The Institution of Islamic Slavery
In the previous chapter it was shown how sexual slavery was an important factor in the growth of the Muslim community of believers. The institution of slavery, in general, was a key element in that growth. All Muslim empires, from the early Arab expansions to the Ottoman conquests were addicted on a massive scale to the institution of slavery. Slavery, of course, was widespread in the ancient world. But nowhere was it as intractable and long-lasting as in the Dar-al-Islam. Slaves were one of three classes of social subordinates specified in Islamic law.
All three adult inferiors, the slave, the woman and the unbeliever, were seen as performing necessary functions, though there were occasional doubts about the third. … Slavery, in the Islamic lands, was more often domestic than economic, and slaves as well as women thus had their place in the family and in home life. … The position of the non-Muslim … was not, as with the slave and the woman, to preserve the sanctity of the Muslim home, but to maintain the supremacy of Islam in the polity and the society which the Muslims had created. Any attempt to challenge or modify the legal subordination of these groups would thus have challenged the free, male Muslim in two sensitive areas – his personal authority in the Muslim home, his communal primacy in the Muslim state. … It is the more noteworthy that none of these movements [revolutionary or reform movements within the context of Islam] ever questioned the three sacrosanct distinctions establishing the subordinate status of the slave, the woman, and the unbeliever.
Although Lewis uses somewhat different language, he recognizes that the oppression of women and the enslavement or other parasitical exploitation of non-Muslims forms the core structure of Muslim society. Such oppression and exploitation became stronger with time since the expansion and very existence of the Islamic conquests depended on them. Moreover, the disdain shown by modern Arabs for physical labor might well be a result of the long continuous Muslim institution of slavery. Patai observes how an aversion “to manual labor, in particular work that involves dirtying one’s hands is another Bedouin attitude that has widely influenced the Arab mind.”
At the time that chattel slavery was dying in Christian domains, it was thriving under Islam. Kinross notes how at a time that the “Byzantine emperors had gone far toward the emancipation of slaves”, Turkish law, i.e. Sharia, provided for the enslavement of infidel captives. The desire to avoid enslavement, “precipitated a certain degree of conversion to Islam” among the conquered Greeks. The Byzantines, as was typical of other Europeans in that age, and in contrast to the Muslims, were in the process of terminating the institution of slavery. Islamic conquest, therefore, constituted a definite reversion of society to a more primitive economic and moral level.
Muslim slaves originated from a variety of sources. Almost all slaves were “recruited from non-Moslem peoples and captured by force, taken prisoner in time of war or purchased in time of peace.” Spencer expands on the various methods of slave procurement:
The jihad slave system included contingents of both sexes delivered annually in conformity with treaties of submission by sovereigns who were tributaries of the caliph. … However the main sources … remained the regular raids on villages within the dar-al-harb … and the military expeditions which swept more deeply into the infidel lands, emptying towns and provinces of their inhabitants.
The slave trade quickly became very important and lucrative. There were slaves from throughout the conquered territories, as well as those captured in raids, sent as tribute or purchased from beyond the borders. Hasan observes how the numbers and sources of slaves varied during the different phases of Muslim history:
During the early period of Muslim expansion the Muslim world was flooded by slaves from different origins … when the wave of conquest was spent the flow of captives was very much reduced. Consequently the majority of the slaves required were obtained by commercial as opposed to military means from outside the Muslim world. Large caravans were busy transporting slaves mainly from central Asia and Africa to the slave markets in the major cities of the Empire.
Slaves were commonly employed in domestic tasks within Muslim households. There were also instances, particularly in Iraq, of large numbers of agricultural slaves. Frye observes, for example, that in Iran, in contrast to neighboring southern Iraq with its Zanj revolt, the slaves “were essentially domestic – including concubines – and were limited almost exclusively to the towns” except for Turks in the army. Other slaves were assigned to the household of the ruler or other high officials as clerks, scribes or soldiers. And, as we have seen, large numbers of female slaves were concubines. One particularly imaginative use of slaves was invented by the caliph al-Amin. This was the ghilman institution, which was the use of youthful eunuchs “for the practice of unnatural sexual relations.” Lewis also notes that, with certain exceptions, most slaves were used for domestic purposes and contends that the “medieval Islamic economy, unlike that of the ancient world, was not primarily based on slave labor.” However, even if slaves were not directly employed in the most important economic activities, their massive importation must have freed substantial labor resources among the free population for those very activities.
The primary source of slaves in the initial stages of a Muslim conquest was the vanquished population itself. Persia in the early years of the Arab expansion is typical of this variety of enslavement.
In the wars between the Iranians and the Arabs … The numbers of these male and female captives … were excessive. … The battle of Jalula and the expeditions into Khuzistan were particularly productive of captive slaves. … The condition of these slaves … was not at all pleasant, although the majority of them by becoming Muslim gained their freedom. It was a qualified freedom, for they became mawali … who as second-class citizens, could be exposed to ill-treatment and the contumely of the Arab Muslims.
In times of peace - more precisely during lulls in the Islamic expansions – the insatiable Muslim demand for slaves was met by the activities of traders. The Sudanese slave trade, subsequent to the first Arab invasions, is an example of how Muslim merchants added slaves to their line of imported commodities. In the al-Muqarra and Alwa regions of the Sudan Arab merchants “took back ivory, ostrich feathers, cattle and slaves. It is probable that the last item constituted the main activity of the Arab merchants who sought to satisfy the great demand for slaves in the Muslim world.” Large numbers of purchased slaves were required to replace those previously obtained as booty during the active period of conquest. In the 9th century the recently pacified Maghreb became the destination and transshipment point for the new trade in Sudanese slaves. “From the Sudan came also slaves in large numbers, who were either kept in Ifriqiya itself or were exported to the Mashriq [Arab East], thus replacing the slaves obtained during the eighth century from the Maghrib itself.”
Purchase of slaves was supplemented by tribute. During the first Arab empire pragmatic caliphs and governors, realizing the uncertainty and expense of annexing additional territory to their overextended domains, were content to leave local rulers on the frontiers in place. Tribute was, of course, required from these autonomus rulers as the price of peace. One of the most famous instances was the treaty entered into between the Arabs and the Christian rulers of Nubia. The treaty with Nubia requiring an annual supply of slaves “was used to justify a mutually convenient arrangement” whereby Nubia served as a channel for the supply of slaves and castration of eunuchs, the latter prohibited within Muslim territory. Hasan points out that owing to this treaty between the Muslims and Nubian kings, “Muslim legal opinion seems to regard the stealing or capturing of Nubians by Muslims as unlawful.” But, in a masterpiece of understatement he then notes: “However Muslim law was not strictly enforced.” Indeed, a “Christian source states that as early as 747-8 Muslims were in the habit of stealing Nubians and selling them in Egypt.”
