. $ 52. Nevertheless, an American has an average annual income of U.S. $ 4,000, but an African has U.S. $ 140 in all.
And the annual income of deprived areas is between U.S. $ 50 and U.S. $ 100. They are sitting on the ocean of oil and gold, but their wealth is spent in European palaces. As regards the consumption in America, the annual consumption of iron and steel is about 700 kg. for an American. That is to say, the consumption of iron and steel for an individual in construction of building, automobile, daily life, and governmental works is 700 kg. But in Ethiopia, an ancient African country, iron and steel consumption stands at 2 kg. It means that an American consumes 350 times more iron than an Ethiopian. In countries such as Chad, there is one physician for every 75,000 people, whereas in countries such as Italy and the developed European countries there is one physician, for every 500 people.
There is no comparison between 75,000 people and 500 people, and there are numerous diseases there. From the day a baby is born until the day that it dies, it is ill and is in need of a physician every day. But preventive measures in European and American countries are such that people normally do not need a physician unless an accident occurs. How could this injustice be acceptable? Of every 1,000 babies born in Africa, nearly 150 die. But in America and in areas which live on African wealth, of every 1,000 babies not even 20 die. This is their health situation.
Presence of other experts is also likewise. Engineers, university professors, radiologists; and so on, all are in the same proportion.
Possibly the Europeans and some of our children might be under illusion when they say: "Africa has been so from the very beginning, but the Europeans have endeavoured and have experienced education to reach such positions." We must say that this has not been the case. The period in which some African countries flourished saw that Europe was leading an uncivilized life. For instance, when the Muslims went to the west of Africa and entered Andalusia in Spain and wanted to take a shower, not a single bath could be found in the entire area. The Europeans were of the view that the bath was the abode of jinn and that if they built a bath, the jinn would inflict them with harm. And the Muslims developed such a civilized Spain that, according to the acknowledgement of the Orientalists, it was the Islamic civilization of Spain which gradually spread all over Europe and led to the development of people there.
During the time of the Pharaohs and thousands of years ago, Egypt was among the civilized countries of the world. The Europeans have still not been able to find the secrets behind the construction of the pyramids of Egypt. All through human history, the area around the Nile River had a brilliant civilization. In Ethiopia, there existed human civilization. In the early days of Islam when Al-Najashi (King Negus of Abyssinia, Ethiopia) becomes somewhat informed about Islam, he was the first person to establish belief in Islam in Ethiopia. And this shows the sublimity of human understanding in this area. In Sudan, Zimbabwe, between the African seas, and in the East Africa, there existed developed civilizations. Now how could it be claimed that they (the Europeans) went there and civilized the Africans?
When Europe was under the influence of medieval thoughts, Africa had dispensed with the Middle Ages in the northwest and the east. The African people had become civilized in areas where the Muslims had gone to.
Now as to why America and Europe have become as they are, I will clarify it in future discussions. Copper, ivory, diamond, gold, coal, and oil of Africa go to Europe. All products of the fine industries of Africa are put to sale in European markets. The European industry also has been set to work through the African work-force. European and American shipping has been put into operation with African incomes. Even the United Nations Organization is run by the votes of the Africans. Fifty of their votes are in the hands of the imperialists who can use them against any member country.
In World War II, France used 200,000 African soldiers who fought on its behalf. It was through the Africans they used to fight. The Europeans themselves seldom used to go to the battlefronts.
The Effrontery of the So-called Advocates of the Human Rights
This is the situation of the advocates of human rights. They embark on novel acts to such an extent that one is astonished at their shamelessness. One of the prominent personalities said that he was on a trip with a European. Along the way, a bird hit his car. He stopped the car aside, went out, picked the bird, and dressed the wound of its leg. He then handed the bird over to the Association for the Protection of Animals to take care of it. Then this matter was given a coverage in the papers headlines. They highlighted: "The conscience of the Europeans and whites is so developed that they cannot tolerate the broken leg of a bird." But it is these very Europeans who massacred large groups of human beings in coal mines amidst poisonous gases and bury them there. These same people flared the flames of war all around the world, and shed so much blood of human beings.
They have special hospitals for their own dogs, yet nothing exists for African children whose wealth is pillaged by the Americans. This is the type of preservation of human rights in the world. But let's get to Islam.
Islam's Treatment of the Blacks
With the onset of Islamic propagation, the African blacks found a safe shelter in Islam. One of the complaints made by the arrogant people of the Arab Peninsula was that they told the Prophet (S) that since he was surrounded by the slaves and the blacks, they did not like to sit next to Bilal, and that they would believe in the Prophet (S), if he drove away the blacks. The Prophet (S) had created such a situation that no one dared cast a humiliating glance at the blacks. One of the friends of the Prophet (S), who was eminent, as per the rites of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period) once addressed a black as: "Yabnas-Sawda "' meaning "O son of the black woman." And this was one of the bad phrases of the nobility of Banu Quraysh. Upon hearing these words, the Prophet (S) became so upset that his face turned red, and the veins of his neck became swollen. Then he said:
"O wretched one, you reproach a Muslim for being born of a black mother. Aren't you ashamed?"
History has recorded that this honourable companion realized what a grave mistake he had committed. He, therefore, gave up reproaching him and asked the servant to step on his face, so that his arrogance would be effaced.
This was the culture created by the Prophet (S). He educated human beings out of these blacks into such fine ones that no one could believe. But with regard to the blacks of North Africa, that is to say, Algeria and Morocco who are known to have a sublime civilization, the Europeans and Americans say that these blacks resemble a European half of whose brain has been removed. For example, from the viewpoint of the Europeans, an Algerian professor is like a common European whose one-half of the brain has been removed.
