Darfur TruthThroughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph. Darfur report
- Haile Selassie
SLAVERY IN ARABIAN SOCIETIES ( FROM DARK VOYAGES)
Owen Alik Shahadah
Editor's note: These extracts are taken from the upcoming book Maafa: African Holocaust. Full sources and references are given in the book.
While Europeans targeted men in West Africa, the 'Arab' trade primarily harvested the women of East Africa to serve as domestic slaves, wet nannies and sex-slaves in the infamous harems. This trade trickled over millennia is estimated to have taken 10 million Africans via the Eastern route to India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, and also via the Trans-Saharan route to North Africa and the Mediterranean, where in slave markets such as Ceuta, Morocco, Africans were purchased to work as servants in Spain, Portugal, and other European countries. Maafa: Audio sample of Dark Voyage: Arab Slave Trade
This trickle trade really only boomed in the 18 th and 19 th century, prior to this period the trade between Arabia and Africa was more focused on iron, ivory and animal products. There is very little evidence in the sources to support the claim that slaving was ever a major enterprise of any significance prior to the 18 th century boom.
Slaving Routes out of Africa
LEGACY AND DIFFERENCE
Arab enslavement of Africans was radically different from its European counterpart. It was more complex and varied depending on time and place. Thus the slavery seen in Iraq with the zanj was not similar to slavery in Zanzibar. Also 'Arab' is not a racial group, some Arabs are African and some are White and Jewish.
One of the biggest differences between Arab slaving and European slaving was that slaves were drawn from all racial groups and they were rarely used as a means of crop production; slaves were not the economic engine behind Arab economies. Arab slavery generally lacked large droves of sugar plantations where slaves toiled to the crack of a whip in the hot sun . Unlike the European trade in enslaved Africans the physical remnants of this trade are very hard to measure. There are no Ghettos, mental institutions or prisons holding African people. Many women stolen from Africa were stolen to serve the infamous Arabian harems; their children were thus born free to Arab fathers and thus would have been heirs to wealth and status, fully and equally assimilated into the population. Many African people thus rose to great stations by virtue of their Arab fathers. The infamous eunuchs were infertile, and the other men who were enslaved would have gradually married non-African women, hence facilitating the absorption of African culture and lineage into an Arab one. The contrasting differences between racial definitions on the Arabian continent as oppose to Europe assist in blending the majority of Africans stolen from Africa into the general population of Arabia. However, in the West there was no transcending “racial stigmas.”
ISLAM AND SLAVERY
When Islam arrived, war and servitude were features of African and Arabian life. Judaism existed among certain Arab tribes as well as Christianity, and like them Islam did not blatantly out law slavery; Islam did however blatantly outlawed chattel enslavement. The Qu'ran with every reference to slavery ask the believer to free the slave as atonement for sin, the term "emancipating a slave and feeding an orphan" are repeated constantly throughout the Qu'ran as acts which gain God's favor. Also there were regulations which enhanced the pre-Islamic laws with respect to the treatment of enslaved people. They were entitled to good care, to the same clothing and food as their masters. These enslaved people were more akin to indentured servants in Europe than Chattel slaves in the Americas.
Darfur TruthThey are your brothers whom Allah placed under your hands. Feed them with what you eat, clothe them with what you wear and do not impose duties upon them which will overcome them. If you so impose duties, then assist them.Darfur report
Darfur TruthWhoever kills his slave, we will kill him.Darfur report
Darfur TruthWhoever slaps his slave or strikes him, his atonement is to free him" (narrated by Muslim by the way of ibn Umar).Darfur report
It became a fundamental principle of Islamic jurisprudence that the natural condition, and therefore the presumed status, of mankind was freedom. Despite this, there were the greedy and the vindictive that sought to make slaves of their Muslim brothers and sisters as well as other Africans. There were also many Christian and Jewish Arab tribes and well as other indigenous Arabs that continued their tradition of slaving. Because Islamic Sharia had laws pertaining to slavery it was seen by the opportunist as a natural God sanctioned feature of life. Conveniently, the numerous laws of manumission were given a social back seat.
