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Author Topic: when will muslims apologize for their role in the slave trade?  (Read 12440 times)
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« on: December 17, 2006, 02:28:49 PM »

When will Muslims Apologize for their role in black enslavement?

Obviously to many, apologies may be inadequate. But if we put on our lenses on from an African-American perspective and mindset, apologies for us usually make things either go away or mitigate the issue.

Whichever camp you personally fall in, should Muslims be given special pass not to acknowledge their roles in the enslavement of our people?

Below I have complied just some brief articles relating to apologies to Islam’s role in the big business of slavery. I would asked that you review all before you offer an opinion.(note: if you have any trouble with getting on page through
the link, please google authors name and title of article and it will come up).

Islam's black slaves
Arabs and Slave Trade
By Shirley Madany

A flair for history is a prerequisite to understanding the Muslim world and its people. Their yesterdays are closely bound up with the here and now. A good grasp of geography will be helpful as well.

Slavery in Early Islamic History
It was intriguing to note in Bernard Lewis' book, The Arabs in History, that paper was made first in China in the year 105 B.C. In A.D. 751, the Arabs defeated a Chinese contingent east of the 'Jaxartes'. (Jaxartes is a river that lies on the border between China and present-day Afghanistan. Persian King Cyrus was killed fighting near this river, about 500 B.C.) The Arabs found some Chinese paper makers among their prisoners. Many such skills were brought into the Islamic world in this way. The use of paper spread rapidly across the Islamic world, reaching Egypt by A.D. 800 and Spain by the year 900. From the tenth century onwards, evidence is clear of paper-making occurring in countries of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the European country of Spain.
The Arabs profited from the craft of the paper makers they had captured as slaves. From archaeologists and records kept in ancient times, we learn that slave trade existed for a long time in the Arab world. Back in the days of the caliphs [early Muslim leaders], having a slave for a mother was not a stigma for a Muslim man. Due to polygamy, this was quite common.
At first the caliphs maintained a kind of aristocracy among themselves, making it imperative that the mother of a caliph was from one of the Arab tribes. However, as more and more slaves adopted the religion of Islam, noble birth and tribal prestige lost their value. By the year 817, the Abbasid Caliphs and succeeding Muslim rulers often were the sons of slave women, many of whom were foreign. Such parentage ceased to be either an obstacle or a stigma.

Growth of the Slave Trade
Quite possibly, the maintenance of slavery and the social acceptance of slaves were important drawing cards for Islam as it penetrated Africa. Without a knowledge of history, many Africans may be unaware of the fact that Islamic traders carried on a steady slave trade from East African ports for many centuries. Records are available which contain the lists of goods involved in trade with the rest of the world.

Muslim merchants traveled to India, Ceylon, the East Indies, and China, over sea and land, bringing back silks, spices, aromatics, woods, tin, and many other items. Records mention 'slave girls' from the Byzantine Empire along with gold and silver, marble workers, and eunuchs. Surprisingly, Muslim traders went as far away as Scandinavia, and especially Sweden, where scores of Muslim coins have been found with inscriptions from the seventh and eleventh centuries. On the long lists of goods which Muslim traders imported from Scandinavia, are found 'Slavonic slaves, sheep, and cattle' (cited by Lewis in The Arabs in History). An early ninth century geographer, Ibn Kurradadhbeh, describes Jewish merchants from the south of France 'who speak Arabic, Persian, Greek, Frankish, Spanish, and Slavonic. They travel from west to east and east to west, by land and sea. From the west they bring eunuchs, slave girls and boys, brocade, beaver skins, sable and other furs, and swords'.

