From Salaam Journal.Org
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THE AFRICAN PRESENCE IN EARLY ARABIA
By RUNOKO RASHIDI
The Arabian Peninsula was early populated by Black people. Once dominant over the entire peninsula, the African presence in early Arabia is most clearly traceable through the Sabeans. The southwestern corner of the peninsula was their ancient home. This area is today called Yemen. In antiquity this region gave rise to a high degree of civilization because of the growth of frankincense and myrrh.
The city of Makkab was considered a holy place and the destination of pilgrims long before the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad himself, who was to unite the whole of Arabia, appears to have had a prominent African lineage. According to al-Jahiz, the guardian of the sacred Kaaba, Abd-al-Muttalib, “fathered ten Lords, Black as the night and magnificent.” One of these men was Abdallah, the father of Muhammad.
According to tradition, the first Muslim killed in battle was Mihja–a Black man. Another Black man, Bilal, was such a pivotal figure in the development of Islam that he has been referred to as “a third of the faith.”
Many of the earliest Muslim converts were Africans, and a number of the Muslim faithful sought refuge in Ethiopia because of initial Arabian hostility to Muhammad’s teachings. It was this relationship which caused Muhammad to declare that, “Who brings an Ethiopian man or an Ethiopian woman into his house, brings the blessings of God there.”