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Slavery and Christianity
Historical and religious background on slavery
Notis: Det följande är en reproduktion av artiklen “Slavery and Christianity”
Those who criticize the Islamic legislation towards Slavery are holding those views because they analyze the process of abolition that Islam used, using a tunnel vision. In other words they fail to see the big picture in which this process not only completely abolished slavery from the Muslim world but the approach was the most humane and most peaceful method ever employed for this task.
Dr. George Brest, a non-Muslim historian says, “Christianity did not object to slavery. Politically or economically, it did not encourage the believers to oppose the traditions of their generations as regards slavery. Christianity did not even discuss the problem and said nothing against the rights of slave owners. It did not urge slaves to demand their freedom and did not basically ask to free the slaves.”
In the Grand Larouse of 19th century one reads: “Man does not wonder at the presence of slavery and its being common among the Christians till now. The religious representatives approve it and believe that it is legal. In brief Christianity approves it completely till our time and it is very hard to prove that Christianity tried to abolish slavery.”
It is no wonder that Christians continued to practice slavery until very recently.
In less than fifty years, Western slave traders carried to North and South America slaves, who now number about twenty million people, left after killing and oppression. This number is five times that of the slaves in the Ancient World more than a thousand years ago. And the difference between the slaves of the Ancient World and the New World is so great that Negroes in America are still a race of secluded pedigree, of lesser privilege and no practical rights.
One does not find this in any nation of the East. A black man who comes to any country there is considered a citizen in about one generation. He has the same rights and duties and needs no protection by legislation or law.
In the Encyclopedia Britanica Vol. II p. 779 under <<Slavery>> one reads: “Catching slaves from their villages which were surrounded by jungle happened this way: Fire was started in the dry hedges surrounding the huts and when the residents fled away into the jungle the Englishmen caught them in devices prepared for that purpose. Some of the people died during this human hunt on their way to the coast to the ships of the British and other companies. A third of the remaining captives died because of climate alteration and during the shipping 4.5 % died and 19 % died during the journey. Those who died in the colonies were uncountable.”
In 1502, about eight hundred thousand slaves entered the colony of Jamaica alone, and only three hundred and forty thousand were alive at the end of the same year.
Queen Elizabeth I was partner in the slave trade. Her partner was John Hawkins the greatest slave dealer in history. She made him a knight because she admired his courage and made a coat of arms a slave in chains and handcuffs. It is really ironic to read that ship which the queen prepared for Hawkins was called <<Jesus>> and the ships made for the slave trade numbered 192 and each ship could hold 47,146 slaves. England asked the clergy to find documents to justify this trade and they readily enough found the text from the Old Testament which were mentioned above under Slavery and Jews.
The Bible, unlike the Holy Quran, widely promoted the institution of Slavery; Muslims cannot believe that God could have inspired the following on the issue of slavery found in the Bible:
“Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed.” (Timothy I 6:1)
“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you.” (Leviticus 25:44)
“If a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave, betrothed to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, an inquiry shall be held. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free” (Leviticus 19:20)
“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.” (Exodus 21:20-21)
And the Lord said, “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labour for you and shall serve you…” (Deuteronomy 20:10-11)
“And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Genesis 9:26)
“So the Canaanites have dwelt in the midst of Ephraim to this day, but become slaves to do forced labour.” (Josh 16:10)
“And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not the children of Israel; their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.”(I Kings 9:20-21)
“but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him.” (Exodus 12:44)
“When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.” (Exodus 21:2)
St. Paul asked the slaves to obey their masters as they obey Jesus Christ. In his message to the people of Ephsus St. Paul said “O slave! Obey your masters in body with fear and trembling in your hearts as you do for Christ, not deceiving the eye as those who please people, but as slaves of Christ working God’s will, serving with good intention as for God, not for people, knowing that whatever good you do, it will be accepted by God weather you were free or slave.”
St. Peter made a similar recommendation and ordered priests to adhere to it, because slavery is a redemption of human errors, offered by men for the wrath of the greatest Lord.
St. Thomas Aquinas added the philosophical view to the view of religious leaders and did not object to slavery, but praised it, because he, like his teacher Aristotle, believed that slavery was natural case and some people are originally born to be slaves. Also he believed slavery did not contradict the faith and humans should be satisfied with their lowly lot.
Perhaps the above verses in the Bible were the thoughts of men as the Bible itself claims:
“How can you say we are wise and the law of the Lord is with us behold, the false pen of the scribes turned it into a lie.” (Jer 8:8)
“And the burden of the Lord shall you mention no more… For you have perverted the words of the living God” (Jer 23:36)
“Behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach, they have no delight in it… From the least of them even unto the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness, and from the prophet even unto the priest, everyone deals falsely.” (Jer 6:10)
“The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them.” (Jer 14:14)
“They use their tongues and say, ‘He says'” (Jer 23:31)
Many years after Jesus left the earth, Paul says about the Old Testament and the New Testament:
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Corin 13:9)
The good news to mankind is that God has revealed The Holy Quran, a perfect Revelation and a Mercy for mankind.
For Slavery and Islam (Submission), click here