Review of Dr. Jonathan Brown’s Book on Slavery and Islam

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Dr. Jonathan Brown recently wrote a book about slavery and how it relates to Islam. In this post, I’ll give an overview of what the book is about, some general thoughts on the book, as well as my take on the topic as a whole.

Slavery and Islam focuses on two broad areas. The first is analyzing how Islamic law and classical Islamic civilization dealt with slavery, and the second is discussing the moral dimension of slavery and the questions it raises. At times these threads are interwoven and at times they are separate, but I’ll deal with these two areas one at a time.

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Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts

Screenshot from 2018-02-08 23:10:32

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This blog post is adapted from my notes taken from Dr. Jonathan A. C. Brown’s lecture on the topic of historical criticism and how it’s been applied to Islamic primary texts, especially the hadith collections. Watch the lecture here: part 1part 2part 3. Note that it’s about 3 hours long including the Q&A, so be warned. It’s definitely worth a watch though, from beginning to end.

The lecture was given around the time that the UK government-sponsored documentary Islam: The Untold Story by charlatan historian Tom Holland was in the news. Basically, the documentary tries to tell a speculative revisionist story of the origins of Islam. Dr. Brown’s lecture is not a direct response to the documentary, but it contextualizes some of the assumptions being made in this documentary and other revisionist pieces that are claiming to examine Islam from a “critical” lens. Anyway, I’ll end the introduction here and start the portion based on my notes. Note that the section “My Thoughts” at the end of this post is not based on the lecture; those opinions are strictly mine.

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