Proceedings of the 10th Annual Gilder Lehrman Center International Conference at YaleUniversitySlavery and the Slave Trades in the Indian Ocean andArab Worlds: Global Connections and DisconnectionsNovember 7‐8, 2008Yale UniversityNew Haven, ConnecticutStraight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition, and the Modern Muslim MindBernard K. Freamon , Seton Hall Law SchoolAvailable online at‐ocean/freamon.pdf Do not cite or circulate without the author’s permissionIntroductionIt might strike the reader as odd and perhaps somewhat irreverent that I should use anallusion to the drinking of alcohol in the title of a paper concerned with the modern Muslimmind.1 That is not my intention, for the title is actually drawn from the world of jazz. When theallusion is viewed in that sense, it has direct relevance to my topic. My title is borrowed fromthe famous jazz piece written and often performed by Thelonious Monk, the iconic jazzcomposer and pianist who brought great influence to the music, beginning in the early 1940’sand continuing until his death in 1982. Monk’s piece, simply entitled “Straight, No Chaser,” and Professor of Law and Director, Program for the Study of Law in the Middle East, Seton Hall Law School. I extendmy deepest thanks to Rebecca Fink for providing excellent research assistance. Thanks also to Abed Awad and H.Kwasi Prempeh for their insightful suggestions and comments.1The drinking of alcohol for pleasure is forbidden to Muslims. For the uninitiated, “Straight, No Chaser” describes afairly widely heard request of the typical alcohol‐drinking tavern customer who, in ordering a drink, tells thebartender that he desires a glass of gin or vodka or whiskey undiluted by a non‐alcoholic mixer (‘straight’) andwithout the customary glass of beer or water or soda that follows the downing of the straight alcohol, allegedlysoftening its impact (no ‘chaser’).Freamon 1

the sub‐genre it represents, has come to be a metaphor for the introduction of “modern” jazzidioms into the traditional jazz and blues forms that were dominant and popular in the pre‐waryears and through the mid to late 1940’s.2Using eloquent and economical phrasing combined with unusual rhythmic devices, longsilences, angular and arresting melodies, and a dissonant chord structure that became hisquintessential signature, Monk forced many jazz musicians and composers to confront theirshort‐comings and the short‐comings and limitations of the music as it then existed. He used aspare and precise realism to examine where the music was going and to suggest a sharp breakwith the past, sometimes even using melody and chord structure to mock the traditional formsof standard jazz. Monk’s pieces took no prisoners; they made no sacrifices to thesentimentalism, romanticism, self‐delusion, complacency, or slavish devotion to the traditionalforms found in the work of his contemporaries. His music looked the listener straight in the eyeand forced self‐reflection and, indeed, sometimes self‐confrontation. Although “Straight, NoChaser” carried the jazz form to places it had never been before, it also accepted its lot in thelife and history of the music without any dilution or disguise. By turning the traditional jazz formupside down, inside out, or sideways, Monk exposed “the unvarnished truth” of the past formsand advanced the listener’s understanding of the form, lighting the way to the future.3 This is2The literature on Monk’s influence in the creation of “modern” jazz is extensive. See, e.g., Gabriel Solis, Monk’sMusic: Thelonious Monk and Jazz History in the Making (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008); SigiFashingbauer, Thelonious Monk’s Walk (Klagenfurt, Austria: Wieser, 2007); Amiri Baraka, Book of Monk (Candia,N.H.: John LeBow, 2005); Leslie Grouse, Straight, No Chaser:The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk (New York:Schirmer Books, 1997); Thomas Fitterling, Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, trans. Robert Dobbin, rev.ed.(Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1997); Laurent de Wilde, Monk, trans. Jonathan Dickinson (New York: Marlowe,1997). There are also several film treatments of his life and work, including a well‐regarded documentary accountproduced by Clint Eastwood and directed by Charlotte Zwerin, also entitled “Straight, No Chaser.” TheloniousMonk, Straight No Chaser, directed by Charlotte Zwerin (Warner Home Video, 2001).3First recorded on July 23, 1951, “Straight, No Chaser” has been described as “simultaneously terse and complex,”obtaining “such variation and intensity from such a simple and short idea” that was “unheard of” at the time. TheFreamon 2

