Saturday, February 23, 2008

Slavery, a very short history

Earlier this month, First Things; The Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life, published an outstanding article on slavery. Every American needs to read this article. I've copied a few excerpts below but when you have time please read the entire article.

It has become a feature of today’s atheist chic to shy bricks at Christianity for its record on slavery.

Combine this with a historical critique that relentlessly portrays the West as the aggressors against the rest of the world, and as uniquely responsible for its evils, and Westerners’ will to defend something as rotten as Western civilization begins to ebb away.

No culture on earth, Christian or otherwise, ever questioned the morality of slavery until relatively recent times.

But in the popular mind the onus for slavery is squarely on the West.

Some Americans might be surprised to learn that the British, or anyone besides American southerners, ever owned slaves, since after coming through American schools as they stand today many people no doubt have the impression that slavery was invented in Charleston and Mobile.

The first legally recognized slave in the American colonies was owned by a black man
who had himself arrived as an indentured servant.

Likewise unacknowledged has been the role that Christian principles played in the abolition of slavery in the West, which was an enterprise unprecedented in the annals of human history.

Still, there was no consensus about slavery within Christendom. Slavery persisted, and was at times even given ecclesiastical sanction.

The pioneering English abolitionists Thomas Clarkson (1760–1846) and William Wilberforce (1759–1833) were both motivated to work for an end to slavery by their deep Christian faith; so was the American anti-slavery crusader William Lloyd Garrison (1805–1879)

In the Islamic world, however, the situation is very different. The Muslim prophet Muhammad owned slaves

The Qur’an even gives a man permission to have sexual relations with his slave girls

The Qur’an says that the followers of Muhammad are “ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” (48:29), and that the unbelievers are the “worst of
created beings” (98:6). One may exercise the Golden Rule in relation to a fellow
Muslim, but according to the worldview presented by such verses and others like
them, the same courtesy is not properly to be extended to unbelievers.

That is one principal reason why the primary source of slaves in the Islamic world
has been non-Muslims, whether Jews, Christians, Hindus or pagans.

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.

Slavery was abolished under Western pressure; the Arab Muslim slave trade in Africa was ended by the force of British arms in the nineteenth century.

There is evidence that slavery still continues beneath the surface in some majority-Muslim countries as well—notably Saudi Arabia, which only abolished slavery in 1962, Yemen and Oman, both of which ended legal slavery in 1970, and Niger, which didn’t abolish slavery until 2004. In Niger, the ban is widely ignored, and as many as one million people remain in bondage. Slaves are bred, often raped, and generally
treated like animals.

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.

Most Westerners have not troubled to learn this history, and no one is telling them about it. If they did, the entire slavery guiltmongering industry would collapse. And we can’t let that happen, now, can we?

1 comment:

Robert said...

I'm not sure why we're so willing to turn a blind eye to non-Christian slave trading. It does seem to play into the anti-Christian leftist dogma though.