Skip to product information

Slavery and Islam

Slavery and Islam

Oneworld Publications
Write a review
A thorough exploration of slavery from the perspective of Islam's authoritative texts as well as moral and philosophical debates on the subject
Regular price $40.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $40.00 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.


View full details

About The Book

What happens when authorities you venerate condone something you know is wrong

Every major religion and philosophy once condoned or approved of slavery, but in modern times nothing is seen as more evil. Americans confront this crisis of authority when they erect statues of Founding Fathers who slept with their slaves. And Muslims faced it when ISIS revived sex-slavery, justifying it with verses from the Quran and the practice of Muhammad.

Exploring the moral and ultimately theological problem of slavery, Jonathan A.C. Brown traces how the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions have tried to reconcile modern moral certainties with the infallibility of God's message. He lays out how Islam viewed slavery in theory, and the reality of how it was practiced across Islamic civilization. Finally, Brown carefully examines arguments put forward by Muslims for the abolition of slavery.


Notes on transliteration, dates and citation

Introduction: Can We Talk About Slavery?

  • What I Argue in this Book
  • Apology for Slavery?
  • Power and the Study of Slavery
  • Blackness, Whiteness and Slavery

1. Does ‘Slavery' Exist? The Problem of Definition

  • The Main Argument
  • Definition: A Creative Process
  • Definition to Discourse: A Political Process
  • Defining: We Know It When We See It
  • Defining Slavery as Status or a Condition
  • Slavery as Unfreedom
  • Slavery as Human Property
  • Patterson & Natal Alienation
  • Slavery as Distinction: The Lowest Rung & Marginality
  • Slavery as Coercion & Exploitation under the Threat of Violence
  • The Problem with Modern-Day Slavery
  • Slavery & Islam - A Very Political Question
  • Conclusion: Of Course, Slavery Exists
  • The Proper Terms for Speaking about ‘Slavery'

2. Slavery in the Shariah

  • What Islam Says about Slavery - Ideals and Reality
  • Slavery in the Quran & Sunna
  • Inheriting the Near East - Roman, Jewish and Near Eastern Laws versus Islam
  • Islam's Reform of Slavery
  • Basic Principles of Riqq in the Shariah
  • The Ambiguities of Slavery in the Shariah
  • Riqq & Rights in the Shariah
  • Religious Practice
  • Freedom of Movement
  • Social and Political Roles
  • Marriage and Family Life
  • Right to Property
  • Rights to Life and Physical Protection
  • Summary: Law and Ethics

3. Slavery in Islamic Civilization

  • What is Islamic Civilization?
  • Is there ‘Islamic Slavery'?
  • The Shariah & Islamic Slavery
  • Muslims Enslaving Muslims
  • The Classic Slavery Zone
  • Consuming People & ‘Ascending Miscegenation'
  • Slave Populations
  • Routes of the Muslim Slave Trade
  • Blackness and Slavery in Islamic Civilization
  • The Roles and Experiences of Slaves in Islamic Civilization
  • The Slave as Uprooted Person and Commodity
  • The Slave as Domestic Labor . . . Even Trusted Member of a Household
  • Slave as Sexual Partner
  • Slave as Saint, Scholar or Poet
  • Slave as Elite Administrator & Courtesan
  • Slave as Soldier - When Soldiers often Ruled
  • Slave as Rebel

4. The Slavery Conundrum

  • No Squaring the Circle: The American/Islamic Slavery Conundrum
  • Slavery is Evil
  • The Intrinsic Wrongs of Slavery
  • Religions and Slavery
  • Minimizing the Unminimizable or Historicizing the Unhistoricizable
  • Slavery is Slavery: The Problem of Labeling ‘Slavery' with One Moral Judgment
  • The Moral Wrongness of Slavery as Unfreedom
  • The Moral Wrongness of Slavery as Owning Human Property
  • The Moral Wrongness of Slavery as Inequality
  • The Moral Wrongness of Slavery as the Threat of Violence
  • The Bald Man Fallacy and the Wrongness of Slavery
  • When Slavery is ‘Not that Bad': The Problem with Conditions vs. Formal Categories
  • Do Some People Deserve to be Enslaved?
  • Or, Is Freedom a Human Right?
  • The Past as Moral Authority: Can We Part with the Past?
  • The Natural Law Tradition and Slavery
  • Critics of Slavery and the Call for Abolition
  • The Consequences of Moral Progress
  • Muslim Efforts to Salvage the Past

5. Abolishing Slavery in Islam

  • Is Abolition Indigenous to Islam or Not?
  • Islam as Emancipatory Force - An Alternative History
  • Abolishing Slavery . . . For Whom? Concentric Circles of Abolition
  • ‘The Lawgiver Looks Expectantly Towards Freedom' - Abolition as an Aim of the Shariah
  • Doubling Down - Progressive Islam & the Axiomatic Evil of Slavery
  • Prohibited by the Ruler but Not by God: The Crucial Matter of Taqyid al-Mubah
  • If You Can't Do it Right, You Can't Do it at All - Prohibiting Riqq Poorly Done
  • Same Shariah, Diff erent Conditions - The Obsolescence or Unfavorability of Slavery
  • Slavery: A Moot Point & Bad PR
  • Defending Slavery in Islam

6. The Prophet & ISIS: Evaluating Muslim Abolition

  • Do Muslim Approaches to Abolition Pass Moral Muster?
  • A Consensus on Abolition
  • Could Slavery in Islam ever be Unabolished?
  • Abolition vs. ISIS
  • This Author's Opinion

7. Concubines and Consent: Can We Solve the Moral Problem of Slavery?

  • Species of Moral Change
  • Moral Disgust at Slavery Today
  • Conclusion & Crisis: Concubinage and Consent
  • Consent and Concubines
  • Disbelief is Unproductive

Appendix 1 - A Slave Saint of Basra
Appendix 2 - Enlightenment Th inkers on Slavery
Appendix 3 - Did the 1926 Muslim World Congress Condemn Slavery?
Appendix 4 - Was Māriya the Wife or Concubine of the Prophet?
Appendix 5 - Was Freedom a Human Right in the Shariah?
Appendix 6 - Enslavement of Apostate Muslims or Muslims Declared to be Unbelievers

Select Bibliography

About The Author

Jonathan A.C. Brown is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His previous books include Misquoting Muhammad and Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, both of which are published by Oneworld. He lives in Virginia.

show more
EAN 13 / ISBN 9781786076359
Author Jonathan A.C. Brown
Publisher Oneworld Publications
Pages 448
Manufacturer Oneworld Publications
Year Published 2019
Weight 1.6 lb
Width 6 in
Height 9.2 in
Depth 1.7 in

EAN 13 / ISBN 9781786076359
Author Jonathan A.C. Brown
Publisher Oneworld Publications
Pages 448
Manufacturer Oneworld Publications
Year Published 2019
Weight 1.6 lb
Width 6 in
Height 9.2 in
Depth 1.7 in

Recently Viewed