ßÊÇÈ Slavery: A Fundamental Historical Overview
CHAPTER IV: Some Types of Slavery in the Middle Ages

في الخميس ١٨ - أغسطس - ٢٠٢٢ ١٢:٠٠ صباحاً

 

CHAPTER IV: Some Types of Slavery in the Middle Ages:

 

Enslaved Female Singers:

Introduction:

 Of course, apart from using female slaves to serve men sexually in bed and to be used as servants to free women to do domestic chores, Arabs liked artistic pleasures like singing of songs, watching female slaves dancing in groups, chanting verses and poems, and listening to the female slaves playing musical instruments. Many such talented female slaves are immortalized in books of history and literature. Let us brief some details about enslaved female singers below.

 

Firstly: debates over singing and enslaved female singers:

 

1- Extremist religious scholars were vehemently against all arts, and singing of enslaved female singers in particular. Liberal-minded thinkers like Al-Jahiz refuted such extremist views, as we have briefed above about his book. Al-Jahiz quoted well-known love stories in verse about couples in Arabia before and after the advent of Islam. Al-Jahiz quoted well-known stories of similar nature about caliphs and their talented female slaves.   

2- Some political opposition figures who hated the Umayyads condemned the promiscuity of caliphs, especially Yazeed Ibn Mu'aweiya and Yazeed Ibn Abdul-Malik. The latter loved passionately two enslaved female singers named Hababbah and Salammah, whose fame reached all Hejaz and the Umayyad caliph bought them and brought them to Damascus, the Umayyad capital. Hababbah died during his caliphate and Salammah survived him. Salammah was bought by the caliph in return for 20 thousand dinars. Both enslaved female singers used to entertain the young caliph by singing to him, sharing a meal with him, drinking wine together, and being drunk, he would bathe in the swimming pool in the garden of the palace in Damascus, feeling intoxicated by both wine and beautiful singing, asserting that he was flying in the seventh heaven. Of course, such news spread about the promiscuous caliph and were used by the opposition figures who hated the Umayyads in their anti-Umayyad propaganda. Once a rebel delivered a sermon in Mecca about such promiscuous caliph, wishing he would fly into Hell for eternity. After the death of Yazeed Ibn Abdul-Malik and his successor/son Al-Waleed Ibn Yazeed was as promiscuous as his father, and he was murdered by rebels. Al-Tabari and Al-Safadi, the historians, mention in his historical accounts that Al-Waleed used to have sex with concubines of his father, and illicit relation as per the Quran, especially with the enslaved singer named Salammah. 

3- Of course, such 'mild' promiscuity of the Umayyads was nothing compared to the promiscuity of the Abbasids. The Umayyads were not familiar very much with affluent lifestyles of the Byzantine style of the Levant at the time. In contrast, the Abbasids brought the Persian and Byzantine influences of extravagance, promiscuity, and affluent lifestyle; hence, they had been introduced to many arts of carnal and intellectual pleasures of various types and sorts. Physical beauty of female slaves was no longer the only reason to buy them; they must be esteemed accomplished by their talents of singing, playing music, dancing, knowing etiquette, theology and fiqh, literature (especially songs and poems), history, art of conversation, and of course, arts of sexual pleasures and how to please men in bed. Of course, such accomplishments would make their prices soar, as much as they were deemed cultured well enough; some knew their route to Abbasid palaces and caliphs' beds. Ibrahim Al-Mosley, who died in 188 A.H., was a well-known male singer/composer during the Abbasid caliphate; he would teach and train female slaves to make their prices soar as accomplished female slaves. He amassed great wealth because of his slave-trade; when he died, he left his son 24 million dirhams, and his son, Ishaq, inherited his father's talent and field of work, of course.      

 

Secondly: with the passage of centuries, fiqh scholars grew more lenient in their views of singing and enslaved female singers:

 

1- According to the above, the Abbasid era witnessed more fame and active social life for female slaves and more segregation, regression, and exclusion of free women. With the passage of time, Ibn Hanbal doctrine extremist scholars grew more lenient toward enslaved female singers and concubines in general. We have mentioned the refutations by Al-Jahiz of the extremist views of such topic, in his book authored in the 3rd century A.H. In the 6th century A.H., Ibn Al-Jawzy, the historian-cum-scholar and the Ibn-Hanbal-doctrine fabricator/narrator of hadiths who died in 597 A.H., took great care to write histories of concubines and enslaved female singers, mentioning events never recorded by Al-Tabari about the 3rd century A.H.

2- Al-Jawzy writes in his history book titled "Al-Muntazim" a story that he claims that it occurred in 73 A.H. (but in our view, the story is improbable at all) about Abdul-Malik Ibn Marwan, the Umayyad caliph who established firmly the foundations of the Umayyad caliphate. The caliph would sit in a terrace to judge cases and complaints of his subjects. A complainer wrote that he desired to make the caliph allow him to hear three differ tunes/songs, and he would do whatever he would like with him after that, even if he killed him in return for it. the caliph was furious for such impertinent request that showed longing for listening to enslaved female singers. The requester was a poor, simple adolescent of 18 years old. He was brought to the caliph in the terrace to rebuke him for such impertinence to seek pleasures of caliphs and affluent ones. The adolescent insisted on his request, asserting he was ready to die for it! The caliph cunningly decided to make this adolescent a good example. He ordered a very pretty enslaved female singer, as beautiful as a full moon, to be brought to the terrace with her musical instrument. He told her to sit and to sing three different songs to the adolescent. In the very first song, the adolescent was so intoxicated with pleasure that he tore his clothes and remained in his underwear. In the second song, the adolescent was so intoxicated with pleasure that he swooned for a half-hour. In the third and last song, the adolescent was so intoxicated with pleasure that he threw himself from the balcony and died as a result. The caliph said that he would have him killed anyway, and he got what he deserved. But he caliph later on expressed his sympathy with the dead adolescent, and regretted his deed.   

3- Such romanticized account was of course fabricated by Ibn Al-Jawzy; it is never probable to occur during the Umayyad era nor the Abbasid one. Ibn Jawzy used to fabricate narratives; caliphs were not so naïve to host poor subjects in palaces for no reason. Such stories of committing suicide out of love, passion, etc. was typical of fabrications authored by Sufis in the 6th century A.H., and stories of similar nature are mentioned by Al-Ghazaly in his several-volume Sufi book of narratives and verse titled "Ehyaa' Olom Eddine". Tearing one's clothes out of mystic passion was typical in the 6th century Sufis, especially during hearing chants and songs. It is funny that Ibn Jawzy fabricated a series of narrators to lend his false story credibility. Hence, he ascribed his false story to dead people who never knew of the fact that their names would be used in that ill manner by Ibn Jawzy. This author/historian used to lie about hadiths and his historical narratives. His fabrications reflected truly the culture of his era, especially as far as enslaved female slaves are concerned.     

4- Despite fabrications of Ibn Al-Jawzy, we will quote him further in the following section about stories of Harun Al-Rashid, his cronies, and his enslaved female singers, as his stories reflected his era in the 6th century more than any other books, even more than tomes and volumes of the literary book titled "Al-Aghany" by the well-known author Al-Isphahany.  

 

 

Enslaved female singers during the caliphate of Harun Al-Rashid:

 

  Ibn Al-Jawzy narrates the following anecdotes during the reign of Harun Al-Rashid, in his book titled "Al-Muntazim".

 

1- There was a very strong friendship between Harun Al-Rashid's vizier, Jaffer Al-Barmaky, and the composer, musician, and slave-trader Ibrahim Al-Mosley and his son Ishaq. Jaffer and Ibrahim once performed pilgrimage with Harun Al-Rashid in Mecca and Yathreb. Yathreb at the time was known for its best and prettiest female slaves who can sing and play instruments. Jaffer asked Ibrahim to find for him a very pretty talented one. Ibrahim went to the biggest slaves market in Yathreb, but after long search, he found not his object. Some slave traders knew what he was searching for, and told him that he would find his desire in a house of a poor man who wish to sell his female slave, and she had the required qualities and talents. Ibrahim saw her beauty, admired her knowledge and etiquette, and listened to her excellent voice and knew how she played her instruments very well indeed. He felt that her original owner was a formerly rich man who descended to poverty suddenly, and he haggled the price for her, but the man insisted on the total sum of 40 thousand dinars, not a dirham less than that, in order to pay his debts and gain some profit margin. Ibrahim agreed and requested and was granted a period of time to get the sum. Telling Jaffer about her, Ibrahim made him desirous to see her. Jaffer disguised as a servant and came with Ibrahim to see her. Once he saw her beauty and listened to her melodious voice, Jaffer showed his true identity and was willing to pay the required sum. Yet, the deal was not done; the female slave did not knew she was about to be sold, and she wept bitterly. Her master apologized, as he would like to settle his debts. She told him she loved him and that she would not leave him for the whole world. Jaffer and Ibrahim left the house, as her master declared that he freed her and would marry her this very night.   

2- There were many reasons for the plight of the Al-Barmaky family of viziers, as the caliph Harun Al-Rashid killed them off in one night and confiscated their possessions and palaces. Some historians assert that among the various reasons was that Harun Al-Rashid desired to have in bed Futayna, the singing concubine of Jaffer Al-Barmaky, who was very pretty and an excellent singer with melodious, angelic voice. Harun Al-Rashid was much surprised as Jaffer refused to grant her to him as a gift. This story might be true; as all historians agree that Harun Al-Rashid had an eye for women and was known for desiring those whom he did not own who were owned by others around him, feeling a sense of victory to confiscate/buy such female slaves from their masters! When Harun Al-Rashid had Jaffer murdered along with the rest of his family members, he confiscated Futayna to himself. When Harun Al-Rashid ordered her to sing, she refused as she still mourned the death of her lover and master, Jaffer, and prayed to be excused from singing. Harun Al-Rashid threatened that if she would not sing, he would have her killed. She was adamant not to allow Harun Al-Rashid to enjoy her in bed; knowing she would die anyway, she sang a dirge to mourn her dead lover, Jaffer, and Harun Al-Rashid was so furious that he ordered his executioner to cut her head off at once.

