Religious leaders unite to end modern slavery – with one Islamic amendment


It is announced from Lambeth Palace that the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was joined by Pope Francis and other Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in a joint declaration to bring an end to the curse of modern slavery. The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network, which was launched with the support of the Archbishop and Pope in March 2014, brought together global faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 – throughout the world and for all time. It is estimated that over 36 million people around the globe (and at least 13,000 in the UK) live under the yoke of slavery, most commonly coerced prostitution or forced labour.

The Joint Declaration emphasises that modern slavery – in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity – is a crime against humanity, and must be recognised as such by everyone and by all nations.

To this end, faith leaders affirmed their common commitment to inspiring spiritual and practical action by all faiths and people of goodwill everywhere. In an address before the signing, Archbishop Justin described the Declaration as “a profoundly significant moment”. They were gathered, he said, to “affirm a deep shared commitment for the liberation of those humiliated, abused and enslaved by their fellow-human beings.” And he gratefully acknowledged and exhorted: “There are already close and trusting relationships between us as faith leaders. Our task now is to make these relationships work effectively for the well-being of all people.”

The mission is bold and laudable. Archbishop Justin said faith leaders can ensure that every worshipping community knows about modern slavery and is ready to work to prevent and end such abuses: “As we make this solemn commitment today, my prayer is that we shall by God’s grace play a key role in ending the inhuman practices of modern slavery – practices that disfigure our world and obscure the image of God in men, women and children. We have the will, we have the common purpose, this can be done; may God bless our action together,” he said.

All of this is good, very good.

The Declaration reads:

We, the undersigned, are gathered here today for a historic initiative to inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time.

In the eyes of God*, each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity. Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.

We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored. Today we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve this human and moral imperative.

*The Grand Imam of Al Azhar uses the word “religions”.

The signatories were:

Pope Francis (pp Roman Catholicism)
Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (pp Hinduism)
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) (pp Buddhism, represented by Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong)
The Most Ven. Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana, Chief High Priest of Malaysia (pp Buddhism)
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka (pp Judaism)
Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KSG, CBE (pp Judaism)
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (pp Orthodoxy, represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France)
Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (pp Sunni Islam, represented by Dr. Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif)
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi (pp Shi’a Islam)
Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi (pp Twelver Shi’a Islam, represented by Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Omar Abboud (pp Shi’a Islam)
Most Revd and Right Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (pp Anglicanism)

All this is good, very good.

Except for the *

By demurring from the affirmation that it is God who affirms that “each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity”, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar sends out a very clear message about his interpretation of Sunni Islam, namely that: “In the eyes of religions, each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity. But in the eyes of Allah, it ain’t necessarily so.”

Religions are mutable, empirical, man-made constructs, but the existence, nature and character of God are matters of immutable ontology. So, by demurring from the agreed text, the man considered by some Muslims to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought and jurisprudence conveys the impression of a doctrine of Allah which is at variance with the stated objectives of the Joint Declaration: it is man-made notions of religion which teach that each human being is free, and the girls are equal to boys, and women are equal to men, and that all exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity. But for his conception of Islamic shari’a, men and women are not treated equally. In matters of inheritance, property division, divorce and the custody of children, his conception of shari’a law disadvantages women, not least because they are inferior as witnesses: a man may easily divorce his wife whereas a woman must argue her case and undergo a lengthy legal process. Might this not perpetuate a state of domestic or sexual slavery?

Shari’a is a complex contextual system of religious laws and a political mindset which approves of inter alia death for apostasy, the amputation of limbs as punishment, stoning to death for adultery, the belief that a woman’s evidence is worth less than a man’s, blood money and polygamy. Might not any of these inequalities generate or perpetuate a state of slavery? And what about the Jizya? For it is written in the Qur’an (9:29): “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Of course, many enlightened Islamic scholars adhere to the theological doctrine of abrogation, but it is clear that many Muslims do not. Does the Grand Imam of Al Azhar believe that Allah orders society by the fundamental precept of human equality, or by the dhimmi doctrine that non-Muslims are somehow inferior? Does he believe that women have equal rights in law to men, and that both are equally free to order their own affairs? What does he think adherents of the malignant Wahhabi-Salafi-Sunni strain of Islam care about what lies in the eyes of  “religions”?

To dispel any doubt, would it not have been better if the Shi’ite trio of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi and Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Omar Abboud had all got together and told their Sunni cousin Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, that either he consent to sign the declaration as worded or he flies straight back to Cairo to continue denouncing Jews and Zionism. “The al-Aqsa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews,” he said in 2011, adding that “we shall not allow the Zionists to Judaize” the Holy Land.

