The long Islamic genocide of India

The long Islamic genocide of India

India Before the Coming of Islam

To say the Islamist is the Islamic adherent’s worst enemy may sound conspiratorial but it is both historically and theologically factual.

Multiple reliable historical evidence record that the spread of Islam out from the harsh temperates of Arabia into the Indian Subcontinent, to the domains of China, through Eastern and North Africa, into Europe all the way to the heartland of France; was a most overhauling, violent and uncompromising imperialist undertaking. Some of the Natives in these regions initially welcomed the intervention of Islamic rule, where they themselves were being oppressed by the tyranny of their own governments (for example in Spain). A vast many of Natives however vehemently resisted Islamic conquest. In North Africa for example, the Berbers were a thorn in the flesh of Islamic imperialists in Africa. They forced the Muslim Arabs to withdraw several times from the Maghreb. In putting up a most staunch resistance to Islamic creed, Ibn Khaldun recorded that the Berbers apostatised twelve times before Islamic rule could decisively be imposed on them. It is needless to assert the obvious that through the course of this conquest, Islamic ideology was instrumental to seditiously disarming Native institutions and weakening local ethnic ties among Berbers. Islamic imperialism was so thorough there that today, an overwhelming majority of Berbers no longer identify with their despised Native ancestral lineage nor do they consider themselves Berbers. The loyalty of majority Berbers are today invested in the Arabian Heartlands. The Berbers, now Arabian cultural slaves, are today called Arabs. Could this colonist outcome have been any different considering that it was the Arabs who were the first cultural ambassadors of Islam? Can Islamisation result in any other outcome but Arabisation?

Not only is Arabisation an inevitable outcome of the spread of fundamental Islam, but self-hate – hatred for one’s own (jahiliya) ancestral heritage – is a fundamental inevitability. The Islamic follower – the true convert to Islam – becomes tortured in mind and spirit until his homeland is purified by Islam. Quran 8:39 instructs Muslims to “fight the unbelievers until there is no more fitnah (disbelief) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone”. Thus the adherent views his un-purified homeland as a Dar al-Harb – a zone of perpetual warfare that stands in stark contrast to the idealised zone of peace that Allah calls all of mankind to. Where there is warfare against the unbeliever, slavery of the unbeliever is also permitted. To the East of Africa, in Sudan, the former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi wrote to Mary Robinson, U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights (Section III: War Crimes – Mar 24, 1999), defending this dualistic outlook embedded in Islam. He said that:

“It is true that the NIF regime has not enacted a law to realise slavery in Sudan. But the traditional concept of jihad does allow slavery as a by-product (of jihad)… The traditional concept of jihad… is based upon a division of the world into two zones: one the zone of Peace, the other the zone of War. It requires initiating hostilities for religious purposes….”

To the South of the Sahara, Uthman Dan Fodio launched a jihad in his homeland to purify the practice of Islam there from being diluted with Animism. More recently in the 1990s, Algerian Islamist movements too took up arms and killed up to 200,000 of their own country men, in trying to stave Arabo-Islamic culture there from being sullied with their Berber African past. Africa is not a unique victim to this delirious intertwined legacy of Arabisation and Islamic imperialism. The Indian subcontinent since the advent of Islam there, witnessed the enslavement of Natives both physically and mentally, and in unprecedented heights! Prior to the invasion of Islamic conquerors and Muslim merchants, there was not a single slave market in India. Although slavery existed in India in mild forms, chattel slavery was established there by Islamic rulers. Under the sacred pretence of believing in the Muslim nationhood, Polytheist converts to Islam grew to see their homeland as a Dar al-Harb, a land of war that remained ever contemptible until purified religiously, culturally and politically! They equally went as far as demanding that their motherland be partitioned to create a separate homeland from that of the majority Polytheists. Pakistan, a country they aptly termed the “Land of the Pure” is till today riddled with a purification quest whose target has naturally shifted from purifying the land of Polytheists (of which there are now hardly any left), to a long-lasting pogrom against Shias. Regarding the persecution of Shias in Pakistan, Professor An-Na’im Author of Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Islam has repeatedly stated that Muslims are in fact happier in secular India than they are in the theocratic Pakistan which was specifically created for them. To this very day, the vestiges of pre-Islamic heritage around the world are being wiped out, in favour of institutionalising norms (language, dress sense, legalities) that were disseminated from Arabia. This mandate engineers inter-faith conflicts, genocides, mass displacements, and foreign intervention in the affairs of sovereign peoples. This is the practical implications of fundamental Islam.

Below is an excerpt from chapter VI of M. A. Khan’s stellar, factual and thoroughly researched book Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism and Slavery. It records notable achievements of the Polytheist Indians prior to the coming of Islam. It also specifically details how the pre-Islamic Code of War differed from that which was introduced through Islamic rule.



An advanced civilization

Prior to Muslim conquest, India was one of the world’s top civilizations with significant achievements—in science, mathematics, literature, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, architecture and so on—to its credit. Indian mathematicians conceived the mathematical concept of zero and founded the basics of algebra. The persianized Abbasid caliphs, inspired by the pre-Islamic Persian pursuit of knowledge,464 sent scholars and merchants to India for collecting documents and texts on science, mathematics, medicine and philosophy. According to Nehru, ‘In subjects, like medicine and mathematics, they learned much from India. Indian scholars and mathematicians came in large numbers to Baghdad. Many Arab students went to Takshashila in North India, which was still a great university, specializing in medicine.’465

An Indian scholar brought two seminal mathematical works to Baghdad in 770. One was the Brahmasiddhanta (known to Arabs as Sindhind) of the great seventh-century Indian mathematician, Brahmagupta. It contained early ideas of algebra. In the ninth century, famous Muslim mathematician and astronomer Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi combined the Indian work with Greek geometry to found the mathematical system of algebra. Khwarizmi became known as the father of algebra. The term algorithm (or algorism), the technique of performing arithmetic calculations developed by al-Khwarizmi using Indian numerals, is the latinized version of his name. The second manuscript contained the revolutionary system of denoting number, including the concept of zero, unknown elsewhere. Muslim scholars used to call this Indian numbering system, “Indian (Hindi) numerals”; the Europeans later gave it the name, “Arabic numerals”.466 Although Muslims made significant contributions in these achievements, they often, in an act of self- gratification, claim all the credit for these plagiarized developments. Pre-Islamic India had a great tradition in creating magnificent and sensual sculptures, and building wondrous architectures. After the coming of Muslim invaders, Indian builders and craftsmen mixed Islamic ideas to their own, creating a new Indo-Islamic mosaic in the new building and architecture, which became integrated into the “heritage” of the self-declared Islamic civilization.

Alberuni (d. 1050) has recorded many of these ancient Indian achievements in his famous work, Indica, published in 1030. Arabic scholar Edward Sachau translated this book in 1880 and published under the title of Alberuni’s India (1910). Sachau writes: ‘To Alberuni, the Hindus were excellent philosophers, good mathematicians and astronomers.’467 Alberuni summarizes Indian achievement in mathematics as follows:

They do not use the letter of their alphabet for numerical notation, as we use the Arabic letters in the order of Hebrew alphabet… The numerical signs which we use are derived from the finest forms of the Hindu signs…The Arabs, too, stop with the thousand, which is certainly the most correct and the most natural thing to do… Those, however, who go beyond the thousand in their numeral system, are the Hindus, at least in their arithmetical technical terms, which have been either freely invented or derived according to certain etymologies, whilst in others both methods are blended together. They extend the names of the orders of numbers until the eighteenth order for religious reasons, the mathematicians being assisted by the grammarians with all kinds of etymologies.468

According to Alberuni, Indian learning, such as the fables of Kalila and Dimna and books on medicine, including the famous Charaka, came to the Arab world, through either direct translation from Sanskrit into Arabic or through first translation into Persian, and then, from Persian into Arabic. Sachau also thinks that the influx of knowledge from India to Baghdad took place in two different phases of which, he writes:

As Sindh was under the actual rule of Khalif Mansur (753–74), there came embassies from that part of India to Baghdad, and among them scholars, who brought along with them two books, the Brahmasiddhanta of Brahmagupta, and his Khandakhadyaka (Arkanda). With the help of these pundits, Alfazari, perhaps also Yakub ibn Tarik, translated them. Both works have been largely used, and have exercised a great influence. It was on this occasion that the Arabs first became acquainted with a scientific system of astronomy. They learned from Brahmagupta earlier than from Ptolemy.469

Sachau adds that there was another influx of Hindu learning into the Arab world during the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid (r. 786–808). The famous ministerial family of Barmak from Balkh, who had outwardly converted to Islam but never abandoned their ancestral crypto-Buddhist tradition after generations,

…sent scholars to India, there to study medicine and pharmacology. Besides, they engaged Hindu scholars to come to Baghdad, made them the chief physicians of their hospitals, and ordered them to translate from Sanskrit into Arabic books on medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, philosophy, astrology, and other subjects. Still in later centuries, Muslim scholars sometimes traveled for the same purposes as the emissaries of the Barmak, e.g. Almuwaffuk, not long before Alberuni’s time…470

Moreover, the Arabs also translated Indian works on many other subjects, including on snakes, poison, veterinary art, logic and philosophy, ethics, politics, and science of war. ‘Many Arab authors took up the subjects communicated to them by the Hindus and worked them out in original compositions, commentaries and extracts. A favorite subject of theirs was Indian mathematics, the knowledge of which became far spread by the publications of Alkindi and many others,’ adds Sachau.471

The eleventh-century Spanish Muslim scholar Said al-Andalusi—in his book, The Categories of Nations, on world science—acknowledges India very positively and describes it as a major center for science, mathematics and culture. The treatise recognizes India as the first nation to have cultivated science and praises Indians for their wisdom, ability in all the branches of knowledge and for making useful and rare inventions. It adds:

To their credit, the Indians have made great strides in the study of numbers and of geometry. They have acquired immense information and reached the zenith in their knowledge of the movements of the stars (astronomy) and the secrets of the skies (astrology) as well as other mathematical studies. After all that, they have surpassed all the other peoples in their knowledge of medical science and the strengths of various drugs, the characteristics of compounds and the peculiarities of substances (chemistry).472

Many early Islamic scholars (seventh–eighth century) left records of a vibrant and wealthy India, having many populous and prosperous cities (discussed below). Of the pre-Islamic civilization of India, notes Francis Watson:473

It is clear that India, at the time when Muslim invaders turned toward it (8th to 11th centuries), was the earth’s richest region for its wealth in precious and semi-precious stones, gold and silver, religion and culture, and its fine arts and letters. Tenth century Hindustan was also far more advanced than its contemporaries in the East and the West for its achievements in the realms of speculative philosophy and scientific theorizing, mathematics and knowledge of nature’s workings. Hindus of the early medieval period were unquestionably superior in more things than the Chinese, the Persians (including the Sassanians), the Romans and the Byzantines of the immediate proceeding centuries. The followers of Siva and Vishnu on this subcontinent had created for themselves a society more mentally evolved—joyous and prosperous too—than had been realized by the Jews, Christians, and Muslim monotheists of the time. Medieval India, until the Islamic invaders destroyed it, was history’s most richly imaginative culture and one of the five most advanced civilizations of all times.

Look at the Hindu art that Muslim iconoclasts severely damaged or destroyed. Ancient Hindu sculpture is vigorous and sensual in the highest degree—more fascinating than human figurative art created anywhere else on earth. (Only statues created by classical Greek artists are in the same class as Hindu temple sculpture). Ancient Hindu temple architecture is the most awe- inspiring, ornate and spell-binding architectural style found anywhere in the world. (The Gothic art of the cathedrals in France is the only other religious architecture that is comparable with the intricate architecture of Hindu temples). No artist of any historical civilization has ever revealed the same genius as ancient Hindustan’s artists and artisans.

The ancient Greeks undoubtedly had made greater contributions in science, medicine and philosophy than other ancient civilizations, but India was definitely a leading civilization in all spheres of intellectual achievements.

A tolerant and humane society

Apart from India’s intellectual and scientific achievements, Said al-Andalusi noted: ‘The Indians, as known to all nations for many centuries, are the metal (essence) of wisdom, the source of fairness and objectivity. They are peoples of sublime pensiveness, universal apologue…’ Indeed, India was not only a distinguished civilization in its achievements in science, literature, philosophy, arts, and architecture but also had distinguished itself from the invading Muslims in terms of its humanity, chivalry and ethical behavior. Prior to Islamic invasions, Hindu kings and princes of India used to engage in wars, like in any major civilization of the time, but such wars were relatively infrequent. Affirming this, Muslim traveler Merchant Sulaiman writes in his Salsilatut Tawarikh (851): ‘The Indians sometimes go to war for conquest, but the occasions are rare.’ Ibn Battutah, while traveling with Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq’s diplomatic convoy to the Chinese emperor, was surprised to observe that the Hindu rulers of Malabar showed great respect for each other’s territory and exercised restraint against warfare. In Malabar, he wrote, ‘there are twelve infidel sultans, some of them strong with armies numbering fifty thousand men, and others weak with armies of three thousand. Yet there is no discord whatever between them and the strong does not desire to seize the possessions of the weak.’474 Muslim invaders had unfurled continuous warfare in India (and everywhere else) not only against the Hindus but amongst themselves; there were ceaseless revolts by Muslim generals, chiefs and princes all over India during their entire period of Islamic rule. Battutah’s astonishment is then quite understandable. Sulaiman adds that the Indian kings even did not maintain troops in regular pays. They used to be paid only when they were called in for fighting. Once the war is over, ‘They then come out (to civilian life), and maintain themselves without receiving anything from the king.’475

Indians used to observe high ethical conventions and behavior in times of both peace and war. Wars and battles were normally limited to the martial class, the kshatriyyas, of opposing parties, who used to clash mostly in open battle-fields. They used to follow a code of honor and sacrificing it for the sake of victory or material gain was deemed a shame worse than death. Even famous Muslim historian Al-Idrisi wrote that Hindus never departed from justice (discussed below). The religious teachers and priests and the non- combatants, particularly the women and children, were normally left unmolested in wars. Religious symbols and establishments—namely temples, churches and monasteries—and civilian habitations were generally not attacked, pillaged and plundered. War booty, a major divinely-sanctioned object of the Islamic holy war, was not a part of war and conquest in pre-Islamic India. The women of the defeated side were normally not captured or their chastity not violated, contrary to the practice in other contemporaneous civilizations—China and Greece, for example.

Merchant Sulaiman affirms some of these ethical conducts of Indian wars. He says: ‘When a king subdues a neighboring state, he places over it a man belonging to the family of the fallen prince, who carried on the government in the name of the conqueror. The inhabitants would not suffer it to be otherwise.’476 The tenth-century Muslim chronicler, Abu Zaidu-l Hasan, wrote about the conquest of the kingdom of Kumar (Khmer) by the Maharaja of Zabaj (Srivijaya or Java).477 The young, haughty prince of Kumar had expressed his desire to conquer Zabaj and hearing this, the king of Zabaj attacked the Kumar kingdom. After the Maharaja seized the palace of Kumar and killed the prince, ‘He then made a proclamation assuring safety to everyone, and seated himself on the throne.’ He then addressed the wazir (chief minister) of Kumar that,

‘I know that you have borne yourself like a true minister; receive now the recompense of your conduct. I know that you have given good advice to your master if he would but have headed it. Seek out a man fit to occupy the throne, and seat him thereon instead of this foolish fellow.’ The Maharaja then returned immediately to his country, and neither he nor any of his men touched anything belonging to the king of Kumar.478

The ancient Greek traveler and historian Megasthenes (c. 350–290 BCE) recorded his observation of the peculiar traits of Indian warfare during his visit to India. Alain Danielou has summarized his observations as follows:

Whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste; among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighborhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they never ravage an enemy’s land with fire, nor cut down its trees.479

Prof. Arthur Basham (d. 1986), the leading authority on ancient Indian culture and Oriental civilizations, writes about ancient Indian codes of war that ‘In all her history of warfare, Hindu India has few tales to tell of cities put to the sword or of the massacre of non-combatants. The ghastly sadism of the kings of Assyria, who flayed their captives alive, is completely without parallel in ancient India. To us the most striking feature of ancient Indian civilization is its humanity.’480 Hiuen Tsang, a seventh-century Buddhist pilgrim from China to Nalanda University, recorded that the country was little injured despite enough rivalries between the ruling princes of India. Faxian, a fourth-century Chinese pilgrim to India, marveled at the peace, prosperity, and high culture of Indians. Having grown up in war-torn China, says Linda Johnson, he was deeply impressed by a land whose leaders were more concerned with promoting commerce and religion than with slaughtering substantial portion of the population.481

Muslim code of war

It is evident from the discussion so far that the Islamic invaders of India brought a totally different code of war, based on the Quran and the Sunnah. Contemporary Muslim historians inform us that, as a general rule, they used to slay all enemy soldiers on the battlefield. After the victory, they often fell upon the civilian villages and towns often slaughtering the men of fighting age. They sacked and plundered the households for booty, and sometimes burned down the villages and towns. Of the civilian population, the Buddhist monks and priestly Brahmins, in whom the common people reposed their trust, became special targets for extermination. The centers of infidel religion and learning—namely Hindu and Jain temples, Buddhist monasteries, Sikh Gurdwaras and indigenous educational institutions—were their prime targets for desecration, destruction and plunder. The women and children were captured as slaves in large numbers. They kept the young and beautiful women captives as sex-slaves, others were engaged in household chores, and the rest were sold. The magnitude of the booty, the captives included, was a measure of the glory and success of military missions; this is reflected in their glorifying narratives by leading medieval Muslim historians. When large numbers of infidels were slain, Sultan Muhammad Ghauri, Qutbuddin Aibak and Emperor Babur et al. used to raise “victory-towers” with their heads to celebrate the achievement. Sultan Ahmad Shah Bahmani (1422–36) of the Deccan Sultanate attacked the Vijaynagar kingdom, in which records Ferishtah, ‘wherever he went he put to death men, women and children without mercy, contrary to the compact (not to molest civilians) made between his uncle and predecessor Mahomed Shah and the Rays of Beejanuggar. Whenever the number of slain amounted to twenty thousand, he halted three days and made a festival in celebration of the bloody event. He broke down also the idolatrous temples and destroyed the colleges of the Brahmins.’482 The Muslim invaders and rulers committed all these barbaric acts for the sake of Islamic holy war in the cause of Allah as commanded in the Quran and prophetic examples. The Prophet’s attack of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza of Medina (627) or the Jews of Khaybar (628) and his manner of dealing with them served as an ideal example for emulation by later holy warriors of Islam.

The contrast between the Hindu and Islamic codes of war was clearly exhibited in Sultan Muhammad Ghauri’s attack on King Prithviraj Chauhan of Delhi and Ajmer (1191). Muhammad Ghauri was defeated and captured in his first attack. Despite his many brutal attacks on the northern borders of India, involving mass murder, enslavement, plunder and pillage, Prithviraj Chauhan forgave and honorably released the aggressor without inflicting any punishment or humiliation. Within a few months, Ghauri regrouped and attacked Prithviraj again defeating the chivalrous Hindu King.483 Muhammad Ghauri repaid Prithviraj’s earlier generosity by pulling out his eyes before killing him.484

Further evidence of the contrast between the Hindu and Muslim codes of war comes from Ferishtah’s narration of Deccan Sultan Muhammad Shah’s attack against King Krishna Ray of Vijaynagar kingdom in 1366. Muhammad Shah had vowed to slaughter 100,000 infidels in the attack and ‘the massacre of the unbelievers was renewed in so relentless a manner that pregnant women and children at the breast even did not escape the sword,’ records Ferishtah.485 The Muslim army in a treacherous surprise-attack put Krishna Ray on the flight and 10,000 of his soldiers were slain. Muhammad Shah’s ‘thirst for vengeance being still unsatisfied, he commanded the inhabitants of every place around Vijaynagar to be massacred,’ records Ferishtah.

