On September 18, Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV labeled U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a “black snake.” — MEMRI
Read the comments made by marauding Arabs as they attacked and burned and killed in Darfur. The reports of the survivors offer example after example of the Arabs of the Janjaweed telling them that “you blacks have to die.” This kind of thing seldom is reported, and when it is reported, nothing is made of it. It disappears. It should be constantly publicized, along with the Arab enslavement of blacks in the southern Sudan, Mauritania, and even Saudi Arabia itself. Pictures of black Africans, from the 1930s, being sent off to the slave markets of Arabia exist and used to be reprinted, but not in recent decades. For one example of such a picture, see Dagobert Rune’s “Tyranny.”
And then there is the Hadith quoted by Robert Spencer in his lucid, line-by-line exegesis of the Qur’an:
The believers, meanwhile, are exhorted to “obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you” (v. 59). To obey Muhammad today is, many Islamic authorities say, to obey his dictates in the Hadith, which some contemporary Muslims wish to disregard and say that only the Qur’an has authority. And Muhammad himself is quite clear about the necessity to obey earthly rulers: “You should listen to and obey your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.”
Much has been written about Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism. But even that supremacism that puts Arab above non-Arab Muslim, has its degrees. The blacks of Africa were the staple of the Arab slave trade for a thousand years, while the Atlantic slave trade lasted little more than two centuries. The Arab slave trade was stamped out only by the outside, Christian powers, first by using force. Great Britain through naval power managed in the 19th century to end the Arab slave trade in blacks seized and brought to Arabia, though they did not manage to end the practice of slavery by the Muslim Arabs. The French did the same where their writ ran in North Africa.
Slavery was formally abolished in Saudi Arabia only in 1962, with much protesting and grumbling and, in the case of one Saudi princess, a refusal to comply. And there are many reports of its persistence in Saudi Arabia, including one published just this past week by an Arab from the Maghreb who, in the French press, wrote unequivocally that such slavery still exists in Saudi Arabia, beyond the prying eyes or minds of Westerners. Advertisements have been spotted in Saudi papers, offering to swap (yes, just like those folksy swaps in Yankee Magazine, out of Dublin, New Hampshire) girls, Indian or Thai or Cambodian, for a used car — but please, one in good condition.
After all, the more than million Christians who over the centuries were taken by Arab slavers who raided the coast and made off with whole villages (see Giles Milton’s book on Thomas Pellow of Cornwall) in Western Europe, and the other millions taken from the Slavs in the East, and the still other women kidnapped from Georgia and Circassia to supply the choicest members of the harems (which were not limited, as Westerners seem to think, to Ottoman padishahlar or other rulers), not to mention the “slave-rulers” such as the Mamelukes in Egypt, all testify to the centrality of slavery, and its permanent legitimacy that comes from its being recognized in the immutable Qur’an, and in the exemplary practices of 7th-century Arabia preserved as a model for all Muslims for all time in the Hadith and the Sira.
If one denounced slavery, one would be attacking Muhammad, or Islam. In order to denounce it, one would be suggesting that Muhammad was not, in what he permitted, the perfect man for all time. One would be hinting that the Sunna is not the perfect way of life for all time. On what textual basis, therefore, can anti-slavery Muslims propose to convince other Muslims that one can treat the Qur’an and hadith as historical texts, not valid in every way for all time, but to be treated as Christians and Jews treat certain parts of their respective religious texts? It is the intellectual and psychological inability of Muslims to do this, to jettison large parts of hadith and sira and — Qur’an — that stand in the way. It doesn’t matter if this or that Muslim feels uneasy, or privately distances himself. What matters is what most Muslims think, or choose to think, based on their refusal to reconsider the supposed holiness or immutability of the texts.