Overzealous Europeans have always over-documented the Arab trade in enslaved Africans to alleviate their guilt concerning their own trade. "Well the Arabs did it too " became the common tone of contemporary historians. Sadly, many African-American historians who have only these European sources to infer history from have taken these second-hand guilt-massaging accounts as gospel. However, it is a well-known fact that Europeans in their artistic depictions of slave raids have always intentionally portrayed slave raiders as Muslim Africans or Arabs .
EUNUCHS OF THE ARAB SLAVE TRADE
The most expensive enslaved group in Arabian societies were the eunuchs who were castrated men drawn from Europe but also Darfur, Abyssinia, Korodofan and other African nations. Ironically because of their lack of sexual function they obtained great privileges while the women's privileges were due to their sexuality. Eunuchs were generally made by Coptic priest in Egypt but also a group of Arabs know as the Chamba. Young boys, victims from raids and wars were subjected to the horrid monstrous unspeakable inhumane process of castration without anaesthesia which had a 60% mortality. To stop the bleeding hot coals were casted into the naked wound, which was followed by the most blood curdling alien scream a human could make. The price for surviving this ungodly brutal act was a life of influence and luxury; silk garments, Arabian thoroughbreds, jewels, were bestowed on them to reflect the wealth of their masters . Strangely eunuchs were both distinguished and greatly revered as elites in Arab society, despite being enslaved. Clearly slave did not mean downtrodden and oppressed. The actual word slave was far from taboo as the most pious people were self-professed “slaves of Allah.”
ARABS AND AFRICANS
The Afro-Arab relationship was riddled with complexities lined in a cultural nexus. The greatest thing to appreciate is that the 18 th century definition of "Black" did not exist in this period and some so-called Arabs were Arab linguistically but racially African. Thus, the Arab trade in enslaved Africans was not only conducted by Asiatic and Caucasian Arabs, but also African Arabs: Africans speaking Arabic as a first language embracing an Arab culture. These Africans would have been part of the Arab society; they would have permanently resided within Arabia for generations. They would have seen themselves as Arab as African-Americans define themselves as American it was their nationality and did not conflict with their greater African identity.
There is however no doubt that the status of the African in Arabian society became associated with the enslaved. The word for slave (Abid) became the colloq. word for African. Other words such as Haratin speak to the social inferior class of Africans. Also Caucasoid Arab scholarship has its collection of racist such as Hanns Vischer who believed African "black" skin made them a slave-race. But equal evidence exist of the contempt for the trade as evident in the writings of Al-Nasiri. Books such as Tanwir al-Gabbash fi fasl al al-Sudan wa al-Habash by Ibn al-Jawzi, and Black and their Superiority over Whites by Ibn al-Marzuban testify to this. So, the legacy of the African presents in these Arab and later Turkish lands were far from that of absolute subjugation. Africans occupied senior military ranks, they administer provinces and managed the scared Mosque of Mecca. In the mid-eleventh century, the African caliph Al-Mustansir ruled Egypt with his mother, a Sudanese enslaved woman of remarkable strength of character. There are no such parallels in the New World. Africans, even enslaved Africans, played important roles in the history and politics of these regions up until and even including the 1st World War.