Though some slaves attained an honored class, doing either domestic work or military service, they were exceptions. 'Generally, slaves were employed for manual labor on a number of large scale enterprises, in mines, in the fleets, in the drainage of marshes, etc.. They were herded together in settlements, often thousands belonging to a single landowner. Slaves of this kind were mainly black, obtained more especially from East Africa by capture, purchase, or in the form of tribute from vassal states. Such were the slaves in the salt flats east of Basra, where unprecedented numbers were employed by the wealthy men of that city in draining the salt marshes in order to prepare the ground for agriculture and to extract the salt for sale. They worked in gangs from five hundred to five thousand. Their conditions were extremely bad. Their labor was hard and exacting, and they received only a bare and inadequate keep consisting, according to the Arabic sources, of flour, semolina and dates. Many knew little or no Arabic. Eventually a leader arose among them and led a great uprising which aimed, not at ending slavery, but at securing better living conditions.

A Recent Study
Another book by Bernard Lewis entitled Race and Slavery in the Middle East An Historical Enquiry, published in 1990 by Oxford University Press, features color plate illustrations dating back to 1237 and the 1500's with 80 pages of notes to back up its contents. These intriguing paintings were discovered in famous libraries in London, Paris, and Istanbul. They depict the variety of slaves and their livelihoods.

In his book, Lewis describes how the Muslim world reacted when cries for abolition of slavery resounded around the world in the 19th century
'The revulsion against slavery, which gave rise to a strong abolitionist movement in England, and later in other Western countries, began to affect the Islamic lands. What was involved was not, initially, the abolition of the institution of slavery but its alleviation, and in particular, the restriction and ultimately the elimination of the slave trade. Islamic law, in contrast to the ancient and colonial systems, accords the slave a certain legal status and assigns obligations as well as rights to the slave owner. The manumission of slaves, though recommended as a meritorious act, is not required, and the institution of slavery not only is recognized but is elaborately regulated by Sharia law.

Perhaps for this very reason the position of the domestic slave in Muslim society was in most respects better than in either classical antiquity or the nineteenth-century Americas. While, however, the life of the slave in Muslim society was no worse, and in some ways was better, than that of the free poor, the processes of acquisition and transportation often imposed appalling hardships. It was these which drew the main attention of European opponents of slavery, and it was to the elimination of this traffic, particularly in Africa, that their main efforts were directed. The abolition of slavery itself would hardly have been possible. From a Muslim point of view, to forbid what God permits is almost as great an offense as to permit what God forbids - and slavery was authorized and regulated by the holy law. More specifically, it formed part of the law of personal status, the central core of social usage, which remained intact and effective even when other sections of the holy law, dealing with civil, criminal, and similar matters, were tactically or even openly modified and replaced by modern codes.

It was from conservative religious quarters and notably from the holy cities of Mecca and Medina that the strongest resistance to the proposed reform came. The emergence of the holy men and the holy places as the last ditch defenders of slavery against reform is only an apparent paradox. They were upholding an institution sanctified by scripture, law, and tradition and one which in their eyes was necessary to the maintenance of the social structure of Muslim life'.
Further on, Lewis mentions how the overwhelming majority of white slaves came from the Caucasian lands. This was in the days of the Ottoman empire and it was not until 1854 that orders against the traffic in white slaves from Georgia and Circassia were issued and put into effect.

Arabia was another major center for the slave trade. The flow of slaves from Africa into Arabia and through the Gulf into Iran continued for a long time. The extension of British, French, and Italian control around the Horn of Africa (the area of Somalia and Kenya today) deprived the slave traders of their main ports of embarkation.

As far as Islam was concerned, the horrors of the abduction and transportation of slaves were the worst part. But once the slaves were settled in Islamic culture they had genuine opportunities to realize their potential. Many of them became merchants in Mecca, Jedda, and elsewhere.

A Puzzling Question
A puzzling question comes to mind, however. If this is so, why does the Arab world have no corresponding Black population as is found in the New World? Lewis provides an answer, 'One reason is obviously the high population of eunuchs among Black males entering the Islamic lands. Another is the high death rate and low birth rate among Black slaves in North Africa and the Middle East. In about 1810, Louis Frank observed in Tunisia that most Black children died in infancy and that infinitesimally few reached the age of manhood. A British observer in Egypt, some thirty years later, found conditions even worse. He said, 'I have heard it estimated that five or six years are sufficient to carry off a generation of slaves, at the end of which time the whole has to be replenished'.

