Slavery in Islam With Dr. Jonathan Brown

Yasir Qadhi


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Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim Al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil Alameen wa salatu salam ala Sayidina, Muhammad Ali, he was IBH marine and my bad. So I'm sure all of us are very excited for today's lecture, I'm not going to stand between you and our expert, except by setting it up in sha Allah Who data this issue of slavery and Islam. And the reason why this topic is so difficult for us to discuss Well, there are many reasons. But we as Muslims are primarily interested in how can we understand the fact that Islam maybe, to potentially has allowed something that we are taught is so immoral? When Islam came, it abolished so many things that abolished drinking alcohol, it eradicated or at least one to

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to eradicate racism, and alcohol and racism were rampant in across the globe. Our young men and women say, Why didn't Islam come and eradicate slavery as well? That's a theological question. Why not? And on the flip side, we have those that want to reinterpret Islam completely, when it comes to gender and sexuality and morality. And they say, Look, you guys, you ultra conservative folks, you're not advocating slavery anymore. So if we can get rid of slavery, why can't we get rid of gender and gender roles? If you guys are willing to abandon one aspect that was once upon a time a part of Islam? Then why can't we also abandon another aspect? So we are stuck between a rock and a

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hard place? We're stuck between those groups that are saying, How could Islam have allowed it? How could Islam have allowed something that is so intrinsically evil, and they either reject Islam, or our young men who are doubting Islam? And on the other side, we have those that are saying, oh, yeah, that's the whole point. Islam can evolve over time, just like Islam evolved with slavery. So to they say to us, it should also involve with same sex and with this and with that, why can't we do that as well. And so that's why this topic is one that really does require so much talk and discussion. And I'm very, very honored and pleased to have with us today, Dr. Jonathan Brown. Dr.

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Jonathan Brown is the principal we will either bin Talal Chair of Islamic civilization and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Dr. Brown received his BA in history from Georgetown in 2000. By the way he converted to Islam in the late 90s. It's an a person on the US that's not on the official bio, but I'll tell you, he converted to Islam in high school and second year of university. Second year university sorry, you convert to Islam second year university.

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Okay, so he's not savvy Cornell alone. He said, we're gonna find your Odyssey, the second batch of Congress, but pre 911, which is a very important point and milestone. He finished his BA from Georgetown in 2000, and then his PhD from University of Chicago in 2006. And Dr. Brown has studied and conducted research in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Iran, all of these countries. His book publications include the canonization of Bukhari and Muslim Hadith, Muhammad's legacy in the medieval and modern world, Mohammed A Very Short Introduction, which was selected for the National Endowment for the

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Humanities, bridging cultures Muslim journeys bookshelf, his book misquoting Mohammed, the challenges and choices of interpreting the prophets legacy and it goes on and on and on. His He has published extensively in the fields of Hadith which is what he is primarily known for in the academic world, Islamic law, Salafism Sufism, Arabic lexical theory and pre Islamic poetry, what have you not published on and he is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Islamic law. Dr. Brown's current research interests include Islamic legal reform, and a translation of Sahil Bahati. He is also the director of research at the Athene Institute. And I'm also very

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honored to say he is a very near and dear friend for a very long time and Hamdulillah. So when I invited him to come to East Plano, he immediately jumped and agreed, even though it was just a month's notice or so and so Hamdulillah He is here. So without further ado, should I tell you why they wrote the book. Are you going to tell them why you wrote the book? Okay, without further ado, Dr. Jonathan Brown.

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Okay. Mr. Thelen rajim Bismillah R Rahman Rahim in Al Hamdulillah, Bettina Stein or Salatu was Salam Ida, say that we're studying Allah Allah He was IVIG Mehreen.

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This This topic is actually all the topics I write about our personal topics in the sense that I I picked them because I have questions. I have questions. And I remember very clearly

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when I had this question, because that was just after I became Muslim, it would have been

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in probably the fall of 1997, and I remember sitting in my old house and my family's house in my old room, and I was reading a translation of the Quran. And

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I came across the verse obviously I was reading translation, right but diverse, diabolical method. And I've done them Luke and I have to do what I say in all nine Rosanna who Minh notice on hasna. Right. So, God, the God gives you a parable of a slave who's owned and can't do anything. As opposed to someone who you know, we presume a free person whom we got, we have given a goodly sustenance, and he spends out of that in secret and in private. And the the,

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this actually is not making any law about slavery, it's using this as a parable for talking about idols that have no power versus God that has all power. But I remember being confused, because I was thinking to myself, you know, how can God talk about slavery just kind of randomly and not say, slavery is wrong? Because slavery mean slavery is wrong? How can you just talk about it like that and treat it like, it's, it's no big deal.

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And, you know, I think maybe a lot of us read these verses in the Koran, and maybe especially younger people read these verses in the Koran, and don't really know what to make of them, and we kind of just kind of pass over them, and then assume that there's some answer, but I think it causes a lot of doubt. And so when I, when I decided to write this book was as after the ISIS thing happened, because that was really it was 2015, and really cause a crisis for a lot of young Muslims because they saw you know, these people who said they were doing exactly what the Sharia they're saying, they're doing exactly what the Koran and the Prophet alayhi salam had done in taking slaves.

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And so a lot of young listeners are sitting there saying, wait a second, you know, not only does my scripture talks about slavery, but now people who say they're following that scripture and who can point clearly to verses in the Quran and the Sunnah are doing so in the name of Islam, and it was really caused a lot of people to leave Islam now you will have doubts and a lot of

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anxiety. So that's why I wrote this book, which is here. He asked her hasn't she Fer, sir, sorry. And yeah, she was fine. So I also forgot to thank you for inviting me. And thank you all for coming. It's a really big honor. And I hope this will be useful for you. I'm going to talk about a huge amount of material. So I'm going to go if you're reduced to books of fifth This is a delille free book, this is not a book with a dilla This is more lesser because I'm gonna go through a lot of material. So I want you to turn your brains on high power right? I'm gonna rely on high power texts and high power brain functioning.

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Yes, yes, that's a thing. Let's do that. Let's go with that. Okay, Texas, high five brain functioning.

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So there's my remember when we when we read these verses of the Quran, there's there's two issues, right? One is the servant How can God just mentioned slavery and not say slavery is wrong, or you shouldn't have slaves? And the second thing, which is a sort of a compound problem is, how do we explain our sense of discomfort? So if we believe in the crown is the word of God, and we believe that the Sunnah of the Prophet they have Salam is inspired by God, and the Prophet is incapable of moral error.

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How do we also explain the fact that deep in our, in our guts, we feel that slavery is wrong? I mean, how can the Koran be allowing something? And in our guts, we feel that it's so wrong, we can't conceive of being allowed? How do we even conceptualize that?

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Just the existence of that feeling becomes a problem. So these are the two things I want to talk about today, one, sort of, how do we make sense of the moral problem of slavery? And then how do we make sense of our moral reaction to it?

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And these are really what's called these are problems of what's called Moral ontology. Now, that's the only really big word I'm going to use in this lecture. I think, a moral ontology. ontology is a study of existence. And so moral ontology is really talking about what what is morality where, where does it come from? What is the matter of morality? Was it made of? What does it weigh? What kinds of morality are there? We all know slavery is wrong, right? I mean, if I go out and I ask a random person on the street, or ask one of you in the crowd, just off the street, is slavery wrong? You're gonna say yes, of course. It's wrong.

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Okay, what does that mean?

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If it's wrong, how come the Prophet lays out Salam

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had slaves? How come the early Muslims had slaves?

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I mean, did they not know it was wrong? How do we how do we answer this question? What does it mean to be? What kind of wrong? Is it?

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What kind of wrong? Is it? So these are questions that I want to try and talk about today. Okay. Slavery is really hard to talk about. It's really hard to talk about globally, it's extremely hard to talk about the United States. And there's a couple of reasons for this. The first one is that in the United States, slavery is intimately and can consider continues to be tied to the question of race. And you don't have to be very observant or have been in this country very long to know about issues of race in this country, especially between black Americans and white Americans. And these are, this was an issue that was formed and shaped by and then also shaped slavery in the United

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States. Right? So

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talking about slavery means talking about race.

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And it's especially painful because the injustice is and the harms caused by slavery in the United States continue to be our country continues to be with us, in our society. So it's, it's a Livewire, not in the sense that it's, you know, it's sensitive, it says that it's actually a real living problem. Okay. The second reason it's very difficult to talk about is because it involves tying our brain in knots, involves tying our brain in knots, and people don't like to do that causes them anxiety. I'm gonna give you an example, who remembers the Charlottesville protests in 2017, summer of 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia, University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, of course,

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has a nice big statue of Thomas Jefferson there. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, one of the leading thinkers of the American Revolution, a man who believed in freedom of democracy, and a man who had a lot of slaves and had children with one of his slave women. Right.