This stealing of infidels from beyond the frontiers was characteristic of the small, and often, large scale raids undertaken throughout Muslim history, whose primary purpose was feeding the Islamic slave machine. These “razzias” constituted a third means by which slaves were obtained. Nubia and its neighboring province of Beja was just one of many lands raided under the pretext of holy war. The Nubians, in turn to avoid depopulation, would raid neighboring territories for slaves to meet the requirements of their tribute. “Unfortunately Arabic sources do not tell us much about the areas from which these black slaves were obtained. Al-Istakhri states that the black slaves … were not Nubians, Beja, Abyssinians nor Zanj but a darker people who came from beyond Bilad al-Nuba and who lived in a vast stretch of land that extended to the great ocean.” Thus, the mass enslavement of people from tropical Africa was initiated by Muslims and had its origin seven centuries before it began in the European colonies of the new world. Reuben notes this massive importation of black Africans purchased or captured from throughout Central Africa. “Egypt, South Arabia and North Africa were the chief markets for negro slaves from the centre of Africa, and Islamic rulers never legally abolished the trade.” Moreover, as Lewis acknowledges, it was only in recent times that this trade was impeded. “The massive importation of black slaves dates from the advance of the Muslim armies into the African continent.” This trade in slaves was finally abolished by European colonial rulers.
It is a fact little acknowledged by modern historians, that white Europeans were also victims on a large scale of the massive Muslim slave trade. The conquest of Spain, of course, was accompanied by large numbers of enslaved captives. However, this was followed by frequent razzias over the Pyrenees in search of plunder and slaves. Furthermore, for many centuries after the arrival of Arabs in North Africa, the coasts of Western Europe were raided by Muslim mariners. One particularly large-scale raid occurred in the tenth century when the Fatimid ruler of Tunis al-Qa’im (934-946) “sent a fleet which … harried the southern coast of France, took Genoa and coasted along Calabria, carrying off slaves and other booty.” The raids did not cease after the Spanish reconquista. On the contrary, they expanded in geographic scope beyond Italy and the other coastlands of the western Mediterranean. “Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries Christian Europe was ravaged by the Turks and Barbary corsairs, who not only enslaved the crews and passengers of ships sailing to the Mediterranean and Spanish ports, but sacked parts of Ireland and threatened Bristol as well as carrying off hundreds of British captives.” Lewis describes how these increasingly daring mariners even ventured quite far out into the Atlantic:
A smaller but not unimportant supply of West European slaves was provided by the activities of the Barbary corsairs, who by the seventeenth century extended their raids from the Mediterranean shores and shipping to the Atlantic coasts and sea-lanes. In 1627 they raided Iceland, and carried off 242 captives for sale in the slave market of Algiers. On 20 June 1631 Barbary corsairs raided the fishing village of Baltimore, in Ireland. A report sent at the time to London lists the Baltimore people ‘carried away’ by the raiders, with their wives, children and maidservants – 107 persons in all, to which were added forty seven ‘captured from other sources’.
Foreshadowing the poignant tales later told by American abolitionists, a visiting French priest described the sad spectacle of European families being broken up with wives, husbands and children sold separately.
Eastern Europe was an even larger source of slaves for the Muslim world. “In the tenth century the most valuable commodity imported into central Asia from the Volga lands” were slaves. “At Samarra, on the Tigris, the slave bazaar invited the special interests of the geographer Ya’qubi” who observed the facilities provided for the housing and selling of slaves from the region of the Volga. At this time slaves from Eastern Europe were also imported in large numbers to Andalusia and the Maghreb. At a later century in “Eastern Europe, the Ottomans … were able to cut out the middlemen and get their Slavic slaves direct from the source.” During this period “the Tatar rulers of Eastern Europe raided the villages of Russia. Poland, and the Ukraine, and each year carried off thousands of young slaves … who were shipped to Istanbul and sold in the cities of the Ottoman Empire.” This massive and continuing trade in slaves from Eastern Europe was known as “the harvest of the steppes”. The lands of the Caucasus were another fruitful source of slaves for the Muslim world. When the Turkish nomads of the steppes converted to Islam the Arabs found an alternate supply “in the Caucasian lands from which Georgian and Circassian slaves, both male and female” were imported. This trade in Caucasian slaves continued during the later Ottoman and Persian empires. These slave trades from the steppes and the Caucasus only ended in the 18th and early 19th centuries during the Russian conquests.
The termination of the Caucasus trade, however, simply impelled Muslims to look elsewhere to satisfy their slave addiction. Historian of Shi’ite Iran Thomas Ricks observes how the Safavids substituted African slaves for their diminished supply from the Caucasus:
Under Shah Abbas I (1588-1626 C.E.), the Safavid Shi’ite theocracy of Iran expanded its earlier system of slave razzias into the Christian Georgian and Armenian areas of the Caucasus. Georgian, Armenian, and Circassian inhabitants of the Caucasus were enslaved in large numbers, and converted, thereby, to Shi’a Islam. The males were made to serve as (primarily) military or administrative slaves, while the females were forced into harems. A transition apparently took place between the 17th and 18th centuries such that fewer of the slaves came from the Caucasus, while greater numbers came via the Persian Gulf, originating from Africa.
As discussed by Bat Yeor, the Islamic slave system had enormous demographic and social consequences for both conquered and conquerors.
The demographic disparity between the vanquished and the Muslims after the conquest and during the ensuing centuries represented a considerable danger, threatening the permanence of Islamic power. A collection of measures – including deportations and transfers – were employed to reduce the ethnoreligious gap. The planned emigration and settlement of many waves of Arabs and Turks in the conquered territory was accompanied by forced conversions in frontier zones. This was supplemented by abductions of women and children … and enslavement for insolvency.
Many of these subsequent waves of settlement were unplanned secondary incursions of Bedouin tribes in the Middle East and North Africa and Turkish tribes in Anatolia, some time after the initial conquests. The insolvency afflicting the conquered was often brought about by the jizya, confiscations and demands for tribute. The inability of the Dhimmis to pay the jizya resulted in enslavement; children, in particular would be seized as payment for taxes and tribute owed to the Muslim authorities. “Inability to pay taxes, offenses in respect of individuals or troops, razzias by rebels – there was scarcely a place or period when slavery did not claim its harvest of dhimmis: men, women and children.”
Therefore, slavery was an important factor in changing the language, religion and culture of the vast population of the vanquished. As Yeor observes, slavery “constituted the most effective channel of Islamization.” However, there was also considerable feedback from the culture of the slaves on that of the Islamic society:
The slave system which determined the whole social, political, and military structure of the dar al-Islam permanently introduced Christian influence at every level. Placed in harems, in the army, and the government, or kept in the countryside, Islamized Christian slaves of both sexes formed a considerable population. The workforce they provided was essential to maintain Islamic domination, while it fed a constant current of Islamization. Children, adolescents and adults – these human waves endlessly renewed by razzias and wars – kept all the social wheels in motion.
