The following is the text of a speech delivered Friday, January 29, 2016 at The Education Policy Conference, St. Louis, MO.
Sociologist Jules Monnerot’s 1949 book, Sociology of Communism, made very explicit connections between Islamic and 20th-century Communist totalitarianism. The title of his first chapter, dubbed Communism as “The Twentieth-Century Islam.” Monnerot elucidates these two primary shared characteristics of Islam and Communism: “conversion”—followed by subversion—from within, and the fusion of “religion” and state. He argued, “Communism takes the field both as a secular religion and as a universal State; it is therefore… comparable to Islam…,” while each also “…work[s] outside the[ir] imperial frontiers to undermine the social structure of neighboring States.”
Indeed, a humorist contemporary of Monnerot had cogently highlighted the striking similarities between Islam and Communism, referring to the Communist creed with this aphorism: “There is no G-d, and Karl Marx is his prophet.”
Sadly, in our present stultifying era, which increasingly demands only a hagiographic view of Islam, even such witty, illuminating aphorisms may become verboten. Witness President Obama’s stern warning during his Tuesday, September 25, 2012, speech to the UN General Assembly, when he proclaimed: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
The late Islamologist Maxime Rodinson warned in 1974 of a broad academic campaign—which has clearly infected policymakers across the politico-ideological spectrum—“to sanctify Islam and the contemporary ideologies of the Muslim world.” A pervasive phenomenon, Rodinson ruefully described the profundity of its deleterious consequences: “Understanding [of Islam] has given way to apologetics pure and simple.”
An ex-Communist himself, Maxime Rodinson (d. 2004), reaffirmed the essential validity of Monnerot’s 1949 comparison between Islam and Communism. During a September 28, 2001, interview with Le Figaro, Rodinson acknowledged that, while still a Communist, he had taken umbrage with Monnerot’s assessment. But having long since renounced the Communist Party, Rodinson (circa September, 2001) conceded that there were “striking similarities” between Communism and Islam, noting that like Communism, traditional Islam promulgated “an ideology that claims to explain everything, drawing on a vision of the world that is fiercely paranoid [and] conspiratorial.”
Well, the only Marxist intellectual of any ilk that I fully appreciate—Groucho—once observed, “Beside a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it is too dark to read.”
Today I will penetrate the fog of Islamic apologetics and cast light on subject matter relegated to silent darkness.
Our host Donna Hearne made a plaintive appeal that I redress the bowdlerization of Islamic slavery in secondary school textbooks, juxtaposed to their unsparing discussions of slavery as practiced by Western Europeans, and Americans. For example I discovered this thoroughly uninformative, mere 28 words dedicated to an alleged characterization of slavery, across space and time, in Islamdom, from the textbook, “World History – Patterns of Interaction,” 2007, Chapter 10, “The Muslim World, 600-1250 A.D.”:
The lowest class was composed of slaves. Many slaves were prisoners of war, and all were non-Muslims. Slaves most frequently performed household work or fought in the military.
Is it any wonder such indoctrination begets disorientation, if not outright disbelief, when nearly 8 centuries after 1250 A.D., these students are confronted by present day ugly manifestations of the uninterrupted historical continuum of Islamic slavery—vividly illustrated by the Islamic State’s practice of jihad sexual slavery in Iraq and Syria, or, in far removed Mauritania, mass, ongoing chattel slavery of blacks by the ruling Arabo-Berber Muslim minority?
A Reuters story about an ISIS “fatwa”, a religious edict, regarding female sex slaves was published online December 29, 2015. The fatwa in question is part of a cache of documents captured during a May, 2015 raid on a leading ISIS official in Syria. These materials are now being made public, rather piecemeal. Dated January 29, 2015, the ruling first presents a straightforward rationale for jihad enslavement, entirely consistent with the classical Islamic jurisprudence of jihad war: “one of the inevitable consequences of the jihad of establishment [of the Caliphate] is that women and children will become captives of Muslims.”
A Muslim “owner” (8 mentions), non-Muslim female “captive” (13 mentions) master-slave relationship is made unabashedly clear in the fatwa. The fatwa’s hollow invocation to “show compassion towards her,” i.e. the female sex slave and serial rape victim, such as refraining from anal intercourse, is itself consistent with a prohibition in Koran 2:223, which otherwise states that women are “tilth” to be “plowed” as men please. Regardless, testimonies of freed Yazidi and Christian ISIS sex slaves reveal the horrific reality of such captivity.