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Those children were then also slaves, he eventually freed them, but they were also slaves. So what there were a lot of protesters at University of Virginia saying

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slavery is an evil. It's a great, it's history's greatest crime.

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It's wrong no matter where you are, when, and we don't want a statue of a guy who was a slave owner and who raped a slave woman up in front of our university. That's a pretty good argument, right? I mean, that's like a pretty good logical argument. Slavery is evil. This guy did slavery.

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Statues gotta go.

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Donald Trump came out. And he summarize the situation in a way that remarkably, only he could do.

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He said,

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George Washington's a slave owner, you're going to take down statues of George Washington.

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Imagine taking down every statue of George Washington, imagine renaming everything that's called Washington.

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It's topographically or topically exhausting to think about that. And it's just impossible politically in the United States to talk about this issue.

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Wait a second, we have a contradiction here.

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So there is evil. George Washington was a slave owner. Why do we name everything after him?

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So this is the what I call this slavery conundrum. There's an American slavery conundrum. And there's an Islamic slavery conundrum. And they're very similar to one another. I'll give you the basically slavery conundrum. The slavery conundrum is that there are three things there three axioms that we have to hold.

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In modern America, and in the modern West, and maybe in the modern world. There's three things three axioms we have to hold in our mind. But it's impossible to hold all three in your mind at the same time, because they're contradictory. What are they first, slavery is

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an intrinsic and gross moral evil. What does that mean? Intrinsic? It means that slavery itself is evil. It's not slavery is evil, because it makes you sad. It's not slavery evil, because you're miserable. It's not slavery. Evil is evil, cause it causes abuse of rights. Slavery in and of itself is evil.

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And it's not just, you know, a little evil like me, you know, smacking us on the back of the head for no reason.

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This is a gross evil. This is never the lesser of two evils. This is never the thing you can do because there's something you think is more harmful. It is never excusable. It is a gross and intrinsic evil across space and time. What I mean across space and time. Was slavery wrong when Thomas Jefferson did it. Speak to talk to me like Americans tell me Give me the American answer was slavery wrong and Thomas Jefferson did it. Yes. Okay with slavery wrong during the Roman period. Yes. Was slavery wrong during the Egyptian time?

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times yes, it's throughout space and time

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second, so that's the first axiom. What's the second axiom?

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Imagine this go into a what you guys have instead of dinner parties here barbecues with Yanni parties do but I want something with non Muslims, barbecues. Okay barbecues Imagine you go to your company barbecue and someone asks you about slavery in Islam and you say, yeah, there's slavery but it's wasn't that bad.

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How was that barbecue gonna go for you? Well, I don't know actually, Texas. Not sure. I don't know. I'm not sure. Okay, I'm gonna retract that comment, edit that out of the video. My half my family's from Texas. So I have love for this place. But the point is

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the second axiom, all slavery, there's no, you're not allowed to make distinctions within slavery. There's no good slavery and bad slavery. There's no benevolence, slavery and horrible slavery, all slavery is slavery. Okay, that's actually number two, axiom number three.

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Our past our past has some kind of moral or legal right over us, it has some kind of moral or legal power over us. It has some kind of moral or legal authority over us. If you're Muslim. We know what that is. Right? The Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet, are our sources of guidance and morality.

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If God commands us to do something, that the Prophet commanded us to do something we say somehow no Altana.

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Right. What is justice? It's what God commands? What is injustice? What God forbids?

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If you're American,

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maybe it's not that dramatic, but the Constitution, the founding fathers,

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these people have authority over us. I mean, we might disagree with them, but their ideas, their writings define our political life.

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Right? I mean, try going into a barbecue and just say, you know, George Washington was a real piece of, you know, what, see what happens?

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You know, it's not gonna go very well.

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What's the problem here? These three axioms cannot be held at the same time.

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So I say, Okay.

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Yes, Thomas Jefferson had slaves, but it was different back then.

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Can't say that. Slavery is a transistor or evil throughout space and time.

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Yeah, yeah, there was slavery in the Bible. But slavery in the Bible is not that it's not like slavery in America is not that bad. Oh, you're saying there's some kind of slavery, that's okay.

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So, here's the problem. There is no religious or philosophical tradition that I know of. And I've done a lot of research on this. There is no philosophical or religious tradition that I know of, that did not either defend,

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accept or condone slavery

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until the 1600s, at the various or very earliest 1600s.

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So there's no, there's nobody who's going to be okay to follow. There's no one who's going to be free of the taint of slavery, from World History essentially, before the 1600s.

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So we have a problem, we have a to axioms. Slavery is a gross, intrinsic evil throughout space and time, all slavery, slavery, that forced us to condemn everything in our past, essentially, whether you're Americans or Muslims or Hindu or Buddhist.

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That's a really big problem. So we have in our minds, a knot, that is that something that actually cannot hold together, it can't hold together. And the second you start picking that or at talking about that the pieces start to fall apart. People don't like to talk about it. Why does this conundrum exist? Why does this conundrum exist? It's actually a result.

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It's also a result and a product of abolitionist discourse. So abolitionist discourse in the United States and Britain, from the late 1700s, into the mid 1800s.

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argued that all slavery was a gross and intrinsic evil that had to be gotten rid of immediately. Why did it make this argument?

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If you're an abolitionist, and you're willing to talk about some kinds of slavery, being good in some kind of slavery being bad? What is the slave owner you're arguing, going to say?

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Oh, look, yeah, I agree with you. Slavery is evil. I mean, when

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It's done badly. But my slaves come look at them, they're so happy. Look how good I take care of them. Right? Or yes, we know you slavery in the middle in the maybe the Caribbean is bad or in the Americas are bad. But slavery in India, this is very different, right? This is not serious to severe. So the second you started allowing distinctions within this concept of slavery,

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you lose your you're essentially unable to force your your opponents into accepting your position, it opens the door of negotiation.

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So the ultimately the abolitionists position became all slavery in and of itself, by fact of it being slavery per se cannot be accepted.

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It's all intrinsically evil. The problem is, if you're a historian who wants to look at slavery in world history,

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what are you going to notice, you're going to notice that slavery, let's say in India is really different from slavery in the Americas, or that slavery in Istanbul is really different from slavery in Southeast Asia.

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And so you're going to start actually talking about these distinctions that will start to unpick pull the threads out of this abolitionist argument. So that's why this this this discussion can't cannot. It's not easy for us to have it, because it starts to pick out the very abolitionist consensus that is held worldwide today. Okay.

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the abolitionist movement, as I said, that developed in the United States, and Great Britain in the late 1700s. In the early 1800s. Define slavery, a legally defined it through a legal definition. What does that mean? It talks about a certain kind of relationship or institution, that it called slavery, it didn't talk about conditions.

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So it looked at the legal definition of relationship, not at conditions, why would it not look at conditions? Why would it look at a legal definition? In this case, the idea that someone is owned by another person? Why would it do that and not look at conditions? Because if you're an abolitionist, let's say arguing with a southern slave owner in the United States, and you start saying, slavery is about someone being in a bad conditions, work conditions, or living conditions, that southern slave owner is just going to say, oh, yeah, look at your factory workers.

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They look actually more miserable than than my slaves.

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So they didn't want to have that. You don't want to have that discussion. You want to open that door. So slavery is defined ism as a legal relationship.

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So what are the

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problem is, though? Sorry, the problem is that

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this one of the premises of the slavery conundrum, right is that slavery is a gross, intrinsic evil across space and time. It's not about slavery is evil. In our society, it's not about slavery is evil in the modern West, or in Western Europe, or in the Americas. It slavery is evil throughout history, backwards and forwards in time, across the world, wherever you are.

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So the problem is coming up with a definition for slavery that works in all those times and places. It's basically impossible. It's basically impossible.

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You end up with definitions that are so abstract, they're so abstract, that they're ultimately result in us projecting our own assumptions and understandings onto the past. What I mean by that, let's just look at three ways that have been used to define slavery first, slavery is lack of freedom, slavery is when someone is not free.

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Okay, here's the problem. We could say, let's say in the United States, we could define freedom.

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We could maybe even define freedom in the West.

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But how do you define freedom throughout human history?

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What is it to be free?

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For enrollment law, and in western legal tradition, free means you can do whatever you want, except what the law prohibits, right? Okay, but what's being a slave slave is you can do whatever you want, except what your master prohibits.

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So Freedom is slavery or not.

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It's freedom is not a complete lack of restraints, or constraint, freedom is just less constrained than a slave house.

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And exactly what constraints a free person has on them and exactly what constraints a slave has on them differ from time to time and place to place. And if you were to sit around and say, Are you going to make an argument that?

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Well, a slave is always denied basic rights? What basic rights? Actually, you can't find a consistent notion of what the basic rights that slaves or non slaves should have.