3- A man of Baghdad named Zalzal, who died in 174 A.H., once had a pretty female slave who sang beautifully and no other enslaved female singer was up to her caliber. Ibrahim Al-Mosley wanted very much to buy her, but Zalzal adamantly refused, and Ibrahim was too shy to ask him again. When Zalzal died, his inheritors decided to sell all slaves in his house, and Ibrahim went fast to the auction to buy this pretty female slave, but he found her too thin and weak out of grief for her dead master/lover Zalzal. She refused to be sold and she refused to sing to potential buyers. When Ibrahim told Harun Al-Rashid about her, the caliph bought her and ordered her to sing. She refused at first, but upon his insistence, she sang and then was too weak that she was about to swoon. When Harun Al-Rashid left her an hour in a separate room to weep as much as she liked, he asked her to tell him her story. She told him how much she loved Zalzal and she would never be owned by any other man after his death. Harun Al-Rashid admired her faithfulness in love and freed her, and ordered a monthly salary to be brought to her house he bought to her.    

4- Ishaq Al-Mosley, the son of Ibrahim Al-Mosley, once narrated this story told to him by his father. Ibrahim had less money at one point and he complained his impecuniousness to Yehya Al-Barmaky, as no one at that time of economic depression would buy accomplished female slaves who were costly. Yehya told him that an Egyptian prince wanted very much to buy a distinguished female singer of beauty and knowledge. He told Ibrahim to take no less a dirham than 30 thousand dinars. After haggling with the prince, Ibrahim had to sell her in return for 20 thousand dinars only; her singing was exquisite, and Yehya blamed him for losing 10 thousand dirhams for such a precious melodious voice that aroused the deepest fibers of the soul of Yehya as he listened to her singing along with Ibrahim and the prince. Eventually, Yehya fell in love with her, and he urged Ibrahim to demand 30 thousands dinars instead of 20, and as the Egyptian prince was annoyed at such exorbitant price, he relinquished the deal, and Yehya bought her from Ibrahim for 50 thousands dinars!   

5- This account is about the culture of female slaves. Al-Asmaay was a slave-trader, who was brought to palace the grand vizier of Harun Al-Rashid, namely Al-Fadl Al-Barmaky, who brought to him two pretty female slaves to check and to try to sell for the highest price possible to Harun Al-Rashid, for the sake of Al-Fadl, in return for a very good commission. Al-Asmaay checked both of them and found that one of the female slave was so erudite and knowledgeable in Arabic grammar, the Quran, theology, etiquette, poetry, singing, literature, playing instruments, history, dancing, etc. whereas the other one was far behind her in terms of knowledge. When he managed to sell the more accomplished one to Harun Al-Rashid, as he admired her beauty and accomplishments, in return for 20 thousand dinars, Al-Fadl was so happy that when Al-Asmaay told him to wait until he would teach and train the other one properly, Al-Fadl granted her to him as a gift, instead of the commission, and Al-Asmaay agreed on the deal. Instead of teaching and selling the other one, whose beauty was incomparable, Al-Asmaay wooed her hands, and she agreed. He freed her and got married to her, and once accomplished, he enjoyed her singing alone and he enjoyed her very much in bed.     

 

COMMENTS:

1- Ahmed Drami: I am bound to say that I feel that true believers were not to buy female slaves for sexual gratification or for other uses as well. The horrid notion was based on the dominant culture and economy at the time; female slaves were presented as desirable commodity. I feel that there was only one reason to buy female or male slaves: to free them or to get married to them. I have learnt useful lessons from you, Dr. Mansour, about Islamic legislations found exclusively in the Quran, and your Quranism theory answered  so many questions that lingered in my mind for years. Chief among such lessons is that Quranic legislations submit to legislative purposes and rules, as the case with exceptions permitted in the Quran for prohibited things; yet, as for the topic of prohibiting enslavement, we feel that the Quran prohibits it indirectly as it prohibits all types of injustices committed by all people anytime anywhere because of their worship of money, authority, and power. God the Omniscient knows sins of the unrepentant; see the Quranic Chapter 100. 

 

Female Slaves in Bedchambers of Sultans:

Introduction:

 

 Sunnite fiqh and sharia legislations endorsed and justified enslavement, and the existence of male and female slaves was a dominant feature and phenomenon in the age of writing tomes and volumes by the Muhammadans during the Abbasid era after oral unwritten traditions accumulated during the Umayyad era. Writing began to be the norm – after decades of oral traditions – in fields like literature, history, legislation, theology, and religion. While free women were hidden within veils (covering all body except the face) and full veils (covering all body and face) as well as being kept at home and never allowed to get out alone, the writers of history, literature, and theology focused on female slaves. It is funny that historians of the Abbasid era rarely mention princesses of the Abbasid dynasty caliphs and wrote sheets and sheets about concubines of caliphs and rulers in their bedchambers, whose active sexual life with powerful men paved their way to control the Abbasid throne. Of course, we give below brief overviews, and hopefully, other deeper studies will be written by us and by our fellow Quranists later on.     

 

1- Empires and caliphates began with strong monarchs who establish their monarchy or kingdom firmly, and they would have no time for carnal pleasures, as their time was dedicated to bloodshed, massacres, and controlling others. When the empire or caliphate was firmly established and settled, peace would reign and monarchs and/or caliphs would find ample time for pleasures of all sorts like sex, singing, eating delicacies, hoarding treasures, etc. And this fact applies to all historical monarchies all over the ancient world, regardless of the label: Persian and Byzantine empires and the Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Ottoman caliphates. Every ruler aimed at full control, power, and authority and they used to struggle against one another for transient gaining of the world: lands, fruits, animals, gold, silver, precious stones, and women; see 3:14. Hence, if founders of empires engaged in struggles and wars and had no time for pleasure, their successors/descendants had ample time for carnal pleasures of all sorts.     

2- For instance, After Mu'aweiya and his two successors/caliphs established the Umayyad empire firmly, their descendants had the chance and time to become profligate, decadent, and promiscuous. For example, the caliph Al-Waleed Ibn Yazeed came to Mecca in the pilgrimage season to drink wine on top of the roof of the Kaaba! When he got killed, his severed head was carried to his brother, Suleiman, who succeeded him to the throne, and this brother said that he was glad that this promiscuous wine-drinking pig was killed, and that he once tried to have sex with Suleiman himself! This killed caliph was rumored to have raped his step mothers!  

3- For instance, the Abbasid caliphate was founded by the caliph labeled Al-Saffah (i.e., the Assassin) and firmly settled as an empire by the caliph Al-Mansour who killed hundreds of thousands of people as well as by his son the caliph Al-Mahdi who killed thousands of opposition figures after accusing them of being heretics and apostates. When the fourth caliph, Al-Hady was enthroned, he had ample time for carnal pleasures with women in his bedchamber.  At the time, slave-trade grew and boomed, as female slaves were sold for high prices because of their beauty and knowledge of sex, poems, etiquette, arts, singing, instruments playing, history, theology, etc. Some slave-traders were musicians, like the famous Al-Mawsily, who trained female slaves to sing and play after buying them for little money, and after teaching them arts and etiquette, they were sold at high prices to the affluent and the caliphs and their cronies. Caliphs and wealthy men used to check and test ''the goods'' or female slaves in terms of physical beauty and in terms of her knowledge and accomplishments, and would pay large sums of money for them.      

4- Al-Mahdi, the Abbasid caliph, checked the female slave, Al-Khayzuran, before buying her, and after scrutinizing her body, he expressed his regret that despite her exquisite beauty, her legs were not soft-skinned. When she told him that when he will need her legs for his sexual use, he would not be seeing them when he would make love to her, he admired her witty answer and bought her. She was his favorite concubine, and he set her free and married her when she bore him his two sons that became caliphs later on: Al-Hady and Harun Al-Rashid. When Al-Hady was enthroned in Baghdad, he fell in love with his concubine, named Ghader, and he thought that he must not allow any man to have her in bed after his death, and on his death bed, he made his younger brother, Harun Al-Rashid, to swear that he would never touch Ghader and keep her alone to live in peace in the Abbasid seraglio. Harun Al-Rashid swore solemnly and so did Ghader herself. Yet, once Al-Hady died, Harun Al-Rashid demanded Ghader in bed. She refused him and reminded him of the solemn oaths, but Harun Al-Rashid told her he would bear the blame for breaking such oaths. She had nothing but to obey Harun Al-Rashid in bed as his new concubine!     

5- Harun Al-Rashid was the most famous Abbasid caliph in terms of making love to a large number of women; historians like Al-Tabari mentions that he had 4000 beautiful concubines and female slaves in his seraglio, and he liked to hear their singing and to throw golden coins at them, and each female slave at such singing banquets would gather 3000 dirhams.

6- Harun Al-Rashid used to covet and desire sexually female slaves that are not his, as we read in the following passage taken from the history book titled "Al-Muntazim": (…Harun Al-Rashid visited his ill uncle Suleiman Ibn Jaffer Al-Mansour, who died in 199 A.H., and he saw a very beautiful female slave in his palace, named Daifaa, and he fell instantly in love with her, and he begged his uncle to grant him this concubine, and Suleiman was too shy to refuse a caliph's request. As Harun Al-Rashid took her, he had to return her to his uncle few days later, after he got bored from her in bed and enjoyed her as much as he pleased, because Suleiman fell more ill since his favorite lovely concubine went away, and once Harun Al-Rashid heard his verse about her, he had to return her to him:

I complain to God about the injustice of a caliph

Who is just with everyone else, except me and Daifaa!