The horrors of jihad sexual slavery inflicted by ISIS have been deservedly well-publicized. But the barely known, staggering scope of continued Islamic chattel slavery in Mauritania merits equal attention. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania only abolished slavery in 1980, although the practice was still not criminalized till 2007. Nevertheless, at present, because slaveholders routinely avoid prosecution, at least 5% of Mauritania’s 3.4 million people are enslaved— a reported 155,600 souls are “real” chattel slaves— according to the Walk Free Foundation’s November, 2014 global slavery index. Other estimates put the total number of Mauritanian chattel slaves at up to 680,000, or some 20% of the population. Intrepid Mauritanian anti-slavery activist Biram Abeid has openly condemned what he terms the majority of his country’s ulama—religious scholars—whose fatwas perpetuate the practice of Islamic slavery. At a protest rally in 2012, Abeid burned texts of Malik b. Anas, 8th century founder of the Maliki school of jurisprudence—the predominant school of Sunni Muslim Islamic law in Mauritania—that upheld slavery and the brutal treatment of slaves. Perhaps Abeid destroyed Malik’s comment which decried a Muslim for breaking his “binding oath that he will beat his young slave and then not beat[ing] him.” Other examples of Maliki doctrine include the writings of the 14th century North African Maliki jurist, and renowned Muslim historian-sociologist, Ibn Khaldun, or the eminent 15th century Maliki legist al-Wansharisi, who compiled legal opinions for both North Africa, and mythically “tolerant” Muslim Spain. Illustrating Islam’s doctrinal hatred of “infidelity,” and conjoined racist attitudes toward black African animist populations, specifically, Ibn Khaldun opined, “the Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because (Negroes) have little that is (essentially) human and possess attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals,” while al-Wansharisi averred slavery was a justified affliction for those who did not abide Islam’s prophet or law, and thus warrant “humiliation.” Abeid’s dramatic 2012 act of protest led to his arrest, amid a storm of demonstrations against him, with even Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, calling for Abeid to be judged per the Sharia, and killed as an apostate. Only after international pressure was Abeid spared execution, and released. However Abeid was arrested again for protesting the continued practice of Islamic slavery in Mauritania during November 2014, and he has remained incarcerated since then.
Mainstream, authoritative contemporary sanction for the persistence of chattel slavery in Mauritania, and ISIS’s jihad sex slavery, has been provided, respectively, by a leading Saudi government cleric, and author of the Kingdom’s Islamic religious education curriculum, and a female professor at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam. Saudi Sheik Al-Fawzan proclaimed in 2003, “Slavery is part of jihad and jihad will remain as long as there is Islam.” Consistent with the call to put Mauritanian anti-slavery activist Abeid to death as an “apostate,” Al-Fawzan added those Muslims who contend Islam is against slavery should be declared apostates, citing Koran 4:89, which states, “But if they turn from Islam, take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them”—a verse whose classical and modern glosses sanction killing those Muslims who forsake Islam. During a September 12, 2014 television appearance discussing “fatwas,” Suad Saleh, a woman Professor of Theology at Al-Azhar, outlined the Islamic law concept of “those whom you own.” She maintained that Muslims who capture women in jihad wars may enslave them as property, and sexual objects, “In order to humiliate them.”
Muhammad, Islam’s beloved prophet, as Muslims are told in the Koran’s 33rd sura (chapter) “is closer to the believers than their selves and his wives are their mothers.” [Koran 33:6]. Moreover, Muhammad was Islam’s proto-type jihadist whose idealized example Muslims are exhorted “to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Koran 33:21]
What was Muhammad’s “perfect” role model, vis-à-vis jihad slavery? Also, what do Islam’s canonical texts, especially the Koran and the hadith (Muhammad’s “guiding” words and deeds as recorded by his pious Muslim companions), opine on these matters?
