Setting the record straight
Stabroek News
February 19, 2002

Dear Editor,

I refer to Nazil Baksh's letter captioned "Race has no importance in Islam" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] (19.2.2002). He persists in his error. The facts are:

1. Arab Muslims were slave traders and it was they who introduced the African slave trade to Europeans

2. Muslim slavery of black people continues in Sudan, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia and no Muslim religious leader or dignitary has spoken out against such slavery.

3. Muslim slavery was far more savage than slavery in the Christian West for the simple reason that Muslim slavery went on for 1000 years before 17th century plantation slavery at a time when Arab civilisation was less developed than Western civilisation of the 17th century. Indeed, if the punishments of the current Muslim Sharia Law were inflicted on black slaves, that would be barbarous enough, but the slave punishments were of greater severity.

4. The Black Christian King of Ethiopia and his subjects have always been Christian to this day and the Islamic story that Ethiopia and its King became Muslims is not true.

5. Baksh says that the Christian Caribbean slave masters forcibly converted African slaves to Christianity. Actually, slave owners vehemently opposed the Christianisation of their slaves and Christian missionaries were banned from the sugar plantations. In Guyana, the first time any slaves were allowed Christian instruction was on Hermanus Post's estate on the East Coast Demerara in the 1780's. And no Christian teaching was allowed on any other plantation. Only when the abolition of slavery was on the books in the early years of the 19th century was some Christian teaching grudgingly permitted on the plantations. The few missionaries in the colony at the time were ill treated and harassed and one, the Rev. John Smith was actually martyred.

In Guyana and the West Indies, the Black Man became a Christian because he wanted to and not because plantation owners forced him to be.

Yours faithfully

Accabre Nkofi