Islam’s Role in the Viking & Atlantic Slave Trades.

The successful roll back of Muslim conquests in Europe by European resistance fighters meant that Muslim harems in the Islamic world were starved of their divinely sanctioned bountiful supply of sex slaves. Conventionally, these sex-slaves were acquired via the jihad franchise. The unmet Muslim demand for concubines found compensation in another slave-trade however. This trade was established by the Vikings. The Vikings saw an unmet demand in the market and sought to tap into its economic potential by supplying extremely wealthy sex-starved males of the Muslim Empire with the highly-prized White sex slaves they were accustomed to. Needless to say, the Vikings were the European equivalent of the corrupt African chiefs and local mercenaries in Africa who participated in neighbouring village raids to meet Muslim merchants’ insatiable demands for the infidel African slaves. These slaves were transported to the Muslim world to provide domestic and industrial services to the Muslims in the infinitely-expanding Islamic Empire. Slave trade is truly contemptible. It’s not only because slavery itself is the ultimate expression of man in his most debased form, but because it glorifies man’s debasement by institutionalising his depraved desire to own another human life completely, into a highly economically viable franchise that seduces all manner of unscrupulous men from near and far, to participation. As long as defenceless men, women and children abound for the looting, there would be no end in sight to the carnage unleashed for the lure of profit.

Accounts of mankind’s historical affair with slavery usually begins and ends with the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade. While it is necessary to understand and document crimes of the Atlantic Slave Trade so at the very least, they are never repeated; very little is taught about the similar and often times more brutal onslaughts unleashed on the Whites, Blacks, Asians, and other infidel victims of Islamic conquests. One reason why very little is written on the Islamic Slave Trades is that traditional Islamic culture still legitimises slavery. Islamic doctrine contains explicit regulations for slavery. Islam implores all of mankind to follow the Prophetic Traditions – the examples of Prophet Muhammad. Whatsoever he forbade we must forbid, what he did not forbid we may not forbid and whatsoever he did we must do. He inaugurated a tripartite model of slavery into Islam, which included sex-slavery of the prettier female captives of his war of conquests. He also sold off some of his female (Banu Qurayza) slaves for profit (to acquire weapons and horses).


Arab muslim Sheikhs Examine Slave for Sex.

Islamic slavery of Whites is inarguably an intriguing subject firstly because as stated, there is very little written on it. Secondly because it was a vigorous enterprise that went on 600 years preceding Europe’s embarking on the Atlantic Slave Trade. Was the Atlantic Slave Trade in any way inspired by the Islamic Slave Trades? Did the latter inevitably lead to the former? We know for a fact that most of the Black African slaves acquired by Europeans from Africa were acquired from the hands of Muslim merchants – about 80% slaves. We also know for a fact that upon banning the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Eastern slave trade expanded, suggesting that Muslim slave traders, unchanging in their age-old Prophetic Tradition, merely monopolised the rest of the world’s refusal to engage in slavery to their advantage. For many Africans, Western abolishment of slavery did not improve their lot, it only changed their slave market destination. For Westerners however, the rise of the Western Empire did significantly improve their lot. The mass atrocities committed during both the Islamic and Western monopolies of chattel slavery will always be in no way excusable.

In the book ‘Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery’, M. A. Khan discusses the legacy of Islamic imperialism and Islamic slavery on the non-Muslim peoples of Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Arabia and beyond. Featured below is an excerpt from Chapter VII of the book, which documents Islamic complicity in the Viking and Atlantic Slave Trades.

©2013. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.

Islamic Complicity in the Viking & Atlantic Slave Trades.


In the seventh and eighth centuries after Islam’s birth, Muslim invaders and rulers enslaved the infidels in immense numbers, promoting slave-trade into a flourishing business venture in the Muslim world. Late in the eighth century, there arose a band of non-Muslim slave hunters, the Vikings, in Europe. Vikings were a North European people, originating in Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark), who turned brutal raiding brigands between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Belonging to the so-called barbarian Germanic race, they engaged in raiding and pirate attacks along the coasts of the British Isles and mainland Europe as far east as the Volga River in Russia. ‘Famed for their long ships—the Vikings had established settlements along the coasts and rivers of mainland Europe, Ireland, Normandy, the Shetland, Orkney, and Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland over three centuries. They reached south to North Africa and east to Russia and Constantinople as looters, traders, or mercenaries. Vikings under Leif Ericson, heir to Erik the Red, reached North America, with putative expeditions to present-day Canada in the 10th century. Viking raiding voyages decreased with the introduction of Christianity to Scandinavia in the late 10th and 11th century.’880 The period of the rise and domance of the Vikings between 793 and 1066 CE became known as the Viking Age.