THE ZANJ REVOLT
The most celebrated resistance to Arab enslavement occurred by the Zanj . The Zanj were predominately-enslaved peoples from East Africa. The Zanj were subjected to work in the cruel and humid saltpans of Shatt-al-Arab, near Basra in modern day Iraq. Conscious of their large numbers and oppressive working conditions the Zanj rebelled three times. The largest of these rebellions lasted from 868 (eight hundred and sixty eight) to (883) eight hundred and eighty three, during which time they inflicted defeat after defeat upon the Arab armies sent to suppress the revolt. For some 14 years, they succeeded in achieving remarkable military victories and even building their own capital--Moktara, the Elect City, which at its peak was within 70 miles of Baghdad. Moktara had huge resources that allowed the building of no less than six impregnable towns in which there were arsenals for the manufacture of weapons and battleships. Their achievements are even more impressive considering that they occurred at the height of the Abbasid Empire. An Empire that presided directly over Iraq, Mesopotamia, and Western Persia, and indirectly over territories from North Africa to Central Asia, and from the Caspian Sea to the Red Sea.
After the Zanj were finally crushed the victorious Abbasid general Muwaffaq dismissed all claims of their masters who sought their return. Instead, Muwaffaq recognised their strength and incorporated thousands of Zanj into his own government forces. The effects of this powerful rebellion would echo in the Arab world, dampening all attempts at mass labour enslavement until the 19 th Century when European markets where furnished with spices and coconuts from Arab controlled Zanzibar.
Arab and Turkish history is littered with furious African uprisings. One other notable battle echoes in Arab history until today and was referred to as “ the battle of the Blacks ” which occurred by loyal Fatimids against Saladin forces in Egypt in 1169.
ISLAM AND AFRICA
See African Contributions to Islam
Islam was founded in a multi-ethnic Arabia which lay 22 km of the coast of the African continent. Prior to the rise of Islam, Ethiopia, a super power of that time, had annexed modern day Yemen and parts of Saudi Arabia for centuries. The Qu'ranic accounts of the mighty forces of the Ethiopian general Abraha, who marched towards Mecca with an arsenal of elephants, this testifies to the power of the ancient Ethiopian Empire.
Islam In Africa: Photo copyright Underthissun.com Photographer Betelihem Zelealem c 2006
Muslim in Ethiopia
Africans were among the first handful of people to accept the new religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad. It is said that when Bilal the Ethiopian, one of the most revered legends of Islam, first heard of Islam he called it the ancient religion. The call to pray which echoes over Muslims lands today was first carried on African lungs (by Bilal).
Islam became a permanent feature in Africa when the prophet Muhammad in 612 sent the first group of the early Muslims to be protected from Arab persecution by the Negus of Ethiopia; this was the first Hijirah. Islam was thus spreading in Africa before it even reached Medina.
It is important to note that while Islam generally disseminated in Africa peacefully it took wars, such as the Riddah wars, to conquer the Arabs into accepting Islam. In the mid-tenth century during the rule of the Umayed Caliph Abdul-Rahman III (929-961), Muslims of African origin sailed westward from the Spanish port of Delba (Palos) into the “Ocean of darkness an fog.” They returned after a long absence with much booty from a “strange and curious land.” It is evident that people of Muslim origin are known to have accompanied Columbus and subsequent Spanish explorers to the New World. Also it is reported that the descendants of Kanka Musa of Mali made and epic voyage with a 2000 strong fleet in search of the Americas. Recent linguistic, cultural and archaeological finds in Brazil and Peru offer documentary evidence" that West African Mandinka Muslims explored the early Americas. Islam spread across to West Africa (by African traders such as the Fulani people)from as early as the 8 th century by African traders and was firmly established by the 11 th century. The peaceful non-obstructive course Islam took in West Africa was mainly because those propagating the faith were culturally and ethnically identical to those receiving it. Also the indigenous African had many features in common, such as animal immolation, communal pray, celebrating ancestors, circumcision, polygamy, dowry bride gifts, and the spirit or jinn world. The African spirit world of Bori and Zar was bridged to the Islamic world of jinns whom like African spirits could be friend or foe.
Such similarities between Islam and indigenous African religions facilitated a general peaceful conversion and religious tolerance in West Africa. Islam hence left African culture uniquely African and a traditional African Sufi Islam was formed over the centuries. This brand of Islam in time even reshaped Islamic culture in the lands beyond Africa.
