Chapter

In Black and White

BERNARD LEWIS

in Race and Slavery in the Middle East

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780195053265
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854561 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195053265.003.0008
In Black and White

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The chapter discusses black and white slaves, though the Qur'an gives no countenance to the idea that there are superior and inferior races. The idea of natural slavery is mentioned by Aristotelian philosophers. Aristotle's doctrine of natural slavery provided a convenient justification of their enslavement. There was another attempt to justify enslavement of a whole race in religious terms, restricted to the dark-skinned people of Africa. However, in the Muslim world, there were always white and black slaves. There were also free blacks as well as slaves. White female slaves were more expensive than black ones and they were rarely used for rough labor and filled higher positions in domestic and administrative employment. The chapter notes that the black is missing from the positions of wealth, power and privilege. Medieval authors attribute this to lack of capacity while the modern observer recognizes it as the effect of lack of opportunity.

Keywords: black slaves; white slaves; Qur'an; Aristotelian philosophers; Aristotle

Chapter.  3657 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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