”It is … that Islamic law, though it does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, explicitly prohibits many of the acts and elements that constitute trafficking in persons. Islam is particularly explicit on the prohibition of slavery. Similarly, Islam prohibits sexual exploitation for profit. Likewise, the institution of domestic service is common in many Muslim countries and, though not prohibited per se, may constitute a form of trafficking for the purpose of labor if it entails exploitation under the sponsorship rule, as Islam is deeply respectful of the rights of the worker, and emphasizes the centrality of honoring contracts, the breach of which is considered a grave offense.
In exploring these and similar provisions, it is important to note that these Islamic principles, which amount to a framework prohibiting trafficking in persons, may not always be followed in practice. For example, although migrant workers are entitled under Islamic tradition to the same rights as nationals, this principle is not always applied. Another practice common in many Muslim countries is trafficking for the purpose of marriage, and we therefore must examine how Islam addresses the different forms of marriage and the rights afforded to individuals such that these forms of marriage do not become forms of trafficking. The question thus arises as to whether these practices are customs and cultural practices or whether they are part of Islamic law? ( United Nations document on human trafficking )
”That there are still slaves in the Sahara is not even a secret. The Sudanese government has been using slave labor in its campaign against the pagan south. In Niger and Mali and Mauritania, the Moors and the northern Tuareg have never given up their ways, and while they seldom use the word slave openly, the practice remains. Mauritania officially declared slavery illegal in 1980, but at the time there were an estimated one hundred thousand “haratin slaves” in the country and best estimates are that the numbers have barely changed. There are, reportedly, still slave markets in the Adrar area, northeast of Nouakchott in Mauritania.”
The African slave trade as practiced by Arabs in the Sahara, plying the trans-Saharan slave routes with human cargo, was, along with ivory, the loot of Africa. The Africans were timid and their sufferings on the trans-Saharan journey reduced them to the condition of automata. A few of the younger and prettier women were kept behind at the oasis to entertain the Arab masters untill the arrival of the next caravan. The men, older women, and children were driven off along the road to Tripoli, to reah the next well as best they could. As a result the route was well marked with the skeletons of adults and children, together with the grotesque carcasses of camels who had died lying on their sides with their heads drawn far back and their legs tucked up.
These avenues of bones, along with the stone circles that served as temporary mosques for the pious slave traders to perform their evening rites, still mark the ancient slave-caravan route across the Fezzan, a route which was still being used as late as the 1920′s. The last admitted consignment of slaves to arrive in Murzuq was in 1929, after a two month’s march across the desert. From Murzuq there was another month’s journey to Saudi Arabia, but the northern third of the journey was considered easy compared with what the slaves had endured before arriving at Murzuq.
ABOVE: ”After resting a little, Mbame told us that a slave party on its way to Tette would presently pass through his village. . . . [W]e resolved to run all risks, and put a stop, if possible, to the slave-trade, which had now followed on the footsteps of our discoveries. A few minutes after Mbame had spoken to us, the slave party, a long line of manacled men, women, and children, came wending their way round the hill and into the valley, on the side of which the village stood. The black drivers, armed with muskets, and bedecked with various articles of finery, marched jauntily in the front, middle, and rear of the line; some of them blowing exultant notes out of long tin horns. They seemed to feel that they were doing a very noble thing, and might proudly march with an air of triumph. But the instant the fellows caught a glimpse of the English, they darted off like mad into the forest . . . The captives knelt down, and, in their way of expressing thanks, clapped their hands with great energy. They were thus left entirely on our hands, and knives were soon busy cutting the women and children loose. It was more difficult to cut the men adrift, as each had his neck in the fork of a stout stick, six or seven feet long, and kept in by an iron rod which was riveted at both ends across the throat. With a saw, luckily in the Bishop’s baggage, one by one the men were sawn out into freedom.” ( David Livingstone )
During the great days of the slave trade, Africans were being brought out of the interior at a rate of at least 100,000 per year. In some cases there are fairly exact statistics. The records show that 300,000 African slaves were exported to British colonies bertween 1680-1700. Between 1700 and 1786, it has been estimated that 610,000 were imported into Jamaica. If we accept Dr. Livingstone’s estimate that at least ten lives were lost for every one that reached rthe coast, the number of Africans who were captured, killed or exported during the four and a half centuries of the slave trade is almost inconceivable.
”In the mid-1800s a typical raiding party returned from Sudan to Murzuq, in the Fezzan, a thirty-day journey across the empty de
They had brought with them 800 lean cripples, clad in skins and rags, between 2,000 and 3,000 Maherries [mehari camels], and about 500 asses: 180 of the mounted Arabs, and about 300 foot, were still left behind in the Negro country; nearly 1,000 camels, and many captives, had died on the road, besides children. The death of the latter was not included, as they were not considered of any importance.
