Author Topic: The Master Slave traders no one really talks about: The Role of Islam in African Slavery  (Read 188 times)

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Offline rangerrebew

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The Master Slave traders no one really talks about: The Role of Islam in African Slavery

By iqbal.latif   

Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:58 AM

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Hugh Thomas’s “The Slave Trade” and Robin Blackburn's “The Making Of New World Slavery” sheds new light on centuries of slave trading. Piero Scaruffi in “The Origins of the African Slave Trade” writes that the civil rights movement of the 1960's have left many people with the belief that the slave trade was exclusively a European/USA phenomenon and only evil white people were to blame for it. This is a simplistic scenario that hardly reflects the facts. Thousands of records of transactions are available on a CDROM prepared by Harvard University and several comprehensive books have been published recently on the origins of modern slavery. What these records show is that the modern slave trade flourished in the early middle ages, as early as 869, especially between Muslim traders and western African kingdoms.

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Sad and most cruel in fact is the Muslim Slave Trade, i.e., enslavement of Africans which is a big tragedy.  It is not just Europeans who were connected with slavery, Africans were caged by Muslim slave traders for over 900 years, Africans from West, East, and North Africa were marched thousands of miles to Slave Markets as Men, Women, and Children were bound together by the waist and neck in a manner that if one died the rest could drag him hence the walks became the “Death Marches.” 20 million Africans died on these walks; it was erroneously said that it is God’s wish to see Africans caged as they were ‘uncivilized animals.’

In a continuing debate, someone asked me “if Muslim slave trade was as big, why are there not so many blacks in the Peninsular Arabia, Middle East or Turkey”.

It is a very sad story which I’d like to share if one really wants to know. The recorded mortality rate was extremely high -- there was no breeding possible as at the borders of the Islamic Empire vast number of new slaves were castrated ready for sale - as Islamic law did not allow mutilation of slaves, so it was done before they crossed the border. Eunuchs were especially needed for bodyguards and confidential servants in the harems out of 100 castration only 5 would survive; in the **Ottoman Empire, the majority of slaves were obtained by raiding in Africa.

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**Ottoman Eunuchs** came in the “Black” and “White” varieties, as in black and white races; because Islam prohibited castration, they were obtained by slavers in Africa or in the Balkans, where Christians and Jews did the dirty work. European “White Eunuchs” from the Balkans had their testicles removed; these were sought by the hundreds as palace bureaucrats in Istanbul. African “Black Eunuchs” from Egypt or Ethiopia typically had their entire genitalia cut off, and had the more powerful position of serving the royal persons. (They had usurped that role in the late 16th century from the formerly preeminent white eunuchs.) Each racial set had its own hierarchy and its own chief. The Chief Black Eunuch was the master of the harem and a powerful, trusted emissary of the Valide Sultan: it was her black eunuch that Turhan Hatice had sent to murder Mehmed’s original Valide Sultan. (Ref- 1656: The Chief Black and White Eunuchs of Topkapi Palace).

Documentation suggests that slaves throughout Islamic world were mainly used for menial domestic and commercial purposes and since domestic workers had to be castrated therefore generational succession was out of question, women were used as concubines and menials. A Muslim slave owner was entitled by law to use slaves for sexual pleasure.

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*Eunuchs persisted in the Ottoman sultanate right up until the end of World War I, and ex-eunuchs (well, still eunuchs) of the ex-Sublime Porte were still to be found in Turkey as late as the 1970s. One of them recounted the experience of being kidnapped and castrated in Ethiopia for export to the Ottoman palace.

This is a debate that tends to rile many in protest to challenge history without objectively looking at facts.  Unfortunately, one remains ignorant, debauched, vengeful and envious of others when he is ignorant of history. Learn it if you want to be a good human being and respect others. The reason one cannot respect others is when he doesn’t know history.  This is why I don't entangle with people who are ignorant of history. I will entangle with a student but not with someone who does not want to learn. An average knowledge of history will separate 'the bad from ugly' and a good grasp separates man 'from bad and good.'
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 05:19:20 PM by rangerrebew »
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