The Vikings have been severely condemned for their vocation of savage raids on innocent and peaceful families and communities along the coasts of Europe, killing the adults and capturing the children and young women for selling into slavery. The major reasons for the rise and spread of the Vikings, think historians, were overpopulation, technological innovations, and climate change, plus the interruption of trade and flow of goods from Central Europe to Scandinavia after the destruction of the Frisian fleet by Roman Emperor Charlemagne in 785.

Little attention is, however, given to the positive influence that Islam played in their engagement in slave-trade. The defeat of the Muslim army in the Battle of Tours in 732 dramatically subdued Islamic conquest on the European front. They even had to withdraw from some of the territories they had already captured. Thereafter, the enslavement of the prized white women from Europe for keeping as concubines in Muslim harems of the Islamic world had greatly reduced.

Examining the Sex Slave at the Slave Market

As capturing of white sex-slaves through wars and raids reduced, purchasing them became the alternative for meeting their unceasing and obsessive demand in the Muslim world. At the rise of the berserk Viking raiders, the Scandinavian fur-traders reached the Europe-Arab trading center of Bulgar Volga (in Russia), where they met traders from the Muslim world with huge demand of white women for Islamic harems. The savage Vikings, thereafter, embarked on capturing young white women for selling to traders from the Muslim world. This first opened the Eastern European route of slave-trade with the Muslim world. The supply route of white slaves via Spain also soon opened. With the spread of Christianity to Northern Europe, Viking slave-trade tapered down and eventually ceased.

Viking slave-trade has been thoroughly condemned, but little has been said of the role, Islam played, in seducing the Vikings into this abhorrent profession. There is no excuse for the crime the Vikings had committed. It is also impossible to disconnect Islam from the Viking slave-trade, because the supply was absolutely meant for meeting Islamic world’s unceasing demand for the prized white slaves.

The supply of white slaves to the Islamic world did not cease with the end of the Viking Age. Once Viking slave-trade ended, Muslim slave-hunters themselves slowly expanded the capture of white slaves in Europe to meet the Muslim world’s demand for them, thus replacing the Viking suppliers. In 1353, the Ottoman Turks, having crossed over to Europe turkishbathbypassing Constantinople, launched a new wave of raging Jihad expeditions against Europe overrunning Bulgaria and Serbia. This marked a new beginning for the capture of white slaves by Muslims in great multitudes. The Turks enslaved 7,000 whites in the attack of Thessaloniko (Greece) in 1430; while, in the sack of Methone (Greece) in 1499, Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II slaughtered all those (males) aged over ten years and “seized women and children”.881 Persian rulers Shah Tahmasp (d. 1576) attacked Georgia in 1553, enslaving more than 30,000 women and children. In his expedition to Georgia in 1551, the Ghazis ‘slew the men and took captive their wives and children.’ The sultan had earlier made another two successful expeditions against Georgia in 1540 and 1546, but the numbers enslaved are not available.882 The Ottomans and Safavids made numerous raids into European territories until the late seventeenth century. Despite suffering defeat and heavy loss in the siege of Vienna in 1683, the Ottoman Turks returned with 80,000 captives. This clearly suggests that slaves were captured in large numbers in all their campaigns.

Meanwhile the Tatar Khans embarked on numerous holy war expeditions (Razzia) into Eastern Europe and Russia in the mid-fifteenth century, capturing white slaves in tens to hundreds of thousands as noted above. The North African Barbary pirates also continued raiding and capturing white slaves along the European coastal towns from Sicily to Cornwall and from ships in the sea, enslaving more than one million white men and women between 1530 and 1780. The hunting of white slaves by Barbary pirates continued until the 1820s.


White slaves were traded across the Muslim Empire. Ottoman Eunuchs guarding a harem of Concubines


The trans-Atlantic slave-trade, conducted by European slave-traders, in which millions of African slaves were shipped to the New World, has received intense condemnations from Muslims and non-Muslims alike from everywhere, the West included. The issue of the Islamic slave-trade, however, remains largely untouched, unspoken and somewhat forgotten.

The European supply of slaves to the New World started when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V first authorized the involvement of Europe in slave-trade in 1519. The Portuguese and Spaniards, notorious amongst Europeans as slavers, first jumped into this lucrative venture followed by the Dutch, and then, the French. Britain’s King Charles I first authorized slave-trade in 1631 and his son Charles II reintroduced it by a Royal Charter in 1672. It is estimated that about eleven million African slaves were transported to the New World. Of these, approximately 4.0 million (35.4 percent) went to Portuguese controlled Brazil, 2.5 million (22.1 percent) to the Spanish colonies of South and Central America, 2.0 million (17.7 percent) to the British West Indies— mostly Jamaica, 1.6 million (14.1 percent) to the French West Indies, 0.5 million (4.4 percent) to the Dutch West Indies, and another 0.5 million to North America.883


Acquired chattel at the Harem.

