Arab slave trade
Overview
 
The Arab slave trade
History of slavery
The history of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved...

 was the practice of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 in the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

, mainly Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa and certain parts of Europe (such as Iberia and southern Italy) during their period of domination by Arab leaders. The trade was focused on the slave markets of the Middle East and North Africa. People traded were not limited to a certain color, ethnicity, or religion and included Arabs and Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, especially in its early days.

During the 8th and 9th centuries of the Islamic Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

, most of the slaves were Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 Eastern Europeans (called Saqaliba
Saqaliba
Saqaliba refers to the Slavs, particularly Slavic slaves and mercenaries in the medieval Arab world, in the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Al-Andalus. It is generally thought that the Arabic term is a Byzantine loanword: saqlab, siklab, saqlabi etc. is a corruption of Greek Sklavinoi for...

).
Encyclopedia
The Arab slave trade
History of slavery
The history of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved...

 was the practice of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 in the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

, mainly Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa and certain parts of Europe (such as Iberia and southern Italy) during their period of domination by Arab leaders. The trade was focused on the slave markets of the Middle East and North Africa. People traded were not limited to a certain color, ethnicity, or religion and included Arabs and Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, especially in its early days.

During the 8th and 9th centuries of the Islamic Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

, most of the slaves were Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 Eastern Europeans (called Saqaliba
Saqaliba
Saqaliba refers to the Slavs, particularly Slavic slaves and mercenaries in the medieval Arab world, in the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Al-Andalus. It is generally thought that the Arabic term is a Byzantine loanword: saqlab, siklab, saqlabi etc. is a corruption of Greek Sklavinoi for...

). However, slaves were drawn from a wide variety of regions and included Mediterranean peoples, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 peoples, peoples from the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 mountain regions (such as Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and Circassia
Circassia
Circassia was an independent mountainous country located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia and was the largest and most important country in the Caucasus. Circassia was located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea...

) and parts of Central Asia and Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

, Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 and Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

, Berbers from North Africa, and various other peoples of varied origins as well as those of African origins.

Toward the 18th and 19th centuries, the flow of slaves from East Africa increased with the rise of the Oman sultanate
History of Zanzibar
People have lived in Zanzibar for 20,000 years; history proper starts when the islands became a base for traders voyaging between Arabia, India, and Africa...

 which was based in Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

. They came into direct trade conflict and competition with Portuguese
Portuguese
Portuguese is an adjective referring to matters related to Portugal. It may refer to:* Portuguese language, natively spoken in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, East Timor and other countries**including Portuguese dialects...

 and other Europeans along the Swahili coast. The trade was officially abolished in 1970.

Scope of the trade

Historians estimate that between 10 and 18 million Africans were enslaved by Arab slave traders and taken across the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, Indian Ocean, and Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 desert between 650 and 1900. It should be noted that the term Arab when used in historical documents often represented a cultural term rather than a "racial" term, and many of the "Arab" slave traders such as Tippu Tip
Tippu Tip
Tippu Tip or Tib , real name Hamad bin Muḥammad bin Jumah bin Rajab bin Muḥammad bin Sa‘īd al-Murghabī, , was a Swahili-Zanzibari trader. He was famously known as Tippu Tib after an eye disease which made him blind...

 and others were indistinguishable from the "Africans" whom they enslaved and sold. Due to the nature of the Arab slave trade it is also impossible to be precise about actual numbers.

Periodic Arab raiding expeditions were sent from Islamic Iberia
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 to ravage the Christian Iberian kingdoms, bringing back booty and slaves. In a raid against Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 in 1189, for example, the Almohad caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Yaqub al-Mansur took 3,000 female and child captives, while his governor of Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, in a subsequent attack upon Silves in 1191, took 3,000 Christian slaves.

Arabs also enslaved substantial numbers of Europeans. According to Robert Davis between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by Barbary corsairs
Barbary corsairs
The Barbary Corsairs, sometimes called Ottoman Corsairs or Barbary Pirates, were pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast, a term derived from the name of its Berber...

, who were vassals of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, and sold as slaves
Slavery (Ottoman Empire)
Slavery was an important part of Ottoman society until the Ottoman Empire extinguished slavery of Caucasians in the early 19th century. The practice carried over into Ottoman reign...

 between the 16th and 19th centuries. These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages from Italy, Spain, Portugal and also from more distant places like France or England, the Netherlands, Ireland and even Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

. The impact of these attacks was devastating – France, England, and Spain each lost thousands of ships, and long stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants. Pirate
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 raids discouraged settlement along the coast until the 19th century.

The Ottoman wars in Europe
Ottoman wars in Europe
The wars of the Ottoman Empire in Europe are also sometimes referred to as the Ottoman Wars or as Turkish Wars, particularly in older, European texts.- Rise :...

 and Tatar raids brought large numbers of European Christian slaves into the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 too.

The 'Oriental' or 'Arab' slave trade is sometimes called the 'Islamic' slave trade
Islam and Slavery
Islamic views on slavery first developed out of the slavery practices of pre-Islamic Arabia. During the wars between different states/tribes in various parts of the world, prisoners/captives were either killed or enslaved...

, but a religious imperative was not the driver of the slavery, Patrick Manning
Patrick Manning (Professor)
Patrick Manning is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of World History at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also president of the World History Network, Inc., a nonprofit corporation fostering research in world history...

, a professor of World History, states. However, if a non-Muslim population refuses to adopt Islam or pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 protection/subjugation tax, that population is considered to be at war with the Muslim "ummah
Ummah
Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation." It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or the whole Arab world...

" and therefore it becomes legal under Islamic law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 to take slaves from that non-Muslim population. Usage of the terms "Islamic trade" or "Islamic world" has been disputed by some Muslims as it treats Africa as outside of Islam, or a negligible portion of the Islamic world. Propagators of Islam in Africa
Islam in Africa
From its beginning, Islam has been a central feature in Africa. Africa was the first continent into which Islam expanded, and it has become an integral part of many African cultures and histories. According to World Book Encyclopedia, Islam is the largest religion in Africa, followed by Christianity...

 often revealed a cautious attitude towards proselytizing because of its effect in reducing the potential reservoir of slaves.

From a Western point of view, the subject merges with the Oriental slave trade, which followed two main routes in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

:
  • Overland routes across the Maghreb
    Maghreb
    The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

     and Mashriq
    Mashriq
    Mashriq or Mashreq is derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q relating to the east or the sunrise, and essentially means "east"...

     deserts (Trans-Saharan
    Trans-Saharan trade
    Trans-Saharan trade requires travel across the Sahara to reach sub-Saharan Africa. While existing from prehistoric times, the peak of trade extended from the 8th century until the late 16th century.- Increasing desertification and economic incentive :...

     route)
  • Sea routes to the east of Africa through the Red Sea and Indian Ocean (Oriental route)


The Arab slave trade originated before Islam and lasted more than a millennium. It continues today in some places. Arab traders brought Africans across the Indian Ocean from present-day Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 and elsewhere in East Africa to present-day Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and other parts of the Middle East and South Asia (mainly Pakistan and India). Unlike the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

, Arabs supplied African slaves to the Muslim world, which at its peak stretched over three continents from the Atlantic (Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Spain) to India and eastern China.

