Arabs, Blacks and Slavery

I have been looking into this issue for sometime now. The relationship between Arab-Berbers or Semitic peoples (so-called) and black Africans. It’s a relationship that goes back thousands of years, longer than the relationship of whites and blacks in the New World.

 Here are some of the more disturbing aspects so far:

 The relationship between Arabs and blacks have been heavily influenced by slavery. It started with the Biblical story of Noah and his three sons: Japheth, Shem and Ham. The story of Ham, the son who laughed at his drunken, naked father and thus was cursed by said father, Noah, to serve his brothers for eternity, not only served as justification for slavery in the Americas, but also inspired slavery among Semitic Arabs and Arabized peoples in North Africa and the Middle East. Of course, both Arabs and white Europeans insist neither started slavery and that slavery was started in Africa, by Africans. They simply participated. Nonetheless, while whites are still taking the heat over slavery, Arabs are not.

According to the FrontPage article by Serge Trifkovic :

There are notable differences between the slave trade in the Islamic world and the trans-Atlantic variety. The former has been going on for 13 centuries and it is an integral feature of the Islamic civilization, while the influx of slaves into the New World lasted less than a third that long and was effectively ended by the middle of the 19th century.

Slavery is so ingrained in Arabic, and subsequently Islamic culture, that the word for slave and the word blacks are one and the same: abd (abid). Many Arabs refute this claim. The argument is that abd is an archaic term that no one uses anymore. And futhermore, many insist the term for black is Aswad (which comes from abd, by the way). However, reports still show that slavery is very much alive in parts of the Islamic/Arab world.

Today, the enslavement of blacks is still common in parts of the Islamic-controlled Africa; notably, Mauritania and Sudan. We know of the atrocities in Darfur, where Janjaweed, a group of mixed race (black and Arab) militia have taken on the cause of slaughtering non-mixed race black Africans (the government wants their land). The Janjaweed, despite being largely black in appearance, think of themselves as Arabs, because a) In Arabic tradition, the child takes on the ethnicity of the father,  and b) black people are the only conquered people who no longer care for their original ethno-racial affiliation. (see Latin America: there, blacks are Hispanics/Dark Indian/Trigueno not blacks.) In parts of Africa, they are Arabs not black, and to call them such might get you killed.

To this day it can be dangerous to one’s life to ask a dark-looking but Arabic-speaking Sudanese or Mauritanian Moslem if he is “black.”

In Mauritania, the Haratines (blacks) are armed and used to carry out massacres against their own people by the government. This is one of the most mind-boggling aspect of the anti-black racism. It’s not that it’s Arabs themselves committing the atrocities, but that they’re using blacks to do it against other blacks. The Janjaweed, Haratines and other Arabized black peoples  think they’re no longer blacks because they’ve been converted, and they hate their black heritage so much they willingly slaughter their fellow non-Arabized blacks in the name of their Arabized heritage. Listening to the testimonies from rape victims in Darfur, where Janjaweed militia men raped the women while telling them they were “black and ugly slaves,”  you couldn’t help but feel the torture was a form of self-mutilation of the black heritage of the Janjaweed, since some of those Janjaweed came from those same black females.

More on black and Arab relations later.

About TCDH

Blogger with an opinion.
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One Response to Arabs, Blacks and Slavery

  1. Zaire Y says:

    Very interesting. This is a bit unsettling for, not only because Im African, but Im also a Muslim. I cant say for sure if there is a definite rift between Black and Arab Muslims but there have been times where I have noticed racialism and what not. The fact that the word 'black' is synonymous with slave does say a lot about Blacks/Arabs relate to each other.

    Though some want to deny it their are plenty of Afro-Arabs in Saudi, Yemen, Oman, ect. Their place in society is consistent with the defacto racial hierarchy we see in the West. The Afro-Arabs, in general, occupy the lower rungs of society.

    I want to know more about this…

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