Abolition: The French revolution was organized for wrestling the “rights of man”, although without giving any serious thought to the rights of slaves. It, nonetheless, later on prompted the legal emancipation of slaves of the French Empire in 1794. In the 1790s, Denmark and Netherlands took measures to abolish their own slave-trade. Meanwhile in Britain, parliamentarian William Wilberforce started a campaign in 1787 for the suppression of slave-trade, which soon transformed into a vigorous movement for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Twenty years later in 1807, the British House of Commons passed a bill for abolishing slave-trade by an overwhelming majority of 283 to sixteen votes, a decisive blow to slavery. Later in 1809, the British government took further steps to stop slave-trading by mobilizing its Navy to search ships, including foreign vessels, suspected of carrying slaves. It also used diplomatic cards with Muslim governments—in Persia, Turkey, Egypt, and so on—for the abolition of slavery in the Muslim world.

In 1810, the British Parliament made engagement in slave-trade punishable by fourteen years of hard labor. In 1814, Britain started lobbying for the inclusion of the abolition of slave-trade in the International Treaty of Europe, which led to the signing of such a Treaty by all the European powers on 9 June 1815. In 1825, Britain made complicity in slave-trade punishable by death. The greatest moment for the anti-slavery movement came in 1833: the British Parliament abolished the institution of slavery altogether and freed all slaves, about 700,000, of the British Empire. France followed the British example of emancipating slaves in 1848, prompting the same in Dutch colonies. The United States emancipated its slaves in 1865.

Islamic complicity: The European slave-trade must be condemned for the very dehumanizing and cruel nature of this grotesque crime against humanity. Muslims are very forthcoming in doing this laudable exercise in holier than thou pious tones as though their history is clean of slavery. In truth, even in the European slave-trade, Muslims played—both directly and indirectly—an essential and financially rewarding role. But there exists a peculiar silence about it amongst Muslims. Even non-Muslim scholars, including those of the West, are largely silent about Islam’s contributory roles in the trans-Atlantic slave-trade.

The “indirect” role of Islam in the trans-Atlantic slave-trade lies in the fact that Muslims had created an example of sustained and vibrant slave-trade across the vast Muslim world many centuries before the Europeans embarked on it. More importantly, the Europeans were a sustained and brutal victim of the Islamic enslavement and slave-trade: it started with the Muslim attack on Spain in 711 and continued until the early nineteenth century. The Vikings also were Muslims’ proxy-partners in raiding and abducting the white women and children to meet the Islamic world’s demand for white slaves, particularly concubines. The last Ottoman Sultan had a British captive in his harem. She was rescued and brought to Britain after the sultan’s ouster from Turkey. The psychological impact of this sustained and brutal subjection of Europeans to enslavement and sale for so many centuries can not be underestimated. It must have convinced them that slavery, which had become a brutal part and parcel of their life, was something not quite abnormal. The Europeans, having suffered violent subjection to Islamic slavery and slave-trade for nine centuries, finally embarked on the trade themselves.

A Divine Sanction to Exploit.

Concerning the “direct” role of Islam in the trans-Atlantic slave-trade, it was mostly the Muslim raiders and traders, who did the inhuman part of capturing the slaves in Africa. European traders bought slaves mainly from these Muslim slave-catchers and transported to the New World. When the Europeans embarked on the slave-trade, Muslims were the masters of large parts of Africa with centuries of experience in the art of slave-hunting. They became the ready supplier of slaves for European traders. The European merchants were stationed in trading centers along the African coast. Muslim slave hunters and traders brought black captives from inland locations to these coastal centers and sold to Europeans.

The European traders obtained some slaves, as high as 20 percent, directly forgoing the hands of Muslim traders. This direct procurement took place, not through violent raids and abductions, but through willing sale by non-Muslim owners, or possibly by some parents and relatives. (Some of them might have been supplied by non-Muslim slave-hunters, who following Muslims, had taken to the profession.) The Sahel region of West Africa, just south of Sahara and the regions of Angola were notorious for the lack of rainfall, occasionally for two to three years in succession. When that happened causing devastating drought and famines, people—faced with starvation and death—fled and ‘sold themselves or family members in order to survive at all.’ Senegal experienced a series of drought and poor harvest between 1746 and 1754, which dramatically increased the volume of slave-trade. ‘French exports from Senegal in 1754 were the highest ever,’ writes Curtin.884

