Social Justice – Episode 30 – Slavery in Islam

Omar Suleiman

Channel: Omar Suleiman

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Topics: Hadith

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Hadith #30 – Slavery in Islam | 40 Hadiths on Social Justice

Epistemology vs. Historical Reality

Episode Transcript

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in person and online as well. And Hamdulillah, this has been a subject or this class is now getting into the homestretch. We're finally in the last 10 lectures when we're talking about social justice, or the 40 Hadith on social justice and drawing our own Islamic paradigms on the subject. And last week, we also had a special session where we spoke about Bilal Baba, may Allah be pleased with him in light of the new movie that's, you know, hit theaters around the country, and the renewed discussion about who beloved was, so then this question comes up. The question is that how can we celebrate Beloved, and celebrate all of these stories of liberation and freedom, when there appears

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to be slavery in Islam? And so sometimes you have very simplistic declarations about slavery. And then sometimes you have very

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nefarious targeted attacks against Islam that try to associate Islam uniquely with slavery. And then sometimes you really have to have this discussion about what it is that Islam allowed and what it did not allow. And what is polemical versus what is historical. And that's probably the most important debate that has to take place here. So I have a really long lecture online about slavery in Islam. You can find it on YouTube, if you have the time to watch it, then I do recommend you watch it, where I break down some of the technical issues in much detail. But tonight, and shall I want to purposely keep this under 30 minutes? And I'll start off with some questions. All right,

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these are some questions for you all to entertain, is slavery wrong?

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Does Islam condemn slavery?

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What happened with Libya?

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If you all saw the recent news about Libya, in particular, the disgusting images that came out of Libya, where you had slave trades? And there was a whole cnn bust on Libya? And how can Islam be a religion of justice while still while still seemingly tolerating slavery? So I'm going to make a statement from now in sha Allah tala. And it is the statement that the lecture is titled by in Islam, there is no slavery except to the Most High. can I prove that I will prove that, and I'm going to repeat it one more time. In Islam, there is no slavery except to a lot except to the most time. And you might say, Well, that sounds apologetic. And that's not grounded in historical

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reality. So let's back up and force ourselves to not operate in the constructs that have been given to us and not force ourselves to, and force ourselves to not operate in a post Atlantic slave trade, Western construction of what record is in Islam, and particularly how that relates to the whole entire question of slavery. And let's go to a Hadith of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasallam. That proves that statement, and then we'll address the historical issues with that statement and how we reason with that statement. Hadith is narrated by Abu Dhabi alongside einhell. It's narrated that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu wasallam, Southern so had eaten Sahih Muslim, la colina hadoken

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Abdi Amati kulu Kuma, Abbe de la la kulu Nisa, income eema Allah, Allah can be awkward Hola, mi wijaya t y Fatah wa T the Hadith in Sahih Muslim the Prophet peace be upon him said la colina hadoken Abdi will MIT, let not any one of you say my slave, my slave or my slave girl, let not any one of you say my slave, or my slave girl, all of you are the slaves of God couldn't Oh can I be the law all of you are the slaves of Allah. instead say that this is my young lady, my young man and the prophets lie Selim. These are hard terms to describe by the way God it was fatality or fatality which would refer to the age of the distinction in terms of age of a young man or young woman as

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opposed to the status of a person the point being the profit slice of themselves. Do not say, my slave, my slave girl. Instead, all of you are the slaves of Allah, meaning in terms of status, there exists no slavery in Islam in the true sense, except to a loss of kind of what's out. There are circumstances and then there is your status as it relates to your position you're standing before Allah subhanho wa Taala. So how do we then deal with the concept of rip which is apparent slavery in the Islamic tradition, which is a mechanism that dealt with captivity, particularly post war and then particularly how to deal with those captives after they after they came in, post war or post

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battle. without all the a lot of time he narrates that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu wasallam said describing quote,