Is it just possible that a deep-seated anti-Semitism prevented the Grand Imam of Al-Azha from attributing to Allah the belief that Jews are equal to Muslims, and that both may dwell together in fraternity?

  • Uncle Brian

    If they’d just left that signature off the list (Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar) wouldn’t that have been the simplest and most straightforward way of handling the disagreement? After all, not every Christian church is represented: no Lutherans or Calvinists, for instance.

    • Martin


      Nor Baptist, Congregationalists, Methodists …..

      • ……….. and how many others?

        • Martin


          How many varieties are subsumed in the church of Rome. The current pope certainly seems of different belief to his predecessor.

  • CliveM

    YG, Apologies just to clarify:

    “*The Grand Imam of Al Azhar uses the word “religions””

    Does this mean his version was different to everyone else’s, or everyone’s declaration was changed to reflect?

  • Paul Dean

    Yes, BUT, the text is ridiculous anyway. “In the eyes of God each human being is a free person” is clearly untrue. If it said, “should be a free person”, then just maybe. Why would these people put out such a ridiculous and easily disprovable statement?

  • bluedog

    Perhaps the Grand Imam was worried that all this enthusiasm for ruling against slavery might inhibit his own acquisition of a sex-slave, or censure the use of sex-slaves by the ISIS boys.

  • Stig

    Yes, I agree, “free” is probably the wrong word, “equal” would be
    better. Equality implies to that no man should have authority over
    another without their agreement, which I think it what this declaration
    is trying to say. God is the only natural authority – I think even the
    Grand Imam might agree with that.

  • Dreadnaught

    What’s the point? Slavery is illegal.

  • dannybhoy
    • CliveM

      Dannybhoy! What are you doing? This is written by a fruitcake who seems to glory in his semi automatic rifle!! And in comparison to those who blog on his site, he’s the sane one!

      Problem is, how does anyone know anything he says is true!

      • dannybhoy

        Well he believes Yanks have the right to bear arms -which I think remains the case,
        but anyway he provided links for what he says, and here they are…

        Of course the Dail Mail may have it wrong too and the Christian Post, but the point is we don’t get all the news through the msm Clive. Some stuff comes through nut sites and some from sources involved in what is going on.
        You think the major channels tell us about the slavery of Christians in Pakistan or the decaptitation and mutilation of children by ISIS?
        Of course not. I have found that some of these outlets tell you stuff weks before it emerges into the msm..

        • CliveM

          “Right to bear arms” sounds cruel to me. How are they going to scratch themselves?

          Yes some of these sites report things earlier, but that’s usually because they are less questioning. Which means a lot more of what they report is rubbish. Which makes identifying the truth harder.

          • dannybhoy

            “Which makes identifying the truth harder”
            So you do what I do. You go looking for corroboration from reliable sources. There are American/international governmental sites that have all kinds of information on all kinds of issues.
            Honestly Clive…..

          • CliveM

            Well why not go straight to them first? 🙂

          • dannybhoy

            Because they don’t break the stories as early, or might not consider them important enough to banner headline them.
            Especially if they don’t think it’s in the public or their interests to do so.

        • Busy Mum

          Thanks for the link! – that Israeli ambassador’s speech to the UN needs sharing very widely – I have printed it off for my sixth-former who is currently studying the ‘Palestinian conflict’.

          • dannybhoy

            Excellent! one needs a balanced view of the whole situation, and there is a lot of distortion of historical fact going on at the moment.
            If you have time BusyMum, may I also recommend Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel.”
            A very factual and balanced and not uncritical review of the history leading up to the establishment of Israel. He is a professor of law (Harvard) and evidences all his statements with original sources.
            I use my copy as a reference book complete with highlighted passages!

          • Busy Mum

            Thanks – will recommend this to my sixth-former who is fighting hard for Israel in the history lessons. Distortion is terrible in the textbooks and true history is largely ignored with today’s problems being totally blamed on the ‘creation’ of Israel after WW2. The level of anti-Semitism in our secondary schools is very worrying indeed. My children are among the very, very, very few who will not blame the Jews and yet the Jew-bashing teenagers will call mine ‘Nazi’ and ‘Hitler’ if they so much as question immigration, the EU etc.

          • dannybhoy

            This is my reponse to Busy Mum below. I couldn’t post it as a reply…
            Well done that sixth former!
            In some of these clashes laughingly
            referred to as ‘debate’ there can be a real spiritual clash, that has
            nothing to do with intellectual discussion but is actually a
            manifestation of hatred
            Ephesians 6:12
            “For we do not wrestle
            against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
            authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness,
            against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

            It is good to have your material ready, but very few will want to know the truth. They have too much emotion invested in the rightness of their cause.
            There, an illustration. I can’t post this!!