The European traders acquired greater than 80 percent of slaves in Africa from Muslim slave-hunters and traders. Muslim warriors had turned Africa into a slave-catching and -breeding ground to meet the demand of slaves in the Muslim world, which later on also became a supply-house for European merchants. Sayyid Sa’id, a prince of Oman, moved to East Africa with the pirates of the port of Masqat, who had been put out of business by the British. Having established himself in Zanzibar (1806), his Arab raiders from the East Coast penetrated deep inland, reaching as far as Uganda and Congo for capturing slave.885 This way he founded his famed slave-empire in East Africa. In Africa, writes Curtin, there were slave-raiding chiefs or gangs of forty to fifty men. They went out in groups to nearby villages ‘stealing cattle and kidnapping people, trying to pick individuals or small groups, like women on the way to the village well or others unlikely to be able to defend themselves.’ Although these gangs could fight if needed, ‘they depended on stealth and speed to make their capture and sell them at a distance…’886 The opening of new markets in the New World proved very lucrative for the Muslim slave hunters and traders of Africa.

For the complete references to the above excerpt, please refer to M. A. Khan’s book: Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery. A free copy is available online.


880. Viking, Wikipedia,

881. Bostom, p. 613,619

882. Ibid, p. 620–21

883. Hammond P (2004) The Scourge of Slavery, in Christian Action Magazine, Vol. 4

884. Curtin, p. 172–73
885. Gavin, R J (1972) In MA Klein & GW Johnson eds., p. 178

886. Curtin, p. 177–79

©2013. Secular African Society. All Rights Reserved.

38 thoughts on “Islam’s Role in the Viking & Atlantic Slave Trades.

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  26. “Was the Atlantic Slave Trade in any way inspired by the Islamic Slave Trades? Did the latter inevitably lead to the former?”

    Slavery actually predates Islam by tens of centuries:

    The Torah, the Talmud and the Bible all mention slavery:

    So maybe the Atlantic slave trade was influenced by America’s Roman heritage and Judeo-Christian tradition not by Muslamics (/s) and Arabs who you seem to blame everything on.

    • David, the meaning of slavery in the Holy Bible differs from Islam. Slavery existed in the world throughout history,INCLUDING ISLAM AND ARABIA. Deflection doesn’t strengthen your argument, only showing avoidance in addressing the horrific demonic barbarity of Islamic slave trade and the Vikings hand in it. The Islamic and Viking slave trade is why Trans-Atlantic slave trade was successful. Its time for history books to include this truth instead of hiding it under the veil of secrecy.

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  28. This thread was highly educational and well researched. Thank you for exposing little known history of slavery in Islam.

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  31. It is interesting how history from the Eurocentric perspective will show the evils of the African slave trade. But they never broach the evils of the white slave trade that existed Europe with the Vikings being the main importers of white slaves. This Scandanivian group was very barbaric in the treatment of their white slaves. Their mindset was also brutal. That’s why the Eurocentric historians didn’t want this in the history books.

    • In the relatively homogenous European nations that existed until the mid-point of the 20th century there was nothing “Eurocentric” about elites who mistreated their weakest members or extended kin from adjacent nations. That was more about in-group competition than anything else. Why should a king, his nobles, and aristocrats remind the bottom rungs of European society that his ancestors sold their ancestors to some foreign devils for profit, status, power, or revenge? Why should a modern POTUS representing the political views of his nation’s top 1% remind the bottom 99% that the ancestors of the people he represents have been crapping on the ancestors of all the others since before the nation came into existence? The answer is, he would not and does not. And if somebody accuses him of being Eurocentric, why should he care? He’s insulated from the accusation because he lives by different rules. The poor slob near the bottom, however, is not isolated. The man on the bottom loses his job, wife, home, children, and sometimes his freedom.

  32. This is excellent and confirmed what I’d been thinking. The trans-Atlantic slave trade constituted a relatively small number of people compared with those taken by (or bought by) Islamic areas for over 1000 years and until relatively recently – and even then the Muslims were the ‘procurers’ of 80% of them for sale to the slave ship captains. One question remains about the slaves that were taken to Islamic areas, by Vikings, Ottoman rulers and Barbary pirates….. are there any DNA records of them – i.e. would it be possible for somebody currently living in an Islamic nation be able to trace their true ancestry back to a Viking slave (or later) by any means? I understand that many African-Americans have, by DNA, traced their ancestors’ homes in various parts of Africa.

    • Via their Y-DNA no becouse most men where castrated, via Maternal-DNA yes, but i guess not so much from black slaves – they where considered subhuman, from white yes.

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