A recent and controversial topic

The history of the slave trade has given rise to numerous debates amongst historians. For one thing, specialists are undecided on the number of Africans taken from their homes; this is difficult to resolve because of a lack of reliable statistics: there was no census system in medieval Africa. Archival material for the transatlantic trade in the 16th to 18th centuries may seem useful as a source, yet these record books were often falsified. Historians have to use imprecise narrative documents to make estimates which must be treated with caution: Luiz Felipe de Alencastro states that there were 8 million slaves taken from Africa between the 8th and 19th centuries along the Oriental and the Trans-Saharan routes.

Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau has put forward a figure of 17 million African people enslaved (in the same period and from the same area) on the basis of Ralph Austen's work. Paul Bairoch
Paul Bairoch
Born of Jewish parents who emigrated from Poland, Paul Bairoch was one of the great post-war economic historians who specialized in global economic history, urban history and historical demography...

 suggests a figure of 25 million African people subjected to the Arab slave trade, as against 11 million that arrived in the Americas from the transatlantic slave trade. Owen Alik Shahadah, author of the dedicated Arabslavetrade.com and historian on African slavery claims that the Arab slave trade was a "trickle trade" until the 19th century and that the new focus on Arab slave trade has political implications linked to the rise of Islamphobia as well as serving to redistribute blame for the European-run Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

. He also claims that it is impossible to give any definitive number on the toll from this trade and the alarmist numbers are not academically grounded but politically motivated guesswork.

Another obstacle to a history of the Arab slave trade is the limitations of extant sources. There exist documents from non-African cultures, written by educated men in Arabic, but these only offer an incomplete and often condescending look at the phenomenon. For some years there has been a huge amount of effort going into historical research on Africa. Thanks to new methods and new perspectives, historians can interconnect contributions from archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, numismatics
Numismatics
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 and demography
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 to compensate for the inadequacy of the written record.
The Arab slave trade from East Africa is one of the oldest slave trades, predating the European transatlantic slave trade by 700 years. Male slaves who were often employed as servants, soldiers, or laborers by their owners, while female slaves, including those from Africa, were long traded to the Middle Eastern countries and kingdoms by Arab and Oriental traders, as concubines
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 and servants. Arab, African and Oriental traders were involved in the capture and transport of slaves northward across the Sahara desert and the Indian Ocean region into the Middle East, Persia, and the Indian subcontinent.

20th century

From approximately 650 until around the 1960s, the Arab slave trade continued in one form or another. Historical accounts and references to slave-owning nobility in Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 and elsewhere are frequent into the early 1920s. In 1953, sheikh
Sheikh
Not to be confused with sikhSheikh — also spelled Sheik or Shaikh, or transliterated as Shaykh — is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor"...

s from Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 included slaves in their retinues, and they did so again on another visit five years later.

As recently as the 1950s, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

's slave population was estimated at 450,000 — approximately 20% of the population. It is estimated that as many as 200,000 Sudanese children and women had been taken into slavery in Sudan
Slavery in Sudan
Slavery in Sudan began in ancient times, and has continued to the present day. During the Arab slave trade, many Black-Sudanese were purchased as slaves and brought for work in the Middle East....

 during the Second Sudanese Civil War
Second Sudanese Civil War
The Second Sudanese Civil War started in 1983, although it was largely a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War of 1955 to 1972. Although it originated in southern Sudan, the civil war spread to the Nuba mountains and Blue Nile by the end of the 1980s....

. Slavery in Mauritania
Slavery in Mauritania
Slavery in Mauritania is an entrenched phenomenon the national government has repeatedly tried to abolish, banning the practice in 1905, 1981, and August 2007...

 was legally abolished by laws passed in 1905, 1961, and 1981. It was finally criminalized in August 2007. It is estimated that up to 600,000 Mauritanians, or 20% of Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

's population, are currently in conditions which some consider to be "slavery", namely many of them used as bonded labour
Debt bondage
Debt bondage is when a person pledges him or herself against a loan. In debt bondage, the services required to repay the debt may be undefined, and the services' duration may be undefined...

 due to poverty.

The Arab slave trade in the Indian Ocean, Red, and Mediterranean Seas long pre-dated the arrival of any significant number of Europeans on the African continent.

Descendants of the African slaves brought to the Middle East during the slave-trade still exist there today, and are aware of their African origins.

Medieval Arabic sources

These are given in chronological order. Scholars and geographers from the Arab world had been travelling to Africa since the time of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 in the 7th century.
  • Al-Masudi
    Al-Masudi
    Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Mas'udi , was an Arab historian and geographer, known as the "Herodotus of the Arabs." Al-Masudi was one of the first to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work, Muruj adh-dhahab...

     (died 957), Muruj adh-dhahab or The Meadows of Gold
    The Meadows of Gold
    Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems is an historical account in Arabic of the beginning of the world starting with Adam and Eve up to and through the late Abbasid Caliphate by medieval Baghdadi historian Masudi .Its only English version is the abridged The Meadows of...

    , the reference manual for geographers and historians of the Muslim world. The author had travelled widely across the Arab world as well as the Far East.
  • Ya'qubi
    Ya'qubi
    Ahmad ibn Abu Ya'qub ibn Ja'far ibn Wahb Ibn Wadih al-Ya'qubi , known as Ahmad al-Ya'qubi, or Ya'qubi, was a Berber Muslim geographer.-Biography:He was a great-grandson of Wadih, the freedman of the caliph Mansur...

     (9th century), Kitab al-Buldan or Book of Countries
  • Al-Bakri, author of Kitāb al-Masālik wa'l-Mamālik or Book of Roads and Kingdoms
    Book of Roads and Kingdoms (al-Bakri)
    Book of Roads and Kingdoms or Book of Highways and Kingdoms is the name of an eleventh-century geography text by Abu Abdullah al-Bakri...

    , published in Córdoba around 1068, gives us information about the Berbers and their activities; he collected eye-witness accounts on Saharan caravan routes
    Trade route
    A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. Allowing goods to reach distant markets, a single trade route contains long distance arteries which may further be connected to several smaller networks of commercial...

    .
  • Muhammad al-Idrisi
    Muhammad al-Idrisi
    Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti or simply Al Idrisi was a Moroccan Muslim geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller who lived in Sicily, at the court of King Roger II. Muhammed al-Idrisi was born in Ceuta then belonging to the Almoravid Empire and died in...

