?If all crimes committed from creation down to the present day were added together, they would not exceed, I am sure, the guilt of the diabolic slave trade.??Lord Palmerston (1844)
And did you know, dear Reader, that this ?diabolic slave trade? had the blessings of Christianity and Islam? But this is not the only guilt they carried. And yet they assert that they are superior to Hinduism!
But how can the religion of Jesus Christ be a party to these atrocities? Here is what one of Europe'sforemost historians had to say: ?They (Europeans) received the externals (of Christianity), but there they stop. They may baptize their children, they may take the sacrament, they may flock to the church. All these they may do and yet be as far removed from the spirit of Christianity as when they bowed their knees before their former idols.? (History of Medieval and Modern Civilisations by Seignobos.)
In short, Europe was never truly Christianised. This explains why Christian Europe was behind this ?diabolic? trade.
But we know so little about the Muslims! You may well ask why? Because the wrong-doings of the Muslims have hardly been dealt with by the historians. In fact, Islam is the least discussed religion. It is made out as if it has a clean slate.
The fact is: the Arabs were the first to trade in slaves. It began long before Islam. The Quran gave it legitimacy. Hunting for slaves became part of the Arab way of life. There was no problem of conscience. They developed the worst forms of slave trade. Only when the Portuguese and Spanish entered the scene, the Arab monopoly of the trade was broken.
The Portuguese were the first to set up a slave fort in West Africa (in 1481 AD). The British entered the trade in 1562 AD. The last slave ship sailed out of the West coast of Africa in1707 AD(the year when Aurangzeb died). But the trade went on for half a century more. In about three centuries, the Europeans captured or bought about 10 million Africans to be transported to the New World. Half of them perished in most terrible circumstances before they reached their destination.
On the perilous journey of the slave ships across the Atlantic, this is what one historian had to say: Negroes were piled up in the holds of the ships, as many as they could contain and they remained there without light or air for several weeks. They died in hundreds. The dead and the blinded were thrown to the sharks which infested the waters to the Americas. And those who reached the plantations were tied to yokes to plough the lands. (Seignobos)
People did make historical mistakes. The question is; did they regret? Did they make amends? Europe did make amends: it gave up the slave trade. The British were the first to revolt against the trade. Remember, Lincoln fought a bloody civil war to get rid of the trade in America.
What about the Muslims? Did they regret? Did they make amends? No. They kept at it for 1300 years till they were forced out of it by the Western powers! Nowhere in Islamic literature do we find a demand for abolition of the trade! And when the Ottomans (a non-Arab Muslim people) did make a call for its abolition, the priests of Mecca revolted. They issued a fatwa against the Ottoman demand and called them ?infidels?. They said, the demand went against the holy Shariah.
India, like Africa, bore the brunt of this ?diabolic? trade. Qasim carried away 60,000 Indians from Sind. In fact, Sind became a perennial source of supply till Mahmud of Ghazni opened up the rest of India.
K.S. Lal, the Indian historian, says: ?Slave-taking in India was the most flourishing and successful Muslim missionary activity.?
But we talk and talk of caste oppression in India as if it was the worst form of brutality. I do admit a thousand times, it was unpardonable. But compare it with the slave trade and the genocide. The very idea of hunting down other human beings with net and whip and yoking them as animals to plough the land?there can be nothing more revolting and reprehensible than this.
There were other worse crimes. For example, sale of eunuchs. Boys of 7-15 years were castrated and sold to the aristocracy and royalty as eunuchs to guard their harems. About 90 per cent of them are reported to have died while removing their genitals. Can there be anything more heartless?
Slavery among boys led to rampant homosexuality. It is said an Arab judge changed the boy everyday. The practice was so rampant that even al-Ghazali, the great Muslim savant, feared to condemn it.
Muslims are deeply divided. The puritans (extremists), the dominant group, carry the negative legacy of Islam. (Only recently a judge of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa for the restoration of slavery!) The moderates want us to believe that the good inspired by the humanistic traditions of Islam far outweighs the bad. But facts tell a different story.