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Afro-Iranians: African slaves captured by Arab slave traders in the 5th Century

May 09, 2018 at 11:00 am | History

Farida Dawkins

Farida Dawkins | Staff Writer

May 09, 2018 at 11:00 am | History

Depiction of African slaves...Atlanta Black Star

Afro-Iranians are a derivative of African slaves captured by Arab slave traders.

The Indian Ocean slave trade enabled traders to disperse an exponential amount of slaves to India, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Far East, Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and islands in the Indian Ocean such as Christmas Island (Australia) and Phuket (Thailand).

This photo of princes, children of officials and servants was taken in the royal court of Nasir al-Din Shah, the king during the Qajar dynasty in Tehran in the 19th Century. Black children were known as khanezad (house-born)…Behnaz Mirzai)

The Arab slave trade or the Indian Ocean slave trade occurred between the medieval era through the early part of the 20th century. The medieval era or the middle ages transpired with the fall of the Roman Empire which happened in the 5th century.

Though this particular era of slavery was not solely based on race like the Transatlantic slave trade, it is still a profound point in history for Africans and African-Americans. Slaves of the before mentioned were used for providing domestic assistance and for fighting in the military.

Afro-Iranians…Atlanta Black Star

The initial point of the Arab slave trade commenced when Muslim Arab and Somali traders gained control of the Swahili coast.  They captured the Zanj people – who inhabited what is today Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania and transported them to the coast. This lasted well into the 1900s.

Slaves were also sold to Muslims performing Hajj – the required Muslim pilgrimage. Slaves traveled to Mecca with their masters.

Slaves were sold after being stripped naked and bound by their hands.  In Cairo, Egypt, eunuchs or concubines were sold in private quarters.  The barter used to purchase enslaved persons in Sudan were Venetian glass beads, jewels, cloth and pottery. In the Maghreb, horses were used. Black slaves were purchased with cowrie shells and gold coins.

The Qajar Dynasty  – Iranian royalty of Turkic descent that was in power from 1785 to 1925, increased the demand for African Slaves to work in royal quarters.

In 1848, Mohammed Shah Qajr (Mohammed Mirza); the king of Persia from October 23, 1834, to September 5, 1848, was forced by the British to institute a firman or a decree to cease slavery. This did little to curtail slavery as it lasted far beyond the Qajr Dynasty.

A street music performance in Bandar Abbas, a southern city with a high concentration of Afro-Iranians…Beeta Baghoolizadeh

Presently, Afro-Iranians reside in Hormozagan, Sistan, Baluchestan and the Khuzestan provinces of Iran.

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