Zanj

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The Swahili coast Swahili coast.png
The Swahili coast
The Bantu inhabited areas. Bantu area.png
The Bantu inhabited areas.

Zanj (Arabic : زَنْج, adj. زنجي, Zanjī; Persian : زنگی, romanized: Zangi; Turkish : Zencî) [1] [2] was a name used by medieval Muslim geographers to refer to both a certain portion of Southeast Africa (primarily the Swahili Coast) and to its Bantu inhabitants. [3] This word is also the origin of the place-names Zanzibar ("coast of the Zanji") and the Sea of Zanj.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian subdivision of the Indo-European languages. It is a pluricentric language predominantly spoken and used officially within Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in three mutually intelligible standard varieties, namely Iranian Persian, Dari Persian and Tajiki Persian. It is also spoken natively in the Tajik variety by a significant population within Uzbekistan, as well as within other regions with a Persianate history in the cultural sphere of Greater Iran. It is written officially within Iran and Afghanistan in the Persian alphabet, a derivation of the Arabic script, and within Tajikistan in the Tajik alphabet, a derivation of Cyrillic.

Romanization of Persian or Latinization of Persian is the representation of the Persian language with the Latin script. Several different romanization schemes exist, each with its own set of rules driven by its own set of ideological goals.

Turkish language Turkic language mainly spoken and used in Turkey

Turkish, also referred to as Istanbul Turkish, and sometimes known as Turkey Turkish, is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around ten to fifteen million native speakers in Southeast Europe and sixty to sixty-five million native speakers in Western Asia. Outside Turkey, significant smaller groups of speakers exist in Germany, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, the Caucasus, and other parts of Europe and Central Asia. Cyprus has requested that the European Union add Turkish as an official language, even though Turkey is not a member state.

Contents

The latinization Zingium serves as an archaic name for the coastal area in modern Kenya and Tanzania in southern East Africa. The architecture of these commercial urban settlements are now a subject of study for urban planning. [4] [5] For centuries the coastal settlements were a source of ivory, gold, and slaves, from sections of the conquered hinterland, to the Indian Ocean world. [6]

Latinisation of names, also known as onomastic Latinisation, is the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style. It is commonly found with historical proper names, including personal names, and toponyms, and in the standard binomial nomenclature of the life sciences. It goes further than romanisation, which is the transliteration of a word to the Latin alphabet from another script.

Kenya republic in East Africa

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. At 580,367 square kilometres (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's 48th largest country by total area. With a population of more than 52.2 million people, Kenya is the 27th most populous country. Kenya's capital and largest city is Nairobi while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu City is the third largest city and also an inland port on Lake Victoria. Other important urban centres include Nakuru and Eldoret.

Tanzania Country in Africa

Tanzania officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoro Islands at the Indian Ocean to the east; Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Zambia to the southwest; and Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, is in north-eastern Tanzania.

Division of East Africa's coast

Geographers historically divided the eastern coast of Africa at large into several regions based on each region's respective inhabitants. Arab and Chinese sources referred to the general area that was located to the south of Al-Misr (Egypt), Al-Habasha (Abyssinia) and Barbara (Somalia) as Zanj. [7]

Chinese people Ethnic group

Chinese people are the various individuals or ethnic groups associated with China, usually through ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship or other affiliation. Han Chinese, the largest ethnic group in China, at about 92% of the population, are often referred to as "Chinese" or "ethnic Chinese" in English, however there are dozens of other related and unrelated ethnic groups in China.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Zanj (meaning the "country of the blacks"), also transliterated as Zenj or Zinj, was situated in the Southeast Africa vicinity and was inhabited by Bantu-speaking peoples called the Zanj. [3] [7] [8] The core area of Zanj occupation stretched from the territory south of present-day Ras Kamboni [9] to Pemba Island in Tanzania. South of Pemba lay Sofala in modern Mozambique, the northern boundary of which may have been Pangani. Beyond Sofala was the obscure realm of Waq-Waq, also in Mozambique. [10] [11] The 10th-century Arab historian and geographer Abu al-Hasan 'Alī al-Mas'ūdī describes Sofala as the furthest limit of Zanj settlement, and mentions its king's title as Mfalme, a Bantu word. [3]

Southeast Africa southeasterly region of the African continent

Southeast Africa or Southeastern Africa is an African region that is intermediate between East Africa and Southern Africa. It comprises the countries Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the mainland, with the island-nation of Madagascar also included.

