How did African Muslims end up in slavery during the transatlantic slave trade?

Aug 2018
16
Ontario
#1
From what I've read, Islamic teachings state that Muslims shall not enslave fellow Muslims. Africans of traditional religions and Christian Europeans had no such religious inhibitors which is why the high volume of people transported from those non-islamic areas made sense to me.

I see this come up a lot regarding the Arab slave trade. But books and articles on the Atlantic slave trade fail to address this silent contradiction, and the role religion played in general.

Were the captives in these Islamic regions PoW/indebted? Were they a result of pagans raiding Muslim communities? Or did Muslim traders just ignore the religious teachings and raid their neighbours anyway?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,619
#4
From what I've read, Islamic teachings state that Muslims shall not enslave fellow Muslims. Africans of traditional religions and Christian Europeans had no such religious inhibitors which is why the high volume of people transported from those non-islamic areas made sense to me.

I see this come up a lot regarding the Arab slave trade. But books and articles on the Atlantic slave trade fail to address this silent contradiction, and the role religion played in general.

Were the captives in these Islamic regions PoW/indebted? Were they a result of pagans raiding Muslim communities? Or did Muslim traders just ignore the religious teachings and raid their neighbours anyway?
Far as I know the numbers of Muslim slaves were very small. Most of the time it was Muslims with trade connections raiding pagan communities but sometimes the tables turned especially in the east and some Portuguese trade from Mali ended up in Brasil including a few Muslims but vast majority of trans-Atlantic slave trade was composed not of Muslim Africans because only a few areas on the Atlantic coast were Muslim and the largest areas where slaves originated were not Muslim.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,571
Portugal
#5
From what I've read, Islamic teachings state that Muslims shall not enslave fellow Muslims. Africans of traditional religions and Christian Europeans had no such religious inhibitors which is why the high volume of people transported from those non-islamic areas made sense to me.

I see this come up a lot regarding the Arab slave trade. But books and articles on the Atlantic slave trade fail to address this silent contradiction, and the role religion played in general.

Were the captives in these Islamic regions PoW/indebted? Were they a result of pagans raiding Muslim communities? Or did Muslim traders just ignore the religious teachings and raid their neighbours anyway?
As John pointed "money talks". And in this case money, or better material and political interests, talked better than religious ones. We saw a similar trend in Christianity.

From my understanding about some schools is that people already enslaved can convert to Islam without being freed.
Those conversions could eventually occur in Africa, but in the Sea or in America would be more difficult to occur. In the Sea or in America it was the Christianization that would most probably occur. By the way, the Portuguese slaves were Christianised before embarking in Africa, at least in theory, since all were baptized. Don’t recall the date when this begun but it was in the 16th century if my memory doesn’t fail me much.

By the way, the Portuguese “Lançados” traded Muslim slaves with Muslims: This article in the Wikipedia is quite small, but can give us an idea about what were the “Lançados”: Lançados - Wikipedia

Far as I know the numbers of Muslim slaves were very small. Most of the time it was Muslims with trade connections raiding pagan communities but sometimes the tables turned especially in the east and some Portuguese trade from Mali ended up in Brasil including a few Muslims but vast majority of trans-Atlantic slave trade was composed not of Muslim Africans because only a few areas on the Atlantic coast were Muslim and the largest areas where slaves originated were not Muslim.
Indeed, agreed, even if “very small” is a question of perspective, if we take into account that the global numbers were “huge” or at least “significant” (probably more than 12 million slaves in 4 centuries).
 
Likes: Iraq Bruin

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,588
Benin City, Nigeria
#6
From what I've read, Islamic teachings state that Muslims shall not enslave fellow Muslims. Africans of traditional religions and Christian Europeans had no such religious inhibitors which is why the high volume of people transported from those non-islamic areas made sense to me.

I see this come up a lot regarding the Arab slave trade. But books and articles on the Atlantic slave trade fail to address this silent contradiction, and the role religion played in general.

Were the captives in these Islamic regions PoW/indebted? Were they a result of pagans raiding Muslim communities? Or did Muslim traders just ignore the religious teachings and raid their neighbours anyway?
If you read the first chapter of this book by Sylviane Diouf:

Servants of Allah : African Muslims enslaved in the Americas (Book, 2013) [WorldCat.org]

You'll probably get a better understanding of how it happened. That issue is addressed in that chapter.
 
Likes: Baldtastic
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#7
From my understanding about some schools is that people already enslaved can convert to Islam without being freed.
Leaving aside America for a minute. One of the main problems faced with Europeans 'enslaved' in, say, Algiers like Cervantes (although it was more like kept work) was around this. If you weren't important enough to be ransomed (or they wanted too much money, like Cervantes) then you could convert to islam and be freed - and several become high-ranking officials or soldiers. Of course they were well on the lookout for false conversions.

But if someone did succeed in getting back to Spain having been freed in this way, the Inquisition was not easiliy persuaded that you had denied Christianity for any justified purpose. Or indeed that there could possibly be any justified purpose. If you didn't have the right connections you could be out of the frying pan into the fire.

Which probably explains why quite a few converted and stayed in the service of some Bey or Sultan in North Africa.
 
Likes: Iraq Bruin

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,571
Portugal
#8
If you read the first chapter of this book by Sylviane Diouf:

Servants of Allah : African Muslims enslaved in the Americas (Book, 2013) [WorldCat.org]

You'll probably get a better understanding of how it happened. That issue is addressed in that chapter.
Can you give us some hints about Sylviane's Diouf perspective? I only read reviews of that book. A comment seems a constant, as it is in the summary: "Islam flourished during slavery on a large scale ". Sometimes these summaries are more for marketing purposes, but some reviews also mention it.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,222
#9
They didn't have to be sold by Muslims. They could be sold by pagan or maybe Christian Africans to European slave traders.

Muslims could not enslave Muslims and Christians could not enslave Christians. However, Christians could enslave Muslims. There were also large numbers of European Christian slaves in Muslim countries at that time.
 
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#10
They didn't have to be sold by Muslims. They could be sold by pagan or maybe Christian Africans to European slave traders.

Muslims could not enslave Muslims and Christians could not enslave Christians. However, Christians could enslave Muslims. There were also large numbers of European Christian slaves in Muslim countries at that time.
There were - and also a lot of Christian 'criminals' chained up in Spanish and Venetian galleys alongside muslim slaves. Just that they were called 'prisoners' :)