5 Roles Christianity and Islam Played in the Enslavement of Black People

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Source: http://atlantablackstar.com

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For The Bible Tells Me So

Slaveholders justified the practice by citing the Bible.

For the oppressor, the act of acquiring slaves was not only a divine spoil of war for the victor, but it was also the right of God’s “chosen people” to enslave others who were not part of their group during times of peace. In the Bible, Deuteronomy 20:10-11 states:

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you.”

What if the people of that land aren’t interested in surrendering their freedom? Well, Deuteronomy 20:12-14 states:

 “And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it.”

The Bible doesn’t present many options for freedom outside of death. Fortunately, the New Testament is full of helpful tips for handling slavery while you’re living. Ephesians 6:6 states:

 “Slaves, obey your masters here on earth with fear and respect. And do this with a heart that is true, just as you obey Christ.”

Do your work and be good at it. Don’t upset your master with sassy talk and empty threats. Don’t even think about pulling a Nat Turner.

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Islam Tells You So, Too.

Islam Does Not Condemn Slavery

Surely, the Islamic faith must offer some spiritual empowerment for the oppressed. However, when it came to oppressing African people, Christianity and Islam were not so different. There is an oft-repeated charge that racism did not play a part in Islamic slave society. However, while it is true that the Muslims of the Middle East took slaves of all colors and ethnicity, they considered white slaves more valuable than Black ones and developed racist attitudes toward the darker skinned people.

For instance, the famous 14th-century Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldun, expressed racist attitudes toward Black Africans writing: “The only people who accept slavery are the Negroes, owing to their low degree of humanity and their proximity to the animal stage.”

In all fairness, the Islamic version of slavery could be seen as more humane than the European colonial version, but in many cases it was just as cruel, especially in the sexual exploitation of Black women. According to the Qur’an (4:24) and Qur’an (33:50), a Muslim man was forbidden to have sex with all married women except those he held as captives and slaves. So sex slaves were permitted, just as in the European colonies, and the African woman’s body was treated as property to be used and abused as her master saw fit. Roughly 100,000 to a half million African women and girls are still used for labor, sex and breeding within Islamic countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Another point to highlight about the Muslim version of slavery is that Arab slave traders sought to prevent Black men from impregnating any female  in Arabia, free or captive. They developed the brutal practice of mutilating the genitals of young African men and boys, sometimes no more than 9 or 10 years old, to create eunuchs. These castrated African males sold for more in Arabia, because they posed no genetic threat to the Arab man. Only 1 in 10 survived the crude surgery.

*Note – This article has been updated The original contained misquoted text which referenced Ibn Ishaq 327 as a Qur’an verse. Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yasar was an Arabic historian noted for writing the earliest biography of Muhammad. Ibn Ishaq 327 was a verse from his work.

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The Pope Says, “Okey Doke!”

 15th and 16th-century popes sanctioned slavery.

Black people are not impervious to the callous legacy of inhumane sanctions issued from the Vatican. In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued Dun Diversas, which was a letter granting authority to enslave and trade all non-Catholic people as necessary during the Crusades. The people affected were mostly Pagans and Muslims.

 The slavery sanctions authorized in Dun Diversas were expanded throughout the years by three additional Popes to eventually grant divine permission to imperialist nations seeking to colonize and profit from the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Essentially, these sanctions issued by the Vatican broadened and increased the power of white supremacy by issuing a divine right delivered by the holiest authority on Earth. It’s no wonder the oppressors of the modern world took the Old Testament literally.

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It’s The Good Ship, Jesus of Lubeck!

The first British slave ship to reach the Americas was known as Jesus of Lubeck.

If this isn’t a sign of bad things to come, then what is? The first British slave ship to reach the Americas was called Jesus of Lubeck. Between 1562 and 1567, Britain’s very first slave trader, John Hawkins, profited so greatly from the slave trade, that it caught the Queen’s attention. She donated the Jesus of Lubeck and another ship called … wait for it … The Minion, as an investment into Hawkins’ enterprise.

Hawkins’ lucrative business in profiting from human atrocities was abruptly ended in 1567 when his fleet was confronted by Spanish conquistadors in the Gulf of Mexico. Hawkins suffered a heavy loss of 325 men. His casualties are dwarfed by the number of African lives lost within the five years of Hawkins’ fiendish operation and the lives destroyed through brutal oppression of  surviving enslaved Africans and the many generations to follow.

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I Am Slave, 2010

Islam Enslaved Africans First

Islamic Enslavement of Africans Predates European Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Around the eighth century, Arabic Muslims captured citizens of East African countries and gradually spread their violent trafficking into the Sub-Sahara Region of Africa by the turn of the 20th century. Captured Africans labored in various positions under Arabic Muslim enslavement ranging from military soldier or domestic worker to concubine or miner. When the Europeans entered the slave trade, Arabic Muslims saw a prosperous opportunity and took full advantage of  this booming business opportunity. After most countries criminalized slavery, Middle Eastern Muslims continued to aggressively capture Africans up until the end of World War I. After pressure from the United Nations, slavery was made illegal in many middle eastern countries over time. Saudi Arabia was the last country to publicly end slavery in 1962.

Although, abduction and enslavement of people is a violation of international law, it is presently practiced all over the planet with the Middle East reigning supreme as the “Human-Trafficking Capital of The World”.  Given the history of Muslims putting their faith in Allah above all else, it should not be surprising that the modern Muslim would find a way to exercise his right to oppress if the Qur’an says that it’s not just permissible, but it is your right as a Muslim and it is Allah’s law.

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