Are slavery and rape moral because “the Prophet Muhammad” said they are, or is “the Prophet Muhammad” immoral for saying so?
We think Muhammad’s teaching is immoral. We think it is profoundly evil. All of it. We think Muhammad (whether an historical or fictitious figure) is evil.
But Professor Jonathan Brown – Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding – thinks that since Muhammad was all for slavery and rape, they are ipso facto good.
This report comes from the Clarion Project, by Meira Svirsky:
A Georgetown professor of Islamic studies sent shockwaves through the academic and secular world for a lecture he gave essentially condoning Islamic slavery and nonconsensual sex (that’s academic for “rape”). …
In a lecture at the International Institute of Islamic Thought [founded by the Muslim Brotherhood] and in subsequent questions and answers following his talk, Georgetown Islamic Studies professor Jonathan Brown, a convert to Islam, declares:
It’s not immoral for one human to own another human.
He waxes poetic about the great life a slave has under sharia law (versus slavery under white men in the South) without actually defining that life. …
Brown says slavery itself is not problematic, since –
The Prophet of God [Mohammed] had slaves … There’s no denying that. Are you more morally mature than the Prophet of God? No you’re not.
The moral evil is extreme forms of deprivation of rights and extreme forms of control and extreme forms of exploitation. I don’t think it’s morally evil to own somebody because we own lots of people all around us, and we’re owned by people.
Brown mentions examples such as an employer and an employee, taking out a mortgage and even his own marriage, since his wife held certain rights over him. Somehow, the fact that one engages in these activities from his or her own free will and has the ability to terminate such relationships went over the professor’s head, or he chose to ignore them.
Brown tells his audience Islamic slavery was fundamentally better than slavery that was practiced in the U.S., since it was not racially motivated. How that makes it better is beyond my moral compass, but one can simply look at the well documented history of the Arab slave trade of Africans to dispute this.
Although many whites were enslaved by Arab Muslims as well, an estimated 10-20 million black Africans were enslaved between 650 and 1900 by Arab slave traders. Many of these slaves were forcibly castrated to serve as eunuchs that guarded the vast harems of female slaves belonging to the rulers. Black Muslim slaves still exist today, for example, in Mauritania and Sudan.
Black people suffer discrimination in Saudi Arabia, where slavery was only abolished in 1962.
The racial slur abeed, meaning slaves in Arabic, is still widely used to describe black people.
The professor then trots out academic moral relativism in two twisted points of erudition, saying:
There is no such thing as slavery, as a category, as a conceptual category that exists throughout space and time trans-historically.
Slavery cannot just be treated as a moral evil in and of itself because slavery doesn’t mean anything.
It takes a professor to say things that absurd!
As for the permissibility of sex with a slave, Brown says, “Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex” and goes on to dig at the overrated concept of autonomy over one’s own body, saying our society is “obsessed with the idea of autonomy and consent”.
When asked if having nonconsensual sex with an enslaved woman – or any woman — is wrong, Brown asks if there is really any difference between a girl sold in a slave market in Istanbul and a poor baker’s daughter who marries a poor baker’s son out of lack of other options:
[The girl’s owner in Istanbul] by the way, might treat her badly, might treat her incredibly well … that baker’s son might treat her well. He might treat her horribly. The difference between these two people is not that big. We see it as enormous because we’re obsessed with the idea of autonomy and consent, would be my first response. It’s not a solution to the problem.I think it does help frame it.
“Frame it” or not, there is a world of difference between the two situations and a simple answer that consent is not a relativistic concept when we are talking about a raping of women would have sufficed.
The fact that a college professor can get away with such apologetic views on such serious moral issues surrounding Islamic thought – issues that entire populations who have been taken over by Islamic State are facing with horrific consequences – is truly staggering.
Daniel Greenfield comments at Front Page:
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), where [Professor Jonathan Brown] shared his alarming beliefs with students in attendance in his lecture, Islam and the Problem of Slavery … is an Islamist Brotherhood project. It’s utterly unsurprising that Brown expected a compliant and friendly audience there. Or that this would be the kind of material presented there.
IIIT is a prominent endorser of the book Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, an authoritative compendium of sharia written by an eminent 14th-century Islamic jurist. By IIIT’s reckoning, the English translation by Umdat al-Salik is “a valuable and important work” that is highly successful in “its aim to imbue the consciousness of the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim with a sound understanding of Sacred Law”.
According to Andrew McCarthy, Reliance denies freedom of conscience, explaining that “apostasy from Islam is a death-penalty offense”; contends that “a Muslim apostatizes not only by clearly renouncing Islam but by doing so implicitly” — such as by deviating from the consensus of Muslims, or making statements that could be “taken as insolence toward Allah or the prophet Mohammed”; approves a legal caste system in which “the rights and privileges of Muslims and men are superior to those of non-Muslims and women”; penalizes “extramarital fornication by stoning or scourging”; endorses the death penalty for homosexuals and for people who make interest-bearing loans; venerates jihad; and exhorts Muslims “to strive to establish an Islamic government, ruled by a caliph”.
So that is what we’re dealing with here. And the various promoters of it are complicit in it. Georgetown has been ground zero for Islamist apologetics. …
Brown argues that “slaves were well off under Islam. Better off than some people in America today”.
Oh, sure. Who could doubt it?
And of course correct judgment depends on what the meaning of “slavery” is; what the meaning of “rape” is.
Brown is using the standard intellectual tools of the left to legitimize the unacceptable. He deconstructs what slavery is. …
And this obsession with thinking of slavery as property it’s … I think that’s actually a really … odd … and … and … and unhelpful way to think about slavery, and it kind of gets you locked in this … way of thinking where, if you talk about ownership and people … that you’ve already transgressed some moral boundary that you can’t come back from. But I don’t think that’s true at all. Uh, … I’m trying to think about what slavery actually means, and to show that it doesn’t really … the term doesn’t really mean anything. Uh, that it … it that there’s … so many different phenomena that we would lump under this … the idea of someone who is a by-definition non-consensual sexual actor in the sense that they have been entered into a sexual relationship … in a position of servitude. That’s … sort of … ab initio wrong. The way I would respond to that is to say that … as … I mean this is just a fact. This isn’t a judgment, this is a fact, okay? For most of human history, human beings have not thought of consent as the essential feature of moral … of morally correct sexual activity. And second … we fetishize the idea of autonomy, to the extent that we forget … again, who’s really free? Are we really autonomous people? And what does autonomy mean?
We’re just so obsessed with autonomy that we think of rape as being wrong. But what does autonomy mean? Does anyone have free will? Let’s define free will before we condemn slavery and rape.
This is the sort of sophomoric garbage that Brown is peddling as justification for rape and slavery. It’s another symptom of how our society can now justify anything as long as it’s politically correct.
Slavery and rape are considered the worst modern evils. But play a little word game and suddenly Islamic rape and slavery are okay. Because they’re not really rape and slavery. Because who are we to say that autonomy even exists.
What brings an educated American to defend slavery and rape? What makes him take on a job in which he has perpetually to say what the Muslim Brotherhood will have him say? What was it about Islam that made him want to join it and “submit to Allah”?
How many others on the Left, having decided Islam is good, will go that far?
The Democrats are seriously considering electing a Muslim, Keith Ellison, to the chair of their National Committee.
As judges, they are fighting hard to let multitudes of Muslims into the US from the middle east.
At the same time they change the names of colleges because the old name was that of a slave-owner or supporter of slavery. (See here too.) And they punish male students for rape when they have not committed it.
Are they too deranged to know that this is insane? Or too evil to care?