The Horrors Of Slavery In The Muslim World, Or Why There Isn't A "Black Community" In The Middle East
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Earlier, by Jared Taylor: Wait, Slavery Is OUR "Original Sin"?

In his article on slavery as "America's Original Sin"—and no one else's, apparently—Jared Taylor wrote "What a small minority of Americans did for 246 years—and in a relatively mild form—is worse than anything that was ever done anywhere by anyone."

Let me explain what's meant by a "relatively mild form."

In his 2000 book Conquests and Cultures: An International History Thomas Sowell, who is, unlike many black politicians, an American descendant of slaves himself, described what slavery was like in Muslim world.

This is from P. 154, which has a lot of footnotes in the original. I've added emphasis and links.


There have been relatively few African immigrants to other continents, compared to the vast millions transported as slaves to the Islamic countries or to the Western Hemisphere. The story of the African diaspora is thus largely the story of those slaves and their descendants. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, there were also small hut historically important groups of African expatriates in Europe and America who returned to Africa to assume leadership of the struggle for independence, and then leadership of the newly independent African states. Even aside from African emigrants and expatriates, however, the African diaspora is not co-extensive with all African slaves and their descendants. The numbers of people enslaved within Africa itself exceeded the numbers exported. History has largely forgotten them.

The Islamic Countries

Although the Islamic countries of the Middle East and North Africa imported more slaves from sub-Saharan Africa than did the European off-shoot nations of the Western Hemisphere, there are in these Moslem countries today no such large, discrete and self-conscious groups of black African descent as the 60 million Negroes currently living in the Western Hemisphere.  Among the reasons for this anomaly were the higher mortality rates of slaves in transit to North Africa and the Middle East, their greater vulnerability to the diseases of that region, and a very low rate of reproduction.

Because the slaves were brought from long distances, often from isolated villages, they might lack biological resistance to the diseases encountered along the overland slave trade routes or at their final destinations. Although manumission was widespread in Islamic lands, the beneficiaries of this were often military slaves and others in higher occupations, where the slaves were more apt to be white rather than black. In general, black slaves were used in more menial and laborious tasks, and it was these slaves who were most likely to live and die as slaves, with their children being born into slavery. They had few children, however, for both marriage and casual sex among slaves was suppressed. Moreover, the death rate among those few children was so high that they rarely lived to adulthood.

One thing that kept blacks from reproducing was the Muslim world's truly horrifying custom of castrating large numbers of male slaves to be harem guards.

The widespread use of eunuchs in the harems of the Islamic countries further reduced the ability of the African slave population to reproduce itself. In the tenth century, the court of the caliph of Baghdad reportedly included 7,000 black eunuchs and 4,000 white eunuchs. With the passing centuries, as European nations grew militarily stronger and become better able to resist the Islamic nations, European slaves became scarcer in the Islamic lands to which they had once been sent in great numbers. Their importation was drastically reduced in the early decades of the nineteenth century, when czarist Russia conquered the Caucasus, from which European slaves were being shipped to the Ottoman Empire. However, as late as the 1850s, orders against the traffic in white slaves from Russian-controlled Georgia and Circassia were being issued by the Ottoman government.  By the end of the nineteenth century, white slaves had virtually disappeared, except in Arabia, while black slavery was not abolished in most Islamic countries until the period between the two World Wars of the twentieth century, and still existed in Mauritania and the Sudan at the end of the twentieth century.

The "end of the twentieth century" is when this book was written—as of today, you can still own slaves in Mauritania, .

The horrors of the Atlantic voyage in packed and suffocating slave ships, together with exposure to new diseases from Europeans and other African tribes, as well as the general dangers of the Atlantic crossing in that era, took a toll in lives amounting to about 10 percent of all slaves shipped to the Western Hemisphere in British vessels in the eighteenth century—the British being the leading slave traders of that era. However, the death toll among slaves imported by the Islamic countries, many of these slaves being forced to walk across the vast, burning sands of the Sahara, was twice as high. Thousands of human skeletons were strewn along one Saharan slave route alone-mostly the skeletons of young women and girls. These skeletons tended to cluster in the vicinity of wells, suggesting the last desperate efforts to reach water.: Slaves who could not keep up with the caravans, often because their feet had swollen from walking across the hut sands, were abandoned in the desert to die a lingering death from heat, thirst and hunger. In 1849, a letter from an Ottoman official referred to 1,600 black slaves dying of thirst on their way to Libya.  On another route, it was said that someone unfamiliar with the desert might almost be able to find his way just by following the trail of skeletons of people and camels.

Widespread loss of life began with the initial slave raids. As late as 1886, an Austrian who was an apologist for slavery nevertheless reported "Negro villages are burned, all the men killed, and their women and children are taken on months-long, terrible marches." The march from slave-gathering areas, like the region around Lake Chad, across the Sahara Desert to the Mediterranean Sea took about three months and often only the strongest survived. Other slave routes to Islamic countries were over water, but this meant risking interception by the British Navy, and that in tum often meant that slaves were thrown overboard to drown rather than being allowed to remain on board lo be discovered as incriminating evidence. The trans-Saharan caravan route was the most deadly, however. It has been estimated that, for every slave to reach Cairo alive, ten died on the way. Nor was Cairo exceptional. Missionary explorer David Livingstone, among others, estimated that several slaves were captured for every one that reached the Mediterranean alive.

