slavery and Islam
By Bala Ambati
Liberals now seem to cover for the most
illiberal force on the planet, Islamic fundamentalists who destroy free
speech and enslave blacks and heap blame on U.S. policy, but do not ask
the Muslim world to take a hard, long look in the mirror.
These trends converge in Europe, where Michael Houellebecq, a French
writer, stated that "Islam is the stupidest religion." That
dumb and wrong remark landed him in a criminal trial, where a Muslim
plaintiff and spokesperson for a Paris mosque stated, "Words have a
price. One can kill with a word. Freedom stops when Muslims feel
insulted." This suppression of speech is not isolated: Islamic
activists in Europe seek to ban Oriana Fallaci's book The Rage and the
Pride, and, most ironically, Somali Muslim Ayaan Ali, who immigrated to
Holland, was forced by Islamic fundamentalists' death threats to flee
the nation because she criticized domestic violence among Muslims.
In America, Muslim author Kola Boof and UCLA law professor Khaled abou
el Fadl received death threats from Islamic fundamentalists and no
support from free speech advocates. A Muslim legal group tried to censor
Alan Dershowitz's writings. David Frum, who defended Isioma Daniel (the
Nigerian journalist whose commentary earned a fatwa and led to Islamic
fundamentalist riots that killed hundreds), received a letter reminding
him of "the fatal consequences" of ignoring what is
objectionable to Muslims. Bat Ye'or and Andrew Bostom were shouted down
at Georgetown by Muslim students who prevented them from speaking on the
history of Jews under Islamic rule. Political correctness yoked to
Islamic fundamentalist intolerance bodes ill for free society. Where are
the guardians of free speech, liberals, defending Boof, el Fadl, Fallaci,
Hirsi Ali, Houellebecq, Ye'or, Bostom, Frum, Daniel and Dershowitz?
Preoccupied championing convicted terrorist Laura Whitehorn?
Moreover, liberals blinded to Islamic fundamentalist imperialism's evil
are whitewashing slavery's history in Islamic empires as "not as
bad as the Atlantic slave trade." Slavery in Islamic empires for
centuries involved castration of men guarding harems and religious
sanction for masters to sleep with slave-girls, a practice that persists
today in Sudan openly and covertly in Saudi Arabia as concubinage. Those
saying Quranic verses justifying slavery and sleeping with slave-girls
are acceptable given 7th century mores forget that the Constitution's
three-fifths compromise has been rightly judged immoral. In any case,
such verses compromise shari'a as a timeless, complete and immutable
rulebook of ethics; hence, other verses inciting violence should also be
questioned. Slavery is always wrong and it is time for the Islamic world
to ask forgiveness for its legacy of slavery and conquest, much as
several Western leaders have apologized for similar acts.
Shari'a law and imams justify slavery today. Islamic terrorist groups
quote Hadith (Sahih Muslim 8:22 and 8:29) that coitus interruptus is
permitted with slave-girls and captives (to avoid impregnating women and
consequent reduction in ransom value) and that one is permitted to have
intercourse with captive women, since their marriages are abrogated upon
capture. Official Saudi cleric Sheikh Saad Al-Buraik told "Muslim
brothers" in 2002 to "not have any mercy on Jews, their blood,
their money their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately.
God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women?" In Sudan,
a fatwa in 1992 endorsed by the oil-funded theocracy states "a
non-Muslim is a non-believer standing against the spread of Islam, and
Islam grants the freedom of killing him".
Hundreds of thousands of black Africans are enslaved by Arab masters.
According to Abannik Hino of Wingate University, over 2,000 Sudanese
slaves are shipped to the Arab world annually. Dr. George Ayittey, a
Ghanaian-born professor at American University, commented on lack of
Western outrage: "We feel betrayed, not only by our leaders in
Africa, but by our fellow Africans in the diaspora. While
African-American leaders played important roles in dismantling apartheid
in South Africa, they maintain a passive stance on Arab apartheid and
enslavement of black Africans." Where are liberals? Too busy
divesting from Israel and bashing America?
Imbued with Wahhabism and Salafism, sects borne in Saudi Arabia, Islamic
fundamentalists view most Muslims as apostates. With oil money, they've
exported toxic notions and hatched terrorism from Indonesia to Nigeria.
Now they want to achieve Islamic fundamentalist empire. Liberals and
moderate Muslims must open their eyes: Islamic fundamentalist
imperialism suppresses free speech and nourishes slavery as well as
wallows in mass murder.
Bala Ambati is a former fellow in the
School of Medicine and is
currently on the faculty at the Medical College of Georgia. His
column appears every third Wednesday. This essay appeared in The
Chronicle on February 5, 2003.