Middle East studies in the News
Georgetown Islamic Studies Professor: Slavery OK, So is Non-Consensual Sex [on Jonathan Brown]
by Ian Miles Cheong
A professor at Georgetown University is teaching his students that men do not need consent to have sex with women, and that slavery is justifiable under Islamic teachings.
Islamic Studies professor Jonathan Brown recently lectured at the International Institute of Islamic Thought, where he shared his alarming beliefs with students in attendance in his lecture, "Islam and the Problem of Slavery." Freelance writer Umar Lee expressed his shock over the 90-minute lecture, which included explicit endorsements of rape and slavery.
Brown himself uploaded the lecture to YouTube.
According to Lee, Brown's lecture was supposed to revolve around slavery in Islam, but the lecturer moved its focus to criticize the United States, United Kingdom and China. Brown described slavery in these non-Muslim societies as brutal, which they were, but lauded the historically inhumane practice in Arab lands and Turkey.
"Indeed, according to Brown, slaves in the Muslim world lived a pretty good life," wrote Lee. "I thought the Muslim community was done with this dishonest North Korean style of propaganda. Obviously not."
Brown decried the use of prison labor in the United States and highlighted other problems inherent in Western society, but refused to address the abuse of foreign laborers in the Gulf or the ghastly treatment of prisoners in the Middle East. It was a one-sided lecture that glorified his religion while demonizing Western society.
The Islamic Studies professor said that in Muslim societies, "slavery wasn't racialized," unlike the United States. Lee points out that this is untrue, given that in the Arab world, black people are referred to as "abeed," the Arab word for "slave."
Brown stated that slaves were "protected by Sharia," omitting the various atrocities committed by slave-owners. Girls and women were forced into the sex trade and their male counterparts were often castrated.
"In general you don't find the brutality that you see in American slavery," said Brown, who described the historically common practice as "investments" and "walking venture properties" for slave-owners.
The soft-pedaling and revisionism of historical atrocities is deplorable, to say the least.
Historically, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams conducted warfare against vassal states of the Ottoman Empire to end the Barbary slave trade, in which North African pirates conducted constant raids into European coastal towns to capture men and women for slavery.
Brown defended slavery, stating, "It's not immoral for one human to own another human" by comparing it to marriage—a quid pro quo arrangement in which both slave and master benefited from the arrangement.
"I don't think it's morally evil to own somebody because we own lots of people all around us and we're owned by people," said Brown.
A female attendee asked Brown about the permissibility of sex with slaves, to which the professor stated that "Consent isn't necessary for lawful sex," and defined consent as a Western concept that emerged with women's suffrage and female body autonomy. Brown, he said, believes that marital rape was an invalid concept in Islam.
Had Prof. Brown's words been spoken by a practicing member of any other religion, they would've lost their jobs and shunned out of the academic world.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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