A slave was worth much less than a good camel, which was a fair approximation of their relative value. A “good black slave” was about half the price of a good piebald, brindled, or white camel, and considerably less than the tawny reddish-buff racing camels, so prized for their speed and endurance. An Ethiopian called Kafur, who later became regent of Egypt (945-966), was once a slave, picked up for a mere 18 dinars, a paltry sum. Still, there were many exceptions, for talent was expensive and market economics were brought to bear on the slave trade.” ( www.ralphmag.org)
The Arabs were by no means responsible for the system, of course. They were merely the entrepreneurs, owing to their conquest of the whole of North Africa and their control of the interior. They were also the conveyors as far as the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. The Christian nations took over the trade at the ports, with the British getting the lion’s share in the transshipment of slaves to the New World. But all the civilized nations at this time were involved in one way or another with the slave trade, and the demand for more and more Africans to work the mines and plantations of the West Indies and North, Central and South America was enormous.
Everybody cooperated to supply the demand, except he Africans, whose resistance was so feeble as to amount almost to a form of collaboration. The rounding up of tens of thousands of prisoners was initially undertaken by the African chiefs in their inter-tribal wars, at first only to get women for their harems. Male slaves were useless, so the men prisoners, later a valuable booty, were disposed of. Dr. Heinrich Barth, traveling in the Sudan in 1851, witnessed one method of disposal: ”To our utmost horror not less than one hundred and seventy full grown men were mercilessly slaughtered in cold blood, the greater part of them being allowed to bleed to death, a leg having been severed from the body.”
This wanton destruction of a useful work animal was of course, typical of those African chieftains who had not been apprised of the Arab agents of the value of the hundred and seventy full grown men. For where the Arabs had been able to organize the slave trade, many thousands of lives were saved, or, at least, given a one in ten chance of survival. This principle of selling people instead of butchering them had long been recognized by the Congolese, for we find a seventeenth century Italian explorer relating how one native Congolese was in despair, because, having sold his brothers,sisters, children, father and mother, he had nobody left to sell except his wife, and his personal honor forbade him to sell her.
Once the Moslem traders reached the royal African courts, the system of selling was soon organized on the basis which the Carthagininans had used two thousand years before: the exchange of European gewgaws, and gadgets in return for valuable African products like a strong young man, good looking young women, or boys and girls suited to the harems. Now it was a question of getting enough prisoners alive, not of killing them off when captured. For this purpose the Arabs organized the ”razzia” and expression in their language meaning a ”raid against infidels” Eventually it came to mean ”man hunt” , though the Moslems never forgot that an infidel, and especially a Christian, was, from the moral point of view, a better slave than a black believer.
”Women were always more valued, and therefore dearer, than men by one-third or even one-half; young women, in turn, were more valuable still, for they could be concubines as well as toil for their masters. In medieval times, trained dancing girls had price tags between one thousand and two thousand dinars — for that, you could get a dozen camels or more. A female singer was sold in an aristocratic circle in 912 for thirteen thousand dinars. Men, on the other hand, were prone to violence and sudden rages, which made them uncertain goods.”
”Tu-Quoque from Seyla Benhabib, whose loyalty to Islam trumps all else, including her self-described “democratic socialist” leanings. No, she is like Fatima Mernissi and Leila Ahmad, who quickly draw back whenever they sense Islam itself may be criticized for the treatment of women in Islam. This shows that the loyalty to Islam trumps their supposed devotion to the cause of women’s rights. Seyla Benhabib’s attempt to call Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s piercing and truth-telling remarks into question with the usual blague about “reformation” in Islam is predictable, and nauseating. There is the deceptive ignis fatuus of such “reform,” but it keeps receding further into the marecage of Islam, the closer one tries to approach it.
Then she presents us with an equally revealing tu-quoque in telling us, amazingly, something of which we are all perfectly aware and which is irrelevant to Ayaan Hirsi’s Ali’s criticism — to wit, that she uses a “language that presents a unified, uncritical and un-reflectively positive view of liberal democracies—as if they didn’t have their own problems and reasons to be criticized.”
“Khadijah was probably in her late thirties when she married Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), and bore him at least six children. Their two sons-Al-Qasim and Abdullah-died in infancy, but Muhammad adored his daughters Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah. It was a happy household, even though Muhammad insisted on giving a high proportion of their income to the poor. He also brought two needy boys into the family. On their wedding day, Khadijah had presented him a young slave called Zayd ibn al Harith from one of the northern tribes. He became so attached to his new master that when his family came to Mecca with the money to ransom him, Zayd begged to be allowed to remain with Muhammad, who adopted him and gave him his freedom.” ( Karen Armstrong )