Muhammad, using the Koranic “revelation” as justification, insisted that he was entitled to not only his own wives, but those captured in battle, per Allah’s allowance in Koran 33:50. The “privilege” of having sexual intercourse with captured slave women is extended to all Muslim men repeatedly in the Koran [verses 4:3; 4:24; 4:25, 23:6, 70:30]: “those captives and slaves whom your right hands possess.”
Muhammad and his minions, for example, attacked and devastated the prosperous Jewish tribe Banu-Mustaliq in a surprise raid [during 626 A.D.; see the hadith Sahih Al-Bukhari 2541]. The Banu al-Mustaliq males were slaughtered and the “booty” taken by the Muslims included the victims’ women, and children, who were enslaved. Juwayriya, the most alluring captive, and daughter of the Banu al-Mustaliq leader, was taken as a “bride” for Muhammad himself. Sanctioned by Islam’s prophet, a mass rape of the captured women ensued, which was characterized in a canonical hadith [Sunan Abu Dawud 2167)], including the detail that Muhammad dismissed the Muslim rapists’ need to practice “coitus interruptus” to avoid impregnating those female slaves who might later be sold.
During Islam’s early conquests, the great historian of Muslim, non-Muslim relations, Shlomo Dov Goitein, observed:
…an abundant supply of captives was available in the wake of the incessant [jihad] wars of conquest, so that free labor could be replaced by the cheaper work of slaves…[T]he ninth century witnessed a tremendous revolt of masses of negro slaves in southern Iraq, which shook the very foundations of the caliphate of Baghdad…[S]omewhat later, the council of a comparatively small…community in Eastern Arabia owned a labor force of tens of thousands of negroes doing agricultural work.
The specific subject of Goitein’s analysis was female slavery, and he also noted this stark contrast regarding how Islam, relative to Judaism and Christianity—seen through the prism of the subjected Jewish and Christian minorities in the Middle East during the Middle Ages—viewed sexual relations with enslaved women:
…there was, of course, a deep cleavage between the Christian and Jewish minorities on the one hand and the Muslim majority on the other. While Christianity and Judaism disapproved of any sexual relations outside wedlock, in Islam a female slave was at the disposal of her master, and he could possess as many of them as he liked and his purse allowed.
From the advent of Islam, through the present era, Muhammad’s sacralized behaviors have engendered jihad chattel and sexual slavery on a massive scale.
Indeed, the enduring scale and scope of Islamic slavery in Africa exceeded the far better known Western trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Americas. Quantitative estimates of 10.5 million have been calculated for the trans-Atlantic slave trade during the 16th through the end of the 19th century. Professor Ralph Austen’s working figure for the composite of the trans-Saharan, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean traffic generated by the Islamic slave trade out of Africa, from 650 through 1905, is 17 million. In addition, the horrific plight of those enslaved animist peoples drawn from the savannah and northern forest belts of western and central Africa for the trans-Saharan trade, equaled the sufferings experienced by the tragic victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
This illuminating comparison, important as it is, ignores other vast domains of jihad slavery: throughout Europe (Mediterranean and Western Europe), as well as Central and Eastern Europe, involving the Arabs, and later the Ottoman Turks and Tatars; Muscovite Russia (subjected to Tatar depredations); Asia Minor (under Seljuk and Ottoman domination); Persia, Armenia, and Georgia (subjected to the systematized jihad slavery campaigns waged by the Shi’ite Safavids, in particular); and the Indian subcontinent (jihad raids and campaigns by the Arabs in the 7th and 8th centuries, and later depredations by the Afghan Ghaznavids, by the Delhi Sultanate rulers, the Timurid [Tamerlane’s] jihad, and under the Mughals).
As a cursory introduction to the extent of jihad slavery beyond the African continent, and Indian subcontinent, in my compendium The Legacy of Jihad, I adduced examples of the Ottoman practices in the Balkans during the 14th through early 18th centuries, and the Tatars in southern Poland and Muscovite Russia, from the mid-15th till the end of the 18th centuries.
