The new politics of intersectionality saw an event hosted by a group called Muslims For Abolition that merged faith with activism against slavery and racial injustice. There’s one problem with that: Islam allows for slavery.
At a University of Minnesota town hall, Muslim reformers Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Asra Nomani and Shireen Qudosi met a mixed crowd of Muslims and non-Muslims, allies, curious attendees and critics.
The event was organized as a response to Omar’s earlier put down of a liberal Muslim activist who asked the congresswoman to denounce the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
At the town hall, the question of slavery in Islam surfaced, which garnered varied responses from the reformers. Dr. Jasser and Nomani addressed the question by suggesting looking at verses in context or choosing to no longer follow those verses.
Qudosi shared her belief that early Muslim gravely erred in allowing slavery to exist in any form under Islam.
Clarion Project’s National Correspondent Shireen Qudosi notes two issues with the Juneteenth event:
“First, this is another activation of weaponizing faith as a political tool. Faith in politics is the bedrock of Islamism in other parts the world, and here in America, it’s become an exclusionary tool. Notice how the poster’s small print excludes from the event ‘cops & zionists [sic].’
“Leftist organizations continue to give oxygen and cover to American Muslims using their faith to romanticize activism, while ignoring that this is not representative of many other American Muslims. Traditionalist (or orthodox) Muslims and Muslim reformers may not be aligned on a lot, but we’re aligned on leaving faith in the home and heart and not parading it as a political tool.
“Second, Islam allows for slavery. While I don’t advocate for re-writing or censoring religious text, we have to be honest about what they actually say. There’s no excusing that. Pretending to rally for abolition while ignoring that our own faith allows for it is acting in a willfully blind manner in order to score political traction.
“Yes, there are stories about how Muslims were some of the first Americans and how Muslim slaves led slave rebellions. That’s great, it’s all important history — but in the context of abolition, who cares? It ignores the bigger picture. It ignores the dark underbelly that there were slaves under Islam, and there still are.
“Who is anyone — man or prophet — to shackle the mind or body, when God made us all free?
“It’s lovely that the Quran has these verses, but as a prophet of God, there is only one acceptable path forward in the face of slavery: total freedom. Not incremental freedom, not rewards for granting freedom, not earning freedom — all of these are excuses Muslims use to justify the existence of slavery under Islam. Only total freedom is acceptable.
As our University of Minnesota town hall discussion covered, slavery looks like a lot of different things and there are still many people in many types of bondage. As a nation, our obsession with race-focused activism, the insistence of only binary ‘black/white think’ is another form of bondage.”
Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery in America. However, slavery still exists in other parts of the world, including the Muslim world and is almost entirely unchallenged by followers who relegate the verses to another time and place — a consideration that isn’t given to American history at present.
Last October, Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group, published in The Federalist a piece titled “Thousands of Black People Are Still Slaves. So Why Haven’t You Heard About Them?”
Jacobs includes the slavery of blacks that still exists in the Muslim world:
“For instance, in Mauritania, although slavery has been legally banned five times since 1961, it nevertheless persists with tens of thousands of blacks continuing to be held in bondage. While it is forbidden in the Qur’an for Muslims to enslave fellow Muslims, in Mauritania, racism trumps religious doctrine — as it did in the West — as Arab and Berber Muslims enslave African Muslims.”
He goes on to note:
- In Sudan, tens of thousands of African women and children, from mostly Christian villages, were enslaved during the jihadi raids of the second Sudanese civil war.
- The horror stories coming out of these slave trades moved Christian Solidarity International to free over 100,000 slaves in European and American-funded slave buy-backs.
- Nigeria’s Islamist slave trade perpetrated by the terror group Boko Haram led to the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which was led by then First Lady Michelle Obama.
- In Algeria, sub-Saharan Africans fleeing violence and poverty are enslaved by Algerian Arabs. The same happens in Libya, in which the auction of a man was filmed by CNN.
The list goes on and on, but none of the realities of ongoing racism and slave trafficking in the Muslim world is addressed by Muslims For Abolition as they lead with faith in the fight for justice.