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Have a human history, you could say, well, at the very least, let's say a slave

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can't, you know, a slave, maybe you can just you can just go and kill. And you can't do that to a free person. But that's actually not true. Most slave systems in world history, most slave systems in world history, you could not just kill a slave, even their owner. And by the way, under Roman law until the second century AD, in theory, a father could kill his own child with no legal consequences.

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It's called pathway to protest us. So in Roman law, a father or the head of a family, the male head of a family could kill anyone in his own family with no legal consequences, in theory, didn't really happen. But in theory.

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So even the notion that you know, the idea oil, a slave use someone you can just do anything to and have no consequences. That doesn't help you in Roman law, because that also describes

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a father of a free person,

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or the status of a free child.

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You could say, well, let's define slavery as property, somebody being the property of another person, how do you define property?

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In the Western legal tradition, we can define property, it's usually it's like a bundle of rights, the right to use the right to exclude the right to sell the right to destroy.

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But some of that sometimes you have some of those rights, and you own something, for example, you can't do whatever you want with your house, you own your house, you can't do whatever you want with your pets, and you own your pets. You can't sit there and torture your pet. Right?

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It's against the law.

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But if you have a, let's say, Van Gogh painting, and you just feel like being a jerk, you can destroy that Van Gogh painting, it's, it's yours. So property, what it means for owning different things is different, even in one society, then trying to come up with a definition that for property across world history,

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you end up with something like this property is a person having some kind of rights over something.

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And then so slavery would be one person having some kind of rights over another person, which basically describes almost any relationship.

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Sometimes we talk about defining slavery as coercion,

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coercive power over somebody, same problem, how do you find coercion, we can come up with a clear understanding in the United States about what was unacceptable coercion or relationship, but then to say, we can make this project this definition across World History. Almost nobody in world history would be free.

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If they lived up to like modern American labor standards for what is a coercive relationship?

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I just on the airplane here, I watched part of Wonder Woman.

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I was it's research. Look, it's going it's going into my talk. Okay.

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So there's a scene where she's Wonder Woman, it's like World War One. Do you guys see the movie? No. Okay. They didn't watch the room. And so basically, she, she comes to England and World War One. And she's from some island that stuck in ancient Greece history. And so she meets this woman who's a secretary of the guy, and she says, What's the Secretary and the woman says, Well, I wherever he says, Whatever he says to do, I do. And wherever he says to go, I go. And wonder woman says, Where I come from, we call that slavery. Right? So there's this kind of notion there that,

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like, it's the idea is that filmmakers are saying that, you know, modern laborers, or treatment of women in the workforce, kind of like slavery.

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The this, as you can imagine, from the example I just gave you, this gets very political. This gets very political, even in, let's just say, the modern United States, let alone globally. So one example, this is in the, in the 1790s. In England and Scotland, there were these people are working in Scotland and coal mines. And there was actually a debate about whether or not these people were slaves or not, in fact, they would sometimes wear collars with their masters name on them. These were white, like Scottish people.

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And the main argument for them not being slaves wasn't about how they were treated, or whether or not they were born into slavery or not. It was the fact that people had decided there was no slavery in England. After the 1770s there was no slavery in England. So it was like a pulpit. It was basically a political statement about the nature of British society that define whether these people were slaves are not how they were treated even.

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Another great example of this is this notion of modern day slavery, which I'm sure you read about in the newspaper or in magazines, hear about on the news. So in 1957, there's a major convention called the 1926 as a major convention for the outlawing of slavery globally. And in 1950 1957, there's a supplementary convention.

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So don't need 26 convention is about outlawing slavery and 57 convention is about

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outlawing things that are like slavery, but not slavery.

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And one of those is what's called bonded labor, bonded labor means

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I agree to work for you for a certain amount of time. And in return, you know, you pay for my trip to Dallas, Texas, and you pay for my housing, and I work for you for 10 years. And then after that, you don't maybe I can stay here, but we're done. So that's something that's called indentured service or bonded labor, right?

00:30:29--> 00:30:54

So in the 1957, convention, bonded labor is not slavery, it is servitude that is similar to slavery, but not slavery. According to the modern, what's called an A new slavery or modern day slavery, as it's been understood from the late 1990s. Until today, the major portion, one of the largest, if not the largest portion of global slavery today is bonded labor.

00:30:55--> 00:31:04

So what you see is actually it's like an inflation, inflation in the concept of slavery. What was not slavery 1987 has become slavery today.

00:31:06--> 00:31:08

Another example, this is prison labor.

00:31:09--> 00:31:31

So in the night in the late 1990s, some advocates for prison right prisoners rights in the United States started saying that prisoners in the United States are essentially slaves. Because the 13th Amendment, the United States Constitution, does not allow forced labor and slavery except for people who are in prison. Those people can be forced to work for essentially no pay.

00:31:32--> 00:31:34

People didn't really accept this argument.

00:31:35--> 00:32:21

Not but now what do you see? Even scholars of new slavery and people who are major advocates of what's called New abolition, you abolitionism. In 2006, they did not accept that slaves in America that people prisoners in American prisons were slaves. Now those same people are saying we reconsidering it, or reconsidering it. What changed? The conditions of American prisoners change? No. To the definition of slavery change? No. It's just a political political circumstances changed. Things like Black Lives Matter. Movies like documentaries like 13. And now, again, yeah, so sorry, but this is research. Thor Ragnarok. Who saw Thor Ragnarok. Okay, I shouldn't ask this question to

00:32:21--> 00:32:27

this mosque. Okay. None of you saw Thor Ragnarok. Nor should you. I did it for research purposes.

00:32:28--> 00:32:36

In Thor Ragnarok. There's this alien master of this planet who runs like this gladiatorial competition, played by Jeff Goldblum.

00:32:37--> 00:33:13

And he's sort of this very smarmy politician, kind of corporate politician. And there's these gladiators are rebelling. And his you know, his minister comes up and says, Sir, the slaves are revolting. And he says, Don't say that. Don't say that word. And they said, What revolting? He says, no, no, the S word, don't say the S word. And then the person says, Sorry, the prisoners with jobs are revolting. So then when you when you get Hollywood behind you, Hollywood behind the idea that most American prisoners are actually slave laborers. You can see how much this this has changed since the late 1990s, when saying American prisoners were slaves would just sort of fall on deaf

00:33:13--> 00:33:33

ears and maybe even be considered unpatriotic. Okay, so you have this notion of even in the last couple of decades on an inflation and inflation like a devaluing a devaluing of the, the moral power or the, the, the power of the word slave.

00:33:38--> 00:33:52

Another example, by the way, is I know this is in Texas, the idea that the Irish that the white people who came to America were slaves because they were indentured servants. Is it? I think this isn't this taught in the Texas School curriculum. Someone told me this.

00:33:54--> 00:33:57

Okay, I don't know about this. But someone told me this all to reevaluate this, but

00:33:58--> 00:34:09

it was so. So there's this, you see the idea that, like my ancestors, some of them came to the US to then Britain or North American British colonies as indentured servants.

00:34:10--> 00:34:31

And so the argument of some kind of white nationalist is that, well, yeah, we had slavery in America of slavery of black people, but white people were also slaves because they were indentured servants. And to which a lot of African Americans would say, What the hell are you talking about? Those people chose to come? Whereas my ancestor was just grabbed, and salt, right?

00:34:33--> 00:34:34

But here's the problem.

00:34:35--> 00:34:40

The mod by the modern definitions of new slavery, those white people were slaves.

00:34:42--> 00:34:55

So when you start talking about projecting some of these definitions backwards in time, it starts to mess with what we're how we conceptualize slavery in history, what we're willing to accept as slavery, which is what we're not willing to accept. Okay.

00:34:57--> 00:34:59

We end up with situations where

00:35:00--> 00:35:00


00:35:01--> 00:35:18

we come up with definitions for slavery. But those things those that definition ends up, including something in history that we don't really think is slavery versus other things that look a lot like slavery to us, but don't fit our definition.