     (died circa 1165), Description of Africa and Spain
  • Ibn Battuta
    Ibn Battuta
    Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

     (died circa 1377), Moroccan
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

     geographer who travelled to sub-Saharan Africa, to Gao
    Gao
    Gao is a town in eastern Mali on the River Niger lying ESE of Timbuktu. Situated on the left bank of the river at the junction with the Tilemsi valley, it is the capital of the Gao Region and had a population of 86,663 in 2009....

     and to Timbuktu
    Timbuktu
    Timbuktu , formerly also spelled Timbuctoo, is a town in the West African nation of Mali situated north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Region, one of the eight administrative regions of Mali...

    . His principal work is called A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling.
  • Ibn Khaldun
    Ibn Khaldun
    Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

     (died in 1406), historian and philosopher from North Africa. Sometimes considered as the historian of Arab, Berber and Persian societies. He is the author of Muqaddimah
    Muqaddimah
    The Muqaddimah , also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun or the Prolegomena , is a book written by the Maghrebian Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history...

     orHistorical Prolegomena and History of the Berbers.
  • Al-Maqrizi
    Al-Maqrizi
    Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammad al-Maqrizi ; Arabic: , was an Egyptian historian more commonly known as al-Maqrizi or Makrizi...

     (died in 1442), Egyptian historian. His main contribution is his description of Cairo
    Cairo
    Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

     markets.
  • Leo Africanus
    Leo Africanus
    Joannes Leo Africanus, was a Moorish diplomat and author who is best known for his book Descrittione dell’Africa describing the geography of North Africa.-Biography:Most of what is known about his life is gathered from autobiographical...

     (died circa 1548), author of Descrittione dell’ Africa or Description of Africa
    Description of Africa
    Description of Africa, a largely firsthand geographical book, which was published under the title Descrittione dell’ Africa by Giovanni Battista Ramusio in his collection of travellers' accounts Delle navigationi e viaggi in Venice in 1550, contained the first detailed descriptions published in...

    , a rare description of Africa.
  • Rifa'a el-Tahtawi
    Rifa'a el-Tahtawi
    Rifa'a al-Tahtawi was an Egyptian writer, teacher, translator, Egyptologist and renaissance intellectual...

     (1801–1873), who translated medieval works on geography and history. His work is mostly about Muslim Egypt.
  • Joseph Cuoq, Collection of Arabic sources concerning Western Africa between the 8th and 16th centuries (Paris 1975)

European texts (16th-19th centuries)

  • João de Castro
    João de Castro
    Dom João de Castro was a Portuguese naval officer and fourth viceroy of Portuguese India. He was called Castro Forte by poet Luís de Camões. Castro was the son of Álvaro de Castro, civil governor of Lisbon...

    , Roteiro de Lisboa a Goa (1538)
  • James Bruce
    James Bruce
    James Bruce was a Scottish traveller and travel writer who spent more than a dozen years in North Africa and Ethiopia, where he traced the origins of the Blue Nile.-Youth:...

    , (1730–1794), Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1790)
  • René Caillié, (1799–1838), Journal d'un voyage à Tombouctou
  • Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
    Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
    Johann Ludwig Burckhardt was a Swiss traveller and orientalist. He wrote his letters in French and signed Louis...

    , (1784–1817), Travels in Nubia (1819)
  • Henry Morton Stanley
    Henry Morton Stanley
    Sir Henry Morton Stanley, GCB, born John Rowlands , was a Welsh journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and his search for David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly uttered the now-famous greeting, "Dr...

    , (1841–1904), Through the Dark Continent (1878)

Other sources

  • African Arabic and Ajam
    Ajam
    Ajam is a word used in Persian and Arabic literature but with different concepts. Ajam in Arabic has two primary meanings: "non-Arab" and "Persian".literally it has other meaning "one who is illiterate in language", "silent", or "mute", and refers to non-Arabs in general, or people of Southern...

     Manuscripts
  • African oral tradition
    Oral tradition
    Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

  • Kilwa
    Kilwa Kisiwani
    Kilwa Kisiwani is a community on an island off the coast of East Africa, in present day Tanzania.- History :A document written around AD 1200 called al-Maqama al Kilwiyya discovered in Oman, gives details of a mission to reconvert Kilwa to Ibadism, as it had recently been effected by the Ghurabiyya...

     Chronicle (16th century fragments)
  • Numismatics: analysis of coins and of their diffusion
  • Archaeology: architecture of trading posts and of towns associated with the slave trade
  • Iconography: Arab and Persian miniatures
    Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
    The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment...

     in major libraries
  • European engravings, contemporary with the slave trade, and some more modern
  • Photographs from the 19th century onward
  • Ethiopian (Ge'ez
    Ge'ez language
    Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

     and Amharic) historical texts

Historical and geographical context of the Arab slave trade

A brief review of the region and era in which the Oriental and trans-Saharan slave trade took place should be useful here. It is not a detailed study of the Arab world, nor of Africa, but an outline of key points which will help with understanding the slave trade in this part of the world.

The Islamic world

The religion of Islam appeared in the 7th century CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, and in the next hundred years it was quickly diffused throughout the Mediterranean area, spread by Arabs after they conquered the Sassanid Persian Empire and many territories from the Byzantine Empire, including the Levant
Muslim conquest of Syria
The Muslim conquest of Syria occurred in the first half of the 7th century, and refers to the region known as the Bilad al-Sham, the Levant, or Greater Syria...

, Armenia
Arab conquest of Armenia
The Arab conquest of Armenia was a part of the Muslim conquests after the death of Muhammad in AD 632.Persian Armenia had fallen to the Byzantine Empire shortly before, in AD 629, and was conquered in the Rashidun Caliphate by AD 645.-Islamic expansion:...

 and North Africa
Umayyad conquest of North Africa
The Umayyad conquest of North Africa continued the century of rapid Arab Muslim expansion following the death of Muhammad in 632 CE. By 640 the Arabs controlled Mesopotamia, had invaded Armenia, and were concluding their conquest of Byzantine Syria. Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad caliphate....

; they invaded the Iberian peninsula
Umayyad conquest of Hispania
The Umayyad conquest of Hispania is the initial Islamic Ummayad Caliphate's conquest, between 711 and 718, of the Christian Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania, centered in the Iberian Peninsula, which was known to them under the Arabic name al-Andalus....

 where they displaced the Visigothic Kingdom
Visigothic Kingdom
The Visigothic Kingdom was a kingdom which occupied southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula from the 5th to 8th century AD. One of the Germanic successor states to the Western Roman Empire, it was originally created by the settlement of the Visigoths under King Wallia in the province of...