Another story was about Harun Al-Rashid who once visited the palace of one of his viziers, Khaled Al-Barmaky, and he saw a very pretty buxom concubine there, named Helena, and when she saw that Harun Al-Rashid desired her immensely, she joked with him by telling him that she wanted her share in him like the rest of concubines of Baghdad. Harun Al-Rashid laughed and asked her how he would manage to have her in bed tonight. She asked him to make Khaled Al-Barmaky grant her to him as a gift, and he did just that …)

7- Harun Al-Rashid loved to fornicate by overlooking Quranic sharia and applying corrupt Sunnite sharia to find pretexts concocted by his supreme judge who adopted the Abou Hanifa doctrine, Abou Youssef, who was the favorite disciple of Abou Hanifa. For instance, Harun Al-Rashid desired sexually a concubine in the seraglio that was owned by his late father. This concubine refused him in bed, asserting that since his late father copulated with her, it is illegal in Islam to allow one of his sons to have her in bed. This concubine feared God, more than Harun Al-Rashid did. Harun Al-Rashid shunned and overlooked the verse 4:22, and so did Abou Youssef, who issued a corrupt fatwa to the promiscuous, lecherous Harun Al-Rashid to allow him to have sex with this concubine; Abou Youssef resorted to the manipulative ways well-known in the Abou Hanifa doctrine to twist Quranic truths and to discard them altogether. Abou Youssef told Harun Al-Rashid that the testimony of a concubine is never valid in the Sunnite religion, especially in his doctrine! Hence, Abou Youssef endorsed fornication to please and gratify the caliph Harun Al-Rashid, instead of fearing God and seeking to obey His laws in the Quran! Another shocking story told by Abou Youssef is as follows: he was brought from his home to stand before Harun Al-Rashid in his palace court to judge an urgent case. Harun Al-Rashid wanted to copulate with singing female slave owned and enjoyed as a concubine by his paternal uncle, Eissa Ibn Jaffer Al-Mansour, and wanted to put him to death in case he refused to give her up. The problem was that Eissa beforehand swore solemn oaths to God that he would never sell her or grant her as a gift to anyone, and he did not know how to break free from such solemn oaths to avoid being killed. Abou Youssef issued a strange fatwa: he told Eissa to sell half of her body to Harun Al-Rashid and to grant him as a gift the other half of her body! Once Eissa was dismissed from the palace court, Harun Al-Rashid wanted Abou Youssef to find a way to allow him to copulate with her tonight. Abou Youssef said that she was a slave girl, and had to wait for three-month period before taking up another husband to make sure she was not pregnant. Harun Al-Rashid insisted that he must have her tonight in bed at any cost. Abou Youssef thought of a strange fatwa: this slave girl must have her status changed into freed to be a former slave and must get married to Harun Al-Rashid as a free woman, and thus, no waiting period was necessary at all! Harun Al-Rashid did just that and had her in bed this very night. Next day, Harun Al-Rashid gave Abou Youssef 200 thousand dirhams and richly embroidered garments, and the concubine herself gave Abou Youssef 10 thousands dirhams as a gift. This corrupt fatwa was of course against Islam in the Quran; any divorced or widowed women must wait three whole months before being allowed to remarry, and this law applies to all women, free or enslaved, but the corrupt Abou Youssef discarded the Quran to please a caliph and gain money. It seems that the Abbasid caliphs owned their Sunnite creed and its obsequious scholars to issue fatwas for them as per their whims, with complete disregard for God's Quranic sharia! A final note: if it had not been for such stories about concubines and female slaves in historical accounts, we would not have known about the very existence of Suleiman and Eissa, the paternal uncles of Harun Al-Rashid!          

8- Most of the caliphs that succeeded Harun Al-Rashid liked to have as many concubines as possible, except his son, the caliph Al-Amin, who sexually preferred hairless males in bed. One of the grandsons of Harun Al-Rashid, the caliph Al-Wathiq, died because of his dedicating his time to daily sex. He once called his Christian physician, Mikhail, to ask him to prepare a concoction to help him get more erections as he began to lose them quickly. The physician warned him against too much sex to preserve his life and to ward off ailment. The caliph removed the silk cover on his lap to show the physician a very pretty nubile concubine with her face buried in the caliph's crotch. The caliph insisted that he could not wait to copulate with her, and he had to have a cure that will sustain an erection for a long time. The physician was astounded, and he advised the young caliph to eat meat of lions, prepared by a special recipe. Al-Wathiq ate too much of such recipe till he died in 232 A.H., at the age of 32!   

9- After the death of Al-Wathiq, his brother Al-Motawakil was enthroned as caliph, and he had like his grandfather Harun al-Rashid, 4000 concubines and that he enjoyed all of them in bed, as we read in the book titled "Moroj Al-Zahab" authored by the historian Al-Masoody.

10- The Abbasid caliph Al-Mo'tadid, who died in 289 A.H., died actually because of having sex too much until he lost his health and his life. He had a large number of concubines and female slaves, but he loved mostly his concubine Durayrah, and he built her a special palace with and orchard and a piscine-like water pool, with total cost of 60 thousands dinars of gold, to live with her away from prying eyes. He sometimes would bring other singing slaves to entertain him and Durayrah. The poet Ibn Bassam mocked and derided this caliph in these short lines of poetry:

He left all people astonished and bewildered

And he stayed away from them at the pool

To enjoy ramming into the vagina of Hurayrah!

11- The very last Abbasid caliph, Al-Mostaasim, was defeated and killed by Hulago. Al-Hamazany, the historian, tells us in his accounts that Hulago ordered the caliph to come before him in the palace court, after the invasion of Baghdad, and as Hulago ordered his cronies to know the number of women in the seraglio, it turned out that there were 700 wives and 1000 concubines to the caliph! The caliph implored Hulago to spare his life and that of his women who never saw moon or sun, as they were locked for years inside the palace! Hulago mocked him and distributed the women among his men and soldiers and ordered the caliph's being kicked to death by all his Asian soldiers! Hulago saw that this caliph was more trivial and silly to deserve to die by the sword like brave men!

12- Of course, such historical facts we have quoted above are mentioned in accounts and books authored by historians of the time, but books of literature and poems have more graphic sexual details and adventures about female slaves of caliphs that we feel shy to mention here.

13- Those concubines in bed sometimes reached full power and authority and controlled the enthroned caliphs who were their lovers, husbands, or sons.

 

COMMENTS:

1- Saeed Ali: This was indeed the lowest depths of degeneration and moral decline; history books offered for the masses in the Arab world dignify Harun Al-Rasheed, as well as most Abbasid and Umayyad caliphs as if they were faultless angels! The worst type of falsehood is to teach such distorted history in schools to pass such profligate rulers as examples to follow! The same crime happens in Friday sermons in the Arab world! Such fabricated history is part of the religion of the Sunnites! Shame on them! 

 

Types of Enslavement: Forced Labor and Impalement:

Introduction:

 

1- Enslavement by kidnaping within raids or conquests was not the only type of enslavement; there has been temporary enslavement of free persons by terrorizing them into forced labor without wages, except little food, to build projects, palaces, bridges, etc. in the Middle Ages, and sadly, the bad unjust practice of forced labor still lingers in the modern world in other forms. For instance, Hitler and Nazis used POWs and captives in forced labor; similarly, Stalin did the same with his German POWs and captives.  

2- Usually, persons enslaved into forced labor worked under terror, torture, flogging mercilessly with whips. The Ottomans invented a terrible death penalty to terrorize those who were enslaved into forced labor by choosing a victim to be impaled in public, to die slowly before their eyes to make them work faithfully so as to avoid the same fate!

3- Let us below give an example of using forced labor to build the biggest bridge in Bosnia, during the Ottoman Era in the 16th century.

 

Firstly:

1- The Ottoman Prime Minister at the time was born in Bosnia, in a village near the city of Višegrad, and he was kidnapped and sold in his childhood as a slave in Turkey, where he ascended the social ladder via his intelligence until he became a high-rank officer and later on the Prime Minister, or the Grand Vizier.

2- Feeling gratitude to Bosnia, where he was born and lived as a child, he wanted to build an enormous, grand Ottoman-architecture-style 180-meter-long bridge over the River Drina, near Višegrad.

3- Sadly, forced labor was used to build this bridge, as typical of such periods in history. To force people to build this bridge, the Ottoman Prime Minister ordered the slow death by impalement of a victim before everyone else in 1571 A.D., to serve as an example for others who might refuse to work. The Bosnian Nobel laureate novelist Ivo Andrić(1892:1975) authored a historical novel about such event, titled "The Bridge on the Drina", which is one of the great novels in world literature, translated into many languages. It was translated into Arabic in Egypt and published by the Egyptian Ministry of culture.   

4- We quote the following passages from the novel, about the impalement of the victim who was falsely accused of attempting to sabotage the construction of the bridge. We apologize in advance for quoting such horrible depiction of the impalement of the victim, named Radisav. 

 

Secondly: we quote the following passages from Chapter 3 of the novel, pages 54-60.

1- (… From the minaret of the main mosque in the city center, a shrill, clear voice pierced the ears, causing worry among the gathered people. Seconds later, the door of the stable was wide open, and two rows of guards, five in each row, got out of it, and in the middle of the two rows walked Radisav, barefooted and bareheaded. He walked while bending a little, as usual, in little steps. His fingers were injured and blood streak out of them, as his nails were cut off. He was carrying on his shoulder a long, white, sharp wooden pole. Three gypsies followed the two rows, to help in putting Radisav to death. Suddenly, the sheriff appeared, and no one knew from where he came, on his horseback, to be ahead of this procession that would have to march 100 steps to reach the scaffolds area. People gathered and watched attentively, craning their necks and standing on their toes, eager to watch the man who plotted a conspiracy by leading a resistance movement to sabotage the construction of the bridge. To their surprise, they saw him as a trivial, miserable looking man. They imagined him in a different way before they saw him. no one knew why he was walking in that laughter-inducing manner, as they never saw the burns all over his body, caused by chafing against shackles and fetters, as such burns were covered now by a shirt made of sheep wool. Hence, he seemed to them a very silly person who could not have possibly organized a resistance movement that led to his death now. The white pole alone added ominous horror to the tragic scene that drew everyone's attention …)

2- (… When they reached the scaffolds, the sheriff dismounted from his horse and gave it to his servant in a theatrical manner, and he disappeared into the steeply route. Moments later, people saw them climbing the scaffolds slowly and carefully, with guards surrounding Radisav completely so that he would not throw himself into the river. They climbed slowly until they reached the top, with wooden planks covering a space fit for an average room, like a raised stage for all to see from below, where Radisav stood along with the gypsies, the sheriff, and the guards surrounding Radisav …)

3- (… Below, people watched and fidgeted, as 100 steps separated them from the wooden planks, seeing all but unable to hear anything in detail. They exerted strained efforts to hear and see clearly … suddenly, the horrid scene to follow forced them to move their faces away and to hurry to their homes, feeling sorry they gathered here in the first place …)

4- (… Radisav hesitated a moment to obey the order to lie down. He moved slowly toward the sheriff, overlooking the guards as if they did not exist, and he told the sheriff slowly: "Listen, I beseech you with your life and your Hereafter to do me this favor: impale me in a way that will not make me pained like a dog!" The Sheriff shuddered in anger and shouted at him: "Move away from me, Christian infidel! You dared to sabotage the construction ordered by the Sultan and now you plead for mercy like women! You deserve this bloody death!" Radisav lowered his head and the gypsies removed his woolen shirt, and his burns and injuries were now clear, caused by the fetters and shackles, swollen red. Radisav lay down, with his face to the wooden planks, as he was ordered …)