00:35:19--> 00:35:31

Straight up with definitions that don't really work, we're not able to put everything we want into the definition and exclude the things we don't want. So up here on the screen, you have two figures on the right would be

00:35:32--> 00:35:43

Malik Ambar. Malik Ambar, died in 1626. He's an Ethiopian slave General, who was brought to the deck in city of Amman Ahmednagar

00:35:44--> 00:36:25

and was a senior general there and then eventually became like the power behind the throne in the region in that city. On the left hand side, you have Socolow Muhammad Pasha. He's sitting there, presiding over a bunch of heads. Yes, those are heads of enemy soldiers. He was the Grand Vizier. He died in 1579, the grand vizier of three Ottoman Sultans, three autumn consultants. His family made him a slave when he was 18 years old. He was a Serb from a Serbian Christian family. And they made him a family gave him to the Salton as a slave when he was 18 years old, so that he could become a powerful member of the Ottoman administration, because the senior administration of the Ottoman

00:36:25--> 00:36:44

Empire at this time and for another century, after that, we're all slaves. He was the most powerful except for the assault on the most powerful person, and the Ottoman Empire for decades, the richest and most powerful, he was married to one of the Sultan's daughters, actually. And yet he was technically a slave. So are we really going to say

00:36:46--> 00:36:48

that SoCal Amanda Pasha

00:36:49--> 00:37:12

is an example of the same phenomenon, as a field hand being lashed. In the summer heat of South Carolina in the year 1750. We really going to say this is this is the same phenomenon. And if we, if we say we can't make internal distinctions, because all slavery is slavery,

00:37:14--> 00:37:55

what does that have really handicaps us morally? I mean, we end up making the same moral judgment for these two different situations that are so dramatically disparate from one another. And not and just so you know, this isn't just a, you know, you know, what do you think you're gonna get in trouble for saying at a barbecue, this is even true amongst academics, there's one of the leading scholars of slavery in American history. I was listening to a speech she gave, and she was talking about the conditions between slaves in the field versus slaves in urban areas in the American South. And someone asked her, How come how did the conditions differ? And she's, she was about to some and

00:37:55--> 00:38:29

she stopped herself. And she said, I was about to say, one is better than the other. But But she says, basically, we don't, this is not appropriate. We don't like to talk about one thing being better than the other because they don't want to introduce the concept of saying one kind of slavery is better the other because axiom number two is all slave. All slavery is slavery, you can't make internal distinctions. Okay, so this leads us to two major handicaps, one, we can't make different moral judgments about things that are very different. And to

00:38:30--> 00:39:07

the political nature, this means that slavery is usually what other people do. This has changed a little bit in the last couple of years because of increased American willingness to really turn a critical eye on, let's say, American prisons, and American labor market. But you probably all recognize this discussion about American prisoners being slaves. This is not this is not very popular. This wasn't very popular a few years ago, it's only kind of become popular, I think, as a result of Donald Trump and sort of a notion of a far left resistance to Donald Trump, which is really made palatable, a lot of ideas that would not have been acceptable at all in mainstream

00:39:07--> 00:39:09

American society 10 years ago, or 15 years ago.

00:39:12--> 00:39:12


00:39:14--> 00:39:15

That's the first issue about

00:39:17--> 00:39:25

kind of thinking about the definition of slavery and the slavery conundrum. Why is it so hard to talk about? Because it ties our mind in knots, it makes us

00:39:27--> 00:39:29

hold internally contradictory ideas.

00:39:31--> 00:39:34

So let's talk about abolition and the origins of abolition.

00:39:37--> 00:39:43

There's two narratives about this, the popular narrative, which is also by the way, a major scholarly narrative

00:39:44--> 00:39:49

is what you can call it the moral awakening narrative. So what happens?

00:39:51--> 00:39:58

Some point in the distant past, there was a few voices who said, slavery is wrong.

00:39:59--> 00:39:59

And those who

00:40:00--> 00:40:30

went out and argued, and then more people agree with that. And then more people agree with that. And then more people agree with that. And then, in the 1700s, it sort of grew into sort of snowballed to have real substance and real mass. And then the 1800s, especially in places where humans had become enlightened by the enlightened, like Great Britain, the United States, northern United States, people realized slavery was a gross, intrinsic evil and had to be ended.

00:40:32--> 00:40:48

And then they eventually convinced everybody in the whole world and that's how we get to the modern day abolitionist consensus, which is that slavery is transhistorical, moral evil, and it needs to be removed from the face of the earth. Right? That's the most what we can call a moral awakening narrative.

00:40:50--> 00:40:52

There's a couple of problems with the moral awakening narrative.

00:40:53--> 00:40:55

As I said before,

00:40:56--> 00:41:07

there's no religion or philosophical tradition, that condemn slavery, quasi slavery, that condemned slavery, as slavery.

00:41:08--> 00:41:12

Until the very earliest, the 1600s.

00:41:15--> 00:41:24

Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, the Prophet Muhammad, St. Thomas Aquinas,

00:41:25--> 00:41:35

you just name I mean, just I can just go through the history of humanity. There's nobody who said, slavery is in and of itself, a moral evil.

00:41:36--> 00:41:42

They could criticize abuses of slavery. They could criticize the wrong people being enslaved.

00:41:44--> 00:41:49

But there was no moral minority, saying that slavery was evil.

00:41:51--> 00:41:55

I've counted and I've done a lot of research on this. I've counted

00:41:56--> 00:42:00

one person. Like, I don't mean one group of people, I mean, one person.

00:42:01--> 00:42:17

Prior to the 1500s, who said slavery, quash Labor's evil, it was a person named Gregory of Nyssa. He died in 1394. Sorry, 394, my bad 394. The Common Era, he was from Cappadocia and Andalusi, and he was a church father there.

00:42:19--> 00:42:23

He said, philosophically, and theologically slavery is wrong. That's it.

00:42:24--> 00:42:49

Until the arrl, until the late sixth 1500s, there's a guy named John Bowden, France died 5096. He says, auto slavery is wrong, it's evil. It harms a slave, it harms the master. And then in the late 1600s, you see it amongst American Quakers. There's when you see the real beginning of abolitionist about abolition, the idea that slavery as an institution needs to be gotten rid of, and then it really picks up in the 1700s and the 1800s.

00:42:51--> 00:42:52


00:42:53--> 00:42:55

if this is a moral awakening,

00:42:56--> 00:43:01

it means that basically all of humanity was sound asleep,

00:43:02--> 00:43:34

out to lunch, until the 1600s, the greatest minds, the most righteous and pious souls of every single religion and philosophical tradition, didn't know that slavery was wrong. Or what's worse, maybe they know we didn't say thing. When quantum law tell them for telecom, we'll see button when to when to tell them felt mercy to them, or what's the I forget which one it is? Yeah. So if you, if you, you know, what's worse, that they didn't know, or they didn't know, they knew and didn't say anything? The point is,

00:43:36--> 00:44:06

does this mean that a person today who knows slavery is wrong, is more morally intelligent than Plato, or Aristotle? Or Jesus or Moses or the Prophet Muhammad? sallallahu alayhi salam? I mean, forget about the theological problem that caused for Muslims. Just think about what that means about. I mean, why do we read any of their books? Why why do we have any respect me if we're going to take down Thomas Jefferson statues, let's get rid of all these, this entire heritage.

00:44:09--> 00:44:24

So that's the second problem with the moral awakening narrative is what was brought up by especially historians from outside the first world, outside kind of North, the US and Europe in the mid 20th century.

00:44:25--> 00:44:30

And this is what you was called the kind of economic narrative or economic explanation.

00:44:31--> 00:44:44

Okay, so I told you before, it's really in the 1700s that abolitionism starts getting gaining a lot of momentum and the 1800s Does anyone know anything else was happening in that time period?

00:44:46--> 00:44:56

Industrial Revolution, right. So is it a coincidence? Is it a coincidence that people

00:44:57--> 00:44:59

start to say that slavery is a moral evil

00:45:01--> 00:45:08

In precisely those places, namely, Great Britain in the northern United States precisely in those places were one

00:45:10--> 00:45:17

the industrial or earliest stages of the Industrial Revolution take place and to where people have achieved unprecedented wealth

00:45:18--> 00:45:20

without reliance on slavery.

00:45:22--> 00:45:23

Is that coincidence?

00:45:26--> 00:45:36

Aristotle made a very prescient point. He hasn't Aristotle died 322 BC, Greek guy, lots of statues.

00:45:39--> 00:45:45

He said, there will be slavery, until looms, spin themselves.

00:45:47--> 00:45:53

He doesn't want a loom is like a thing that weaves cloth until they move themselves, there'll be slaves.

00:45:55--> 00:45:59

When did slavery become something that people talked about getting rid of?

00:46:00--> 00:46:07

When human beings discovered that you can use water power, and then fossil fuels to move things that used to be moved by animals and humans?

00:46:09--> 00:46:14

That simply can't I just do, I just simply can't accept that as a cause that that's a coincidence.

00:46:17--> 00:46:18


00:46:19--> 00:46:20

Here's the problem.

00:46:22--> 00:46:23

Wait, you say Professor Brown.

00:46:25--> 00:46:29

You're telling me that abolition became

00:46:30--> 00:46:44

a phenomenon with strength. That even became something of note at all, because of Technology and Economics. But what I feel in my heart isn't technology in economics, but I feel my heart is

00:46:45--> 00:46:50

like when I hear the word slavery or when I see

00:46:51--> 00:46:58

or when I see a movie like 12 Years a Slave, or Amistad, what I feel in my gut.

00:46:59--> 00:47:07

You can't explain that by technology. You can't explain that by economics. That's moral revulsion. I feel more revulsion in my gut.

