‘Race’, Slavery and Islam in Maghribi Mediterranean Thought: The Question of the Haratin in Morocco

  • Citation: El Hamel, Chouki. "‘Race’, slavery and Islam in Maghribi Mediterranean thought: the question of the Haratin in Morocco." The Journal of North African Studies 7, no. 3 (2002): 29-52.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • North Africa
    • Morocco
    • race
    • slavery
    • Mediterranean
    • Islam

Certain tenets are shared in North Africa that articulate Maghribi Mediterranean patterns of conceptualisation of power relations in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya — one Islam, one nation (al‐maghrib al‐’arabi), one culture, one language, and a silence. This culture of silence — the refusal to engage in discussions on slavery and racial attitudes — is the subject of this article. Internally, in the name of hegemony ‐Arab‐Islamic hegemony in North Africa — this issue is concealed and, externally, Mediterranean slavery has been largely ignored by historians. It should be noted that we find a similar silence along the northern shoreline of the Mediterranean. Jacques Heers, a specialist in European history wrote, in his study of slavery in medieval Europe, that this silence reflects an embarrassment felt collectively throughout the centuries. The North Africans must have felt a similar embarrassment in questioning interpretations of Islam and its ethics when confronting the matter of slavery.

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