With the recent institutionalization of slavery in the so-called Islamic State, as well as the troubling and much publicized acknowledgement of the legitimacy of slavery by some modern Islamic scholars (see examples here, here, and here), the issue of slavery in the Muslim world has been on my radar recently.
Consequently, some comments by the former Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis on this issue recently caught my attention. In his book Race and Slavery in the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 1990), Lewis wrote: Continue reading
I recently began rereading David Cook’s excellent work, Understanding Jihad, published by the University of California Press in 2005. Cook is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Rice University and author of five scholarly books on Islam. I first read it nearly a decade ago and had forgotten how engaging it is as he traces the historical development of jihad in the Islamic world. I was quickly reminded when, coming only to page six, I read the following: “It was in this context that jihad arose, and the campaigns to gain adherents and control territory constituted the focus of the community’s activity during the last nine years of the Prophet’s life. Muhammad is recorded as having participated in at least twenty-seven campaigns and deputized some fifty-nine others- an average of no fewer than nine campaigns annually.” The Prophet Muhammad participated in or sanctioned eighty-six military campaigns? The number is striking. Particularly when one considers that Professor Cook is referring to the founder of one of the world’s great religions (with 1.6 billion current followers). Continue reading