بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
[32:8] الَّذِىْۤ اَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ خَلَقَهٗ وَبَدَاَ خَلْقَ الْاِنْسَانِ مِنْ طِيْنٍۚ
[32:9] ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهٗ مِنْ سُلٰلَةٍ مِّنْ مَّآءٍ مَّهِيْنٍۚ
[71:14] مَّا لَـكُمْ لَا تَرْجُوْنَ لِلّٰهِ وَقَارًاۚ
[71:15] وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ اَطْوَارًا
[71:20] وَاللّٰهُ جَعَلَ لَـكُمُ الْاَرْضَ بِسَاطًاۙ
[71:21] لِّـتَسْلُكُوْا مِنْهَا سُبُلاً فِجَاجًا
How did I get here? Where did I come from? Who are my ancestors? It would be safe to say that these questions may be asked by every thoughtful human being at least once in their life time. For Black Americans in particular, finding the answers to these questions begins an incredible journey of self discovery.
Black American folk wisdom says, “If you don’t know where you’ve been you won’t know where you’re going.” Our captain and navigator into “where you’ve been” is Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (December 29, 1923 – February 7, 1986), a historian, anthropologist and physicist. Considered one of the greatest African historians of the 20th century, Diop’s scientific ideas have transformed the basic thrust of African studies in the
Cheikh Anta Diop was born in the town of
In 1951, Diop submitted a Ph.D. thesis at the
In 1955, the thesis had been published in the popular press as a book titled Nations nègres et culture (Negro Nations and Culture). Dr. Diop challenged the notions of European centered scholars, who had written
Dr. Diop’s critics contend that his thesis lacked merit and that it essentially supplants and counters one form of racism with another rather than attempting to arrive at the truth.
Seeker after truth who engage themselves in studies should be aware that there are scholars performing inferior research and research that supports prejudicial conclusions rather than ones of discovery. Other pseudo scholars approach scholarship with designs to a political end. Concerning the latter, identity politics came to the forfront in the Black American awarness experience. Identity politics is political action to advance the interests of members of a group whose members perceive themselves to be oppressed by virtue of a shared and marginalized identity (such as race, ethnicity or religion).
Diop left his mark in the realm of the reassessment of the role of black people in world history and culture. Combining an unusual breadth of knowledge; including linguistics, history, anthropology, chemistry, and physics; he uncovered fresh evidence about the ancient origins and common principles of classical African civilization. He believed that people who feel they possess no past of their own tend to be absorbed and assimilated into the governing system, and are made to feel inferior because of this apparent deficiency.
Dr. Diop contends that there exist two theories of human origin: monogenetic and polygenetic. The monogenetic view states that there is one source for mankind; man was born in one place and became different due to the climatic conditions to which he was exposed. Followers of this theory believe that mankind was born in
As an example: during the last Glacial Epoch or about 40,000 year ago a Homo Sapiens Sapiens, currently identified as Grimaldi Man, left Africa and went to Europe. As a result of the extreme cold climatic conditions and over a period of 20,000 years he underwent an adaptation to that climate and evolved into what we conventionally call a White man. The Grimaldi Negroids have left their numerous traces all over Europe and Asia, from the Iberian Peninsula to Lake Baykal in Siberia, passing through France, Austria, the Crimea, and the Basin of Don, etc. In these last two regions, the late Soviet Professor Mikhail Gerasimov, a scholar of rare objectivity, identified the Negroid type from skulls found in the Middle Mousterian period.
The polygenetic opinion claims that man has several locations of origin, which would explain the physiological differences between the races. Followers of this theory believe that man was born in
Aspects of the polygenetic theory (sometimes referred to as multi-regionalism) have been criticized as not based on objective scientific observation. Some critics even argue that the polygenetic theory may be motivated by ethnocentrism and is meant to instill beliefs of purity of lineage. This implied racism has had a negative effect, causing scientists to restrict their hypothesizing to politically correct conclusions.
Dr. Diop reinforces his belief in the monogenetic theory by noting that the polygenetic theory seeks to establish a hierarchy of race suggesting that some races are superior to others. He asserts, if man has the same origins there can be no intellectual hierarchy because all of the races of the world would have the same intellectual history. If the races had had different origins it can be said that they had different intellectual capacity because they all had a different intellectual history. The polygenetic theory is essential in order to defend the notion that there are inequalities between the races. It is for this reason why people have defended the polygenetic theory. However, science has set this theory aside.