The Abolition of Slavery
The institution of slavery regretably existed both in the old, classical Christian and Islamic civilizations. Yet it is to the credit of Christianity that the abolition movement took root in Great Britain, Western Europe, and the United States and brought an end to this buying and selling of human beings.
The way in which slavery was practiced in Islamic countries had both bright and dark sides. What is regretable now is that this practice among Muslims is seldom openly discussed - as if slavery was exclusively a Western phenomenon. This deliberate silence enables Islamic propagandists in America to represent Muslims as liberators of the people of African origin, contrary to historical fact.


The Role of Islam in African Slavery Part 1: Obtaining slaves on the African continent.

Slavery has been rife throughout all of ancient history. Most, if not all, ancient civilizations practiced this institution and it is described (and defended) in early writings of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. It was also practiced by early societies in central America and Africa. See Bernard Lewis's work Race and Slavery in the Middle East for a detailed chapter of the origins and practices of slavery.

The Qur'an prescribes a humanitarian approach to slavery -- free men could not be enslaved, and those faithful to foreign religions could live as protected persons, dhimmis, under Muslim rule (as long as they maintained payment of taxes called Kharaj and Jizya). However, the spread of the Islamic Empire resulted in a much harsher interpretation of the law. For example, if a dhimmis was unable to pay the taxes they could be enslaved, and people from outside the borders of the Islamic Empire were considered an acceptable source of slaves.

Although the law required owners to treat slaves well and provide medical treatment, a slave had no right to be heard in court (testimony was forbidden by slaves), had no right to property, could marry only with permission of their owner, and was considered to be a chattel, that is the (moveable) property, of the slave owner. Conversion to Islam did not automatically give a slave freedom nor did it confer freedom to their children. Whilst highly educated slaves and those in the military did win their freedom, those used for basic duties rarely achieved freedom. In addition, the recorded mortality rate was high -- this was still significant even as late as the nineteenth century and was remarked upon by western travellers in North Africa and Egypt.

Slaves were obtained through conquest, tribute from vassal states (in the first such treaty, Nubia was required to provide hundreds of male and female slaves), offspring (children of slaves were also slaves, but since many slaves were castrated this was not as common as it had been in the Roman empire), and purchase. The latter method provided the majority of slaves, and at the borders of the Islamic Empire vast number of new slaves were castrated ready for sale (Islamic law did not allow mutilation of slaves, so it was done before they crossed the border). The majority of these slaves came from Europe and Africa -- there were always enterprising locals ready to kidnap or capture their fellow countrymen.

Black Africans were transported to the Islamic empire across the Sahara to Morocco and Tunisia from West Africa, from Chad to Libya, along the Nile from East Africa, and up the coast of East Africa to the Persian Gulf. This trade had been well entrenched for over 600 years before Europeans arrived, and had driven the rapid expansion of Islam across North Africa.

By the time of the Ottoman Empire, the majority of slaves were obtained by raiding in Africa. Russian expansion had put an end to the source of "exceptionally beautiful" female and "brave" male slaves from the Caucasians -- the women were highly prised in the harem, the men in the military. The great trade networks across north Africa were as much to do with the safe transportation of slaves as other goods. An analysis of prices at various slave markets shows that eunuchs fetched higher prices than other males, encouraging the castration of slaves before export.

Documentation suggests that slaves throughout Islamic world were mainly used for menial domestic and commercial purposes. Eunuchs were especially prised for bodyguards and confidential servants; women as concubines and menials. A Muslim slave owner was entitled by law to use slaves for sexual pleasure.

As primary source material becomes available to Western scholars, the bias towards urban slaves is being questioned. Records also show that thousands of slaves were used in gangs for agriculture and mining. Large landowners and rulers used thousands of such slaves, usually in dire conditions: "of the Saharan salt mines it is said that no slave lived there for more than five years.1"
1 Bernard Lewis Race and Slavery in the Middle East.