Krishna Ray dispatched ambassadors to make peace, which Muhammad Shah refused. Thereupon, one of the Sultan’s favorite advisor reminded him that ‘he had only sworn to slaughter one hundred thousand Hindus, and not to destroy their race altogether.’ The sultan replied that ‘twice the number required by this vow might have been slain,’ yet he was neither willing to make peace nor spare the subjects.486 This means that nearly 200,000 people were slaughtered in this campaign. The ambassadors were, at length, able to conclude peace by paying a large sum of money on the spot and pleaded with the Sultan to let them speak. According to Ferishtah, ‘Being permitted to speak, they observed that no religion required the innocent to be punished for the crimes of the guilty (kings), more especially helpless women and children: if Krishn Ray had been in fault, the poor and feeble inhabitants had not been accessory to his errors. Mahomed Shah replied that decrees of Providence (i.e., from Allah such as in Quran 9:5 to slaughter the idolaters) had been ordered what had been done, and that he had no power to alter them.’ At length, the ambassadors were able to rouse a humane sense in Muhammad Shah, as adds Ferishtah, ‘(he) took an oath that he would not, hereafter, put to death a single enemy after a victory, and would bind his successors to observe the same line of conduct.’487 On the contrast between the Hindu and Islamic codes of war, John Jones observes: ‘It is a curious fact that the hideous and bloody monster of religious intolerance was hardly known in India until, first the followers of Mohammed and secondly, the disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus (i.e. Portuguese), began to invade the land.’488 Arthur Schopenhauer (d. 1860), one of the greatest nineteenth-century philosophers, narrates the sordid tale of the Islamic invasion of India as follows: ‘…the endless persecutions, the religious wars, that sanguinary frenzy of which the ancients (of India) had no conception! The destruction or disfigurement of the ancient temples and idols, a lamentable, mischievous and barbarous act still bears witness to the monotheistic fury… carried on from Mahmud, the Ghaznevid of cursed memory, down to Aurangzeb… We hear nothing of this kind in the case of the Hindoo.’489 English novelist Aldous Huxley (1894–1963), in likening the atrocious history of Islam with that of later Christianity, wrote in Ends and Means:

It is an extremely significant fact that, before the coming of the Mohammedans, there was virtually no persecution in India. The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who visited India in the first half of the seventh century and has left a circumstantial account of his 14 years in the country, makes it clear that Hindus and Buddhist lived side by side without any show of violence. Neither Hinduism nor Buddhism is disgraced by anything corresponding to the Inquisition; neither was ever guilty of such iniquities as the Albigensian crusade or such criminal lunacies as the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries.490

Indisputably, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism arose in India as a revolt against Hinduism. Although Hinduism had its shortcomings, these new religious off-shoots grew from the midst of the Hindu society without facing any persecution of the type Islam brought to India or meted out to its revolting heretics throughout Islam’s history. The Christian persecution and brutality caused death of millions of Pagans, Jews, heretics, apostates and witches in Europe, South America and India’s Goa. In Islam, Prophet Muhammad himself had ordered execution of critics and apostates of Islam, while the killing and torture of apostates and heretics have continued ever since to this day. It should be noted that Buddhism was a flourishing religion in Central and Southeast Asia and was quite vigorous in parts of India at the time of Islam’s birth. Islam has nearly extinguished this most humane and peaceful ancient religious creed from India. It extinguished Paganism from Arabia by the sword in the life-time of Muhammad. Zoroastrianism in Persia and Christianity in the Levant, Egypt, and Anatolia etc. have suffered near extinction caused by the violent exertions of Islam. It should be noted that, to escape the brutal persecution of Islam, tens of thousands of Zoroastrians (Persis) fled to India, where—welcomed by the Hindu society—they live as a peaceful and well-off community till today. However, they suffered Islamic persecution in India too, after the Muslim invaders later occupied India. Sultan Ibrahim, a Ghaznivid descendent of Sultan Mahmud, marched to India; and according to historian Nizamuddin Ahmad, the author of Tabakat-I Akbari,he conquered many towns and forts, and amongst them were a city exceedingly populous, inhabited by a tribe of Khurasani descent (Persis), whom Afrasiyah had expelled from their native country. It was completely reduced… he took away no less than 100,000 captives.’491

Indian tolerance in the eyes of Muslim chroniclers

The humanity, tolerance and chivalry of Indians also caught the attention of Muslim historians. The Arab geographer Abu Zaid wrote of the rulers and people of Sarandib (Sri Lanka), an extension of Indian civilization, that in late ninth century, ‘There are numerous colonies of Jews in Sarandib, and people of other religions, especially Manicheans. The King allows each sect to follow its own religion.’492 Al-Masudi, a famous Muslim historian and traveler, writing in the early tenth century, describes the disposition of the most powerful Indian king, Balhara, toward Muslim settlers of his kingdom. He placed Balhara (Rashtrakuta dynasty, South India) in the same league of the world’s three greatest monarchs: the caliph of Baghdad, the emperors of China and Constantinople.493 On Balhara’s treatment of Muslims, noted al-Masudi: ‘Of all the kings of Sindh and India, there is no one who pays greater respect to the Musalmans than Balhara. In his Kingdom, Islam is honored and protected.’494 Al-Masudi’s description (916–17) of a large Muslim community near Bombay, created by Arabian and Iraqi pepper and spice traders who had settled there, is already noted. This Muslim community was ‘granted a degree of political autonomy by the local raja’ and they ‘intermarried considerably with the local population.’495 About the status of Muslims in Balhara’s kingdom, al-Istahkri wrote (c. 951): ‘It is a land of infidels, but there are Musalmans in its cities and none but the Musalmans rule them on the part of Balhara.’496

Ibn Haukal—renowned tenth-century Arab traveler and geographer and the author of famous treatise, Surat al-Ardh or The face of the Earth (977)—observed while traveling in the region between Cambay and Saimur that ‘The inhabitants were idolaters, but the Musalmans were treated with great consideration by the native princes. They were governed by the men of their own faith… They had erected their mosques in these infidel cities and were allowed to summon their congregations by the usual mode of proclaiming the time of prayer.’497 Al-Idrisi also gives a similar account of the treatment of Muslims in the territory of Balhara: ‘The town is frequented by large number of Musalman traders who go on business. They are honorably received by the king and his ministers and find protection and safety.’ Al-Idrisi continues: ‘The Indians are naturally inclined to justice, and never depart from it in their actions. Their good faith, honesty, and fidelity to their engagements are well known, and they are so famous for these qualities that people flock to their country from every side.’ He was further impressed by Indian’s “love of truth and horror of vice”.498 Even modern Muslim historian Habibullah states that ‘Muslims were treated by the Hindus with generosity and respect and allowed them freedom, even to govern themselves.’499

These ethical principles of Indians were rooted in its civilizational value system. King Ashoka seemed to have deviated from these principles in his ambition to become a great conqueror. However, he was left devastated by the casualties that occurred in the conquest of Kalinga, in which about 100,000 soldiers and commoners died. Subsequently, he became a great humanist and used to feel frightened by wars; he became an avowed anti-war activist. Killing the infidels in large numbers by Muslim conquerors was a common occurrence, generally glorified by Muslims at all levels—including by most of their greatest intellectuals.

Evidently, the Indian rulers showed generosity, humanity and chivalry toward Muslims, despite suffering terrible cruelty at the hands of ruthless Muslim invaders. This generosity and chivalry was demonstrated very early, when the Hindus revolted and ousted the Muslim rulers from Sindhan during the reign of Caliph Al-Mutasim (833–42). Despite suffering so much slaughter, destruction, pillage, enslavement and defilement of their temples over two centuries, the Hindus ‘respected the mosque, which the Musalmans of the town visited every Friday, for the purpose of the reading of usual offices and praying for the Khalif.’500

Tolerance & chivalry of Hindu rulers during the Muslim period

Indian rulers exercised the principle of Hindu tolerance, generosity and chivalry toward Muslims well into the last days of Islamic domination; by this time, Muslim invaders had inflicted terrible cruelty upon the Hindus and destruction of their religion for nearly a millennium in some parts. During the period of the Muslim rule in India, courageous Indian princes and commoners, revolting against the Muslim invaders, occasionally curved out Hindu kingdoms. Vijaynagar was one such Hindu kingdom (1336–1565) in South India (Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala). Constantly under attack by Muslim rulers, sometimes it exercised independence, and paid tribute to Muslim overlords at other times. Still, Vijaynagar rose to be one of the greatest empires in the world of the time. Abdur-Razzak of Herat, who came to Vijaynagar in 1443 as an envoy of the Mongol Khan of Central Asia, wrote, ‘‘The city is such that eyes has not seen nor ear heard of any place resembling it upon the whole earth.’’501 Paes, a Portuguese traveler, visiting Vijaynagar in 1522, found it ‘‘large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight’’; it was ‘‘the best-provided city in the world… for the state of the city is not like other cities, which often fails of supplies and provisions, for in this everything abounds.’’502 As goes the legend, it was ‘a kingdom so rich that pearls and rubies were sold in the market- place like grain,’ notes Naipaul.503 Razzak’s eyewitness account somewhat affirms this legend, saying: ‘The jewellers sell their rubies and pearls and diamonds and emeralds openly in the bazar.’504 In late 1564, four neighboring Muslim sultanates joined hands to destroy the great Hindu civilization of Vijaynagar that had lasted over 200 years. In a five-month seize, it was burnt to ashes in January 1565. English historian Robert Sewell noted of the destruction that ‘‘so splendid a city; teaming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plentitude of prosperity… seized, pillaged and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors begging description.’’505 On the massacre and pillage of the fleeing Hindus, notes Ferishtah, ‘the river was dyed red with their blood. It is computed by the best of authorities that above one hundred thousand infidels were slain during the action and in the pursuit. The plunder was so huge that every private man in the allied army became rich in gold, jewels, tents, arms, horses, and slaves…’506

Let us return to the tolerance of the Vijaynagar kings. In order to fortify his army to stave off Muslim attacks, King Dev Raya II (1419–49), records Ferishtah, ‘gave orders to enlist Mussulmans (of his kingdom) in his service, allotting them estates, and erecting a mosque for their use in the city of Beejanuggar (Vijaynagar). He also commanded that no one should molest them in the exercise of their religion and moreover, he ordered a Koran to be placed before his throne on a rich desk, so that the faithful (Muslims) can perform their ceremony of obeisance in his presence without sinning against their laws.’507 However, this tolerance and promotion of treacherous Muslims in the army eventually proved costly for Vijaynagar, the only standing Hindu civilization in India. By the mid-sixteenth century, Muslims had become a significant force in the army. When the confederate force of the surrounding sultanates attacked Vijaynagar in 1564–65, two large Muslim battalions, each having 70,000–80,000 soldiers, deserted King Ramraja. Because of these two Muslim commanders’ treachery, Ramraja fell into Muslim hands. Sultan Hussein Nizam Shah ordered his beheading immediately. This led to the collapse of Vijaynagar, noted Caesar Frederick, who visited the place two years later in 1567.508

It should, however, be acknowledged that some degree of intolerance had been sinking in Ramraja’s army. He had become very powerful and started capturing domains from the neighboring Muslim sultanates, threatening latter’s existence. In the course of incursions into Muslim domains, his forces started paying in the same coin as Muslims had been doing ever since they started attacking India in the 630s, and more importantly, against Vijaynagar over the previous 200 years. His forces started disrespecting mosques, offering Hindu prayers in them and even destroyed some; they even violated Muslim women in the 1558 attack of Ahmednagar, ruled by Hussein Nizam Shah, records Ferishtah.509 However, these sacrilegious acts, it appears, were not approved by the Hindu monarch. On one occasion, his Muslim soldiers sacrificed a cow—sacred to Hindus—in the Turukvada area in Vijaynagar offending the Hindus. Ramraja’s offended officers and nobles, including his own brother Tirumala, petitioned to him about the sacrilege. To be noted that even today a similar offence against Islam in a Muslim-majority country, say in Bangladesh or Pakistan, will incite Muslim mobs to violence, even probably bloodbath. Ramraja, however, refused to prohibit the sacrifice of cows by his Muslim soldiers, saying that, it will not be right to interfere in their religious practices and that he was only the master of the bodies of his soldiers, not of their souls.510

During the reign of fanatic Aurangzeb (d. 1707) toward the end of the Islamic domination in India, his Maratha opponent Shivaji was consolidating power and expanding his kingdom. When Shivaji started incursions into Mughal territories in the South, Aurangzeb, still a prince, wrote to his general Nasiri Khan and other officers to enter Shivaji’s territory from all sides for ‘wasting the villages, slaying the people without pity and plundering them to the extreme,’ records Qabil Khan in Adab-i-Alamgiri. They were further instructed to show no mercy in slaying and enslaving,511 an age-old Muslim practice. But Shivaji, a deeply religious man, never indulged in extreme cruelty and violence in kind. Even his inveterate critic Khafi Khan, in his Muntakhab-ul-Lubab, could not but admire Shivaji’s lofty ideals in saying: ‘But he (Shivaji) made it a rule that whenever his followers were plundering, they should not do harm to the mosques, the Book of God (Quran), or the women of anyone.’512

Shivaji put his words in actions too. Despite the fact that Muslim rulers used to enslave the Hindu women in tens of thousands and reduce them to sex-slavery, he abstained from such abhorrent practices even defying the temptation of very beautiful captive women. One of his officers had captured a beautiful Muslim girl in 1657 and presented her to Shivaji. Shivaji praised her as prettier than his own mother Jija Bai, honorably gave her dresses and ornaments, and sent her back to her people, escorted by 500 horsemen.513 Obviously, such acts of chivalry made Khafi Khan appreciate his hated enemy.

Shivaji also made good of his promise to respect the religious institutions and symbols of all, including Muslim’s. Despite the fact that, his opponent Aurangzeb destroyed thousands of Hindu temples— more than 200 in 1979 alone, Shivaji scrupulously refrained from defiling Muslim mosques, madrasas or shrines. Instead, he was very respectful of them. He particularly venerated the Sufis, and even provided them subsistence and build khanqah for them at this own cost. Notably, Baba Yakut of Keloshi was one such Sufi saint who had received Shivaji’s succor.514

Shivaji refrained from excessive bloodbath as well. While Muslim invaders and rulers quite commonly slaughtered the Hindus in tens of thousands—even tolerant and humane Akbar massacred 30,000 surrendered peasants in Chittor (1568), Shivaji never engaged in such cold-blooded mass-murder of his opponents captured in wars. When he attacked Surat in 1664, its Mughal governor Inayat Khan fled and the 500-strong Muslim army was taken prisoner. From his hiding place, Inayat Khan sent an envoy to negotiate peace, in the guise of which the envoy unsuccessfully fell upon Shivaji with a concealed dagger. Seeing the treachery and thinking that Shivaji was slain, his soldiers raised a cry to kill the Muslim prisoners. Shivaji stood up from the ground quickly and forbade any massacre. The enraged Shivaji, however, quenched his anger by putting four prisoners to death, amputated hands of twenty-four and spared the rest.515 Such vengeance was, however, rare for him; it was obviously highly restrained, even more restrained than that of the later British mercenaries.

In his administration, notes Jadunath Sarkar, he ‘brought peace and order to his country, assured the protection of women’s honor and the religion of all sects without distinction, extended the royal patronage to the truly pious men of all creeds (Muslims included), and presented equal opportunities to all his subjects by opening the public service to talent, irrespective of caste or creed.’516 An illiterate and deeply religious orthodox Hindu—Shivaji’s even-handed, tolerant and just policy toward his heterogeneous mix of citizens, that included Muslims, was unthinkable in his days of Muslim-ruled India.

However, Shivaji engaged in raiding and plundering of the territory of his sworn Muslim enemies. Based in a part of India, in which ‘rice cultivation was impossible and wheat and barley grow in very small quantities,’ Shivaji had little choice. He told the Surat governor of Aurangzeb in this regard that ‘Your Emperor has forced me to keep an army for the defence of my people and country. That army must be paid for by his subjects.’517 This justification will probably not stand for all of his raids. He was ambitious of establishing a native Hindu kingdom opposed to the persecuting, discriminatory foreign Muslim rulers; his raids were definitely aimed at achieving this goal, too. Nonetheless, whatever defects he had in his actions, he was no match for the plundering activities of his Muslim counterparts and the persecution, discrimination and humiliation the latter meted out to their non-Muslim subjects.

These examples, which come mainly from the writings of Muslim historians, clearly testify to the humane, chivalrous, tolerant and free nature of the Indian society, conspicuously different from what the Muslim invaders and rulers had brought in their trail. Many Muslim historians and non-Muslim observers in the late period of Muslim rule also affirmed this. In praise of Indians, Abul Fazl, the minister of Emperor Akbar, wrote: ‘‘The inhabitants of this land are religious, affectionate, hospitable, genial, and frank. They are fond of scientific pursuits, inclined to austerity of life, seekers after justice, contended, industrious, capable in affairs, loyal, truthful and constant…’’ In the Vijaynagar kingdom, noted Duarte Barbosa, ‘‘every man may come and go, and live according to his creed without suffering any annoyance, and without enquiring whether he is a Christian, Jew, Moor (Muslim) or Heathen. Great equity and justice is observed by all.’’ Mulla Badaoni, a relatively bigoted chronicler of Akbar’s court, failed to deny the freedom and tolerance that existed in Indian society as he wrote: ‘‘Hindustan is a nice place where everything is allowed, and no one cares for another (i.e., not interferes in others’ affairs) and people may go as they may.’’518

Coming to such a land of humanity, freedom and tolerance, the Muslim invaders committed utmost slaughter and cruelty; they killed tens of millions and enslaved a greater number. They destroyed temples in the thousands and looted and plundered India’s wealth in measures beyond imagination as recorded by contemporary Muslim historians with gloating joy. Kanhadde Prabandha, an Indian chronicler, leaves an eyewitness account of the activities of Islamic invaders (1456) as thus: ‘‘The conquering army burnt villages, devastated the land, plundered people’s wealth, took Brahmins and children and women of all classes captive, flogged with thongs of raw hide, carried a moving prison (of captives) with it, and converted the prisoners into obsequious Turks.’’519 Such barbarism Muslim invaders committed with the purpose of carrying out their religious duty. The orthodox Ulema as well as the Sufi divines often condemned the Muslim rulers for their failure to put a complete end to the filth of idolatry and unbelief in India. For example, Qazi Mughisuddin reminded Sultan Alauddin that ‘Hindus were deadliest foes of the true Prophet,’ who must be annihilated or subjected to worst degradation.520

The ruthless and relentless savagery and massacre of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, committed by Muslim invaders and rulers in India, will surpass the massacre of South American heathens by the Spanish and Portuguese invaders. Of the estimated ninety million natives in the continental Latin America in 1492, only twelve million survived after a century.521 The overwhelming majority of these deaths resulted from European and African diseases—namely the “childhood diseases” like measles, diphtheria and whooping cough as well as smallpox, falciparum malaria and yellow fever—involuntarily brought by the colonists. The native people lacked acquired immunity to these foreign diseases, which caused huge numbers of death.

Within a century, most of the people of the lowland tropical regions were literally wiped out, while as high as 80 percent of the highland population of Andes and Middle America also died from these diseases.522 Nonetheless, the colonists also killed the Pagan natives, probably in the millions, often on religious grounds. The Europeans, too, did not have acquired immunity to falciparum malaria and yellow fever of African origin; they also died in large numbers from these diseases contracted from African slaves brought to the Americas.

Based on historical documentation and circumstantial evidence, Prof. KS Lal estimates that the population of India stood at about 200 million in 1000 and it dwindled to only 170 millions in 1500, in spite of the passage of five centuries.523 Between sixty and eighty million people died at the hands of Muslim invaders and rulers between 1000 and 1525, estimates Lal. The possibility of annihilation of such a large number of Indians by Muslim invaders and rulers may appear a suspect. However, in the war of independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistani army killed 1.5 to 3.0 million people in just nine months. It occurred in our modern age of flourishing journalism, but the world hardly took a notice of it. Moreover, a large number of the victims in this case were their co-religionists, the Muslims of East Pakistan. Hence, it is entirely possible that Muslim invaders and rulers, who came with the mission of extirpating idolatry from India, could easily have slaughtered as many as eighty million Indian infidels over a period of ten centuries in such a vast land.


464. Patronized by the pre-Islamic Sassanian kings of Persia, the great Nestorian learning centre of Jundhishpur had become a flourishing centre for translating the ancient works of Greek, Indian and other origin. Under king Khosro I (531–579), it had become a melting pot of Syrian, Persian and Indian scholars. Khosro I sent his own physician to India in search of medical books. These were then turned from Sanskrit into Pahlavi (Middle Persian), and many other scientific works were translated from Greek into Persian or Syriac.

465. Nehru (1989), p. 151 466. Eaton (2000), p. 29
467. Sachau, Preface, p. XXX

468. Ibid, p. 160–61
469. Ibid, p. XXXIII
470. Ibid, p. XXXIII-XXXIV

471. Ibid, p. XXXVI

472. al-Andalusi S (1991) Science in the Medieval World: Book of the Categories of Nations, Translated by Salem SI and Kumar A, University of Texas Press, Chapter 5.

473. Watson & Hiro, p. 96

474. Gibb, p. 232
475. Elliot & Dawson, Vol. I, p. 7
476. Ibid
477. The Southeast Asian kingdoms of Srivijaya, Java and Khmer were then an extension of the Indian civilization with a firmly rooted Hindu-Buddhist religious influence. The famous Muslim historian al-Masudi had met Zaidu-l Hasan in Basra in 916, reproduced this story in his Meadows of Gold.
478. Elliot & Dawson, Vol. I, p. 8–9

479. Danielou, p. 106
480. Basham AL (2000) The Wonder That Was India, South Asia Books, Columbia, p. 8–9 481. Johnson L (2001) Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism, Alpha Books, New York, p. 38 482. Ferishtah, Vol. II, p. 248

483. Dutt, KG, The Modern Face of Ang Kshetra, Tribune India, 17October 1998

484. Prithviraj III, Wikipedia,
485. Ferishtah, Vol. II, p. 195
486. Ibid, p. 196–97

487. Ibid, p. 197
488. Jones JP (1915) India – Its Life and Thought, The Macmillan Company, New York, p. 166
489. Saunders TB (1997) The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer: Book I : Wisdom of Life, De Young Press, p. 42–43

490. Swarup R (2000) On Hinduism Reviews and Reflections, Voice of India, p. 150–51 491. Elliot & Dawson, Vol. V, p. 559
492. Ibid, Vol. I, p. 10
493. Nehru (1989), p. 210

494. Ibid, p. 24

495. Eaton (1978), p. 13
496. Ibid, p. 27
497. Elliot & Dawson, Vol. I, p. 457

498. Ibid, p. 88
499. Sharma, p. 89
500. Elliot & Dawson, Vol. I, p. 450

501. Ibid, Vol. IV, p. 106

502. Nehru (1989), p. 258

503. Naipaul VS (1977) India: A Wounded Civilization, Alfred A Knopf Inc., New York, p. 5

504. Elliot & Dawson, Vol. IV, p. 107

505. Nehru (1989), p. 259

506. Ferishtah, Vol. III, p. 79

507. Ibid, p. 266

508. Majumdar RC ed. (1973) The Mughal Empire, in The History and Culture of the Indian People, Bombay, Vol. VII, p. 425

509. Ferishtah, Vol. III, p. 72,74

510. Journal of the Bombay Brach of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. XXII, p. 28

511. Sarkar J (1992) Shibaji and His Times, Orient Longham, Mumbai, p. 39
512. Ghosh SC (2000) The History of Education in Medieval India 1192-1757, Originals, New Delhi, p. 122

513. Sarkar, p. 43
514. Sarkar, p. 288; Ghosh, p. 122
515. Sarkar, p. 76
516. Ibid, p. 302

517. Ibid, p. 2,290

518. Lal (1994), p. 29
519. Goel SR (1996) Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, South Asia Books, Columbia (MO), p. 41–42

520. Lal (1999), p. 113

521. Elst, p. 8

522. Curtin PD (1993) The Tropical Atlantic of the Slave Trade, In M Adas ed., Islam & European Expansion, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, p. 172.

