My lecture that I presented on the topic of ‘Did Islam abolish slavery?’, 24th March 2017, at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS]
Not so long ago in Western history, slavery was a brutal practice that saw humans put in chains, abused, murdered with impunity and left to die when no longer useful. Slavery was used to provide a key backbone in European economic exploitation of the ‘new world’ and colonies further afield.
However after the abolition of formal Slavery and Western moral systems readjusted to justify its abolition, much criticism has been anachronistically laid upon Islam for its alleged lack of providing an abolition of Slavery by Prophet Muhammed (saaw). In light of the many English translations available of Islamic texts, many Muslims have found it hard to discuss the topic in the West and explain how Muhammed (saaw) can be a universal paradigm while seemingly never having abolished slavery in his time. But is this true? Did the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) never abolish Slavery? or did he?
This paradigm shifting lecture…
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Categories: History of Islam & Western Civilisation, LECTURES, Slavery & Indentured Servitude, Uncategorized
Every time you talked about physical relationship between Syed and his Amat, you stressed on the fact that those relations were consensual. I find it very very hard to believe. Because —
Firstly, you didn’t give any evidence to show that those relations were actually consensual.
Secondly, back in those days people didn’t have the concept of individualism or body-freedom (my body is my property type mindset) and as such it’s hard to imagine that every time the Syed went to his Amat, he asked something like “is it OK if I do X, Y, Z with your body?” some time later: “Is it OK if I go this far?” etc and the Amat would respond “X Y Z is OK” or “no, don’t go this much” and the Syed to halt on that. Even there seems to be no discussion on marital rape (which is again a very modern concept) in the hadith/Fiqh literature. In brief, the concept of taking consent (be it from wife/Amat) seems to be a very modern one. So how can you say that sex with Amat was consensual?
Thirdly, these Amat were from enemy sides who lost their relatives and might have even lost close family members in the battle with the Muslims. And the very Syed and/or his close peers might have killed those relatives. As such, it’d be natural for an Amat to harbor hatred/resent against her Syed. In fact, there are many hadiths and historical anecdotes that proves beyond doubt that when women lost their kiths and kins in battles they would mourn for days, make/recite poems, wail over the deceased, couldn’t even cook (e.g. when Jafar ibn Abi Talib died, the prophet asked his neighbors to prepare foods for his family), even would prepare to take revenge (e.g. Hinda who employed Wahshi to take revenge on her behalf), etc. So it’d be reasonable to assume that those same emotions would be there in an Amat, as well. And it’s very natural for them to hold such feelings (common sense). But despite all these facts, you’re asking me to imagine that she would give consent to her Syed without any force/threat?