5- (… The gypsies moved his arms into his back, and tied each of his legs by two ropes, and eventually pulling both ropes in opposite directions … the pole was positioned on two small pieces of wood so that its head was directed at the buttocks of the Christian peasant Radisav, who was about to be impaled. A knife was used to cut the cloth of his trousers above the buttocks. Luckily, watchers from their position down the scaffold could not see that being done by the executioner. They only saw the tied body quivered, rose, and lowered, as the pole entered the body of Radisav. One gypsy hammered the pole with studied number of times, while another directed the pole in a way so that it moves into the body without causing instant death to vital organs. The body of the victim quivered involuntary, but he did not utter any sound …)

6- (… Silence was deafening among watchers to the extent that every step in the street or on the scaffolds were heard. They heard Radisav hitting the wooden planks with his forehead, and eventually, a strange non-human voice was heard coming from the impaled tortured body, with the pole being hammered into it, without piercing the vital organs. The limbs of Radisav shivered involuntarily, his fingers were frozen, and his face grew paler …)

7- (… hammering stopped for a moment, as the right shoulder of the victim swollen. The executioner cut a cross through the swelling and pale-colored blood seeped from it slowly and then fast, and the head of the pole emerged from the swollen cut area in the right shoulder, and hammering went on until the head of the pole reached above the right ear of Radisav …)

8- (… The pole impaled the victim Radisav like a poke enters a lamb, but instead of the poke coming out from a lamb's mouth, the pole came out from the right shoulder of Radisav, without hurting much the lungs, heart, and intestines … the hammer was thrown into the wooden planks by the executioner, and one of the gypsies came nearer to the impaled unmoving body and checked it. blood trickled from under the pole between the legs of the victim, forming a puddle on the wooden planks. The gypsy made sure that Radisav was still alive, though his face grew paler, his eyes wider, and his mouth gaped. Radisav could not control the facial muscles; his face was like a mask, but his short breath and beating heart assured the gypsies that he was still alive. The gypsies moved the impaled body and nailed the base of the pole with long nails between two wedges, and the pole was made still by other pieces of wood in the scaffolds …)

9- (… The gypsies finished their task and withdrew back to join the rows of guards. The wooden stage-scene now had no one but the impaled victim, naked up to his waist, erect on the wedged pole for all eyes to see like a statue in the air overlooking the river … some people moved their faces away in fear an shock, and many walked to their homes without looking back. Yet, many people waited and watched the scene, motionless and speechless before the human body hanging in the air, stiffening in an unnatural way … fear reached their spines and intestines, with their legs shook, and thus they were not able to move away like the rest who did …)

10- (… The sheriff, the executioner, and two guards came near the impaled victim, to check it closely. A trickle of blood was flowing in a thin thread along the pole, but Radisav was alive and he did not faint. His body heaved slowly, and his veins moved involuntarily in his neck. Radisav faintly uttered these words "Turks …. Turks …. Turks on the bridge … Die like dogs … Drown like dogs …" and he began to moan …)

11- (… The gypsies gathered their tools and descended the scaffolds, and so did guards and the sheriff … people moved away before them and scattered. Only small children remained behind, sitting on rocks and small trees, waiting for something, as if they knew that this was not over yet. Children wondered what will become of the impaled man over the river, standing still in the skyline, as if he were a swimmer about to jump …)

12- (… The sheriff assured his superior, Abid Agha, that everything was done smoothly and in the right manner, and that the prisoner was still alive, as his vital organs were intact. Abid Agha gave no response, not even a look. He just ordered his horse be brought by a signal of his hand, and he said goodbye to Touson Effendi and Mr. Antoine … people scattered and the caller roamed the streets, telling people that the execution was done, and it will be exacted on anyone who would dare to repeat the crime committed by the impaled criminal …)

13- (… The sheriff stood at the street that was suddenly empty, and he felt disturbed. His servant held the rein of his horse, and his men waited for his orders. He felt the urge to say something, but he did not utter a word. Strong sentiments surged within him and filled his heart. He remembered all what he could not previously recall before impaling the victim … he remembered the ultimatum of Abid Agha to him that he will be put to death by impalement if he could not arrest the criminal who sabotaged the construction of the bridge. The sheriff had a narrow escape, this time …)

 

Lastly: We read here about the crime of impalement accompanying a charitable work of building a bridge for the benefit of people, and the query raised is the following: could such a beneficial act for people be done without such grave injustice?

 

COMMENTS:

1- Ben Levante: I think that the cruel way of putting victims to death by impalement was practiced in ancient times by Babylonians and Assyrians, and later on Europeans in the Middle Ages, besides being buried alive. Such heinous torture was never just, regardless of the  crime of the person/victim. Yet, I wonder if this applies to the punishments mentioned in 5:33 in the Quran. What are the use of such punishments, if they are inapplicable?  

2- Dr. A. S. Mansour: We thank Ben Levante and we assert the following points to answer his question: 1) retribution by impalement is against the Quranic command of never to commit excess in retribution against murderers as per 17:33, and thus, if a murderer is not to be tortured by impalement, this applies to other criminals who committed other crimes as well, and 2) 5:33 would be applied only when a real Islamic country emerges based on peace, human rights, justice, freedom, and social solidarity (like many West countries now) and when such country face terrorists like ISIS who massacre, rape, loot, etc. among other heinous crimes. ISIS terrorists and their likes must be fought and will be spared punishment only in case of real repentance, accompanied by paying diyya (i.e., money paid for manslaughter to the family of the killed person) and restoring stolen money and items. If they are fought and defeated, the ISIS terrorists must be punished each of the as per his/her crimes (quantities and qualities of crimes); thus, banishment for terrorizing and helping criminals, capital punishment for murderers, and cutting limbs for rape, looting, etc.  

 

Types of Enslavement: Forced Labor in Egyptian History:

Introduction:

1- Forced labor is the worst type of enslavement of free persons, or those who are deemed apparently to be free. Forced labor is in two forms: temporary and permanent. Within temporary forced labor, free persons are forced to work in return for low wages, or for little food, to build and erect temples, palaces, and buildings for the affluent ones, masters, or rulers or to build a huge project of the State, and once the project is completed, they are set free … for a while! Within permanent forced labor, peasants in rural villages would toil all year long for almost nothing; as in harvest times, cronies and soldiers of the sultan would get all the harvested produce and would punish peasants if they would dare to hide some for their children.

2- Middle Ages witnessed both forms of forced labor, especially the permanent one of peasants who seemed to be imprisoned in rural areas and lands like cattle or a herd of sheep. Within the crime of Arab conquests, soldiers who defended their homelands against Arab invaders were killed, and their children and women were enslaved, while peasants were forced to toil like animals for the benefit of the new Arab conquerors and invaders. Of course, such peasant were forced to serve earlier Roman occupiers and rulers; nothing new under the sun. yet, at least earlier occupiers never used the name of God as pretext to justify their crimes and injustices (against people and God) as did Arabs of the Qorayish tribe   

3- We give below a brief overview of both types of forced labor in Middle-Ages Egypt.

 

Firstly: Qaraqosh and Ibn Mamati: forced labor within the struggle between the sword and the pen:

 

1- In 1975, we were researching in the Cairo Public Library, Department of Manuscripts, to copy material for our Ph.D. thesis titled "The Influence of Sufism in the Mameluke Era in Egypt". We were surprised to find many so manuscripts authored by Al-Siyouti, and later on, it was transpired that this historian used to commit plagiarism in most of his writings by quoting dead authors and ascribing their works to himself unjustly. For instance, he has ascribed to himself the authorship of the book titled "Al-Fashoosh fi Hokm Qaraqosh" (i.e., On the Rule of Qaraqosh), and after much research, we have discovered that the real author is Ibn Mamati, the Egyptian high-rank scribe during the reign of Saladin, the well-known Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, Iraq, and the Levant.  

2- In the early 1990s, we have published an article in the Cairo-based, independent Al-Ahrar newspaper to analyze this book on Qaraqosh by Ibn Mamati, focusing on the notion that within the ongoing struggle between swords and pens, pens win eventually. This article has been reflecting indirectly our status at the time: we had nothing but a pen of enlightenment against the Mubarak military rule and its Azharite cronies – our intellectual foes – and non-Azharite cronies like Gamal Badawi, the editor-in-chief of the Cairo-based independent Al-Wafd newspaper, who dared to plagiarize many historical information we gathered from manuscripts and rephrased them, without reference to us at all, in one of his editorials. Gamal Badawi was praised and rewarded at the time as a great erudite scholar! Shame on him!  

3- In our article on the book on Qaraqosh, we have tackled the features and traits of Bahaa Eddine Qaraqosh, the powerful military leader in service of Saladin who established most defense fortresses in Cairo and the Levant at the time, including the Great Wall around Cairo and the Mountain Fortress in 572 A.H., as crusaders tried incessantly to attack Egypt at that era. Qaraqosh represented the sword, while Ibn Mamati who wrote a book to deride him represented the pen. We have tackled in our article how the struggle between the sword and the pen ended in the victory of the pen.

4- Ibn Mamati (544:606 A.H.) was a scribe, poet, and historian who descended from a notable, rich Egyptian family that converted to ''Islam'' in the Fatimid era, and its members rose in high-rank governmental posts. Ibn Mamati inherited his job of a scribe, and he authored many books in history, including one about Saladin's biography, and an encyclopedia on laws. But his most famous book   is the satirical one on Qaraqosh, who was the rival of Ibn Mamati in the palace court of Saladin, and enmity and jealousy grew between the pen and the sword. Of course, the sword initially achieved its temporary victory, driving Ibn Mamati to flee Egypt to settle in Aleppo in 604 A.H. where he died in poverty in 606 A.H. Yet, the pen of Ibn Mamati achieved an everlasting victory eventually; military achievements and buildings erected by Qaraqosh as well as his loyalty to Saladin and his son were forgotten because of the satirical book deriding him, though it mainly contained rumors.   

5- In this satirical book by Ibn Mamati, the author made good use of his pen and his Egyptian nature of satire, typical of many authors in many eras in Egypt, to deride Qaraqosh, the fierce military leader, in an unprecedented style of humor at the time; he penned laughter-inducing, satirical tales featuring Qaraqosh as its hero, depicting him as the epitome of foolishness, ignorance, gullibility, authority, and dominance.   