what I want to do here in my discussion of the history and historiography of slavery andabolition in the Muslim world and their relationship to contemporary Islamic thought.An Impoverished Sense of HistoryI begin by noting that, in spite of the rich and rapidly developing historiography in theWestern academies on slavery and abolition in the Muslim world, discussion and understandingamong Muslims of that history remains deeply impoverished and shockingly uninformed.4There is effectively no real knowledge of the modern history of slavery or its abolition,especially in the realms of popular knowledge and in the content of educational curricula insecondary schools and universities, particularly in the Arab world. The modern Muslim mind isessentially in denial when it is asked to reflect on the Muslim world’s long and deepconnections with slavery and slave‐trading systems.5 Many Muslims do possess a kind ofrecording was one of the few times in Monk’s early career that he actually played in the blues form, whileimparting “an astringency worlds away from early manifestations of jazz and blues music.” Brian Priestly,“Monk,Thelonious Sphere,” International Dictionary of Black Composers (Chicago, London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers,1999), 2:832‐39.4When I use the term “Muslim world,” I mean to describe those communities where a majority or significantminority of the populace professes the Islamic faith. This would include modern day Turkey and its dependencies,North Africa, including Egypt and the Sudan, the coast of East Africa from Ethiopia to Mozambique, the Salheliannations, West Africa from Mali south to southern Nigeria, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and theformer southern republics of the Soviet Union, Pakistan and large areas of India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia,and a number of smaller island communities in the Indian Ocean, including Zanzibar, the Comoros Islands, theMaldives, as well as the southern reaches of the Philippines.5When I use the term “modern Muslim mind” I intend to describe a way of thinking that is fairly commonlyencountered among reasonably well educated economically comfortable Muslims living in the East and the West.Such persons are religious and often seek to be more pious and observant of the faith, but they not prone toextremism or radical interpretations of religious texts and doctrines. They readily accept governance by seculargovernments but they insist on maintaining their freedom to worship if such can be achieved without violence orother major disruptive behaviors. They are aware of the well known economic and political problems affecting theMuslim world and they earnestly seek solutions. A good example of the attitude of the “modern Muslim mind” onthe question of the relation between Islam and slavery can be found at Shehzad Saleem, “The Condemnation ofSlavery by Islam” f RI9503‐2. Ms. Saleem, an obviouslyknowledgeable Muslim on matters of religion, takes the indefensible position that the Islamic texts explicitlycondemn slavery.Freamon 3

superficial, idealized and normatively instrumental knowledge supplied by certain aspects oftheir religious history but this knowledge simply will not support the kind of critical analysisrequired if Muslims are to truly understand and benefit from their history.Perhaps the best example of this kind of normatively instrumental history of slavery isthe tradition surrounding the emancipation of Bilal ibn Rabah. Every Muslim school child knowsthe story of Bilal. An Ethiopian slave living in Mecca during the early days of the ProphetMuhammad’s mission and struggle with the Meccan polytheists, Bilal found himself tortured byhis master, lying in the desert in the midday sun and enduring hot rocks and physical cruelty fordays on end, because he refused to utter allegiance to the Meccan pagan gods and insteadcontinually professed submission to “Allahu‐ahad,” “God the one.”6 According to the tradition,Bilal continued to persist in his refusal and Umayah ibn Khalaf, his owner, shouted at him:“What bad luck has thrown you upon us, O slave of evil? By al‐Lat and al‐‘Uzza (the Meccangods), I will make you an example for slaves and masters.”7 With that announcement he beganto prepare to kill Bilal.8 Abu Bakr, a wealthy close companion of the Prophet and one of the firstMuslims, interceded, purchasing Bilal from Umayah and instantaneously freeing him.9 Bilalrapidly became a faithful adherent of the new religion. The band of new Muslims around theProphet soon had to flee Mecca for Medina to avoid persecution and death, and Bilal traveledto Medina with them. In Medina the Prophet established a new government and regular openworship, as he was instructed to do by the Qur’anic revelations. When the question arose as to6This account is drawn from Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Men around the Messenger, ed. Aelfwine Acelas Mischler,trans. Sheik Muhammad Musafa Gemeiah (Cairo: Al‐Azhar Al‐Sharif Islamic Research Academy, 1997).7Ibid., 70.8Ibid., 65, 68‐69.9Ibid.Freamon 4