523. Lal (1973), p. 25–32

The Beginning of Islamic Imperialism in Europe

The Beginning of Islamic Imperialism in Europe

The long Islamic war on the West

Islamic imperial rule started with the conquest of Spain in 711 and lasted until 1492 when European powers manned up and freed themselves from the chokehold of Islamic supremacy.

In July 711, 7000 Islamised Berber tribesmen stormed across the straits of Gibraltar and invaded Europe. They then began an incredible process of expansions. In just four years, they colonised almost the whole of Spain, made forays inland and were only halted in France by Charles Martel, at the battle of Tours in 732. Were it not for this defeat, Britain and all of Europe would have fallen to the Islamic rule of an army which thus far had successfully crossed two continents.

When the Islamised Berbers got to Spain, they named the new country that they came to, Al-Andalus, the land of the vandals, referring to the barbaric Germanic tribe who ruled Spain at the time – the Visigoths. Palermo fell in 831 and was renamed al-Madinah. It became the new Islamic capital. The Arabic language also replaced Greek. The introduction of Islamic rule in Spain is thought to have been met with little resistance, as the Natives themselves were previously under a repressive government and viewed the invaders as liberators. Thus explains why the Islamic conquerors were able to build what remains touted today, as a Golden Age in Spain, one purported to have matched the civilisational heights of the Italian Renaissance and Roman Empire. To the Muslims’ credit, they built civilised and highly sophisticated cities, including one in Cordoba. It had medical centres and organised legal system and libraries full of academics and scientists working on ideas light years ahead of the rest of Europe. Many academics from across Europe traveled there to acquire learning.

It is a false view, however, to assert that this Islamic Spain was tolerant by the standards of 21st century Britain or Europe

Perusing through historical facts, one finds that although Islamic Spain was liberal by Islamic standards, and was possibly the most liberal Islamic rule in all of Islam’s history; it was, nevertheless, a system of apartheid just like any Islamic rule. Jews and Christians were tolerated if they accepted Islamic power, acquiesced to notions of Muslim supremacy, paid jizya, avoided blasphemy and didn’t try to convert Muslims. They had to wear a special badge to identify them from Muslims and were not allowed to carry weapons even though Muslims were allowed to. They couldn’t receive an inheritance from a Muslim (nor could a Muslim receive inheritance from them), couldn’t own a Muslim slave, and couldn’t give an evidence in an Islamic court, even though they could be tried for offenses against Muslims in such a court. However benevolent this rule may have considered itself, it was one that thrived on religious apartheid. A non-Muslim was a Dhimmi, a second class citizen, while the Muslim was a first class citizen. Citizenship status was awarded by virtue of what Allah taught in his Holy Book. Dhimmi Spaniards could work their way to prominent positions in government, but none could ever be the supreme authority over the state – a law that didn’t apply to Muslims. Further, a Dhimmi man couldn’t marry a Muslim woman, although the reverse was acceptable; and a Dhimmi got lower compensation than Muslims, for the same injury. There was a massacre of thousands of Jews in Grenada in 1066 as well, and the forced exile of many Christians in 1126. This stratification was ‘liberal’ Islamic Spain.

Reports coming out of Europe today, show that an overwhelming number of Muslims are not integrating into European society, rather it is the society that’s adapting to the demands of Islam. Many European Muslims are being indoctrinated to hate the very country they live in. Some call for a re-establishment of Khilafa, to revive the ‘lost glory’ of Islamic Spain and all other lands that were once under Islamic rule. Their sentiments echo those of many Muslims abroad, including Hamas MP who in a Friday Sermon called for an outright conquest of Europe and America. In equal preposterousness, protesters in Egypt too, have demanded an end to ‘Spanish Occupation of Spain’. There is a tendency for the Western Left to parrot the same overused rhetoric as Islamists: that Western presence in Muslim lands is the cause of anti-Western sentiments among Muslims. This assertion couldn’t be any more fallacious. The fact of the matter is that Western presence in Muslim lands began with the neutering of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Empire had to be neutered for democracy to emerge! Democracy is a system of government for all peoples. Islamic rule is a system of government serving Muslim supremacy at the expense of all other peoples.

The European colonial era did not begin until the West successfully began rolling back the Muslim empire off European lands. Western imperialism thus arose vividly as a reaction to, and in competition with Islamic jihad. Before the rise of the West, it was none other but Muslims who ran the world’s largest Empire.

There exists, a clash of values between the Islamic world and the West. It is these values, not Western occupation of Muslim lands, that are at the crux of the animosity between European Muslims and Europe. The active desire to implement these values is a crucial agency for Islamic imperialism. Another agency for Islamic imperialism in Europe is multiculturalism. Under the pretext of multiculturalism, certain Islamic values incompatible with Western values are permitted, rather than curbed. Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, all integrate, fundamental Islam doesn’t. Multiculturalism, therefore, aids Islam at the expense of all other philosophies, in a multicultural society.

Assimilation polls show that many European Muslims either abhor, feel alienated from or reject British societal values as a whole. It is not about British wars abroad, but a clash of values at home. Here are a few cited polls.

Policy Exchange Poll: 51% of British Muslims believe a woman cannot marry a non-Muslim. 

Policy Exchange Poll: Up to 52% of British Muslims believe a Muslim man is entitled to up to four wives.

NOP Research: 62% of British Muslims do not believe in the protection of free speech.  

Only half (51%) of British Muslims believe a Muslim woman may marry without a guardian’s consent. 

Multiculturalism Research: Pakistani Muslims in the UK are three times more likely to be unemployed than Hindus.

Multiculturalism Research: Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed as Indian Hindus.  

Policy Exchange Poll: Only 34% of British Muslims believe the Holocaust ever happened.

Pew Poll: Only 7% of British Muslims think of themselves as British first (81% say ‘Muslim’ rather than ‘Briton’).

ICM Poll: 58% of British Muslims believe insulting Islam should result in criminal prosecution.

Policy Exchange Poll: 31% Muslims in Britain identify more with Muslims in other countries than with non-Muslim Brits.

The more the schism in values and identity widens between European Muslims and non-Muslims, the more alienated European Muslims will feel and the greater chances Islamic imperialism will have of materialising in Europe. The ‘lost glory’ of Islamic Spain that many at home and abroad are nostalgic for will finally come into possession of a chance to be re-birthed!

The excerpt below is from chapter V of the book Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery, where M. A. Khan discusses the devastating effects of Islamic conquests in Europe and their eventual ousting.


The Beginning of Islamic Imperialism in Europe.

In Europe, Islamic imperial rule started with the conquest of Spain in 711 and lasted until 1492. From Spain, they penetrated deep into Europe, reaching the heart of France, where they were defeated at Tours in 732 by Charles Martel. This defeat restricted the Muslim expansion in Europe from the Iberian front at the French border ever after; Muslims ruled Spain for nearly eight centuries before they were completely ousted from power in 1492. This was a temporary but crucial blow to the raging expansion of Islam in Europe. In summarizing the general sentiment regarding this battle, notes Nehru: ‘‘On the plains of Tours,’ a historian has said, ‘the Arabs lost the empire of the world when almost in their grasp. There can be no doubt that if the Arabs had won at Tours, European history would have been tremendously changed. There was no one else to stop them… Instead of Christianity, Islam would have then become the religion of Europe, and all manners of other changes might have taken place.’349 If not for this victory of Martel, wrote Edward Gibbon, ‘‘perhaps the interpretation of the Quran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford and her pulpit might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.’’350

However, the Jihadi zeal of Muslims to conquer the globe for establishing a global Islamic suzerainty, as commanded by Allah, could hardly be extinguished. In attempts to consolidate their conquest of Europe, they intensified their attacks on the Mediterranean coastal cities and islands of Italy in the early ninth century. In 813, they devastated and occupied Centumcellae, Ischia and Lampedusa. In the same year, they attacked the Sardinia and Corsica Islands. Centumcellae was devastated again in 829.

In 840, the Arabs made an incursion deep into Italy and devastated the monastery of Subiaco. In 840, they conquered the coastal towns off Benevento; Carolingian Emperor Ludovico II succeeded in ousting them in 871. In 845, they penetrated deep inland capturing Capo Miseno (Naples) and Ponza near Rome, making it their base for attacking Rome. In 846, they ransacked Brindisi and conquered Taranto near the Southwest tip of Italy; Byzantine Emperor Basil I succeeded in freeing Taranto in 880.

On 28 August 846, a Muslim fleet arrived at the mouth of river Tiber and sailed to attack Rome. Meanwhile, a Muslim army from Civitavecchia and another from Portus and Ostia marched on-land to join the attack. They failed to penetrate the enclosing walls, solidly defended by the Romans. The Arabs vandalized and plundered the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Saxons, Longobards, Frisians and Franks staunchly defended St. Peter, perishing to the last man. Muslims destroyed all the churches of the district of Suburb. Pope Leo IV briefly fled Rome and appealed for help from neighboring kingdoms. Responding to his plea, Marquis Guy of Spoleto counterattacked and defeated the Arabs. While fleeing partly toward Civitavecchia and partly toward Fondi, Muslims indulged in ruin and devastation of the country. At Gaeta, the Longobard army clashed with them again. Guy of Spoleto found himself in serious difficulty, but the Byzantine troops of Cesarius from Naples arrived in time to rescue him. This attack prompted Pope Leo IV to undertake the construction of the Civitas Leonina in 848 to protect the Vatican Hill.

In 848, they sacked Ancona. The next year, a huge Muslim naval fleet set off to attack Rome and met an Italian naval fleet at the mouth of the river Tiber near Ostia. In the battle, the Arabs were routed. In 856, they attacked and destroyed the Cathedral of Canosa in Puglia. In 861, they assaulted Ascoli and, after slaughtering the children, carried away the inhabitants as slaves. In 872, they attacked and besieged Salerno for six months. In 876, they attacked Latium and Umbria slaughtering the inhabitants, enslaving them and sacking the villages before marching toward Rome; they turned the Roman country into an unhealthy desert. Pope John VIII (872–82) defeated the Arabs at Circeo and freed 600 enslaved Christians from eighteen Muslim vessels. He attempted to expel the Arabs after the depredations, but with little help from European kings forthcoming, he failed and was forced to pay tribute.

Muslims continued their devastation of Latium both on the coast and inland, consolidating their conquest of the Roman country: they went on to capture Tivoli (Saracinesco), Sabina (Ciciliano), Narni, Nepi, Orte, Tiburtino countries, Sacco valley, Tuscia and Argentario Mountain. Their depredations continued through the 880s and 890s. In the early tenth century, Muslims were planning to establish an Emirate in Southern Italy. In 916, Marquis Adalbertus of Tusca, Marquis Albericus of Spoleto, Prince Landulf of Capua and Benevento, Prince Gaimar of Salerno, the dukes of Gaeta and Naples and Byzantine Emperor Constantine entered into an anti-Arab alliance, with Pope John X personally heading the land troops. The Arabs were totally defeated and mainland Italy was freed from the Muslim invaders.

The Mediterranean island of Sicily, where Muslims had founded a long-lasting Emirate, suffered the first Jihad raid, involving pillage and plunder, in 652; it was repeated in 669, 703, 728, 729, 730, 731, 733, 734, 740 and 752. The early Muslim incursions (652–752) in Sicily failed to gain a foothold for Islam. The conquest of Sicily began in real earnest when an Aghlabid Arab army from Tunis landed in Mazara del Vallo in 827. This started a long series of battles: Palermo fell in 831, Pantelleria in 835 and Messina in 843. Cefalù and Enna resisted the Muslim conquest for years before being conquered and burned down in 858 and 859, respectively. Syracuse offered strong resistance for long; the Arabs overran it in 878, massacring the entire population. Sicily was lost. Palermo, renamed al-Madinah, became the new Islamic capital; Arabic language replaced Greek. A native counterattack against the Muslim occupation of Sicily had started in 827. But a Norman conquest, begun in 1061, eventually expelled Muslims in 1091.

On another front, Muslims eventually overran entire Eastern Christendom, centered in Constantinople. In the famous conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman holy warriors slaughtered the inhabitants for three days and the rest were enslaved. The Ottoman Jihadis, bypassing Constantinople, had already crossed over to Europe in the 1350s. After a couple of decades of see-saw battles, the Ottomans gained extensive victories capturing Bulgaria and the Balkans in the 1380s and went on to attack Venice in 1423. The capture of Constantinople in 1453 further facilitated the Ottoman conquest of Europe. They captured the entire Balkan Peninsula, moved toward Russia capturing Crimea, and laid unsuccessful siege twice on Vienna, the heart of Western Europe and the Holy Roman Empire, in 1529 and 1683. Muslims at some point ruled the whole of Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. They ruled parts of France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. By the sixteenth century, extensive Ottoman conquest had reduced Europe into a truncated, cornered Christian landmass, desperately resisting an inescapable takeover by the Ottoman Islamic army. Busbecq, the ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire to Istanbul (1554–62), resonated this desperate sentiment as he went on to say, it was only the threat from Safavid Persia to the Turkish Empire that saved the imminent Ottoman conquest of Europe.351

The second defeat of the Ottoman invaders in Vienna (1683) decisively proved the supremacy of European powers over their age-old tormentors; the fortune of the perennial Islam-Europe conflict dramatically changed in Europe’s favor. This not only marked the end of Islamic expansion but also the beginning of its decline. The Ottomans were progressively expelled, eventually from all parts of Western Europe. They continued ruling some Balkan regions until the early twentieth century. Muslims were not only expelled from Europe, starting in the mid-eighteenth century, Britain, Holland, France, Italy and Spain eventually captured most of the Islamic lands. Russia took large parts of Central Asian and Eastern European regions, while China, Burma and Thailand also recaptured lands, previously conquered by Muslims.


349. Nehru J (1989) Glimpses of World History, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, p. 146
350. Pipes (1983), p. 86

Sex-slavery and Concubinage in Islam

Sex-slavery and Concubinage in Islam

Excerpt from ‘SEX-SLAVERY & CONCUBINAGE’ in Chapter VII: M.A Khan’s ‘Islamic Jihad: Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery’.

Sex-slavery and Concubinage.

The female slaves worked as domestic maids and in the backyards, while the young and pretty ones also had to provide sex to their masters. Thus, they not only provided menial services and pleasure to masters but also helped swell the Muslim populace through procreation. Sex-slavery is not a negligible institution in Islam; Allah has shown utmost seriousness about its practice by repeatedly reminding Muslims about it in the Quran. Prophet Muhammad himself had taken at least three slave-girls as his concubines, namely Juwairiya of Banu Mustaliq [Bukhari 3:46:717], Rayhana of Banu Qurayza, and Maria, sent by the Egyptian governor to pacify Muhammad after receiving his threatening letter. From his large share of captives, he also distributed slave- girls amongst his companions for keeping as concubines. In one instance, he gave Ali (his son-in-law and the fourth caliph), Uthman b. Affan (his son-in-law and the third caliph) and Omar ibn Khattab (his father-in-law and the second caliph) a slave-girl each. In explaining the institution of slavery on the basis of Quranic verses 23:5–6, brilliant Islamic scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979) wrote:

Two categories of women have been excluded from the general command of guarding the private parts: (a) wives, (b) women who are legally in one’s possession, i.e. slave-girls. Thus the verse [Quran 23:5–6] clearly lays down the law that one is allowed to have sexual relation with one’s slave-girl as with one’s wife, the basis being possession and not marriage. If marriage had been the condition, the slave-girl also would have been included among the wives, and there was no need to mention them separately.

In agreement with the institution of sex-slavery in Islam and its above-mentioned purpose, the Hedayah states that the object of owning female slaves is cohabitation and generation of children.’ Accordingly, physical fitness, regular menstruation, and absence of disabilities became major considerations in purchasing a female slave. According to Hedayah, odor in the mouth and armpit of a female slave is a defect—obviously because, she is meant for kissing, caressing and sleeping with; but the same does not matter in the case of male slaves. The Hedayah further stipulates that when a female slave is shared by two masters, she becomes the property of the one, who establishes a sexual relationship with her with the consent of the other. Fatwa-i-Alamgiri stipulates that if a purchased female slave has too large breasts or too loose or wide vagina, the purchaser has the right to return her for a refund—obviously because, the owner cannot get maximum pleasure from sex with such a woman, as she is intended for. Similarly, the purchaser can return a slave on the basis of whether she is a virgin.

These criteria for choosing or judging female slaves come from the time of Prophet Muhammad himself. He was in the habit of choosing the prettiest of captive women for himself. In Khaybar, he chose Safiyah, wife of Kinana, for himself, hearing that she was of exquisite beauty and worthy of himself only. He, thereby, deprived another Jihadi, who had obtained her initially. In another example, after the Prophet had distributed the captured women of the Hawazin tribe among his Jihadi comrades, a deputation from the tribe came to him seeking the release of their women. He agreed to release them for six camels apiece. His disciple Uyayna bin Hisn refused to release a woman of some nobility, fallen in his share, expecting a higher price. To this, Zubayr Abu Surad, another companion of Muhammad, convinced Uyayna to let her go, because ‘her mouth was cold and her breast was flat; she could not conceive… and her milk was not rich.’ When Uyayna complained about this to Al-Aqra, another comrade of the Prophet, he persuaded Uyayna by saying: ‘By God, you did not take her as a virgin in her prime nor even full-figured in her middle age!’

Using the female slaves for sex—a norm and a widespread practice throughout the history of Islam—is clearly sanctioned in the Quran, the Sunnah and the Sharia. It has, therefore, received unabashed and overt approval of Islamic jurists, imams, and scholars well into the modern age. Apart from the lure of booty, the greed for capturing the women for using as sex-slaves became a significant motivating factor for Muslim Jihadis to take part in holy wars since Muhammad’s time. According to Islamic laws, the slayer becomes the owner of the victim’s wife, children, and properties. Sir William Muir thought that the sanction of the sex-slavery in Islam acted ‘as an inducement to fight in the hope of capturing the females who would then be lawful concubines as ‘that their right hand possessed.’’

From Muhammad’s own practice of slave-concubinage, it flourished into a widely practiced institution in later periods as captives became numerous. Islam puts no limit on the number of sex-slaves Muslim men can keep; ‘there is absolutely no limit to the number of slave girls with whom a Mohammedan may cohabit, and it is the consecration of this illimitable indulgence which so popularizes the Mohammedan religion amongst the uncivilized nations and so popularizes slavery in the Muslim religion,’ writes Thomas Hughes. Accordingly, writes Lewis, ‘The slave women of every ethnic origin were acquired in great numbers to staff the harems of the Islamic world—as concubines or menials, the two functions not always clearly differentiated… Some were trained as performers—singers, dancers, and musicians.’ Ronald Segal also affirms this in saying: ‘Female slaves were required in considerable numbers for musicians, singers and dancers—many more were bought as domestic workers and many were in demand as concubines. The harems of rulers could be enormous. The harem of Abd al-Rahman III (d. 961) in Cordoba contained over 6,000 concubines, and the one in the Fatimid palace in Cairo had twice as many.’ Muslim rulers of India did not lag behind either; even enlightened Akbar had 5,000 women in his harem, while Jahangir and Shah Jahan had 5,000 to 6,000 each. In the eighteenth century, Sultan Moulay Ismail had 4,000 concubines in his harem.

Clearly, Muslim rulers—from Africa to Europe, from the Middle East to India—had accumulated sex-slaves in their thousands. In the heyday of Islam, court officials, nobles, high-ranking generals and provincial governors had dozens to hundreds and even thousands of slaves. Even the poor Muslim households or common shopkeepers used to have many slaves, as recorded by Muslim chroniclers. In general, the young female slaves in all households had to provide sex to their masters as demanded. It appears that capturing the women for keeping as concubines was a major focus of Islamic slave-hunting; because, for every male slave, two females were captured in Africa for transporting to the Muslim world. And for those transported by Europeans to the new world, there were two males for every female.

Niccolao Manucci, who lived in India during Emperor Aurangzeb’s reign, observed of the Muslim infatuation with women and sex that ‘all Mohammedans are fond of women, who are their principal relaxation and almost their only pleasure.’ Dutchman Francisco Pelsaert, who visited India during Emperor Jahagir’s reign (1605-27), wrote of the sexual indulgence of Muslim rulers and noblemen in the harems that:

‘…each night the Amir visits a particular wife or mahal (quarter), receives a very warm welcome from his wife and from the slaves [girls], who dressed especially for the occasion… If it is the hot weather, they… rub his body with pounded sandalwood and rosewater. Fans are kept going steadily. Some of the slaves chafe the master’s hand and feet, some sit and sing, or play music and dance, or provide other recreation, the wife sitting near him all the time. Then if one of the pretty slave girls takes his fancy, he calls her and enjoys her, his wife not daring to show any signs of displeasure, but dissembling, though she will take it out on the slave girl later on.’

However, the wife could never get rid of such beautiful slave-girls from the harem, because it was only in the power of the master to free her (Muslim women cannot own slaves).

Similarly, Maria Ter Meetelen, a Dutch slave-girl of Moulay Ismail’s palace in Morocco, left an eyewitness account of the sultan’s sensual indulgence with his wives and concubines in the harem. She wrote:

‘‘I found myself in front of the sultan in his room, where he was lying with at least fifty women,’’ who ‘‘were painted on their faces and clothed like goddesses, extraordinarily beautiful, and each with her instrument.’’ Maria added: ‘‘…they played and sang, for it was a melody more lovely than anything I’d ever heard before.’’

In sum, slave-concubinage—the most degrading and dehumanizing form of prostitution—became a prominent hallmark of Islamic tradition well into the modern age. The Ottoman sultans maintained a harem full of women until the empire was dissolved in 1921. In the princely state of Bahawalpur in Sindh, first to be conquered by Muslim invaders—the last Nawab, who ruled until 1954 before its incorporation into Pakistan, had more than three hundred and ninety women in his harem. The Nawab had become impotent early and used all kinds of tools to satisfy his great multitude of concubines and wives. When Pakistani army took over his palace, they found a whole collection of dildos. About six hundred, some made of clays, some bought in England and battery-operated. The army dug a pit and buried these dildos.’ The Arab kings till today maintain sizable harems of some kind.

Please reference M. A Khan’s book for references. You will also find a free copy of the book to download online.

