Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Muhammad and the Natural Law: Propheting in Slavery

“SLAVERY IS PART OF ISLAM," "Slavery is part of jihad." These are not the words of some Islamophobe, but the words of Shaykh Saleh Al-Fawzan, a member in very good standing of the Senior Council of Clerics in Saudi Arabia.* And Al-Fawzan is right. Not only is chattel slavery part of Islam, chattel slavery is part of Muhammad.

Shaykh Saleh Ibn 'Abdullah Ibn al-Fawzan

In Islam, Muhammad, alleged to be al-insan al-kamir, the perfect model of a human being, is someone whose life ought to be imitated. To criticize any aspect of Muhammad's life is blasphemous under Islam's law, the shari'a. And yet it is an indisputable fact that Muhammad, after acquiring power and money in Medina, owned slaves, captured slaves, accepted slaves as gifts, traded slaves, enjoyed the fruits of slave labor,** and had sex with his female slaves.*** Oh, and on occasion, manumitted slaves. Ergo, under Islamic logic is not morally wrong to own slaves, trade slaves, capture slaves, or have sex with (female) slaves. It is حلال, halal, allowed. Oh, and on occasion, manumit them.

But apologists for Muhammad insist that the founder of Islam was a reformer: he prohibited the earnings of slave girls through prostitution (along with the money made by trading a dog, or money earned by soothsaying), based upon the ahadith found in Sahih Bukhari 3.36.482, 483. But lest we get too pious about Muhammad, we may want to mention that (immediately before telling his followers that they should not laugh at a Muslim which farts since every man is susceptible to farting) he suggested to his followers that he ought not to lash his wife as he would his slave, suggesting that slave lashing is something that his followers may do (as well as wife lashing, but only less severely). Sahih Bukhari 6.60.466. Muhammad also advised that coitus interruptus with a female slave was acceptable (even if she was married before capture, as her capture nullified the marriage to a nonbeliever, and made her property of the Muslim who acquired her). By approving a Muslim's coitus interruptus ('azl [عزل]) with a slave, of course, Muhammad necessarily approved of a Muslim's coitus with his slave. Sahih Muslim, 8.3383. What happen to God's commandment (which is part of the natural moral law), "Thou shalt not commit adultery"?

In his book, Zad al-Ma'ad (زاد المعاد‎, Provisions for the Hereafter) famous Sunni jurist Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (also known as Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr) (1292-1350 A.D.), identified Muhammad's male slaves:
Yakan Abu Sharh, Aflah, 'Ubayd, Dhakwan, Tahman, Mirwan, Hunayn, Sanad, Fadala Yamamin, Anjasha al-Hadi, Mad'am, Karkara, Abu Rafi', Thawban, Ab Kabsha, Salih, Rabah, Yara Nubyan, Fadila, Waqid, Mabur, Abu Waqid, Kasam, Abu 'Ayb, Abu Muwayhiba, Zayd Ibn Haritha, and also a black slave called Mahran, who was re-named (by Muhammad) Safina (`ship').
The same source identifies Muhammad's women slaves, two of them we know were his concubines:
Salma Um Rafi', Maymuna daughter of Abu Asib, Maymuna daughter of Sa'd, Khadra, Radwa, Razina, Um Damira, Rayhana, Mary the Coptic, in addition to two other maid-slaves, one of them given to him as a present by his cousin, Zaynab, and the other one captured in a war.†
Unquestionably, Muhammad had his hands deep in slavery. His hands are stained crimson with the unfortunate who suffered from his law of capture. No, by his treatment of men as if they were possessions, Muhammad showed that he is not the khairul bashar (خیرالبشر), the "best of all mankind." Not by a long shot.

Muslim Slave Traders in Yemen
(from an Arabic manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Now, many of our heroes are no different than Muhammad. Washington owned slaves, and Jefferson owned them and, it is alleged, slept with one and fathered a child. The West's hands are mired in slavery, and the institution was part of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and it took hundreds of years to erase it, only to see it come back again, and removed again. It is a historical blight on the history of our nation which was only overcome with much blood. It is also true that some of the Jewish patriarchs owned slaves. Even the Christian Scriptures make mention of it without its express condemnation. Only implicitly in the mustard seed of the Gospel may be found the seminal source for the understanding that chattel slavery is against the natural moral law. But none of those slave-owning men in our history are al-insan al-kamir. None of them have been perfect, or claimed perfection. All are sinners. Most have had feet of clay. None of them have disciples that claim their heroes perfect, the "best of all mankind," khairul bashar: none of them unable to be criticized; none of them must be slavishly followed.

