Jonathan Brown, an Islamic Studies professor at Georgetown University, recently gave a lecture on “Islam and the Problem of Slavery.” In it, Brown compared slavery in Middle Eastern civilizations with the United States and concluded it was way worse over here.
“The Prophet of God had slaves… There’s no denying that,” Brown said, speaking of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. “Are you morally more mature than the Prophet of God? No, you’re not.”
As reported by Campus Reform, Professor Brown is the director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at GU’s School of Foreign Service. In his assessment, slavery under Islamic law was not as brutal as it was in North America:
“You don’t find the brutality that you see in American slavery in Muslim Empires. Generally, it is simply not very common. Slaves in Islamic civilization were mostly investments.”
Brown also said controversial things about arranged marriages under Islam, stating that women were basically treated the same whether they married the person they wanted to or were captured and sold as sex slaves.
“The difference between these two people is not that big,” Brown said. “We see it as enormous because we’re obsessed with the idea of autonomy and consent.”
It didn’t help matters when Brown responded to a student’s question about the raping of slaves when he confirmed that under the same Islamic law he described as better for slavery than the U.S. also states that consent is not a legal necessity, meaning marital rape is okay under Islam.
Backlash forced Brown to go on Twitter and assure everyone he hates slavery and rape a lot:
“Islam as a faith and I as a person condemn slavery, rape and concubinage.”
Brown might want to lead with that next time.