6- Because Qaraqosh was so much hated by the Cairene people at the time (i.e., those living in Cairo, capital of Egypt), all the Cairene people – and later on all Egyptians at large – celebrated and propagated the book deriding him authored by Ibn Mamati, and it orally spread in all their councils and gatherings, especially by ones who read about injustices by rulers and their cronies in the previous tens of centuries, as Egyptians used to adopt passive resistance against unjust rulers by deriding them and telling jokes about them. Later on, Qaraqosh has become to the populace the symbol of all unjust rulers in all eras, and the book on him by Ibn Mamati turned into oral traditions or literature Egyptians like to remember and recount all over the centuries to vent their ire against unjust people in power. There is even an Egyptian proverb that goes as follows: (This more unjust than the rule of Qaraqosh!). This satirical book by Ibn Mamati was so well-known that Al-Siyouti, a historian of the Mameluke era in Egypt, had rewritten it and claimed himself to be its author, as the late editor-in-chief Gamal Badawi did with our article that we wrote in Al-Ahrar newspaper.        

7- We do NOT apologize for the previous points as a lengthy introduction for our topic here: forced labor in Egypt. Egyptians hated the unjust Qaraqosh mainly because of his forcing Egyptians to work for free in his projects erected in Cairo. That was why they celebrated the satirical book and made Qaraqosh the symbol of all unjust tyrannical rulers. We do believe that Egypt until now is the center of unjust despots. Among the features of Middle-Ages injustice and slavery was temporary forced labor of Egyptian workers and permanent forced labor of Egyptian peasants.     

8- Egyptian mothers used to pray for their sons as thus: "May God protect you against the evil unjust rulers"!

 

Secondly: an overview of temporary forced labor during the Mameluke era:

 

1- In our book on Sufism during the Mameluke era, we have tackled religious buildings erected in that era, and such establishments were linked to both Sufism and injustice; as people were forced to participate in building processes. Mameluke emirs/princes used to build schools (i.e., madrassas) of Sufism, and Al-Makrizi, the historian, writes the following about one of these schools: (… It is a dark school with no sources of light, and it has no joy typical of houses of worship … the reason is that its owner was an unjust, greedy, and arrogant prince … he made his soldiers force people to work in building such madrassa and they used to flog and torture workers … and he paid them almost nothing; they worked for little daily food! Hence, such madrassa is built by ill-gotten money and grave injustice … once established, this madrassa gathered a great number of Sufis …).  

2- Egyptian workers suffered unpaid  forced labor amidst despicable conditions of being tortured and flogged in case of non-submission to build such religious institutions, as we read  in the lines of protest of the aristocratic historian Abou Al-Mahasin during the Mameluke era: (… Prince Seif Eddine began to build a large religious madrassa … but he used most arbitrary, unjust methods … his men would beat workers sometimes to death … workers were never paid at all … those refused to work were tortured … this prince never stopped his harsh injustice until he give up and ghost and died eventually, to everyone's relief …).

3- Of course, such forced labor in cities like Cairo used to occur before the eyes of historians at the time, and they wrote about it, but forced labor of peasants in the Egyptian countryside which was more unjust and grievous indeed, few lines were written on it by historians who lived in cities. 

 

Thirdly: an overview of permanent forced labor imposed on Egyptian peasants during the Mameluke era:

 

1- In our book on the Egyptian society within false sharia applied during the reign of the Mameluke sultan Qaitbay, we have written many lines about the formal forced labor of peasants in the Egyptian countryside at the time. 

2- Peasants at the time were treated like slaves during the Mameluke era; they could not leave agricultural lands, as they were never allowed to, as if they were cattle attached forcibly to lands and farms of the feudal landlords. Yet, peasants at the time were never bought and sold, but they were – along with their families and progeny – forced to remain within the feudal system, never to leave acres of lands of their Mameluke landlords. Those peasants who dared to flee or escape such forced slavery were punished by authorities that forced them to return to their location; those who helped in such escape or facilitated their hiding were severely punished as well. 

3- Mamelukes and their cronies and henchmen used to create elaborate ways to terrorize, torture, and intimidate peasants to remain in forced labor without complaint. Al-Makrizi, the historian, has written in his accounts about a Mameluke governor/prince who ruled a large region within the Nile Delta in 702 A.H. who used to torture to death disobedient peasants by impalement and to force them never to ride horses, carry cudgels or swords, or to dress in black.  

4- Mameluke governors of Egyptian regions used to have free rein to force Egyptian peasants into labor for nothing (or in return for little food) while terrorizing and torturing them when necessary. One of such governors of the Nile Delta during the reign of Qaitbay is mentioned by Ibn Al-Sayrafi, the historian, in his book, in 876 A.H. as peasants of the West Delta region, Egypt, complained to the sultan about the grave injustices committed by their governor, but the unjust sultan, Qaitbay, accused them of talking in an improper way to him and provided no evidence to prove their complaint, and ordered their receiving severe beatings before they go away! Hence, Ibn Al-Sayrafi, the historian, did not approve of their lack of etiquette! Hence, no Mameluke sultans liked to hear complaints; their ears would hear only praises and hypocritical words! Such poor peasants were of course illiterate and could not understand the wiles of unjust rulers; how come they would be expected to provide clear evidence of any type! They were beaten and allowed ''graciously'' to walk home!     

5- Historians of the Mameluke era wrote elaborately about projects of sultans, like building dams, canals, irrigation projects, bridges, etc. but they wrote very little, and NOT disapprovingly, about forced labor of peasants, whose cries and lamentations would be unheard within hypocritical poems in praise of sultans. 

6- Qaitbay the sultan was said to be pious and that he used to perform many acts of worship at night; yet, his injustice did not differ from his predecessors. Besides, Qaitbay knew for sure that his governors in the Egyptian countryside lived off forced labor imposed on peasants, and that was the norm at the time and no one would protest; severe beatings were the punishments for disobedient peasants who protested against such grave injustices, as we have mentioned above.     

7- Forced labor of peasants was linked at the time with torture at harvest time, as many peasants used to vie in hiding some of the crops to feed their offspring, and peasants would brag before one another that they withstood severe floggings by men of authority without confessing hiding some crops!

8- Of course, Mameluke authorities at the time knew quite well the despicable conditions of forced labor of peasants and how they used to hide some crops; hence, Mameluke sultans would in advance impose taxes and fines on them and confiscate their little possessions. Those who refused or protested would have to suffer imprisonment and/or torture. By the way, there were at the time prisons of the Mameluke caliphate to incarcerate the masses and  other 'private' prisons established by notables and the affluent ones among the Mameluke government to imprison whoever they liked. Ibn Al-Sayrafi, the historian, once has praised in his accounts a Mameluke prince who set free 170 peasants (as an act of charity during the fasting month of Ramadan) from his private prison, who were being disciplined for disobedience and their possessions were confiscated. This means that this Mameluke prince had his private prison to incarcerate and punish/torture peasants mercilessly in his feudal lands who would not pay taxes imposed on them by this Mameluke prince!         

9- To mention the worst, this 'pious' sultan named Qaitbay used to throw peasants who could not pay imposed taxes into one of his worst prisons: Al-Maqshara, a name in Arabic that refers literally to the location when the victims were flayed alive! This brutal death by flaying was imposed by Qaitbay on four peasants in 877 A.H. among a group of peasants who dared to submit a complaint against heavy taxes imposed on them. The four corpses of dead flayed peasants were sent along with the released prisoners to their villages to serve as an example to terrorize others and to warn them against disobedience! Yet, Ibn Al-Sayrafi, the historian and learned judge, who mentions this story has ended it by asserting that God lent Qaitbay victory over those who tried to evade taxes! The pious sultan would flay victims to death and the scholar/historian would praying for him for more victories!   

10- Hence, so that forced labor would continue, terrorism committed by Mameluke princes, governors, and sultans had to go on within imprisonment, torture, impalement, and flaying!

11- Despite inhuman punishments imposed on peasants who would run away and flee feudal lands, some peasants would actually manage to escape into cities; yet, they would flee permanent forced labor in the countryside to face temporary one in cities like Cairo. Ibn Al-Sayrafi, the historian, writes in the same year 877 A.H. that most peasants who fled to Cairo were arrested and imprisoned, and later on after being disciplined, they were sent by force to work in irrigation projects in Giza city on the Nile, near Cairo, without wages at all except food. When authorities found that the number of imprisoned ones was not sufficient for the irrigation project, Ibn Al-Sayrafi mentions in his accounts that the governor of Cairo devised a devilish plan to gather more free people into forced labor; he crucified with nails a naked, innocent man into a large wooden cross carried by soldiers in all streets of Cairo and made criers and callers urge people of Cairo to gather to witness the retribution exacted on a killer. When people gathered in an open place to watch, as usually typical in the Middle Ages, soldiers of the governor arrested all men to use them in forced labor in the irrigation project! It is noteworthy that Ibn Al-Sayrafi, the historian, never expressed protest or condemnation of such events mentioned in his accounts!     

 

Lastly:

 

1- Okasha the peasant in the time of the Mameluke era of soldiers/rulers fled his village so as not to be forced to work for free, and once in Cairo, he was forced to work for free! He never knew that he would be entrapped along with thousands of peasants to dig the Suez Canal while being flogged with the whip until he would die! 

2- Okasha the peasant in the time of the military rule of today in Egypt was recruited as a soldier within the obligatory military service and was forced to temporarily serve higher ranks by doing chores for free, and then he chose to work in one of the Gulf monarchies within forced labor (temporary or forever) under the mercy of the Gulf monarchies sponsor system. 

3- Poor, poor Okasha!

4- Who would dare to say that enslavement has come to an end in modern times?!  

 

COMMENTS:

1- Ben Levante: I beg to pose this question: was the Byzantine Empire a secular one or a theocracy? The likes of Qaraqosh were repeated in history in different eras and locations under many empty mottoes: democracy, nationalism, communism, and the so-called Islamism. As for 9:33, I read Dr. Mansour's comment, but I was talking about punishments mentioned in the Quran regardless of the sins/crimes committed, as I feel I cannot accept cutting of limbs as punishment, regardless of the crime, even if it is massacring and many people. I know the Quran has made strict conditions to apply the corporeal punishment, but what about changing social conditions in the modern world?! To apply punishments mentioned in 5:33, one must be 100% sure that the criminal is guilty of committing this or that crime, but such percentage is not possible I think. Why would we leave such criminal at the mercy of whims of any judge?! I prefer to preserve the lives of criminals/suspects instead of their being convicted wrongly. I am against torturing criminals by cutting off their limbs, whereas I agree with some European legislations that stopped applying the capital punishment. What do you think, Dr. Mansour?!  