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Quote slaves are people that were brought into that condition, that the Prophet peace be upon him said if one will come Jalla Humala who 50 attend a deacon from incarnate a whole who attacked god he fell for him home, men for army, he will you will, this will mainly verse he, whether you can live who may or may have legal who are in California who may have liberal who felt you felt you were in home, the Prophet sallallahu wasallam said that they are merely your brothers that Allah has placed under your care. They are merely your brothers, Allah has placed under your care. So whoever has a brother of his under his care, whoever has a brother of his under his care, let him feed him what he

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eats, let him dress him with what he dresses himself, and do not burden him beyond, beyond his scope. And if you put placed upon that person, if you place upon him a duty that he cannot bear, then make sure that you assist him. The Prophet sallallahu wasallam also said whoever kills the one who has been placed under his care, then we will kill him. Whoever kills the one who was placed under his care, then we will kill him. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam also said there is no freedom. There is no expiation for hitting the one that I'll keep the one who has been placed under your care except for expiation, except for freedom, I'm sorry, there's no expiation, there's no

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cafardo or hitting the one who has been placed as a peak with you as under your care in that captivity, except for freeing him and there was a narration of the Prophet sallallahu wasallam where he saw a man that was beating his sleeve and the Prophet peace be upon him. As he saw him beating his slave. He said, Allah is more capable of doing that to you. A lot is more capable of doing that to you. And then he let him go and the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said to him, that had you not freed him? Then you would have certainly entered into hellfire. All of this

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to mention what? Take a step back. When the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said do not say to your servants, or to the one who's been placed under you as a teacher, and I'm going to translate that term inshallah shortly as a thief do not say, my slave or my slave girl, did the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam mentioned that because it's disrespectful or not dignified, or because it's not a true representation of that person's state?

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It's not a true representation of that person's state. And in fact, how did the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam deal with that? He says, because all of you could look on a visa law you are all the slaves of God.

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Meaning the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam from a value perspective, did he not break down entirely? The barrier that would exist between the quote unquote master and the quote unquote, slave? Yes or no?

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You guys don't answer the question.

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The barrier has been broken. So what does this mean? The term slavery, the term ABD in particular, which means slave in Islam, and by the way, that should give you some pause if you use that word to describe a human being in any other context except to describe our relationship collectively with Allah subhanho to Islam, appealed immediately to the slaves of society to those that were the most downtrodden when we went through the lecture without and if you haven't looked, listened to it, then please listen to it. The first seven to show their Islam to publicly come out as Muslims, five of them were slaves. were people that belong to that class, the profit slice of them was informed very

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early on that this is where victory will come from, from these people that have been oppressed by the inequities that existed in their society, and the companions understood Islam as a religion that was emancipatory or religion that was liberating. And how do we have proof of that? set the scene, but if you have no armor, may Allah be pleased with him shows up in Persia in front of the ruler Rustom reverie Abner Ahmed is the ambassador of Ahmedabad hospital the Allahu taala on him, and as rubbery Abner Ahmed walks in, and he makes the scene by the way.

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Rustom says to him, Who are you people? The first way he describes himself in the lab to Athena de nocatee, jewellery, badminton, Nevada. tillery bad Allah has sent us that we may take people out of slavery to other slaves, to slavery to the Lord of all slaves. The notaries are a bad man or a bad bad either evaluate your ability to take people from slavery to

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Other slaves to slavery to the Lord of all slaves, woman leave the dunya in Africa and from the constriction of this world, to the expense of the hereafter. Woman joden at the end Illa Abdullah Islam and from the injustices of all other systems and ways of life, to the justice of the religion of Islam.

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Did he understand something of this faith? That was liberating that was emancipatory that had now put everyone in the same standing before their Creator? Yes or no?

