Notes on Muhammad A.R. Webb and his views on lynching and other social problems

Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb

This is a previously unpublished paper written by Dr. Muhammed Al-ahari that he has very kindly allowed Hira Cumorah to publish.

Notes on Muhammad A.R. Webb and his views on lynching and other social problems[1]

            Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb (1846-1916), a white convert to Islam, was a former U.S. diplomat to the Philippines who converted to Islam around 1888 while serving as consul in the Philippines Islands. After he resigned his post he traveled to India and Burma where he gave seven talks on Islam and his conversion.

In 1893, he was the only Muslim representative at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. That year he also started publishing the first American Muslim newspaper – the Moslem World in New York City where he opened an Islamic Reading Room with a prayer room and lecture hall. His newspaper presented Islam as being a faith with values shared by Americans. He also covered current events and social issues – divorce, alcoholism, usury, women’s rights, and lynching.

In the August 1893 Vol. I, No. 4 issue of the Moslem World he attacked the practice of lynching and questioned whether such a practice was part of Christianity. He then went on to condemn the practice which still occurs today of blaming a whole community for the actions of a few individuals. In American newspapers of the time events in Turkey against the Armenians were called Mohammadan or Turkish atrocities. He questioned if lynching should not be called a Christian atrocity using the same logic.  

Today we have police mistreating minorities and the poor. Today we have immigrants scapegoated.  If Webb was writing today, these events would fill the pages of his newspaper. Why not take our place in making the world a better place and learn about the problems within the society in which we reside.

[1] The was one of the daily announcements for Black History Month made in 2017 at College Preparatory School of America in Lombard, Illinois. I wrote after reflecting on an article Webb wrote in condemnation of lynching and racism in America during the 1890s.

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