2- Dr. A. S. Mansour: we thank Ben Levante fir his comment, and we assert that the Byzantium was a secular empire using the Church to serve its purposes of hegemony after separation from the Roman empire, which was essentially pagan and occupying Egypt after the defeat of Queen Cleopatra. Rome persecuted Egyptian Copts at the time. Theocracy was manifested in the empire of Qorayish created by the crime of Arab conquests of the 7th century within which non-Arab was deemed infidel and heretic. As for punishments described in 5:33, we assert the following points from our personal Quranist views: 1) such punishments in 5:33 are meant not for retaliation, rather for deterrence and reform to proactively prevent the committing of crime and to urge immediate repentance in case of committing it; real punishment is in Hell in the Hereafter for those who died without repentance and committed injustices, 2) this is our vision in making worldly punishment fitting the enormity/degree of the crime, as seen by legislators in a given country, 3) Quranic legislations of Islam precede European laws in preventing retribution for deaths; as one can pay diyya (i.e., money paid for manslaughter to the family of the killed person) as per 2:178, as opposed to the Torah principle of an eye for an eye, mentioned in 5:45 in the Quran about the Jews, and 4) we assert that the West countries – at varying degrees – are nearer to the application of Quranic sharia laws, as the international charters of human rights are the nearer human writing to the real Islamic sharia laws in the Quran.

3- Maktab Hasoob: I think that the comment by Ben Levante is linked to the essence of Quranic legislations: are they relative or absolute? Dynamic or static? In other words, if a real Islamic country would emerge one day to apply the Quran alone, can such a country apply and not to apply certain verses? I refer to heritage, witnesses, individual freedom, drinking wine, sex between two consenting adults, etc. Should such a country oppose and prevent certain habits or not?! Would this violate 5:49? How can we be so sure that the Quranic verses cope social changes of every era?  

4- Maktab Hasoob: As for aspects of the enslavement topic raised by Dr. Mansour, I tend to think that enslavement was linked directly to the lack of working force; by the way, before secularism of the 18th century, all countries were theocratic in the ancient world: Egypt, Japan, China, India, Iraq, Persia, Byzantium, etc. as theocracies are natural product of creeds that predate them with their texts. I wonder why imams of the Muhammadans never tackle Quranic verses about how to rule and govern.

 

 

Types of Enslavement: Forced Labor during the Digging of the Suez Canal:

Introduction:

 

1- Mostly, ordinary slaves in the past who were bought were living in better conditions in comparison to free persons who were enslaved within forced labor temporarily or permanently and coerced through terror and torture to work under the danger of being flogged any time. Ordinary male and female slaves in the past who were bought used to live in their masters' or owners' houses, working within households or in farms, with close relations of affinity between them and their masters within daily living for years; hence, mostly, such slaves did not suffer cruelty or mistreatment. Sadly, the opposite was true for those free persons enslaved within forced labor temporarily or permanently; they were harshly and cruelly treated because they were originally free ones who were made to forget they were free, so that they work very hard driven by deep fear of being flogged, imprisoned, tortured, or put to death by flaying or impalement. Those free men enslaved within forced labor were not controlled only by other persons; rather, by a ruling system of intricate net of governors, supervisors, and overseers with whips in their hands, who were in turn controlled by tyrant despots, within a vicious, hellish circle of injustice!    

2- We feel sorry and sad that most of those concerned with the issue of slavery turn a blind eye to forced labor, though it is the worst type of slavery, while they focus on the lesser type of ordinary slavery of buying female or male slaves and sing the praises of overt abolishment of slavery in Europe and the USA while until now the worst types of covert enslavement are maintain worldwide: forced labor. Let us tackle how forced labor was used to dig the Suez Canal, while torturing Egyptian peasants for ten years of diffing it (1859:1869). 

3- Laws of using forced labor to dig the Suez Canal were issued a year before Lincoln became president of the USA and he abolished slavery. Forced labor was used for ten years to dig the Suez Canal. No one all over the world dared to condemn enslavement of Egyptian peasants into forced labor. Europe began to free slaves since 1792, but Ferdinand De Lesseps, the French citizen of the French culture of "liberty, equality, and fraternity", was the one to sign the concession contract of digging of the Suez Canal, and in accordance with that concession, free Egyptians were enslaved into forced labor to serve the purposes of the French and the interests of De Lesseps, and NOT to serve the purposes and interests of Egypt and Egyptian peasants; we give some details below.

 

Firstly: the Suez Canal from the birth of the idea to the concession contract:

 

1- When Napoleon's Expedition in Egypt failed, he sent a diplomat to Egypt to know all about its conditions and to help choose a ruler of Egypt who would be loyal to France. This French diplomat was Mathew De Lesseps, who befriended the Albanian army officer Muhammad Ali, fanned his ambition, and helped him to be the governor/ruler and later on king of Egypt: Muhammad Ali Pacha of Egypt. His ascendancy to the throne was aided by the will of the Egyptians themselves, led by Azharite scholars. Once enthroned, Muhammad Ali Pacha returned the favor to Mathew De Lesseps by hosting his son, Ferdinand De Lesseps, in Egypt, who was a poor French young man desperate for work. Muhammad Ali Pacha appointed Ferdinand De Lesseps as a personal tutor to his small, fat male child, Saeed, who became the Khedive Saeed Pacha of Egypt later on. It is rumored by some historians that Ferdinand De Lesseps sexually tempted Saeed as a child and drove him to be a 'passive' homosexual. Historically, we are not sure if this is true or not; if so, poor Egyptian peasants paid a heavy price for it!       

2- Ferdinand De Lesseps (1805:1894) was among the followers of Saint Simon (1760:1825), who were the first to call for the digging the Suez Canal, when they established in Paris a society dedicated to studies related to digging a canal between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Their dream in digging the Suez Canal drove them to meet with the King of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pacha, who had close relations with France, to ask his permission to begin such project. Muhammad Ali Pacha adamantly refused the Suez Canal project so as not to make such a canal be used as a pretext to the French to re-conquer Egypt. Ferdinand De Lesseps met with Khedive Saeed Pacha, grandson and successor of Muhammad Ali Pacha, his old friend and pupil, and convinced him to approve of the Suez Canal project. Ferdinand De Lesseps received by virtue of royal decree a concession contract consisting of 12 items that include the digging of a canal to link the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, with 99 years of concession and control of it by the Europeans beginning by the date of its inauguration. On 5th of Jan., 1856, the second concession contract and the basic law of the Suez Canal Company, whose items include the fact that the Suez Canal Company will undertake the digging process and that Egyptian digging laborers will constitute 4/5 of all needed laborers. Such concession contract has been so unjust as far as Egypt is concerned, as Ferdinand De Lesseps took advantage of his old friendship with Khedive Saeed Pacha to influence him to agree on all requests, or rather demands, of the French, regardless of Egypt and Egyptian peasants who suffered for it.    

 

Secondly: an overview of forced labor during the digging of the Suez Canal:

 

1- The basic law of the Suez Canal Company has included the fact that Egyptian digging laborers will constitute 4/5 of all needed laborers, and such law was the basis of forced labor policy adopted by Ferdinand De Lesseps to dig the Suez Canal, and the statute of the Suez Canal Company was approved by Khedive Saeed Pacha, and such statute caused forced labor that enslaved about million Egyptian peasants! At the time in 1862, the population of Egypt was 4.8 million. Hence, Khedive Saeed Pacha forced about million Egyptian peasants during the ten years of digging to leave their villages, families, and lands to be enslaved into forced labor using rudimentary, primitive manual tools to dig the Suez Canal, without any digging machines at all. More than 120 thousand Egyptians died in the process of digging; they died of hunger, thirst, torture, and epidemics, and most of their corpses were lost within layers of digging. 

2- The Delta city of Zaqazeeq (whose name means ''small fish'' in vernacular Egyptian colloquial Arabic) in Egypt was the center of gathering all peasants brought by force from all over Egyptian countryside villages, where men of good, strong body-build would be chosen to travel on foot, while tied with ropes, to the digging areas, each carrying a water bottle and some dried bread, and they would reach digging areas extremely exhausted.     

3- Tourists at the time were amused by watching Egyptian peasants toil in the process of digging the Suez Canal!

4- As those who imposed forced labor always needed to use terrorism and torture, a camp was established to discipline and punish rebellious, defiant, and disobedient diggers, and the Suez Canal Company had often resorted to the Egyptian police to quell rebels, especially among those who came forcibly from Upper Egypt.  

5- A hospital and ambulance center were established to care for foreign employees and workers of the Suez Canal Company, while providing no medical care at all for Egyptian peasants in their forced labor; hence, epidemics and ailments killed thousands of them. The most comment illnesses among the Egyptian peasants/diggers were respiratory diseases, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, small pox, and tuberculosis, and later on, in summer of 1865, cholera killed thousands more, to the extent that there were extreme difficulties to bury the victims; their corpses were thrown to the desert. Another tragedy killed hundreds of them; as they were digging wet muddy stratum of soil, it contained flammable phosphorus that led to the death of hundreds of them instantly!  

6- Upon orders of Ferdinand De Lesseps, in Dec. 1861, Khedive Saeed Pacha visited the digging areas himself and ordered 20 thousand young men be brought into forced labor to accelerate the rate of digging. Hence, in 1862, 22 thousand Egyptian peasants were forced to dig the Suez Canal, coming by force used by Egyptian authorities from Lower and Upper Egypt. 

 

Thirdly: forced labor during the digging of the Suez Canal in the book by the Egyptian author Dr. Abdel-Aziz Al-Shennawi (died in 1986):

 

1- Dr. Al-Shennawi was our Professor who taught us undergraduate courses of history at Al-Azhar University within our fourth, last year and later on within postgraduate studies courses (1973-1974). He was a historian and a researcher par excellence, as we discern from his books on European history, history of the Ottoman Empire, and history of Al-Azhar institution, and his Ph.D. thesis on forced labor during the digging process of the Suez Canal.  

2- Dr. Al-Shennawi was irritable and easily driven to verbal abuse of others; we tend to think that this was because of two factors: A) he was a real historian and a genius in his field while Azharite professors who were ignoramuses were placed above him as they graduated from Al-Azhar University while he was a graduate of Cairo University, History Department, Faculty of Arts, and consequently a non-Azharite in the first place and therefore received a different treatment as an inferior, and B) tragedy struck him as he was tortured by Salah Nasr (redoubtable head of Egyptian central intelligence in the 1960s) to force him to submit certain rare documents about the digging of the Suez Canal. He had copied such documents from the archives of the main royal palace in Egypt, Abdeen Palace, within the period 1940:1952 as material for his Ph.D. thesis. After submitting what he had, he lived while carrying bitter memories of unforgettable horrible experience of being insulted and tortured.   

