History

Islam and the Abolition of Slavery

William Gervase Clarence-Smith, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 293 pages.

This book delves into Islam and its connection with slavery in historical and etiological terms by presenting the synthesis in an almost axiomatic manner that “slavery has always been a part and parcel of the basic core and a central tenet of Islam.” The author relies on various scholarly sources, including the Qur’an and the hadiths, with the bulk of information coming from non-Islamic sources. Providing quotes from various scholars (e.g., Lewis, Muir, Berlioux, Hughes, Garrett, Margoliouth, Roberts, and DeJong) (pp. 16-17), Clarence-Smith brings out of a set of synergistic syllogisms on the assumptive plane that the Qur’an failed to eliminate slavery, that removing this practice would shake the faith itself, that the Prophet was totally unaware of the concept of abolition as an idea as well as in practice, and, importantly, that the whole Islamic social structure with its attendant system was based on a type of slavery associated with the organization of the harem. 

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