Racial ‘Othering’ in Shi‘i Sacred History #BlackMuslimsMatter

Jawn ibn Huwayy ‘the African Slave’, and the Ethnicities of the Twelve Imams


The Islamic College, London, UK

This paper explores how Shi‘i sacred history and hagiography communicate social norms about race. It problematizes the characterization of Jawn ibn Huwayy in the Karbala narrative as the African slave at the Battle of Karbala and traces the evolution of a racialized portrayal of him in Shi‘i texts. It also raises the question of whether Jawn ibn Huwayy actually existed, or whether he was a racialized construction built upon the stereotype of an African slave who entered communal memory later. It contrasts the ‘othering’ of Jawn through his Africanness against the common perception of an Arabo-Iranian norm, reinforced through drawings of the twelve Imams with Arab or Iranian features. This norm is then challenged through presenting the Imams in an ethnic image which reflects their racial backgrounds (as reported in Shi‘i narrations) to create cognitive dissonance and explore subconscious assumptions about race and divine authority in contemporary Shi‘ism.


Sad how this tragedy is being used to now attack artists, the victims, those who were attempting to lead a creative life… This will now lead to an even more brutal push towards gentrification of Oakland…we need to be vigilant even as we mourn.


the class of trump #thankyouObama

This is the legacy of Obama:

– 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”

– 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”

– 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”

– 76 percent believe “the mainstream media is more interested in making money than telling the truth.”