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Page last edited on 23 April, 2003

[ Read more on  Slavery in Islam ]

Slavery - Never a Race Issue

Taken from The Wisdom Fund

Much of the early history of African-American Muslims is discussed by Y. N. Kly in the article "The African-American Muslim Minority: 1776-1900."

One of the causes of the continuing conversion of African-Americans to Islam is the contrast between their brutal and racist enslavement at the hands of Anglo-Americans in the United States, on the one hand, and the relative absence of racism in Islam, on the other. Although one dimension of the current anti-Islamic polemic in the West is the highlighting of the occurence of slavery both in Islamic history and today in Sudan and Mauritania, this has failed to turn away many African-Americans from Islam.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • the Qur'an repeatedly condemns oppressors;
  • the Qur'an exhorts people to free their slaves;
  • while slavery has occured in the Muslim world, it has not been racist;
  • slavery in the Muslim world was largely a way of dealing with prisoners of war who were then ransomed back to their own people.
Given the clear opposition of Islam to injustice, the Islamic virtue of not practicing slavery, and the relatively recent horrors of African-American slavery, why have Muslims not put an end to slavery in the Muslim world?

 I suspect that the answer to this lies in the fact that in most areas of the Muslim world, Muslims are themselves not free to act politically, that they are preoccupied with other local struggles against injustice, or are constrained by poverty. If my suspicion is correct, in the future as Muslims gradually emerge from the bondage of neocolonial dictatorships and/or poverty, we should see Muslims at the forefront of those activists who are striving to end all forms of slavery.

On the other hand, if Muslims do not actively work to end slavery, Islam will no doubt lose much of its appeal to people for whom oppression is a reality. 

[ Read more on  Slavery in Islam ]


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Last updated on 13 March, 2003

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