Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Finishing up the Hajj.

It has been an exhausting journey, but well worth it.  Now I am listening to someone read the appendices of Richard Burton's account of visiting Mecca and Medina.  There are a few tidbits in here that I thought worth highlighting:

Regarding the end of slavery in Islam, Burton includes some notes regarding British policy in the mid-19th century.

"About a year since writing the above a firman was issued by the Porte suppressing the traffic from Central Africa. Hitherto we have respected slavery in the Red Sea, because the Turk thence drew his supplies; we are now destitute of an excuse. A single steamer would destroy the trade, and if we delay to take active measures, the people of England, who have spent millions in keeping up a West African squadron, will not hold us guiltless of negligence.

NOTE TO SECOND EDITION.—The slave trade has, since these remarks were penned, been suppressed with a high hand; the Arabs of Al-Hijaz resented the measure by disowning the supremacy of the Porte, but they were soon reduced to submission."

This certainly was not included in our school texts.  There is a general rule that no government is entirely good or entirely bad, thus the same government that suppressed the African slave trade started the Opium wars in China.

Another point is that Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Hagar and Adam all seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in Meccah.  I was surprised to learn that the entire Hajj pilgrimage was dedicated to the commemoration of the Islamic belief that Abraham was called to sacrifice Ishmael rather than Isaac ... and that this was done at Meccah.


Rummuser said...

In all such historical studies, I find it extremely difficult to picture the value system that prevailed then which could well have been vastly different to that which prevails now. On the other hand, it is also striking how the present super power has not learnt anything from the then super power's mistakes and failures.

Looney said...

I think you are right on this. Learning the language and appearance and manners may fool people, but this still leaves me wondering how much Burton really understands how they think and what they value.

As for learning lessons, I believe the modern history lesson views historical events as something to be twisted and reinterpreted until it conforms with modernist notions of political correctness.