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Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition$
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Robert Harms, Bernard K Freamon, and David W. Blight

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300163872

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300163872.001.0001

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Straight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition, and Modern Islamic Thought

Straight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition, and Modern Islamic Thought

(p.61) 4 Straight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition, and Modern Islamic Thought
Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition

Bernard K. Freamon

Yale University Press

This chapter is concerned with the discourse on slavery and abolition in modern Islamic thought. It argues that understandings of the topic among Muslims are deeply impoverished. Religious histories, like the account of Bilal ibn Rabah’s emancipation, dominate Muslim understandings of slavery, but cannot assist understandings of today’s slavery-related problems, particularly human trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. The chapter calls for a fresh realism concerning slavery’s relation to Islamic law. In the Indian Ocean World there were plural imperialisms, leading to plural conceptions of slavery and plural abolitionist scenarios. While abolition failed in India and the Persian Gulf, it succeeded in Tunisia and Egypt, where modernist Islamic scholars played a role. Zanzibar presented another contrasting scenario. The chapter concludes that there is a rich history and discourse on slavery and abolition in the Muslim world, with badges and incidents everywhere, providing much for Muslims to learn from.

Keywords:   Islamic law, Bilal ibn Rabah, badges and incidents, human trafficking, plural imperialisms

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