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Yes. Okay, good. You guys aren't gonna answer me so I'm just gonna answer for you. Another hudy. So the mountain forest it'll be a lot of Thailand who as he was describing some on the Persian as he was describing his state as he came into Islam,

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and who will be allowed to and who narrates that salon was describing all of the times that he switched hands in slavery. And Solomon described the situation. Then Robin Isla Rob, from Lord to Lord or master to master and who objected and said that he did not know that the Prophet peace be upon him forbade one from saying about that person about the slave owner, Master or rub or Lord. Instead, the prophet sly send them sudden and Mola Mola, from a Mola Mola is a is the one who is in charge, the one who has been entrusted to another one who has been entrusted and another one that is in charge. All of this is to say what the term slavery is loaded with all sorts of connotations, and

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from an operating perspective, is functionally basically useless. Why, because America today is probably the biggest, slaveholder nation in the world, it's just now called mass incarceration. And it's not called slavery anymore, or chattel slavery anymore. The term is so functionally useless.

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That's a project that term on Islam, because of the institution that existed in a war context of rip, and to say that that apply to Islam, and therefore, all of the notions that have been associated with slavery in our minds, because of the Atlantic, the transatlantic slave trade somehow get projected, there is no way there is no human way possible for us to separate what we have been exposed to as slavery our entire lives. And the term slavery, even when it's associated with the profit slice him and his companions. We can't separate between those two things. I could sit here and tell you, they were not allowed to be called slaves, you are not allowed to dress them any

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differently than you dress yourself, you are not allowed to hit them, you are not allowed to,

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to feed them anything less than what you fed yourself. You have to go into more cassava, some sort of an agreement to free them, you couldn't overburden them they had access to the state and could complain about I could go over all of these different things and quote, all of the historians that talked about how that institution how quote, unquote, slavery existed in the prophetic context, and none of it would erase the association in our minds with the transatlantic slave trade and brutality, and racialized slavery, and everything that comes with that term. So what does that mean? There's a crucial difference. And clearly the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was highlighting

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something. When he objected to the usage of that term. There is a there's obviously first and foremost that we are all slaves to a lot in our worship in our unconditional obedience that we worship no partners besides Him, and that there is absolute to hate that that monotheism realizes itself in many different ways. But there's a crucial difference between a rock and

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a rocky and Rocky is the term that would be used to describe a quote unquote, slave within the Islamic context.

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ABD means slave, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam prohibited that term to be used, or did not allow for that term to be used to describe anyone in accordance with their situation, their circumstances, instead saying that we are all the slaves of Allah. So again, the goal of this lecture is to just first and foremost, take it take a step back, and I'm going to encourage you to look up a particular author by the name of Rudolph where Rudolph were Professor Rudolph, were out of the University of Michigan, you can actually just YouTube Islam and slavery, and you'll find a short clip of Rudolph where he wrote the walking on on abolitionism in Islam, he has written quite

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frequently about Muslim slaves and Africa, Muslim slaves as they as they came here to the new world, though he is an Africanist. He doesn't focus much on the Muslims here in America, but he's written on Muslims that that were placed in that situation, and particularly in the Gambian context and other contexts, and

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I'll just quote what he said. Basically, the point that he makes is that this is a polemical debate, not a historical debate. And that 19th and 20th century Western post enlightenment aims to denigrate African and Muslim society, we see we see a shift in our historiography in the way that the Muslim world is presented in the United States. The way that Africa is presented in western post enlightenment literature, is all with the aim of denigrating African and Muslim societies. Why? Because the goal was to make European liberation synonymous with liberation, and the East synonymous with barbaric aggressiveness. So the benevolence is all in the West. And that's where the conclusion

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of abolitionism came from. And it all came from here, and the East is still backwards. And that's why there's a quote as well from the Harriet Tubman Institute, that the overwhelming majority of slavery historiography is written by Europeans and Americans. According to Michael Zoosk, and who wrote historiography and research problems of slavery and the slave trade and a global historical perspective, said most of the religious rhetoric that has stemmed from Western historians has been nothing more than Christian globalist pamphlets directed against quote unquote, Islamic slavery. But then someone says, Well, wait a minute. There are two conflicting issues here. One of them is that

