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Website Title: Ijmāʿ-on-Slavery

URL: ijma-on-slavery.org

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Mission Statement

Our mission is to advocate for an ijmāʿ concluding that slavery and slave trading are illegal under Muslim law. To achieve this we will document the existence of slavery and slave trading in the Muslim world today through:

  • dissemination of information on the topic of slavery in the Muslim world, including publication of papers and books on the topic
  • establish a dialogue among scholars of Islamic law on the viability of declaring an ijmāʿ on slavery and slave trading
  • organize a conference on the topic of slavery and slave trading in the Muslim world, where the ijmāʿ could be declared

Website Summary

Short Version

Modern Slavery in the Muslim world affects over 15 million people, and the website presents an innovative and potentially groundbreaking approach to the issue. This multi faceted website, at ijma-on-slavery.org, contains public pages that feature two essays by Dr. Bernard K. Freamon that call attention to the issue and pose the question of whether slavery might be legally abolished in the Muslim world using the vehicle of a Muslim scholarly consensus, or ijmāʿ. The private portal hosts articles posted by Scholar-Contributors dedicated to this question. From time to time, the website will also publish articles and posting on the topic on its public pages. If a critical mass of scholars of Islamic law contributes and agrees that slavery is illegal under Islamic law, the organizers of the website will invite contributors to plan a conference, convention or meeting that might further debate the issue and, in sha’ Allah, declare the existence of an ijmāʿ on the question of the illegality of slavery under Islamic law.

Full Version

Of the 40 million people worldwide living in slavery today, almost 15 million live in the Muslim world, which can be defined as all the Muslim-majority countries in the world and all countries with large Muslim minorities. In some of the Muslim-majority countries, where Islamic law is enforced, it is still possible to legally own another human being, especially young women living in a state of concubinage. In most of the other Muslim-majority countries and in countries with large Muslim minorities, although slavery is abolished by secular law or governmental edict, conditions equivalent to classical slavery or even worse than those endured under classical slavery still exist. Human beings are bought, sold, traded, gifted, inherited, sexually abused, forced or tricked into prostitution, massively exploited for labor and other purposes, held in bondage for debt, forced into marriage, and made the victims of organ trafficking by deceit, artifice and fraud.

Islamic law unequivocally condemns all of these circumstances and practices but no recognition of a consensus of Islamic scholars condemning such practices has ever been made. Recognition of the existence of such a consensus, called an ijmāʿ in Islamic jurisprudence, would greatly aid efforts to stamp out such reprehensible and harm-causing practices among Muslims. The ijma-on-slavery.org website seeks to collect opinions of competent Islamic scholars on this problem and, should there be unanimous agreement among such scholars, it seeks to enable these scholars to issue a statement recognizing an ijmāʿ and declaring that slavery and slave trading are illegal under Islamic law and therefore abolished. It will then seek to disseminate the fact of the ijmāʿ worldwide. If there is not unanimous consensus, as is required for an ijmāʿ in the jurisprudence, the website will serve as a forum for dialogue and discourse on the issue, with the goal of reaching a unanimous consensus.

The website will also perform other tasks. It will be a vehicle for scholars and others interested in the problem of slavery in the Muslim world to post essays, chronicles, real-time observations, opinions, notices and other documents of interest on the topic in its public portal. It will also provide a forum for organizers to begin the work of convening a convention/meeting/conference on the question of the abolition of slavery under the aegis of Islamic law.

Dr. Freamon's Bio

Dr. Bernard K. Freamon is professor of law emeritus at Seton Hall Law School and an adjunct professor of law at New York University School of Law. He possesses a B.A. degree in anthropology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut (1970), a J.D. degree from Rutgers University School of Law in Newark, New Jersey (1974), an LL.M degree From Columbia University in the City of New York (2002), and a J.S.D. degree in Islamic Legal History from Columbia University in The City of New York (2007).

Professor Freamon is the author of several articles, book chapters, and books, including:

  • Possessed by the Right Hand: The Problem of Slavery in Islamic Law and Muslim Cultures (Leiden: Brill, 2019).
  • “Slavery and Society in East Africa, Oman and the Persian Gulf,” in What is a Slave Society? The Practice of Slavery in Global Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018) (Noel Lenski and Catherine M. Cameron, eds.).
  • “ISIS, Boko Haram, and t­­he Human Right to Freedom from Slavery Under Islamic Law,” Fordham International Law Journal 34 (2015): 245.
  • “Straight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition and Modern Islamic Thought,” in Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012) (Robert W. Harms, Bernard K. Freamon and David W. Blight, eds.).
  • “Martyrdom, Suicide and the Islamic Law of War,” Fordham International Law Journal 27 (2003): 299.
  • “Slavery, Freedom and the Doctrine of Consensus in Islamic Jurisprudence,” Harvard Human Rights Journal 11 (1998): 1.

References

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