00:47:09--> 00:47:10


00:47:13--> 00:47:18

But here, there is great wisdom, right wisdom in the

00:47:19--> 00:47:23

Islamic tradition of ethics and the Islamic tradition of moral epistemology.

00:47:25--> 00:47:32

Muslims scholars, the vast majority except for them Otezla. Were talking about this earlier, right. This is why they're they were wrong. I think

00:47:34--> 00:47:39

the vast majority of Muslim scholars did not trust your gut.

00:47:42--> 00:47:52

It reminds me of George Bush, the people people remember that. Now. You guys are a lot of old people in the crowds. You remember George W. Bush and he made decisions about his gut. Muslim scholars do not trust your guts.

00:47:54--> 00:47:59

Why did they not trust guts? Why did they not trust someone feeling morally revolted?

00:48:00--> 00:48:08

Because they, they were dealing with a world that spread from Egypt to Central Asia from Southeast Asia to Senegal.

00:48:10--> 00:48:13

And there's a few Have you ever seen the move?

00:48:16--> 00:48:28

I don't know what to tell you. This is all research people. Okay. The movie The 13th warrior with Antonio Banderas. It's about Muslims. People. Muslims are the the Muslim is a hero of the movie.

00:48:29--> 00:49:00

Yeah. And there's no Hanky Panky. Thank you. Thank you. Yes. There's a lot of violence. No Hanky Panky. So he's this it's actually a real story, except for the part with the monsters but until the part where the monsters it's actually a real story of an Arab diplomat named Mohammed bin fedline, who in the nine hundreds gets sent by the basket kala to the land of the Bulgars in Central Asia. And on the way he meets a bunch of Vikings. And he witnesses a Viking funeral. This is in the book, and it's in the movie, and what's in the movie is accurate twice in the book.

00:49:02--> 00:49:10

He sees them. I can't describe what they do. It's so disgusting. Just watch the movie. Okay? It's so disgusting. I can't describe it.

00:49:12--> 00:49:14

How they clean themselves.

00:49:15--> 00:49:25

I'm going to tell you, they all pass around a little bowl of water and they all blow their nose into the same bowl and spit into it and they pass around and they drinking.

00:49:26--> 00:49:59

It's like the worst thing you can imagine. And then they what they do to the body of the person they're burying and to the people involved is this I actually can't talk about it's, it's really disgusting. And even fadlan asked them he says how can you possibly do this? This is disgusting. And they say what do you mean this is this is totally normal. You guys are the disgusting ones. You take your dead bodies, you put them in the ground with a worms eat them. This is disgusting. Can you do this? So they understood that what grosses people out when people think is morally just

00:50:00--> 00:50:20

Casting is really not it's not a product of some, some way that your body or your mind is in tune with some kind of moral reality that, that trans fuses in the world or that permeates the world. It's just custom. It's just a lot of you guys know the concept of art. It's just worth it. Here's a good example today.

00:50:22--> 00:50:24

If I brought you if I brought,

00:50:25--> 00:50:26

where are you from?

00:50:27--> 00:50:37

Okay, if I brought you a plate of dog meat, like puppy meat with little puppy toes and yours, said, Here's your puppy, here's your dog meat. What would you do?

00:50:39--> 00:50:52

No, mean, I tell you, I probably like I feel sick to my first I feel this is morally wrong, and I feel disgusted. Just imagine you're a random American, random American would be outraged, morally outraged, and they'd be disgusted to the point of vomiting.

00:50:53--> 00:50:56

In southern China, they have dog meat restaurants,

00:50:58--> 00:50:59

actual restaurants.

00:51:04--> 00:51:18

The stuff that feels like it's wrong in your gut, that something has to be inherently morally wrong about this. For another person to another person in the world today, 100 years ago, 200 years ago.

00:51:19--> 00:51:35

It just wasn't a big deal. I don't want to ask you this question. This is really I think, very good points. Keep in mind, if I asked you if I told you that last week, someone had been brutally murdered outside of this neighborhood.

00:51:36--> 00:51:37

What would your reaction be?

00:51:41--> 00:51:47

I mean, that's, that's yeah, that's bad. Like is that if they catch the person who did it? Do I know the person who got killed?

00:51:48--> 00:51:49

may ask you a question.

00:51:57--> 00:52:02

I wanted to how explicit I can be with this audience. Okay, if I told you that.

00:52:05--> 00:52:06


00:52:07--> 00:52:09

married a 10 year old girl.

00:52:11--> 00:52:11

Or would you say

00:52:13--> 00:52:14

a 5050 year old man?

00:52:16--> 00:52:26

We all know the example. No, no, no, I'm just doesn't work for us. Yeah. I mean, I actually I want to ask, I want to I know I don't know I, I feel

00:52:27--> 00:52:28

disgusted by that.

00:52:31--> 00:52:32

In my stomach,

00:52:34--> 00:52:36

but guess what? murder

00:52:38--> 00:52:44

is wrong. Every society in human history considers murder to be wrong. Every society in human history considers murder to be wrong.

00:52:45--> 00:52:49

Yet I told you someone who's murdered. And yeah, it's bad. But I mean, okay.

00:52:51--> 00:52:52


00:52:54--> 00:52:56

until basically 100 years ago.

00:52:59--> 00:53:04

Slavery was completely normal in many parts of the world,

00:53:06--> 00:53:11

unremarkable, and objectionable morally, to many people in this world.

00:53:13--> 00:53:18

And, until, until the mid 20th century,

00:53:20--> 00:53:22

getting married to teenage girls or younger,

00:53:24--> 00:53:28

was normal in the United States. And in fact, it's still normal in lots of parts of the world today.

00:53:33--> 00:53:46

So the things we feel the most discussed about, I'd say in America, I'd say the things we feel the most disgusting moral disgust about our slavery and pedophilia. Those are the two things we feel the most moral disgust about. These are two things that were

00:53:48--> 00:53:51

common and unremarkable in the recent past.

00:53:52--> 00:54:00

And the thing that is universally prohibited throughout university wrong in all societies, namely murder. Yeah, it's wrong but we don't get disgusted by it.

00:54:01--> 00:54:05

Because Disgust is a cultural construct.

00:54:06--> 00:54:20

Disgust is culturally conditioned, what disgust somebody in one society. I'm not just talking physically, I'm talking morally what disgust someone in one says it doesn't discuss someone in another society, because Disgust is a way that a culture affects moral change.

00:54:24--> 00:54:35

Its way the culture affects moral change. So it's not surprising that on those issues where the change has been most dramatic, you find the most intense sense of disgust

00:54:37--> 00:54:37


00:54:42--> 00:54:43

For Muslim scholars,

00:54:44--> 00:54:47

Muslim scholars talking about law and ethics are solely scholars.

00:54:50--> 00:54:52

What God commands

00:54:53--> 00:54:58

is right. What God forbids is wrong those things we can talk about being absolutely right and wrong. Absolutely wrong.

00:55:01--> 00:55:06

But from pretty much all other moral feelings we have,

00:55:07--> 00:55:13

those are based on custom. Those are based on Earth. Something is my roof, or something is one card.

00:55:15--> 00:55:17

Slavery was my roof.

00:55:18--> 00:55:19

And now slavery is one card.

00:55:21--> 00:55:33

And someone could say, Professor Brown, are you telling me that our moral condemnation of slavery is just based on custom? Like the same thing that tells me what kind of wedding gifts to give somebody?

00:55:34--> 00:55:46

How dare you belittle, belittle my moral objection to slavery? I'm not belittling at all. In fact, that objection belittles the concept of custom.

00:55:47--> 00:55:56

It belittles the fact that human beings for most of the their moral transactions in the world and most their moral actions in the world, their judgments are based on custom.

00:56:00--> 00:56:14

Not based on some kind of universal moral law. And in fact, it's a very unique feature of modern Western society, that we assume that everything that we feel is right and we feel is wrong must be a universal.

00:56:16--> 00:56:32

So when we decide that, let's say it's proper for, for women to dress with their hair showing, and wearing short sleeve shirts, or for guys to wear, not to wear a hat or something like that, we just assume that this is the normal thing that everybody in the world should do.

00:56:34--> 00:56:59

And that women or men who are not allowed to dress like this in other countries are being oppressed. Because these are universals. If we decide that it's right for people to be able to engage in all sorts of relationships, before marriage, just based on what they feel with no consequences. This must be universal, that everyone in the world should follow. And if they're not being allowed to fall, wherever they live, then they're being oppressed.

00:57:02--> 00:57:07

So we live in a society that takes custom and makes it an immoral universals.

00:57:09--> 00:57:22

Whereas Muslim scholars understood that customs is custom is really important. It has real legal meaning for people. It has real moral meaning for people, but that you can't universalize it, because it's not fair to do that to other cultures.

