Slavery in Islam

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Over 500 years before Europeans came to Africa the slave trade was already booming under the control of the Islamic Empire, both African and Caucasian people were captured and sold into slavery.

Submitted: November 12, 2017

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Submitted: November 12, 2017

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Slavery in Islam

The Qur’an states that free men may not be enslaved and that those who are faithful to foreign religions could live as protected persons, known as dhimmis.  These people were only permitted to live as protected people if they paid taxes called Kharaj and Jizya. The spread of the Islamic Empire throughout Africa brought about a much harsher interpretation of the law and Muslims at that time believed that people from outside the Muslim Empires borders were an acceptable source of slaves. 

 

The law required that owners treated slaves well and provided them with medical care but a slave had no right to be heard in court, they could only marry with permission from their owner, and were considered to be property to the slave’s owner.  If a slave converted to Islam it did not automatically bestow a slave with their freedom nor did it promise the freedom of their children. 

 

Slaves were obtained through conquest of other countries and through treaties with other nations.  One of these regions that provided slaves to the Islamic Empire was Nubia, a region along the Nile Rivers that was located in between central Sudan and southern Egypt.  Children of slaves also became slaves but it was not common to have slaves since most slaves were castrated before being brought into the territories of the Islamic Empire.  A majority of these slaves were brought fro Europe and Africa. 

 

The trade of black African slaves had been around for over 600 years before Europeans had arrived on the continent.  Russian expansion began to put an end to the source of highly valued Caucasian slaves, the women were highly sought after because of their beauty and the men were wanted for forced participation in the military and commercial labor. 

 

Slaves throughout the Islamic Empire were mostly used for domestic and commercial use.  Women were often used as sex slaves and domestic slaves while men were used most for commercial purposes such as agriculture and mining.  Under Islamic law, a Muslim slave owner was entitled to use their slaves for there own sexual pleasure.  Conditions for these slaves were very poor and many died years before there time “of the Saharan salt mines, it is said that no slave lived there for more than five years.” Bernard Lewis- Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry- Chapter 1 – Slavery, Oxford Univ Press 1994.


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