Enslaved by Ideology?

As we as a nation start to roll the year 2006 to the side, it’s time for predictions for 2007. Of course, there’s the tried-and-true — the new Democratic Congress will try to undo all that the Republicans have done in the last decade…the media will remain obsessed about the president’s poll numbers…environmental extremists will stage a few kooky demonstrations — the standard news fare for the 21st century.

Here’s another prognostication — somewhere in the U.S. this coming year there will be an effort to tie religion — or, at least, a certain brand of religion — with racism. And it will be ugly.

It happens all the time. White evangelical pastors are accused of being racially insensitive for not embracing affirmative action. Fundamentalist Christian educators are targeted for not accepting the notion of racial quotas. Bible-believing Americans are linked to the Confederate flag.

It’s a strange irony, since the founder of the Christian Church was known for extending a hand to the marginalized…the politically weak…and the oppressed. Jesus Christ was not a proponent of slavery, but of freedom — freedom for an individual to do the right thing, to follow the moral path.

Still, if some Americans can attempt to argue a connection between Christianity and slavery, it seems only fair to examine the link between slavery and Islam.

There is credible evidence to indicate that the prophet Muhammad took slaves during raids as a form of bounty. Muslims have been known to take both Christians and black Muslims as slaves. In fact, the Koran states, “Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom God has given you as booty.”

Granted, there are those who say that any individual who points out a connection between the Koran and slavery is drawing an erroneous conclusion. One could argue that the words on the page should not be taken literally. But how can one ignore the writings of a world religion — to say that the religion’s official book is just fantasy?

It should also be noted that, while there may have been plenty of slaveholders who professed to be Christian, it was the Christians in Britain and the U.S. who led the charge to get rid of slavery. Why? Because it simply didn’t mesh with the Christian view of the human being as an individual worthy of love made in the image and likeness of God. Slavery is incompatible with the message of empowerment taught by the Christian church.

The major media are all too ready to point out the sins of Christians, and certainly slavery is high on the list of offenses against the Almighty. But why aren’t Muslims equally taken to task for the sin of slavery? If we truly believe in equal opportunity, that means equal opportunity for condemnation as well as praise. The sins of our fathers remain abominable, whether they were committed by those who profess Jesus or those who pledged their allegiance to Allah.

When it comes to exposing moral evil, we simply shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation.