Muslim Slavery

A Georgetown professor says it’s not so bad. Meanwhile, at least fifty million Muslims support violent defense of their religion.

Seems low.

[Update a few minutes later]

A fourth Muslim group refuses federal funds to fight Islamic extremism. Gee, it’s almost as though they don’t have a problem with it.

And more on the joys of Muslim slavery from Rod Dreher:

Just past the 1:00 mark, Brown says that slavery under Islamic law was not comparable to chattel slavery in the American South, in part because the slaves of Muslims had rights. He said it was in fact comparable to feudalism in medieval Europe — something “social,” not “economic.” When the questioner persists in his challenge to Brown’s take on slavery in Islam, Brown goes on to say that it’s an undeniable fact that Muhammad held slaves.

“Are you more morally mature than the Prophet of God?” Brown says. “No, you’re not.”

So, there you have it. If Muhammad held slaves, how bad could slavery really be?

It’s a challenging point, actually: if the Prophet behaved in a certain way, who are Muslims today to stand in judgment of him and what he did? If we say that slavery is evil, are we not implicitly condemning the Prophet as an evildoer? Can a Muslim do that and still be a good Muslim? I don’t know.

It’s worth pointing out that in the New Testament, St. Paul doesn’t condemn slaveholding, which was common in his day, nor does he explicitly endorse it. He simply recognizes it as a fact of life, and tells slaves and slaveholders how to treat each other. (See here for more information.) However, the principles of Christianity led in modern times to the rejection of slavery among Christians. To canonize someone as a saint does not mean that they led perfect lives, only that the led lives of heroic Christian virtue. The only perfectly sinless life was that of Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, it is worth considering whether or not Islam today has within it the resources to oppose slavery, which continues to exist in some Muslim countries. The line I quote above can be used to justify slavery (if Muhammad held slaves, who are Muslims to condemn other Muslims who own slaves?), or, I suppose, to undermine confidence in Muhammad and his teaching.

One of these religions is not like the other.

One of the infuriating things about the Zinnization of education is the notion that too many young people have that America invented slavery, rather than sacrificing over half a million men to end it, at the urging of Christians.

6 thoughts on “Muslim Slavery”

  1. It’s fairly obvious that this is another SACBEE slam against a republican administration. From the article, this was an Obama program, and the article’s main message was typified by:

    “At Unity Productions Foundation of Potomac Falls, Virginia, officials said they would decline a grant of $396,585 to produce educational films challenging narratives supporting extremist ideologies and violent extremism “due to the changes brought by the new administration,” according to a private message to donors….”

    Basically, these are progressive groups already sought out by the last administration, who wouldn’t have been seeking people who don’t support them. In this refusal, they are just being consistent, because Obama has made it clear he will oppose the new administration for not being progressive enough. The fact that these grantees are muslim is, I think, less important than that they are still in Obama’s pocket, and feel they should show it.

    As to 50 million muslims backing violence, that was probably a decent estimate *before* 9/11. With the last 8 years of the US backing away from fighting Caliphate Revivalism it’s about 5-10 times that, …because “strong horse gets backers”, etc.

  2. The meaning of the English/American word changed, and changes, in context. Very post-modern of me to say so, I’m sure, but any review of contemporary literature will bear it out. In 1750 or so a “slave” and a “indentured servant” were similarly situated, and the word “slave” connoted an imposed condition rather the way a “prisoner” or a “hostage” or a bound/bonded man were people held by physical force and political law. Even so, just as a trusted prisoner might work in the prison as a “trustee” on behalf of the system, so 18th century slaves might throw pots, train dogs, or otherwise engage in side-occupations for their own profit. That Jefferson or Washington conceived the notion that their own slaves could be freed or manumitted indicates that the state of slavery was not a condition of nature, but of law. By 1850 a “slave” was distinct from a “servant” — though some few slaves did the jobs of house servants. The word itself was a descriptive one, more like describing a “horse” or a “dog” or even a “plow” — some other category of useful animal or tool associated with the household by deed of title, training and natural breeding-for-loyalty. Manumission in this concept would be ridiculous — how does one go about setting free a plow, let alone a plow horse? The first would simply go to rust, rot and waste while the latter would starve, suffer, and make trouble for the neighbors before finally dying of cruel neglect. (This was at least the usage of slave-holding land-owning Southerners.)

    All this as preamble to the disclaimer that I’m not at all sure what 14th or 21st century Muslims mean by the English word “slave”. Plow or prisoner?

    1. All this as preamble to the disclaimer that I’m not at all sure what 14th or 21st century Muslims mean by the English word “slave”. Plow or prisoner?

      Both. Muslims slaves ran the entire gambit from literal possession to be used for sex, commerce, and war to trusted government officials and could even be freed. Slaves were used at all levels of society and for just about every purpose you can think of.

      There was a very interesting link from either Instapundit or Ace of Spades that lead to that BBC link, I will try and find it.

    2. Rand has it linked above from Rod Dreher,

      Al-Waleed bin Talal, the Saudi bllionaire who funds that professorship at Georgetown, is the grandson of an Armenian Christian woman who escaped the 1915 Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks, and who was presented to King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, founder of the Saudi dynasty, when she was 12 years old. She was likely an Orthodox Christian child (Armenians are Orthodox) captured and pressed into slavery by Muslims. She could have been a concubine, but he made her his wife. In those days, less than a century ago:

      So a child can be taken as a sex slave or slave bride but then her offspring rise to royalty. Slavery in the Islamic world is certainly complex but hardly without horrors. Getting bogged down in the debate about whether Islamic or American slavery was worse is rather pointless because both were horrific anti-human abominations.

      The BBC link points out that when the Atlantic slave trade ended, the slaves went east in the Muslim slave trade and endured all the same brutality in doing so. The BBC link also struggles with not being defensive of the Islamic slave trade.

  3. History lies. It’s been fake news as long as there have been conquerors and conquered. But sometimes truth slips past the history censors. Slaves exist today (mostly sex trade now) and from the beginning of human history. Slaves have been from every race, the word slave derived from the Caucasian Slavic regions… white slaves.

    Irish slaves were used in some cases because they were less valuable than blacks. Mulato slaves were bred for economic benefits. Italians were cheaper still.

    Ironically, former Slavic region countries are prominent in today’s sex slave market as owners rather than slaves and the world does almost nothing. Asian sex slaves have been normalized for at least a century.

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