Middle East studies in the News
Georgetown Professor Defends Islamic Slavery and 'Non-Consensual' Sex [on Jonathan Brown]
by Rick Moran
Jonathan Brown, a professor at Georgetown University and a prominent Muslim scholar, delivered a lecture in which he defended Islamic slavery and incidents of non-consensual sex. Brown claims that because Muslims slaves have some "rights," that the institution was akin to Medievil feudalism rather than the chattel slavery found in the American south.
The lecture has to be seen to be believed.
Rod Dreher points out the dilemma for modern Muslims if they accept the fact that Muhammad was a slave owner.
The old biblical justifications for owning slaves reflected the times in which the apostles and Jesus lived. In fact, from the beginning of human civilization 6,000 years ago until the 19th century, slavery was the norm for nations and peoples on all continents.
But just because it used to be the norm, doesn't mean it still has to be. Christians were a major force in eliminating slavery from the Roman empire (that and it's slow collapse) and were in the forefront of anti-slavery movements around the world since then.
But there has been no Muslim "reformation" that would redefine Islam's adherents' relationship to the Koran or the historical version of Muhammad. Hence, the Koran's teachings about slavery continue to hold sway over individual Muslims.
But is that any reason to justify it? For Professor Brown, apparently, yes.
Brown also justifies the use of "concubines" and the resulting forced sexual relations suffered by women in Muslim countries:
Does the fact that "sexual autonomy" is a modern way of thinking mean that we can excuse past civilizations for brutalizing women? Comparing civilizations from different periods in human history is always frought with complications. For example, while you can say most Americans either supported slavery or opposed equal rights for blacks at one time, the fact that there were others in society who thought differently - abolitionists - means that the opportunity was there for all to re-examine their beliefs and adopt the moral position that slavery was a moral wrong and needed to be eradicated.
So it hardly matters that the Koran justifies either slavery or non consensual sex. Modern ways of looking at the world tells us categorically that those beliefs are immoral and wrong. For anyone - especially a prominent scholar like Brown - to argue otherwise is,as Dreher rightly points out, sophistry.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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