The Ottomans employed coercive, often brutal methods to impose the infamous devshirme child levy, enslaving and forcibly converting to Islam an estimated total of as many as 1 million Balkan Christian children, resulting in significant attrition of these native Christian populations, from both expropriation, and flight, to avoid capture. Tatar historian Alan Fisher’s conservative tabulations indicate that at least 3 million persons—men, women, and children—were captured and enslaved during the slave raids conducted by the Muslim Crimean Tatars against the Christian populations of southern Poland and Muscovite Russia from1463 to 1794, the so-called “harvesting of the steppe.” Encapsulated in a Polish proverb, “Oh how much better to lie on one’s bier, than to be a captive on the way to Tatary,” Fisher described the plight of those enslaved, and their “first ordeal”—transportation:
…the first ordeal was the long march to the Crimea. Often in chains and always on foot, many of the captives died en route. Since on many occasions the Tatar raiding party feared reprisals or, in the seventeenth century, attempts by Cossack bands to free the captives, the marches were hurried. Ill or wounded captives were usually killed rather than be allowed to slow the procession. [German Ambassador to Russia] Herberstein [in 1521] wrote… ‘the old and infirm men who will not fetch much as a sale, are given up to the Tatar youths either to be stoned, or thrown into the sea, or to be killed by any sort of death they might please.’ An Ottoman traveler in the mid—sixteenth century who witnessed one such march of captives from Galicia marveled that any would reach their destination—the slave markets of Kaffa [a Crimean port on the Black Sea]. He complained that their treatment was so bad that the mortality rate would unnecessarily drive their price up beyond the reach of potential buyers such as himself.
Moreover, across a continuum of nearly 14 centuries, jihad enslavement included the enormous, iconic harems of purportedly “enlightened” Muslim Spain (especially during the 9th and 10th centuries), through their Ottoman Empire 13th to early 20th century counterparts. These harems, in turn, begot the aptly named hideous trade of Islamic eunuch slavery, which necessitated a barbaric and deadly human gelding procedure that killed at least 90% of the non-Muslim children and adolescents—numbering in the millions—subjected to it.
The 10th century Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi’s account of the main source for the manufacture of white eunuchs in southeastern Muslim Spain—captured Slavic non-Muslims—provides gruesome details of the human gelding procedure itself. A surviving eunuch, whom Al-Muqaddasi interviewed, and referred to as a “learned and truthful man,” apparently experienced the “two-stage” gelding procedure:
According to some of [my informants], the penis and scrotum are cut off at the same time. Others asserted that the scrotum is cut and the testicles removed, after which a stick is inserted under the penis which is then cut off at the base…When the castration is done, a little pencil of lead is placed in the urinary opening; this is removed during urination, and [is replaced] until the wound heals, so that the hole will not close.
Modern historian Jan Hogendorn’s analysis of eunuch slavery notes that Islamdom, uniquely, captured these slaves via predatory raids on non-Muslim populations, alone—and then gelded them—whereas eunuch slaves in China were almost exclusively Chinese procured locally. Extending his assessment into the early 20th century, Hogendorn adds that when sub-Saharan African blacks became the major source of eunuchs, undergoing simultaneous total removal of both testicles and the penis, death rates due to hemorrhage, sepsis, and renal failure, per French physician Richard Millant’s 1908 study, remained 90%.
Finally, sexual slavery and rape also punctuated the Ottoman jihad genocide of the Armenian Christians during World War I, as well as the late 20th century genocidal jihad waged against southern Sudan’s black Christians and animists, and even Darfur’s syncretic animist-Muslims, by the Arab Muslim Khartoum regime, which lasted for some three decades, into the early 21st century.
ISIS’s practice of jihad sex slavery, persistent large scale chattel slavery in Mauritania, and even the mass acts of sexual assault just committed New Year’s Eve by Muslim males in Cologne, Germany, and elsewhere across Western Europe, all fit squarely within a normative doctrinal, and historical Islamic context, patterned after the behaviors of Muhammad, and the nascent Muslim community. Thus defiant Cologne imam Sami Abu-Yusuf insisted “the events of New Year’s Eve were the girls own fault, because they were half naked and wearing perfume.” Ominously, the good imam Yusuf’s words mirror attitudes captured by 2008 polling data from 9000 Western European Muslims, 65% of whom acknowledged, “The rules of the Koran are more important to me than the laws of [my country].”
Those who aspire to our political leadership, in particular, must be compelled to shed their cultural relativist blinders and consider Islam as the conquering, totalitarian political ideology, with religious trappings, it has remained for almost 14 centuries.