The Arab Slave Trade: A History of Racism and Brutality

The Arab slave trade is a dark chapter in human history that is often overlooked. This article will examine this inhumane trade in detail, highlighting its persistence in the Arab world long before Europe and the devastating consequences it had for millions of Africans. We will also explore the role of Islam in justifying and legitimizing this abominable practice. Get ready for a harrowing perspective on the Arab slave trade and its lasting impact on Africa’s racial and psychological memory.

1. The Arab slave trade: a history of anti-black racism.

The Arab slave trade has a history of anti-black racism that predates European anti-black racism by several centuries. While the Islamic world exhibited all the characteristics of anti-black racism from the early years of the Islamic empire, blacks suffered the lowest form of servitude. Although Britain officially abolished the slave trade in 1807, few remember that it was Arab slave traders who first and last in modern times transported millions of Africans off the continent as slaves. Photographs taken by Europeans in the 1880s showed black African slaves in chains and Arab slave trading ships on the east coast of Africa.

Slavery persisted openly in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries until the second half of the 20th century, even 100 years after slavery was abolished in the United States. Even in the 1960s, African Muslims were still selling slaves when they came to make pilgrimages as a way of financing their journey. Arab countries lagged behind the rest of the world in abolishing slavery, with Saudi Arabia and Yemen being the last to abolish slavery in 1962, followed by the United Arab Emirates in 1963 and Oman in 1970. However, unlike the rest of the Arab countries, hereditary racial slavery persists in Mauritania, despite multiple official attempts to abolish it. In 1981, Mauritania became the last country to abolish slavery by presidential decree, but no criminal laws were passed to enforce the ban.

2. The persistence of hereditary slavery in Mauritania.

Mauritania became the last country to officially abolish slavery in 1981, by presidential decree. However, despite this progress, hereditary slavery still persists in the country. Although multiple official attempts have been made to abolish it, laws against slavery are not properly enforced and the practice continues in some rural areas.

One of the main difficulties in eradicating slavery in Mauritania is the lack of political will and entrenched cultural obstacles. Mauritanian society is deeply divided between those who are descendants of former masters and those who are descendants of former slaves. These social and economic divisions make it difficult to implement and enforce anti-slavery laws.

3. Castration as a brutal practice during the Arab slave trade.

The castration of African slaves captured by the Arabs was a brutal and devastating practice aimed at preventing their reproduction. While in the Americas slaves were allowed to marry, although their children could be sold in front of their own eyes, blacks enslaved by the Arabs were mercilessly castrated to prevent them from reproducing and increasing their numbers.

It is important to note that what follows may appear to be a comparison of two evils to determine which is worse, but this does not detract from the fact that the trade in human beings was incredibly horrific. African slaves captured by the Arabs suffered unimaginable experiences and exploitation without limits. The castration of African men was just one more sign of the cruelty and inhumanity that characterized this dark chapter of human history.

4. The devastating impact of the Arab slave trade in Africa.

The Arab slave trade had a devastating impact on millions of Africans for centuries. The high mortality rates during transport and the inhumane conditions in which the slaves were kept left an indelible mark on African history. This trade left a lasting legacy in the racial and psychological memory of the continent.

Africans captured and sold into slavery by the Arabs suffered greatly. During the long journey across the desert, many slaves died due to the extreme conditions and lack of food and water. Those who survived faced a life of suffering and exploitation at the hands of their Arab masters.

This inhumane trade left deep scars on Africa’s collective psyche. The memory of the suffering caused by the Arab slave trade endures to this day and has influenced the way Africans view their history and identity. It is important to recognize and remember this dark chapter to fully understand the consequences of racism and exploitation in Africa.

5. Comparing transatlantic and Arab trade: a harrowing perspective.

When comparing the transatlantic and Arab slave trade, striking differences in the practices and consequences of the two systems can be observed. While both were horrendous and left deep scars in the history and psychology of communities of African descent, the methods used by the Arabs were even more ruthless.

One of the most notable differences is the castration of African men by Arabs. While in the transatlantic trade slaves were allowed to marry and raise families, African men captured by the Arabs were mercilessly castrated to prevent them from reproducing. This cruel and dehumanizing practice was intended to control the slave population and ensure that they could not multiply.

These extreme forms of violence and oppression have left a lasting legacy in the history and psychology of Afro-descendant communities. It is important to recognize and remember these atrocities to fully understand the consequences of racism and exploitation in Africa and around the world.

6. The role of Islam in the justification and legitimization of the Arab slave trade.

Islam has played a key role in justifying and legitimizing the Arab slave trade throughout history. Arab theologians and historians endorsed and offered legal recommendations that allowed slavery as an accepted practice within the religion.

One of the arguments used to justify slavery in the Arab world was the idea that blacks were inferior and closer to the animal state. The Tunisian historian Ibn Khaldoon claimed that only blacks accepted slavery because of their lesser degree of humanity. These racist and discriminatory beliefs were used to justify the slave trade and keep Africans in a position of servitude.

0 ajXH3l7qNDR2BAW2 - The black slave trade by the Arabs: a history of racism and brutality

The Arab slave trade in Africa is a chapter of history that we cannot afford to ignore. It lasted a staggering 13 centuries! Historian Paul Lovejoy did the calculations, and they are shocking:

  • 650 to 1600: Imagine this: some 5,000 Africans were sent by Arab traders every year. That’s a mind-boggling total of 7.25 million people.
  • 1600 to 1800: The figures continued to rise. Another 1.4 million Africans were sent.
  • 19th century: This was the heyday of the Arab slave trade. About 12,000 Africans were sent each year, totaling 1.2 million in that century alone.

But wait, there’s more. Some historians think the actual impact could be even greater, such as affecting more than 17 million people. The Sahara was a focus of this, with nine million Africans deported and two million lives lost in brutal journeys.

Now, let’s focus on East Africa. Have you ever heard of Zanzibar? It was the epicenter of the slave trade in the East. Arab traders came there for nails and ivory, but they also bought black slaves. These slaves did the heavy labor and were also sent to work on foreign plantations. We are talking about people from as far away as Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

These slaves ended up in places you wouldn’t imagine: Oman, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. They were forced to work in conditions that we cannot even imagine.

So why does this matter? Because it is a striking reminder of how the Arab slave trade left an indelible mark on Africa and its people. It is a part of the story that is as heartbreaking as it is revealing.

400px African slave trade - The black slave trade by the Arabs: a history of racism and brutality