The “slave name” of Muhammad Ali 7

Muhammad Ali, whose death was announced yesterday, was by all accounts a good guy as well as a great boxer.

He changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam. Cassius Clay, he said, was his “slave name”:

In 1964, [Cassius Clay] shocked the boxing world by announcing he was a member of the Black Muslims — the Nation of Islam — and was rejecting his “slave name.”

As a Baptist youth he spent much of his time outside the ring reading the Bible. From now on, he would be known as Muhammad Ali and his book of choice would be the Quran.

It seems he believed that only white Americans ever held slaves. But in in fact Muslims have been slave traders and slave owners from the early days of Islam right up to the present:

Some historians estimate that between A.D. 650 and 1900, 10 to 20 million people were enslaved by Arab slave traders. Others believe over 20 million enslaved Africans had been delivered through the trans-Sahara route alone to the Islamic world. …

The Arab slave trade typically dealt in the sale of castrated male slaves. Black boys between the age of 8 and 12 had their scrotums and penises completely amputated to prevent them from reproducing. About six of every 10 boys  bled to death during the procedure, according to some sources, but the high price brought by eunuchs on the market made the practice profitable.

For just three – but perhaps most shocking – reports on slaves in the Islamic world, see here (the treatment of women and girls held as slaves by Muslims); and here (women advertised for sale by ISIS on Facebook); and here (a Muslim country has more slaves than anywhere else in the world).

Posted under Africa, Commentary, History, Islam, Slavery, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 4, 2016

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