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Orlando Patterson's Theory on Slavery - Book Report/Review Example

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Orlando Patterson's Theory on Slavery

American Slavery: In America, slavery began with the European settlers. From seventeenth century to late nineteenth century, slavery was prevalent in the United States. Most of them were of African origin who were enslaved by whites, American Indians and also by Free blacks. Their treatment was totally inhuman. Violence was considered a legal right of the owner and in many plantations the overseers whipped the slaves if they did not comply. Their movements were restricted, and escapees were brutally punished. Apart from the physical torture, their family members could be sold off anytime as per the master's wish.
There were some incidents where the slaves killed the master or the overseer. Sometimes they retaliated by burning the barns or killing the horses or slowing down the work (Genovese, 1967)1 But these were few isolated incidents. Mostly they were treated as an expensive investment and apart from food, clothes and shelter, they were also provided medical care. From 1750's, the awareness regarding slavery as a social evil started to spread. Voices were being raised for abolition of slavery. In 1808, the import of slaves was stopped legally, still it continued till 1860. Slaves provided free labor that was a major factor in the growth of industries in the US. Even the fortune 500 companies owe their growth to them and it is said the existence of slaves financed the two world wars. But it had a negative sociological impact on the entire African race.
Islamic Slavery: Slavery has been accepted by all major juristic schools of Islam. They supposedly benefitted from the Islamic dispensations and their condition improved as compared to the pre-islamic society. Islamic law covers slavery at length and sees it as an exceptional circumstance. But practically, there was massive import of slaves from non-muslim places to fulfill the deamnd of slaves in the Muslim society.
Theoretically Islamic law does not encourage racial discrimination for slaves but that too has not been the actual practice. The capture and transportation of slaves also caused death and suffering of many of them. Islamic law instructs to look after the slaves when they are sick. It also encourages 'manumission' or freedom of slaves. According to them a slave can also seek freedom by paying a certain amount to his master. This is called 'mukataba' and is a contract between the slave and the master and the slave has to pay the amount within a time frame. But the right to relaese the slave after taking the amount , still lied with the master and he was encouraged to do so as per the Islamic law.
According to Al-Hibri, the Islamic law is very strong on asking its followers to treat their slaves well. It believes that both the master and the slave are siblings and expected a humanitarian attitude towards them(Al-Hibri, 2003)2. The Prophet took a reformist approach to an age old existing tradition of slavery and tried to improve the condition of slaves by encouraging humanatarian behaviour towards them.(Gordon, M.,1987, p.19)3 Islam also instructed the induction of slaves only by the prisoners of war and later to infidels captured in a holy war. During the expansion era, there was a continuous inflow of the slaves but it got restricted once it stabilized ( Schimmel, 1992, p.67)4 This gave rise to the import of slaves. ...Show more


Slavery is a legal ownership of a person just like a property. They are either captured or purchased or born to a slave. The owner has a legal right on his slave to get labor without giving any compensation to the slave except food, clothes and shelter. Slaves do not have any personal freedom and cannot refuse to work or leave their master.
Author : rathloraine
Orlando Pattersons Theory on Slavery essay example
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