Size and Extent of Muslim Slavery
The scope of slavery in Muslim conquered lands was enormous. The following are just some of the many accounts documented by both Muslim and non-Muslim historians. The full extent and numbers can never be known for certain since throughout the history of Islam there was an almost continuous series of razzias and a flow of slave caravans of various sizes. The modern focus of scholars concerns the Muslim slave trade in sub-Saharan Africa which has continued into very recent times. However, African slavery “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 [Western/Mediterranean], and later the Ottoman Turks and Tatars [Central and Eastern Europe]); 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 (razzias and jihad campaigns by the Arabs in the 7th and 8th centuries, and later depredations by the Ghaznavids, during the Delhi Sultanate, the Timurid jihad, and under the Mughals).”
The first Arab commanders, under the early caliphs and the Umayyads, were determined to make their mark on the history of this baneful institution. “An idea of the number of slaves flooding the Moslem empire as a result of conquest may be gained from” the following “exaggerated figures”. Musa ibn-Nusayr took 300,000 captives from the Maghreb. Qutaybah brought back some 100,000 captives from the central Asian province of Sogdiana. Boastful Arab chroniclers may be prone to hyperbole; the modern historian Abun-Nasr estimates the number of slaves taken during ibn-Nusayr’s invasion to be somewhat lower. “The caliph’s share of the Berber slaves captured during Ibn Nusayr’s amirate, according to the rule that he was entitled to one-fifth of the booty won by the Muslim army, is said to have amounted to 20,000.” Such numbers, whether 100,000 or 300,000 from just one campaign, exceeded the grasp of even the most ambitious Roman general. The extent of Muslim slavery dwarfed that in contemporary Christian lands and, undoubtedly, that in the Far East as well.
Other accounts of the mass enslavement practiced by the early Arab warriors are given by eyewitnesses and documented by historians:
An eyewitness of the Muslim conquest of Armenia in 642 tells what happened when they took the town of Dvin: “The enemy’s army rushed in and butchered the inhabitants of the town by the sword. . . . After a few days’ rest, the Ismaelites [Arabs] went back whence they had come, dragging after them a host of captives, numbering thirty-five thousand.”
On the island of Cos a few years later, the Muslim general Abu l-A’war, according to another contemporary account, “laid waste and pillaged all its riches, slaughtered the population and led the remnant into captivity, and destroyed its citadel.”
According to the Syrian Orthodox patriarch, Michael the Syrian (1126–1199), Muslims conquered Cilicia and Caesarea of Cappadocia in the year 650 in this way: “They [the Taiyaye, or Muslim Arabs] moved into Cilicia and took prisoners . . . and when Mu’awiya arrived he ordered all the inhabitants to be put to the sword; he placed guards so that no one escaped. After gathering up all the wealth of the town, they set to torturing the leaders to make them show them things [treasures] that had been hidden. The Taiyaye led everyone into slavery — men and women, boys and girls — and they committed much debauchery in that unfortunate town; they wickedly committed immoralities inside churches.”
Following the Moorish conquest of Spain, enormous numbers of Spaniards were sent east as slaves. The conqueror of Spain, Musa made his way back to Syria “followed by an endless retinue of slaves and prisoners of war loaded with enormous treasures of booty.”
The impressive numbers of captives taken in warfare and boasted about by Arab chroniclers were just part, and possibly a small part, of the numbers of slaves flooding into the early Arab empire. There were additional numbers of slaves, less spectacularly delivered as tribute and by purchase which took place on a continuing basis. One example is given in the case of the Sudan where in 652 Amr b. al-As concluded a treaty with the Nubians requiring them annually to “deliver 400 slaves: 360 to the treasury and 40 to the governor of Egypt.”
Despite the fact that the Arab expansion essentially ended with the accession of the Abbasid caliphs, there was no end to mass enslavement; only the means of acquiring slaves, and the regions from which slaves came changed:
…the prime economic factor here was … the traffic from the Central Asian steppes in Turkish slaves for which demand … rose sharply in the course of the 9th century. … on his accession in 847 al-Mutawakkil received a gift of 200 slaves of both sexes from the Tahirids … amongst the tribute sent by the Shah of Kabul during Abd-Allah b. Tahir’s governorship were 2,000 Oghuz slaves…
Moreover, under the Abbasids, the numbers of slaves did not appear to drop. “An idea of the prevalence of slavery may be obtained from the high figures used in enumerating those in the caliphal household. The palace of al-Muqtadir (908-32), we are told, housed 11,000 Greek and Sudanese eunuchs.”
The twilight of the Abbasids and the rise of local Arab dynasties saw no weakening of Muslim slavery. In Amorium in Asia Minor in 838, according to the Christian chronicler Michael the Syrian, “there were so many women’s convents and monasteries that over a thousand virgins were led into captivity, not counting those that had been slaughtered.” These unfortunates were fated to satisfy the lust of Muslim slave soldiers. In 904 the Arabs under the renegade Leo of Tripoli “sacked Thessalonica and carried off into slavery 22,000 of its inhabitants.” In 977, the governor of Dahlak delivered to the ruler of Yemen “a tribute of one thousand slaves, half of which were Nubian and the other half Abyssinian girls.” Thus, even the prince of Yemen, a relatively minor Muslim ruler, was able to command a large slave tribute. Another example of massive enslavement occurred in the era of the crusades. When Crusader held Antioch “fell to the Muslims, 16,000 Christians were put to the sword, and 100,000 are recorded to have been sold as slaves.”
In the vaunted enlightened land of Andalusia, the degrading institution was as strong as in any other Muslim society. At the height of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain under Abd-al-Rahman III (912-61) the royal palace had “four hundred rooms and apartments housing thousands of slaves and guards.” Muslim chroniclers of the time make no secret of the Andalusian slave trade. The Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233), in his world history includes the following account which was representative of eighth and ninth century Muslim razzias into France for plunder and to replenish the Moorish slave markets:
In 177 [17 April 793], Hisham, [Muslim] prince of Spain, sent a large army commanded by Abd al-Malik b. Abd al-Wahid b. Mugith into enemy territory, and which made forays as far as Narbonne and Jaranda [Gerona]. . . . For several months he traversed this land in every direction, raping women, killing warriors, destroying fortresses, burning and pillaging everything, driving back the enemy who fled in disorder. He returned safe and sound, dragging behind him God knows how much booty.
The Turks, themselves at one time subject to razzias and mass enslavement, when their turn came proved to be apt pupils of their erstwhile Arab masters. In his long and depressing account of the Turkish conquest in the 11th and 12th centuries Vryonis frequently notes the deportation of entire populations of towns. In the region of Edessa and Melitene in 1120 “Artukhid Ilghazi burned the villages, enslaving and massacring the populations, from Tell Bashir northward to Kaisum. Shortly after 1134 Afshin pillaged the regions of Kaisum only to be followed by Mas’ud who in his first raid pillaged and took captives in the neighborhood. … Finally in 1179 Kilidj Arslan destroyed its walls and carried off the inhabitants into captivity.”
