Islam and Slave Trade

Islam    Session Twenty-Four

Item #6, bullet 3 of outline:  Islam and Slave Trade

Of all the countries, cultures, empires in man’s history, which one had the most slaves?  If this question were asked of 100 random persons walking the sidewalks of any American city; what would the results be?  Of those that responded (probably less than half would even venture a guess), I believe the “Roman Empire” would be the dominant answer.  The actual answer is, “Islam”, in its various forms. In its 1400-year history, Islam has taken more slaves than the Roman Empire, ancient Greece, the Spanish slavers and the non-Muslim Africa-to-North and South American slavers combined.

In Islam, the “right” to take slaves is another “divinely” ordained “right”, endorsed and put into practice by Muhammad.

The Koran states:

  • Sura 4:3. “Marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice, then only one, or ‘what your right hands possess’ as women taken captive in war.”  It is understood that the phrase, “what your right hands possess”, means women taken captive during war.


  • Sura 23:1. “Blessed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers; who avoid profane talk, and give alms to the destitute; who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)”.


  • Sura 33:50. “Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom God has given you as booty.”

Bukhari’s Hadith states:

  • “. . . At the door of Muhammad’s room there was slave to whom I went and said, ‘Ask permission for me to enter.’” (Bukhari 7,734)  This is hard evidence that Muhammad kept slaves.


  • “Allah’s messenger went to the house of his slave tailor, and . . .” (Bukhari 7,344) More evidence that Muhammad kept slaves.


  • Showing his prejudice against blacks; Muhammad said that if you dreamed of black women, this was an evil omen. (Bukhari 9,162,163)  Also, Muhammad referred to black people as “raisin heads”.  (Bukhari 1,662)


Muhammad and slaves;  black slaves in particular:

After every battle won by Muhammad, he rounded up the women and children of the conquered area and established the precedent of keeping them as slaves or selling them as slaves.

Robert Morey in his book, “Winning the War Against Radical Islam”, cites a passage from the book, “Zad al-Ma’ad”, by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawiyya as evidence that Muhammad had black slaves:

“Muhammad had many male and female slaves.  He used to buy and sell them, but he purchased more slaves than he sold, especially after God empowered him by His message, as well as after his immigration from Mecca.  He once sold one black slave for two.  His name was Jacob al-Mudbir.”  (#14, P. 157)

In the same book by Robert Morey,  al-Jawiyya describes how Muhammad treated a black slave named Mahran like a donkey.  Mahran was forced to carry an almost impossible load and further humiliated by Muhammad who referred to him as “a ship”.  (#14, P. 158)


Modern Muslim proponents of slavery:

  • Salwa al-Mutairi, a Muslim female activist in 2011 stated the following as posted on You Tube: “it’s of course true” that “the prophet of Islam legitimized sex slavery.”  She recounts  how when she was in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, she asked various sheikhs and muftis about the legality of sex slavery according to Sharia, and they all confirmed it to be perfectly legal.

Mutairi went on to say: “A Muslim state must attack a Christian state – sorry, I mean any non-Muslim state – and they (the future sex slaves) must be captives of the raid.  Is this forbidden?  Not at all; according to Islam, sex slaves are not at all forbidden.  Quite the contrary, . . . she is different from the free woman; the free woman has to be married properly to her husband, but the sex slave – he just buys her and that’s that.” (#7, P. 187)

  • Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan is an Islamic scholar, a member of the Senior Council of Clerics (Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body) and the author of textbooks for Muslim students.  In a lecture recorded on tape and released November 10, 2003 by the Saudi Information Agency, Al-Fawzan is quoted as follows:

“Slavery is a part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long as there is Islam.”  He also stated that Muslims who contend Islam is against slavery “are ignorant, not scholars.”  “They are merely writers.  Whoever says such things is an infidel.”  (


Muslims have justified the taking, owning and selling of slaves by the Koran, the hadith and the precedent of Muhammad’s ownership of slaves.  Muslims have taken slaves:

  • from lands they conquered,
  • by dealing with existing slavers in Africa,
  • on the seas and by raiding coastal areas (the Barbary Pirates).


Slaves from conquered lands

In accordance with the precedent set by Muhammad, when Muslim armies conquered an area the common procedure was to kill the adult males and take the women and children as slaves or sell them into slavery.  From the Arabian Peninsula to Central Asia to India to coastal North Africa to The Sudan to Ethiopia to Egypt to the Iberian Peninsula to the coastal towns of Ireland and England to Southeast Europe millions of human beings were enslaved simply because they lived in the path of Islam’s conquering armies; some specifics:

