History of the Moors: Between Origins and Afrocentrist Myths

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he Moors, originally a group of people native to the region of present-day Morocco, bordering the Numidians of the East and various Berber peoples, saw their name assigned to the rest of the Muslims of the Maghreb Al Aqsa (North-Western Africa) region as well as Andalusia. More recently, the heritage of Moorish civilizations, ancient and Islamic, is today the prey of an insane historical revisionism, whose main ideology is Afrocentrism.

Afrocentrism is a predatory ideology whose sole aim is the appropriation of any ancient North African civilization. Its adherents, often African Americans in search of identity or belonging to religious sects, have the ultimate goal of excluding people who are not black and living in North Africa from their own history by portraying them as colonists or invaders of land formally belonging to a supposed black ethnicity.

Whether Egyptian, Greek or Carthaginian civilizations, none has escaped this revisionism that is increasingly sneaking into the American media as well as into the agenda of certain organizations such as Amnesty International, which, in a publication on social networks, declared that the history of the black (American) people was therefore Moroccan, Indonesian, Egyptian and many other countries...

In the case of the Moors, these attempts at appropriation are carried out by a sect called The Moorish Temple of Science. Founded in 1913 by Noble Drew Ali, an African American claiming to be the successor of the prophet in Islam, this organization will work by appropriating the flag of modern Morocco and all of its civilizational heritage in order, and in the false prophet's own words, to give identity and pride to its followers. The ideology of this sect is therefore in line with the Afrocentrist discourse in general, which, if not fought, risks seeing its theories popularized through American cinema, recent historical books and so on.

In this article, the use of the word “black,” an adjective used simplistically and erroneously by American theorists, refers to an ethnicity that is supposed to be united because of its dark skin color. In reality, the majority of African Americans belong to the Bantu ethnic group, which has no cultural, historical or genetic relationship with other African populations sharing the same complexion.

Carte Mauri

Origins of the Moors and Antiquity.

At its genesis, the word Moor, taken from the Latin for Mauri referred to the tribe with the same name in the north of present-day Morocco, this term will describe all the surrounding civilizations (Maurusii in Punic, Maurii in Greek, Mauritania in Latin) as a synonym for the word “West”. Then, and with the annexation of Numidia (present-day Algeria) by King Bocchus, this word will be extended to all the inhabitants of Mauretania just as was the term “Al Maghrib” a millennium later.

The Moors were several groups of Berbers who played a significant role in the history of the Roman Empire and therefore of the region. Leading kingdoms opposing Rome such as Mauretania under Bocchus I or Mastanesosus to important allies and clients such as Ptolemy of Mauretania, the history of the Moors was very well documented by historians of Antiquity in view of their proximity.

Some Roman emperors and governors of Berber origins:

Lusius Quietus and his Moorish cavalry. Romanized Berber prince and governor of Judea. Recognized as one of Emperor Trajan's best generals.
Septimius Severus. Roman emperor of Libyan origin and Berber-Punic culture.
Caracalla. Roman emperor was known for his edict granting Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Empire.
Macrin. Roman emperor of Mauretanian Berber origin.
Ptolemy of Mauretania.

However, according to Afrocentrist theories, the Moorish kingdoms as well as the populations of the Roman domain would have belonged to this supposed black ethnicity, a fact that according to them would be maliciously masked by historians for reasons of racism or other. For others, the Moors were part of the Egyptian world (which they also consider to be originally black people). Finally, the third group considers the Moors to be cousins of the Hebrews (relying on the statues of Jesus in black in Poland).

This is obviously false, as the representations, often in the form of mosaics or busts, demonstrate the opposite. The Moors represented themselves as having a fair complexion and with more Mediterranean features than anything else.

Here is a gallery of ancient representations found in Morocco and currently in various museums in the kingdom.

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Islamic period and changes in the term.

However, depending on the Roman period, this word took on a different meaning. At the dawn of the first Muslim conquests of North Africa, Count Julian's Mauretania and his particular alliance with the Berber commander Tariq Ibn Zyad, leading the efforts of the Arab Umayyad Empire, culminated in the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, culminated in the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, now Andalusia.

Christian civilizations will very quickly extend the use of the word Moor or Moor in English to any Arab or Berber Muslim in the North African region.

These Moors of Andalusia, combining different Arab, Hispanic and Berber cultural elements, will see a civilization flourishing culturally, economically and scientifically.

The Almoravid, Almohad and Merinid Empires are, in the Moroccan context, an example illustrating the continuity of this Moorish as well as Berber component beyond antiquity and well through the Islamic Golden Age.

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Afrocentrist arguing points.

The main points of support for the Afrocentrist agenda border on fantasy or even science fiction. For them, the black ethnic group would have reigned over the world, in peace, until the arrival of Albinos or fair-skinned peoples. These peoples would not only have enslaved them but also erased their history in order to better enslave them. As admirable as it is, this myth unfortunately remains based on a dichotomous vision of the world, opposing blacks, a mono-ethnic people, against a world of multicolored colonists.

Members of the Moorish Temple of Science sect who call themselves real Moroccans.

As for the Moorish Temple sect, they believe that Morocco was a nation located between Africa and America (Morocco => Al Murika =>America). Based on the recognition of the United States under the Alawite Sultan Mohammed III, they believe that America was a Moorish dominion (and therefore managed by Bantus). Finally, they rely on the Moors Sundry Act of 1790 to legitimize their ideas. This law prevented nationals of the Alawite empire from being tried as slaves on American soil.

Therefore, in the absence of scientific and concrete evidence, adherents of this ideology use orientalist portraits and pseudoscience as explanations.

Orientalism is an artistic current that emerged in the 19th century from the curiosity of Europeans during the colonial era. Its artists, often Belgian, German or Hungarian (therefore having no contact with North Africa), will often exaggerate if not give exotic features to the subjects represented as well as their skin color. This colorization was intended to deprecate North African subjects and legitimize a saving and civilizing colonization. There is also an amalgamation due to the fact that the word Mohr means Negro in German.

Elsewhere, if they were not portraits of slaves, they were often also reimaginings of Muslim Andalusia, centuries after the departure of Moorish civilizations.

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An English newspaper calling the Ambassador of the Sultan of Morocco “Ambassador Moor”.

The reality.

The original and modern Moors, that is to say the Moroccans of today as well as the Maghreb populations who have seen this term extended to them throughout history, are not as different as their ancestors.

Moroccan weavers, “Moorish Weavers” in English.

Indeed, even in the middle of the 20th century, the Sultanate of Morocco and its inhabitants were commonly called the Moorish Kingdom.

Moorish embassy in Berlin.
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What science tells us.

Genetic studies, in addition to the stories of anthropologists such as Ibn Khaldun, prove that there is a clear distinction between Moors and populations of sub-Saharan origin.

Y chromosome haplogroup studies (transmitted from father to son) are used to determine the paternal descent of any person. The most frequent haplogroup in Morocco is the E-M35, which is present in approximately 70-85% of Moroccans. This same haplogroup can be divided into several haplotypes, the most relevant in this context being the E-M81 and E-M78 haplotype. The latter were found in skeletons dating back to 7000 and 15000 years respectively in Morocco, making it a testament to the genetic continuity of the Moroccan people.

Indeed, the presence of E-M81 can reach up to 98% in the most Berber regions of the country such as the Souss region.

Arabization, an argument often used by Afrocentrists to explain the complexion of North Africans, has also not contributed to a genetic replacement of the local population because even in the most Arabized cities, paternal ancestry remains mostly Berber of origin.

Of course, there are Moroccans of Arab or other ancestry today, but we'll explore that in another article.

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