Women were particularly vulnerable and were more in demand than men. They brought higher prices in the Islamic countries, where they were widely used as domestic servants or as concubines. Ethiopian women sold for higher prices than Negro women, and white women from the Caucasus brought the highest prices of all. A special danger to men and boys was castration, to produce the eunuchs widely used in Islamic countries for work in the harems. Because the operation was forbidden under Islamic law, it was usually performed early-and often crudely-before reaching areas under the effective control of the Ottoman Empire. An estimated ninety percent of the men or boys died from the operation, though some groups of slave traders were sufficiently skilled to have much lower mortality rates. Eunuchs brought far higher prices than other slaves.

Dead and dying slaves were a common sight in the wake of a slave caravan. David Livingstone said that the "common incidents" of the slave trade that he had seen were "so nauseous that I always strive to drive them from memory." For example: "One woman, who was unable to carry both her load and young child, had the child taken from her and saw its brains dashed out on a stone." It was not only the Christian missionary Livingstone who was shocked by the brutality of Arab slave raiders and traders. So was Mohammed Ali, the ruler of Egypt, who was a battle-hardened military commander.

The prime destination of the African slave trade to the Islamic world was Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire, where the largest and busiest slave market flourished. There women were paraded, examined, questioned, and hid on in a public display often witnessed by visiting foreigners, until it was finally closed down in 1847 and the slave trade in Istanbul moved underground.  In other Islamic countries, however, the slave markets remained open and public, both to natives and foreigners. In 1868, a British captain witnessed the scene at a slave market in Zanzibar: "Rows of girls from the age of twelve and upwards are exposed to the examination of throngs of Arab slavedealers and subjected to inexpressible indignities by the brutal dealers." This market functioned until 1873, when two British cruisers appeared off shore, followed by an ultimatum from Britain that the Zanzibar slave trade must cease or the island would face a full naval blockade. This was part of a wider crackdown on the seaborne slave trade in 1873, which caused the trade to become localized, rather than to disappear entirely.

The treatment of slaves in transit by slave traders often differed from the treatment of slaves at their destinations, hut this varied according to both the geographical destinations and the occupational destinations of the slaves. A domestic slave in Istanbul might receive much milder treatment than a plantation slave in East Africa. Although slaves in the Islamic world performed a wide variety of work-pearl divers in the Persian Gulf, seamen in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea,  agricultural laborers in Ethiopia  or Zanziba, domestic service was much more common in the Islamic world than in the Western Hemisphere and plantation labor was much rarer.

Wealthier men in the Ottoman Empire often had harems with hundreds of women and substantial numbers of eunuchs to work there. In the Sultan's palaces, black eunuchs worked in the women's quarters while white eunuchs worked in his court. Both sets of eunuchs included leaders who achieved a certain prosperity and influence, or even wealth and power, but of course they perpetuated neither their race nor their culture. Eunuchs were sometimes trusted with high military or civilian posts, on grounds that they had no incentive to try to establish a rival dynasty, nor were they likely to be corrupted from their duties by the seductions of women.

While the treatment of slaves by their ultimate purchasers, as distinguished from the slave traders who brought them to market, has been considered generally milder in the Islamic world than in the Western Hemisphere plantation societies, the evidence is much sketchier, for there was no organized anti-slavery movement in the Moslem countries, as there was in Britain, the United States and elsewhere in Western civilization, to serve as a source of information on abuses of slaves. There was no market in these countries for literature such as the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, or for the autobiographies of Frederick Douglass and other former slaves. There was in general very little writing about slavery in the Islamic world, where slavery was simply not an issue.

Southern Methodists who supported slavery before the Civil War were called hypocritical by their fellow-Christians in the North, on the grounds that keeping slaves is against Christian principles. But wasn't against Islamic principles, then or now.

Plantation slavery in the Western Hemisphere was not surrounded by walls, and so could be observed by outsiders, many of them critical of the institution of slavery itself and alive to its abuses. What happened behind the walls of Ottoman Empire homes and palaces is much less known. Still less can anyone know today what was in the minds and hearts of those slaves—how they felt about being a degraded people in a foreign land, how a eunuch felt about being deprived of a normal family life, how a concubine felt about being made available (without regard to her own feelings) lo her owners or to whomever her owner might give, lend, or sell her. What is known is that there was an extremely low reproduction rate among the Africans enslaved in the Moslem countries. Black women who had children sired by slave-owners were sometimes freed but the magnitude and effect of this phenomenon were not such as to leave a major black population in the region. The story of the African diaspora today is thus largely the story of the descendants of Africans in the Western Hemisphere.

So if you hear that slavery is "America's original sin", and you will hear that a lot, then you can respond by saying that Americans abolished slavery in 1865, but slavery continues to be Islam's ongoing sin, all over the world, and even, brought by Muslim immigrants, in America.

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