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Condemning European Slavery While Sparing Islam the Bigger Culprit

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It’s a popular fiction that the only slavery existed in history is the black slavery, whereby European traders captured and transported black Africans to the New World (Americas, West Indies).

Ask a Muslim; he/she will tell you so. An America-born young Muslim wrote to me: “Do you know how the American slave-hunters went to Africa, seized the black people and brought them to America as slaves? America’s economic power owes a great deal to the labor of those slaves.”Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan terms the trans-Atlantic slave-trade the “worst and most cruel slavery” in history, adding that some white Americans do not know that “they are in the privileged position… based on what happened to us (Blacks)” in the past.  An overwhelming majority of Muslims believe that Islamic history is devoid of the abhorrent practice of slavery. Rocky Davis (aka Shahid Malik), an Australian Aboriginal convert to Islam, told  ABC Radio that “Christianity were the founders of slavery. Not Islam.”  Indeed, from my own experience of living as a Muslim for 35 years, this is one of the major reasons of why anti-West hatred is so strong amongst Muslims.

When Muslims in India talk about the practice of slavery in the subcontinent, they talk about the harrowing tales of how the Portuguese transported slaves from coastal areas of Goa, Kerala and Bengal in terrible conditions, and nothing else.

However, when I investigated, I was shocked to discover that Muslims, armed with divine and prophetic sanctions, practised slavery of a much greater proportion and tragedy, which I have discussed in my recent book, Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion Imperialism and Slavery.

It is fortunate that President Obama, visiting a former slave-trading fort in Ghana on July 11, condemned this dark chapter in human history rightly as a “great evil”, adding “As African-Americans, there is a special sense that… this place was a place of profound sadness…”

Obama also pointed to a church, standing next to slave-dungeons, to illustrate the fact that European Christians, with sanctions from the church, engaged in black slavery.

This popular paradigm excludes three major facts about slavery:

1) Black slavery was not the only slavery in history. The Arabs, Turks, Indians and even millions of Europeans were also reduced to slavery during the same period and before, with added dimensions of sex-slavery and castration. And the perpetrators were Muslims, not Europeans.

2) Black slaves were not shipped to the New World alone; a greater number were sent to the Islamic world.

3) Even in trans-Atlantic slave-trade, Muslims were complicit and played the cruelest role.

Islamic history informs us that Prophet Muhammad himself, armed with divine sanctions (Quran 16:76, 30:28, 16:71, 70:29–30, 23:5–6, 33:50 etc.), initiated Islamic slavery by enslaving the women and children of a number of Arabian tribes (Quraiza, Khaybar, Mustaliq and Hawazin etc.). Later, as Islamic power grew in leaps and bounds, slavery witnessed a tremendous burst on the world stage. Everywhere Muslims won victory, the women and children of the vanquished were enslaved in massive numbers: General Musa enslaved 300,000 in his conquest of North Africa in 698 and returned from his conquest of Spain in 715 with the Caliph’s one-fifth share of the booty that included 30,000 white virgins from the Visigothic nobility alone, while Sultan Mahmud returned from his invasion of India in 1001–02 CE with 500,000 enslaved women and children. This is only a tip of the iceberg.

No small victims of Islamic slavery were Europeans themselves, who started falling victim to Islamic assaults in the Mediterranean islands within two decades after Muhammad’s death. And it continued well into the 19th century: the Ottomans, even in their decisive defeat and retreat from the Gates of Vienna in 1683, returned with 80,000 white captives, while Barbary pirates enslaved up to 1.5 million Europeans between the 1530s and 1820s, from European merchant-ships off the North African coast, plus from slave-raiding expeditions to costal villages and islands of Europe.

Even American merchant-ships and their crew suffered horrible Barbary depredations and enslavements. Prior to independence, Britain negotiated the release of captured American ship-crews whenever possible paying heavy ransom. After 1776, America signed treaties with the Barbary States for securing safety of her ships by paying hefty tribute. To placate Muslims in his Cairo speech, President Obama flaunted this humiliating treaty on America’s part as a respectful past relationship between Islam and America. As demand for higher ransom and depredations of U.S. ships continued, America had to engage in a difficult war to stop the horrible enslavement of Americans in North Africa. Putting an end to continued enslavement of Europeans was a major reason behind France’s invasion of Morocco in 1830.It’s noteworthy that the Europeans, Obama’s exclusive target of condemnation for slavery, were subjected to Islamic enslavement in the cruelest form for over eight centuries, before they themselves embarked on the practice—the widely condemned trans-Atlantic slave-trade

Moreover, even in the European slave-trade in Africa, it was Muslims—the well-established masters of slave-hunting, -breeding and -trading for many centuries—who supplied over 80% of the slaves to European traders, the latter mainly purchased and transported them. The European slave-trade only offered a stimulus and played a lucrative partner for Muslims to a long-established Islamic vocation in Africa.

