The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam

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John O. Hunwick, Eve Troutt Powell
Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002 - History - 246 pages
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"For every gallon in ink that has been spilt on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its consequences, only one every small drop has been spent on the study of the forced migration of black Africans into the Mediterranean world of Islam. From the ninth to the early twentieth century, probably as many black Africans were forcibly taken across the Sahara, up the Nile valley, and across the Red Sea, as were transported across the Atlantic in much shorter period. Yet their story has not yet been told. Slavery was a fundamental social assumption of Arab society at the rise of Islam and of the various Mediterranean societies in which Islamic culture developed. It was written into the shari'a, and was therefore considered a divinely sanctioned practice that mere human beings could not abrogate or interfere with. Black Africa was the earliest source for slaves and the last great "reservoir" to dry up; in the 640's slaves were already part of the "non-aggression pact" between the Arab conquerors of Egypt and Nubian rulers to their south, while as late as 1910 slaves were still being shipped out of Benghazi, supplied, it would seem, via as eastern Saharan route from Wadai (in Chad). By the seventeenth century blackness of skin of African origin was virtually synonymous in the Arab world with both the notion and the work 'abd (slave). Even today the word for Africans in many dialects of Arabic remains just that--'abid--"slaves." This book provides an introduction to this other" slave trade, and to the Islamic cultural context within which it took place, as well as the effects this context had on its victims." -- Book cover.

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About the author (2002)

John O. Hunwick has devoted a lifetime of scholarship to the history, culture, and literature of Islamic Africa.

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