00:57:24--> 00:57:30

So for example, if we were to have Sharia courts in America, I'm not advocating Sharia creep. But if we were to have Sharia courts in America,

00:57:32--> 00:57:42

and my wife were to go and say, my husband, he sits around, he doesn't do any work around the house, he doesn't take care of the kids. He just goes out and hangs out with his friends all the time.

00:57:44--> 00:57:47

And I think is lousy husband and I want to get divorced from him.

00:57:48--> 00:58:11

My guess is that Muslim scholar applying Islamic law in America would say, yes, your husband is not giving you your hawk. Because in American on Earth, these are not the duties and rights and obligations of men and women to one another in marriage. The obligations of a husband the obligations of a wife, the rights of the husband, the rights of the wife, in Islamic law, these are determined by custom.

00:58:12--> 00:58:26

I mean, there's a few like out, you know, outlines or boundaries and pillars that are determined by the Quran and the Sunnah. But the details is determined by customer and this is legally meaningful. People who get divorced on this have to pay my her or not paying my her.

00:58:27--> 00:58:28


00:58:30--> 00:58:40

Um, the last thing I want to talk about two things. I can't believe we've actually gotten through what I talked about. I'm gonna talk about two other issues. One is the change that

00:58:42--> 00:58:46

change in slavery that was brought by Islam the second is abolition of slavery in Islam.

00:58:50--> 00:59:04

It is not exaggeration, it is not and I will I will happily go in front of the most skeptical academic audience and say this this is not me doing some kind of Muslim cheerleading, you know, Islam has great Muslims defended ice cream, I'm not talking I'm not doing that kind of thing.

00:59:05--> 00:59:07

This is completely true.

00:59:08--> 00:59:18

The Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet and the, the legal understanding of the early Muslim community completely revolutionized slavery in the Near East.

00:59:20--> 00:59:29

And slavery in kind of what we would think of sort of the Western world who went to Central Asia or Mediterranean world Europe and then the Americans

00:59:32--> 00:59:42

the main routes into slavery the main ways that someone became a slave prior to Islam in the Near East were debt you owed money you couldn't pay became the person slave

00:59:44--> 00:59:48

capture as a basically being raided.

00:59:50--> 01:00:00

Self tradition, which means giving yourself as a slave, this is people don't know this, but many, many millions of people in human history gave themselves as slaves to have

01:00:00--> 01:00:01

Are people? Why would they do this?

01:00:02--> 01:00:12

Because they were starving because they were poor, because they were foreigners in a place where no one protect them to protect them, and being protected and taken care of was more important to them than their freedom.

01:00:15--> 01:00:32

Selling your children into slavery, this is a major source of slaves in the ancient Near East, in India, until the 20th century, in Southeast Asia, in medieval Europe was giving you're selling your children in slavery because you couldn't afford to keep them or because you owed money.

01:00:35--> 01:01:03

Islam eliminated all of these, there is no debt slavery. And this is very clear in the Sharia. Every once in a while in Islamic history, you see it, for example, in Southeast Asia, in the 1500s and 1600s, you see some debt slavery. This is a pre pre Islamic tradition that continues the Sharia prohibits debt slavery. The free app prohibits self addition, you cannot give yourself as a slave, the Shreya prohibits selling your children into slaves into slavery.

01:01:04--> 01:01:08

So the major routes into slavery are all cut off completely.

01:01:09--> 01:01:15

At the end, what's interesting is, these are actually not mentioned in the Quran, or in deeds.

01:01:17--> 01:01:23

But there's simply it's just like, understood by consensus and earlier Muslim community. And

01:01:27--> 01:01:41

there's only one way to become a slave in Islamic law, which is for a Muslim to capture a non Muslim, outside the abode of Islam in a war. That's the one way or you can be born into slavery if your mother is a slave woman.

01:01:49--> 01:01:52

All right, another really important change

01:01:53--> 01:01:57

that Islam brought for slavery was

01:01:59--> 01:02:09

what happens to the offspring between between a slave male slave owner and his female slave? So remember, I gave you the example of Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson's children were born slaves.

01:02:11--> 01:02:20

You were born slaves. And they were born members of an oppressed class in the United States, which is, which are African Americans.

01:02:21--> 01:02:26

What's an African American? How do you define African American versus white in the United States? Anybody know?

01:02:30--> 01:02:31

skin tone.

01:02:33--> 01:02:43

I mean, if can you be like, let's say, all my ancestors are white, except for one person. But I have my blacker way.

01:02:46--> 01:02:47

One drop

01:02:49--> 01:03:04

is, means you're black, white means no blackness, unless you're able to pass which means no one can tell that you're black, you're black industry. But you can be extremely dark, or you can be extremely light. But if you're black, you're black.

01:03:05--> 01:03:08

And otherwise, you can't be part whites.

01:03:09--> 01:03:13

You're either white or you're fully white or your black. Right.

01:03:14--> 01:03:21

If Abram if Thomas Jefferson had been a Muslim, his children would have been born free,

01:03:22--> 01:03:23

who had been born free,

01:03:24--> 01:03:27

they would have been legitimate, they can inherit from him.

01:03:28--> 01:03:31

Their mother would have been freed when when he when their father died.

01:03:32--> 01:03:39

And this is important, they would have had the same social standing as children born of free wife.

01:03:41--> 01:03:45

This is also agreed upon in Islamic law, completely,

01:03:46--> 01:04:01

very important. The offspring of a male slave owner and his female slaves are born free. They're legitimate. And they had the same social standing as people born of free women have free wives. That's why

01:04:02--> 01:04:11

almost all the basket case lifts and all of the Ottoman Sultans except one were children not have wives not a free wives but a slave woman.

01:04:16--> 01:04:17

This is what

01:04:19--> 01:04:45

leads to what the scholar of African history I'll name is Rudy Rahim who Allah who died recently called ascending miscegenation, ascending miscegenation. Whereas in America, people who are a result of mix three and slave unions went down into the enslaved oppressed class. People were resulted in who are born of those unions in Islamic civilization went up into the free Muslim community.

01:04:48--> 01:05:00

The final thing the final change brought by Islamic law, or is the grandson is an obsession with emancipation. emancipation is different from abolition emancipation.

01:05:00--> 01:05:00

means freeing people.

01:05:02--> 01:05:05

Abolition means getting rid of the institution of slavery as a whole.

01:05:09--> 01:05:11

The Qur'an does not propose abolition.

01:05:14--> 01:05:14

Why not?

01:05:15--> 01:05:20

Because nobody proposed abolition until the early modern period.

01:05:21--> 01:05:32

There's no society that had slaves, which is almost every society in human history, and certainly every civilization human history, no one proposed the idea of abolition until the early modern period.

01:05:34--> 01:05:55

I want you to understand this very clearly. When you saw the movie Spartacus, come on. That's an old movie. That's okay, right? You guys didn't watch Spartacus. This guy watches everything. Someone needs to talk to him. So the Spartacus, if you see in the movie, the beginning movie, Kirk Douglas, he's like a slave. He says he labored under the sun and the hot sun in the

01:05:56--> 01:06:28

dreaming of a day which slavery would die 2000 years before ever would. And in the movie, Spartacus gives a speech where we're gonna fight to be free, all the slaves in the world are all the slaves in the Roman Empire. That's not at all what Spartacus is rebellion was about. Spartacus wasn't fighting to end slavery. He and his friends, they just didn't want to be slaves. And in fact, they took their own slaves and all pre modern slave rebellions. They're not trying to end slavery. They're just trying to get out of their own situation, slavery and they very often took their own slaves.

01:06:32--> 01:06:39

So yes, abolition is not indigenous to Islam, in the sense that it's not present in the Quran and the Sunnah.

01:06:41--> 01:06:48

But it's not indigenous to any religion or any philosophy. It's only something emerges as an idea in the early modern period, really in the 1700s.

01:06:52--> 01:07:09

What the Quran and the Sunnah do do is they are they provide a impulse and an impetus for emancipation that does not have an equal in any religious or philosophical tradition that I've seen pre modern religions or philosophical tradition.

01:07:11--> 01:07:36

The Quran introduces a few things that are unprecedented one is it ties the charity tax does a cat to freeing slaves, one of the type one of the eight groups that can get the cat or place to help free themselves to the idea of freeing slaves as expiation for certain sins or as a partial punishment or as things you do expat sins or crimes.

01:07:40--> 01:08:11

Three is the notion of making a notion of mu katha. Highly recommended or required Mocha is when a slave says I want to basically buy my own freedom on installments. So the Quran says, If a slave wants to do this, your city wants to this then do it in Arlington fie him Hi, Ron. If they are able to do it, if you think they're going to be able to do it, then you should agree and the water of Malik, the candidate Omar de la Atala and who actually makes NS makes NS agree to Mikado requests for his slave.

01:08:14--> 01:08:18

So these things are really unprecedented in history as far as I know.