 

Fourthly: a book review:

The book title: ''Forced Labor during the Digging of the Suez Canal", 3rd edition, 1966,  Alexandria, Egypt, authored by Dr. Abdel-Aziz Al-Shennawi: Professor of modern contemporary history, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.

 

1- Contents of the book: Introduction, Chapter 1: The Era of Tyranny of Consulates in Egypt, Chapter 2: The Two Friends Deal with the Problem of Finding Labor, Chapter 3: Commencement of the Project and Suspension of Laborers' Statute, Chapter 4: Propaganda of the Company in Egypt to Gather Laborers and why it Failed, Chapter 5: Propaganda of the Company in the Levant to Gather Laborers and why it Failed, Chapter 6: Covert Forced Labor, Chapter 7: Overt Forced Labor, Chapter 8: Too Much Use of Forced Labor, Chapter 9: British Hypocrisy, Chapter 10: Egyptian Peasants in the House of Commons, Chapter 11: Laborers Die of Thirst while Digging, Chapter 12: Spread of Epidemics and Diseases among Laborers while Digging, Chapter 13: Wages of Laborers, Chapter 14: The Crime of Khedive Saeed Pacha and the Suez Canal Company against the Egyptian Economy, Chapter 15: The Suez Canal Company Dug the Canal Thanks to Forced Labor System).

2- Excerpts and quotations from the book that describe the plight and despicable conditions of the Egyptian peasants enslaved into forced labor are compiled below.

A) (…The Suez Canal Company reserved the right to hold 15-day wages of any laborer to ensure his not quitting, and then he would receive all his wages from the safe of the Company if he managed to fulfill all his tasks. Such item in the contract presupposes that laborers might quit or flee to escape despicable conditions of digging. Likewise, another contract item imposes penalties on laborers who try to escape … We conclude two facts: firstly, coercion was used with Egyptians forced to dig the Suez Canal, as they could not possibly quit at all, and as they were heavily guarded and watched over to prevent their escape and to prevent any laxity in digging; secondly, the Suez Canal Company knew in the first place beforehand that Egyptian laborers forced to dig will reject digging because of low wages and despicable and hazardous conditions, with no enticements to go on digging …) (pages 38 & 39, Chapter 2).

B) (… Before such unfavorable conditions, the Suez Canal Company continued to gather as many Egyptian laborers as it could using its own devices, and its committees roamed Egyptian villages in Lower Egypt to convince and coax Egyptian peasants to work in digging … An employee of the Suez Canal Company was employed for that mission as he spoke Egyptian Arabic: Joseph Vernoni, who had his assistants to help him to organize laborers and sent them to Suez …) (page 66, Chapter 3). (… A French man, Olivier Ritt, was among the managers of the Suez Canal Company and he once sent a letter in 1861, asserting that the Egyptian government had sent a large number of laborers to dig a canal of drinking water, and that such laborers had done a perfect job. Such statements show that the Egyptian government undertook the mission to gather and send laborers, as no one went there willingly in response to propaganda of the Suez Canal Company …) (pages 111 and 112, Chapter 6).

C) (… Khedive Saeed Pacha was interested in furthering the digging process regardless of interests of Egyptians, as he resorted to violence and restrictive firm measures to quell rebellious laborers. He sent a ship into Upper Egypt through the Nile to meet with governors of villages to urge them to gather as many youths as possible for the digging and to be responsible for them by overseeing their digging areas in Suez themselves by day and never to allow anyone's escape by night. He made the Egyptian police in service of the Suez Canal Company since Jan. 1862, and policemen undertook the mission in guarding peasants being transferred to Zaqazeeq city in the Nile Delta, before employees of the Suez Canal Company transfer them to digging areas …) (page 135, Chapter 7).

D) (… Police officers used to oversee and supervise at day the digging process. Riding on horseback, such processions used to stir fright among laborers. When Egyptian overseers would be lax in their job, police officers would punish them by making them laborers. A French observer once wrote to describe such police officers as both firm and fair. Overseers had to be creel and firm with laborers, flogging and beating in public anyone who might rebel or urge others to rebel or disobey  … A French observer once wrote sarcastically that whips replaced Arab justice, but of course, such sarcastic remark could be nothing further from the truth  …) (pages 137 & 138, Chapter 7).

E) (… Few laborers dug the Suez Canal while surrendering to the status quo as Fate ordained, digging while thinking only of the water caravan of camels to quench their thirst … Sometimes, they died of thirst before the caravan would arrive … Some laborers suffered  lot as they drank water drawn from wells that contained too much minerals and salt …) (page 233, Chapter 11).

F) The head medical doctor of the company has published the following statistics about Egyptian workers, in a report dated 1st of July 1864 (page 266, Chapter 12):

 

Month

No. of workers

No. of the ill

No. of the dead

Jan. 1864

10907

470

24

Feb.

11420

237

45

March

10563

315

41

Apr.

6022

321

38

May

8868

200

26

Total

47780

1480

174

 

G) (… Epidemics and diseases spread among the digging laborers, among other calamities like scarcity of water, working in return for no wages at all, over-exhaustion, flogging, torture, and imprisonment  … Diseases that struck them included typhoid, cholera, fevers, and small pox … Some waves of epidemics would disappear  months later only to return with a vengeance in the next year …) (page 266, Chapter 12).

H) (… One Egyptian manager asserted that laborers received no wages at all, except insufficient food … Much later, surviving laborers received measly stipends, and most of them never ceased to try to escape such forced labor … foreign laborers enjoyed better wages and working conditions, despite the fact that they never dug as efficiently in terms of quantity and quality as Egyptian ones … who worked from sunrise to sunset nonstop … in many cases, they would go on digging by night, as one French observer wrote … many of them died of over-exhaustion…) (page 290, Chapter 13).

I) (… In many cases, the Suez Canal Company would withhold wages and present water bottles and little food instead to Egyptian laborers in order to save money by means of fraud, as it ran heavy debts: at least 4.500.000 Franc; equal to LE 173250 at the time … The Suez Canal Company tried to evade payment of such sum, but the courts imposed its ruling, and it had to reduce, postpone, and sometimes withhold wages of Egyptian laborers …) (page 296, Chapter 13).

 

Lastly: Who would dare to say that enslavement has come to an end in modern times?!  

 

COMMENTS:

1- Ben Levante: Sadly, human beings have enslaved human beings for centuries until now via the severest types of exploitation, especially in the third world by colonialists until now. Let us remember that even before abolishing slavery in Europe, in the 19th century when the Suez Canal was being dug, a worker would work for 12-16 hours daily in factories in Germany or Britain, along with his wife and offspring. But workers syndicates struggled until fairness and justice prevailed now in the 20th and 21st centuries. I wish the third world countries would draw lessons from such experience. Many Arabs do not use their minds. I watched recently a re-aired old TV talk-show in a Christian TV channel in which Dr. Mansour is interviewed by a former Muslim converted to Christianity. I like this episode very much; Muslims of today seem not to realize that the problem does not lie in their relations with non-Muslims; rather, it lies in their inability to perceive their mistakes and ailments. 

2- Ahmed Drami: I feel bound to say that enslavement of free persons still exists in the KSA; a female Senegalese single woman who worked as a servant in the KSA is being accused of murdering her mistress on 16th of June, 2016, and she was arrested pending trial. Senegalese diplomats are negotiating the Saudis to set her free as no proofs are there to convict her. No one asked why would such a naïve young woman would kill her own mistress. Other Asian and African  young women who work as servants in the KSA are mistreated in despicable conditions akin to forced slavery. A Senegalese woman once told me she left the KSA as her master forced her to clean up houses of his neighbors for free 24/7! This is utter injustice! Such Saudi masters know nothing of Islam!

3- Muhammad Shaalan: I would like to share this story with you; more than ten years ago, our dear Dr. Mansour requested from me to look for the book by Dr. Abdel-Aziz Al-Shennawi and to send it to him in the USA. This book, reviewed above, made me search for a copy of it in all known and less well-known libraries and bookshops in Cairo, Egypt. But I failed to find a copy of this book. Eventually, a good friend of Dr. Mansour found a copy and gave it to his younger brother, Eng. Abdel-Latif Saeed, and before sending it by another traveler to the USA to Dr. Mansour, I photocopied the book for myself, and I still keep such a copy jealously and dearly.   

4- Muhammad Shaalan: Of course, before finding this great book, despair of finding it drove me to read as many books as possible about the Suez Canal and how the project was done, and we can evaluate how invaluable the topic is for those interested in modern history of Egypt; Dr. Mansour has aroused our curiosity for such a topic, and finding the book at last was a great surprise and a source of joy as I read it. 

5- Muhammad Shaalan: Dr. Mansour made me learn how to evaluate great books even before one gets hold of them to read them. Rare books are hard to find, especially one tackling certain areas of modern Egyptian history. Even some connoisseurs of old books have advised me to look for the book reviewed above in Alexandria, Egypt, where the first edition was printed. I feel glad I photocopied, read, and kept this great book within permission of Eng. Abdel-Latif Saeed, thank goodness. 

6- Dr. A. S. Mansour: We thank all our beloved fellow Quranists, and we pray to the Almighty to reward all and each one of them. We say the following to Ben Levante: we will tackle modern, contemporary enslavement in a coming article/section. Of course, our episodes with a Christian TV channel stirred stagnant waters, as the Muhammadans feel troubled when their 'holy' devilish notions and ancient sanctified concepts are attacked. Many internet fatwas have called for our assassination; this occurred many times because of our writings on many various subjects that undermine and refute many Sunnite sacrosanct holy of holies, especially their deified mortal figures. Yet, with the passage of years, death threats and death fatwas diminished in number, and this is a mark for our success in making our intellectual endeavors reach Arab youths, even hate mails decreased in number in our email address. As for our dear Ahmed Drami, we will tackle how modern, contemporary slavery still persists in the Gulf monarchies despite being nominally abolished, and we wish you would write to us articles about Muslims in Senegal. As for our dear Muhammad Shaalan, we thank you and we remember how you have helped us personally in Egypt many times with brotherly affection. You never let us down. May God reward you in the Hereafter.  

7- Muhammad Shaalan: With all due love and respect, I would like to offer to ship as a gift a 1000-page book for our dear Dr. Mansour, authored by Dr. Abdel-Aziz Al-Shennawi, titled "The Ottoman Empire".