What is accurate about Obama’s statement about slavery in Ghana is that European slavery was “where the journey of much of African-American experience began”. The cruel aspect aside, it left a positive end of some kind: the Black Diaspora in the new world, definitely more fortunate today than their left-behind brethren.

Yet, this is only half the truth. There was another African slave-journey—lasting longer and larger in magnitude—that began with the Arab Muslim invasion of Africa in the 7-8th century. And it has left behind no residue whatsoever, an extermination of human species of huge magnitude—thanks to universal castration of black male-slaves destined for Islamic markets.

The inhumanity of Islamic castration of immense number of African men wasn’t the robbing of their most natural identity and endowment, i.e. their manhood, alone, but mortality in castration was about 75 percent. Overall mortality-rate of black slaves headed to the Islamic world, from procurement to reaching the destination, was as high as 90%, but their mortality in transportation by Europeans to the New World was about 10 percent.

Obama’s condemnation of European-Christian slavery, a horrible chapter in history, is laudable, but his exclusion of Islam, the crueler partner in the same crime, is not. It does gross injustice to those unfortunate souls that suffered from this tragic Islamic scourge. And those souls also include millions of Christian Europeans, his sole target of condemnation.

Moreover, some Islamic countries (Mauritania, Saudi Arabia & Sudan) have continued to condone slavery to this day, while Sudan has intensified it in recent decades, thanks to lack of criticism of Muslim engagement in slavery, whether historical or present. Some 600,000 souls in Mauritania remain shackled in continued slavery with no hope for liberation in sight, while tens of thousands of Christians, Animists and even Muslims have been kidnapped and reduced to slavery in Sudan since the Islamists came to power in 1985.

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About M. A. Khan

  • I read your piece last night (my time) and found it enlightening and well written. I’m not surprised that nobody has commented on it. Reality and truth seem to get few comments here, unless they challenge the accepted “narrative” in a hostile fashion. Then all the cultural thedakars come out and scream at you.

    Intelligent articles like yours get – ignored.

  • M. A. Khan

    Thanks Ruvy,
    A more vigorous discussion was expected on a topic like this. Then, that’s the reality.

  • Deano

    Well I’ve pretty much stopped commented on BC because of the relentless predictability and partisan hackery of most of the regular commenters but I will echo Ruvy’s comment and say “well done” on your article.

    Thnaks for posting it.

  • Slavery has been part of the human experience since prehistory. Sometimes the practice has been relatively benign – in ancient Greece it was possible to sell oneself into slavery to pay a debt, for instance – and sometimes, sadly, it hasn’t.

    The egregious thing about the European and North American slave trades, and the principal reason these need to be kept in the public consciousness, is that they were undertaken by a people with pretensions to unprecedented levels of civilization and refinement – who then on the other hand used this as a pretext for the most appalling treatment of those who they perceived to be less civilized.

    As far as I’m aware, and as offensive to the modern mind as slavery is, Islam makes no such pretensions.

    21st century slavery doesn’t get the press, true, but it’s far from forgotten. Many organizations, including Amnesty International and Anti-Slavery International, campaign actively against the practice.

  • Good point, Dreadful, but I think the time for pretension is over and the practice of slavery is still as abhorrent as ever. Of course, now we are capable of dressing it up in less objectionable terms, such as exploitation and what not.

  • You’re to be commended, Khan, for your courage.

  • Bliffle

    Good point DD.

    In particular, “white slavery”, the kidnapping of ‘white’ (i.e., traditionally non slave class, tho they may be dusky or olive, yellow, etc.) females for prostitution occurs around the world, often in relatively civilized environs (Caribbean, Rome, Paris, NYC, Oslo, etc.).

    Muslims do their share of this because ‘white’ concubines bring a premium price and need be treated no better than animals because they are heathens and infidels, and their governments protect them.