. These regions therefore had a diverse range of different peoples. To some extent, these regions were unified by an Islamic culture built on both religious and civic foundations. For example, they used the Arabic language and the dinar
Dinar
The dinar is the official currency of several countries.The history of the dinar dates to the gold dinar, an early Islamic coin corresponding to the Byzantine denarius auri...

 (currency) in commercial transactions. Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 in Arabia, then as now, was the holy city of Islam and center of pilgrimages for all Muslims, whatever their origins.

According to Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

, the Arab Empire was the first "truly universal civilization
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

," which brought together for the first time "peoples as diverse as the Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

, the Indians, the people of the Middle East and North Africa, black Africans, and white Europeans."

The conquests of the Arab armies
Rashidun army
The Rashidun Caliphate Army or Rashidun army was the primary military body of the Rashidun Caliphate's armed forces during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, serving alongside the Rashidun Navy...

 and the expansion of the Islamic state that followed have always resulted in the capture of war prisoners who were subsequently set free or turned into slaves or Raqeeq (رقيق) and servants rather than taken as prisoners as was the Islamic tradition in wars. Once taken as slaves, they had to be dealt with in accordance with the Islamic law which was the law of the Islamic state, especially during the Umayyad and Abbasid eras. According to that law, slaves are allowed to earn their living if they opted for that, otherwise it is the owner’s (master) duty to provide for that. They also can’t be forced to earn money for their masters unless with an agreement between the slave and the master. This concept is called مخارجة in the Islamic jurisprudence. If the slave agrees to that and he would like the money s/he earns to be counted toward his/her emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

 then this has to be written in the form of a contract between the slave and the master. This is called مكاتبة (mukataba
Mukataba
In Islamic law, a mukataba is a contract of manumission between a master and a slave according to which the slave is required to pay a certain sum of money during a specific time period in exchange for freedom. In the legal literature, slaves who enter this contract are known as mukatab...

) in the Islamic jurisprudence. Muslims believe that slave owners in Islam are strongly encouraged to perform mukataba with their slaves as directed by the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

:
The framework of Islamic civilisation was a well-developed network of towns and oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 trading centres with the market (souq, bazaar
Bazaar
A bazaar , Cypriot Greek: pantopoula) is a permanent merchandising area, marketplace, or street of shops where goods and services are exchanged or sold. The term is sometimes also used to refer to the "network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen" who work that area...

) at its heart. These towns were inter-connected by a system of roads crossing semi-arid regions or deserts. The routes were travelled by convoys, and slaves formed part of this caravan
Caravan (travellers)
A caravan is a group of people traveling together, often on a trade expedition. Caravans were used mainly in desert areas and throughout the Silk Road, where traveling in groups aided in defence against bandits as well as helped to improve economies of scale in trade.In historical times, caravans...

 traffic.

In contrast to the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

 where the male-female ratio was 2:1 or 3:1, the Arab slave trade usually had a higher female:male ratio instead, suggesting a general preference for female slaves. Concubinage
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 and reproduction served as incentives for importing female slaves (often Caucasian), though many were also imported mainly for performing household tasks.

Arabic views on African people

In the Qur'an, the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad, and the overwhelming majority of Islamic jurists
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

 and theologians
Islamic theology
Islamic theology is a branch of Islamic studies regarding the beliefs associated with the Islamic faith. Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of aqidah. However, this term has taken a significant technical usage in Islamic history and theology, denoting those...

, all stated that humankind has a single origin and rejected the idea of certain ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s being superior to others. According to the hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

s, Muhammad declared:
Despite this, some ethnic prejudices
Ethnic hatred
Ethnic hatred, inter-ethnic hatred, racial hatred, or ethnic tension refers to feelings and acts of prejudice and hostility towards an ethnic group in various degrees. See list of anti-ethnic and anti-national terms for specific cases....

 later developed among Arabs due to several reasons: their extensive conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

 and slave trade; the influence of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's idea of certain ethnic groups being slaves by nature, echoed by Muslim philosophers
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

 such as Al-Farabi
Al-Farabi
' known in the West as Alpharabius , was a scientist and philosopher of the Islamic world...

 and Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

, particularly in regards to Turkic and black peoples; and the influence of the early mediaeval Geonic Academies ideas regarding divisions among mankind between the three sons of Noah
Sons of Noah
The Seventy Nations or Sons of Noah is an extensive list of descendants of Noah appearing in of the Hebrew Bible, representing an ethnology from an Iron Age Levantine perspective...

, with the Babylonian Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 stating that "the descendants of Ham
Hamitic
Hamitic is an historical term for the peoples supposedly descended from Noah's son Ham, paralleling Semitic and Japhetic.It was formerly used for grouping the non-Semitic Afroasiatic languages , but since, unlike the Semitic branch, these have not been shown to form a phylogenetic unity, the term...

 are cursed by being black, and [it] depicts Ham as a sinful man and his progeny as degenerates." However, ethnic prejudice among some elite Arabs was not limited to darker-skinned black people, but was also directed towards fairer-skinned "ruddy people" (including Persians, Turks and Europeans), while Arabs referred to themselves as "swarthy people". It should also be noted that the concept of an Arab identity
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 itself did not exist until modern times. According to Arnold J. Toynbee
Arnold J. Toynbee
Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934–1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global...

: "The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue."

The famous 9th century Muslim author Al-Jahiz
Al-Jahiz
Al-Jāḥiẓ was an Arabic prose writer and author of works of literature, Mu'tazili theology, and politico-religious polemics.In biology, Al-Jahiz introduced the concept of food chains and also proposed a scheme of animal evolution that entailed...

, an Afro-Arab
Afro-Arab
Afro-Arab refers to people of mixed Black African and genealogical Arab ancestral heritage and/or linguistically and culturally Arabized Black Africans...

 and the grandson of a Zanj
Zanj
Zanj was a name used by medieval Arab geographers to refer to both a certain portion of the coast of East Africa and its inhabitants, Bantu-speaking peoples called the Zanj...

 slave, wrote a book entitled Risalat mufakharat al-Sudan 'ala al-bidan (Treatise on the Superiority of Blacks over Whites), in which he stated that Blacks:
And that:
Al-Jahiz also stated in his Kitab al-Bukhala ("Avarice and the Avaricious") that:
Jahiz' criticism however, was limited to the Zanj and not blacks in totality, likely as a result of the Zanji revolts
Zanj Rebellion
The Zanj Rebellion was the culmination of series of small revolts. It took place near the city of Basra, located in southern Iraq over a period of fifteen years . It grew to involve over 500,000 slaves who were imported from across the Muslim empire and claimed over “tens of thousands of lives in...

 in his native Iraq.

