Slavery has always been an integral part of Islamic practice, and Jews among other others were still being sold as slaves in Morocco in the 1890s. In a scathing critique of western liberals, who have a blindspot towards both Islamic imperialism and slave-trading, Denis MacEoin addresses the issue in his piece for Gatestone Institute:
(do not) mention another issue that should be close to their hearts: the Islamic
Slavery has been an integral part of Islamic practice from the start.
It is scripturally endorsed, embedded in shari’a law, and has been
practiced from the seventh century until today. The slave trade was
notably carried on by Arab merchants across the Sahara and brought
Africans to North Africa. Liberals rightly condemn the European slave
trade and its impact on North America; they – again rightly – act to
eliminate modern slavery through trafficking – which is estimated to involve some 40.3 million people worldwide by 2016. It is almost unheard of, nevertheless, for people on the left also to speak of the Islamic (mainly Arab) slave trade.
The educational website History World, for instance, has a substantial account entitled “History of Slavery”, in which it describes the use of slaves in Babylon, Greece, Rome, the European Middle Ages, and the Portuguese and triangular
(chiefly the Transatlantic) slave trades. Yet it only mentions Islamic
slavery in passing, despite its having lasted far longer than the
European and American versions. Here are the three short paragraphs the
site devotes to the subject, all of which appear to argue that
supposedly Muslim slavery was not altogether a bad thing:
Slavery is an accepted part of life in Arabia during the time of Muhammad, in the 7th century, and the Qur’an
offers no arguments against the practice. It merely states,
particularly in relation to female slaves, that they must be well
treated. In general that has been the case compared with the barbaric treatment of slaves in some Christian communities.
Meanwhile the Muslim habit of using slaves in the army has led to one
unusual result – in itself an indication of the trust accorded to
slaves in Middle Eastern communities.
In 1250 the slave leaders of the Egyptian army, known as Mamelukes,
depose the sultan and seize power. A succession of rulers from their
own ranks control much of the Middle East, as the Mameluke dynasty, for
nearly three centuries.
This article also does not mention the three centuries of the Barbary
Slavers: North African Muslims who went out as pirates into the
Mediterranean to capture ships from European countries and take crews
and passengers as slaves to be sold in the markets of Tunis, Algiers and
other towns. Barbary pirates ventured as far as England and Ireland,
where they would raid coastal villages, and carry residents off.
Professor Robert Davis writes:
“The fishermen and coastal dwellers of 17th-century
Britain lived in terror of being kidnapped by pirates and sold into
slavery in North Africa. Hundreds of thousands across Europe met
wretched deaths on the Barbary Coast in this way”.
Fantasies about the benign effects of slavery under Islam or, more
widely, the tolerance enjoyed by non-Muslims living in the Muslim
empires are still widespread. Muslims themselves insist that Islam is the most tolerant religion, and many progressives take this on board without much knowledge of the facts. Classroom, a website devoted to education, illustrates the naivety of excessively open-minded Westerners.