Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb and American Orientalism

Amerikan Müslüman tarihinde Muhammed Alexander Russell Webb’in İslâmî misyonu iç savaştan önceki yüzyılın köleleştirilmiş Afrikalı müslümanları ile XX. Yüzyılın ilk dönemlerindeki yarı-İslâmî grupların yükselişe geçtikleri iki dönem arasında ABD’ye gelmiştir. Muhammed Webb’in konferansları, yayınladığı risaleler ve kitapları onun İslam’a olan yolculuğuna ve düşüncelerine dair pek çok bilgi barındırmaktadır. Webb’in müslüman olma hikayesi, Amerika’daki İslamî misyonu 1890’lı yıllarında medyanın güncel konuları arasında olmasına rağmen Webb arkasında kalıcı bir hareket veya enstitüler bırakmamış ve Müslüman Amerikalıların tarihinin diğer dönemleri arasında bir bağlantı kurmamıştır. Bu yüzden onun geride bıraktığı ilmi miras uzunca bir dönem gözlerden kaçmıştır. Webb’in vefatından yaklaşık beş yıl önce “İslam’ın Elçisi” lakabıyla tanınan Samuel Marinus Zwemer (Amerikalı Protestan misyoner), Webb’in the Moslem World gazetesini aynı isimle yayınlatmaya başlar. Fakat bu gazete Müslümanların aleyhine tamamıyla misyonerliğe adanmıştır. Bu makalede New York’un Hudson kasabasında dünyaya gelen Muhammed Alexander Russell Webb’in (1846- 1916) yaşadığı dönemde İslam karşıtı ortaya çıkan fikir ve düşüncelere karşı verdiği mücadeleler ele alınmaktadır.

Muhammed Alexander Russell Webb ve Amerikan Oryantalizm

Research concerning late nineteenth-century American Muslim history has been dominated by the study of one central figure, Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb. His Indian-backed Islamic mission to America is regarded as the first, and consequently the most significant, movement of its time. Webb’s speeches, pamphlets, and books frequently drew attention to his spiritual journey to Islam. Although the story of Webb’s conversion and Islamic mission in America were hot items in the early 1890s press, Webb faded quickly from public memory, and his legacy long remained hidden below academic radar. Five years before Webb’s death, Samuel Zwemer established a Protestant missionary journal bearing the same title as Webb’s journal, the Moslem World, but it was dedicated to diametrically opposing goals. This article seeks to assess Islam’s place within American religious history by examining the life and work of a remarkable 19th century American figure, Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, a white Muslim convert who challenged the prevailing anti-Islamic sentiments of his time. Refuting previously undisputed myths, Webb’s aim wasn’t to proselytize his religion, but to demonstrate to his fellow representatives, as well as the American public, that their concepts of Islam as a violent, non-progressive religion, intolerant women, were unfounded.

Kaynakça

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