The ultimate demographic effects of mass enslavement by Muslim Turkish nomads was as severe as anything that had previously taken place in the lands conquered by the early Arab nomads. “A further contributing factor to the decline in the numbers of the Christian inhabitants was enslavement. Throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages slaves constituted one of the most important items of wealth in the East. This was particularly true of Islamic society. Since the beginning of the Arab razzias into the land of Rum, human booty had come to constitute a very important portion of the spoils.” When the Turks assumed the Anatolian jihad they “enslaved men, women and children from all major urban centers and from the countryside where the populations were defenseless. In the earlier years … the captives were sent to Persia and elsewhere, but after the establishment of the Anatolian Turkish principalities, a portion of the enslaved were retained in Anatolia for the service of the conquerors. They were employed … as domestic servants, as intimates of harems, [see Chapter 7: Culture of the Harem] and of course many of the youths were set aside for special training for the ghulam [military slave] bodies.”
Some of the numbers reported for the twelfth century give a further idea of slavery’s magnitude. As noted by Vryonis 16,000 slaves were taken at the fall of Edessa. Another 16,000 enslaved by Nur-al-Din in Cilicia were sold at Aleppo. In 1176 a large Turkmen raid in western Anatolia enslaved Greeks by the thousands. In 1185 26,000 inhabitants of Cappadocia, Armenia and Mesopotamia were sent to the slave markets. A hundred years later in 1282 when the city of Tralles was captured and destroyed for a second time, of “its inhabitants who had survived, some 20,000, were taken off into slavery.”
The Ottomans continued the Muslim Turkish tradition of mass enslavement. The decimation of the Christian population of Constantinople was merely the most spectacular act of mass enslavement. The enslavement of whole Christian populations was a routine occurrence in the chronic jihads waged by the Ottomans. Under the 14th century Sultan Orhan’s incursion into Thrace “large numbers of slaves were marched back to Ottoman territory.” Mehmed the Conqueror, a whimsical despot typical of the early Renaissance, easily moved back and forth from benevolence to treachery and cruelty. When Trebizond fell, despite its peaceful surrender, “the people of the city were less generously treated” than were those in other surrendering cities. The entire population, males and females alike, were enslaved and divided between Mehmed and his nobles. The Ottomans, like their Arab predecessors ranged far and wide in search of slaves. One spectacular raid took place in 1535 when the Ottoman admiral Barbarossa captured and enslaved thousands of Christians during the sack of the Minorcan port of Mago.
Barbarossa’s successors, the corsairs of the Barbary coast, not only raided the Christian lands of the Mediterranean in search of slaves, but ventured out into the North Atlantic, as far as Britain and even Iceland. The cumulative numbers of slaves taken was immense.
From the early seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, thousands of British men women and children were kidnapped by Arab corsairs and sold into slavery in Morocco where they were kept in conditions of unspeakable barbarism. The astounding thing is that these British victims were not merely seized at sea where they ran the gauntlet of such pirates in places such as the Straits of Gibraltar. They were actually abducted from Britain itself.
Corsairs from a place in Morocco called Sale -- who became known in Britain as the ‘Sally Rovers’ -- sailed up the Cornish coast in July 1625, for example, came ashore dressed in djellabas and wielding damascene scimitars, burst into the parish church at Mount’s Bay and dragged out 60 men women and children whom they shipped off to Morocco. Thousands more Britons were seized from their villages or their ships and dispatched to the hell-holes of the Moroccan slave pens … this assault upon the British people (and upon Europeans and Americans who were similarly seized) was a jihad.
In Iran and Central Asia, the later Persian dynasties also zealously pursued the Islamic religious impulse of jihad and mass slavery. Frye observes how the Turks were one of the prime targets of slavers from Persia:
One of the reasons for the efforts of the early Samanids to expand their boundaries to the north and east was much more to obtain slaves than to spread Islam. The missionaries who followed the Samanid armies … did convert many pagans in the course of time. … On these expeditions the ghazis or warriors for the faith were an important factor in Samanid successes. … Turkish slaves were highly valued for their martial qualities and the Samanid amirs maintained schools for slaves who prepared for military or for administrative service. It is probable that the amirs used Turkish slaves … because they were more reliable … and were well trained for their positions from childhood. … One Arab geographer says that in the year 985 … the Samanids had made so many prisoners … so the prices dropped because of the glut on the market.
Indeed, as we seen, these same Turks were so well schooled in the Islamic slave ideology that they found it perfectly natural to adopt the exact same system of military and administrative slavery, a few centuries hence, when they became the ghazis overrunning Anatolia and the Balkans.
Under the later Safavid dynasty, the large numbers of female slaves and white and black eunuchs at the royal court indicates the large scale of slavery still practiced in 18th century Iran. “According to a contemporary historian, Shah Sultan Husayn (d. 1722) made it a practice to arrive at Isfahan’s markets on the first days of the Iranian New Year (March 21) with his entire court in attendance. It was estimated by the contemporary recorder that 5,000 male and female black and white slaves including the 100 black eunuchs comprised the royal party.”
Later Muslim invaders carried on the slave trade in Indian “idolaters” pioneered by the Arabs in Sind. From his campaign of 1018 “Mahmud [of Ghazni] returned with booty valued at twenty million dirhams, fifty-three thousand slaves and 350 elephants.” He “sometimes … spared the population of the ravaged cities, and took them home to be sold as slaves; but so great was the number of such captives that after some years no one could be found to offer more than a few shillings for a slave.” Some centuries later when Timur sacked Delhi the Muslim quarters “were spared; everywhere else was sacked, and the entire Hindu population was either massacred or enslaved.” Timur’s sack of Muslim ruled Delhi was just one more example of the disaster befalling an infidel population when in times of war or disorder the established Muslim authorities were incapable of carrying out their obligations under the dhimmi contract. The intensity of enslavement in densely populated India was quite possibly greater than in any other Islamic ravaged land. Durant notes the typical case of the Sultan Aibak “a normal specimen of his kind – fanatical, ferocious and merciless.” In just one of this ruler’s victories “fifty thousand men came under the collar of slavery, and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus.”
Even into the 19th century, when the slave trade, though not slavery itself, was abolished in the U.S. and in British colonies, vast numbers of slaves could still be captured in jihad. “After the Serb revolt had been crushed in 1813, one thousand eight hundred women and children were sold in a single day in Belgrade. The repeated revolts by the Greeks replenished the slave markets.”