how to call the other faithful to public prayer, Bilal ascended to the roof of the Prophet’s newmosque in Medina and devised a formula for a summons to prayer that would employ thehuman voice, rather than a drum or a horn or a bell. With this act he became the first muezzin(prayer‐caller) in Islam. The call was indeed recognized as important for communal publicworship in a subsequently revealed verse of the Qur’an.10 The cadence and beautifully melodicsound of the Muslim call to prayer, now heard all over the world, is ascribed by all Muslims toBilal’s example of faith and service.11Parents, religious teachers, political leaders, and even many academics cite the exampleof the emancipation of Bilal and as a kind of proof‐text of Islam’s emancipatory ethic withregard to slavery and its intolerance of racial discrimination.12 Indeed, the example and otherslike it do in fact show that the experience of the early Muslims—an experience that forms therevelational context for the Qur’an—was fundamentally an emancipatory one.13 This10The Holy Qur’an 62:9. All citations to the Qur’an and quotations of passages therein are drawn from ‘AbdullahYusuf Ali, trans., The Meaning of The Holy Qur’an. 11th ed. (Beltsville, Md.: Amana Publications, 2006) unlessotherwise noted.11Khalid, Men around the Messenger 71.For example, in 1975 the Nation of Islam changed the name of its national newspaper from Muhammad Speaksto The Bilalian News in an effort to appeal to African Americans, most of whom were descendants of former slaves.Mohammad Hashim Kamali, professor of law at the International Islamic University in Malaysia and the author of anumber of widely used texts on Islamic law, cites the Prophet Muhammad’s appointment of Bilal as interimgovernor of Medina as proof of Islam’s prohibition of racial discrimination in employment and its commitment toracial equality. For more information, see Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Freedom, Equality, and Justice in Islam(Cambridge, U.K.: Islamic Texts Society, 2002), 58.13Another prominent example involves the emancipation and conversion of Zayd ibn al‐Harithah, the dark skinnedArab slave of the Prophet’s wife Khadija. She presented him as a gift to the Prophet after they were married andthe Prophet immediately emancipated him. After his emancipation, Zayd chose to remain in the Prophet’shousehold as his “adopted” son, changing his name to Zayd ibn Muhammad. Sometime later the Prophet receivedthe first revelations of the Qur’an and Zayd is said to be among the first Muslims, accepting the new religionalmost simultaneously with the conversions of Khadija, Ali ibn Abi Talib (the Prophet’s cousin), and Abu Bakr. TheQur’an forbade adoption and Zayd’s original name and lineage were restored. Abu Bakr made a practice of usinghis wealth to free a number of Meccan slaves in the name of Islam. The emancipation of Amr ibn Fuhayrah isanother oft‐cited example. See D.S. Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam (New York: Putnam, 1905), 94‐99; Maxime Rodinson, Mohammed, trans. Anne Carter (New York: Pantheon Books, 1971) , 51‐2; 99‐101.12Freamon 5

emancipatory experience is an important backdrop to the Quranic discussions of humanequality. The Prophet Muhammad privileged those among his companions who were formerslaves in the same way that he privileged his other free‐born companions. This behaviorprovoked the ire of Meccan dignitaries. Muhammad’s concern about this ire drew a mildrebuke of him in the Qur’an.14The Qur’anic rebuke is widely interpreted as calling upon Muhammad to rejectdistinctions among human beings on the basis of lineage, nationality, servile heritage, orsocioeconomic status.15 He is explicitly warned that to do so would be unjust and the textsuggests that the only distinctions recognized as appropriate are those premised on the basis ofbelief and piety.16 There are numerous other examples of similar religious norms thatcommand or exhort Muslims to adopt an emancipatory ethic with regard to slavery. Some areQur’anic, like the example cited above,17 and others are drawn from the hadith literature andother historical traditions concerned with the decision‐making of the Rightly Guided Caliphs14Seventh century Meccan society was driven by class consciousness and discrimination and, according to thetraditions, the dignitaries refused to meet with the Prophet because he surrounded himself with former slavesfrom Ethiopia, Persia, and Byzantium. The following verse of the Qur’an was then revealed:“Send not away those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face. In naughtart thou accountable for them, and in naught are they accountable for thee, that thou shouldstturn them away, and thus be (One) of the unjust.” Holy Qur’an, 6:52.15Muhammed Asad, trans. The Message of the Qur’an, (Gibralter: Dar Al‐Andalus, 1984), 179, n. 41.Kamali, Freedom, Justice and Equality in Islam 54. Verse 6:52 is one of a number of verses in the Qur’an wherethe text strongly urges the believers to adopt an attitude evincing taqwa, which can be translated as “God‐consciousness” or “piety,” in their dealings with other human beings, particularly those who are in subordinate orvulnerable positions, such as slaves, orphans, widows, the poor and the disabled. The most important verseexhorting taqwa is 49:13, cited by the Prophet in his farewell sermon wherein he urges racial equality among thebelievers and repeatedly cited by religious scholars as evidence of the Qur’an’s universalist condemnation of racialdiscrimination.17The best example is Surat ul‐Balad, chapter 90 of the Holy Qur’an, which urges Muhammad and all those whoemulate him to care for their kin, rescue the indigent, and free slaves. See The Holy Qur’an, 90:1‐20.16Freamon 6

