Bernard Freamon is a Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. Professor Freamon’s primary teaching focus is in Islamic Jurisprudence and Islamic Legal History. He also has strong interests in ethics, international law, comparative law, evidence, legal philosophy, criminal law and jurisprudence, and Anglo-American legal history. In recent years, Professor Freamon has increasingly turned his attention to the problem of slavery in the Muslim world. His recently published book, Possessed by the Right Hand: The Problem of Slavery in Islamic Law and Muslim Cultures (Leiden: Brill, 2019), is the first comprehensive legal history of slavery in Islam ever offered to readers. After examining the issue from pre-Islamic times through to the nineteenth century, Professor Freamon considers the impact of Western abolitionism on the conceptions and practice of slavery in the Muslim world, arguing that abolitionist efforts have been a failure, with the notion of abolition now being nothing more than a cruel illusion. He closes this ground-breaking account with an examination of the slaving ideologies of ISIS and Boko Haram, asserting that Muslims now have an important and urgent imperative and responsibility to achieve true abolition under the aegis of Islamic law.
Professor has also served as co-editor, together with Robert Harms and David W. Blight (winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Frederick Douglass), of an important collection of essays entitled Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition, published by Yale University Press in 2013. In that same vein, he recently contributed an essay entitled “Slavery and Society in East Africa, Oman, and the Persian Gulf,” to a collection entitled What is a Slave Society? The Practice of Slavery in Global Perspective, edited by Noel Lenski and Catherine M. Cameron and published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press. In that essay, he argues that East Africa, Oman and the Persian Gulf were true “genuine slave societies,” in the sense that this categorization was used in Moses Finley’s ground-breaking book Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology. Professor Freamon’s essay “Straight, No Chaser: Slavery and Abolition in Modern Islamic Thought,” which can be found in the Indian Ocean Slavery collection, challenges scholars, teachers and students of Islamic history to employ realism, unvarnished accuracy, and critical analysis in conveying understandings of the issues of slavery and slave trading in Islamic law and jurisprudence and in Islamic legal history. His essay in What is a Slave Society?, on East African, Oman and the Persian Gulf, follows through on that challenge.