by Anestos Canelides
Sura 48.20: …Allah promises you much booty (spoils of war) that you will capture from the defeated infidel.— Legacy of Jihad, by Dr. Andrew Bostom, pg. 127
Slavery has been a curse upon human existence since the dawn of mankind. During modern times there has been a thin illusion that slavery has vanished from the world. The sad reality is that slavery does exist in our modern era, and while slavery is not unique to Islam, there has never been an abolition of slavery in the Islamic world as there has been in the Western nations.
In recent decades slaves were taken in southern Sudan by Muslims from the north. These captives were either Christians or animists taken during the civil unrest between southern Sudan and the Muslims in northern Sudan.
Is there a connection between jihad and slavery in the Muslim world? Most importantly, is slavery an major factor in Jihad?
The main focus of this essay will not be the dhimmi status of the conquered, but jihad and chattel slavery in the Muslim world.
There is a permanent link between jihad and slavery. It is a uniquely Islamic institution, and provides a good explanation for the persistence of slavery in Islam’s dominions and societies. This may applied to specialized forms of slavery such as the employment of eunuchs, slave soldiering, child slavery, and harem slavery. Jihad slavery has been a powerful tool for both expanding Islamization and the maintenance of Muslim societies. It was a form of punishment for the infidels who were conquered, whether they were Christians, Jews, or idolaters.
Historian Spero Vyronis provides a description on how jihad slavery, as practiced by the Seljuk Turks and early Ottomans, was so important for the Islamization of conquered lands in the eleventh through fourteenth centuries.