Diop: The primary reason for the success of Islam in Africa, with one exception, consequently stems from the fact that solitary Arabo-Berber Travellers to certain Black kings and notables, who then spread it about them to those under their jurisdiction, promulgated it peacefully, at first... What is to be emphasized here is the peaceful nature of this conversion, regardless of the legend surrounding it. (Pre-colonial Black Africa, page 163.)
Asante: The religion of Islam made each Muslem merchant or traveller an embryonic missionary and the appeal of the religion with its similarities to the African religions was far more powerful than the Christian appeal. (Asante, Genocide in Africa 1991 10) Diop: The Arab conquests dear to sociologists are necessary to their theories but did not exist in reality. To this day no reliable historical documents substantiate such theories. ((Pre-colonial Black Africa, page 102)
Timbuktu, photo Owen Alik Shahadah copyright Underthissun.com
Mosque at Timbuktu
When Islam proliferated in West Africa around the 9 th century, one of the first universities was founded by African Muslims. It was called Sankore, Arabs and others came to Sankore which was built in Timbuktu to learn from the African erudites who lectured on Islamic belief, Islamic jurisprudence, astrology, science, and many other subjects. Timbuktu was reputed for African erudition where books and those who traded in books were the wealthiest elites of the merchant society.
The bulk of African history after the Ancient Egyptians Medew Netjer , was written in the Arabic language by both Africans and Arabs. The Arabic script also served as an agami to write languages such as Swahili, Wolof and Mande. For thousands of years Arabic served as the international language of trade as English is today. Some of the hidden histories of Africa are locked in as many as 700,000 Arabic manuscripts written by ancient African scholars. One of these the Tariq-ul-Sudan, details the history of Islamic West Africa, but this manuscript remains inaccessible to non-Arabic speakers. Western historians would rather these documents, like the Dead Sea scrolls, remain in their sandy graves until they can find ways to twist and decimate their contents.
18th CENTURY BOOM
Slavery in Zanzibar, 500 Years Later (film)
During the 18 th century, the Arab slave trade took a brutal turn. The Portuguese had destroyed the Swahili coast and Zanzibar emerged as the hub of wealth for the Arabian state of Muscat. By 1839, slaving became the prime Arab enterprise. The demand for slaves in Arabia, Egypt, Persia and India, but more notability by the Portuguese who occupied Mozambique created a wave of destruction on Eastern Africa. 45,000 slaves were passing through Zanzibar every year.
Slavery in Zanzibar, 500 Years Later (film)
To satisfy this demand the Arabs hunted deep into the interiors of Africa, they following ancient trails from Bagamoyo, Kilwa, Tanga, where terror and destruction followed in their wake. The Arab plunders met with savage resistance, which meant that the trade had a very high mortality rate. Many documents speak of the roads littered with the weak and the dying, the abandoned and the maimed, left with yokes around their necks. Many as in the case of Tsavo, Kenya became food for lions. Children who became a burden to the coffle gang were brutally murdered in front of their mothers.
The likes of Livingston would have witness this devastation first-hand but history penned by Europeans recorded it as an endemic characteristic of Africa, as oppose to a very recent genocide that was previously unprecedented in African history. Livingston was the precursor to colonialism, the colonial template was written on salvaging heathen souls for Jesus and civilising them to be the cultural stepchildren of Europeans. Livingston is portrayed as the great White hope whom delivered Africa's from this hell.
* The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam (Princeton Series on the Middle East) by Eve Troutt Powell (Editor), John O. Hunwick (Editor) "2:177: Righteousness does not consist in turning your faces toward the East
* Van Sertima, Ivan. ed. The Journal of African Civilization.
* United West Africa (or Africa) at the Bar of the Family of Nations.Ghana: Privately published. 1927.
* Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience Cambridge, Ma.: Belnap Press, Harvard University. 1970.