This sentiment was echoed in the following passage from Kitab al-Bad' wah-tarikh (vol.4) by the medieval Arab writer Al-Muqaddasi
Al-Muqaddasi
Muhammad ibn Ahmad Shams al-Din Al-Muqaddasi , also transliterated as Al-Maqdisi and el-Mukaddasi, was a medieval Arab geographer, author of Ahsan at-Taqasim fi Ma`rifat il-Aqalim .-Biography:Al-Muqaddasi, "the Hierosolomite" was born in Jerusalem in 946 AD...

:
Al-Dimashqi (Ibn al-Nafis), the Arab polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

, also described the inhabitants of Sudan (Not Nubia) and the Zanj coast, among others, as being of "dim" intelligence and that:
By the 14th century, an overwhelming number of slaves came from sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

, leading to prejudice against black people in the works of several Arabic historians and geographers. For example, the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian historian Al-Abshibi (1388–1446) wrote: "It is said that when the [black] slave is sated, he fornicates, when he is hungry, he steals."

Mistranslations of Arab scholars and geographers from this time period have lead many to attribute certain racist attitudes that weren't prevalent until the 18th and 19th century to writings made centuries ago. Although bias against those of very black complexion existed in the Arab world in the 15th century it didn't have as much stigma as it later would. Older translations of Ibn Khaldun, for example in The Negroland of the Arabs Examined and Explained which was written in 1841 gives excerpts of older translations that were not part of later colonial propaganda and show black Africans in a generally positive light.

In 14th century North Africa, the Arab sociologist, Ibn Khaldun, wrote in his Muqaddimah:
Ibn Khaldun suggests a link between the decline of Ghana and rise of the Almoravids. However, there is little evidence of there actually being an Almoravid conquest of Ghana aside from the parallel conflict with Tekrur, which was allied with the Almoravid and eventually absorbed by them.

Ibn Khaldun attributed the "strange practices and customs" of certain black African tribes to the hot climate of sub-Saharan Africa and made it clear that it was not due to any curse in their lineage, dismissing the Hamitic theory as a myth.

His critical attitude towards Arabs has led the scholar Mohammad A. Enan to suggest that Ibn Khaldun may have been a Berber pretending to be an Arab in order to gain social status, but Muhammad Hozien has responded to this claim stating that Ibn Khaldun or anyone else in his family never claimed to be Berber even when the Berbers were in power.

The 14th-century North African Berber geographer and traveller, Ibn Battuta, on his trip to western Sudan, was impressed with occasional aspects of life.

Battuta later visited the Zanj-inhabited portions of East Africa and held more positive views of its black people.

Ibn Battuta was also impressed with aspects of the Mali Empire of West Africa, which he visited in 1352, writing that the people there:
In addition, he wrote many other positive comments on the people of the Mali Empire, including the following:
Ibn Battuta's remarks contrasted greatly to that of many other comments from Arab authors concerning blacks. However, many of the exaggerated accounts are noted to have been based on hearsay and even perpetuated by Africans themselves in an attempt to keep their states and economies isolated, in addition to Ibn Battuta having been the only medieval Muslim scholar referenced here to have actually traveled to both east and west Africa.

Africa: 8th through 19th centuries

In April 1998, Elikia M’bokolo, wrote in Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique is a monthly newspaper offering analysis and opinion on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first created mainly for a diplomatic audience as its name implies...

. "The African continent was bled of its human resources via all possible routes. Across the Sahara, through the Red Sea, from the Indian Ocean ports and across the Atlantic. At least ten centuries of slavery for the benefit of the Muslim countries (from the ninth to the nineteenth)." He continues: "Four million slaves exported via the Red Sea, another four million through the Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 ports of the Indian Ocean, perhaps as many as nine million along the trans-Saharan caravan route, and eleven to twenty million (depending on the author) across the Atlantic Ocean"

In the 8th century, Africa was dominated by Arab-Berbers in the north: Islam moved southwards along the Nile and along the desert trails.
  • The Sahara was thinly populated. Nevertheless, since antiquity there had been cities living on a trade in salt
    Salt Road
    A salt road ) is any of the prehistoric and historical trade routes by which essential salt has been transported to regions that lacked it ....

    , gold, slaves, cloth, and on agriculture enabled by irrigation: Tiaret, Oualata, Sijilmasa
    Sijilmasa
    Sijilmasa was a medieval trade entrepôt at the northern edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. The ruins of the town lie along the River Ziz in the Tafilalt oasis near the town of Rissani...

    , Zaouila, and others. They were ruled by Arab, Berber, Fulani
    Fula people
    Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

    , Hausa
    Hausa people
    The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

     and Tuaregs. Their independence was relative and depended on the power of the Maghrebi and Egyptian states.
  • In the Middle Ages, sub-Saharan Africa was called bilad -ul-Sûdân
    Sudan (region)
    The Sudan is the name given to a geographic region to the south of the Sahara, stretching from Western to Eastern Africa. The name derives from the Arabic bilâd as-sûdân or "land of the Blacks"...

     in Arabic, meaning land of the Blacks. It provided a pool of manual labour for North Africa and Saharan Africa. This region was dominated by certain states: the Ghana Empire, the Empire of Mali, the Kanem-Bornu Empire
    Kanem Empire
    The Kanem Empire was located in the present countries of Chad, Nigeria and Libya. At its height it encompassed an area covering not only much of Chad, but also parts of southern Libya , eastern Niger and north-eastern Nigeria...

    .
  • In eastern Africa, the coasts of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean were controlled by native Muslims, and Arabs were important as traders along the coasts. Nubia
    Nubia
    Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

     had been a "supply zone" for slaves since antiquity. The Ethiopian coast, particularly the port of Massawa
    Massawa
    Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

     and Dahlak Archipelago
    Dahlak Archipelago
    The Dahlak Archipelago is an island group located in the Red Sea near Massawa, Eritrea. It consists of two large and 124 small islands. The pearl fisheries of the archipelago have been famous since Roman times and still produce a substantial number of pearls. Only four of the islands are...

    , had long been a hub for the exportation of slaves from the interior, even in Aksumite
    Aksumite Empire
    The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire, was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD...

     times. The port and most coastal areas were largely Muslim, and the port itself was home to a number of Arab and Indian merchants.

The Solomonic dynasty
Solomonic dynasty
The Solomonic dynasty is the Imperial House of Abyssinia. Its members claim lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the latter of whom tradition asserts gave birth to the first King Menelik I after her Biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem .-Overview:The dynasty, a...

 of Ethiopia often exported Nilotic
Nilotic
Nilotic people or Nilotes, in its contemporary usage, refers to some ethnic groups mainly in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and northern Tanzania, who speak Nilotic languages, a large sub-group of the Nilo-Saharan languages...

 slaves from their western borderland provinces, or from newly conquered or reconquered Muslim provinces. The Somali
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...

 and Afar
Afar people
The Afar , also known as the Danakil, are an ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. They primarily live in the Afar Region of Ethiopia and in northern Djibouti, although some also inhabit the southern point of Eritrea.-Early history:...

