Arizona has had many visitors from many parts of the world. Generally speaking we don’t think of Muslims in the wild West. But Hadji Ali was there. He was a living legend across the American West. He died in 1902 in Quartsite, Arizona.
From AZ Central -
He died almost 97 years ago, but his name is still immediately recognized here. His tombstone is the largest monument in the city. It’s topped by a copper camel and it attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The person under consideration here came to this country as Hadji Ali, but when he died, most people knew him as Hi Jolly.
From Wikipedia -
As near as anyone can determine, he was born of Jordanian Bedouin parentage in Jordan in the region of Greater Syria around 1828. Hi Jolly, originally named Ḥājj ‘Alī, was an Ottoman citizen. He worked for the Ottoman armed forces and he was a breeder and trainer of camels. Some sources allege that he took the name Hadji Ali during his early life after making the pilgrimage to Mecca. The title hajji was given when, as a Muslim, he made the Hajj pilgrimage. Other sources report that his mother was of Greek origin and his father was Syrian.
Why the name, Hi Jolly? Well, then as now, Americans cannot pronounce names from that part of the world. I have always thought that Hi Jolly’s story would make a good Western television series. He traveled all across the Southwest in the 1850′s, lived through the Civil War, ran a shipping business, prospected for gold, married, had children,participated in Crook’s campaign against the Sioux – he lived the history of the Wild West from the 1850′s to the closing of the frontier in 1900.
It drives me crazy when Americans lump all the followers of Islam into one angry group of terrorists, when the fact is that there are a billion and a half Muslims divided into many factions often with little interest in the United States.
Hadji Ali became an American citizen and was here when it was tough going. I’m proud to live in a country that can claim such figures as Hi Jolly.