Africa may not have matched India in the intensity of Muslim slavery, but owing to the much longer time period over which the slave trade was active there, the numbers victimized exceed that of any other Muslim ravaged land. In addition, as Bostom points out, Muslim slavery in Africa was larger than the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade:
The scale and scope of Islamic slavery in Africa are comparable to the Western trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Americas, and as Willis has observed (somewhat wryly), the former “…out-distances the more popular subject in its length of duration.” Quantitative estimates for the trans-Atlantic slave trade (16th through the end of the 19th century) of 10,500,000 (or somewhat higher), are at least matched (if not exceeded by 50%) by a contemporary estimate for the Islamic slave trade out of Africa. Professor Ralph Austen’s working figure for this composite of the trans-Saharan, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean traffic generated by the Islamic slave trade from 650 through 1905 C.E., is 17,000,000. Moreover, the plight of those enslaved animist peoples drawn from the savannah and northern forest belts of western and central Africa for the trans-Saharan trade was comparable to the sufferings experienced by the unfortunate victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Lower in duration, but equal in intensity to the African slave trade was the “harvesting of the steppes.”
Fisher [Alan Fisher “Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade”, Canadian American Slavic Studies, 1972, Vol. 6] has analyzed the slave razzias conducted by the Muslim Crimean Tatars against the Christian populations of southern Poland and Muscovite Russia during the mid-15th through late 17th century (1463-1694). Relying upon admittedly incomplete sources (“…no doubt there are many more slave raids that the author has not uncovered”), his conservative tabulations indicate that at least 3 million (3,000,000) persons - men, women, and children - were captured and enslaved during this so-called “harvesting of the steppe”.
The Slave Mentality
Accompanying the physical institution of slavery are the psychological attitudes enshrined in Islamic teaching and internalized by devout Muslims. The noted authority on Islamic law, Ignaz Goldziher expresses this as follows:
Islam means submission, the believer’s submission to Allah. The word expresses, first and foremost, a feeling of dependency on an unbounded omnipotence to which man must submit and resign his will. It expresses, better than any other, Muhammad’s idea of the relation between the believer and the object of his worship. Submission is the dominant principle inherent in all manifestations of Islam: in its ideas, forms, ethics, and worship. Submission is the distinguishing feature that determines the specific character of the education of man that Islam intends to accomplish.
Similarly, Trifkovic observes that:
The entire world is by definition obedient to Allah and his laws. The whole creation must be in a state of Islam – submission to Allah – to be itself. … ‘Freedom’ is incompatible with this relationship; in Islam any notion of freedom distinct from that implicit in the complete submission to the will of Allah is not an ideal, but a perilous trap.
Thus it is that Islamic political theory regards the populace as being the slaves of the ruler and the ruler as the slave of God. “The duty of obedience to legitimate authority is not merely one of political expediency. It is a religious obligation, defined and imposed by Holy Law and grounded in revelation.” The ruler “is bound no less than is the humblest of his slaves.” Muslims regarded slavery as a normal condition of all people. “The sultans had none of Aristotle’s belief that some men are born slaves … They were themselves sons of ‘slaves,’ for their harems were likewise made up chiefly of daughters of Christians.” Their denial that some men are born slaves was due to a belief that all men are born slaves – to Allah or to his representative, the sultan or caliph; the latter was himself the slave of Allah. The Muslim conception of freedom may be summarized as follows:
Hurriyya “freedom” is – as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) the lionized “Greatest Sufi Master”, expressed it - “being perfect slavery.” And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis’ perhaps metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the “master” and his human “slaves.” The late American scholar of Islam, Franz Rosenthal (d. 2003) analyzed the larger context of hurriyya in Muslim society. He notes the historical absence of hurriyya as “…a fundamental political concept that could have served as a rallying cry for great causes”. An individual Muslim “…was expected to consider subordination of his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the only proper course of behavior…” Thus politically, Rosenthal concludes, “…the individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed…In general, …governmental authority admitted of no participation of the individual as such, who therefore did not possess any real freedom vis-à-vis it.”
Lewis notes the effect of this pervasive institution on the very speech of Muslims. “The Islamic languages developed a rich vocabulary of terms for ‘slave,’ denoting the whole range of the vast slave population, from the humble toilers in fields, mines, and kitchens to the sultan’s slaves who commanded armies, governed provinces, and controlled the central administrations.” Furthermore, he notes that neither of the words “free’ or ‘slave’ was used in a political context, and the familiar Western use of the terms ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery’ as metaphors for citizen’s rights and oppressive rule is unknown to the language of classical Islamic discourse.”
Even the highest officials of an Islamic state could be literal, and not simply metaphorical, slaves. Among the Ottomans the personnel of the Sultan’s court “were former Christians, as indeed were all the civil and most of the military officials of the Ottoman state, from the Grand Vezir and his fellow vezirs down to provincial governors, fief holders, tax collectors, and executives of different grades. For all were members of the Sultan’s ‘Slave Household,’ of which the Seraglio provided the prototype – personal slaves of their master, who remained so throughout life, regardless of any level of preferment and power to which they might attain.”
Not all Ottoman officials, however, submitted to the expected obsequious and slavish behavior, often meeting a violent end as a result. Ibrahim’s (ca 1640) Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa “warned … by the Mufti to take care what he said” to the Sultan replied “Surely it is a service to him that I should tell him the truth? Must I flatter him? I would rather die free then live as a slave.” Sure enough Kara Mustafa was soon afterward put to death and was succeeded by Sultanzade Pasha “a flatterer so obsequious as to prompt his master’s question: ‘How is it that you always approve of my actions, good or evil?’ To this he received and accepted the reassuring reply: ‘Thou art Caliph. Thou art God’s shadow upon earth. Every idea which your spirit entertains is a revelation from heaven. Your orders, even when they appear unreasonable, have an innate reasonableness which your slave always reveres though he may not always understand it.” Clearly Sultanzade was much more in tune with, and understanding of, the essence of Islam than was his unfortunate predecessor.
One particularly interesting, albeit bizarre, expression of the slave mentality, which exemplifies how it afflicted even the top levels of Muslim society, was the Ottoman institution of the Cage. Once the custom of royal fratricide was allowed to fall into disuse, male relatives of the sultan were confined to a cell in the Seraglio, from which new Sultans were drawn as needed. These, of course, often suffered from acute physical or mental disabilities. “Sultan Mahmud died in 1754, to be succeeded by his brother, Osman III, a victim of the Cage so deformed as to be almost a hunchback.” Nor was this Ottoman institution of enforced seclusion of royal males unique. The Spanish caliph Hisham II was elevated to the throne after having spent thirty years in seclusion. The pitiful Hisham was rendered so totally incapable of rule as a result, that he was forced to abdicate.
