The Role of Christianity in Abolishing Slavery of Blacks and of Islam in Perpetuating it
Slavery was taken for granted throughout Islamic history, as it was, of course, in the West as well up until relatively recent times. Yet while the European and American slave trade get lavish attention from historians [...], the Islamic slave trade actually lasted longer and brought suffering to a larger number of people. It is exceedingly ironic that Islam has been presented to American blacks as the egalitarian alternative to the “white man’s slave religion” of Christianity, since Islamic slavery operated on a larger scale than did the Western slave trade, and lasted longer. While historians estimate that the transatlantic slave trade, which operated between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, involved around 10.5 million people, the Islamic slave trade in the Sahara, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean areas began in the seventh century and lasted into the nineteenth, and involved 17 million people. [...]
Slavery is still practiced openly today in two Muslim countries, Sudan and Mauritania. In line with historical practice, Muslim slavers in the Sudan primarily enslave non-Muslims, and chiefly Christians. According to the Coalition Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan (CASMAS), a human rights and abolitionist movement founded in 1995, “The current Khartoum government wants to bring the non-Muslim Black South in line with Sharia law, laid down and interpreted by conservative Muslim clergy. The Black animist and Christian South remembers many years of slave raids by Arabs from the north and east and resists Muslim religious rule and the perceived economic, cultural, and religious expansion behind it.”
One modern-day Sudanese Christian slave, James Pareng Alier, was kidnapped and enslaved when he was twelve years old. Religion was a major element of his ordeal: “I was forced to learn the Koran and re-baptised Ahmed. They told me that Christianity was a bad religion. After a time we were given military training and they told us we would be sent to fight.” Alier has no idea of his family’s whereabouts. The BBC reported in March 2007 that slave raids “were a common feature of Sudan’s 21-year north-south war, which ended in 2005. . . . According to a study by the Kenya-based Rift Valley Institute, some 11,000 young boys and girls were seized and taken across the internal border—many to the states of South Darfur and West Kordofan. . . . Most were forcibly converted to Islam, given Muslim names and told not to speak their mother tongue.” Yet even today, while non-Muslims were enslaved and often forcibly converted to Islam, their conversion does not lead to their freedom. Mauritanian anti-slavery campaigner Boubacar Messaoud explains that “it’s like having sheep or goats. If a woman is a slave, her descendants are slaves.”
Anti-slavery crusaders like Messaoud have great difficulty working against this attitude, because it is rooted in the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example. Particularly when the slaves are non-Muslims, there is no verse of the Qur’an corresponding to Lincoln’s favored Bible verse, Genesis 3:19, that anti-slavery Muslims can invoke against those who continue to approve of and even to practice slavery.
Read the rest.
For more on the state of Liberty around the world, see here.
Technorati Tags: Slavery, Sharia, Islam, Moral Clarity, Human Rights, National Black History Month