European Slaves in Islam

European Slaves in Islam

There are key differences between the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Eastern Slave Trade (aka Arab/ Islamic Slave Trade). While the Atlantic Slave Trade focused on transporting Black Africans to the New World to provide domestic and industrial labour, the Eastern Slave Trade was not race based. Prophet Muhammad himself, during the course of inaugurating a tripartite paradigm of Islamic slavery via his military campaigns and raids against the citizens of Arabia, enslaved some of the Semitic peoples of the region. The prerequisite for being enslaved in Islam for domestic or industrial labour; sex slavery and concubinage; or chattel, is not based on race but on being a non-Muslim war captive. As the Islamic Empire expanded out of Arabia via North Africa and into Europe, war captives of all shades – brown, yellow, black and white – were relegated to slave status.

Very little is known in mainstream circles, of how White slaves fared in the Islamic Empire, in spite of the fact that they very well existed in the hundreds of thousands and more. White Eunuchs were visible throughout the Empire; in sizeable numbers in Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. At the slave markets, the purchase price for White eunuchs fared differently from Black eunuchs. White sex slaves also priced differently than Black sex slaves.

When Muslim scholars argue that Islam is not race-based, they are proven right by the doctrine of slavery in Islam – it knows not colour and recognises religion only. In the book Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery, author M. A. Khan discusses the number and realities of Whites who fell prey to Islamic military conquests and raids, and ultimately ended up enslaved in the Islamic Empire as eunuchs, concubines and labourers. Below is an excerpt from Chapter VII of the book.



About slaves coming from Europe to the Muslim world, Lewis adds:

In Europe there was also an important trade in slaves, Muslim, Jewish, pagan, and even Orthodox Christian… Central and East European slaves, generally known as Saqaliba (i.e. Slavs), were imported by three main routes: overland via France and Spain, from Eastern Europe via the Crimea, and by sea across the Mediterranean. They were mostly but not exclusively Slavs. Some were captured by Muslim naval raids on European coasts, particularly the Dalmatian. Most were supplied by European, especially Venetian, slave merchants, who delivered cargoes of them to the Muslim markets in Spain and North Africa. 867

European slaves were in special demand for serving as concubines, in the royal army and palaces, and in establishments of the rich in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya. According to Giles Milton’s White Gold and Robert Davis’ Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, since the 1530s, North African Muslim pirates raided European coastal towns and villages from Sicily to Cornwall as well as European ships for some three centuries and enslaved over one million Europeans (including many American seamen). British humanist author Christopher Hitchens queries on this enslavement: ‘How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? …what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by ‘corsair’ raiders in a single night?’869

The Barbary Muslim pirates kidnapped Europeans from ships in North Africa’s coastal waters (Barbary Coast). They also attacked and pillaged the Atlantic coastal fishing villages and town in Europe, enslaving the inhabitants. Villages and towns on the coast of Italy, Spain, Portugal and France were the hardest hit. Muslim slave-raiders also seized people as far afield as Britain, Ireland and Iceland.

In 1544, the island of Ischia off Naples was ransacked, taking 4,000 inhabitants prisoners, while some 9,000 inhabitants of Lipari Island off the north coast of Sicily were enslaved.870 Turgut Reis, a Turkish pirate chief, ransacked the coastal settlements of Granada (Spain) in 1663 and carried away 4,000 people as slaves. In 1625, Barbary pirates captured the Lund Island in the Bristol Channel and planted the standard of Islam. From this base, they went ransacking and pillaging surrounding villages and towns, causing a stunning spectacle of mayhem, slaughter and plunder. According to Milton, ‘Day after day, they struck at unarmed fishing communities, seizing the inhabitants, and burning their homes. By the end of the dreadful summer of 1625, the mayor of Plymouth reckoned that 1,000 skiffs had been destroyed and similar number of villagers carried off into slavery.’871 Between 1609 and 1616, the Barbary pirates ‘captured a staggering 466 English trading ships.’

Murad Rais, a European convert to Islam, became a leader of the Barbary pirates at the coastal Corsair town of Salé off Morocco. In 1627, he went on a pillaging and enslaving campaign to Iceland. After dropping anchor at Reykjavik, his forces ransacked the town and returned with 400 men, women and children and sold them in Algiers. In 1631, he made a voyage with a brigand of 200 pirates to the coast of Southern Ireland and ransacked and pillaged the village of Baltimore, carrying away 237 men, women and children to Algiers.872

The barbaric slave-raiding activities of the Muslim pirates had a telling effect on Europe. France, England, and Spain lost thousands of ships, devastating to their sea-borne trade. Long stretches of the coast in Spain and Italy were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants until the nineteenth century. The finishing industry was virtually devastated.

Paul Baepler’s White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives lists a collection of essays by nine American captives held in North Africa. According to his book, there were more than 20,000 white Christian slaves by 1620 in Algiers alone; their number swelled to more than 30,000 men and 2,000 women by the 1630s. There were a minimum of 25,000 white slaves at any time in Sultan Moulay Ismail’s palace, records Ahmed ez-Zayyani; Algiers maintained a population of 25,000 white slaves between 1550 and 1730, and their numbers could double at certain times. During the same period, Tunis and Tripoli each maintained a white slave population of about 7,500. The Barbary pirates enslaved some 5,000 Europeans annually over a period of nearly three centuries.873

The most famous European Christian to serve as a slave in Barbary Muslim Africa was Miguel de Cervantes, the famous Spanish author of the Don Quixote epic. He was taken captive in 1575 by Barbary pirates and was later released upon payment of ransom.

The Ottoman penetration into Europe in the 1350s and their capture of Constantinople later in 1453 opened new floodgates for slave-trade from the European front. In their last attempt to overrun Europe in 1683, the Ottoman army, although defeated, returned from the Gates of Vienna with 80,000 captives.874 An immense number of slaves flowed from the Crimea, the Balkans and the steppes of West Asia to Islamic markets. BD Davis laments that the ‘‘Tartars and other Black Sea peoples had sold millions of Ukrainians, Georgians, Circassians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Slavs and Turks,’’ which received little notice.875 Crimean Tatars enslaved and sold some 1,750,000 Ukrainians, Poles and Russian between 1468 and 1694.876 According to another estimate, between 1450 and 1700, the Crimean Tatars exported some 10,000 slaves, including some Circassians, annually—that is, some 2,500,000 slaves in all, to the Ottoman Empire.877 The Tatar slave-raiding Khans returned with 18,000 slaves from Poland (1463), 100,000 from Lvov (1498), 60,000 from South Russia (1515), 50,000–100,000 from Galicia (1516), 800,000 from Moscow (1521), 200,000 from South Russia (1555), 100,000 from Moscow (1571), 50,000 from Poland (1612), 60,000 from South Russia (1646), 100,000 from Poland (1648), 300,000 from Ukraine (1654), 400,000 from Valynia (1676) and thousands from Poland (1694). Besides these major catches, they made countless more Jihad raids during the same period, which yielded a few to tens of thousands of slaves.878 These figures of enslavement must be considered in the context that the population of the Tatar Khanate was only about 400,000 at the time.879

For the complete references to the above excerpt, please refer to M. A. Khan’s book: Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery. A free copy is available online.


867. Lewis (1994), op cit

869. Hitchens C (2007) Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates, City Journal, Spring Issue
870. Povoledo E (2003) The mysteries and majesties of the Aeolian Islands, International Herald Tribune, 26 September.

871. Milton, p. 11
872 Milton, p. 13–14; Lewis B (1993) Islam and the West, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 74 873. Milton, p. 99,271–72

874. Erdem YH (1996) Slavery in the Ottoman Empire and Its Demise, 1800-1909, Macmillan, London, p. 30 875. Lal (1994), p. 132

876. Fisher AW (1972) Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade, in Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 6(4), p577– 83,592–93

877. Inalcik H (1997) An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman empire, 1300-1600, Cambridge University Press, Vol. 1, p. 285; Fisher, p. 583–84

878. Bostom, p. 679-81

879. Williams BG (2001) The Crimean Tatars: The Diaspora Experience and the Forging of a Nation, E J Brill, Lieden, p. 69–72 .

Muslim Resistance to the Abolition of Slavery in the Islamic Empire

Muslim Resistance to the Abolition of Slavery in the Islamic Empire

As the European colonial era approached its end, Western forces sought even more to abolish norms that were inconsistent with the UDHR charter. One of such norms, prevalent in many societies for millennia, was slavery. The Islamic empire was the largest empire pre the rise of the West. In Islamic societies, a tripartite model of slavery, inaugurated into Islam by Prophet Muhammad fully thrived. It encompassed domestic enslavement, chattel slavery and slave concubinage. It was Prophet Muhammad himself who personally inaugurated wholesale enslavement of disbelievers for selling or engaging in concubinage and household work. He very well freed some slaves as an exemplary act of goodwill, but he enslaved many more. Prophet Muhammad certified slave trade when he sold his enslaved Banu Qurayza (Jewish) captive women to Najd for acquiring weapons and horses, while forbidding anyone from enslaving the born Muslim. Muslim apologists often argue that Prophet Muhammad never really endorsed slavery, but merely allowed it since it was already prevalent in pre-Islamic Arabia. They then refer to the fact that Muhammad also preached manumission to his followers, and personally freed slaves himself, as a testament to the aforementioned premise. The fact of the matter however is that slavery of the vanquished infidels was an integral component of the Islamic empire’s booming economy. Slave trade remained a vital source of wealth in the Islamic world throughout the reigns of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-60), the Umayyads (661-750) and the Abbasids (751-1250). After slaughtering all able-bodied Banu Qurayza men, Muhammad confiscated all the women and children as war captives and distributed four-fifth of them among his followers. Early Muslims in their continuous expansionist wars, captured slaves in such great numbers and sold them in slave markets to provide labour throughout the empire, that slave trade became a booming lucrative business enterprise, one that lasted throughout the history of Khilafa. Much so that when outside influences sought to abolish it later on, Muslims staunchly resisted such efforts.

Islamic forces resisted Western efforts to abolish slavery in the Muslim world. As they continue to do today, partly when they fallaciously attempt to promote Islam in a Western-friendly positive light and resort to denying that Islamic doctrine sanctions slavery. All the while, gullible civilians of the non-Muslim world are being disarmed as fascist Islamic doctrines creep into their societies. Claiming that Islamic doctrine does not sanction slavery – out of a bid to protect something that one feels enormous sentiments for – when in fact it does, only aggravates the process of abolishing Islamic slavery (or any of the other fascist doctrines glorified in Islam). As reality would have it, slavery is alive and well in Islamic countries today. In keeping with the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Western Empire imposed a ban on slavery, in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s, and in a number of other Islamic countries before and after then. In spite of this ban imposed by the ‘head of the snake’, there are many reports of slavery still endorsed by senior officials in Saudi Arabia today. About half a million slaves still exist in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. When the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to presidential powers in Egypt and re-wrote the country’s constitutions, it quickly decriminalised slavery by omitting an outright ban on it. Secular countries have no justification for slavery in secularism. Islamic countries however, find no condemnation of slavery in Islamic jurisprudence. The rise of fundamentalist Islamic movements around the globe poses an existential threat to the task of making an all time ban on slavery around the globe, materialise into absolute reality.

This piece is an exposé, uncovering the opposition meted on endeavours to abolish Islamic slavery. M. A. Khan looks in-depth into various acts of resistance put up by Muslims, against Western initiatives to outlaw slavery in Islamic territories. He commences with Britain’s initiative to abolish slavery, courses through the struggle of U.S. and British forces aiming to ban slavery in Islamic territories, discusses Muslims resistance against the British-allied Ottoman’s attempt to outlaw slavery, touches on the revival of slavery in Muslim countries and the implication of the revival of slavery as a global franchise, should Islamic fundamentalists incrementally rise to power. The excerpt below is taken from chapter VII of his book  Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery.


Slavery is evidently a divinely-sanctioned institution of Islam; its practice is theoretically binding on the Muslim community at all times. Hence, the campaign for its abolition, quite expectedly, faced staunch resistance in the Muslim world and has not achieved complete success to this day. Slavery still exists in Mauritania, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia etc. in one form or another.

European nations banned slave-trade in 1815 and Britain abolished slavery altogether and freed all slaves in 1833. During the same century, the Islamic world continued the profession, enslaving two million Blacks in Africa; another eight million likely perished in the process. This happened despite active efforts by Western nations to stop slavery in the Muslim world. When India slowly came under the British control beginning in 1757, the enslavement of Indian infidels by Muslims eventually ended. In 1843, the East India Company passed a bill, Indian Slavery Act V, banning slavery, which led to its eventual disappearance. A study at the time of passing the bill found that individual proprietors owned bodies of 2,000 slaves in Bengal, Madras and Bombay.912

In Afghanistan, which remained outside European control, violent enslavement of non-Muslims continued. Alexander Gardner, who extensively traveled across Central Asia between 1819 and 1823, left an eyewitness account of slave-hunting and slave-trade still ongoing in Kafiristan, a province in Afghanistan inhabited by non-Muslims. He observed that the sultan of Kunduz had reduced Kafiristan to ‘‘the lowest state of poverty and wretchedness’’ through regular raids for plunder and catching slaves for supplying to the markets in Balkh and Buhkara. Gardner added: ‘‘All this misery was caused by the oppression of the Kunduz chief, who, not content with plundering his wretched subjects, made an annual raid into the country south of Oxus; and by chappaos (night attacks), carried off all the inhabitants on whom his troops could lay hands. These, after the best had been chosen by the chief and his courtiers, were publicly sold in the bazaars of Turkestan.’’913

In the nineteenth century, there were hardly any families in the Islamic heartland of Mecca that did not possess slaves, including concubines. It is already noted that slaves constituted 6 percent to two-thirds of the population in the 1870–80s in the Muslim-controlled regions of Indonesia and Malaysia.


Starting in the 1530s, Muslim pirates in Barbary North Africa continued catching white slaves until the 1830s from onboard European ships, and from the islands and coastal villages of Europe. The worst-hit were Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. Following independence from Britain in 1776, the U.S. ships and their crews also became victims of Barbary piracy and enslavement. This section will highlight the British and US struggle against enslavement of their citizens in North Africa.

The British struggle

In the 1620s, the wives of enslaved British mariners—some 2,000 of them—joined hands to raise a campaign to force the government to act on releasing their enslaved husbands, who ‘‘for a long time continued in most woeful, miserable and lamentable captivity and slavery…’’ in North Africa. They further added that the misery they have suffered, caused by the absence of their husbands, to the extent that their poor children and infants were almost ready to perish from starvation for the lack of means and food.914

Having suffered depredations of their trade-ships and coastal villages and ports for nearly a century, British King Charles I, after assuming power in 1625, was already acting on the issue. He sent young adventurer John Harrison to North Africa for securing the release of British captives and for signing a treaty against attacks on British ships. The King wrote a letter addressing the hard-headed Sultan Moulay Zidan, while suggesting Harrison that he might have a better prospect of success in direct negotiations with the corsairs of Salé, who often acted in defiance of the sultan.

John Harrison, deciding for a direct negotiation with the pirates of Salé, set off on a hazardous and arduous journey in the summer of 1625 in the guise of a Muslim penitent—bare-legged and in a pilgrim-like garb. After arriving at Salé, he tried to contact Sidi Mohammed el-Ayyachi, the spiritual leader of the slave- hunters of the city. Sidi Mohammed was a wily holy man (marabout or Sufi master), who boasted of causing the death of 7,600 Christians. He showed inclination toward freeing the slaves only if Britain offered him assistance in attacking the Spanish. He also demanded a supply of heavy weaponry, including fourteen brass pieces of ordnance and a proportion of powder and shot. He also asked for taking some of his damaged cannons to England for their repair. Harrison returned to London to discuss the terms with the King and Privy Council. He returned to Salé with a reduced cache of weapons and the promise to assist in his attack of the Spanish. Sidi Mohammed released some 190 captives from his dungeons, although Harrison was expecting some 2,000 of them. At length, he realized that a great many of them had died from plagues, while others were sold to the sultan or elsewhere in North Africa.915

John Harrison landed with the freed slaves in England in the summer of 1627. In his eight diplomatic voyages to North Africa, he made repeated visits to the court of Sultan Moulay Abdalla Malek (r.1627–31), but failed to secure the release of British slaves held there. Sidi Mohammed also broke the truce after some time as his men—dependent on slave-hunting for making a living—pressurized him on the ground that the British government gave them a smaller cache of weapons and was not forthcoming in attacking the Spanish. They executed a number of spectacular raids on British ships and soon they had captured 1,200 British sailors, including twenty-seven women.

The British King ran out of patience. In 1637, he sent a fleet of six warships under the command of Captain William Rainsborough toward the corsair stronghold of Salé for bombarding it into rubbles. He reached Salé after a month’s voyage, when the pirates had just made all their ships ready to go on the hunt to the coast of England. The English fleet was surprised by the huge number of ships under their command. The new governor of Salé had ordered the corsairs ‘‘that they should go for the coasts of England… [and] fetch the men, women and children out of their bed.’’916

Having realized that a deadly and likely disastrous confrontation lie ahead, Rainsborough took stock of the situation in Salé and found out that there was a power-struggle between two groups. One was led by Sidi Mohammed, another by a rebel named Abdallah ben Ali el-Kasri, who had seized control of a part of Salé and was holding 328 English captives. Instead of going on a likely disastrous offensive, Rainsborough decided to exploit the rivalry between the two warlords. He proposed to Sidi Mohammed to launch a joint attack against el-Kasri, hoping that this will enable him secure the release of all British captives and a peace treaty with Sidi Mohammed. Sidi Mohammed, anxious of getting rid of el-Kasri, agreed to the proposal. Rainsborough showered el-Kasri’s stronghold with heavy bombardments, causing total carnage and killing many. Rainsborough then directed his heavy cannon at the corsair ships belonging to el-Kasri, destroying many of them. Meanwhile Sidi Mohammed attacked the rebel stronghold with 20,000 soldiers, wreaking havoc. After three weeks of intense bombardment, the rebels capitulated. They were forced to release the British captives. Rainsborough, having thus completely crushed the rebels and securing a solemn assurance from Sidi Mohammed that he would refrain from attacking the English vessels and villages, sailed back to England in the autumn of 1637 with 230 British slaves.

Rainsborough received a hero’s welcome back to England. There was a widespread feeling that the menace of the Salé corsairs was over once and for all. This belief was reinforced by the signing of a treaty with Moroccan Sultan Mohammed esh-Sheikh es-Seghir (r. 1636–55); he agreed to prohibit and restrain all his subjects from taking, buying or receiving British subjects to use as slaves or bondsmen. But the illusion was soon over as the sultan threw away the treaty within a few months, because of the British government’s failure to stop English merchants from trading with Moroccan rebels. The corsairs of Salé also resumed their attacks. By 1643, a great many British ships were plundered and their crews enslaved. By the 1640s, some 3,000 British citizens were in the hands of Barbary slave-hunters.917

In 1646, merchant Edmund Cason was sent to Algiers with a large sum of money to free the British slaves. He was able to locate 750 English captives, while many more were forced to turn Muslim (who were never released; neither the British government desired so because of their apostasy). Cason paid £38 apiece for each male captive, while a hopping £800, £1,100 and £1,392 for three females. Having run out of cash, he returned to England with only 244 captives, leaving many more behind.

Hereafter, the Barbary corsairs intensified slave-hunting in the sea; they also widened their sphere, attacking ships from far away Norway and Newfoundland. The Russians and Greeks were also enslaved along with merchants and noblemen from the Holy Roman Empire. Spain and Italy were the worst-hit, while Britain, France and Portugal continued to be major victims. In 1672, famous Sultan Moulay Ismail consolidated power and intended to expand the slave-hunting venture to hold the European rulers to ransom for extracting large sums of tribute.

In 1661, Portugal had handed over Tangier to Britain, when King Charles II was betrothed to Catherine of Portugal. The British government had planned to use Tangier, which stood across the straits of Gibraltar, to attack and eradicate the Barbary pirates. In 1677, Sultan Moulay Ismail ordered the capture of Tangier to clear the way for his slave-hunters. Sultan’s General Kaid Omar laid a siege on the garrison city of 2,000 British occupants for five years but failed to overrun it. In 1678, Kaid Omar was able to capture eight defenders and another fifty-seven in a new wave of attacks that followed. In 1680, Kaid Omar’s forces were poised to overrun the garrison, but a British reinforcement arrived in time and beat back Kaid Omar’s forces, forcing the latter to abandon the offensive.918

King Charles II soon afterwards (December 1680) sent an ambassadorial delegation, headed by Sir James Leslie, to secure the release of the British soldiers, captured during the siege of Tangier. The arrival of the gifts for the sultan from London was delayed. So, Sir Leslie sent forth Colonel Percy Kirke to inform the sultan about the delay. A timid and drunkard with no diplomatic experience, Colonel Kirke was overwhelmed by the sight and charm of the dreaded sultan. Overawed by the extravagant welcome, hospitality and flattery shown by wily Moulay Ismail, who had kept Europe at ransom, Colonel Kirke forgot his role and started a negotiation himself. When raised the issue of a peace treaty, the sultan offered a four-year truce, but asked for ten big guns in return. The naïve Colonel not only obliged but also promised to ‘‘help him with everything he lacked.’’ Colonel Kirke not only breached his role as an emissary, not a diplomat, he also totally forgot about the captives, some 300 of them, held at the sultan’s palace. Overjoyed by his diplomatic success, he wrote to England, ‘‘I must tell the whole world, I have met with a kind prince and a just general.’’919

At length the presents intended for the sultan arrived at Gibraltar and Sir Leslie left for the sultan’s court. When he raised the issue of British prisoners, the sultan, not interested in the negotiation, withdrew and asked his General Kaid Omar to sign a truce. Unwilling to release the captives, the sultan reluctantly agreed to release the seventy soldiers captured during the siege of the Tangier garrison, but asked for so high a price that Sir Leslie had to return to London empty handed.