and the early Shi’a Imams on the issue of slavery.18 These norms are frequently cited byprominent clerics and jurists as normative and ideological support for a perceived Islamicjurisprudential goal of the elimination of slavery and the slave‐trade.In spite of their inspirational quality, current mainstream interpretations of thesereligiously inspired normative principles on slavery and emancipation are terribly unsatisfyingwhen one examines the actual history of slavery and abolition in the Muslim world. They simplydo not generate the kind of critical thinking required of those who would seek to gain acompetent understanding of their own history. Several contemporary Muslim scholars haverecognized this short‐coming. The great Pakistani religious scholar and philosopher, FazlurRahman (1919‐1988) in arguing for a fresh hermeneutic in interpreting the Qur’an, suggestedthat consideration of the interpretive problems raised by the issue of slavery would be a goodstarting point in developing the new hermeneutic, although he pointedly left the task toothers.19 Professor Nasr Abu Zaid, an Egyptian academic declared to be an apostate and driveninto exile in 1995 by traditionist Egyptian ‘ulama and their judicial allies, has also called forcritical thinking on the issue of slavery. He recently asked:What about slavery? Slavery as a socio‐economic system is mentioned inthe Qur’an‐‐‐it is a historical reality. Human beings have developed their thinkingsince the seventh century. Slavery is no longer an acceptable socioeconomicsystem in most parts of the world. How can we use the Word of God tolegitimate a heinous system that human beings no longer generally practice? Ifwe do legitimate such a thing, we freeze God’s Word in history‐‐‐but the Word ofGod reaches way beyond historical reality. Slavery is something that is not18The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: “‘Whoever kills his slave: he shall be killed. Whoeverimprisons his slave and starves him, he shall be imprisoned and starved himself, and whoever castrates his slaveshall himself be castrated.’ (Abu Dawud, Diyat 70, Tirmidhi, Diyat 17, A,‐Nasa’I, Qasama, 10, 16)” Fethullah Gulen,the modern Turkish sufi and religious leader, in his address “How is it that Islam allows slavery?” 9Fazlur Rahman, Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition (Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, 1982).Freamon 7

Qur’anic. Jurists, those folks in the Islamic world responsible for developing law,need to apply a healthy dose of critical thinking to their job as they go about thebusiness of forming a just society‐‐‐one that moves in the direction of the Wordof God.20There have been a few, but not many others, who have asked similar questions.21 Theconventional wisdom is that Islamic law, or the Shari’a as it is often described, rapidly repairedto the margins of Muslim life and society in all of these realms.22 The colonial law and itsprogeny, the law of the neo‐colonial and newly independent governments in thesecommunities, became the only law that mattered. This perceived marginalization of Islamic lawhas important legacies.23 There are many who maintain that the Shari’a, as a system of law,cannot adequately assist Muslims in grappling with the demands of modern life and that it willultimately fail to foster the well‐being of people living in the Islamic world because it is a pre‐modern anachronism.24 These critics point to the problem of slavery as a prime example of thefailure of Islamic law in the modern world.That argument is strengthened by another conventional historical wisdom which tells usthat there was never any significant indigenous impetus for the abolition of slavery in the20Nasr abu Zaid, “The Nexus of Theory and Practice,”The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity: AReader, ed. Mehran Kamrava (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006) 153‐176, 155. Seealso Nasr Abu Zaid, Reformation of Islamic Thought: A Critical Historical Analysis (Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ.Press, 2006).21Khalid Abu al Fadl’s work is probably the best recent example, although his focus is not exclusively on slavery butrather on critical historical analysis of patterns of gender discrimination and subordination. Khaled Abou El Fadl,Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority, and Women (Oxford: Oneworld, 2001).22The Shari’a is the entire corpus of Islamic law and jurisprudence, encompassing the positive law or “fiqh,”[“comprehension” or “understanding”] and the methodologies for deriving the positive law from the sources, or“usul al‐fiqh” [“the roots of understanding”]. On the question of Muslim assertions of Islam’s insistence on humanequality, see Mohammed Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, 3rd rev. and enl. ed. (Cambridge,U.K.: Islamic Texts Society, 2003), 2.23The rise of false jihadist ideologies may be directly related to a perceived marginalization of Islamic law. SeeBernard K. Freamon, “Martyrdom, Suicide, and the Islamic Law of War: A Short Legal History,” FordhamInternational Law Journal 27 (2003): 299. .24‘Abdallahi Ahmed An‐Na’im, Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of the Shari’a (Cambridge,Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008).Freamon 8

