Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Jihad in the Americas?
Today marks the 171st anniversary of the famous Muslim uprising in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The slave revolt took place around the time of the Lavegem do Bonfim (Washing of Bonfim), which involves the washing of the steps of the Igreja (Church) de Bonfim by Candomblé priestesses who lead the procession from the Mercado Modelo to the church (my photo above depicts the area where the old Mercado Modelo used to be). Today the procession following the Candomblé priestesses is actually a huge festivity, with drumming, dancing, eating and drinking taking place in the area around the Mercado Modelo and spreading to the area around Bonfim (in the lower part of the city of Salvador). The faithful go to a room in the Church called Sala dos Milagres (Room of Miracles) to leave votive offerings. But I digress…
Back in 1835, the Lavegem do Bonfim (Washing of Bonfim) was just one in a cycle of religious celebrations held at this time of year, and it was during the early morning hours of January 25th, during the festival of Nossa Senhora da Guia (Our Lady of the Guide), that the Malês (as the Muslims were called) planned to attack. For a blow by blow account of this, see the seminal work by Joao Reis (some of which is referenced here)… Some authors believe that this rebellion was a jihad. According to Paul E. Lovejoy, “The wave of Muslim unrest (in Bahia) began a decade after the uprising in St. Domingue, and while the French Revolution may have had an influence, the unrest in Bahia can be better understood within the tradition of jihad in West Africa than with revolutionary events in Europe.”