  • In 781; 7000 Greeks were enslaved after a battle at Ephesus. (#18, P. 172)
  • In 903; 22,000 Christians were sold into Muslim slavery after the capture of Thessalonica. (#18, P. 172)
  • In 1191; 3,000 Christian slaves taken in Silves, Spain.
  • in 1189; 3,000 women and children taken as slaves in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • in 1526; 200,000 Hungarian Christians taken into slavery by Ottomans. (#6. P. 14)
  • In Spain, during the Muslim rule of 900 years, an annual tribute of 100 Visigothic (blonde) women was required from Spain’s Cantabrian coast, and for decades, 100 virgins per year were required by the Muslim rulers.
  • In his book, “Slavery, Terrorism and Islam”, Peter Hammond quotes the writer Ronald Segal: “White slaves from Christian Spain, Central and Eastern Europe” were also shipped into the Middle East and served in the “palaces of rulers and the establishments of the rich.”  (#6, P. 13)
  • Thousands of dhimmis (see sessions 20 and 21) as a result of violations, real or imagined, of the pact with their Muslim masters were taken as slaves or sold into slavery.

It is impossible to get an accurate count of slaves taken by the Muslims in lands they conquered.  Surely they must number in the millions when one takes into account the tens of millions of people who have lived in the countries  conquered by the Muslims.


The African slave trade:

For approximately 1400 years Muslim Arabs have been involved in the African slave trade.  According to Peter Hammond in his book, “Slavery, Terrorism and Islam”:

“The Islamic slave trade took place across the Sahara Desert, from the coast of the Red Sea, and from East Africa across the Indian Ocean.  The Trans-Sahara trade was conducted along six major slave routes.”  (#6, P. 11)

“As at least 80% of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets, it is believed that the death toll from the 14 centuries of Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been over 112 million.  When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the Trans Saharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 million people.”   (#6, PP. 2-3)

The Trans-Saharan route was noted for its horrors of an 80-90% mortality rate for the slaves, the brutal killing of those who fell behind from lack of food and water, the constant whippings and the barbaric practice of castrating the male slaves.   Young boy eunuchs were prized by the buyers in the slave markets and fetched a premium price.

Today, despite probably more than 100 million black slaves having been delivered to the Arab countries, there is little or no black population in those countries because of the inhuman treatment of the black slaves noted above.  Contrast that with the results of slavery in the USA.  According to the authoritative study, “The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database”, produced by Emory University:  “From 1600 to 1866 approximately 389,000 black slaves were delivered to the USA.”  The black population of the USA today is about 42 million; or 108 time the 389,000 (10,800% increase)!  This comparison is not meant to condone slavery, but it is evidence of a drastic difference in the treatment of slaves.

As an aside, below are a few facts about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which have been extracted from the Emory University study cited above:

  • From 1501 to 1866 approximately 12,332,000 black slaves were shipped to North America, The Caribbean and South America.
  • Of the above, approximately 10, 538,000 disembarked at their destinations (85%).
  • Of the 10,538,000 who arrived at their destinations:
    • 4,864,374 (46.2%) disembarked in Brazil,
    • 2,318,252 (22%) disembarked in the British Caribbean,
    • 1,292,912 (12.3%) disembarked in the Spanish Americas,
    • 1,120,216 (10.6%) disembarked in the French Caribbean,
    • 444,728 (4.2%) disembarked in the Dutch Americas,
    • 388,747 (3.7% disembarked in mainland North America and
    • 108,998 (1%) disembarked in the Danish West Indies.

Isn’t it interesting that whenever slavery is discussed, the focus is always on slavery in the United States when less than 4% of the slaves in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade came to the United States.  Brazil received 4,475,000 more slaves (12.5 times as many) than the United States – have you ever hear the Brazilian slave trade denounced?  How about slavery in the British Caribbean, or slavery in the Spanish Americas, or slavery in the French Caribbean – when is the last time you heard any of these slavery conditions denounced?  Interesting!


The Barbary Pirates

The Barbary Pirates were Muslim pirates (known as Berbers) operating from the North African ports (under the nominal control of the Ottoman Empire) of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli.  In addition the Sultanate of Morocco was an active participant of the Barbary Pirates.  Although there had been pirates from this region operating in the Mediterranean for centuries, it was the Berbers’ slavery activities from the 16th century to the 19th century which were the most devastating and which gave rise to the term “Barbary Pirates”.  They were also known as the “Ottoman Corsairs.”

Robert Davis (as cited in Peter Hammond’s book, “Slavery, Terrorism and Islam”) in his book, “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters – White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy”, estimates that more than 1 million Europeans were enslaved by the Barbary Pirates between 1530 and 1780.  (#6, P. 14)

In addition to seizing ships (and holding the crews for ransom) the Barbary Pirates raided coastal towns in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Iceland.

Bernard Lewis in his book, “The Middle East”, described the following raids far away from the Barbary Coast:  1627 they raided Iceland and captured 242 persons to be sold in the slave market of Algiers; and in 1631 they raided Baltimore, Ireland and carried off 107 persons to be sold also in the slave market of Algiers.