Bantu languages language family in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Bantu languages technically the Narrow Bantu languages, as opposed to "Wide Bantu", a loosely defined categorisation which includes other "Bantoid" languages, are a large family of languages spoken by the Bantu peoples throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ras Kamboni Place in Jubbada Hoose, Somalia

Ras Kamboni is a town in the Badhaadhe district of Lower Juba region, Somalia, which lies on a peninsula near the border with Kenya. The town is located 274 kilometers south of Kismayo. American officials have said that it has served as a training camp for extremists with connections to Al-Qaeda; al-Sharq al-Awsat reported in May 1999 that al-Qaeda was installing sophisticated communications equipment in the camp.

Zanj territory

History

Zanzibar slave market in 1860, by Edwin Stocqueler Zanzibar Slave Market, 1860 - Stocqueler.JPG
Zanzibar slave market in 1860, by Edwin Stocqueler

The Zanj traded with Arabs, Persians and Indians, but according to some sources, only locally, since they possessed no ocean-going ships. [3] According to other sources, the heavily Bantu Swahili peoples already had seafaring vessels with sailors and merchants trading with Arabia and Persia, and as far east as India and China. [12] [13] [14] However, Zanj refers more to the state of religion than color or origin. The Swahili, a non-contemporary enthnonym, included both Zanj, non-believers, and the Umma, Islamic community. Since Arab and Persian identity is patrilineal, elite Swahili claimed, often fictionalized, prestigious Asian genealogy. Modern misconceptions of cultural fusion or Asian origins developed from the tendency of wealthy Swahili to claim Asian origins and the disproportionate 19th century importation of Omani elements to Zanzibari and Swahili society (standard Swahili is the Zanzibari dialect and thus includes far more Arabic loanwords than the other, older Swahili dialects. [15]

The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group that make up over half the population of Iran. They share a common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language,, as well as languages closely related to Persian.

Prominent settlements of the Zanj coast included Malindi, Gedi, and Mombasa. By the late medieval period, the area included at least 37 substantial Swahili trading towns, many of them quite wealthy. However, these communities never consolidated into a single political entity (the "Zanj Empire" being a late 19th-century fiction).

Malindi Municipality in Kilifi County, Kenya

Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi was 207,253 as of the 2009 census. It is the largest urban centre in Kilifi County.

Gede, Kenya village in Kenya

Gede is a village on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, lying in Kilifi County, south of Malindi and north of Watamu. The Ruins of Gedi are located there. Although not thought to be mentioned in historic sources, extensive ruins of a former port have been dated to the thirteenth century or earlier, including a tomb with a date corresponding to 1399, until at least the seventeenth century. Later, the port was abandoned and not rediscovered until the 1920s.

Mombasa City in Mombasa County, Kenya

Mombasa is a coastal city of Kenya along the Indian Ocean. It is the country's oldest and second-largest city, with an estimated population of about 1.5 million people in 2017. Its metropolitan region is the second largest in the country and has a population of approximately 3 million people. Administratively, Mombasa is the county seat of Mombasa County.

While the urban ruling and commercial classes of these Swahili settlements included some Arab and Persian immigrants, the vast majority were African Muslims. Mythic origins from Persia or Arabia should not be taken literally, but rather as a widespread element of Islamic society to legitimate elite status.. [16] [17] [18] The Bantu peoples inhabited the coastal regions, and were organized only as family groups. [3] The term shenzi , used on the East African coast and derived from the Swahili word zanji, referred in a derogatory way to anything associated with rural blacks. An example of this would be the colonial term shenzi dog, referring to a native dog. The name of a well-known dog breed, Basenji, means 'of the blacks'.

Stone Town in Zanzibar The alleyway in Zanzibar city.JPG
Stone Town in Zanzibar

The Zanj were for centuries shipped as slaves by Arab traders to all the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. (Citation needed)The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs recruited many Zanj slaves as soldiers and, as early as 696 AD, we learn of slave revolts of the Zanj against their Arab masters in Iraq (see below). Ancient Chinese texts also mention ambassadors from Java presenting the Chinese emperor with two Seng Chi (Zanji) slaves as gifts, and Seng Chi slaves reaching China from the Hindu kingdom of Sri Vijaya in Java. [19]

The sea off the south-eastern coast of Africa was known as the Sea of Zanj, and included the Mascarene islands and Madagascar. During the anti-apartheid struggle it was proposed that South Africa should assume the name Azania, to reflect ancient Zanj.

Contemporary descriptions

Arab descriptions of the Zanj peoples have been inconsistent. [19] [20] A negative view is exemplified in the following passage from Kitab al-Bad' wah-tarikh, [21] by the medieval Arab writer al-Muqaddasī:

As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.

