How Islam Appears in Africa
Islam was first introduced to Africa in Somalia in the early seventh century by Muslims Arabs fleeing persecution from the pagan Quraysh tribe on the Arab Peninsula. Later, it was ingrained with the Arab Islamic military invasion of Africa in 647 C.E., during the third reign of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, ruler of Mecca, according to Islamonline.
In sub-Saharan Africa, people often converted to Islam to keep trade open and to avoid being sold into slavery. Africans believed Islamic conversion would create mutual respect but since slavery is justified in the Quran, there was no guarantee of avoiding bondage.
Islamic Slave Trade
According to an arabslavetrade.com article, “Denials of Islamic Slavery,” the slave trade in Africa lasted 14 centuries and has continued to the present day in Mauritania, Niger, Sudan and in isolated incidents across the continent.
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The cultural practice of slave ownership in Niger was not banned until 2005. In Mauritania, an estimated 600,000 people are described as “modern-day slaves,” in debt bondage, forced marriage and victims of human trafficking.
In a 2014 theinternational.org article, writer Rachael Hancock reported that in the four years since slavery has been criminalized in Mauritania, only two cases have been investigated and just one person convicted.
Enslaved Africans Through Islamic Routes
Islamic traders were complicit in the enslavement of 10 million African people, mostly women and children, who were transported out from the Swahili Coast to India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China, as reported in the article “The Politics of Lost Numbers” on arabslavetrade.com.
Africans from various regions were transported via the trans-Sahara route to north Africa, where they were sold in slave markets in Morocco as domestic servants to European buyers.
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The followers of Islam introduced chattel slavery, slaves as personal property, rather than indentured slavery, involuntary labor, into the system.
In a 2003 lecture by Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan, a leading Saudi government cleric, he stated, “Slavery is a part of Islam. Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.”
During the Islamic slave trade, Black men were used for military service and Black women for sexual exploitation, using their wombs to bear Muslim children, reports arabslavetrade.com in the article, “Denials of Islamic Slavery.”
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