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religion, slavery 

Reading this: nyrb.com/products/muhammad …and feeling all sorts of skeptical based on the author's handling of sociology in the introduction. For example, this:

religion, slavery 

Excuse me? Maybe elsewhere, but in the US, at least, there were prominent religious abolitionists who absolutely advocated for the wholesale eradication of slavery. There's evidence to suggest that they helped precipitate the actual end of slavery here — hence, the popularity of "John Brown's Body" as a Civil War marching song. Nor, AFAIK, had slavery outlived its economic usefulness to the ruling class — which is one reason they keep cooking up loopholes, e.g. prison labor.

religion, slavery 

Were religious abolitionists the only, or even principle, force behind the end of US slavery? Obviously not. But Rodinson — on the heels of a warning that sociological causation is too complicated to reduce to one ideology — is diminishing the role of religious opposition to nothing, in order to maximize the appeal of a Marxist interpretation. Ironic, really, and it puts me on guard.

religion, slavery 

Even more ironically, perhaps, Rodinson's purpose in minimizing the role of religious abolitionists (even to the point of eliding their existence) is to undercut the Occidental view of Islam as essentially theocratic. Religious ideology, he's saying, has very little real influence over government, which is driven by motives related to temporal power.

re: religion, slavery 

@lrhodes This is one of the most annoying tendencies in marxist history & you're right to object to it. It seems to come from a determinist viewpoint of “well, slavery was on the way out anyway” which…no.

But anyway, materially, yes religious abolitionism has always been quite common - in fact, just a couple centuries after Mohammed lived, one of the largest slave uprisings in history was instigated by someone who explicitly justified their opposition to slavery in Islam.

religion, slavery 

@lrhodes IIRC in the first 1k years of those religions, very many Christians and Moslems argued that 1) you should not enslave fellow-believers, and 2) you should convert everyone including slaves, which implies 3) you should try to eliminate slavery. Most historians see that as a major cause of the end of chattel slavery in the Frankish world away from the Mediterranean, and in the Baltic region (Italians and Iberians still had some slaves).

religion, slavery 

@lrhodes see also Benjamin Lay atlasobscura.com/articles/benj Of course other Christians and Moslems found ways to rationalize slavery or call it something else, but there were prominent people who thought about it and decided it was against the Books.

re: religion, slavery 

@bookandswordblog @lrhodes Don't really think 3) is implied - another conclusion that could be draw is that non-christians & muslims are “fair game” & once captured conversion must begin…a slaver could easily treat other peoples as basically a pool of raw converts, even if they were supposed to somehow “move up” over the course of enslsvement. (Of course, your point that people could interpret the first two points in an antislavery manner like 3) still holds.)

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Merveilles

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