  • Mr. Lee X Slave

    I am Muslim follower of the Most Hon. Elijah Muhammad Under the Divine Guidance of The Hon. Louis Farrakhan, and I have been so for close to forty years. We teach the truth, yes Arabs and Africans, sold Us to you good God fearing white anglo protestants. However what makes Us so angry is what devilment happened when the cast out and dregs of European society, got a hold to Us.
    The atrocities are so horrible and numerous to mention, if you compare what your fore parents did to mine and what Adolf Hitler did the his fellow european countymen, it would be like comparing Diamonds to coal.

    Just because some evil Arabs and hateful Africans sold Us did not give you people the right to “MAKE US INTO SAVAGES”.

    May Allah have Mercy
    [Personal contact info deleted]

  • M. A. Khan

    Mr. Lee, it’s not some, but all, Arabs, who settled in Africa, wholly engaged in slave-hunting and slave-trade. And it’s Allah’s mercy that Arabs became the master enslaver, till today since the days of Muhammad, who himself, with Allah’s sanctions (Quranic verses) started enslaving the people in Arabia in hundreds: he slaughtered all grown-up males of communities and enslaved all the women and children. This tradition or Sunnah of Muhammad moved to Africa and all over the world (sunnah is of eternal relevance, isn’t it?).

    And atrocities in their slave-hunting in Africa matched to Muhamamd’s in Arabia. Sometimes, for harvesting some 50 young black women to be sent to the Muslim world for sex-slavery, a community of 1,000 people were completely annihilated.

    And you are obviously lucky to be able to express gratutide to Allah–thanks to the fact that your forefathers fell into Europeans hands. If they were sent to the Muslim markets, they would be summarily castrated and would leave no offspring to express gratitude to Allah or whatever god.

  • Hipamerican

    Your assertion that Black males were routinely castrated is the first I’ve heard of such, during the Arab trade. What all these refer to is the mindset that developed into white supremacy, for the common target of enslavement was the darker, by the lighter, and as well, the talented by the untalented, the peaceful, by the greedy, the content by the jealous, the civil by the violent, indeed, the civilized by the uncivilized. The quality of enslavement can be determined by the motive, and as the motive became more and more crystallized as white supremacist, it became less and less humane, so that the last edition was indeed the worst, and held the greatest percentage of Black victims. This is the edition that founded America, and by the principles of America, it constitutes a crime by citizen against citizen, whites robbing blacks of their rights, in individual and collective collusions. The detris remains. Blacks are America’s most indigenous ethnic group, and the only one in the world denoted without reference to territory or culture. The secondary reference as African American is not exclusive to our experience, as truly immigrant Africans are included under that label, and it is merely continental in reference to our origin. Yet, Black is seldom capitalized, being accepted and applied more as a descriptive than as a nomitive term. By the same token, European and Muslim are not exclusive terms, and the same is true for Muslim and African. It was during and for the pillaging of America by Europeans that enslavement became the condition favored for African blacks, and that those so enslaved became completely chattelized, in the European marketplace and under the law. “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews” details that most prominent and aggresive of slave merchants were Jews scattered throughout the populations of involved Europeans, and that most of the religious doctrines for the protection of slaves were abandoned. Obama, being America’s president, has a responsibility to address those issues that have had a profound and direct effect on the estaglishment and progress of America. As all of America’s conduct extends from the presence of this most horrific chapter in humanity, I am pleased to see it addressed, even so lightly, at the Presidential level. As all Americans are profoundly affected, it is foolish and dangerous, even tragic, that the conversation is not constant, to drive solution and reparation. Our national voice cannot truly be a voice for justice, cannot be respected as an authority of equality, until we have answered and settled these inner questions. Our freedom depends on our bravery, which in this case, must be intellectual and emotional, to face how violence has been used, and find how it must be healed.

  • lee thought

    many euro/arabs are jinn the product of rape from the crusades..this euro -arab was rabid
    with the hate of his barbaric crusader fathers…and many will blow themselves to kingdom come to day….while euros pretend they don’t understand the maddeness coming from some of these mixed breeded people….the seeds of a savage europe mixed with …Black Muslims produced euro arabs…many still bare the hate of their euro progenitors.

  • isa yildirim

    yes ? believe as you. and surely westerns learned to nuclear bomb hiroshima and nagasaki from muslims….

    • Larry


      The Truthabout ISLAM: in its own words

      In the words of the prophet Muhammad.

      Bukhari:V4B52N220 “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been made victorious with
      terror. The treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand.”

      Bukhari:V4B52N260 “The Prophet said, ‘If a Muslim discards his religion,
      kill him.”

      Bukhari:V7B67N427 “The Prophet said, ‘If I take an oath and later find
      something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.”