 Muslim sultanates, such as the Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
The Adal Sultanate or the Kingdom of Adal was a medieval multi-ethnic Muslim state located in the Horn of Africa.-Overview:...

, exported slaves as well. Arabs also set up slave-trading posts along the southeastern coast of the Indian Ocean, most notably in the archipelago of Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

, along the coast of present-day Tanzania. East Africa and the Indian Ocean continued as an important region for the Oriental slave trade up until the 19th century. Livingstone
David Livingstone
David Livingstone was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa. His meeting with H. M. Stanley gave rise to the popular quotation, "Dr...

 and Stanley were then the first Europeans to penetrate to the interior of the Congo Basin
Congo Basin
The Congo Basin is the sedimentary basin that is the drainage of the Congo River of west equatorial Africa. The basin begins in the highlands of the East African Rift system with input from the Chambeshi River, the Uele and Ubangi Rivers in the upper reaches and the Lualaba River draining wetlands...

 and to discover the scale of slavery there. The Arab Tippu Tip
Tippu Tip
Tippu Tip or Tib , real name Hamad bin Muḥammad bin Jumah bin Rajab bin Muḥammad bin Sa‘īd al-Murghabī, , was a Swahili-Zanzibari trader. He was famously known as Tippu Tib after an eye disease which made him blind...

 extended his influence and made many people slaves. After Europeans had settled in the Gulf of Guinea
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf....

, the trans-Saharan slave trade became less important. In Zanzibar, slavery was abolished late, in 1897, under Sultan Hamoud bin Mohammed
Hamoud bin Mohammed of Zanzibar
Sayyid Sir Hamoud bin Mohammed Al-Said, GCSI, was the British-controlled Omani sultan of the protectorate of Zanzibar, who outlawed slavery on the island....

.

"Supply" zones

Merchants of slaves for the Orient stocked up in Europe. Danish merchants had bases in the Volga
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 region and dealt in Slavs with Arab merchants. Circassian slaves were conspicuously present in the harem
Harem
Harem refers to the sphere of women in what is usually a polygynous household and their enclosed quarters which are forbidden to men...

s and there were many odalisque
Odalisque
An odalisque was a female slave in an Ottoman seraglio. She was an assistant or apprentice to the concubines and wives, and she might rise in status to become one of them...

s (from the Turkish odalık, meaning "chambermaid
Maid
A maidservant or in current usage housemaid or maid is a female employed in domestic service.-Description:Once part of an elaborate hierarchy in great houses, today a single maid may be the only domestic worker that upper and even middle-income households can afford, as was historically the case...

") from that region in the paintings of Orientalists
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

. Non-Muslim slaves were valued in the harems, for all roles (gate-keeper, servant, odalisque, musician, dancer, court dwarf
Court dwarf
Early dwarfs, whose histories were recorded, were sometimes employed as Court Dwarfs. They were owned, exploited, and traded amongst people of the court, and delivered as gifts to fellow kings and queens. Ancient Egypt saw dwarfs as being people with significant sacred associations, so owning a...

, concubine). In the Ottoman Empire, the last black slave sold in Ethiopia named Hayrettin Effendi, was freed in 1918. The slaves of Slavic origin in Al-Andalus came from the Varangians
Varangians
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...

 who had captured them. They were put in the Caliph's guard and gradually took up important posts in the army (they became saqaliba
Saqaliba
Saqaliba refers to the Slavs, particularly Slavic slaves and mercenaries in the medieval Arab world, in the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Al-Andalus. It is generally thought that the Arabic term is a Byzantine loanword: saqlab, siklab, saqlabi etc. is a corruption of Greek Sklavinoi for...

), and even went to take back taifa
Taifa
In the history of the Iberian Peninsula, a taifa was an independent Muslim-ruled principality, usually an emirate or petty kingdom, though there was one oligarchy, of which a number formed in the Al-Andalus after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.-Rise:The origins of...

s after the civil war had led to an implosion of the Western Caliphate. Columns of slaves feeding the great harems of Córdoba, Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 and Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

 were organised by Jewish merchants (mercaderes) from Germanic countries and parts of Northern Europe not controlled by the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

. These columns crossed the Rhone
Rhône
Rhone can refer to:* Rhone, one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France* Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhone River and one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva in the far eastern end of the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

 valley to reach the lands to the south of the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

.

There are also historical evidence of North African Muslim slave raids all along the Mediterranean coasts across Christian Europe and beyond to even as far north as the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 (see the book titled White Gold by Giles Milton
Giles Milton
Giles Milton is a writer who specialises in the history of exploration. His books have been published in seventeen languages worldwide and are international best-sellers...

). The majority of slaves traded across the Mediterranean region were predominantly of European origin from the 7th to 15th centuries. The Barbary pirates continued to capture slaves from Europe and, to an extent, North America, from the 16th to 19th centuries.

Slaves were also brought into the Arab world via Central Asia, mainly of Turkic or Tartar
Tartary
Tartary or Great Tartary was a name used by Europeans from the Middle Ages until the twentieth century to designate the Great Steppe, that is the great tract of northern and central Asia stretching from the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean inhabited mostly by Turkic, Mongol...

 origin. Many of these slaves later went on to serve in the armies forming an elite rank.
  • At sea, Barbary pirates joined in this traffic when they could capture people by boarding ships or by incursions into coastal areas, mainly in Southern Europe as well as Western European coasts.
  • Nubia and Ethiopia were also "exporting" regions: in the 15th century, Ethiopians sold slaves from western borderland areas (usually just outside of the realm of the Emperor of Ethiopia
    Emperor of Ethiopia
    The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...

    ) or Ennarea, which often ended up in India, where they worked on ships or as soldiers. They eventually rebelled and took power (dynasty of the Habshi
    Siddi
    The Siddi, Siddhi, or Sheedi , also known as Habshi, are an Indian and Pakistani ethnic group of Afro-Arab and/or Black African descent. The Siddi population is currently estimated to be 20,000–55,000, with Gujarat and Hyderabad in India the main population centre. Siddis are mainly Sufi Muslims,...

     Kings in Bengal 1487-1493).
  • The Sudan region and Saharan Africa formed another "export" area, but it is impossible to estimate the scale, since there is a lack of sources with figures.
  • Finally, the slave traffic affected eastern Africa, but the distance and local hostility slowed down this section of the Oriental trade.

Routes

Caravan trails, set up in the 9th century, went past the oasis of the Sahara; travel was difficult and uncomfortable for reasons of climate and distance. Since Roman times
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, long convoys had transported slaves as well as all sorts of products to be used for barter
Barter
Barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral, and usually exists parallel to monetary systems in most developed countries, though to a...

. To protect against attacks from desert nomads, slaves were used as an escort. Any who slowed down the progress of the caravan were killed.