It is the monogenetic theory that will support the notion that because our origin is the same we also have the same intellectual capacity. Dr. Diop is not saying that Blacks are intellectual superior to Whites. That would be false. Diop’s insistences are: no race is superior to another. All races have the same intellectual capacity. There is no autonomic difference in the brain of the various races.
Currently, the dominant view among scientists is the Out of Africa Model. According to the Out of Africa Model (sometimes referred to as the Recent African Origin of Modern Humans or RAO) Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved in Africa 200,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens Sapiens began migrating from
The Out of Africa Model has gained support by recent research using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). After analyzing genealogy trees constructed using 133 types of mtDNA, they concluded that all were descended from a woman from
By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, American geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a San Bushman who lived in
Here, important questions arise: Should Black Americans be satisfied with learning only European history and why should there be a focus on Black history? Dr. Diop answered these questions by stating, “Its fine to learn the history of others but you must know your own history first. People who lose their historical memory become a fragile people and they regress. It is their historical memory that permits them to be a strong people. The final question is: in what measure does the works of Cheikh Anta Diop allow one to respond to the challenges of the future? Theophile Obenga, a disciple and a companion of Diop answers this question by stating,” with Cheikh Anta Diop, history is not defined as the study of the past of human kind, but as the construction of the future in the name of life."
Dr. Diop was the Director of Radiocarbon Laboratory at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the
In the introductory remarks of Cheikh Anta Diop we noted that his early education was in a “traditional Islamic school”. His life’s work appears to be a reflection of the Holy Qur'an. Based on the idea that “the proof of the pudding is the pudding itself”, it would be safe to believe that he was grounded in the Qur'anic concepts of man’s creation. Some of the verses that support Diop’s ideas of the origin of the human race and the development of man are in Arabic at the beginning of this paper and may be rendered into English as follows:
Who made perfectly well all that He created. And He originated the creation of man from clay. Then He made his progeny from an extract of an insignificant fluid. (32: 8-9)
O you human beings! What is the matter with you that you fail to understand that Allah does not do anything unless there is wisdom and purpose underlying it? You yourselves are not ready to accept the assumption that you do things with no aim or purpose in view. Why do you therefore assume that Allah, the Most Wise and Al Knowing does things without purpose? Why do you jump to the thoughtless conclusion that He created man with no purpose in view? Why do you fail to grasp the evident truth that your creation has not been the result of a sudden meaningless impulse? It was the result of wise planning and deliberate execution in a succession of stages from one point to another. (71: 14-15)
Allah has made the earth a vast expanse for you. That you may traverse its spacious paths for the development of civilization and also to attain spiritual perfection. (71: 20-21)
One world, one people. That seems to be what Allah is saying in the Holy Qur'an, “O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may know one another.” (49:14) As a counter-measure against ethnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other cultures), etnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other races) and xenophobia (fear of other races) we must internalize the historical reality that the blood that unites us is thicker than the waters of the Diaspora, culture and accents that separate and divide us.
The Holy Qur'an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. II (Part II) and Vol. III, Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud, Khalifatul Masih II.
The Holy Qur'an with Arabic Text – English Translation as Explained by Allamah Nooruddin.
Creation of Man by Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud, Khalifatul Masih II.
The Cultural Unity of Negro
Civilization or Barbarism, (1981), Cheikh Anta Diop
Introduction to African Civilizations, John G. Jackson and Runoko Rashidi, (Citadel: 2001).
Conceptions of History in the Works of Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophile Obenga, Jackson and Rashidi, op. cit; Chris Gray, (Karnak House: 1989).
Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution in Nature, Rebecca L. Cann, Mark Stoneking, Allan C. Wilson (1987).
Genetic and Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Modern Human in Science,
Christopher Stringer and Peter Andrews (1988).
Modern Humans Came Out of
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop Part 1-6, http://www.youtube.com
Created Unequal: Multiregionalism and the Origins of Anthropological Racism, Adam Wells Davis, MA
Thesis (2004), http://www.pitt.edu/~pittanth/grad/research/davisMA.html