One peculiar Islamic custom that typifies the pervasiveness of the slave mentality was the institution of military slavery. Lewis notes that “the military history of the Muslim states shows something new and distinctive – the slave soldier constituting the slave army, commanded by slave generals” and, eventually, leading to the rise of slave kings and dynasties. Previous societies made limited use of military or quasi military slaves as was the case with the famous Scythian archers employed as policemen in ancient Athens. But no non-Islamic polity had such a widespread employment of massive numbers of slave soldiers. Military slavery came into prominence under the Abbasid caliphates, when large numbers of slaves from Central Asia were acquired specifically for military use. The process of 10th century military slavery in Central Asia was also present in the far western provinces of the Islamic world. Such slavery, “also characteristic of other parts of the Islamic world and of other periods, and drawing in other ethnic groups, may seem contradictory or paradoxical to us; in Islam, however, it played an at times crucial role, even to the point where these slave soldiers seized power and formed their own ruling dynasties. During the period under consideration, Turks and Slavs – the latter mainly western Slavs acquired by the Umayyads of Spain and Fatimids of Tunisia – were the two main sources of military slaves.”
In fact, instances of whole regiments and even armies made up of slaves occur in all regions of the Islamic world. One example is that of the Abbasid al-Mutasim (833-842) who created “a new division made up of Turks, originally his slaves, from Farghanah and other regions of Central Asia.” Shortly thereafter in Egypt when Ibn-Tulun seized control in 868 he “depended upon an army of a hundred thousand whose core consisted of a bodyguard of Turkish and negro slaves.” In tenth century Spain the caliph Abd-al-Rahman III surrounded himself with over 3000 slaves and prisoners referred to as “Slavs” but including all purchased foreigners “who as a rule were secured young and Arabicized. With the aid of these … the caliph … reduced the influence of the old Arab aristocracy.” Slavic and Black slave soldiers were also commonly used in the Maghreb at an early date. Ibrahim b. al-Aghlab, about the year 797 in Ifriqiya, “surrounded himself with … a bodyguard of black slaves. His successors took into their service also European slave troops called Saqaliba who had been bought from the merchants of Naples and Venice.”
The following centuries saw still further increases in the employment of slave soldiery by Maghrebi rulers. “With the collapse of the Almohads … North African states, increasingly, moved toward the Saljuq (and Egyptian Ayyubid-Mamluk)” model of a military heavily dependent on slave troops and mercenaries. As late as the 18th century, for example, the Moroccan ruler Mawlay Ismail built an enormous army of black slaves. The black slaves recruited into his army “were provided with Negro women and encouraged to have children so that at the end of his long reign, Mawlay Ismail had a black army estimated at 150,000 men.”
Indeed, other local Arab dynasties were not to be outdone by the Abbasids in employing massive slave armies. “The majority of Sudan slaves were … recruited for military use, especially in Egypt.” The Tulunid and Ikhshidad rulers of Egypt “in their bid for independence … the need for a strong trusted personal bodyguard was keenly felt: Ahmad b. Tulun recruited 7,000 freeborn fighters … 24,000 Turkish slaves and 40,000 Sudan.”
Certain pragmatic Muslim rulers, realized that conquest and conversion would diminish the supply of infidel slaves on which their society and military was strongly dependent. Thus, they preferred the procurement of slaves from beyond their borders through trade, tribute and raids, rather than through direct rule. “Nubia and the lands beyond were a large market, from which large numbers of slaves were procured” by the Tulunids, the Ikshidids and the Fatimids.
The descendants of the very people who provided the Abbasids, and local Arab dynasties with large numbers of slave soldiers, were to make good use of this institution at a later date. “The use of gulams-devshirmes by the Seljuks and Ottomans resulted from the fact that they inherited the traditional Islamic forms of government and further, from the fact that Christian youths were plentifully available to them in Anatolia, whether from their own domains or from the neighboring lands of the Greeks and Armenians.” The large and conveniently at hand Christian population of Anatolia continued as a source of military slaves until the time that Christian numbers became insignificant. “By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Ottoman devshirme seems to have been levied rather extensively in Anatolia. … The system of slave administration and slave soldiery apparently experienced an unbroken continuity in Anatolia from the first appearance of the Turks well into the Ottoman period.” The Ottoman slave military institution, however, did change with the passage of time. “In 1568 Selim II … agreed to allow the janissaries to enter their sons on the army payrolls as cadets. By 1592 these ‘sons of slaves’ made up the majority of the corps.
Generals, governors and even rulers were eventually drawn from the ranks of the slave soldiery. An Abyssinian eunuch slave abu-al-Misl Kafur, for example, even succeeded in becoming de facto and then sole ruler of Egypt (946-968). At a very early date in the Muslim conquests, upwardly mobile slave soldiers were making their mark. Tariq ibn Ziyad the Berber general who invaded Spain was the freed slave of the governor of North Africa, Musa ibn Nusayr. Another military slave superstar was Jawhar al-Siqilli, originally a Greek slave from Sicily, who in 969 wrested Egypt from its Ikshidad rulers on behalf of the Fatimids. “Jawhar thus became the second founder … of the Fatimid empire.” The Fatimid state was dependent for its survival on yet another one-time Christian slave. “In 1073 the vacillating [Fatimid] caliph summoned the Armenian Badr al-Jamali, a former slave, from his military governorship … to act as vizir.” Al-Jamali took command with such vigor that he temporarily revived the declining Fatimid dynasty.
The Ottoman sultans utilized a long line of administrators and governors chosen from the ranks of the military devshirme. Thus, enslaved Christians effectively governed large areas of the Ottoman Empire and “played an active part in the continuing campaign … in the Balkans and in the subsequent pacification” of newly conquered territory. Muslim rulers in India were also quick to discover and utilize talented slave soldiers. Among the Khalji sultan Ala-ud-din’s booty “was a Hindu captive who would add particular lustre to the Khalji sultanate. A eunuch and a slave, he quickly espoused Islam … Ala-ud-din trusted him implicitly and appointed him a … senior commander.” This captive, Kafur, carried out a series of extremely profitable raids through the south of India. Another talented slave general was the African Malik Ambar
…who had been sold in Baghdad as a slave, brought to the Deccan, and after speedy advancement as a result of numerous military exploits, now undertook the restoration of the Ahmadnagar sultanate … Throughout Jahangir’s reign … Ambar harassed and occasionally routed most of the many Mughal expeditions launched against him.
So pervasive was the notion of slavery in the Muslim world, that it was considered perfectly acceptable for even rulers to be of slave origin. As we have seen, many of the Abbasid caliphs and Ottoman sultans were the offspring of slave mothers. Moreover, some lesser Muslim polities were actually ruled by the sons of slave soldiers. One local ruler was Zangi, the son of a Turkish slave and founder of the Zangid dynasty (1127-1262) which ruled the cities of Aleppo, Harran and al-Mawsil. Indeed, in some Islamic lands the institution of the ruler of slave origin was pursued to its logical conclusion - that of an actual slave dynasty. The peculiarity of this institution to Muslim polities is noted by Hitti who writes regarding the famous Mamluk dynasty of Egypt:
In other than Moslem annals the rise and prosperity of such a dynasty as the Mamluk is hardly conceivable. … The Mamluks were … a dynasty of slaves, slaves of varied races and nationalities forming a military oligarchy in an alien land.