Historians know less about the sea routes. From the evidence of illustrated documents, and travellers' tales, it seems that people travelled on dhow
Dhow
Dhow is the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Some historians believe the dhow was invented by Arabs but this is disputed by some others. Dhows typically weigh 300 to 500 tons, and have a...

s or jalbas, Arab ships which were used as transport in the Red Sea. Crossing the Indian Ocean required better organisation and more resources than overland transport. Ships coming from Zanzibar made stops on Socotra
Socotra
Socotra , also spelt Soqotra, is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some east of the Horn of Africa and south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and through...

 or at Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

 before heading to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 or to India. Slaves were sold as far away as India, or even China: there was a colony of Arab merchants in Canton
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

. Serge Bilé cites a 12th century text which tells us that most well-to-do families in Canton had black slaves whom they regarded as savages and demons because of their physical appearance. Although Chinese slave traders bought slaves (Seng Chi i.e. the Zanj) from Arab intermediaries and "stocked up" directly in coastal areas of present-day Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, the local Somalis—referred to as Baribah and Barbaroi (Berbers) by medieval Arab and ancient Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 geographers, respectively (see Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

), and no strangers to capturing, owning and trading slaves themselves -- were not among them:
Slave labor in East Africa was partly drawn from the Zanj, peoples that lived along the East African coast.
The Zanj were for centuries shipped as slaves by Arab traders to all the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs recruited many Zanj slaves as soldiers and, as early as AD 696, we learn of slave revolts of the Zanj against their Arab enslavers in Iraq (see Zanj Rebellion
Zanj Rebellion
The Zanj Rebellion was the culmination of series of small revolts. It took place near the city of Basra, located in southern Iraq over a period of fifteen years . It grew to involve over 500,000 slaves who were imported from across the Muslim empire and claimed over “tens of thousands of lives in...

). Ancient Chinese texts also mention ambassadors from Java presenting the Chinese emperor with two Seng Chi (Zanj) slaves as gifts, and Seng Chi slaves reaching China from the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 kingdom of Srivijaya
Srivijaya
Srivijaya was a powerful ancient thalassocratic Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, modern day Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. The earliest solid proof of its existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6...

 in Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

.

Barter

Slaves were often bartered for objects of various kinds: in the Sudan, they were exchanged for cloth, trinkets and so on. In the Maghreb, they were swapped for horses. In the desert cities, lengths of cloth, pottery, Venetian glass
Venetian glass
Venetian glass is a type of glass object made in Venice, Italy, primarily on the island of Murano. It is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skillfully made....

 slave beads
Slave beads
Trade beads were otherwise decorative glass beads used between the 16th and 20th century as a currency to exchange for goods, services and slaves . Made to ease the passage of European explorers and then traders mainly across the African continents, the beads were made throughout Europe although...

, dyestuffs and jewels were used as payment. The trade in black slaves was part of a diverse commercial network. Alongside gold coins, cowrie shells
Cowry
Cowry, also sometimes spelled cowrie, plural cowries, is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries...

 from the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic (Canaries
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Luanda
Luanda
Luanda, formerly named São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, is the capital and largest city of Angola. Located on Angola's coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative center. It has a population of at least 5 million...

) were used as money throughout black Africa (merchandise was paid for with sacks of cowries).

Slave markets and fairs

Enslaved Africans were sold in the towns of the Muslim world. In 1416, al-Maqrizi told how pilgrims coming from Takrur
Takrur
Takrur, Tekrur, or Tekrour was an ancient state of West Africa, which flourished roughly parallel to the Ghana Empire.-Origin:Takrur was the the name of the capital of the state which flourished on the lower Senegal River...

 (near the Sénégal River
Sénégal River
The Sénégal River is a long river in West Africa that forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania.The Sénégal's headwaters are the Semefé and Bafing rivers which both originate in Guinea; they form a small part of the Guinean-Malian border before coming together at Bafoulabé in Mali...

) had brought 1,700 slaves with them to Mecca. In North Africa, the main slave markets were in Morocco, Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

, Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

 and Cairo. Sales were held in public places or in souks. Potential buyers made a careful examination of the "merchandise": they checked the state of health of a person who was often standing naked with wrists bound together. In Cairo, transactions involving eunuchs and concubines happened in private houses. Prices varied according to the slave's quality.

Towns and ports involved in the slave trade

  • North Africa:
    • Tangier
      Tangier
      Tangier, also Tangiers is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 700,000 . It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel...

       (Morocco)
    • Marrakech
      Marrakech
      Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

       (Morocco)
    • Algiers
      Algiers
      ' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

       (Algeria)
    • Tripoli
      Tripoli
      Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

       (Libya)
    • Cairo
      Cairo
      Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

       (Egypt)
    • Aswan
      Aswan
      Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

       (Egypt)

  • West Africa
    • Salaga
      Salaga
      Salaga is a city in Ghana's Northern Region and the capital of its East Gonja District.In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Salaga served as a key market town of the Ashanti kingdom, particularly for the busy regional slave trade and kola trade controlling Salaga gave the Ashanti a monopoly...

       (Ghana)
    • Aoudaghost
      Aoudaghost
      Aoudaghost was an important oasis town at the southern end of a trans-Saharan caravan route that is mentioned in a number of early Arabic manuscripts...

       (Mauritania)
    • Timbuktu
      Timbuktu
      Timbuktu , formerly also spelled Timbuctoo, is a town in the West African nation of Mali situated north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Region, one of the eight administrative regions of Mali...

       (Mali)
    • Gao
      Gao
      Gao is a town in eastern Mali on the River Niger lying ESE of Timbuktu. Situated on the left bank of the river at the junction with the Tilemsi valley, it is the capital of the Gao Region and had a population of 86,663 in 2009....

       (Mali)
    • Bilma
      Bilma
      Bilma is an oasis town in north east Niger with a population of around 2,500 people. It lies protected from the desert dunes under the Kaouar Cliffs and is the largest town along the Kaouar escarpment...

       (Niger)
    • Kano
      Kano
      Kano is a city in Nigeria and the capital of Kano State in Northern Nigeria. Its metropolitan population is the second largest in Nigeria after Lagos. The Kano Urban area covers 137 sq.km and comprises six Local Government Area - Kano Municipal, Fagge, Dala, Gwale, Tarauni and Nassarawa - with a...

       (Nigeria)
  • East Africa:
    • Bagamoyo
      Bagamoyo
      The town of Bagamoyo, Tanzania, was founded at the end of the 18th century. It was the original capital of German East Africa and was one of the most important trading ports along the East African coast...