      • Unfortunately, the article is essentially accurate in its reporting of facts. The interpretation of these, Jack will leave to you. Francis is disappointing many faithful Catholics by his words and actions.

        • dannybhoy

          like you I never gloat over those who disappoint us in the faith. He may be well meaning, but one has to think about how these things are viewed by those not enamoured of the Christian or Jewish faith.
          I am disappointed in our current AofC.

  • dannybhoy

    I always thought that Islam accepts and practices slavery, and has never given up slavery.

    Boko Haram certainly ain’t. Ask these girls if you can find them that is..

    • CliveM

      Well the big Mo certainly did. Does this make those Muslim clerics that did sign apostates?

      • dannybhoy

        There are Muslims and Muslim imams who do not want all this violence, butas I understand it they see Islam as a worldwide community rather than a collection of nations, and the major differences and points of contention are between the Catholics and the Protestants.
        I mean the Sunni and the Shia.
        Sadly then the moderates do not speak out because they are afraid of offending their own brethren.

  • dannybhoy

    “Is it just possible that a deep-seated anti-Semitism prevented the Grand
    Imam of Al-Azha from attributing to Allah the belief that Jews are
    equal to Muslims, and that both may dwell together in fraternity?”
    Not only Jews aren’t equal my friend, neither are Christians or even Churchians.
    This is not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, it is the inevitable result of years of undermining true Christianity, and the turning of the Church of England into an “equal opportunities employer…”

  • carl jacobs

    So, a bunch of religious leaders have signed a document that within three weeks will have disappeared from public consciousness as completely as an iceberg melts into the ocean.. What exactly is this supposed to accomplish besides a synchretistic leveling of religion? What does it do besides deify the human action of faith – as if faith has some intrinsic value once divorced from the object of that faith. Elijah, it seems, failed to understand the powerful opportunity he was given in his competition with Priests of Baal.

    You end slavery by killing slavers and freeing their captives. You don’t accomplish anything by signing Declarations.

    • dannybhoy

      But if your whole reason for existence is to discuss and appease and fudge…
      then it’s just like an international multi religious synod!

  • carl jacobs

    Letting a Muslim leader sign this document is as hypocritical as letting a Communist sign a declaration on human rights. It’s part of the Western quest for a ‘good Islam’ by which it means a Western-safe Islam. There ain’t no such thing. Including Islam accomplishes nothing other than letting some Islamic leaders present Islam in a false and misleading fashion. The document itself would have had more credibility without Muslim participation.

    • Owl

      Carl, unfortunately, well said.

      We have a culture problem which is not being addressed. You cannot unite different cultures, one always has to dominate.

      It won’t be long before we have to defend ours, it is under heavy attack.

      These hopefully well intentioned men are ignoring the elephant in the room (IS, Islamic cultural acceptance of slavery etc. etc.).
      It just ain’t gonna work!

    • Eels

      Carl, I think it has been said before however it is worth repeating, you write well. And I for one would welcome a book of yours,

  • Intonsus

    It is absurd for any Moslem leader to sign this declaration without first renouncing the teachings in the Qu’ran and hadith that prescribe enslaving ALL non-Moslems.

  • In downtown Southampton not far from my main place of work there is a crossroads, on one corner of which is a ‘gay’ club, on the opposite corner is a mosque. Discuss.

    • carl jacobs

      They together represent the expanding cultural vacuum that is at the center of Western civilization. There will be problems when that vacuum implodes.

      I wouldn’t worry about the gay club or the mosque. Both will have a relatively short life span in historical terms. I would worry about the inevitable emergence of the Brownshirts who will come to dispatch both. They will destroy much more than a mosque and a club.

      • Inspector General

        How many more times must the Inspector make this point, Carl

        Britons DON’T do far right. It would take daily car bombs for that to
        happen, and if that does become eventuality, then hello far right says this man…

        • carl jacobs


          For years, people have studied the Third Reich in hopes of finding an answer to the question they most desire to answer. “Why am I not like the Germans?” They desire some degree of separation and like alchemists they seek the philosopher’s stone to work the transmutation. But the lead stubbornly remains lead, and the Germans stubbornly remain the face of everyman.

          The capacity for evil is a universal human trait. There was nothing unique about the Germans. There is nothing special about the Brits or the Americans or anyone else for that matter. I don’t think you should underestimate what people are capable of doing.

          • Inspector General

            Carl. One has never said it couldn’t happen here, but if it
            does, then there would have to be a damn good reason for it. One gives you the possibility of being assassinated on the street for not being brown and having a beard. Yes, it’s already happened, but what if it becomes a regular
            occurrence and in ANY inner city in England.