In 1331, the Arabic-speaking Berber explorer Ibn Battuta visited the Kilwa Sultanate in the Zanj, which was ruled by Sultan Hasan bin Sulayman's Yemeni dynasty. [22] Battuta described the kingdom's Arab ruler as often making slave and booty raids on the local Zanj inhabitants, the latter of whom Battuta characterized as "jet-black in color, and with tattoo marks on their faces." [22]

Kilwa is one of the most beautiful and well-constructed towns in the world. The whole of it is elegantly built. The roofs are built with mangrove pole. There is very much rain. The people are engaged in a holy war, for their country lies beside the pagan Zanj. Their chief qualities are devotion and piety: they follow the Shafi'i sect. When I arrived, the Sultan was Abu al-Muzaffar Hasan surnamed Abu al-Mawahib [loosely translated, "The Giver of Gifts"] ... on account of his numerous charitable gifts. He frequently makes raids into the Zanj country [neighboring mainland], attacks them and carries off booty, of which he reserves a fifth, using it in the manner prescribed by the Koran [Qur'an]. [23]

Zanj Rebellion

The Zanj Rebellion was a series of uprisings that took place between 869 and 883 AD near the city of Basra in present-day Iraq. Many Zanj were taken as slaves and were often used in strenuous agricultural work. [24] In particular, Zanj slaves were used in labor-intensive plantations, harvesting crops such as sugarcane in the lower Mesopotamia basin of what is now southern Iraq. Harsh circumstances apparently provoked three rebellions in the late 7th and 9th centuries. What is now called the Zanj Rebellion was the largest of these. [25]

Researcher M. A. Shaban states that the Zanj Rebellion was not a slave rebellion but rather an Arab rebellion supported by East African immigrants in Iraq:

It was not a slave revolt. It was a zanj, i.e. a Negro, revolt. To equate Negro with slave is a reflection of nineteenth-century racial theories; it could only apply to the American South before the Civil War...On the contrary, some of the people who were working in the salt marshes were among the first to fight against the revolt. Of course there were a few runaway slaves who joined the rebels, but this still does not make it a slave revolt. The vast majority of the rebels were Arabs of the Persian Gulf supported by free East Africans who had made their homes in the region. [26]

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Kilwa Kisiwani island in Tanzania

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The Swahili people are an ethnic and cultural group inhabiting East Africa. Members primarily reside on the Swahili coast, in an area encompassing the Zanzibar archipelago, littoral Kenya, the Tanzania seaboard, and northern Mozambique. The name Swahili is derived from Arabic: سواحل‎, romanized: Sawāhil, lit. 'coasts'. The Swahili speak the Swahili language, which belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family.

Zanj Rebellion major uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate

The Zanj Rebellion was a major uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate, which took place from 869 until 883. Begun near the city of Basra in present-day southern Iraq and led by one 'Ali ibn Muhammad, the insurrection is traditionally believed to have involved some enslaved Bantu-speaking people (Zanj) who had originally been captured from the coast of East Africa and transported to the Middle East. It grew to involve many slaves and free men from several regions of the Caliphate, and claimed tens of thousands of lives before it was finally defeated.

Sofala geographical object

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The Shirazis of the Comoros are one of the largest ethnic group inhabiting the archipelago nation of Comoros near the east African coast. Their origins are linked to Shiraz and the southwestern coastal region of Persia. The Shirazi people are notable for helping establish Sunni Islam in Comoros, and the wealth they accumulated from trading commodities and slaves.

Sea of Zanj sea in Madagascar

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Swahili culture is the culture of the Swahili people inhabiting the Swahili coast. This littoral area encompasses Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique, as well as the adjacent islands of Zanzibar and Comoros and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi. They speak Swahili as their native language, which belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family.

Kilwa Sultanate

The Kilwa Sultanate was a Medieval sultanate, centered at Kilwa, whose authority, at its height, stretched over the entire length of the Swahili Coast. According to the legend, it was founded in the 10th century by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, a Persian prince of Shiraz. By 13th century, the Swahili coast came under the sphere of influence of the Ajuran Empire.

Afro-Iraqis are an ethnic group that is descended from people of Zanj heritage in Iraq. Most are found in the southern port city of Basra, with many speaking Arabic and adhering to Islam. Estimates shows there are more than 500,000 Afro-Iraqis. The DNA study shows nearly 1 in 10 Iraqi people have African ancestry based on mtDNA study with a frequency of 9.48%, the origins most likely date back from the times of the Arab slave trade of women from Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Swahili coast is a coastal area in Southeast Africa inhabited by the Swahili people. It mainly consists of littoral Kenya, Tanzania, and northern Mozambique. The term may also include some of the Indian Ocean islands, such as Zanzibar, Pate and Comoros, which lie off the Swahili coast. The Swahili coast has a distinct culture, demography, religion and geography, and as a result - along with other factors, including economic - has witnessed rising secessionism.