       (Tanzania)
    • Zanzibar
      Zanzibar
      Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

       (Tanzania)
    • Kilwa (Tanzania)
    • Sofala
      Sofala
      Sofala, at present known as Nova Sofala, used to be the chief seaport of the Monomotapa Kingdom, whose capital was at Mount Fura. It is located on the Sofala Bank in Sofala Province of Mozambique.-History:...

       (Beira, Mozambique
      Beira, Mozambique
      Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungue River meets the Indian Ocean. Beira had a population of 412,588 in 1997, which grew to an estimated 546,000 in 2006...

      )

    • Horn of Africa
      • Assab
        Assab
        Assab is a port city in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea on the west coast of the Red Sea. In 1989, it had a population of 39,600. Assab possesses an oil refinery, which was shut down in 1997 for economic reasons...

         (Eritrea)
      • Massawa
        Massawa
        Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

         (Eritrea)
      • Nefasit
        Nefasit
        Nefasit is a small town in the Northern Red Sea Region of Eritrea. Historically it was an important slave trading port....

         (Eritrea)
      • Zeila
        Zeila
        Zeila, also known as Zaila , is a port city on the Gulf of Aden coast, situated in the northwestern Awdal region of Somalia.Located near the Djibouti border, the town sits on a sandy spit surrounded by the sea. It is known for its offshore islands, coral reef and mangroves. Landward, the terrain is...

         (Somalia
        Somalia
        Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

        )
      • Mogadishu
        Mogadishu
        Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

         (Somalia)
  • Arabian Peninsula
    • Zabīd
      Zabid
      Zabid is a town with an urban population of around 23,000 persons on Yemen's western coastal plain. The town, named after Wadi Zabid, the wadi to its south, is one of the oldest towns in Yemen...

       (Yemen)
    • Muscat
      Muscat, Oman
      Muscat is the capital of Oman. It is also the seat of government and largest city in the Governorate of Muscat. As of 2008, the population of the Muscat metropolitan area was 1,090,797. The metropolitan area spans approximately and includes six provinces called wilayats...

       (Oman)
    • Aden
      Aden
      Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

       (Yemen)
    • Socotra
      Socotra
      Socotra , also spelt Soqotra, is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some east of the Horn of Africa and south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and through...

       (Indian Ocean)

    • Indian Ocean
      • Debal
        Debal
        -Introduction:Debal was an ancient port located near modern Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. In Arabic, it was usually called Daybul it is adjacent to the nearby Manora Island and was administered by Mansura, and later Thatta....

         (Sindh)
      • Janjira
        Murud-Janjira
        Murud-Janjira is the local name for a fort situated on an island just off the coastal village of Murud, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India...

         (India)
      • Surat
        Surat
        Surat , also known as Suryapur, is the commercial capital city of the Indian state of Gujarat. Surat is India's Eighth most populous city and Ninth-most populous urban agglomeration. It is also administrative capital of Surat district and one of the fastest growing cities in India. The city proper...

         (India)

    See also

    • Slavery in antiquity
      Slavery in antiquity
      Slavery in the ancient world, specifically, in Mediterranean cultures, comprised a mixture of debt-slavery, slavery as a punishment for crime, and the enslavement of prisoners of war....

    • Christianity and slavery
      Christianity and slavery
      Christian views on slavery are varied both regionally and historically. Slavery in different forms has been imposed by Christians for over 18 centuries. In the early years of Christianity, slavery was a normal feature of the economy and society in the Roman Empire, and this remained well into the...

    • Judaism and slavery
      Judaism and slavery
      Judaisms religious texts contain numerous laws governing the ownership and treatment of slaves. Texts that contain such regulations include the Tanakh , the Talmud, the 12th century Mishneh Torah by noted rabbi Maimonides, and the 16th century Shulchan Aruch by rabbi Yosef Karo...


    • Slavery in Libya
      Slavery in Libya
      Slavery in Libya has a long history and a lasting impact on the Libyan culture. Slavery in Libya is closely connected with the wider context of slavery in north Africa...

    • Afro-Arab
      Afro-Arab
      Afro-Arab refers to people of mixed Black African and genealogical Arab ancestral heritage and/or linguistically and culturally Arabized Black Africans...

    • Black orientalism
      Black orientalism
      Black orientalism is an intellectual and cultural movement found primarily within African American circles. While similar to the general movement of Orientalism in its negative outlook upon Western Asian - especially Arab - culture and religion, it differs in both its emphasis upon the role of the...



    Books in English

    • Edward A. Alpers, The East African Slave Trade (Berkeley 1967)
    • Ibn Khaldun
      Ibn Khaldun
      Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

      , The Muqaddimah, trans. F. Rosenthal, ed. N. J. Dawood (Princeton 1967)
    • Murray Gordon, Slavery in the Arab World (New York 1989)
    • Bernard Lewis
      Bernard Lewis
      Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

      , Race and Slavery in the Middle East (OUP 1990)
    • Patrick Manning
      Patrick Manning
      Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning was the fourth and sixth Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the former Political Leader of the People's National Movement . He served as Prime Minister from 17 December 1991 to 9 November 1995 and held that office again from 24 December 2001 until 26...

      , Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental, and African Slave Trades (Cambridge 1990)
    • Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge 2000)
    • Allan G. B. Fisher, Slavery and Muslim Society in Africa, ed. C. Hurst (London 1970, 2nd edition 2001)
    • The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam (Princeton Series on the Middle East) by Eve Troutt Powell (Editor), John O. Hunwick (Editor) (Princeton 2001)
    • Ronald Segal, Islam's Black Slaves (Atlantic Books, London 2002)
    • Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, London 2003) ISBN 978-1-4039-4551-8

    Audio material


    Books and articles in French

    • Serge Daget, De la traite à l'esclavage, du Ve au XVIIIe siècle, actes du Colloque international sur la traite des noirs (Nantes, Société française d'histoire d'Outre-Mer, 1985)
    • Jacques Heers, Les Négriers en terre d'islam (Perrin, Pour l'histoire collection, Paris, 2003) (ISBN 2-262-01850-2)
    • Murray Gordon, L'esclavage dans le monde arabe, du VIIe au XXe siècle (Robert Laffont, Paris, 1987)
    • Bernard Lewis
      Bernard Lewis
      Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

      , Race et esclavage au Proche-Orient, (Editions Gallimard, collection Bibliothèque des histoires, Paris, 1993) (ISBN 2-07-072740-8)
    • Olivier Petré-Grenouilleau, Les traites négrières (La Documentation Française, Paris, 2003)
    • Jean-Claude Deveau, Esclaves noirs en Méditerranée in Cahiers de la Méditerranée, vol. 65, Sophia-Antipolis
    • Olivier Petré-Grenouilleau, La traite oubliée des négriers musulmans in L'Histoire, special number 280 S (October 2003), pages 48–55.
    • Tidiane N'Diaye, Le génocide voilé. Enquête historique (Editions Gallimard, Paris, 2008)

    External links

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