The Pirates’ activities peaked in the mid-17th century and continued until the early 19th century when the navies of European countries fought back.  The United States also countered their attacks on American ships, commercial and Naval, during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.  In 1805 members of the United States Marine Corps led an army of mercenaries against the Berbers (from which the name “Barbary” comes from) of Tripoli and the Berbers’ defeat led to the signing of a peace treaty.  Also, its memory became embedded in the Marine’s Hymn – “to the shores of Tripoli”.  The Barbary pirates continued their pirating at lesser level until 1830 when it ended with the French taking conquest of Algiers in 1830.

A side note:  The current Muslim “problem” in France had its genesis in the French taking control of parts of North Coastal Africa.  Almost 200 years later France is now dotted with Muslim enclaves composed of millions of Muslims whose goal is to impose Sharia law in all of France and, for that matter, all of the world.


Contemporary slavery in the world

Slavery has been abolished in all countries of the world, but it  wasn’t abolished in Saudi Arabia until 1962, in Mauritania until 1981 and Niger until 2003.  Notwithstanding the preceding, slavery still exists in some parts of the world.

  • “Even though slavery is now outlawed in every country, the number of slaves today is estimated as between 12 million and 29.8 million.” (, P. 4)

Several estimates are cited, but even the lowest estimate is 12 million too many.

  • “However, there are persistent, credible reports, that slavery persists in Mauritania, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and even that slaves from Sudan are ending up in Saudi Arabia.” (#6, P. 28)
  • “In Sudan and Mauritania, the Muslim record on slavery is not a matter of history but of current events.” (#15, P. 65)
  • The following description of slave raids by Muslims in the North of Sudan against Southern Sudan and its mainly Christian inhabitants is provided by The American Anti-Slavery Group (This was written prior to Southern Sudan gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011 and becoming The Republic of South Sudan.  Despite the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan, The Sudan still conducts slavery raids into it.):

“Women and children abducted in slave raids are roped by the neck or strapped to animals and then marched north.  Along the way, many women and girls are repeatedly gang-raped.  Children who will not be silent are shot on the spot.  In the north, slaves are either kept by individual militia soldiers or sold in markets.  Boys work as livestock herders, forced to sleep with the animals they care for.  Some who try to escape have their Achilles tendons cut to hamper their ability to run.  Masters typically use women and girls as domestics and concubines, cleaning by day and serving the master sexually by night.  Survivors report being called ‘abeed’ (“black slave”), enduring daily beatings, and receiving awful food.  Masters also strip slaves of their religious and cultural identities, giving them Arabic names and forcing them to pray as Muslims.”  (#15, P. 66)

  • Despite slavery being abolished in Mauritania since 1981, the Anti-Slavery Society (1982) and Africa Watch (1990) report the existence of at least 100,000 “full-time” slaves and additional 300,000 half-slaves, all of them black, in Muslim Mauritania. (#18, P. 177)
  • Serge Trifkovic cites an article by Andrew Bushel, “Sale of children thrives in Pakistan,” (The Washington Times, January 21, 2002) concerning Afghan girls being sold in slave markets:

“Afghan girls between the ages of 5 and 17 sell for $80 to $100.  The price depends on the color of their eyes and skin; if they are virgins, the price is higher.  Mr. Arbab, an older man with a white shovel beard and a green turban, absently fingers his prayer beads as he calls out prices for the children.  The girls are generally sold into prostitution or, if they are lucky, they may join harems in the Middle East.”  (#18, P. 179)

  • An article by Isabel Olivera-Morales, dated 8/18/2015, in the Boulder, Colorado Daily Camera describes human trafficking in Malayasia. In the article it is stated that Malayasia was cited by the U.S. State Department as one of the worst countries in human trafficking. Below is a direct quote from the article regarding human trafficking:

“Reports of the discovery of mass graves of undocumented workers in Malaysia point to the extent of human trafficking.  Former victims describe trafficking camps in jungles with guards, barbed wire and workers locked in cages.  Other victims are forced into prostitution and domestic servitude.  Estimates of over 80 percent of workers in the palm oil industry and 33 percent of those in the electronic industry are victims of human trafficking.”  (The Daily Camera, 8/18/2015)

  • Accurate data regarding slavery and human trafficking in the Muslim countries of the Middle East is simply not available. However, there is reliable information about slavery in areas conquered by ISIS.

“According to media reports from late 2014 the Islamic State (ISIS) was selling Yazidi and Christian women as slaves.  According to Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, after ISIS militants have captured an area they usually take the older women to a makeshift slave market and try to sell them.  In mid-October 2014, the UN estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 Yazidi women and children were abducted by ISIS and sold into slavery.”


  • Muslims have been actively taking and selling slaves since the 7tsh century.
  • The Koran, the hadith and Muslim leaders all endorse slavery.
  • Muhammad set precedents by taking, buying and selling slaves.
  • Islam is the biggest slaver of all time- having, probably, enslaved more than 100 million persons.
  • Slavery still exists in some Muslim countries.

Nest session we shall begin a discussion of the goals and tactics of Islam.