not so black and white

Dissident1's picture

There is a legend about a group of Islamic traders that traveled to Africa and met with a tribal chief. The traders were given a warm welcome and stayed with the tribe for many weeks. When they were preparing to leave, the invited the chief to tour their ship. Once aboard the ship, the traders proceeded to confine the chief, abducting him and selling him in the slave trade back home.

The king learned all he could from his slave masters, then escaped and made his way back to his people in Africa. Upon his return, he taught his people about Islam, read to them from a copy of the Koran that he brought with him, and converted his tribal nation.

When the Islamic traders returned for more slaves, all they found were Muslim brothers. In this way, the African people were saved from such a fate, and the traders returned to their homes empty handed. This, it is said, is the reason for the large portion of Muslims living in Northern Africa today.

So why would those who were abducted and forced into servitude adopt the religion of their abductors? Why would their descendants take a firm stance in support of their masters theology? What the bloody hell was going through their heads?

With the Christians in the Americas, slaves could have easily been forced to adopt the slave-masters religion. They could also have given special treatment to slaves who adopted their religion. Moreover, since children were also considered slaves and bought and sold individually, many children were ripped away from their parents and actively indoctrinated as children into a religious ideological framework. In this way, the cycle could easily have begun for the descendent's of these slaves to hold the same religious ideologies of the slave-masters, they were raised in it and know of no alternative descriptions of reality.

The native people whom the Europeans encountered on the shores of the New World offer another look at this phenomena. Despite the active rejection of "white man's religion" early on, the continued work of missionaries in finding ways for them to relate to the religion has brought about many converts. Such is the case also in modern India, where changes in attitudes have come about since the end of the British occupation there.

So there is no single concrete reason for such a large-scale conversion. The reasons are as many and varied as the minds of those who were first enslaved and converted. The human will is susceptible to many things, and history shows in fact and legend that it is not always so easy to follow human reasoning.

I am become death, destroyer of worlds