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Islam has found its way into liberation theology for the last several centuries, going all the way back to Edward blyden. And Africa, to the Garvey, the Garvey is here in the United States to Malcolm X, or whatever it may be Islam was associated with being a slave breaking religion. So then how do you how do you then reckon with what appears to be a contradiction? That's the first thing and the second thing is, now you have images that come out of Libya, you have images that come out of ISIS, putting your CDs in chains, Boko Haram, which I know that a lot of people would like to think that Boko Haram targets non Muslims, but it actually targets primarily Muslims, as well as non Muslims,

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as does ISIS primarily target Muslims and non Muslims. You say there is a contradiction? So who's really representing Islam? Who's telling the truth about Islam? Is there really a standardized position on Islam? So first fact,

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people can find inspiration from conventional Islamic sources against slavery. People can find inspiration from conventional Islamic sources against slavery, more so than any other religious text.

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There is no enough in there and explicit anti racism tradition, enough about how to deal with those conditions. If we focus on exploitation and inequality, as opposed to the term itself. There's enough in there to fight against slavery. But then someone says, Well, what about Muslim countries? Mauritania, was one of the last countries to abolish slavery, Saudi Arabia was the last countries to abolish slavery. So that must mean Muslims are behind, right? Well, Tunisia abolished slavery in 1846 19 years before the 13th amendment was ratified here in the United States. So is Tunisia more Islamic? Or is more autonomy more Islamic? Or do they both not really represent our tradition in a

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wholesome sense period? And is it unfair to associate the practice of Islam with some of these countries? And to make that and to make that the distinction? The next question, so are you a slavery apologist? There's a difference between saying, focus on the conditions not the term which has proved functionally useless to downplay abuse and aggression in the past and saying focus on the condition to recognize the abuse in the aggression in the present. I'm gonna say that, again, there's a difference between saying you can't use the term slavery because it doesn't make sense. Or the term the term has become functionally useless to downplay the past and to downplay abuse and

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aggression in the past, no matter who did it. And saying the term is functionally useless to highlight what is truly slavery in the present context, to say that there's actually more exploitation, human exploitation and abuse and inequity today than there ever has been in the history of the world. It's all you know, if you think about trafficking, human trafficking, I hate to break it to Texas, we always lead in horrible things. All right. So almost a third of human trafficking in the United States takes place here in Texas, almost a third of it. So we have an extraordinary amount of slavery here in Texas.

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Okay, we're just talking about trafficking something that would easily fall into the categories of, of slavery, when we talk about the conditions as opposed to the term and how

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functionally useless the term has become watch the movie 13th. I'm serious about that. By the way, that should be like mandatory homework for everyone to watch the movie 13th, which talks about mass incarceration as a tool of slavery here in the United States. We have more prisoners in this country than any other nation in the world, possibly in the history of the world than any civilized nation in the history of the world. But then how do you deal with the religious references and the texts? Well, first and foremost, let's admit that there's a double standard that no other religion or religious figure is treated like Islam and the Prophet salallahu Islam in this discussion, that we

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don't scrutinize Leviticus 2544 to 46, which says, however, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land, you may treat them as your property passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel your relatives must never be treated this way. Or Exodus 21 verses 20 to 21. When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If however, the slave survives for a day or two is not to be punished

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since the slave is his own property. Does this mean that we now have to tear up the Bible and say, the Bible is regressive? And we've been messing with Islam the whole time, let's focus on Christianity. No, that means there's an obvious double standard, that the Quran and the Sunnah are being held to a wildly different standard. And it's ironic considering that there is not a single verse in the Quran that encourages slave trade, or a single Hadith of the Prophet slicin that encourages slave trading. At the most at the most you could say that Islam did not outright abolish slavery, but you cannot question that it made great reforms to the institution as it existed around