However, the sultan sent an ambassador, Kaid Muhammad ben Haddu Ottur, to London giving him all powers to negotiate the terms for the release of the English captives. The Sultan’s ambassadorial team was given excellent hospitality for months in London. After intense negotiations behind closed doors, a truce was eventually signed: the British captives would be released at 200 Spanish dollars apiece and that the sultan’s corsairs would spare England’s coastal villages. No mention was made of the attack on British ships. But the whimsical sultan disapproved the treaty and replied to the British King’s letter promising to rest only after ‘‘I have sat down before Tangier and filled it with Moors.’’ On the request for a negotiation about attacks on British ships, he wrote, ‘‘we have no need of it’’ and that the corsairs would continue their attacks.

Disheartened by the failure of the negotiation, the King lost interest in the Tangier garrison, which had failed to stop the depredations of the corsairs, and evacuated the post in the following year.920

British citizens continued to be captured and suffer in Sultan Moulay Ismail’s dungeons through the rest of the King’s reign. King Charles III, who ascended the throne in 1685, was very concerned and eager to have the captives released. After a protracted bargain lasting five years, the sultan agreed to free the captives at the exorbitant price of £15,000 and 1,200 barrels of gunpowder. ‘‘The ship was so full of powder that we were in continual fear of her blowing up,’’ wrote Captain George Delaval, who transported the ransom to Morocco. But the sultan started disputing the terms of the treaty after Delaval’s arrival. Delaval refused to handover the money until he was sure that the captives would be released. At length, the sultan released 194 British slaves, keeping thirty of them in his custody. Later on, when Queen Anne ascended the throne in 1702 and hinted at joining a Moroccan attack on the Spanish enclave at Ceuta, the remaining captives were suddenly released. Moroccan palace was empty of British captives for the first time in 150 years. Soon afterwards, the corsairs of Salé went on the offensive, when Queen Anne showed reluctance to join the sultan’s offensive against the Spaniards; British captives started streaming in.921

Another truce was signed between Sultan Moulay Ismail and Queen Anne in 1714 on the promise of huge gifts. As the Queen’s death in the summer of the same year delayed the delivery of the gift, the sultan sent his slave-hunters back into the sea. King George I, the German-born ruler of Hanover, was given the throne after the death of childless Queen Anne. He showed little interest in the miserable plight of British captives held in Morocco. In 1717, the wives and widows of the enslaved mariners wrote a desperate and emotionally-charged petition to the King, pleading for securing the release of their enslaved husbands. The King remained unmoved by it and the Secretary of State, Joseph Addison, took up the difficult cause. Just a few months earlier, Admiral Charles Cornwall had returned from the sultan’s palace empty-handed as the sultan was reluctant to sign a lasting peace-treaty and release the captives.

After a long deliberation in a crisis meeting in May 1717, a high level delegation, led by Captain Coninsby Norbury, was sent to Morocco. Angered by the continued illegal capture of British mariners and breach of every peace-treaty signed, Norbury was too haughty for such a delicate negotiation and showed an air of defiance and disdain of the sultan. When Sultan Moulay Ismail first met him rather courteously hoping to receive the huge gift from England, Norbury ‘‘demanded the slave, saying that without them, he’d make no peace, and would blockade all their sea-ports and destroy their commerce, with other threats of that kind.’’922 In the habit of treating foreign dignitaries with contempt, the sultan was obviously unprepared for the snub and nothing came out of Norbury’s mission. But the sultan agreed to the posting of a British consul in Morocco. Merchant Anthony Hatfeild, chosen for the post, made diligent efforts over the years to release the captives, but failed to achieve anything.

Hatfeild gathered intelligence about the activities of the corsairs, which had increased since 1717, and kept London informed about it. Alarmed by the intelligence, another diplomatic mission, led by Commodore Charles Stewart, was sent in 1720. Stewart possessed all the diplomatic niceties and skills for negotiation with the unpredictable and haughty ruler of Morocco. He signed a treaty first with Basha Hamet, the sultan’s governor of Tetouan in Northern Morocco. Thereafter, he proceeded to the sultan’s court, where his delegation was received with great hospitality. After protracted negotiations, a treaty was eventually signed in exchange of large gifts for the sultan. The slaves, 293 of them, from both England and colonial America, were released.923

The sultan and his pirates could hardly be restrained for long. By 1726, the corsairs had arraigned more British ships; the captives were sent to the sultan’s palace in Meknes. The next year (1727), Sultan Moulay Ismail died, which followed a period of deadly chaos and turmoil. During such chaotic periods, rogue elements, including the slave-hunters, normally increased their criminal activities. As a result, large numbers of European captives streamed into the slave-pens of North Africa. In 1746, the British ship, Inspector, was wrecked by the corsairs and eighty-seven survivors were captured. ‘‘Large chains were locked around our necks and twenty of us were linked together in one chain,’’ wrote Thomas Troughton, one of the ship’s crew. The British government once again secured the release of the captives from the palace at Meknes in 1751. The sultans of Morocco rarely released slaves of other nationalities: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch etc. Finally, a more humane and level-headed man, Sidi Mohammed, seized the throne in 1757. He was an enlightened man and believed that the shattered economy of Morocco could be repaired better by promoting international trade than by piracy and slavery. He, therefore, declared war against the pirates of Salé and decimated them. He signed peace treaties, first with Denmark in 1757 and, eventually, with all European nations that had fallen victim to Barbary piracy, including the United States.924

The deadly piracy in seas off the Moroccan Coast was dead for many years, although corsairs in Algiers and Tunis continued the depredation of European and American ships. After the death of Sultan Sidi Mohammed in 1790, his successor and son Moulay Sulaiman, despite ratifying his father’s treaty, encouraged the corsairs of Salé to attack European ships. However, the heydays of the Barbary slave-hunters in Salé and elsewhere in North Africa were becoming numbered. Britain and the United States—seeing no end to the scourge after centuries of inaction, appeasement and ransom payment—finally decided to hit back with military might to put an end to the piracy in North Africa forever.

One must bear in mind that the British struggle against the Barbary piracy and enslavement recount above is only a part of whole struggle in North Africa; similar struggles also took place in Tripoli and Algiers.

The U.S. struggle and strike-back

U.S. trade-ships also fell victim to Barbary piracy in North Africa. In 1646, the first U.S. ship and its crew were captured by the pirates of Salé. Until the U.S. independence in 1776, American ships in North Africa were under the British protection. The release of British captives from North African dungeons also included the American captives. British protection to American ships was withdrawn after the U.S. achieved independence in 1776. The U.S. ships from then on became the direct target of Barbary pirate attack. In 1784, Muslim pirates in Morocco and Algiers captured three American merchant ships, enslaving the crew. After protracted negotiations, $60,000 ransom was paid to release the hostages from Moroccans. Those captured by the Algerian pirates suffered a worse fate; they were sold into slavery.

To discuss about this issue, the exasperated U.S. diplomats Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met Abd al-Rahman, the Tripolian Ambassador to London, in 1785. When they enquired by what right the Barbary States justified their raids on American ships, enslaving the crew and passengers, al-Rahman informed them that ‘‘it was written in the Quran that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their (Islamic) authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.’’925 The ambassador demanded tribute as protection against the attack and also asked for his own commission.

Right from that moment, Thomas Jefferson promised to wage war against the Barbary States for putting an end to the barbaric practice of slavery as well as to make the sea-ways secure for trade. While on diplomatic duty in Paris, he unsuccessfully tried to build a coalition of American-European naval powers for putting an end to the Barbary depredations of European and American trading ships. He faced opposition even back from home; even John Adams opposed his idea. Adams, amongst many others, preferred the payment of tribute than engaging in a protracted war against a doggedly warrior people. When asked for Adams’ opinion about organizing ‘‘an international taskforce comprised of all European nations whose shipping was being victimized,’’ he wrote to Jefferson that although his idea was ‘‘bold and wholly honourable…, We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.’’926

Meanwhile the depredation of American ships and enslavement of their crews continued; 130 seamen had been captured between 1785 and 1793. The U.S. Government dispatched diplomats Joel Barlow, Joseph Donaldson, and Richard O’Brien to North Africa in 1795, who successfully concluded treaties with Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli agreeing to pay tribute for the safe passage of American ships. Algiers also freed 83 American sailors, it had enslaved. During the presidency of John Adams (1797–1801), America continued paying tribute, which gradually reached as high as 10 percent of the national budget.

The humiliating exercise of paying tribute, combined with stories of appalling sufferings of white slaves in North African dungeons, gradually changed the public sentiment against ransom-payment and in favor of military actions. When Thomas Jefferson became the President in 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli, Yusuf Qaramanli, citing late payment of tribute declared war on the United States, seizing two American brigs, and demanded additional tributes. This followed demands for larger tributes from other Barbary States as well. Jefferson was all along totally against the humiliating exercise of paying tribute to the Barbary States. As early as in 1784, he had told Congressman James Monroe (later U.S. President, 1817–25): ‘‘Would it not be better to offer then an equal treaty? If they refuse, why not go to war with them… We ought to begin a naval power if we mean to carry on our own commerce.’’927

Not forgotten of his encounter with the Tripolian ambassador sixteen years earlier, the new President, without informing the Congress, sent forth a naval fleet to Barbary North Africa. In retaliation, Tripoli declared war on the United States in May 1801 and Morocco soon followed suit. America soon suffered a setback when Tripoli captured the U.S. frigate Philadelphia, but Edward Preble and Stephen Decatur soon mounted a heroic raid on the Tripolian harbor, destroying the captured ship and inflicting heavy damage on the city’s defences. This news created great excitement in the U.S. and Europe: a new power has arrived on the world-stage.

Meanwhile William Eaton, American consul in Tunis, allied with Hamid, the exiled brother of Tripolian pasha Yusuf Karamanli, offering him to make the American nominee for Tripoli’s crown. The ploy did not receive appreciation back home, but Eaton pursued it anyway. In 1805, he made a daring journey with a small detachment of marines and a force of irregulars across the desert from Egypt to Tripoli. They made a surprise attack and the city of Darna with its huge garrison surrendered. As Eaton had engaged pasha’s forces, Jefferson and Karamanli reached an understanding to end the war. The terms of truce included the release of the Philadelphia crew upon payment of a tribute, but America would pay no more tribute in future. In this, stressed Jefferson, Eaton’s derring-do had played a part. Daring and uncompromising, Eaton denounced the deal as a sellout.

New hostilities began between Britain and the United States in 1812. Exploiting this Anglo- American hostility, the new pasha of Algiers, Hajji Ali, rejected the American tribute negotiated in the 1795 treaty as insufficient. Algerian corsairs resumed the capture of American ships. Once the Treaty of Ghent ended the war with Britain, President James Madison requested the Congress to declare war on Algiers. On 3 March 1815, the war was declared and Madison dispatched the battle-hardened naval force under the command of Stephen Decatur to North Africa again to put a complete end to the piracy problem. The U.S. navy destroyed the fleets of reigning Dey Omar Pasha, filled his grand harbor with heavily armed American ships and took hundreds prisoner. Dey Omar capitulated and reluctantly accepted the treaty dictated by Decatur, which called for an exchange of U.S. and Algerian prisoners and an end to the practice of tribute and ransom. Having defeated Algiers—the most powerful Barbary State, Decatur sailed to Tunis and Tripoli, and dictated the signing of similar treaties. Decatur also secured the release of all European captives from Pasha Qaramanli’s dungeons in Tripoli. President Madison’s words on this occasion—‘‘It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute; the United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none’’—inaugurated a new U.S. foreign policy paradigm.928

The British-led European strike-back

The United States settled her accounts with the Barbary States in 1815: the year, all European nations jointly declared a ban on slave-trade. But the depredation of European ships continued. The U.S. derring-do actions in Barbary North Africa (1801–05, 1815) had elicited calls for similar actions in Europe, particularly in Britain. When the crown heads and ministers of Europe gathered for the Congress of Vienna in 1814 to discuss a peace treaty following the end of the Napoleonic war, Sir Sydney Smith, a staunch proponent of military settlement of the Barbary piracy crisis, petitioned for a military showdown with the rulers of North Africa. ‘‘This shameful slavery is not only revolting to humanity, but it fetters commerce in the most disastrous manner,’’ he told the Congress.

Sir Smith’s plea drew attention to a dehumanizing and commercially crippling problem that had lasted centuries. Britain pushed for the inclusion of a ban on slave-trade in the European treaty. The Vienna Congress passed a resolution condemning all forms of slavery, but took no steps against the Barbary States. However, the support for Sir Smith’s battle-cry for military actions was soon forthcoming from all corners Europe; they had all suffered terribly from this obnoxious enemy. They were taking cues and encouragement from the U.S. success in Algiers a few months earlier. Because Britain was not as bad a sufferer, who intermittently concluded truce and secured release of English captives, other nations criticized Britain for ‘turning a blind eye to the ravages of the corsairs, since Britain stood to benefit whenever her trading rivals were attacked.’929

Stricken by the criticism, Britain, a proponent for the abolition of black slavery, now resolved to end the white slavery as well. In 1815, the British government dispatched a large fleet, commanded by Sir Edward Pellow, to the North African coastal waters, aiming to compel the rulers of Barbary States to abstain from seizing ships and slaves from anywhere in Europe. The British government resolved against the payment of tributes, stating: ‘‘If force must be resorted to, we have the consolation of knowing that we fight in the sacred cause of humanity.’’930

Having arrived with an impressive fleet in the waters off Algiers in late 1815, Sir Pellow sent an uncompromising message to Omar Pasha demanding his unconditional surrender within one hour, release of all European slaves and abandonment of capturing European ships and slaves forever. After the earlier U.S. attacks, Omar Pasha had fortified his defences and recruited battle-hardened soldiers to ward off likely European attacks. When no response from him came, Sir Pellow declared war. The British fleet was bolstered by a squadron of six Dutch vessels. The battle began with heavy bombardment of Algiers destroying the city to rubbles. The forces of Omar Pasha showed stiff resistance and counterattacked, causing significant damage and casualties to the British side. Having reduced the city to rubbles, Sir Pellow directed his attention to the fleet of corsair ships docked in the harbor firebombing and shelling them, which set them all in flames. By the next morning, the city and the corsair fleets were in total ruin. The British side had 141 men dead and 78 wounded, while 2,000 were dead on the enemy side. After surveying the devastation the next morning, Omar Pasha, swallowing his pride, surrendered unconditionally, agreeing to all demands of the British commander. The terms for the truce included releasing of all European captives and complete stoppage to enslaving Europeans.

Having suffered the shocking battering by the United States and Britain, the Barbary States stopped attacking the British and U.S. ships, but continued ravaging ships from other nations. For example, the French ships continued to suffer. The French government then stepped up its own military action. A joint Anglo- French naval fleet was sent to the Barbary Coast again in 1819 to batter the Barbary ports. In order to put a complete end to the depredation of Barbary corsairs and to liberate Christians who suffered terrible subjection in North Africa, France conquered Algiers in 1830, ending the Barbary slave-hunting forever.


Under pressure from the West, the Ottoman government declared a ban on slave-trade in the empire in 1855. This ban of the divine institution sometimes faced fierce popular resistance, prominently in the Hejaz and Sudan. Armed with the argument that this was a West-dictated ban on a God-sanctioned institution, Muslims in the Islamic heartland of Hejaz (Saudi region) rose in revolt against the Ottomans. Sheikh Jamal, the chief of the Ulema in Hejaz, issued a fatwa against the ban on slave-trade and other Christian-inspired anti-Islamic reforms undertaken by the Ottomans. It read: ‘The ban on slave is contrary to the Holy Shari’a… With such proposals, the Turks have become infidels. Their blood is forfeit and it is lawful to make their children slaves.’931

The Ottomans were able to put down the renewed Jihad in the Hejaz within a year. However, the revolt and the fatwa had their desired effect. Fearful of long-term fallout from this ban on a divine institution in the Islamic heartland, the Ottomans declared a concession, exempting Hejaz from the ban on slavery. In this connection, the Ottoman sultan had the Chief Mufti of Istanbul, Aref Efendi, written a letter to the Qadi, Mufti, Ulema, Sharifs, Imams and preachers of Mecca, calling the ban on slavery and other Ottoman reforms as “slanderous rumors”. The letter read: ‘‘It has come to our hearing and has been confirmed to us that certain impudent persons lustful for the goods of this world have fabricated strange lies and invented repulsive vanities to the effect that the Lofty Ottoman state was perpetrating—almighty God preserve us— such things as prohibition of male and female slaves… all of which is nothing but libelous lies…’’ 932

The Ottoman-Egyptian effort to disband slave-trade also faced strong resistance in Sudan, the most fertile ground for Muslim slave hunters and traders through the ages. According to Rudolph Peters, ‘Discontent amongst the Sudanese increased when the European Powers compelled the Egyptian government to suppress the slave trade.’ The discontent was not only for material reasons, notes Peters, ‘but also for religious considerations.’ He adds: ‘As Islam permits slavery, most Muslims did not see any harm in it. Suppression of it, especially as it was actually carried out by Europeans employed by the Egyptian government, was seen as an affront against Islam.’933 As a result, Muhammad Ahmad (d. 1885), a Sufi leader, rose in Jihad against the Ottoman-Egyptian administration and their Western allies. The aggrieved slave- traders and Sufi masters, with their private armies, joined the Jihad movement.934

Following the Ottoman failure to disband slavery in the Hejaz (Saudi region), slave-trade remained legal in Saudi Arabia for another 107 years. Lord Shackleton reported to the House of Lords in 1960 that African Muslims going for the Hajj pilgrimage carried slaves with them for selling in Mecca, ‘‘using them as living travelers cheques.’’935 Saudi Arabia and Yemen banned slave-trade in 1962, nearly 155 years after its ban in Britain; Mauritania banned it only in 1980. This ban was, of course, enacted by virtue of intense international pressure, mainly from the West, but with only partial success.


Slavery continues in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Mauritania in various forms to this day. Reuters recently published a report, entitled Slavery Still Exist in Mauritania, which said:

They do not wear chains, nor are they branded with the mark of their masters, but slaves still exist in Mauritania… Herding camels or goats out in the sun-blasted dunes of the Sahara, or serving hot mint tea to guests in the richly carpeted villas of Nouakchott, Mauritanian slaves serve their masters and are passed on as family chattels from generation to generation… They may number thousands, anti-slavery activists say.’ Boubacar Messaoud, a born slave and now an anti-slavery activist told Reuters that ‘It’s like having sheep or goats. If a woman is a slave, her descendants are slaves.’936

Slavery also continues in Saudi Arabia; but because of the secretive nature of the holy Islamic kingdom, very little information comes out of it. The hundreds of thousands of young women from poor countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and so on, who go to Saudi Arabia to work as maids at the homes of Saudi Sheikhs, live a life of virtual slavery in domestic confinement. A majority of them likely end up providing sexual service to their masters to comply with the Quranic sanction of concubinage. Homaidan Al-Turki, a former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado from Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced in 2006 to twenty-year imprisonment for sexually assaulting his Indonesian maid, denied that it was a sexual assault; it is a ‘traditional Muslim behaviour,’ he claimed.937 Human Rights Watch reports on the exploitation and abuse of foreign maids in Saudi that,

Some women workers that we interviewed were still traumatized from rape and sexual abuse at the hands of Saudi male employers, and could not narrate their accounts without anger or tears. Accustomed to unrestricted freedom of movement in their home countries, these and other women described to us locked doors and gates in Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina, and Dammam that kept them virtual prisoners in workshops, private homes, and the dormitory-style housing that labor subcontracting companies provided to them. Living in forced confinement and extreme isolation made it difficult or impossible for these women to call for help, escape situations of exploitation and abuse, and seek legal redress.938

The Times of India wrote on 10 December 1993 that ‘There is no doubt that many thousands of slaves are still serving in the wealthy palaces of Arabia.’ The old and rich Saudi Sheikhs frequently travel to Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and other poor countries to marry young girls from poor families paying handsome amount of money to their parents and take the girls to Saudi Arabia, where they naturally live as nothing but slaves.

Revival of slavery in Sudan: Sudan (Nubia) has been the worst victim of Islamic slavery, which struck Sudan very early: it was forced to send an annual tribute of 400 slaves between 652 and 1276. Since the early days of Islam, suggests the tenth-century document Hudud al-Alam, Sudan had become a fertile ground for the Muslim slave-hunters and continues to be so till today. John Eibner, who worked on a project for freeing slaves in Sudan in the 1990s, reports the enslavement of black Sudanese women and children—Christian, Animist and even Muslim—by Arab militias and the government-sponsored Popular Defence Force (PDF). The enslaved women were forced to become Muslim and generally used as concubines, while the young boys were trained to become Jihadis for fighting their coreligionists. He freed 1,783 slaves in 1999, while his organization, the Christian Solidarity International, freed 15,447 slaves between 1945 and 1999.939 Even the colonial British government (1899–1956) had failed to stop enslavement and slave-trade effectively in Sudan. A 1947 memorandum prepared by the British civil servants noted that, in the late 1920s, ‘an extensive trade in slaves from Ethiopia was unmasked and even today there are occasional kidnappings, and the victims are hurried into the hands of the desert nomads of the far north.’940

Worse still is the fact that, with the government-sponsored resurgence of Islamism since the 1980s, there has been a revival of violent enslavement in Sudan. In 1983, the Islamist Sudanese government headed by President Jaafar Nimeiry, prodded by the Islamist leader Dr. Hasan al-Turabi, declared unification of the black Christian- and Animist-dominated Southern Sudan with the Arab-dominated North, abrogating former’s long-standing autonomy. The government also enacted Sharia laws uniformly all over Sudan. The purpose of the government was to transform multireligious and multiethnic Sudan into an Arab dominated Muslim state through the process of Jihad.