There is one man that Christians slavishly follow, Jesus. And Jesus owned no slaves, and none can convict him of any sin (unless it would be blasphemy for claiming to be God incarnate, but this would be sin only if false). And the Gospel that he preached contained an implicit rejection of the underlying assumptions that justify slavery. Jesus undermined slavery's foundations. As an institution, slavery is inconsistent with St. Paul's credo in his letter to the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you all are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28. The Gospel's teaching was social salt indeed. And through the tutorship of the Gospel, we--all humanity, Christian or no--have learned much about our human nature and the natural law on the matter. The truth that chattel slavery is against the natural moral law is, like the right to religious freedom, one of those moral truths that we have learned over many dead bodies and ruined lives, but at least we have learned it. We know now without any doubt that the natural law condemns chattel slavery.†† Under the natural law, which is the law of God, chattel slavery is حَرَام‎, haraam, forbidden, foreclosed to any man.

But so long as a Muslim listens to Muhammad and looks to Muhammad as the perfect man, and so long as the unchanging Shari'a occupies the Muslim's mind and the Muslim's heart and trumps the natural law of reason and of God there, the Muslim will be blinded to a fundamental moral truth: we are, on account of our humanity, all brothers and all entitled to the benefit and subject to the restrictions of the natural moral law: it matters not who may be our parents, or what may be our tribe, our race, our color, or our creed. There is a fundamental law we share because we are human, and that law is a measure against which we can measure any other law, human or purportedly divine. As Tertullian put it so eloquently, all men are brothers because they have the natural law as their mother (not to mention having God as their Father).†††

In light of the natural law's condemnation of chattel slavery, and Muhammad's participation in chattel slavery, we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Muhammad was neither God's messenger, nor the seal of the prophets. He was but a man, his head perhaps in the clouds, but with feet of clay, and with a phallus between the legs of many a slave woman as he sought the joys, not the eternal joys of Paradise Allah had promised him, but the very temporal joys of sexual orgasm that apparently his Allah--against the natural moral law--had also allowed him. It is manifest that Muhammad's life was a lie.

But someone who is a good Muslim, whom I have no doubt Shaykh Saleh Al-Fawzan is, has become tone deaf to the universal melody of natural law. He has been taught by, and he is in thrall to, that mental slavery called Islam, a slavery that deadens the natural human sensitivity to the natural moral law. It squelches it ab initio. Islam is a system, an ideology that hides behind the skirt, or perhaps better under the burqa of the irrational when pressed by reason, and becomes stuck in a vicious circle, an infinite loop, from which there is no outage.

Muhammad, his life, and his law are best. How do we know?

They are the best because الله ورسوله أعلم, Allah and his messenger know best.

How do we know that Allah and his messenger know best?

We know they know best because Allah and his messenger know best that they know best:

الله ورسوله أعلم لأن الله ورسوله أعلم.

And how do we know that Allah and his messenger know best that they know best?

Because Allah and his messenger know best that Allah and his messenger know best that Allah and his messenger know best:

الله ورسوله أعلم لأن الله ورسوله أعلم لأن الله ورسوله أعلم.

You see where we're going?
*See "Author of Saudi Curriculums Advocates Slavery," in Saudi Information Agency's web page. See
**From the many instances that could be cited, one might observe that he had a wooden bench or pulpit made by one.
Sahih Bukhari 1.8.439. He had a slave he nicknamed "ship" because he could carry such a load. He had slaves as household servants. Sahih Bukhari 3.43.648. He had a slave that was his tailor. Sahih Bukhari 7.65.345. He had one slave named Anjashah which drove his camels. Sahih Bukhari 8.73.221. He personally took slaves captive, and gave them away as gifts. Sahih Bukhari 1.8.367 and 4.53.373. He bought and sold slaves. Muslim 10.3901. Many other examples could be cited.
***Both Muhammad and his followers were allowed to have sex with women captives, even if the women had been married before capture. This divine permission revealed in the Qur'an.
†The information can be found in Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars: Slavery. I have not been able to confirm the quote or its historical accuracy regarding the identity of slaves owned by Muhammad. But whether historically accurate or not, the ownership of slaves by Muhammad--irrespective of their names or number--is historical fact.
††We have addressed this issue in prior postings. See especially Leo XIII's In Plurimis: Natural Law and Slavery, Part 1, Leo XIII's In Plurimis: Natural Law and Slavery, Part 2, and Leo XIII's In Plurimis: Natural Law and Slavery, Part 3.
†††Tertulian, Apol., 39, 1 PL 471 ("Fratres autem vestri sumus, iure naturae matris unius . . . At quanto dignius qui unum patrem Deum agnoverunt."

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