Tuesday, March 24, 1998 Published at 07:27 GMT

Special Report

Clinton close to apology over slavery

President Clinton - in Uganda on the second leg of his African tour - acknowledged that the United States was wrong to benefit from slavery.
However the president stopped short of an explicit apology. He said the United States had not always done the right thing by Africa, and that perhaps its worst sin had been that of neglect and ignorance.

During the cold war, Mr Clinton said, the US often viewed Africa through the prism of global conflict with the Soviet Union; little consideration was given to African aspirations.

Mr Clinton was speaking during a visit to a primary school near the capital, Kampala, watched by hundreds of schoolchildren and dignitaries as well as the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni.
Mr Museveni earlier said he blamed "black traitors" more than white Europeans for the 17th and 18th century trade in African people.

"African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them," he said.
"If anyone should apologise it should be the African chiefs. We still have those traitors here even today."
Mr Clinton also promised $120 million in aid for African schools.

Support for democracy

Mr Clinton's African tour is one of the most extensive visits to the continent ever undertaken by an American head of state.
The trip is being billed as an attempt to strengthen American ties in a key emerging market and to show support for democracy on the continent.

Before arriving in Uganda, Mr Clinton was enthusiastically greeted in Ghana. There, he proclaimed his vision of a better future for African and said American was ready to help achieve new hopes for peace, democracy and prosperity.

Praise for economic competence

BBC correspondents in the region say Mr Clinton's visit will be a boost to President Museveni, who has won a reputation for economic competence since taking power in 1986.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent says the Ugandan President is seen by Washington as having improved stability in his country, whilst in the regional context he is considered a pivotal player - not only in the great lakes region to the south but also, because of his support for South Sudanese rebels in their long conflict with Khartoum.




Blair 'sorrow' over slave trade Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he feels "deep sorrow" for Britain's role in the slave trade.

In an article for the New Nation newspaper, the prime minister said it had been "profoundly shameful".
But Mr Blair stopped short of issuing a full apology, which some commentators have demanded.

The government is reportedly setting out its plans for next year's bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.
Esther Stanford, of the Pan African Reparation Coalition, said all countries that had ever been involved in slavery should give a full apology.

"An apology is just the start - words mean nothing," she told BBC News.

"We're talking about an apology of substance which would then be followed by various reparative measures including financial compensation."

She said: "If we do not deal with this now it is tantamount to saying that you can commit crimes against humanity, against African people and get away with it."

'Crime against humanity'

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has been drawing up ideas for the 25 March anniversary, including the possibility of a "statement of regret" for Britain's involvement.

He has already ruled out a formal apology.
Mr Blair said: "It is hard to believe what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time.

"I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was - how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition - but also to express our deep sorrow that it could ever have happened and rejoice at the better times we live in today."

The statement is due to appear in New Nation, a newspaper aimed at the black community, on Monday.

Culture minister David Lammy said that he "did not want to get into a blame fest" but wanted next year's events to celebrate the people who abolished the trade and commemorate those who died.


"In Tony Blair's statement today he recognises that there is a legacy from this period of history in Africa and that there is a legacy in relation to black people living here in Britain."
He stressed that the Labour Party had always focused on equality and would continue to fight against modern slavery.
"Tony Blair has gone further than any other leader of any western democracy," Mr Lammy said.

"He has struck the right balance between providing for the future, commemorating the past and moving forward as a multi-ethnic nation."

Activist Paul Stephenson told the BBC: "The prime minister could have gone further, but nevertheless it is a step in the right direction."

Church vote

Richard Dowden, director of the British Royal African Society, said the bicentenary would be a chance for Britons to "acknowledge slavery as part of their history".

"This happened at a time when Britain was becoming the Britain that we have today," he said.
"It was the beginning of the industrial revolution, it was when Britain began to rule the world and many of our national heroes were deeply implicated in it.