Muslim world. In point of fact, the horrific thirteen hundred year history of the Indian Ocean,Mediterranean and trans‐Saharan slave trades, and of chattel slavery in Muslim communitiesbelies the strident Islamic egalitarianism that characterizes the normatively top‐heavy uses ofhistory noted above. Even though this strident egalitarianism is, in many ways, one of thehallmarks of the Islamic religion, the historical evidence, it is argued, suggests that Islamicegalitarianism, in spite of its success as a powerfully galvanizing force in spreading the religion,made virtually no contribution to the closing of the slave trades and the eventual widespreadelimination of chattel slavery in Muslim communities. Slavery in the Muslim world was neverreally abolished, the argument runs, it just disappeared, largely as a result of pressure fromWestern governments, including British naval anti‐slaving patrols, treaties with and financialreward schemes for local indigenous Shaykhs, and the shaming exhortations of European andAmerican abolitionist movements. It was the hegemony of colonialism that ended slavery in theMuslim world, substituting one pervasive regime of inequality and hierarchy for another. Nowthat the colonialist legacy has receded, it is argued, slavery may indeed reappear in Muslimcommunities. Recent events suggest that chattel slavery and apartheid‐like inequalities are stilla problem in some Muslim communities in the Sahel, Sub‐Saharan Africa, and in the PersianGulf.2525See Jok Madut Jok, War and Slavery in Sudan (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001); John Eibner,“Eradicating Slavery in Sudan,” Boston Globe, February 22, 2006, opinion/oped/articles/2006/02/22/eradicating slavery in sudan/(accessed October 13, 2008) (163 southern Sudanese liberated from slavery by the government’s Committee forthe Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children); “Slavery and Slave Redemption in Sudan: Human RightsWatch Backgrounder,” .htm (accessed October 13, 2008)(detailing slavery and slavery‐like conditions in Western Sudan and the failure of “redemption” schemes); ColinNickerson, “One by One, Slaves in Sudan are Bought and Freed by Western Groups,” Boston Globe , December 19,1999. (Christian anti‐slavery society reports purchasing fifteen hundred captives from Muslim slave dealers andother marauders in war‐torn Sudan). See also Gregory Kane, “Series‐‐‐Witness to Slavery,” Baltimore Sun, June 17‐18, 1996. (Baltimore Sun details successful effort by two of its investigative reporters to purchase two slaves inFreamon 9