8- Dr. A. S. Mansour: We thank our dear fellow Quranist Muhammad Shaalan for his offer; in fact, we have this book in our home library.

 

 

Types of Enslavement: An Overview of Eunuchs:

Introduction:

 

1- It is one of the worst types of injustices to turn a free, innocent male child into an enslaved eunuch to be brought up as a sexless human being, being neither male or female, and sadly, such inhuman practice of castration was prevalent in the Middle Ages from China to Byzantium, before the revelation of the Quran. 

2- Castration was of two types: total castration by the removal of both testicles and the penis and partial castration by the removal of testicles only. Sadly, most of the small castrated boys would die, and those who remain alive were sold at high prices into slavery. Growing up, eunuchs underwent psychological and physical changes: their height was more than average and the fingers were elongated, while the lower lip would be hanging downwards noticeably, with poorer eyesight. Eunuchs would tend to be solitary, weeping, and sad most of their lives, but if they would be placed in high-rank posts, they would be too cruel.  

3- During the Middle Ages, some Muslims, Christians, and Jews participated in the crime of castration. For instance, historically, captives from Slavic areas in Europe would be brought to France so that some Jewish slave-traders would castrate them and sell them as while eunuchs to Muslims in Andalusia. In Andalusia, later on known as Spain, there were centers of castration near the French borders and near the city of Cordoba. Al-Maqry, the Arab historian, has mentioned in his book titled ''Nafh Al-Teeb" that some Muslims used to castrate in such areas of Andalusia. As for black eunuchs, their center was in Egypt. Caravans carrying about 5000 black slaves would come from Darfur and Cordovan cities, in Sudan, within a 40-day journey to the city of Asyut, Egypt, where black enslaved children would be castrated. Most of such children would die in the process as a result. The remaining ones would be sent to the capital of Ottomans, Istanbul, after being healed from the wound. The ones undertaking the mission of castration in Asyut were Coptic monks in the monasteries of Asyut. Outside the Muslim world, castration was known in Byzantium and in China as well.        

4- It is noteworthy that imams, theologians, and clergymen of earthly, man-made, fabricated religions of the Muhammadans never protested, either verbally or in their writings, against this inhuman practice of castration as an evil think of vice to be fought and stopped. No one of them felt the disgrace and shame of forcing innocent children lose their freedom and manhood, to live afterwards, if they escaped such brutal death, as a freak who lost his human quality and who would be used sexually by masters/sultans who would sodomize eunuchs while scholars/imams sang the praises of such ''respected'' sultans and rich masters and notables.

 

Eunuchs before the revelation of the Quran:

 

1- Religious writings in the areas from Byzantium to China reflected the practice of castration. 

2- Castration and eunuchs are mentioned in the Old Testament in the Bible; see Daniel 1:6-12 and Deuteronomy 1:23.

3- A Christian researcher once has written that "…there were many eunuchs in the Church and they were despised… Paul had to restore their stature in a lawful, legal manner within a certain social legislation to prepare them to enter into the Kingdom of God. Paul tried to deal with such psychological issue; he gave eunuchs the ability to connect themselves to God and to attain social stature, and some of them would work in churches in good posts… they needed to be treated equally within churches as persons with special gift, as we read what Paul writes in Corinthians 1 7:7… but Christ had a clear stance toward matrimony, as shown in the conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4:16-18… "

 

Secondly: eunuchs during the Umayyad era:

 

1- The Quran never mentions anything about eunuchs or castration. Fabricated hadiths about eunuchs or castration were formulated within the last years of the Abbasid era and the early days of the Mameluke era, but the scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim, in his book titled "Al-Manar Al-Manif", considered such hadiths as false and fabricated, as they tackle notions such as hatred of certain races, especially Turks, and despising eunuchs and slaves as sources of evil.

2- The very first historical indication of the existence of eunuchs in the Umayyad era is mentioned in the biography of the very first Umayyad caliph Mu'aweiya written in the history book of the historian/scholar Ibn Katheer, who has written the following about the wife of Mu'aweiya, Maysoon, the mother of his son, Yazeed, who was a beautiful, wise, religious woman. One day, her husband entered the palace with a eunuch in his hand, and she covered her face before the male stranger, but Mu'aweiya told her not to be bashful as this slave was a eunuch, but she moved away, telling him that a eunuch is a man anyway, not to be shown to women in respectable households. It was expected that Mu'aweiya would bring eunuchs in his palaces and courts, as he was influenced by his life in the Levant, where Byzantines had their habits and customs. Maysoon, who was descendant from the famous tribe of Kalb, was astonished about eunuchs because castrated slaves were never found in Arabia at the time.     

3- Within later decades, the existence of eunuchs became familiar, and the very first historical indication of the castration process is mentioned in the biography of the Umayyad caliph Suleiman Ibn Abdul-Malik, who was known for his extreme jealousy concerning his women in his seraglio, as we read in the history book titled "Al-Muntazim", authored by Ibn Al-Jawzy: (… the caliph Suleiman Ibn Abdul-Malik was with his concubine at the roof of his palace, and he found her listening attentively to poems being sung from a near camp of tents by a male effeminate singer … as he felt jealous that his concubine is not attentive to him, and he ordered the singer to be brought to him by force … after a brief conversation with the caliph, the concubine asked the caliph to order the man to sing his poems to her … when she felt ecstasy, the caliph was so jealous that he ordered that male singer to be castrated … soon enough, the caliph ordered the castration of all effeminate men and male singers who used to gather in Yathreb …). 

 

Thirdly: eunuchs during the Abbasid era:

 

1- Homosexuality spread during the Abbasid era, as male masters used to have sex with eunuchs; as a result, the number of eunuchs increased, especially in palaces of the affluent rich and the palaces of Abbasid caliphs.

2- The Abbasid caliph Al-Amin disliked women sexually and loved several eunuchs; he used to buy several of them to accompany him wherever he went and to be his closest associates and friends in his palaces all day long and all night long. Al-Amin rejected women of the seraglio, and people of Baghdad used to mock the homosexuality of Al-Amin who hated women. At one point, the famous poet at the time, Abou Nawwas, mocked Al-Amin in his verse:

O Muslims! Praise God your Lord

And Ask Him to preserve Al-Amin

Whose way is carnal pleasure with eunuchs

And all men followed his way suit!

3- During the Abbasid era, it was no longer a source of shame to court eunuchs in verse, to fall in love with them, and to praise their beauty in poems and how they provide sexual pleasures for their lovers. Slave-traders sold eunuchs for highest prices, more than enslaved children and slave-girls, to make use of the men's desire of sexual gratification with eunuchs. The rich, affluent men imitated the caliph Al-Amin in preferring eunuchs to women in bed, and some eunuchs were taught to sing and to compose verses and some were used in battles after receiving military training, apart from their being used sexually. Al-Thaaliby the historian has mentioned in his book titled ''Al-Lataif wa Al-Taraif" that eunuchs at one point were knights by day and brides at night! He has mentioned that eunuchs were used in bed and in battles simultaneously. One poet has once said about eunuchs:

They are women for settled men

And they are men for travelling men

4- Al-Jahiz, the famous thinker, historian, and philosopher, writes about eunuchs in his booklet titled "Mufakharat Al-Jawary wa Al-Ghilman" (i.e., On Beauties of Slave-Girls and Eunuchs): (… and we mentioned eunuchs and their soft skins, slender bodies, and physical charms … such refined carnal pleasures with eunuchs was never known to our Arab ancestors … in fact, nowadays, eunuchs are sexually favored more than nubile slave-girls … eunuchs in general are not men, nor women, and their manners are in between women and small boys, as their temper are changeable, and they grow sick more frequently, but their masters bear up with them, unlike their losing patience with beautiful female slaves … once castrated, their soft, clear skins grow brighter and softer, their nether orifices/anuses grow wider, and their lust for virile men grow stronger, and thy lose their body hair, and they tend to weep a lot … they fluctuate between manners of women and boyish children who lose their temper easily and grow furious for trivial reasons … they never keep a secret, and have no patience at all, and they urinate in beds, especially when the spongy ones have excessive wine-drinking habits ... and eunuchs live longer than virile men, as they do not copulate at all; rather, they are used for the carnal lusts of their masters … eunuchs are acting like women in the presence of men and like men in the presence of women …). And he writes later on lewd passages about homosexual practices done to eunuchs, with words reflecting the dominant culture of his age.

 

COMMENTS:

1- Ben Levante: I would like to talk about social mores in the time when the Quran was revealed. I do not think that homosexual practices and castration of slaves were dominant in Arabia in the 7th century. Castration is a crime indeed that began in the Middle Ages in the ancient world, whereas homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah predates Arabs in Arabia. Circumcision of males and females is never mentioned in the Quran; hence, it is a social habit that has nothing to do with Islam, and it should be a crime, as it is ordained by Satan to change God's creation in the human body.

2- Fathy Ahmed Madi: I feel bound to say that the Muhammadans will never understand that their clergymen and rulers will not reveal the truth about anything to them, especial related to history of ancient ''made-holy'' rulers and their crimes that show them as devilish figures who denied God and the Last Day as they forsook Islam in the Quran. ISIS terrorists are reviving such terrible practices and injustices of the so-called caliphate. Corrupt rulers want Arabs to forget all about real Islam: the Quran. Thank you all!

3- Dr. A. S. Mansour: We thank all our dear fellow Quranists and we implore the Almighty to help us go on with our efforts on our website. As for dear Ben Levante, we assert that suffice it that God prohibits all types of injustices, small and big, little and many. Historically, Arabs in their Arabian deserts never knew homosexuality and castration; they were nomads and Bedouins moving constantly or city dwellers or villagers. Once they conquered Iraq, Persia, the Levant, etc. they had relations of trade and war with the Byzantines, and they took from them in the Abbasid Era the carnal lusts of homoerotic nature and they took the habit of castration of slaves from African nations. As for our dear Fathy Ahmed Madi, we thank him for his remarkable comments that open new horizons and questions that entail articles to discuss such as comments and questions of Ben Levante. Indeed, when we write about eunuchs, we feel as if instead of ink, we immerse our pen in blood of our heart. We hate all types of injustices done to innocent, helpless, peaceful victims; there is nothing worse than a male child captured and kidnapped to be castrated to his death or to be a mutilated figure used sexually by perverts. No imams of the Sunnite religion at the time have talked about such putting an end to such injustice in their books. Shame on them! But we are not surprised by their tolerating such heinous crimes; they have committed grave injustice toward God, and consequently, they have remained silent before injustices done to people.