India was another Muslim ruled land which, like Egypt, carried the slave mentality to the same logical conclusion with whole dynasties of slave sultans. “In 963 Alptigin an ambitious … Samanid general, crossed the Hindu Kush and seized Ghazni. Himself once a Turkic slave, Alptigin was succeeded in 977” by Sabuktigin another Samanid slave. The latter “was able to acquire a large tract of territory and found the dynasty of the Ghaznawids … Aybak, the favourite slave of the chieftain Muhammad Ghuri … was the first of the Slave Kings of Delhi, and the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt were of similar origin. Whole series of dynasties were founded … during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries by the Turkish Atabegs.” These Atabegs were originally slave bodyguards of the Seljuk sultans.
Thus, the formidable slave general, Aybak, founded the famous ‘Slave Dynasty’ of Delhi”. Like the nearly contemporary Egyptian Mamluks, these ‘Slave Kings’ were hardly servile. They may even have found their slave origin to be advantageous:
In a court awash with intrigue … India’s Turkish conquistadors regarded a slave’s loyalty as …dependable … Purchased, rapidly promoted, eventually freed and still highly trusted, the erstwhile slave of a royal patron was ideally placed to act as either power-broker or pretender. Aybak would be succeeded … by…Iltumish, another ex-slave of Turkic extraction. That no stigma attached to either of them is clear from Aybak’s recognition as sultan by his titular superior in Ghazni, and from Iltumish’s … recognition by the caliph himself.
The Delhi slave sultans were followed by another dynasty of slave origin. In 1320 in the Delhi sultanate “Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq, the son of one of Balban’s slaves, emerged as the founder of a new dynasty.” The Sharqi kingdom of Jaunpur was another dynasty founded by a slave. The sultan Feroz (d. 1388) conferred the provinces of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on Malik Sowar “a eunuch-slave … who proving exceptionally able, was given the title of Sultan-ush Sharq” and was the first ruler of the Jaunpur sultanate.
Slavery, Racism and Islam
It is a popular belief that Islamic societies are free of the racism that has prevailed in the West. The practice of slavery clearly demonstrates that the idea of the absence of racism under Islam is just one among many myths. Even free black Muslims were subject to prejudice and discrimination. According to sociologist Levy:
Faith, if not logic, therefore demanded that the negroes should be permitted to regard themselves as the peers of other Muhammadans. But those Arabs who had been brought up in the older tradition, which was reluctant to concede equality even to free men of their own kind and colour, were still more reluctant to recognize the parity of a people foreign in origin and, in their eyes, of definitely inferior status.
The case of the deposition of the female Sultan of Delhi, Raziya illustrates the difficulty many Muslim societies have with black Africans as well as with assertive females. One additional cause of her overthrow “may have been the appointment as ‘personal attendant to her majesty’ of Jamal-ud-din Yakut, an ‘Abyssinian’ who was probably once a slave and very definitely an African.”
One illustration of the racism infecting even the everyday social relations within Muslim societies is provided by the case of Ibn Musajjih, a renowned Black poet and musician in the time of the Umayyads. Brought to the house of a singing girl in Damascus as the guest of some youths he was met by the following uproar:
When the singing-girl and her friends appeared, he recited a complimentary verse, whereupon she flew into a rage at what she regarded as his presumption. “Shall a negro like this be permitted to utter parables about me?” she cried, causing the company to look at him disapprovingly. Their anger, however, did not restrain him from applauding as before when a second girl appeared and sang. This time it was the owner of the girl who was enraged at his presumption. He cried out: “Shall a negro like this embolden himself toward my slave-girl?” For the sake of peace the youth who had first offered hospitality to the negro poet suggested that he should go home to his lodging, but the rest of the company regarded this as unnecessarily discourteous, and the poet was finally permitted to stay, being warned to better his manners.
While Muslims engaged in mass enslavement regardless of race, Africa was regarded as a particularly legitimate area for the procurement of slaves. This is well illustrated both by the sheer numbers caught up in the web of the African slave trade and by the particularly brutal treatment meted out to black slaves.
Over ten million Africans were taken to the Americas during that period, while the number of captives taken to the heartlands of Islam - while impossible to establish with precision - is many times greater. Nevertheless, there are tens of millions of descendants of slaves in the Americas, and practically none in the Moslem world outside Africa. For all its horrors, the Atlantic slave trade took place within a capitalistic context in which slaves were expensive pieces of property not to be destroyed. In the Moslem world slaves were considerably cheaper, far more widely available, and regarded as a dispensable commodity.
Indeed, not only was the treatment of African slaves more brutal in Islamic lands than in the American colonies, but it was Muslim slave traders that supplied a lot of the demand of the colonial Atlantic trade. Nigerian scholars have documented this Muslim sale of African slaves to Europeans:
Many slaves were exported through the Atlantic market. No doubt the profits and value of this trade in the late 18th century were well known in commercial circles of the north, since northern Muslim traders constantly frequented the routes to the coast. The same traders could report the advantage of securing control of these trade routes and integrating them into the Sokoto caliphate once this was established.
There are a number of reasons for the relatively few descendants left by African slaves in the larger Muslim world as noted by Trifkovic. Geneticist C. D. Darlington summarizes these factors:
On the other side we see millions of Negro slaves have been carried off from tropical Africa to Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Persia and the Maghrib. But they have left very little trace among living people. … Certainly Negro slaves have been bred on a small scale and the effects of hybridization may be seen in the villages of Arabia and North Africa. But in general it is clear that the Negro slave has been sterilized. Castration in meeting the demand for black eunuchs has been one factor. Infanticide, abortion, perversion … are other factors.
Castration was carried out on a massive scale with devastating results:
…when the castration was carried out in sub-Saharan West and West-Central Africa…a figure of 90% [mortality is] often mentioned. Even higher death rates were occasionally reported, unsurprising in tropical areas where the danger of infection of wounds was especially high. At least one contemporary price quotation supports a figure of over 90% mortality: Turkish merchants are said to have been willing to pay 250 to 300 (Maria Theresa) dollars each for eunuchs in Borno (northeast Nigeria) at a time when the local price of young male slaves does not seem to have exceeded about 20 dollars…Many sources indicate very high death rates from the operation in eastern Africa.. Richard Millant’s  general figure for the Sudan and Ethiopia is 90%
Ironically, as Sudanese historian Hasan observes, young black male slaves may have been victimized twice owing to Muslim law. Sharia permits and encourages mass slavery; however it also forbids castration. Nubian males were the slaves most favored “as custodians of wealth and families. The eunuchs among them were particularly suited for this last type of work. The operation of castration was apparently carried out outside the boundaries of the Muslim world as it is condemned by Muslim law.” Thus, Muslim law required that the operation of castration be carried out in particularly dangerous locations and circumstances; the prohibition against castration proved to be no favor to the ultimate victims.