      Islamic leaders and politicians constantly tell us in English that “Islam is a peaceful religion”, but one can’t help wondering if they would say it quite so often if they were absolutely sure it was true.

      Some recorded massacres of Muslim history:

      On December 30, 1066, Joseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain,
      was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the
      city and slaughtered its 5,000 inhabitants. The riot was apparently incited by
      Muslim preachers that had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate
      Jewish political power. Similarly, in 1465, Arab mobs in Fez slaughtered thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive, after a Jewish deputy vizier treated a Muslim woman in “an offensive manner.” The killings touched off a wave of similar massacres throughout Morocco.
      Other mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred in Morocco in the 8th
      century, where whole communities were wiped out by Muslim ruler Idris I; North
      Africa in the 12th century, where the Almohads either forcibly converted or
      decimated several communities; Libya in 1785, where Ali Burzi Pasha murdered
      hundreds of Jews; Algiers, where Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830 and Marrakesh, Morocco, where more than 300 hundred Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880.

      Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293-4, 1301-2), Iraq (854­859, 1344) and Yemen
      (1676). Despite the Qur’an’s purported prohibition, Jews were forced to convert
      to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790-92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344). Some escaped, but the Jews of Arabia who remained were pretty much completely wiped out. Islamic revisionists claim they were killed because they were literally asking for it, is their apologetic rubbish propaganda.
      These Islamic revisionists (Islamaniacs) claim that the Jews demanded it as per
      their own law. I mean that’s like the Nazis claiming they were only accommodating the Jews demand to get warm by the ovens. Like Goebbels said, the bigger the lie, the easier it is for others to believe it.

      In the violent, nearly 1,400-year relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, Jihad and Dhimmitude were firmly established by the 8th century.
      Perhaps the pre-eminent Islamic scholar in history, Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406),
      summarized five centuries of prior Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the
      uniquely Islamic institution of jihad:

      In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the
      universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody
      to Islam either by persuasion or by force… The other religious groups did not
      have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them,
      save only for purposes of defense… Islam is under obligation to gain power over
      other nations.

      Between 1894-96, the Ottoman Turks massacred over 200,000 (Dhimmi) Christian Armenians, followed by the first formal genocide of the 20th century, in 1915, at which time they slaughtered an additional 600,000 to 800,000 Armenians.
      Contemporary accounts from European diplomats confirm that these brutal
      massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal Jihad against the
      Armenians who had attempted to throw off the yoke of Dhimmitude by seeking
      equal rights and autonomy. Regarding the 1894-96 massacres, the
      Turkish-speaking interpreter of the British embassy reported:

      …[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions
      of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the “rayah” [dhimmi]
      Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the
      limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free
      themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited,
      and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had
      tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy
      and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians…”

      The scholar Bat Yeor confirms this reasoning, noting that the Armenian quest
      for reforms invalidated their “legal status,” which involved a “contract”
      (i.e., with their Muslim Turkish rulers).

      This …breach…restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right
      to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property…

      In the following chronology, note how closely Islam’s inception is
      associated with war. From 623 to 777, a span of 154 years, there are 83
      military conflicts involving the Muslims…. Muslims tell us Islam is a religion
      of peace, but all historical facts seem to discredit that claim rather

      Chronology of early Islam

      • 570 – Birth of Muhammad in Mecca into the tribe of Quraish.

      • 577 – Muhammad’s mother dies.

      • 595 – Muhammad marries, starts to have children.

      • 605 – Placement of Black Stone in Ka’aba.

      • 610 – Mohammed, in a cave, hears an angel tell him that Allah is the only
      true God.

      • 613 – Muhammad’s first public preaching of Islam at Mt. Hira.
      Gets few converts.

      • 615 – Muslims persecuted by the Quraysh.

      • 619 – Marries Sau’da and Aisha

      • 620 – Institution of five daily prayers .

      • 622 – Muhammad immigrates from Mecca to Medina, gets more

      • 623 – Battle
      of Waddan

      • 623 – Battle
      of Safwan

      • 623 – Battle
      of Dul-‘Ashir

      • 624 – Raids on caravans to fund the movement begin.

      • 624 – Zakat becomes mandatory

      • 624 – Battle
      of Badr

      • 624 – Battle
      of Bani Salim

      • 624 – Battle of Eid-ul-Fitr & Zakat-ul-Fitr

      • 624 – Battle of Bani Qainuqa’

      • 624 – Battle
      of Sawiq

      • 624 – Battle
      of Ghatfan

      • 624 – Battle
      of Bahran

      • 625 – Battle
      of Uhud. 70 Muslims killed.