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the world, but there's a double standard and you should point out that double standard not say that this is a problem and everything, the only thing that answers from eight as far as the institution is concerned, Allah subhanaw taala says women a document acaba Sakuraba. Shall I not tell you what the straight path is, it is to free the neck of a slave. That is what the Quran says, as far as encouragement is concerned, and things of that sort so point out the double standard that is not mistreated. Unlike any other religion. Our scripture is treated unlike any other scripture, that the Prophet sallallahu wasallam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him who died having freed every slave

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he ever owned, is treated differently than the patriarch Abraham Ibrahim alayhis salam and King Solomon Sulaymaniyah Salaam and all of the prophets throughout the Old Testament. Somehow he gets blamed it his salatu salam, though he died, having freed every human being that ever came into his home, but somehow, he can be vilified. While we can still openly praise other prophets and say, this is where the problem actually lies. And then modern day Islamophobia continuing to play to the same tune, that tries to associate Muslim and Muslim ness with backwardness and everything, Western with progress, very easy example to point out the double standard, when the images came out of Libya that

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made me sick to my stomach and anyone sick to their stomach of slave trade. So it's not some Islamic group. This is slave trade that's historically taken place in Libya. It's racialized. One thing you might have noticed is that many of the slaves were actually reading for and not because their masters were forcing them to do so but because they're Muslims that are in those slave trades as well. But here's the thing, when that's put out there, and what you hear on CNN, or whatever it is that it was a CNN report, which by the way, was a good report because it exposes a tragedy in Libya, and we should be fighting that slavery in Libya. I just want to make a point here, when you hear

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Arabic being spoken to the Western ear, there they go, again, the Muslims and slave trade. But you ignore the pygmy population in Congo, which is born into slavery just because they're pygmies.

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You see the point. So Libya gets a hashtag the pygmies in Congo, unheard of Why? Because it doesn't serve the Islamophobic machine which tries to make Islam and Muslims uniquely slave oriented.

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When there is nothing that has ever surpassed the transatlantic slave trade in terms of brutality, and there is nothing to prove anything unique about Muslims and Islam in regards to this slavery. So the relevance the relevance of this to religious to the religious lens is that religions would also have to be examined or they have to be examined for their overall views on human on human rights and exploitation, to gain a complete subject picture of the subject because there is no way possible to really come

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To an actual description of slavery because the term is so problematic because it covers up so much in terms of modern day slavery, over 30 million people living in modern day slavery, and trafficking and the sweatshops and mass incarceration, and forced marriages and whatever they may be debt, slavery, all of these things that are explicitly prohibited in Islam. But to distract from all of that you focus on this, and it throws Muslims into a faith crisis when the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam made some made it very clear in those a hadith. And and by the way, I was having this conversation with the moms aide zakat. May Allah bless him, you know, we were talking worse, why

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even use the term? Why even use the term to describe, rip? If that association has become so strong, why not focus on the conditions focused on exploitation as a means again, not of whitewashing the past, but of dealing honestly, with the presence in the Muslim world today, you see the way foreign workers are treated in Saudi Arabia and in many different places right next to the hot domain. I don't care if Saudi Arabia officially abolished slavery, that's slavery.

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That's the problem. We have to deal with that with the same dedication and village you know, and vigilance that we would deal with anything, whether it's whatever country it may be, that's right next to the hot on right next to the camera, the way that foreign workers are treated, and they are enslaved truly. And I have to deal with mass incarceration in the United States, with the same dedication as if people were still being held in, quote, unquote, slavery today. And by the way, there was an article Subhanallah, just in the Washington Post yesterday, because of Jim Crow is not slavery. And if the current conditions in the United States are not slavery, then the Washington

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Post put out an article yesterday. And I quote, the title, no progress for African Americans on home ownership, unemployment and incarceration and 50 years,

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no progress for African Americans on home ownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years. It's a telling article, it is empirical data,

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that when we talk about post racial America, and we talk about post civil rights movement, and think that we've made progress in many ways, we've actually regressed. And mass incarceration is at the top of that list. And we have to deal with that. Honestly, we have to talk about technical emancipation versus true emancipation. And what that actually means. Now, just lastly, here on modern day slavery, particularly when it comes to Islam, and when it comes to ISIS. ISIS is uniquely deviant in many different ways.