In protest, rebels in the dominantly non-Muslim south formed a resistance movement, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), headed by Colonel John Garang. In response, the Islamist government started arming tribal Arab militias (Baqqara). Armed with automatic weapons, these Arab brigands spearheaded the government’s war effort against the rebels and their sympathizers. They attacked villages killing the adult men, abducting the women and children, looting and plundering cows, goats and grain, and burning the rest. There was a brief respite after the Islamist government was overthrown in 1985. The Jihad resumed again after Sadiq al-Mahdi, an Islamist and brother-in-law of al-Turabi, became the Prime Minister in the 1986 election. The Arab militia raids returned with ‘deliberate killing of tens of thousands of civilians’ and ‘the abduction of women and children, who were forced into slavery.’941

After the coup in 1989, led by al-Turabi and General Umar al-Bashir of the National Islamic Front (NIF), slave-raids by Arab militias became widespread and institutionalized. The authoritarian Islamist regime of President al-Bashir formed an irregular force, the PDF, for spearheading Jihad against the rebels, and the communities sympathetic to them. The worst victim of the PDF raids and slave-hunting has been the Dinka people in the Southwest Bahr al-Ghazal states and the Nuba tribes of southern Kordofan region. The Blacks of the southern Nuba Mountains, despite being Muslims, were declared apostates in an Islamic fatwa on the account of their sympathy for the rebels. The fatwa, according to U.N. special rapporteur Gaspar Biro, read:942

An insurgent who was previously a Muslim is now an apostate; and a non-Muslim is a nonbeliever standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them.

In 1998, the PDF, supported by the regular army, waged a harrowing slave-raiding campaign against the Dinkas in Bahr al-Ghazal, displacing over 300,000 and enslaving and slaughtering unknown numbers. Following these raids, claimed Santino Deng, an advisor to the provincial government, that the Islamic militia were holding 50,000 Dinka children captives in Babanusa (Western Kordofan). A UNICEF report claimed that the PDF enslaved 2,064 people and killed 181 between December 1998 and February 1999.943 Based on the ongoing slave-raiding in Sudan, estimates John Eibner, there were some 100,000 chattel slaves in 1999.944 Between 1986 and 2003, notes an Anti-Slavery document, an estimated 14,000 people have been abducted and forced into slavery in Sudan.945

The worse was yet to come, this time in Darfur. In 2004, Arab militias (Janjaweed), patronized by the Sudan government, launched a harrowing wave of Jihad against the rebels and their sympathizers. The government-sponsored Jihad in Sudan killed some two million people between 1983 and 2003. In the renewed Jihad in Darfur since 2004, the U.N. puts the death toll at roughly 300,000; the former U.N. undersecretary-general puts the number at no less than 400,000.946 In Darfur, an estimated two-and-a-half million people have been displaced and an unknown number likely enslaved. In July 2008, the International Criminal Court charged President al-Bashir of sponsoring war-crime and crime against humanity in Darfur.947

Trimingham observed in 1949 that the Baqqara Arabs, who had lived on slave-raiding for ages and whose life was made difficult by the colonial British administration’s ban on slavery, ‘still hanker after the practice.’948 After the infidel British rulers were kicked out in 1956, the Arabs in Sudan slowly got back what they had lost and hankered after: their God-sanctioned age-old profession of slavery.


It is a disturbing fact that Muslims, especially those from some Middle East countries, have been importing the imprints of slavery to the West. In recent years, there have been a number of reports of Saudi and Sudanese families in the United States and United Kingdom, who have reduced their maids to slavery, leading to legal processes. According to the Anti-Slavery document cited above, a former slave named Mende Nazer—who recently published her autobiography, Slave: My True Story—was captured in 1992 from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. She was a slave first in a rich Arab family in Khartoum, and then, to a Sudanese diplomat in London, from where she escaped in 2002 and sought political asylum in Britain. According to a 2003 report in National Reviews,949

Three members of the Saudi royal family, including a sister of King Fahd, were caught up in a scandal five years ago in London for their treatment of three Filipina women. The women sued the Saudi royals, alleging that they had been physically abused, starved, and held against their will in the Saudis’ mansion in London. The Filipinas said they were often locked in the attic, were fed mere scraps of food, and were denied medical attention when they became gravely ill.

About the treatment of domestic workers in Saudi homes in the United States, it reported:

…most situations involving domestics working for Saudis have seven hallmarks: confiscation of passports, contract terms unilaterally changed, overlong working hours, denial of medical attention, verbal and often physical abuse, a prison-like atmosphere… All of the women with whom we spoke worked in the U.S., although some first worked inside Saudi Arabia; the women who worked in both countries said their conditions did not improve once in the U.S.


Whatever residues of slavery that exist in the Muslim world today are insignificant to what existed throughout the history of Islam: right from the days of Prophet Muhammad to the mid-twentieth century. Undoubtedly, external pressures, namely from Western countries and the U.N. etc., has played a decisive role in limiting slavery in Muslim countries. But the rise of orthodox Islamic militants globally, who aim to conquer the world for establishing Islamic rule, styled after the medieval Islamic caliphate, is a worrying sign. In a London demonstration against the publication of Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2006, a Muslim protester shouted that let us invade Denmark and ‘take their women as war booty,’ while another called out: ‘take lessons of the Jews of Khaybar.’950 However shameful the institution of slavery is and those historical incidents are, the pious Muslim minds, often highly educated ones, feel inspired by them even today.

In 1999, the Sudanese government even took the justification of its supports for the ongoing slavery in Sudan to the U.N. On 23 March 1999, Sudanese rebel leader John Garang complained to Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, about the Government-sponsored violent Jihad and enslavement. In response, the former PM Sadiq al-Mahdi (r. 1986–89) wrote to Robinson defending the Sudanese Government’s complicity in the harrowing activities on a religious basis. He wrote,951

The traditional concept of Jihad …is based upon a division of the world into two zones: one the zone of Peace, the other the zone of War. It requires initiating hostilities for religious purposes… It is true that the (NIF) regime has not enacted a law to realize slavery in Sudan. But the traditional concept of Jihad does allow slavery as a by-product (of jihad).

Therefore, if the radical Islamist movements worldwide succeed in achieving their goals, the revival of the sacred institution of Islamic slavery on the world stage with its past glory remains quite a possibility.

912. Moreland, p. 90

913. Lal (1994), p. 8

914. Milton, p17

915. Ibid, p. 17–20

916. Ibid, p. 22–23

917. Ibid, p. 23–6

918. Ibid, p. 28,37–38

919. Ibid, p. 39–41

920. Ibid, p. 39–41

921. Ibid, p. 49–50

922. Ibid, p. 116

923. Ibid, p. 172–95

924. Ibid, p. 269–70

925. Berube CG and Rodgaard JA (2005) A Call to the Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution, Potomac Books Inc., Dulles, p. 22

926. Ibid 927. Ibid

928. Hitchens, op cit 929. Milton, p. 272 930. Ibid

931. Lewis, p. 102–3

932. Ibid, p. 103

933. Peters, p. 64

934. Ibid, p. 64–65

935. Lal (1994), p. 176
936. Fletcher P, Slavery still exists in Mauritania, Reuters, 21 March 2007
937. US Urged to Review Saudi Student’s Case, Arab News, Riyadh, 28 March 2008

938. Human Rights Watch, Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia,

939. Eibner J (1999), My Career Redeeming Slaves, Middle East Quarterly, December Issue
940. Henderson KDD (1965) Sudan Republic, Ernest Benn, London, p. 197
941. Metz HC ed. (1992) Sudan: A Country Study, Library of Congress, Washington DC, 4th ed., p. 257

942. David Littman (1996) The U.N. Finds Slavery in the Sudan, Middle East Quarterly, September Issue

943. Inter Press Service (Khartoum), July 24, 1998.

944. Eibner, op cit

945. Anti-Slavery, Mende Nazer―From Slavery to Freedom, October 2003

946. Lederer, EM, UN Says Darfur Conflict Worsening, with Perhaps 300,000 Dead, Associated Press, 22 April 2008.

947. Walker P and Sturcke J, Darfur genocide charges for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Guardian, 14 July 2008

948. Trimingham JS (1949) Islam in the Sudan, Oxford University Press, London, p. 29
949. Joel Mowbray, Maids, Slaves, and Prisoners: To be employed in a Saudi home—forced servitude of women in

Saudi Arabia and in homes of Saudis in US, National Review, 24 Feb. 2003 267

950. Chilling Islamic Demonstration of Cartoons, London,, accessed on 20 July 2008.

951. Letter from Sadiq Al-Mahdi to Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (Section III: War Crimes), Mar. 24, 1999.


©2013. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.

Sex-Slavery in Islamic Jurisprudence

Sex-Slavery in Islamic Jurisprudence

Ever heard the saying: “Islam is a perfect religion, it’s Muslims who aren’t perfect”?

Well that is a thoughtfully concocted and sinister deflective tactic designed to acquit Islam of its inherent fascism, while fermenting a discontent for Muslims in academia.

Far from perfect, Islam is fundamentally flawed down to its prophetic traditions. Slavery is one of the most revered divine privileges in Islam. It is not illegal in Islam, rather it is an Islamic right. Muhammad inaugrated a tripartite model of slavery into Islam, encompassing enslavement, slave trade and sex-slavery. It was an enslavement model that thrived unquestioned until the dismantling of the Ottoman empire.

Pro Sharia advocates in the West often castigate the West for its decadence, arguing that adolescents partying out drunk till late hours; and teenage girls posing suggestively on magazine covers, are perfect of examples of just how rife Western society is with alcoholism and prostitution. As a remedy for this rot, such activists proffer the divine solution of introducing sharia regulations, such as alcohol ban, segregation of the sexes and imposed veils. In truth, alcohol, dressing suggestively, and not wearing a veil are in no way the greatest threats to a civilised way of life, Islamofascism is. It is a wry fact that Islam disparages suggestively-clad women, while sanctioning sex-slavery. Sex-slavery in actual fact, is inarguably a form of prostitution in itself. It is clear that civilisation is in need of salvation when one of the first things the Muslim Brotherhood does upon acquiring state power and writing a new constitution – a sharia-based constitution –, is lift a national ban on slavery. Through the imperfect lens of Islam, Allah’s form of prostitution is to be lauded while all other forms of prostitution are to be denigrated.

Slave concubinage is not illegal in Islam.

While Muslim women are allowed slave helpers to help with domestic chores and the likes, they are prohibited from having sexual relations with anyone but their husband. In addition to marrying as many as four wives, a Muslim man on the other hand, is awarded the divine blessing of having sexual intercourse with his slave girls. Thus, Islamic sex-slavery is a Muslim male right, bequeathed to him by Allah.

“And those (among muslim men) who guard their private parts, Except in the case of their wives or those whom their right hands possess—for these surely are not to be blamed” [Quran 70:29–30]

‘We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and war captives whom your right hand possesses’ [Quran 33:50].

It is important to note that anywhere “right hand possesses” appears in the Quran, it refers specifically to slaves. It appears some fourteen times in the Quran. Muhammad also instructed his followers to ejaculate inside slave-girls when having sex with them. He said: “It is better for you not to do it [pull out when ejaculating]. No soul that which Allah has destined to exist, but will surely come into existence.”

Thus for the Muslim male, having sex with his female slaves is as legal as having sex with his married wives. Ejaculating in slave-girls is a much preferred ethic than not ejaculating in slave girls.

Muhammad himself took at least 3 slave girls for concubines: Juwairiya of Banu Mustaliq (Bukhari 3:46:717), Rayhana of Banu Qurayza, and Maria. Maria was sent to him by an infidel Egyptian governor, to pacify him, after receiving his threatening warmongering letter asking him to convert to Islam, pay jizyah or face Muhammad’s encroaching jihadi army. There was also the Jewish girl Safiyah who was the wife of Kinana. Upon torturing Kinana to death and confiscating the wealth of the Jews from him, Muhammad and his companions cast a lot to divide the looted wealth. The women were reduced to slaves and Safiyah fell to the lot of one of Muhammad’s companion. Upon seeing that she was very beautiful, too beautiful to be possessed by a mere jihadi companion, it was suggested that she should be handed over to the lot of the leader. She was then handed over to Muhammad. The Muslim warrior upon whose lot she first fell, was compensated with two other concubines for the price of one.

On several other instances, Muhammad personally gifted, rather generously, from his large share of jihadi war captives, slave concubines to his jihadi comrades. He gifted a slave concubine each to Omar ibn Khattab (his father-in-law and the second caliph), Ali (his son-in-law and fourth caliph) and Uthman b. Affan (his son-in-law and the third caliph). These men kept these possessions, in addition to the other slave concubines that was their rightful lot out of the share of conquest loot.

There isn’t a more dehumanising/degrading form of prostitution than slave concubinage, yet it was the norm all through Islam’s history. It only ceased to exist in the Islamic world, officially, following the neutering of the Ottoman empire and the rise of the West. If an institution of sex slavery is regarded despicably by today’s standards, then it begs the question: can Muhammad still be considered a suitable role model by today’s standards?

When it comes to fascist doctrines within Islam, the blame is usually thrust at the “extremists”: those people who allegedly ‘take Islam’s message of peace out of context’ and sully it with their ‘ignorant’ ‘heretical’ mis-interpretations. Islamists specifically are often blamed for trying to corrupt Islam from the message of ‘personal application’ that it originally was intended as, into a message of state laws, domination, conquests, enslavement, terrorism, and colonialist conquest. While it is true that many Muslims are quite content with Islam being a personal affair, and are not interested in trying to pass Islamic laws on anyone else – Muslim or disbeliever; it is also true that there is no greater Muslim than Muhammad himself.

It was Muhammad, the founder of Islam, who inaugrated a tripartite model of slavery into Islam (as already stated), one encompassing enslavement, chattel slavery and sex-slavery. Generations of Muslim men all through history kept sex-slaves because Muhammad had authorised them to. Muhammad’s companions kept many more slave concubines than he did, without him ever condemning their actions. There were nation leaders and religious figures before Muhammad’s era who were averse to slavery. All Muhammad had to do was learn from them to expand on their progressive ideals, in such a way that such jahiliya principles could be preserved to benefit all of humanity, not reverse such principles. Prophet Muhammad had no business reducing innocent infidel women to slavery status. He also had no business teaching his followers to do the same. Upon entering Sindh with only 6000 Arab jihadi soldiers, Qasim slaughtered able-bodied men and enslaved approximately 300,000 Indian infidels in just three years.

Jauhar: The practice of jauhar was unknown in pre-islamic India. The advent of Islamic invasions into India created it. It was a custom amongst Hindu women of committing murder by jumping into fire, to avoid capture for sexual enslavement or violations by Muslim invaders. Women at the palace in Sindh committed jauhar in large numbers, to avoid capture and sexual violation, when Qasim finally captured Sindh at the end of his three year stint. This was a trend that continued even ingot he reign of enlightened Akbar. In capturing Sindh (under the instructions of Governor Hajjaj ibn Yusuf of Baghdad and Caliph al-Walid of Damascus), Qasim brought to India, the prophetic tradition of killing able-bodied defenders while kidnapping and enslaving the womenfolk and children of the vanquished for keeping as slave-concubines and domestic servants. All in the name of expanding the political frontiers of Islamdom. Akbar, in his conquest of Chittor (1568), ordered the enslavement of the women of already slain 8,000 Rajput soldiers. Some 8,000 of these women committed jauhar to save themselves from the dishonour and sex-slavery that was to come. Chittor is reported to have witnessed three major occurrences of jauhar when it was attacked by Alauddin Khilji (1303), Bahadur Shah of Gujarat (1535) and Akbar (1568). It was Islamic invasions who brought to India proper, the prophetic tradition of sexually exploiting Polytheist women. Sultan Mahmud had carried away 500,000 captives from India in 1001–02 and large numbers of them on other occasions, after having slain the able-bodied male defenders. Jauhar thrived in India for centuries, following the coming of Islamofascism to the subcontinent. In the days of the 1947 partition of the Subcontinent (initiated by the Muslim League to create the Land of the Pure), many Hindu and Sikh women pre-empted being condemned to a life of slave-concubinage and chose to save their honour by setting themselves on fire and jumping into wells.

There isn’t a more ideal Islamist than Muhammad, nor is there a more staunch advocate of Islamic fascism than him. He created the nascent state of Medina by slaughtering disbelieving natives. He confiscated the Kaaba, which initially represented 360 religions, for Muslims’ exclusive use. He mercilessly annihilated all opposition, while transferring the women of the vanquished to Muslim harems – a divine protocol approved by Allah [Quran 33:26–27]. Slave concubinage is clearly sanctioned in the Quran, Sunnah and Sharia. Islam puts no limit to the number of sex slaves Muslim men can keep.

As far as legal marriage is concerned, there is a limitation of four wives for a man at one time [Quran 4:3], but no such limitation on the number of sex-slaves.

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess… [Quran 4:24].

Thus in Islamic jurisprudence, the Muslim male can engage in sex with the captured slave women even if they were already married prior to their enslavement, but not with the married free Muslim women.

Multiple verses in the Quran talk approvingly of slaves and capturing them in wars. Muhammad himself, armed with these sanctions, inaugurated slavery, slave-trade and sex-slavery into Islam by enslaving women and children of the vanquished disbelievers.

“And who guard their private parts, except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable” [Quran 23:5–6].

Allah tells muslim men to select kaffir vaginas for fucking, out of the bountiful “prisoners of war” whom muslims had offensively fallen upon. [Quran 33:50]

Therefore, according to the divine commands of the Islamic God as enshrined in the holy Quran, Muslims are allowed to amass sex slaves. It goes without saying that rape itself is a divine sanction of the Islamic God as enshrined in the Quran. The glorified version of Islam’s history would have us believe that the women of the vanquished able-bodied infidel men, were all eager to end up in the harems of Muslim men, to be ejaculated in as and when the conquerors desired. Allah’s commands and prophetic tradition justify and glorify sexual assault. When soldiers in secular-democratic societies use rape as a weapon of war, they are punished by the same system of laws. There is nothing in Islamic jurisprudence that sanctions the punishment of a jihad soldier for amassing disbelieving women as war captives, throwing them into his harem and having forceful sex with them. They become his property to do as he wishes. This was the Islam that Muhammad practiced and taught to his followers!

In addition to acquiring lands for the expansion of Islamic territories, it is apparent that the greed for using kafir women as sex slaves, was a motivating factor for Muslim jihadis to engage in holy wars throughout Islam’s history. The objects of Islamic sex slavery is cohabitation (on the basis of possession, not marriage), and the generation of children for swelling the Muslim population. Slave children born in the master’s house were by right of Islamic law, automatically Muslim. Their (slave) mothers are prohibited from baptising them into any other religion. This is an ordinance that thrived during Islam’s early days and is duly observed in islamic jurisprudence today.

The early Muslim community grew rather rapidly and much of its growth is owed to the Islamic rite of slave concubinage. islamic rulers, all blazing the torch of Islam, kept slave concubines in stupendous numbers as it became synonymous with success, power and status. In India, enlightened Akbar kept 5,000 women in his harem, while Jahangir and Shah Jahan kept 5,000 to 6,000 each. In the 18th century, Sultan Moulay Ismail had 4,000 concubines in his harem. The harem in the Fatimid palace in Cairo had roughly 12,000. Abd al-Rahman III’s harem (d. 961) in Cordoba contained over 6,000 concubines, and in under just four years of capturing Spain (698-712), Musa captured 30,000 virgin girls from the families of Gothic nobility alone. Also, the last Nawab, who ruled Bahawalpur until 1954 had more than three hundred and ninety women in his harem.

All Islamic rulers throughout history institutionalised sex-slavery. All of them. If they were all mistaken about Islam, then it is safe to say that Islam cannot be understood.

Why is it needful to study both Islamic ideology, and Islam’s history prior to the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire? Such an endeavour is useful because one will never know whether to oppose Sharia laws or not, until one understands precisely why one should and must oppose both Sharia laws and Islamic rule!


Islamic sex-slavery was founded by Allah, as an exclusive Muslim male privilege. It didn’t merely ‘seep’ into Islamdom from the jahiliya cultures. It is rich of pro sharia activists in the West to ardently fault Western society as being decadent, when Islamic jurisprudence, as a matter of fact, is guilty of institutionalizing decadent norms that the rest of the world have long ago moved on from glorifying. Suffice to say, Allah hates it when prostitution occurs in the ‘filthy’ West, because he desires prostitution to be the exclusive monopoly of the Muslim male. A sharia constitution is not compatible with modern day secular-democratic notions of organising public life and State. It is a rather outdated and morally inferior model for building any kind of civilisation. It is not only unabashedly colonialist, but it is misogynistic against the Muslim woman, and is hateful towards the Kafir woman, her community and her offspring.

It is not secularists who need to quit opposing Islam. It is Islam who needs to abolish Islamism, and learn to respect everyone else!

Islam’s Role in the Viking & Atlantic Slave Trades

Islam’s Role in the Viking & Atlantic Slave Trades

The successful roll back of Muslim conquests in Europe by European resistance fighters meant that Muslim harems in the Islamic world were starved of their divinely sanctioned bountiful supply of sex slaves. Conventionally, these sex-slaves were acquired via the jihad franchise. The unmet Muslim demand for concubines found compensation in another slave-trade however. This trade was established by the Vikings. The Vikings saw an unmet demand in the market and sought to tap into its economic potential by supplying extremely wealthy sex-starved males of the Muslim Empire with the highly-prized White sex slaves they were accustomed to. Needless to say, the Vikings were the European equivalent of the corrupt African chiefs and local mercenaries in Africa who participated in neighbouring village raids to meet Muslim merchants’ insatiable demands for the infidel African slaves. These slaves were transported to the Muslim world to provide domestic and industrial services to the Muslims in the infinitely-expanding Islamic Empire. Slave trade is truly contemptible. It’s not only because slavery itself is the ultimate expression of man in his most debased form, but because it glorifies man’s debasement by institutionalising his depraved desire to own another human life completely, into a highly economically viable franchise that seduces all manner of unscrupulous men from near and far, to participation. As long as defenceless men, women and children abound for the looting, there would be no end in sight to the carnage unleashed for the lure of profit.

Accounts of mankind’s historical affair with slavery usually begins and ends with the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade. While it is necessary to understand and document crimes of the Atlantic Slave Trade so at the very least, they are never repeated; very little is taught about the similar and often times more brutal onslaughts unleashed on the Whites, Blacks, Asians, and other infidel victims of Islamic conquests. One reason why very little is written on the Islamic Slave Trades is that traditional Islamic culture still legitimises slavery. Islamic doctrine contains explicit regulations for slavery. Islam implores all of mankind to follow the Prophetic Traditions – the examples of Prophet Muhammad. Whatsoever he forbade we must forbid, what he did not forbid we may not forbid and whatsoever he did we must do. He inaugurated a tripartite model of slavery into Islam, which included sex-slavery of the prettier female captives of his war of conquests. He also sold off some of his female (Banu Qurayza) slaves for profit (to acquire weapons and horses).