"Nelson, for example, called the abolitionist movement a damnable doctrine - he fought to protect the slave trade."
A written ministerial statement to Parliament is expected this week, setting out the government's commemoration plans.

In February, the Church of England General Synod voted to apologise to the descendants of victims of the slave trade.



Africa Should Acknowledge Role In Slavery - Haitian-Born Gov. Gen.

POSTED: 12:11 AM, November 29, 2006
AUTHOR: news@Hardbeatnews.com

TORONTO, Canada -- Canada’s Haitian-born governor general, Michaelle Jean, continued her tour of the African continent yesterday, urging countries there to follow Ghana’s example and apologize for their role in the slave trade.

Jean, addressing a state dinner in Ghana, said Africans must also acknowledge the role their own forefathers played in the Middle Passage and in selling Africans into slavery, Canadian Press reports indicate.

Her comments came days after British Prime Minister, Tony Blair’s, written apology in the New Nation newspaper and as the world gears up to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in March.

Jean argued that an apology from Africa as well would help to turn the page on the shameful chapter in history. "The time has come to recapture that moment of African history in order to move ahead together," the Governor General was quoted as saying. "As it looks to the future, Ghana has shown that it is willing to confront the past."
She also lauded Ghana’s government for its decision to apologize for its part as a major hub for the slave trade.

Meanwhile, Jean is set to visit Elmina Castle today and walk through its ‘Door of No Return,’ the renowned spot where captured Africans were chained and horded down to the waiting boats, where they were crammed into the dark, dank belly of ships bounds for the Americas.

"I will think of the millions of people packed tightly in rickety ships bound for unknown lands. Faraway lands where they were deprived of their memories, of their languages, of their heritage, of their dignity and, most of all, of their freedom," Jean said of her visit tomorrow according to CP. "I will stand and pray for those who never completed the journey and whose bodies were thrown out to the ocean.As I will stand there and reconnect with the land of my ancestors, I will salute your openness and I will accept your apology."

Jean wraps up her visit to first official state visit to Africa on December 11. She has already visited Mali and Algeria. In Algeria, Jean also touched on slavery, stating, “My ancestors were torn from their lives. (They were) stripped of themselves, of their language, their name, their memory, their history, of their basic dignity as women and men, and were reduced to slavery and deported to the Americas. . . . This trip is especially meaningful and emotional for me. And I am delighted that my first state visits have brought me to this continent - to which I feel forever bound by history, by heart and by blood."

Jean’s slavery apology call came on the same day CARICOM nations introduced a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly calling for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

The resolution calls for the 25th of March 2007 to be set aside on the international calendar as the day for the commemoration of the British Act of Parliament that officially ended the trade that resulted in millions of Africans being sold in bondage and shipped across the Atlantic to a life of brutal enslavement in the Americas.
The passing of the Act 200 years ago paved the way for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.


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  • posted on 12-14-06 at 08:56 AM    Reply With Quote
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2006, 04:52:30 PM »

damn, brother that's a whole lot of reading. I can't read all right now so i'll read it all later. But just to add my 2 cents to the subject, I think they should own up to there participation in the slave trade. I'm just wondering with all the blame that europeans get(rightfully so) for slavery why haven't they exploited the fact that muslims participated in slavery. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.............
Posts: 97

« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 03:42:47 AM »

Read it, not really feeling it. Pure politricks if you ask me........I guess that's why u want muslims to apologize for their role in slavery, right? Your picking a fight with the wrong enemy. Muslims aren't a race of people if you know about Afrika you should know that in Northern Africa Islam is the dominant religion did these Northern Africans enslave Afrikans in the black diaspora? Not to my knowledge. In America there is also a large muslim population many of whom are black. You shouldn't read this propoganda and you certainly shouldn't spread it. Where hearing the condemning of a crime against humanity from the person who is partly responsible for the greatest crime against humanity in our lifetime. ROFLMAO

Babylon Have To Come "Betta Dan Dat"[/b ]
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