01:08:19--> 01:08:36

And the Hadith, the rewards you get for freeing slaves is incredible. The rewards in the afterlife. Now what's really interesting is not only are there lots of sahih Hadith about this, but Muslims crank out forgeries

01:08:37--> 01:08:47

if you look at books of forage that eats like a CSU theorbo, Josie, you'll find the most outrageous Hadith that are doing what

01:08:48--> 01:08:50

urging Muslims to free their slaves.

01:08:51--> 01:09:31

One Hadith it's made up in the eight hundreds. I mean, I'm not saying it's made up Muslim scholars that it's made up co2 Even hydro Escalante said this and if it's usually says it's made up, is definitely made up. It's he's very lacks in his standards or him a whole lot, right? So this one, it's supposed to be the one of the last clip was given by the prophet they saw Salam. He says, if you walk to the mosque, think about this. If you walked to the mosque, every step you take, is the equivalent of freeing a slave. Now that's, that's interesting. That's that hadith isn't telling you to free slaves. But free slaves has become so important that freeing slaves is like the unit of

01:09:31--> 01:09:59

measurement, you're used to talk about the reward you're gonna get for something else. Another Hadith, it's made up in the nine hundreds. The Prophet allegedly says, if you if you're he tells a woman sub behaved sub behave, do tests be of God right? For every test B is the equivalent of freeing 100 slaves. So slavery freeing slaves is such a basic unit in Muslim understanding of pious life, that it becomes a way to

01:10:00--> 01:10:01

count other good deeds.

01:10:03--> 01:10:08

And this impetus to free slaves, this drive to emancipate is so

01:10:09--> 01:10:18

widespread and consistent, that if you look in Islamic history now Islamic history is very long and very broad geographically. But in general, in general, this is a generalization, but I think it's a fairly accurate one.

01:10:20--> 01:10:28

People who were in slaves to Muslims, were not slaves for their whole lives, they were usually slaves for like seven to 10 years, and then they were freed.

01:10:30--> 01:10:43

And if they became Muslim, in that time, they entered the Muslim community as members in good standing as citizens like anybody else. And by the way, this is another argument for why there was not

01:10:44--> 01:10:54

an indigenous movement for abolition in the SonicWALL, like there was in the Americas, especially the Caribbean, in the 1700s, and 1800s. Why,

01:10:56--> 01:11:02

if you were, first of all, the majority of slaves brought into Islamic civilization were women,

01:11:03--> 01:11:07

who then were made part of families and who had children with those families.

01:11:08--> 01:11:16

So they were integrated into those communities. The second reason is, if you were a freed slave, in the Caribbean, or in the United States,

01:11:17--> 01:11:19

you're still a black person.

01:11:21--> 01:11:26

You could still be re enslave, like in the movie, 12 Years a Slave, you're still treated like garbage.

01:11:27--> 01:11:28

And worse,

01:11:29--> 01:11:49

you weren't a enfranchised members of society. So they're the only way as long as slavery existed, you are under threat of re enslavement. The only way to get rid of to ever feel safe was to end slavery, or to do what's called maroons which means you basically go and you live in the some isolated part of an island with other fruits of other escaped are freed slaves.

01:11:52--> 01:12:06

From Muslims, who were freed slaves, they were part of the society. They could, they could be successful merchants, they could be Muslim scholars, they could be saints. In my book, there's a whole section on slave saints, by the way, saints who are slaves,

01:12:07--> 01:12:09

ma what.

01:12:15--> 01:12:21

The way that we can talk about abolition in Islamic tradition that I think is the most accurate

01:12:23--> 01:12:29

is to say that and this is entirely entirely authentic industry a tradition that the

01:12:30--> 01:12:32

as a legal Maxim says,

01:12:33--> 01:12:47

You have to show a fool a shout arrow, il Huria. The law giver God looks expectantly towards freedom. And actually you can find this in one of the earliest books that survived in Islamic tradition. They get Tabatha hurry ship Robin hammock.

01:12:48--> 01:12:57

There's a hadith we talked about this hadith actually. It's, it comes from the very early period we don't know if the prophet said or not. But it's very early idea.

01:12:58--> 01:13:02

If use If a man says to his wife, antitoxin, insha Allah,

01:13:04--> 01:13:25

she's not divorced, because God doesn't want divorce. But if you say to your slave, and to her Insha Allah, the slave is freed. Why? Because God wants freedom. So one of the even if you look at the more archetypal and wife of God, have a shot to beat either to mediate a major or scholar of the mocassin of the show. Dr. He says one of the macaws of the Sharia is

01:13:27--> 01:13:29

a freeing slaves.

01:13:30--> 01:13:40

And if we now live in a time, when it's economically, not just economically feasible, but economically profitable, not to have slaves.

01:13:42--> 01:13:48

If we can remove the harm of slavery, and this is something I forgot to mention, which I'll shoehorn in really quickly,

01:13:49--> 01:13:53

Muslim scholars always recognized that slavery was harmful.

01:13:54--> 01:14:05

They talked about dollar or the harm of slaves slave, what was the harm of slavery, they realized that being a slave was not pleasant for a lot of people. It's it was

01:14:07--> 01:14:15

you were unable to make your free choices. You were like you couldn't, let's say lead prayer or lead a gym on prayer.

01:14:17--> 01:14:21

You were unable to benefit from the fruits of your own labor if you wanted.

01:14:23--> 01:14:31

So that's why they understood that freeing people was a good thing. That's why there's fuddling it, there is a you get a reward for freeing people.

01:14:32--> 01:14:44

But they also understood that it wasn't the most they believe that was not the most important thing. So if someone was going it was too too old or too sick, or too incompetent to handle themselves, it was actually wrong to free them

01:14:45--> 01:14:48

because they were going to be in worse off of their freed.

01:14:49--> 01:15:00

So if we are in a position in world history where slavery is not needed economically, if we're in a position where we can remove the harm of it from people

01:15:00--> 01:15:05

And then the best way to fulfill this MCSA. This aim of the Sharia

01:15:06--> 01:15:14

of emancipation is simply to do a categorical amount of categorical emancipation and get rid of the institution as a whole.

01:15:16--> 01:15:17

Does that come? Well, Claire and

01:15:19--> 01:15:35

Campbell believe I actually finished this, and I'll try and answer your questions afterwards, inshallah Zachman blockhead. cello. After South Asia, we will have around 1520 minutes for q&a. And I've already gotten a number of questions, but feel free to continue to send them in.

01:15:36--> 01:16:15

Can you? Uh, can you figure out how to make send them in with the written paper? And also I know the the number of people have asked, they're interested in Dr. Brown's personal story as well, of how, you know, he came from converting to Islam to becoming without praising him too much. But the fact of the matter is, he is one of the most famous professors of Islamic Studies in the world today. And this is a very honorable reason, Georgetown's you know, Islamic Studies professor, and is definitely very interesting story from where to where, so a little bit about that as well after Salah to Asia, but we have five minutes. So I'm going to ask you one question before starting Asia. And that is you

01:16:15--> 01:16:45

glossed over this issue of concubinage and obviously, this is a very sensitive issue. So in four and a half minutes, if you're able to answer, how do we explain to especially our young men and women, and either outside the faith is obviously different than our younger? How do we rationalize the concept of milkier mean? Because there is conservation? And what if she doesn't want it? What if? What if, what if I mean, how do we so what do you say, what do you thoughts about this from within the paradigm?

01:16:46--> 01:16:47


01:16:51--> 01:17:19

I never do this, but I'm going to not answer the question. I mean, it's there's a whole chapter in it in my book, and that issue, you don't talk about, without, you know, serious mental preparation. I mean, what I mean, is it in the book, I was able to, I think do a very good and thorough job of discussing it. What I'll say I will talk about is one aspect, which is that

01:17:21--> 01:17:31

and this also comes up in people talk about the notion of like marital rape in Islam, and how there's no consent for, you know, legally, there's no notion of consent and wait for sex within marriage and things like that.

01:17:33--> 01:18:05

And I think this is an instance where we have to understand how other legal traditions work and, and not just get obsessed with the language and concepts that we use in American law, especially modern American law and modern American society. So we in modern United States think about consent as the sort of scenic one non of morally acceptable relationship, right? So consent is what makes something okay? The lack of consent makes it not okay, makes it not okay, morally, it makes it not okay, legally.

01:18:08--> 01:18:19

This is fairly unusual and world history, especially the fact that this is basically the only moral tool we use in American society.

01:18:21--> 01:18:48

Consent was is of some importance in most legal and moral systems, but it's usually not the only thing. For example, if somebody wants to be in a relationship, which is horribly destructive for them, and their family doesn't like it, and a lot of places in the world, what they want doesn't really matter, the family is gonna say, No, you can't be in this relationship, right? So that, that kind of, we don't have that in modern American culture. We don't accept that, right. So it's the person's consent, their desire that makes something right or wrong.