Arab muslim Sheikhs Examine Slave for Sex.

Islamic slavery of Whites is inarguably an intriguing subject firstly because as stated, there is very little written on it. Secondly because it was a vigorous enterprise that went on 600 years preceding Europe’s embarking on the Atlantic Slave Trade. Was the Atlantic Slave Trade in any way inspired by the Islamic Slave Trades? Did the latter inevitably lead to the former? We know for a fact that most of the Black African slaves acquired by Europeans from Africa were acquired from the hands of Muslim merchants – about 80% slaves. We also know for a fact that upon banning the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Eastern slave trade expanded, suggesting that Muslim slave traders, unchanging in their age-old Prophetic Tradition, merely monopolised the rest of the world’s refusal to engage in slavery to their advantage. For many Africans, Western abolishment of slavery did not improve their lot, it only changed their slave market destination. For Westerners however, the rise of the Western Empire did significantly improve their lot. The mass atrocities committed during both the Islamic and Western monopolies of chattel slavery will always be in no way excusable.

In the book ‘Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery’, M. A. Khan discusses the legacy of Islamic imperialism and Islamic slavery on the non-Muslim peoples of Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Arabia and beyond. Featured below is an excerpt from Chapter VII of the book, which documents Islamic complicity in the Viking and Atlantic Slave Trades.

©2013. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.

Islamic Complicity in the Viking & Atlantic Slave Trades.


In the seventh and eighth centuries after Islam’s birth, Muslim invaders and rulers enslaved the infidels in immense numbers, promoting slave-trade into a flourishing business venture in the Muslim world. Late in the eighth century, there arose a band of non-Muslim slave hunters, the Vikings, in Europe. Vikings were a North European people, originating in Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark), who turned brutal raiding brigands between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Belonging to the so-called barbarian Germanic race, they engaged in raiding and pirate attacks along the coasts of the British Isles and mainland Europe as far east as the Volga River in Russia. ‘Famed for their long ships—the Vikings had established settlements along the coasts and rivers of mainland Europe, Ireland, Normandy, the Shetland, Orkney, and Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland over three centuries. They reached south to North Africa and east to Russia and Constantinople as looters, traders, or mercenaries. Vikings under Leif Ericson, heir to Erik the Red, reached North America, with putative expeditions to present-day Canada in the 10th century. Viking raiding voyages decreased with the introduction of Christianity to Scandinavia in the late 10th and 11th century.’880 The period of the rise and domance of the Vikings between 793 and 1066 CE became known as the Viking Age.

The Vikings have been severely condemned for their vocation of savage raids on innocent and peaceful families and communities along the coasts of Europe, killing the adults and capturing the children and young women for selling into slavery. The major reasons for the rise and spread of the Vikings, think historians, were overpopulation, technological innovations, and climate change, plus the interruption of trade and flow of goods from Central Europe to Scandinavia after the destruction of the Frisian fleet by Roman Emperor Charlemagne in 785.

Little attention is, however, given to the positive influence that Islam played in their engagement in slave-trade. The defeat of the Muslim army in the Battle of Tours in 732 dramatically subdued Islamic conquest on the European front. They even had to withdraw from some of the territories they had already captured. Thereafter, the enslavement of the prized white women from Europe for keeping as concubines in Muslim harems of the Islamic world had greatly reduced.

Examining the Sex Slave at the Slave Market

As capturing of white sex-slaves through wars and raids reduced, purchasing them became the alternative for meeting their unceasing and obsessive demand in the Muslim world. At the rise of the berserk Viking raiders, the Scandinavian fur-traders reached the Europe-Arab trading center of Bulgar Volga (in Russia), where they met traders from the Muslim world with huge demand of white women for Islamic harems. The savage Vikings, thereafter, embarked on capturing young white women for selling to traders from the Muslim world. This first opened the Eastern European route of slave-trade with the Muslim world. The supply route of white slaves via Spain also soon opened. With the spread of Christianity to Northern Europe, Viking slave-trade tapered down and eventually ceased.

Viking slave-trade has been thoroughly condemned, but little has been said of the role, Islam played, in seducing the Vikings into this abhorrent profession. There is no excuse for the crime the Vikings had committed. It is also impossible to disconnect Islam from the Viking slave-trade, because the supply was absolutely meant for meeting Islamic world’s unceasing demand for the prized white slaves.

The supply of white slaves to the Islamic world did not cease with the end of the Viking Age. Once Viking slave-trade ended, Muslim slave-hunters themselves slowly expanded the capture of white slaves in Europe to meet the Muslim world’s demand for them, thus replacing the Viking suppliers. In 1353, the Ottoman Turks, having crossed over to Europe turkishbathbypassing Constantinople, launched a new wave of raging Jihad expeditions against Europe overrunning Bulgaria and Serbia. This marked a new beginning for the capture of white slaves by Muslims in great multitudes. The Turks enslaved 7,000 whites in the attack of Thessaloniko (Greece) in 1430; while, in the sack of Methone (Greece) in 1499, Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II slaughtered all those (males) aged over ten years and “seized women and children”.881 Persian rulers Shah Tahmasp (d. 1576) attacked Georgia in 1553, enslaving more than 30,000 women and children. In his expedition to Georgia in 1551, the Ghazis ‘slew the men and took captive their wives and children.’ The sultan had earlier made another two successful expeditions against Georgia in 1540 and 1546, but the numbers enslaved are not available.882 The Ottomans and Safavids made numerous raids into European territories until the late seventeenth century. Despite suffering defeat and heavy loss in the siege of Vienna in 1683, the Ottoman Turks returned with 80,000 captives. This clearly suggests that slaves were captured in large numbers in all their campaigns.

Meanwhile the Tatar Khans embarked on numerous holy war expeditions (Razzia) into Eastern Europe and Russia in the mid-fifteenth century, capturing white slaves in tens to hundreds of thousands as noted above. The North African Barbary pirates also continued raiding and capturing white slaves along the European coastal towns from Sicily to Cornwall and from ships in the sea, enslaving more than one million white men and women between 1530 and 1780. The hunting of white slaves by Barbary pirates continued until the 1820s.


White slaves were traded across the Muslim Empire. Ottoman Eunuchs guarding a harem of Concubines


The trans-Atlantic slave-trade, conducted by European slave-traders, in which millions of African slaves were shipped to the New World, has received intense condemnations from Muslims and non-Muslims alike from everywhere, the West included. The issue of the Islamic slave-trade, however, remains largely untouched, unspoken and somewhat forgotten.

The European supply of slaves to the New World started when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V first authorized the involvement of Europe in slave-trade in 1519. The Portuguese and Spaniards, notorious amongst Europeans as slavers, first jumped into this lucrative venture followed by the Dutch, and then, the French. Britain’s King Charles I first authorized slave-trade in 1631 and his son Charles II reintroduced it by a Royal Charter in 1672. It is estimated that about eleven million African slaves were transported to the New World. Of these, approximately 4.0 million (35.4 percent) went to Portuguese controlled Brazil, 2.5 million (22.1 percent) to the Spanish colonies of South and Central America, 2.0 million (17.7 percent) to the British West Indies— mostly Jamaica, 1.6 million (14.1 percent) to the French West Indies, 0.5 million (4.4 percent) to the Dutch West Indies, and another 0.5 million to North America.883


Acquired chattel at the Harem.

Abolition: The French revolution was organized for wrestling the “rights of man”, although without giving any serious thought to the rights of slaves. It, nonetheless, later on prompted the legal emancipation of slaves of the French Empire in 1794. In the 1790s, Denmark and Netherlands took measures to abolish their own slave-trade. Meanwhile in Britain, parliamentarian William Wilberforce started a campaign in 1787 for the suppression of slave-trade, which soon transformed into a vigorous movement for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Twenty years later in 1807, the British House of Commons passed a bill for abolishing slave-trade by an overwhelming majority of 283 to sixteen votes, a decisive blow to slavery. Later in 1809, the British government took further steps to stop slave-trading by mobilizing its Navy to search ships, including foreign vessels, suspected of carrying slaves. It also used diplomatic cards with Muslim governments—in Persia, Turkey, Egypt, and so on—for the abolition of slavery in the Muslim world.

In 1810, the British Parliament made engagement in slave-trade punishable by fourteen years of hard labor. In 1814, Britain started lobbying for the inclusion of the abolition of slave-trade in the International Treaty of Europe, which led to the signing of such a Treaty by all the European powers on 9 June 1815. In 1825, Britain made complicity in slave-trade punishable by death. The greatest moment for the anti-slavery movement came in 1833: the British Parliament abolished the institution of slavery altogether and freed all slaves, about 700,000, of the British Empire. France followed the British example of emancipating slaves in 1848, prompting the same in Dutch colonies. The United States emancipated its slaves in 1865.

Islamic complicity: The European slave-trade must be condemned for the very dehumanizing and cruel nature of this grotesque crime against humanity. Muslims are very forthcoming in doing this laudable exercise in holier than thou pious tones as though their history is clean of slavery. In truth, even in the European slave-trade, Muslims played—both directly and indirectly—an essential and financially rewarding role. But there exists a peculiar silence about it amongst Muslims. Even non-Muslim scholars, including those of the West, are largely silent about Islam’s contributory roles in the trans-Atlantic slave-trade.

The “indirect” role of Islam in the trans-Atlantic slave-trade lies in the fact that Muslims had created an example of sustained and vibrant slave-trade across the vast Muslim world many centuries before the Europeans embarked on it. More importantly, the Europeans were a sustained and brutal victim of the Islamic enslavement and slave-trade: it started with the Muslim attack on Spain in 711 and continued until the early nineteenth century. The Vikings also were Muslims’ proxy-partners in raiding and abducting the white women and children to meet the Islamic world’s demand for white slaves, particularly concubines. The last Ottoman Sultan had a British captive in his harem. She was rescued and brought to Britain after the sultan’s ouster from Turkey. The psychological impact of this sustained and brutal subjection of Europeans to enslavement and sale for so many centuries can not be underestimated. It must have convinced them that slavery, which had become a brutal part and parcel of their life, was something not quite abnormal. The Europeans, having suffered violent subjection to Islamic slavery and slave-trade for nine centuries, finally embarked on the trade themselves.

A Divine Sanction to Exploit.

Concerning the “direct” role of Islam in the trans-Atlantic slave-trade, it was mostly the Muslim raiders and traders, who did the inhuman part of capturing the slaves in Africa. European traders bought slaves mainly from these Muslim slave-catchers and transported to the New World. When the Europeans embarked on the slave-trade, Muslims were the masters of large parts of Africa with centuries of experience in the art of slave-hunting. They became the ready supplier of slaves for European traders. The European merchants were stationed in trading centers along the African coast. Muslim slave hunters and traders brought black captives from inland locations to these coastal centers and sold to Europeans.

The European traders obtained some slaves, as high as 20 percent, directly forgoing the hands of Muslim traders. This direct procurement took place, not through violent raids and abductions, but through willing sale by non-Muslim owners, or possibly by some parents and relatives. (Some of them might have been supplied by non-Muslim slave-hunters, who following Muslims, had taken to the profession.) The Sahel region of West Africa, just south of Sahara and the regions of Angola were notorious for the lack of rainfall, occasionally for two to three years in succession. When that happened causing devastating drought and famines, people—faced with starvation and death—fled and ‘sold themselves or family members in order to survive at all.’ Senegal experienced a series of drought and poor harvest between 1746 and 1754, which dramatically increased the volume of slave-trade. ‘French exports from Senegal in 1754 were the highest ever,’ writes Curtin.884

The European traders acquired greater than 80 percent of slaves in Africa from Muslim slave-hunters and traders. Muslim warriors had turned Africa into a slave-catching and -breeding ground to meet the demand of slaves in the Muslim world, which later on also became a supply-house for European merchants. Sayyid Sa’id, a prince of Oman, moved to East Africa with the pirates of the port of Masqat, who had been put out of business by the British. Having established himself in Zanzibar (1806), his Arab raiders from the East Coast penetrated deep inland, reaching as far as Uganda and Congo for capturing slave.885 This way he founded his famed slave-empire in East Africa. In Africa, writes Curtin, there were slave-raiding chiefs or gangs of forty to fifty men. They went out in groups to nearby villages ‘stealing cattle and kidnapping people, trying to pick individuals or small groups, like women on the way to the village well or others unlikely to be able to defend themselves.’ Although these gangs could fight if needed, ‘they depended on stealth and speed to make their capture and sell them at a distance…’886 The opening of new markets in the New World proved very lucrative for the Muslim slave hunters and traders of Africa.

For the complete references to the above excerpt, please refer to M. A. Khan’s book: Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery. A free copy is available online.


880. Viking, Wikipedia,

881. Bostom, p. 613,619

882. Ibid, p. 620–21

883. Hammond P (2004) The Scourge of Slavery, in Christian Action Magazine, Vol. 4

884. Curtin, p. 172–73
885. Gavin, R J (1972) In MA Klein & GW Johnson eds., p. 178

886. Curtin, p. 177–79

©2013. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.



By Secular African Society

One of the most controversial aspects of Islam is its doctrine of slavery. It incites controversy because slavery in the modern world is clearly considered a contemptible practise. In Islamic doctrine however, it isn’t. For centuries, abolitionist groups from the West and non-Western world lobbied strenuously to see slavery become abolished in Western colonies from Africa to India and beyond. The formal abolishment of slavery in Muslim countries was not enacted in all of Islam’s one thousand three hundred years or so history at the time, until the intervention of the West. Saudi Arabia finally caved in and formally abolished slavery in 1962 only upon continued Western imposition. Although slave trade was banned in Niger by French colonists a century ago, the cultural practice of slave ownership was not banned until recently in 2005! In Islamic culture, Islamic doctrine sanctions a tripartite model of slavery that encompasses Enslavement (domestic and industrial labor), Slave trade and Sex-slavery. Prophet Muhammad himself who didn’t participate in any of these practices prior to taking up his Islamic mission, inaugurated this tripartite model into Islam. He set the template for his followers by selling female slaves off in exchange for weapons and horses, making slaves of common folk whom he captured in warfare, and making a concubine of beautiful widowed Rayhana the same night he murdered her relatives and husband’s entire Banu Qurayza tribe! Prophet Muhammad said that Allah has ‘made war booty legal‘ for the Muslim, and that Muslim men are allowed to do as they please with their female war captives including having sexual relations with them against their will. Islam does not permit men to rape their male captives, but there is absolutely no limit to the number of female sex-slaves a Muslim male is allowed to keep. In obedience to Allah’s set principles in the Quran, many Sultans who ruled over conquered territories had harems bursting with concubines in the thousands. Moulay Ismail had 4,000, Akhbar had 5,000, and the harem of And al-Rahman III (d.961) in Cordoba contained over 6,000 concubines, to name a few. Concubinage was sealed into the DNA of Islamic culture. Prior to these Sultans, leading Muslim men during Muhammad’s time kept numerous sized concubines – women acquired as ‘booty’ from jihadi onslaughts. The Prophet never dissuaded them from such practice. Islam is pretty clear on whether or not slavery is lawful. It is lawful. Islam only forbids the enslavement of born Muslims.

At first blush, Muslim apologists approach the issue of Islamic slavery by saying that Islam never really approved of slavery, that the Prophet temporarily endorsed slavery only because he sought to abolish the contemptuous pre-islamic practise gradually. Thus according to Muslim denialists, Islam regulated slavery which already existed among the jahiliya people, but it did not endorse it. After Britain gained control over India, it took less than a century (1757- 1843 when the Indian Slavery Act V was passed) to ban Islamic slavery there. Islam after having spent centuries conquering infidel lands and enslaving the infidels, never sought to abolish it from there, or anywhere else! Omniscient Allah after having looked into the future, never thought to pre-empt the British Empire and give to Polytheist Indians, a taste of the dignity that comes with freedom from slavery – that man everywhere truly desires. Also, contrary to apologist accounts, historical records show that due to the advent of Islam, slave-trade after a long hiatus, suddenly became introduced to India where although slavery previously existed, chattel slavery didn’t! There was not a single slave market in India pre Islam. Previously wealthy Middle class Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Natives of the Indian subcontinent who were abducted as war captives during Muslim rulers’ numerous jihad campaigns to expand Islam’s imperial domain, were instantly reduced to slave status and sold at the new slave markets, to common Muslim households  at home and abroad in neighbouring Iraq and Khurasan which were “swelled” with (non-Muslim) slaves. In Africa too, chattel slavery was not the norm until Islam, over the course of centuries, established it. Slavery in  traditional African societies generally took the form of indentured servitude, which is a stark contrast to the global enterprise ran by Arab merchants, that demanded village raids to procure slaves for supply to the Muslim world, where slaves dutifully commenced a new life of service to their Muslim masters who purchased them.

sub-saharan-slaves-3Clearly, the advent of Islam did not regulate slavery, it took slavery to unprecedented heights and made people even more barbaric than they previously may have been. During the Western colonial era, Muslim slave trading routes were interrupted. Many of the previous slave-destined Muslim regions also became Western protectorates thus had to do away with some of the practices they were accustomed to. Slavery, however, exists till this very day in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Its indigenous black populace have been specially targeted by the government and prosecuted for their Animist religions. Their indigenous languages have been banned at schools and instead they are mandated to learn the sacred language of the Quran – Arabic. The post-colonial Mauritanian government has allegedly sought to ban slavery, three times now; but banning it is clearly at odds with the Islamic call to adhere to a prophetic tradition that stretches back generations in Mauritania. The cumulative resurgence of Political Islam in Sudan following its independence from Britain in 1956 also saw a resurgence of fresh jihadi zeal and the penchant for enslaving war captives that naturally goes with it. Before the Second Sudanese war, 1.5 million people from the rebellious Animist and Christian south had already been killed. The second civil war began because President Nimeiri sought to expand Islam’s domain by islamising all of multi-cultural Sudan into a single Arabic culture. He declared all of Sudan an “Islamic state”, along with a sharia constitution to impose on all citizens. Naturally, the people of the South who had been fighting to preserve their ancient and more progressive culture for centuries rebelled again. By the end of the Second Sudanese war, a record additional 2 million people were added to the death toll. It trumps the ‘War on Terror’ death toll from Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Many of Sudan’s dead were the courageous resistance groups and freedom fighters of the South. Their women were abducted, raped and sexually enslaved in mass quantities. From the perspective of Islamic law and jihad, these atrocities were lawful. Abducting and purchasing female slaves for sex was a most common motive for the purchase of slaves throughout Islam’s history, as it was crucial to boosting the natural resources (populace, foot soldiers) of the expansionist Islamic Empire. By law, children born to slave mothers while in the Muslim slave master’s house are automatically Muslims. Their mothers are not allowed to indoctrinate or baptise them into any other religions. Thus, Sudan’s non-Muslim southern population were specially selected on a grand scale, for ethnic cleansing and sex slavery: a jihad by-product that dates back to the Prophet’s relationship with the infidels of Arabia. Sinisterly, Islamic leaders in Sudan occasionally justified their atrocities by publicly citing religious texts and the Prophetic traditions.

Then there are Muslim apologists who argue that there is nothing really diabolical about Islam sanctioning slavery if Islam equally mandates that slaves should be treated well. These spectacular apologists argue that slaves were more like servants, and not entities without rights. But a slave is a slave. How does one glorify, justify or even condone slavery by differentiating slaves treated well from slaves not treated well? A slave in Islam is not a servant but a slave – a property owned, which a master moves and does with as he pleases. Islam does not punish a Muslim master for not treating his male slave well.


Islam also does not punish a Muslim master for raping his female sex slave. To the contrary, Islam entitles him the latter right (Islamic sex-slaves are female captives abducted in war and used for co-habitation and procreation, i.e satisfying Muslim men’s sexual needs and swelling the Muslim populace) to the fullest degree. Servants are citizens with full rights in courts, but in Islamic courts a slave cannot under any circumstance bear testimony! A slave also cannot own property and can marry, but only with the master’s consent. A slave is not a servant, a slave is a chattel, the moveable property of the slave owner. It is only 7th CE Islamic benevolence that settles for such a thing as ‘treating slaves well’. It doesn’t require an awful lot of observing ideologies around the world to realise that the rest of the world already moved on from glorifying slavery centuries ago. These spectacular pseudo-benevolent apologists are merely writing their own version of the Quran. A taqiyya version for the unquestioning infidel. A heretic version neither validated by Allah’s own scriptures, the Prophetic traditions, nor the history of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. A deceitful version meant to facilitate a fallacious re-branding of Islam to the non-Muslim world, while simultaneously disarming the non-muslim world in preparation for Islamic conquest.
In 2003, shaming the perfidious apologists, Al Fawzan, a member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body and a member of the Council of Religious Edicts and Research, the Imam of Prince Mitaeb Mosque in Riyadh and a professor at Imam Mohamed Bin Saud Islamic University, whose religious teachings instruct millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, and Muslims in the non-Muslim world clarified that:  
“Slavery is a part of Islam,”
“Slavery is a part of jihad and jihad will remain as long as there is Islam.”
Muslims who dispute that slavery is lawful in Islam “are ignorant, not scholars.”
“They are merely writers,”… “Whosoever says such a thing is an infidel.” 

In the book ‘Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery’, author M. A. Khan discusses various expressions of Muslim denial about Islamic slavery. He asserts that sex-slavery is fundamentally embedded in Islamic jihad doctrine and deals with the examples set by the prophet himself, which is always the best place to begin when studying Islamic teachings. If Muslims and Western liberals are indeed serious about opposing Western meddling in Muslim affairs, the least they must do is advocate a reformation of Islam so that its doctrine of slavery (which goes hand in hand with Political Islam and jihad) is scrubbed out the Islamic texts, or abrogated with new humane texts. Ideally, Islamic law-ism could be isolated from the rest of Islam, and Political Islam reclassified in the vein of Nazism as a fascist political ideology not a religion. Implementing these measures should not be subject to whether Muslims approve or not, because at the end of the day, Islam’s barbarous slavery doctrine is not directed toward Muslims but toward all non-Muslims and all non born-Muslims. Below is an excerpt from Chapter VII of M. A. Khan’s immaculate scholarly piece.