The Shirazi people, also known as Mbwera, are an ethnic group inhabiting the Swahili coast and the nearby Indian ocean islands. They are particularly concentrated on the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Comoros. Their origins are linked to Shiraz and the southwestern coastal region of Persia. The Shirazi are notable for helping spread Islam on the Swahili Coast, their role in the establishment of the local Arab-Swahili sultanates, their influence in the development of the Swahili language, and the wealth they accumulated from trading commodities and Bantu-speaking African slaves. The East African coastal area and the nearby islands served as their commercial base.

Economic history of the Arab world

Economic history of the Arab world addresses the history of economic activity in the Arabic-speaking countries and the stretching of my Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast from the time of its origins in the Arabian peninsula and spread in the 7th century CE Muslim conquests and since.

Sultanate of Mogadishu

The Sultanate of Mogadishu, also known as the Kingdom of Magadazo, was a medieval Somali trading empire centered in southern Somalia. It rose as one of the preeminent powers in the Horn of Africa during the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries, before being served as the capital for the Ajuran Empire during the early 13th century. The Mogadishu Sultanate maintained a vast trading network, dominated the regional gold trade, minted its own currency, and left an extensive architectural legacy in present-day southern Somalia.

Sultan Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, was the founder of the Kilwa Sultanate. According to legend, Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi was one of seven sons of the Emir Al-Hassan of Shiraz, Persia, his mother an Abyssinian slave. Upon his father's death, Ali was driven out of his inheritance by his warring brothers. Setting sail out of Hormuz, Ali ibn al-Hassan, his household and a small group of followers first made their way to Mogadishu, a commercial port on the East African coast. However, Ali failed to get along with the city's Somali elite and he was soon driven out of that city as well.

History of slavery in the Muslim world History of slavery in Islamic lands

Slavery in the Muslim world first developed out of the slavery practices of pre-Islamic Arabia, and was at times radically different, depending on social-political factors such as the Arab slave trade. Throughout Islamic history, slaves served in various social and economic roles, from powerful emirs to harshly treated manual laborers. Early on in Muslim history they were used in plantation labor similar to that in the Americas, but this was abandoned after harsh treatment led to destructive slave revolts, the most notable being the Zanj Rebellion of 869–883. Slaves were widely employed in irrigation, mining, and animal husbandry, but the most common uses were as soldiers, guards, and domestic workers. Many rulers relied on military slaves, often in huge standing armies, and slaves in administration to such a degree that the slaves were sometimes in a position to seize power. Among black slaves, there were roughly two females to every one male. Two rough estimates by scholars of the number of slaves held over twelve centuries in the Muslim world are 11.5 million and 14 million, while other estimates indicate a number between 12 and 15 million slaves prior to the 20th century.

References

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  2. Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 131 (Kommissionsverlag F. Steiner, 1981), p. 130.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 F. R. C. Bagley et al., The Last Great Muslim Empires (Brill: 1997), p. 174.
  4. Nezar AlSayyad,Hybrid Urbanism: On the Identity Discourse and the Built Environment, (Greenwood Publishing Group:2001), p.39
  5. Pollard, E., Fleisher, J., & Wynne-Jones, S., Beyond the Stone Town: Maritime Architecture at Fourteenth–Fifteenth Century Songo Mnara, Tanzania., (Journal of Maritime Archaeology:2012), p.1-20.
  6. Roland Oliver, Africa in the Iron Age: c.500 BC-1400 AD, (Cambridge University Press: 1975), p.192
  7. 1 2 Raunig, Walter (2005). Afrikas Horn: Akten der Ersten Internationalen Littmann-Konferenz 2. bis 5. Mai 2002 in München. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 130. ISBN   3-447-05175-2. ancient Arabic geography had quite a fixed pattern in listing the countries from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean: These are al-Misr (Egypt) -- al-Muqurra (or other designations for Nubian kingdoms) -- Zanj (Azania, i.e. the country of the "blacks"). Correspondingly almost all these terms (or as I believe: all of them!) also appear in ancient and medieval Chinese geography.
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  13. Kilwa Kisiwani. Medieval Trade Center of Eastern Africa, By K. Kris Hirst
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  16. Horton and Middleton, "The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Community." Oxford University Press, 2000.
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  18. Pearson, Michael, "Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era." Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.
  19. 1 2 Roland Oliver, Africa in the Iron Age: c.500 BC-1400 AD (Cambridge University Press: 1975), p. 192.
  20. David Brion Davis, Challenging the Boundaries of Slavery (Harvard University Press: 2006), p. 12.
  21. from Vol. 4
  22. 1 2 Randall Lee Pouwels, African and Middle Eastern world, 600-1500, (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 156.
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  26. "Islamic History" By M. A. Shaban (1976)