      • 625 – Battle of Humra-ul-Asad

      • 625 – Battle
      of Banu Nadir

      • 625 – Battle
      of Dhatul-Riqa

      • 626 – Battle
      of Badru-Ukhra

      • 626 – Battle
      of Dumatul-Jandal

      • 626 – Battle
      of Banu Mustalaq Nikah

      • 627 – Battle
      of the Trench

      • 627 – Battle
      of Ahzab

      • 627 – Battle
      of Bani Qurayza

      • 627 – Battle
      of Bani Lahyan

      • 627 – Battle
      of Ghaiba

      • 627 – Battle
      of Khaibar

      • 628 – Muhammad signs treaty with Quraish. (The 628 Al-Hudaybiyya
      agreement, between the Prophet and the Meccan tribe of Quraish, was signed for
      a period of 10 years, which became, in Islamic tradition, the time limit for
      any agreement with non-Muslims. The agreement was broken after 18 months,
      Muhammad’s army then conquered Mecca)

      • 630 – Muhammad conquers Mecca.

      • 630 – Battle
      of Hunain.

      • 630 – Battle
      of Tabuk

      • 632 – Muhammad dies. The reign of the Caliphs begins.

      • 632 – Abu-Bakr, Muhammad’s father-in-law, along with Umar, begin a
      military move to enforce Islam in Arabia.

      • 633 – Battle at Oman

      • 633 – Battle
      at Hadramaut.

      • 633 – Battle
      of Kazima

      • 633 – Battle
      of Walaja

      • 633 – Battle
      of Ulleis

      • 633 – Battle
      of Anbar

      • 634 – Battle of Basra,

      • 634 – Battle of Damascus

      • 634 – Battle
      of Ajnadin.

      • 634 – Death of Hadrat Abu Bakr. Hadrat Umar Farooq becomes the Caliph.

      • 634 – Battle
      of Namaraq

      • 634 – Battle
      of Saqatia.

      • 635 – Battle
      of Bridge.

      • 635 – Battle
      of Buwaib.

      • 635 – Conquest of Damascus.

      • 635 – Battle
      of Fahl.

      • 636 – Battle
      of Yermuk.

      • 636 – Battle
      of Qadsiyia.

      • 636 – Conquest of Madain.

      • 637 – Battle
      of Jalula.

      • 638 – Battle
      of Yarmouk.

      • 638 – The Muslims defeat the Romans and enter Jerusalem.

      • 638 – Conquest of Jazirah.

      • 639 – Conquest of Khuizistan and movement into Egypt.

      • 641 – Battle
      of Nihawand

      • 642 – Battle of Rayy in Persia

      • 643 – Conquest of Azarbaijan

      • 644 – Conquest of Fars

      • 644 – Conquest of Kharan.

      • 644 – Umar is murdered. Othman becomes the Caliph.

      • 647 – Conquest of Cypress

      • 644 – Uman dies, succeeded by Caliph Uthman.

      • 648 – Byzantine campaign begins.

      • 651 – Naval battle against Byzantines.

      • 654 – Islam spreads into North Africa

      • 656 – Uthman is murdered. Ali become Caliph.

      • 658 – Battle
      of Nahrawan.

      • 659 – Conquest of Egypt

      • 661 – Ali is murdered.

      • 662 – Egypt
      falls to Islam rule.

      • 666 – Sicily
      is attacked by Muslims

      • 677 – Siege of Constantinople

      • 687 – Battle
      of Kufa

      • 691 – Battle of Deir ul Jaliq

      • 700 – Sufism takes root as a sect.

      • 700 – Military campaigns in North Africa

      • 702 – Battle of Deir ul Jamira

      • 711 – Muslims invade Gibraltar

      • 711 – Conquest of Spain

      • 713 – Conquest of Multan

      • 716 – Invasion of Constantinople

      • 732 – Battle of Tours
      in France.

      • 740 – Battle
      of the Nobles.

      • 741 – Battle of Bagdoura in North Africa

      • 744 – Battle of Ain al Jurr.

      • 746 – Battle
      of Rupar Thutha

      • 748 – Battle of Rayy.

      • 749 – Battle of lsfahan

      • 749 – Battle
      of Nihawand

      • 750 – Battle
      of Zab

      • 772 – Battle of Janbi in North

      • 777 – Battle of Saragossa
      in Spain