Muslims are chided for many of their practices. They, having a different culture than the West, look strange to us. One of the major issues is that of forcible sex. Many Christians are quick to point out the Muslims attitude toward women and concubinage. But this is not all. There is the situation of slavery.
Both of these issues was addressed by a Muslim professor. He fails to accomplish what he intends. Rather than smoothing out the differences, he highlights the presuppositional cause for the differences.
Christian News reports
Professor Jonathan Brown recently lectured at the International Institute of Islamic Thought, where he delivered a message on “Islam and the Problem of Slavery.” The lecture, which included a Q & A period, can be heard in full here. Q & A begins at approximately 51:00.
Brown stated in the discussion that what some might call slavery in Islam differs from what is recognized in the historical American context, because it was “rarely racialized” and “slaves had a huge regime of rights.” He said that some “slaves in numerous circumstances became the actual rulers or were used as the administrative elite.”
“I think if you took the Sharia understanding of slavery and even the general practice of slavery in Islamic civilization, I don’t think it’s comparable at all to plantation chattel slavery in the Americas. It’s just not comparable at all,” he asserted.
So, he begins with slavery. This idea that Islamic-slavery, still very much alive and well in the world, was somehow a more genteel version than that practiced in America 152 years ago. The problem with this is that most American and even Western European slaves were first Muslim-owned slaves.
The slave trade in the West was an offshoot of the Islamic trade. And Brown has a small problem with the picture he paints. It does not fit with the Quran.
The Religion Of Peace reports
Islam neither ignores nor condemns slavery. In fact, a large part of the Sharia is dedicated to the practice.
Muslims are encouraged to live in the way of Muhammad, who was a slave owner and trader. He captured slaves in battle; he had sex with his slaves; and he instructed his men to do the same. The Quran actually devotes more verses to making sure that Muslim men know they can keep women as sex slaves (4) than it does to telling them to pray five times a day (zero).
And this leads to the fact that Brown believes that Islam’s attitude toward rape is misunderstood.
Christian News continues
Later in the session, an attendee asked a question about the concept of having sexual relations with concubines, and Brown replied that while consent is considered to be the legal standard in American culture, it was not so throughout much of world history.
“It’s very hard to have this discussion because we think of, let’s say in the modern United States, the sine qua non of morally correct sex is consent. We think of people as autonomous agents. Everybody’s an autonomous agent and it’s the consent of that autonomous agent that makes a sexual action acceptable. Correct?” he stated.
“[But] for most of human history, human beings have not thought of consent as the essential feature of morally correct sexual activity,” he said. “And second, we fettishize the idea of automomy to the extent that we forget, again, who is really free? Are we really autonomous people? What does autonomy mean?”
The issue here, as Brown sees it, is the understanding of personal autonomy. And he asks, “What does autonomy mean?” But this is not his main problem, though it is one. His main problem is that at least since the time of Moses, this understanding that he scoffs at, was the general understanding.
We know this because Moses is not forced to explain what God means by rape Deut. 22:23-29. It is the understood concept that a person has control over their own being. The right to act or not act in a moral way is the right of all people.
This points to the epistemological problem we continue to run into in our “multi-cultural” society.
The Christian West, based on the tenets of Christ is unable to be integrated with that of the Muslim false deity. A deity that not only approves of taking and keeping slaves but also encourages their rape.