These facts should be deeply disturbing to Muslims and others sympathetic to theIslamic project. They suggest that the Islamic conceptions of equality are not truly universal andmay not be very useful to Muslims seeking to establish egalitarian political and social orders inthe modern world. This leads to the further intimation that Islamic egalitarianism is nothingmore than a rhetorical device in the hands of the proponents of the religion, useful for politicalpropaganda and religious proselytizing but without real moral force in influencing the everydaybehavior of observant Muslims. The history of the classical interpretations of the Qur’an by themainstream ‘ulama’ tends to bear this out. 26Sudan). There have been similar stories about Mauritania: Elinor Burkett, “God Created Me to Be a Slave,” N.Y.Times, October 12, 1997. For information on modern day slavery in the Persian Gulf see Ghaith Abdul‐Ahad, “Weneed slaves to build monuments,” The Guardian / (accessed October 13, 2008). (detailingconditions for workers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi); Suzanne Miers, Slavery in the 20th Century: The Evolution of aGlobal Problem (Lanham, Md.: Rowman Altamira, 2003) (extensive discussion of problems of modern day slaveryin the Persian Gulf). I have argued elsewhere that there now appears to be a broad consensus among Muslimjurists that slavery is now illegal under Islamic law (haram or “forbidden” in the language of Islamic jurisprudence)and can never be legally revived again: Bernard K. Freamon, “Slavery, Freedom, and the Doctrine of Consensus inIslamic Jurisprudence, Harvard Human. Rights Journal 11 (1998): 1; See also, Abdullahi Ahmed An‐Na’im, Towardan Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press,1990), 175.26The ‘ulama’ are an important indigenous elite in Islamic society. The word ‘ulama’ is the plural of the Arabicword ‘alim, which means “learned” or “erudite.” Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, ed. J. MiltonCowan (Ithaca: Spoken Languages Services, 1994), 744. The word ‘ulama’, when used as a collective noun, means“learned ones” and describes the religio‐legal class of scholars who are usually present and active in almost alllegal discourse in every Muslim community. Over the centuries the ‘ulama’ have carried out an important role injuridical decision‐making. See D.B. MacDonald, “Ulama,” E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913‐1938, eds. A.J.Wensinck, M.Th. Houtsma, H.A.R. Gibb, W. Heffening & E. Levi‐Provencal (Reprint, Leiden: Brill, 1987), 8, 994. Inthe classical conception of Islamic law, the ‘ulama’ bear the primary responsibility for ensuring that the Shari’a, thecorpus of Islamic law, and its primary texts, the Qur’an and the Sunnah, are correctly taught, recited, interpretedand applied by the believers, including university teachers, religious and legal authorities, political leaders, andmembers of the government. This conclusion follows from the classical view of the Islamic doctrine of ijma’(scholarly consensus) which is in turn derived from interpretations of a number of verses in the Qur’an. Theseverses, particularly 4:59 and 4:83, insist that the believers consult with the ulu‐al‐amr (those who hold authority orcommand) in resolving disputes concerning interpretation of the Qur’an and other matters of law and policy. Seealso Muhammad Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, rev. ed. (Cambridge, U.K.: Islamic TextsSociety, 2003), 231‐2 (explaining the role of ijma’ in ensuring correct interpretation of the Qur’an); Ahmad Hasan,The Doctrine of Ijma' in Islam (Lahore: Islamic Research Academy, 1978), 28‐32 (explaining the role of scholars inthe formulation of ijma’). As I shall show, there is an argument that, since the demise of the Ottoman Empire andthe arrival of European colonialism, this view of the ‘ulama’ is now nothing more than an anachronistic ideal, withabsolutely no reference to the current juridical reality in Islamic communities.Freamon 10

This paper will argue that both the “conventional wisdoms” positing the irrelevancy ofthe Shar’ia in the struggle against slavery and the anti‐slavery lessons of the normativelyinstrumental accounts from the formative years of the Islamic project both over‐generalize andwidely miss the mark, obscuring our ability, and more importantly, the ability of modernMuslims, to understand these important histories. When these issues are viewed in the contextof the future of Islamic law, the stakes are indeed very high. Much of the Islamic world iscurrently convulsed with anxious concern for Islamic law’s relationship‐‐‐or perhaps, non‐relationship‐‐‐to the great issues of our time. These convulsions include demands forinstallation of democratic governments, equality for women, respect for the rights of non‐Muslim citizens and minority groups, rejection of false jihadist ideologies, and freedom ofexpression and conscience as fundamental entitlements of all persons. Although the stakes areprobably at their highest level in over a hundred years, these challenges are not new. They firstbegan to stir the Islamic jurisprudential pot when European colonial powers commenced thelong season of occupation of the Arab, Mediterranean, and Indian Ocean Worlds beginning inthe early seventeenth century. That season was accompanied by insistent demands for theabolition of slavery. A steady accretion in the influence of Western jurisprudence followed,often accompanied by military domination, diplomatic encirclement and marginalization,industrialization, imperial agenda‐setting, and economic necessities. By the nineteenth andearly twentieth centuries, all three of the worlds came to be dominated by European imperialand jurisprudential hegemonies.I will argue that Islamic law did play a significant, although not easily discovered, role inthe events that led to the adoption of legal rules and jurisprudential norms seeking to abolishFreamon 11

slavery and the slave trades in the Indian Ocean and Arab worlds. This role is bound up in thedevelopment of an intertwined “plural” set of imperialisms. I will show that slavery was theglue that bound these imperialisms together. My tentative conclusion is that the abolitionistenterprise largely failed, in spite of the adoption of those norms and the efforts of theintertwined plural imperial entities. This means that it is not enough to just associate slaveryand abolition with

(prayer‐caller) in Islam. The call was indeed recognized as important for communal public worship in a subsequently revealed verse of the Qur’an.10 The cadence and beautifully melodic sound of the Muslim call to prayer, no