©2013. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.


To most Muslims, the only slave-trade that existed in the world was the trans-Atlantic one, which they are very forthcoming to condemn. To them, the more extensive and barbarous practice of slavery of the Muslim world that continued well into the late twentieth century (indeed, continues today) never existed. This perception amongst them is undoubtedly the result of their ignorance about the history of Islam. Some Muslims—knowledgeable about it, or when presented with undeniable evidence—take recourse of the much familiar denials. They offer two common arguments to counter the undeniable facts about the widespread practice of slavery in the Muslim world. Firstly, slavery is not at all approved in Islam; its practice in the Muslim world resulted from the abuse or disregard of Islam. The second type of response comes from the more knowledgeable Muslims, who—failing to deny the approval of slavery in Islam and its widespread practice in the Muslim world—would agree that slavery was accepted in Islam, albeit reluctantly and on a limited scale, because of its overwhelming practice in Arabia at the time. They then come with a set of Quranic verses and prophetic traditions to claim that ‘Islam actually set the first example for the abolition of slavery.

The first type of response definitely comes from the group of Muslims, the overwhelming majority, who are thoroughly ignorant of the theological content of Islam regarding the sanction of slavery and Prophet Muhammad’s engagement in enslavement, slave-trade and concubinage. The second group, deliberately using deceptive ploys, comes up with a set of arguments from the Quran and the Sunnah, which need addressing here. The commonly cited set of Quranic references are:

  1. Quran 4:36 urges Muslims to show kindness to orphans, parents, travelers and slaves.
  2. Quran 9:60 directs part of obligatory charity toward freeing of slaves.
  3. Quran 24:33 advises owners of well-behaved slaves to set terms for their release in writing.
  4. Quran 5:92 and 18:3 propose freeing of slaves as a means of expiation for sins.
  5. Quran 4:92 states that a Muslim should free a believing slave as expiation for involuntary manslaughter.

Based on such references, Ahmad Alawad Sikainga, Professor of History at the Ohio State University, explains away the Quranic recognition of slavery as ‘broad and general propositions of an ethical nature rather than specific legal formulations.’887 In a similar vein, famous Pakistani scholar and poet Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) held slavery in Islam as a benign institution, completely devoid of true servitude. According to him,888

[Prophet Muhammad] declared the principle of equality and though, like every wise reformer, he slightly conceded to the social conditions around him in retaining the name of slavery, he quietly took away the whole institution of slavery. The truth is that the institution of slavery is a mere name in Islam.

Other more emphatic apologists come up with such lofty claims that Islam has clearly and categorically forbidden the primitive practice of capturing a free man, to make him a slave, or to sell him into slavery. They affirm their position by quoting Prophet Muhammad: ‘‘There are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgment. Of these three: he, who enslaves a free man, then sells him, and eats this money.’’889 Muslim scholar Syed Ameer Ali (d. 1928), widely read in the West, argued that Muslims should efface the dark page of slavery from the world ‘to show the falseness of the aspersions cast on the memory of the noble Prophet, by proclaiming in explicit terms that slavery is reprobated by their faith and discountenanced by their code.’890 Joining the tune of these Muslim apologists, Lewis argues: ‘The Islamic law and practice, from an early stage, severely restricted the enslavement of free persons… limiting it in effect to the non-Muslims captured or conquered in a war.’891

Those scholars, who claim that Islam categorically forbid the primitive practice of slavery, should pay attention to the words of Allah in Quranic verses 16:71, 16:76 and 30:28, which unequivocally and categorically state the division of human race into masters and slaves as natural, as His grace, and as part of His design. Iqbal and Ali should take note of the fact that Prophet Muhammad had owned no slaves prior to taking up the Islamic mission; and at the time of his death, he owned dozens of slaves and a few concubines, the majority of whom were obtained through brutal raids and attacks on innocent communities. Sikainga should not forget that, in Islamic thought, the Quran is the final words of the Creator of the Universe in all matters; and therefore, whatever the Quran sanctions becomes the eternal law for the Islamic society. This fundamental position of Islam contradicts Sikainga’s assertion that slavery is no “specific legal formulations” in Islam. In reality, slavery in Islam is a fundamental institution, repeatedly reiterated by Allah and widely practiced by Prophet Muhammad, which would stand unaltered until the end of the world. Furthermore, it is equally nonsensical and inexcusable to term the division of fundamentally equal human beings into masters and slaves as a formulation of “ethical nature” as Sikainga puts it. More so is the repeated Quranic sanction of violent enslavement of women for reducing them into sex-slaves.

Gulam Ahmad Parwez (d. 1983), another Muslim scholar and activist of the subcontinent, uses a deceptive ploy of different kind. He argues that ‘those whom your right hand possesses’ in Quran 47:4, referring to slaves, should be read in the past tense; that is, as ‘those whom your right hand possessed.’ This way, he argues, slavery belonged to the past and the Quran closed ‘the door to future slavery.’892 Muslims should probably follow this crooked ploy and read the instructions of the Quran regarding prayers, fasting, pilgrimage and everything else in the past tense and relegate Islam to the dustbin of history.


Prophet Muhammad relocated from Mecca to Medina in 622, when he had only about 200–250 converts: from Mecca and Medina combined. With this small group of followers, he formed a raiding brigand expressly for the purpose of attacking caravans from Mecca to plunder them for booty. As his power grew, he scaled up his adventures by attacking the Pagan, Jewish and Christian communities that came within his reach and power for the purpose of plundering and capture of slaves. After Muhammad’s death in 632, this unconditional war on the infidels continued with greater vigor as Muslim power grew in leaps and bounds. They started undertaking campaigns of massive scales eventually bringing down world’s great powers: Persia, Byzantium and India. They often enslaved in tens to hundreds of thousands in a single campaign, besides putting large numbers of the vanquished non-Muslims to the sword.

At the advent of Islam, Prophet Muhammad’s raiding and warring brigand, consisting of just a few hundred neo-Muslim Bedouins of Arabia, declared an aggressive, unconditional and relentless holy war on the rest of humanity with the intention to subjugate and enslave them. Those like Lewis, who think that Islam “categorically forbade” or “severely restricted” the enslavement of a free man, should realize that Islam called for the unrestrained subjugation and enslavement of all free men and women of the globe at the hands of a few hundred Bedouin Arab raiders and plunderers. The Islamic legislation of enslavement is not of “severely restricted” nature, but of the highest scale imaginable, unprecedented in the history of mankind. The soldiers of Islam have executed this divine command with aplomb; the history of Islam has been the witness to that. By any standard, the sanction of slavery in Islam was the most devastating blow to the spirit and dignity of the free human being.

Humane treatment of slaves in Islam

It is true that Islam urges Muslims to treat slaves humanely. Verses of the Quran listed above encourage Muslims to set slaves free (manumission) for various reasons, including for the redemption of involuntarily killing a Muslim (not an infidel). In Islam, manumission is seen as an act of benevolence or expiation of sins. On the basis of these arguments, apologists of Islam would claim that ‘It is not true to say that Islam instituted, or was responsible for the institution of slavery; it is more correct to say that it was the first religion, which put the first steps necessary for its extinction’ (personal communication). Joining this camp of Muslims, Prof. Jonathan Brockopp of Pensylvania State Univerity writes:

Other cultures limit a master’s right to harm a slave but few exhort masters to treat their slaves kindly, and the placement of slaves in the same category as other weak members of society who deserve protection is unknown outside the Quran. The unique contribution of the Quran, then, is to be found in its emphasis on the place of slaves in society and society’s responsibility toward the slave, perhaps the most progressive legislation on slavery in its time.893

Concerning Islamic injunctions for good treatment of slaves and their manumission, there was nothing new in it. We have noted that, nearly a thousand years before the advent of Islam, Buddha had urged his followers to treat slaves well and not to overwork them. In Athens, the Greek statesman and political reformer Solon (c. 638–558 BCE) had enacted a decree abolishing enslavement for debts, a major cause of enslavement at the time.

The tradition of manumission of slaves existed in Greece about a millennium before the advent of Islam. Inscriptions in stones, belonging to the fourth century BCE and later, document emancipation of slaves in Greece, likely as voluntary acts of masters (predominantly male and also female from the Hellenistic period). To buy their freedom, slaves could either use their savings or take loan from friends or masters.894

The sense justice toward slaves in Greek Society can be guaged from Socrates’ encounter with Euthyphro outside a law-court. Euthyphro’s father had killed one of his slaves (accidentally, probably while discipling him), who had killed another slave. And Euthyphro took his father to court for his crime of killing the slave. On Euthyphro’s way to the court, Socrates stopped him so as to inquire about his motivation or the righteousness that inspired him to prosecute his own father. Euthyphro told Socrates that ‘although his family think it impious for a son to prosecute his father as a murderer, he knows what he is about. His family is ignorant about what is holy, whereas he has ‘an accurate knowledge of all that.’ He therefore had no doubt about the rightness of his action.‘895 While this case, undoubtedly, was an exception to norm, it nonetheless informs us of the sense of justice toward slaves that had penetraded into the then Greek Society (a housands years before Muhammad)—something impossible even today in any Muslim soceity.

The Islamic exhortation for treating slaves well and for freeing them was thus nothing new. Such benevolent practice existed in Greece nearly a millennium earlier. Solon had even enacted a ban on the major form of enslavement in Athens nearly twelve centuries before the birth of Islam. Neither the practice of emancipation of slaves was absent in Arabia during Muhammad’s life or prior to that; evidence for it comes from the following Islamic text [Bukhari 3:46:715]:

Narrated Hisham: My father told me that Hakim bin Hizam manumitted one-hundred slaves in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance and slaughtered one-hundred camels (and distributed them in charity). When he embraced Islam he again slaughtered one-hundred camels and manumitted one-hundred slaves. Hakim said, ‘I asked Allah’s Apostle, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! What do you think about some good deeds I used to practice in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance (jahiliyah) regarding them as deeds of righteousness?’ Allah’s Apostle said, ‘You have embraced Islam along with all those good deeds you did.’

Good treatment and freeing of slaves definitely existed in the seventh-century Arab society, prior to the founding of Islam. Muhammad himself had freed his only slave Zayd when he was a Pagan, some fifteen years before undertaking the Islamic mission. He even adopted Zayd as his son. These generous and humane gestures of Pagan Muhammad clearly reflected the existing benevolent pre-Islamic tradition and culture of the Arab society. Hence, Islam and Prophet Muhammad added nothing new to the humane aspect of slavery.

Islam aggravated slavery

Islam did not institute slavery, but embraced the age-old practice with open arms and gave it a divine validation to last for the eternity and promoted it to a hitherto unprecedented scale. It is groundless to claim that Islam closed the door to slavery or took the first step toward its abolition. In the Quran, Allah repeatedly gave approval of slavery as part of His divine plan, which must stand until the end of the world. Not only that, Islam aggravated the practice of slavery at its very inception, which worsened further over the centuries. Prophet Muhammad enslaved the children and women of Banu Qurayza, Khaybar and Banu Mustaliq [Bukhari 3:46:717], after slaughtering the men. This ideal protocol of the Prophet became the modus operandi for Muslim warriors through the ages until the West abolished its own engagement in slavery and enforced its ban in the Muslim world—much to the anger, disappointment and even violent opposition of Muslims.

One must take note of the way the Banu Qurayza, Banu Mustaliq and Khaybar Jews were slaughtered and enslaved by the Prophet. Nothing as barbaric and cruel, and on such large-scales, as these took place in the Arabian Peninsula during Muhammad’s life. Islamic history tells us that Muhammad’s father had only one Abyssinian slave-girl, named Barakat. The leading men of Mecca are not recorded to have possessed slaves in their dozens. The Prophet’s first wife Khadijah, despite owning a big business, possessed only one slave, Zayd, whom she presented to Muhammad after their marriage. Muhammad, a Pagan at the time, freed Zayd and adopted him as his son.

During the next fifteen years of his life as a Pagan, Muhammad owned no slave. Over the next twenty-three years of his life as a Muslim and the Prophet of Islam, he accumulated fifty-nine slaves and thirty-eight servants as listed by Ghayasuddin Muhammad Khondmir in Rauzat-us-Safa. Zubair, Muhammad’s close companion, had a massive 1,000 slaves at the time of his death.896

As a Pagan, Muhammad, and also possibly Zubair, owned no slaves. But after embracing the Islamic faith, they amassed slaves in dozens to a thousand. These examples make it clear that, instead of taking any step toward its abolition, the Prophet of Islam and his closest companions themselves had elevated the institution of slavery to a much higher scale, compared to what pre-existed in Arabia. Islam also introduced a most barbaric and cruel means, albeit with divine sanctions, for capturing slaves on a scale not seen in the then Arabia.


Slavery, theologically & historically, an integral part of Islam

Despite widespread denials about the existence of slavery in Islam and the claim that Islam took the first step toward its abolition, slavery is indisputably a divinely sanctioned institution in Islam, which will stand valid until the end of the human race. In Islamic doctrine, slavery is integral in Allah’s eternal plan; it’s a part of His divine grace to humankind. All Schools of Islamic jurisprudence, the Sharia, and the religious doctors of Islam throughout history have unequivocally and proudly accepted and preached slavery as an integral part of Islam. The great Islamic thinker Ibn Khaldun recognized mass enslavement of non-Muslims in gloating religious pride when Muslims had transformed Africa into a slave-hunting and -breeding ground. In practicing slavery, writes Lewis, ‘‘(Muslims) were upholding an institution sanctioned by scripture, law (Sharia), and tradition (Sunnah) and one which in their eyes was necessary to the maintenance of the social structure of Muslim life.’’897 Hughes correctly asserts that in Islam, ‘slavery is interwoven with the Law of marriage, the Law of sale, and the Law of inheritance… And its abolition would strike at the very foundation of the code of Mohammedanism.’898

Ibn Khaldun thought the extensive enslavement of Blacks in Africa by Muslims was justified, ‘because they have attributes that are quite similar to dumb animals.’899 In the annals of Muslim historians, enslavement in general, especially of the allegedly barbarian Blacks, became a matter of pride. It was also deemed as an act of generosity toward curing them of their barbaric nature and sinful religions by bringing them into the true faith and civilized world of Islam. About this line of thinking of the devout Islamic thinkers, writes Arnold, ‘devout minds have even recognized in enslavement God’s guidance to the true faith…’900

The Negroes from the Upper Nile countries were violently enslaved in massive numbers and converted to Islam. They were summarily castrated and transported across great distances; in the course of this, the majority of them (80–90 percent) perished. Of those, transported across the Atlantic to the new world, some 30–50 percent perished ‘in transit to the coast, in confinement awaiting shipment and at sea on the way to Americas.’ The mortality of slaves on board ships in their passage to the New World is estimated at 10 percent.901

This tragic doom of captives of mammoth proportion was also seen as a generosity and ‘God’s grace’ in Islamic mindset of which, writes Arnold, ‘God has visited them in their mishap; they can say ‘it was His grace’, since they are thereby entered into the saving religion.’902 Even many religious-minded Western historians, echoed this tune of Muslim thinkers about the massive enterprise of enslavement of Blacks in Africa. Bernard Lewis summarizes the general sentiment in this regard as thus: ‘…slavery is a divine boon to mankind, by means of which pagan and barbarous people are brought to Islam and civilization… Slavery in the East has an elevating influence over thousands of human beings, and but for it hundreds of thousands of souls must pass their existence in this world as wild savages, little better than animals; it, at least, makes men of them, useful men too…’903

This divine justification, indeed inspiration, for the enslavement of Blacks was so strong amongst Muslims in Africa that they had ‘given up wholly to the pursuit of commerce or to slave hunting’; and as a result, they were hated and feared by the people as slave-dealers, notes Arnold.904 Sultan Moulay Ismail (d. 1727), as noted already, had slave-breeding nurseries in Morocco. In the Sudan region of Africa, there were firms that specialized in the breeding of Black slaves for sale like cattle and sheep even in the nineteenth century. Hudud al-Alam—a Persian geographical manuscript written in 982 for the Ghaurivid ruler Abu al- Harith Muhammad ibn Ahmad, records of the Sudan that, ‘no region is more populated than this. The merchants steal the children there and take them away. They castrate them and take them to Egypt, where they sell them.’ Slavery reached such a level that ‘Among them there are people who steal each others children to sell them to the merchants when they come,’ adds the document.905

Muslims had integrated the institution of slavery into the African society so thoroughly that when the Europeans, particularly their missionaries, tried to liberate them, the slaves felt it preferable to remain under their masters than embrace the challenging free life of taking their destiny into their own hands. A report on the first three years of British administration in Central Africa noted that slave-trade stood as ‘‘a rival kind of civilization to that of white man which it is of a much easier notion for the Negro mind to accept.’’906 Enslavement became so widespread in Africa that as ‘Africa became almost synonymous with slavery, the world forgot the eagerness with which the Tartars and other Black Sea peoples had sold millions of Ukrainians, Georgians, Circassians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Slavs, and Turks,’ laments BD Davis.907 The most precious commodity that Muslim traders brought from the trading centre of Volga in the tenth century was white slaves, normally sold by the Vikings.


Possibly the most devastating aspect of Islamic slavery was the castration of male captives. The majority of the enslaved African males were emasculated before selling them in the Muslim world. In India, we have noted of large-scale castration of male captives from the beginning to the end of the Islamic rule. Even top generals, namely Malik Kafur and Khusrau Khan, were castrated, which suggest that the castration of male captives was widespread in India, too. There was also widespread castration of European slaves.

The worst casualty of castration was obviously the robbing of man’s most fundamental identity and treasure—his manhood, which he is born with. The greatest tragedy of castration was, however, the massive mortality in the operation. According to Koenraad Elst, ‘Islamic civilization did indeed practice castration of slaves on an unprecedented scale. Several cities in Africa were real factories of eunuchs; they were an expensive commodity as only 25 percent of the victims survived the operation.’908 Furthermore, a large number of captives perished during their passages to markets of the Muslim world, often thousands of miles away; this constituted another huge tragedy of Islamic slavery. The casualties in the raids for harvesting slaves could also be enormous. In Central Africa, recorded Commander VL Cameron, Islamic slave-raiders left the trails of

burnt villages, of slaughter and the devastation of crops. The loss of life caused by these raids must have been enormous, though it is of course impossible to give any exact figures. Burton, a British explorer, estimated that in order to capture fifty-five women, the merchandise of one of the caravan he observed, at least ten villages had been destroyed, each having a population between one and two hundred souls. The greater part of these were exterminated or died of starvation.909

On the magnitude of the mortality of slaves, writes Segal,

‘The arithmetic of the Islamic black slave trade must also not ignore the lives of those men, women and children taken or lost during the procurement, storage and transport. One late nineteenth century writer held that the sale of a single captive for slavery might represent a loss of ten in the population—from defenders killed in attacks on villages, the deaths of women and children from related famine and the loss of children, the old and the sick, unable to keep up with their captors or killed along the way in hostile encounters, or dying of sheer misery.’910

Segal collates a number of incidents of slaves being perished in their transportation.911Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 1.17.42 AMExplorer Heinrich Barth recorded that a slave caravan of his friend Bashir, wazir of Bornu, on the way to Mecca during pilgrimage season lost forty slaves in the course of a single night, killed by severe cold in the mountain. One British explorer came across over 100 human skeletons from a slave caravan en route to Tripoli. The British explorer Richard Lander came across a group of thirty slaves in West Africa, all of them stricken with smallpox, all bound neck to neck with twisted strips of bullock hide. One caravan from the East African coast with 3,000 slaves lost two-thirds of its number from starvation, disease and murder. In the Nubian Desert, one slave caravan of 2,000 slaves literally vanished as every slave had died.

Various estimates put the number of black Africans reduced to slavery in the Islamic world from eleven to thirty-two million. Since 80–90 percent of the captives had perished before reaching their destination, it is not difficult to imagine the quantum of human lives lost as a result of the cruel and barbaric institution of Islamic slavery. Ronald Segal, despite being sympathetic to Islam, puts the number of enslaved black Africans at eleven million and admits that well over thirty million of people might have died at the hands of Muslim slave hunters and traders or ended up as slaves in the Muslim world. From the data presented so far, the institution of Islamic slavery, undoubtedly, has been one of the greatest tragedies to befall humankind.

For the complete references to the above excerpt, please refer to M. A. Khan’s book: Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery. A free copy is available online.


887. Islam and slavery, Wikipedia,
888. Iqbal M (2002) Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal, in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940: A Sourcebook, C Kurzmaned., Oxford University Press, London, p. 307–8

889. Muhammad S (2004) Social Justice in Islam, Anmol Publications Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, p. 40

890. Ali SA (1891) The Life and Teachings of Muhammed, WH Allen, London, p. 380 891. Lal (1994), p. 206

892. Parwez GA (1989) Islam, a Challenge to Religion, Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, p. 345–46

893. Brockopp JE (2005) Slaves and Slavery, in The Encyclopedia of the Qur’ān, McAuliffe JD et al. ed., EJ Brill, Leiden, Vol. 5, p. 56–60.

894. Slavery in Ancient Greece, Wikipedia,

895. Gottlieb, A (2001) Socrates: Philosophy’s Martyr, in The Great Philosopher (Monk R & Raphael F eds.), Phoenix, London, p. 28-29

896. Lal (1994), p. 13

897. Lal (1994), p. 175 898. Hughes, p. 600 899. Lal (1994), p. 80 900. Ibid

901. Curtin, p. 182
902. Arnold TW (1999) The Preaching of Islam, Kitab Bhavan, Delhi, p. 416–17 903. Lal (1994), p. 60
904. Arnold, p. 172–73,345–46

905. Lal (1994), p. 133
906. Gann, p.196
907. Lal (1994), p. 61
908. Elst K (1993) Indigenous Indians: Agastya to Ambedkar, Voice of India, New Delhi, p. 375

909. Cameron CVL (1877) Across Africa, Dalty, Isbister & Co., London, Vol. II, p. 137–38 910. Segal, p. 62

911. Ibid, p. 63–64

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