amsa.org.uk: This series, entitled ‘Islam and Slavery’ will examine the practice of the Prophet Muhammadsa with regards to the institution of slavery. It will compare the success of his policies and teachings with those of other individuals and groups, and will allow the reader to formulate a judgment as to which methods were most effective in achieving the ultimate goal – namely, the complete abolition of slavery. The first part of this series will take an initial look at the topic, in particular, judging the social legacy that both Lincoln and Muhammadsa left behind.
No social revolution or upheaval can be completely accomplished within the space of a few days. To truly change the culture of a people steeped in inequality and racial hatred requires care, time, and the changing of hearts and minds.
Last week saw the USA celebrate Abraham Lincoln Day, and for good reason. In 1861 Lincoln became the 16th president of the United States, and found himself presiding over a deeply fractured nation. He led the country during tumultuous times, as the country became steeped in civil war, largely due to the divisive issue of slavery. Hailed as one of the greatest of U.S. presidents, Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1863, and in doing so, liberated several million enslaved people in a single instant. When the war was over, this proclamation was solidified further with the 13th amendment, which abolished the institution of slavery entirely. The political courage of Abraham Lincoln stands tall in the hearts of the world even to this day. A ‘new birth of freedom’ had seemingly dawned upon a country previously consumed by discrimination.
150 years on, however, the echoes of slavery remain. A recent study found that an average African-American household possesses just 6% of the wealth of a typical white household.1 White individuals have far greater rates of home ownership than African-Americans, graduate college at higher rates, and have significantly lower rates of mortality.2 Anti-black hate crimes are still widely prevalent in the US, and show no sign of decreasing.3 Furthermore, the downtrodden status of black people was such that for much of the 20th century, many white people believed, perhaps accurately, that having a black family in a white neighbourhood would lower property prices in that area. Needless to say, throughout the past century and a half since the 13th amendment was passed, black people in America have suffered manifest cruelties – from segregation to violent hate crimes.