“The Fortunate Slave” is a famous painting painted by William Hoare in 1734. What makes this painting extraordinary is that among all the paintings of the famous English men and women of the 18th century, this is the very first in which the subject is black. So, who is this man?
He is Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (1701-1773).
Diallo was born and raised in Eastern Senegal to a prominent Muslim family. Always known for his great intelligence and memory from a young age, by the time he was fifteen Ayuba had memorized the entire Qur’an and familiarized himself with the Malaki School of Islamic Law.
Unfortunately for Diallo, his life critically changed; from one of study and scholarship to the horrors of slavery. Sinegal was a major victim to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. By the age of forty he was captured, enslaved and shipped to the United States.
Despite the cruelty and abuse he faced he always remained devoted to his Islamic identity and rituals, going to nearby woods to pray five times a day. After his owners humiliated him he flee the plantation before being recaptured and prisoned. By his own enterprise, and assisted by a series of spectacular strokes of fortune, Diallo arrived in London in 1733.
What happened to him after that? How did he remain stable and committed to his Islamic identity? How was depicted in this famous painting? What about the red book hung around his neck in the painting?
How did he impact Britain’s understanding of West African culture, black identity and, most importantly, of Islam? WHat do we learn from his life journey?
Learn about this and listen to the Story of “The Fortunate Slave”…
Source: Digital Mimbar