Treatment of Amirul-Mu'minin, `Ali (A.S.) towards a Black
There is an incident of behaviour of Amirul-Mu'minin (Commander of the believers), Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib (A) towards a black. I will cite it as an example, so that you would see what the criterion of Islam is.
As you know well, the Holy Prophet (S), that is, the Holy religion of Islam, regards taqwa of a man as the worth of man, because taqwa is the criterion both for the individuals and the government. That is to say, if the rulers of a society are devoid of taqwa, they cannot observe taqwa worldwide and cannon realize its real value. Taqwa is a criterion for an individual as well as for a society and wherever it exists in a defective form, it shatters the society. In the book entitled: "Biharul-Anwar"; it is stated that Imam `All ibn Abi Talib (A) was in the mosque when a black man came to him crying. He sat near the place of trial and close to the Imam (A) and said: "Purify me." The Imam stated: "What has happened that I should purify you?" He said: "I have made a mistake and committed a theft, so execute the Divine penance on me, so that I would not be subjected to torment on the Day of Judgment." (I remember that when in a European country, perhaps France - a few persons had presented themselves before a court as being guilty of charges, a big hue and cry was raised in international press and even in the Iranian newspapers highlighting that the people of France have developed to such an extent that even an offender presents himself to the court. Of course, this is a good point, but the Europeans tell lies. Their own hands are polluted with crimes and they have never confessed their own crimes. They always have a claim on the other party. They engage in committing theft but claim to have a civilization. They well inject this propaganda into the people. In the former regime, those inspired by the West had access to the newspaper, books, and other mass media and they always injected these things into the people, so as to make them humble before Western civilization. But in Islam, we have examples which are much more better than this incident in Europe. 1,400 years ago, we had such scenes while now we see that when a negro is admitted to study at the University of Alabama in America, he is greeted with rotten eggs and tomatoes and is finally expelled from the university).
Imam `Ali (A) asked that black man: "What have you done?" He said: "I have committed a theft." (The hand of a thief should be cut off, but Islam does not like the quick implementation of the Islamic penance. In this regard, we have a sentence which has been accepted as a principle of Islamic jurisprudence in the section of Islamic penance. And all Islamic jurisprudents issue decrees on this basis. The sentence is that: If there is doubt about man's sin, the judge should give the benefit of doubt and use it and should not subject the guilty person to penance). Imam `Ali (A) wanted to somehow weaken the confession of this man, so that he would not be subjected to penance. In our judgments too, this principle must be observed and those judges who are familiar with religious decrees - and many of them are familiar with them - should not have the policy to seek records and find witnesses, so that (Allah (SWT) forbid) they would label someone as a thief or adulterer and subject him to penance. They must take into account the slightest doubt and give up subjecting him to penance.
Imam `Ali (A) stated: "Perhaps you are mistaken and were extremely hungry and it is out of compulsion that you committed the theft." He said: "No sir, it was not out of compulsion. I could have worked and avoided the theft." The Imam said: "Perhaps you stole from an unguarded place"; because the hand of every thief is not cut off unless he has stolen something from a guarded place which makes it necessary that his hand should be cutoff. He said: "No, I stole from a guarded place." Imam `Ali (A) mentioned all possible doubts, but the black man said: "No, I am a thief. Cut off my hand. I insist, so that my torment would not be left for the Hereafter."
The Imam cut off the man's hand in accordance with the Divine decree. This man then picked up his chopped hand and left the mosque. One of the opponents of Amirul-Mu'minin (A), who was a wicked hypocrite and who wanted to use every incident against Imam `Ali (A), saw the episode and thought he could well launch a propaganda against the Imam (A). He followed the black man and said: "Who has cut off your hand in this way?" The black man said: "Follow me, so that I would tell you." The black man took the man along into the crowd. The enemy of the Imam (A) asked the black man once again: "Who has cut off your hand?" The black man started praising Imam `Ali (A) and said:
"I willingly went to the seat of justice and the penance has been executed on me with my own will. And I thank Imam Amirul Mu'minin (A) who executed the Divine penance on me."
In the mosque, Imam `Ali (A) was informed that the black slave was praising him in the crowd. At this time, the Imam (A) uttered a sentence in the presence of Al-Imam Al-Hasan (A): "My son, go and bring your uncle - meaning that black man." The head of the great Islamic government, in a public gathering, introduced a penanced black offender who was a real repentant as his brother. Al-Imam Al-Hasan (A) brought the black man. Then Imam `Ali (A) said: "I have cut off your hand and you praise me?" He said: "Sir, you performed your duty and did the best service for me. How could I have answered for this crime of mine during the reckoning process of the Day of Judgment?"
The narration goes on as saying that the Imam (A) pitied the man, placed the fingers of the man back in their place, performed a dua (prayer) and the hand returned to its normal condition (of course, this is not surprising, because the dua of our infallible Imams (A) was granted by Allah (SWT) and they easily did such things but this was not the case in their normal life). This beautiful story which imparts Islamic training, high degree of understanding of a black, and the treatment of the Islamic government towards a black. The raffian Westerners who now advocate human rights cannot tolerate it. At this juncture of my discussion, I conclude that the worst oppression has, in the last 500 years, befallen the black African race at the hands of the white European race. Right now also, it is continuing in newer forms. What was formerly called slavery is still continuing under the name of "protectorate" with the same acts of robbery and usurpation.
These Europeans do not have the right to claim protection of human rights. Those who say they advocate human rights are indeed lying. When they will accept equal treatment of the black and white races, then we will agree with their saying that they advocate human rights.