The Melungeons

Dr. A. Zahoor
(Copyright 1998, All Rights Reserved)

Books and E-Books
On Muslim History and Civilization

The word 'Melungeon' probably originates from the Arabic ‘Mudajjan’ which means one who is dark, gloomy, tamed, servile, domesticated. A variation of this word ‘Mudajjal’ from which ‘Mudejar’ is derived was widely used in fourteenth century for all the Muslims in Spain who continued to live outside the remaining Muslim kingdom of Granada. It was originally used as a term of ridicule for the Muslims who made pacts with the Christians and fought their fellow Muslims while siding with the Christians. It was also used to describe all the Muslims who remained in the North after first wave of persecution by the Church, and who worked for the Christian nobles on their large country estates. The Turkish term 'Melun-can' which is pronounced identically to Melungeon means "one who has been abandoned."

It is likely that Muslims who spoke Spanish preferred the term ‘Mudejar’ over ‘Mudajjan’ in view of their prevailing circumstances, and it would have been much preferred by their descendants a few generations later who probably had little if any direct contact with their fellow Muslims in southern Spain before the fall of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada in 1492. A large population of Muslim Granada knew only Arabic as recorded in the 1499 campaign of Cardinal Ximenes to convert them all to Christianity. These Arabic speaking Muslims and their descendants in their prevailing sad state of affairs would have either used or accepted the term ‘Mudajjan’ to identify themselves wherever they settled. This would also be the case for those Arabic speaking Muslims - Spanish, North African and Turks - who were taken as captives by sea pirates in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic close to northwest Africa, and may include some of those who were already settled in the Carribean about whom Christopher Columbus wrote in his travelogue.

Genetic and medical studies suggest that there is no significant difference between Melungeons and populations in the Galician Mountain region of Spain and Portugal, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Northern Iraq, Northern Iran, Turkey and Greece. Cultural and linguistic evidence suggest the Iberian (Moorish) and Ottoman origins. Many American words originally used by various Indian tribes and Melungeons have close linguistic connection with Turkish and Arabic words, e.g., Allegheny (Allah genis), Alabama (Allah bamya), Arkansas (Ar Kan Sah), Appalachian (Apa-la-che), Cherokee (Shar-kee), Lenni-Lanape (La-ani la-nabi), Micanopy (Mekka-nabi), Meherrin (Muharrem), Marrapough (mar-rah-pooch), Vallah olum (Wallahu Aalam), Kentucky (Kan Tok) and Tennessee (Tenasuh).

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Allah: Allah is the proper name in Arabic for The One and Only God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is used by the Arab Christians and Jews for the God ('Eloh-im' in Hebrew; 'Allaha' in Aramaic, the mother tongue of Jesus, pbuh). The word Allah does not have a plural or gender. Allah does not have any associate or partner, and He does not beget nor was He begotten.
pbuh: Peace Be Upon Him. This expression is used for all Prophets of Allah.


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Copyright © 1998 Dr. A. Zahoor
All Rights Reserved