Slavery in Medieval Arabia (book chapter)


Magdalena Moorthy Kloss: Slavery in Medieval Arabia (Book chapter). In: Damian A. Pargas, Juliane Schiel (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Slavery throughout History. Palgrave Macmillan, pp 139–158.


The Arabian Peninsula remains a blind spot in recent scholarship on slavery in medieval Islamic contexts. Given the limited secondary literature on the subject, this chapter will rely largely on primary sources to provide a case study from Yemen during the eleventh to fifteenth centuries CE. Medieval texts offer rare insights into the lives of enslaved persons during that era, revealing a remarkable breadth of occupations and tasks assigned to them in Yemeni societies. They also provide evidence of slave trading practices from East Africa across the Red Sea to Yemen. Taken together, primary sources sketch a vivid picture of what it meant to be a slave in medieval South Arabia.