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Uniquely deviant in many different ways. They're so extreme and violent that they had to write stuff about them. Like Atari that says about ISIS, you guys are too crazy for us. Okay, so that's how crazy they are. They are uniquely deviant in many different ways. But here's the thing, no other Islamic movement in the world with political undertones, no matter where it falls on the spectrum of Orthodoxy has called for a return to slavery, pre ISIS, no one. So if you talk about Hezbollah, which actually has been calling for enough and the establishment of the khilafah, if you read in shaxi islamiat, appeared in the behind he says, so there does not remain even one situation in which

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enslaving occurs therefore, Islam has abolished slavery. And there are no situations where slavery would return in a future feed if so has been studied, which is talking about the return of pydata never envisioned bringing back slavery and in fact, has an entire section within shaxi. Islamia, say at kutub, who obviously is one of the founders of the one of the Muslim Brotherhood wrote that end concerning slavery, that was when slavery was a worldwide structure, and which was conducted amongst Muslims and their enemies in the form of enslaving of prisoners of war. And it was necessary for Islam to adopt a similar line of practice until the world devise a new code of practice during war

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other than enslavement, and he goes on to point out that the Prophet slicin never even took captives unless the opposing army took captives. That captives would not even be taken unless it was the practice of the opposing army to take captives. So lastly, there's a consensus among scholars, Islamic scholars against the perpetuation of slavery and against its reappearance in the present day. And this was of course, the 2014 letter to the daddy, which was written by Muslim which was signed by Muslim scholars around the world. It quote says no scholar of Islam disputes that one of Islam's aims is to abolish slavery. For over a century Muslims and indeed the entire world have been

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united in the prohibition and criminalization of slavery, which was a milestone in human history when it was finally achieved. After a century of Muslim consensus on the prohibition of slavery. You have boiled this, you have resurrected something that the Sharia has worked tirelessly to undo, and has been considered forbidden by consensus for over a century.

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Indeed all the Muslim countries in the world are signatories of anti slavery conventions. So this was signed by Muslim scholars from around the world in the letter to Puff Daddy in 2014. By the way, Mississippi did not ratify the 13th amendment until 2013. So letting you guys know. So talking about conditions, talking about trafficking, dealing with these things, honestly as they exist today, not allowing our outrage to be directed, not allowing by media or by agenda driven politics, not allowing ourselves to fall victim to epistemology, rather than historical reality. And our present day reality is extremely important when we're talking about these things. Ethical consumerism is

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also a Muslim issue as well. And all of these things are our socio economic motivations rather than religious motivations, and we have to deal with them as such in the night Tada. So again, I have a long lecture online on slavery. There are a lot of authors that have written on slavery. We have papers in the opinion on slavery on the terminology of slavery as well as I think one of the most beautiful papers that we've had by sister Margarita Rosa on the eyes of the enslaved, how slaves in this country our heritage as Muslims in this country, our collective heritage as Muslims in this country, are the 30 plus percent slaves that were brought to the shores that built this country, and

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that privately memorize the Quran and circulated Zakat amongst themselves even though it wasn't obligated. And somehow some of the research we've been doing at europeen actually finding some of those documents of their written prayers and their written supplications. Those are our ancestors here in this country. So we have to look at it Charlotte's data from that lens and focus on exploitation, all of an inequality, and abuse and oppression all of which operates outside of the Western epistemology on the subject. So I tried to speak really fast so I could get that out of the way.