01:18:50--> 01:19:09

So I think the first thing to understand is that we have a, we make the kinds of consent do a lot of moral and legal work, that it's really not up for. And if you're interested in this, I can suggest an excellent book by Joseph the shell, professor from Yale, and it's called screw consent.

01:19:10--> 01:19:12

That's what the books called. It's a very interesting,

01:19:14--> 01:19:19

excellent book of political theory and philosophy, I recommend the book is not very long.

01:19:21--> 01:19:22


01:19:23--> 01:19:25

content is important in Islamic law.

01:19:26--> 01:19:34

A woman who is badly right, she cannot be married off in general without her consent.

01:19:38--> 01:19:40

But it's not everybody doesn't have the same

01:19:42--> 01:20:00

kind of power to consent. Your kind of consent is sort of based on yours. The amount of importance of that consent is based on your social standing. But the reason why this sort of differed and had a sliding scale is because consent wasn't really how Muslim jurists and ethicist under

01:20:00--> 01:20:27

stood right and wrong and relationships. They understood it through the language of harm. Barak, right. So if you're a wife, and you go to, and I have actually collected cases, and they're in my book, cases where women go to a judge and say, My, I can't get into the details, but it's not to say it's a good read, you'll enjoy it, you won't, you won't put it down, at least not for that section. Okay. They go to judge and they say,

01:20:29--> 01:20:47

certain things are happening, and it's causing me harm. And the judge it the husband has a right to do those things. In theory, the woman because she's married to him has no capacity to consent. But the judge says, You can't do this anymore. Because the harm is what makes something right or wrong.

01:20:49--> 01:21:10

So what the work that we do in modern America through the concept of consent, Muslim ethics and Muslim law did through the concept of harm, and you could not harm your slave. I mean, you could discipline your slave in the same way that you could discipline your child, but you couldn't if you were to go and like,

01:21:11--> 01:21:31

beat your slaves severely, in a way they left to like marks or made a lot of blood flow, then we have instances in the time of the Prophet and they said Salaam and in Islamic history Throughout his long history, that the judge would force you to free the slave or to sell a slave, right, Inshallah, we'll continue after salata, Aisha inshallah Tada. So please take for that example.

01:21:33--> 01:21:35

Bismillah Alhamdulillah, WA salatu, salam, Ala.

01:21:37--> 01:21:39

Don't you take this one I see.

01:21:43--> 01:21:43


01:21:45--> 01:22:05

so the first question is that we have been told that some of our Muslim or our brothers were involved in the American slave trade. Is this correct? In your research? And did they is this valid? Islamically? And did they justify it what they were doing? The Arab slave traders?

01:22:07--> 01:22:07

Okay, yeah.

01:22:12--> 01:22:19

So, I'm not a specialist in the Atlantic slave trade, but I can say from what I do know,

01:22:21--> 01:22:27

you know, there are people buying, buying and selling at both ends, so to speak, right? So

01:22:29--> 01:22:31

most of the slaves who are

01:22:32--> 01:22:56

I don't want to say most because I don't know if that's accurate or not, but I'll say it a lot, a large portion of the slaves who are transported from West Africa, to the Americas. Remember, most of the slaves went to Brazil. There's actually a really good graphic you can see on this for I think, from like the African American Museum history museum, or

01:22:57--> 01:23:03

I think one of the slavery databases, they actually have like a chart of all the chips that you can see the majority of them actually go to Brazil.

01:23:05--> 01:23:15

So they're, they're basically being supplied by people who are rating for slaves in interior in various parts of West Africa.

01:23:16--> 01:23:46

And those people were, some of them are Muslim, some are not Muslim. But what's interesting is that and if you want to read about this, you can read Bilal or Rudolph Where is Muslim the name is Bilal his book, The Walking Qur'an. He talks a lot about this, that in the late 1700s, and the early 1800s, there's a state that's created in what's now centrally Senegambia, a place called food to food the Torah, which

01:23:48--> 01:24:37

arises because these are l&r, these two Allena see Muslims being enslaved, and they can't accept that. So they basically start kind of a political movement, military, political women to create a state in order to make sure that no Muslims are sold into slavery to the Europeans, and they in fact, strike treaties with the French that knows French slave ships are going to come up the Senegal River. And eventually, the Europeans like basically give support to other states and they defeat this state. But the Imam even Futura The other thing is that I know at least one scholar in West Africa, I think one of the scholars from the lineage of Moqtada Kunti, a great kind of West African

01:24:37--> 01:24:58

scholarly tradition, He prohibited selling any slave if you thought that that slave might get sold, get then sold to a European. So I don't know about Yes, Muslims were involved for sure. But there is also a lot of Muslims, especially Muslim scholars who are really committed to preventing any Muslims being sold into that

01:24:59--> 01:25:00


01:25:00--> 01:25:00

Like slave,

01:25:02--> 01:25:23

commerce or whatever slave trade. So we have another question here. I'm going to combine two questions you said do not trust your gut. How do we understand this in the light of the fitrah. And also in light of the Hadith elbowroom at Manta a NFC with Mojave South Africa? Well, we'll have a stack. And so after both of these things, you have a gut, how do we say to

01:25:25--> 01:25:33

someone like, you know, even Taymiyah, we're talking about the notion of a lock on a cilium, you know, or like. So

01:25:35--> 01:25:46

it's not that human beings can't have a kind of correct moral sense. But that we need to be very aware that

01:25:48--> 01:25:55

we need to be able to kind of read our moral senses through an awareness of our culture, right? So

01:25:57--> 01:26:15

let's say, you know, I'm American. If someone says something about democracy, I'm going to be like democracy. So it says something about tyranny or monarchy, MSA, tyranny, monarchy, right. So we kind of have this. We're a culture into a view that democracy is good, tyranny slash monarchy is bad.

01:26:16--> 01:26:56

So you just have to be aware, I think of how your what your biases are. If you know that you have a temper, if you know that you have an ego, if you know that you have a hard time letting go of money or things like that. You I think you have to be aware of what your own failings are, what your own biases are, and then you can it's at that point, like your sense of your kind of moral intuition becomes more toned, more and more tuned, more and more finely tuned. So I don't mean to say that, you know, your God is useless. I just mean to say that you need to always be aware that your God is also a creation of your spirit of your circumstances.

01:26:57--> 01:27:37

Do you mind if I add to that, being that you can add as much as you want, as you're probably aware of the third chapter of my dissertation is about the federal the concept of the federal, even Taymiyah. So just to add to that, I've been Tamia mentioned that the fitrah can be corrupted, and when the fitrah is corrupted, then you will feel the incorrect fitrah telling you something that is incorrect. So hence, this notion of gut instinct is not necessarily right or wrong. So the point is even Taymiyah mentioned the fitrah needs a check and balance mechanism, who's going to check which fitrah is valid or not. So he gave the example of eating something that one culture finds disgusting

01:27:37--> 01:28:17

versus another culture finds not disgusting, the culture that doesn't find it disgusting, the culture that has taken it as the norm. How will they know that it is wrong, because their gut instinct is gonna say that it's fine. So even the fitrah it needs a checks and balances, it needs a higher source to tell it once the fitrah is in line with the higher source. Now the gut instinct does kick in, right? So if you have Iman and Taqwa then yes, you follow your gut instinct. But if you don't really have imminent dukkha or you don't have your fitrah is not in sync with the Quran and Sunnah is been corrupted, then you cannot rely just on your fitrah for morality. So that was

01:28:17--> 01:28:34

sorry, to no greater than each other. Okay, expert on the subject with us. We have a question here. Is War fair. The only basis for enslavement is the only way to get a slave is Yeah, so I actually I should have mentioned this, I meant to and I forgot,

01:28:35--> 01:28:36

which is

01:28:37--> 01:29:02

probably and it's hard to know because Islamic civilization is very big over a long period of time. But probably most of the slaves that come into Islamic civilization are not captured in warfare. They're they're bought. So you go to the slave market in Samara Conde or organische. And there's like a Viking guy there who's got like 300 Russian peasants, and he says, here's 300 Russian peasant slaves for you.

01:29:03--> 01:29:09

So that's like the majority are just purchased from outside. So if someone's already a slave, you can purchase them.

01:29:10--> 01:29:22

So that's probably how most people entered Islamic civilization as such, especially from the Central Asia Russian area, which is, by the way, probably the majority of slaves in Islamic civilization are from the area.

01:29:25--> 01:29:44

The issue comes with whether the warfare that allows enslavement is like sanctioned by the mm versus just rating because a lot of it is just rating. And there's actually if they laugh amongst each other, about whether that's allowed or not.

01:29:46--> 01:30:00

And what happens in the 19th century, when a lot of this this is so this is interesting, like we would expect that kind of slave trade in the Muslim world especially like African Indian Ocean indian ocean world is like kind of decreasing