The slave system illustrates the racism afflicting Muslims in yet another way. The value of slaves in the Muslim world was a function of ethnicity. For instance “Spanish slaves fetched about a thousand dinars each, while Turkish slaves fetched only six hundred apiece.” Distinctions made between slaves show that Muslim racism extended far beyond that of color. While Blacks may have been at the bottom, Muslim slave masters seemed to have a preference for Europeans in general. As we have seen, the Turkish invaders of the Byzantine lands showed a peculiar preference for the very Greeks that they dispossessed.
Muslim racism is also revealed in the history of rebellion by Black slaves or former slaves. “One of the most spectacular and sanguinary episodes … was the rebellion of the Zanj slaves. These were negroes imported from East Africa and employed in the saltpetre mines on the lower Euphrates.” Karsh notes how this uprising exposes the racist attitudes held by the contemporary Arab population and future Arab historians. “Religious resentment of the heretic Zanj, together with deep contempt among the indigenous population toward black Africans (nearly five hundred years later … Ibn Khaldun would describe them as ‘close in their character to dumb animals’) left the rebels isolated.”
Other Arab versions of a contemporary race riot, large enough to be recorded by chroniclers, took place in Egypt. “The increasing power and misbehavior of the black soldiers in … the reign of al-Hakim (997-1021) angered the Turkish and Berber troops and induced them to take common action.” Ultimately, after a period of conflict, the Blacks “were defeated in 1062 by a combined force of Turkish and Berber troops, who drove about 50,000 of them to upper Egypt.” About the year 1168, there was further conflict. “In the bitter struggle that followed the black troops were ruthlessly hunted down and their living quarters, in Cairo, were burnt to the ground.”
In conclusion, all of the evidence indicates that Islamic slavery was larger in extent and scope than those of such ancient societies as pre-Islamic Persia, Greece and even Rome. Muslim slavery was also larger than that practiced by other invaders of one-time Roman territory. The number of Christian slaves taken by the first Arab invaders was even larger than the number of Roman subjects taken captive by the invading Germanic, Slavic and Hunnish barbarians. The Muslim traffic in African slaves exceeded that of the Atlantic colonial trade; indeed Muslim traffic in slaves of all races was many times greater than African slavery in the Americas. Moreover, the treatment meted out to African slaves by their Muslim masters was even more deplorable than that suffered by slaves in America. Also, at a time that chattel slavery was dying out in Europe, it was thriving in the Islamic world. Europeans, prompted by the moral teachings of Christianity, were the ones who ultimately suppressed the institution, often over the vehement opposition of believing Muslims.
Oppression and slavery were important factors in the extirpation of pre-Islamic cultures. However, the process of Islamization was never total. The different peoples absorbed into the Dar-al-Islam had varying degrees of success in preserving and passing on their ancient customs. The following chapter describes the indigenous cultural traits that survived the coming of Islam.
 Lewis, The Middle East, pp. 207-8.
 Patai, The Arab Mind, p. 113.
 Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries, pp. 47-8.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 341.
 Spencer, Islam Unveiled, p. 65.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 43.
 Frye, The Cambridge History of Iran Volume 4, p. 328.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 341.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 176.
 Frye, The Cambridge History of Iran Volume 4, p. 29.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 42.
 Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, p. 58.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 209.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 45.
 Ibid, p. 46.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 82.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 176.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 619.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 82.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 175.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 82.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 175.
 Ibid, pp. 175-76.
 Thomas Ricks, “Slaves and Slave Trading in Shi’i Iran, AD 1500-1900”, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 2001, Vol. 36, pp. 407-418 quoted in Andrew G. Bostom, The living legacy of jihad slavery, FrontPageMagazine.com April 12th, 2005.
 Yeor, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 60.
 Ibid, p. 61.
 Bostom, The living legacy of jihad slavery.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 235.
 Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, p. 34.
 Robert Spencer, A Vatican Apology for the Crusades?, FrontPageMagazine.com March 22, 2005.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 496.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 21.
 Frye, The Cambridge History of Iran Volume 4, p. 99.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 342.
 Spencer, A Vatican Apology for the Crusades?
 Vryonis, Byzantium and Europe, p. 86.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 49.
 Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet, p. 101.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 524.
 Spencer, Robert, A Vatican Apology for the Crusades?
 Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor, p. 156.
 Ibid, pp. 174-75.
 Ibid, p. 175.
 Ibid, pp. 253-54.
 Peirce, The Imperial Harem, p. 36.
 Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries, p. 129.
 Ibid, p. 221.
 Giles Milton in 'White Gold', quoted in BRITAINS 200 YEAR JIHAD, www.melaniephillips.com/diary, September 27, 2005.
 Frye, The Cambridge History of Iran Volume 4, p. 150.
 Ricks, “Slaves and Slave Trading in Shi’i Iran” quoted in Bostom, The Living Legacy of Jihad Slavery.
 Keay, India, A History, p. 209.
 Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, p. 460.
 Keay, India, A History, p. 274.
 Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, p. 461.
 Yeor, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 64.
 Andrew G. Bostom, The Living Legacy of Jihad Slavery.
 Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, pp. 3-4.
 Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet, pp. 66-67.
 Lewis, The Political Language of Islam, p. 91.
 Muller, The Loom of History, p. 306.
 Andrew Bostom, No 'Hurr(i)y(ya)' for Freedom quoted in Jihad Watch (internet), March 2, 2006.
 Lewis, The Political Language of Islam, p. 65.
 Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries, p. 146.
 Ibid, p. 314.
 Ibid, p. 394.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 534.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 197.
 Soucek, A History of Inner Asia, p. 72.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 328.
 Ibid, p. 453.
 Ibid, p. 525.
 Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, p. 55.
 Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, p. 319.
 Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, p. 231.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 44.
 Ibid, p. 124.
 Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor, p. 240.
 Ibid, p. 242.
 Lewis, The Middle East, p. 125.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 456.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 16.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 619.
 Ibid, p. 622.
 Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries, p. 52.
 Keay, India, A History, pp. 257-58.
 Ibid, p. 331.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 644.
 Ibid, p. 671.
 Keay, India, A History, p. 204.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 74.
 Keay, India, A History, p. 240.
 Ibid, p. 261.
 Ibid, p. 272.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, pp. 61-2.
 Chapter 7: Culture of the Harem, p. 91.
 Keay, India, A History, p. 240.
 Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, pp. 62-3.
 Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet, p. 173.
 Spiritan Institute of Theology, THE SPREAD OF ISLAM IN NIGERIA A HISTORICAL SURVEY.
 Darlington, The Evolution of Man and Society, pp. 349-50.
 Bostom, The Living Legacy of Jihad Slavery.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 44.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 235.
 Ibid, p. 468.
 Karsh, Islamic Imperialism, p. 46.
 Hasan, The Arabs and the Sudan, p. 48.