            Figures released by the British government have it as 40
            terror plots that have been prevented since the London bombings of 9 years ago (52 dead then). One suspected a high figure, but 40 ? – that’s a bloody outrageous number ! Probably all Islamic plots too, unless others know differently.

            We must survive, and our own forthcoming generations must survive. What is particularly disturbing is all this is happening with an Islamic population of around 4%. Lord knows what one of 10% will be like. It would be bad enough if the problems continue in mathematical proportion, but if
            exponential, we would be in serious daily trouble.

            It may come to it that Islam needs to be suppressed in the
            UK. The Koran banned and mosques closed. Yes, that would have implications for Christians living in Islamic lands, but by that time, and the way it’s panning out in these countries now, there may not be a Christian population of any size in those places worth worrying about.

        • Busy Mum

          Whilst I agree that true Britons do not do far right, the problem we now face is that the younger generation are not true Britons; they are – to a large extent – a bunch of emotional, self-centred, self-satisfied, uncultivated, uneducated, brainwashed, amoral, pathetic wimps, whose only duty and loyalty is to themselves.

          I had a discussion with one of mine recently along the lines of Carl’s post below – the teen (currently studying run-up to WW2) said ‘but this is England, it couldn’t happen here!” and I said “Think, child, think – we have an English mob too now….”

          • Inspector General

            Don’t give up, that mum. It will come to them, the best of them, later in life when they’re bored with the prevailing ‘all for me’ way of life. At least, we hope it will…

  • Inspector General

    Making an agreement with the Devil’s people, eh !

    Such is the child like trust grown men possess when they abandon logic in greedy want of something they need but know they can never have, and neither do they deserve to if they treat this way with evil.

    And afterwards, you pick up your briefcase and walk towards the door, feeling well pleased with yourself, when you are suddenly thrown violently forward. One of your co-signatories has plunged a knife between your shoulder blades…

    While they were at it, they might as well have got those Saracens to sign a declaration that the faiths assembled be respected by Islam, and that followers
    of such are not put to death by the devotees of the religion of peace. They would have signed that too. “As you wish, effendi. It is the will of Allah”

    Anyway, if you want to end the scourge of modern slavery, which you won’t, you hang a few modern slavers. That’s what it’s going to take to see at least a decrease in this activity. But no, we couldn’t possibly do that, because the cure is worse than
    the ill apparently. So we’re not really all that concerned with modern slavery then. It’s alright, we can admit to that in all honesty. If it’s not happening under our noses, and it doesn’t involve ‘me and mine’, then we can live with it.

    • Martin


      Seems to me you are right. If you want to condemn something, do so. If others want to agree with you let them, but don’t make it a declaration. One man’s understanding of ‘free’ may not be the same as another’s.

      • Inspector General

        The exercise was a total waste of time Martin. Seems to this man that
        those involved were hoping to fool all of the people all of the time, including their non muslim selves…

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace quotes;
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: said; ‘It’s interesting that nowadays politicians want to talk about moral issues, and bishops want to talk politics.’
    How can these different ‘religious’ leaders ever agree anything that is spiritual?
    The scriptures attitude towards slavery seems to be secular. They tell slave owners to respect their slaves and for slaves to honour their masters.
    I can’t see how any of these so called worthy men can have any effect upon the modern slave market. Do they have police forces? Do they have undercover agents? They are totally powerless to do anything but pray and to whom do they pray and with what measure.
    When I see leaders of the Christian Church actually doing something about saving the souls of this country, then I might have some respect for them.

  • Inspector General

    Where’s Jack. Where is he…

    One of your suggestions actually paid off. Inspector victim of another cyber attack an hour and a half ago. So, took your advice and removed battery. It worked !

    By Cranmer’s permission and indulgence, one wishes to address the nuisance chasing him.

    “Now see here, gay boy. What you are doing is completely illegal, and unlike gross indecency, will not be repealed. Anyway, one has the better of you again, and if that’s the best you can do, you might as well desist. Meanwhile, continue following Cranmer. The finest blog in Christendom, and learn how normal people think. You may well learn how to fit in to society without making an arse of yourself…”

    • Martin


      Still think their may be a problem on your HD. Do you have an alternate machine to try?

      • Inspector General

        Don’t think Martin, but know. One only has the one machine, but was looking for a second hand one. No need now…

        • Have you considered restoring the factory settings on your laptop? This will wipe your hard drive and remove any virus. It’s a pain but sometimes it’s the only solution.

          • dannybhoy

            Already been suggested. It’s the best way to clean the whole thing, then instal from the official website! a decent free anti virus prog like AVG. INcidentally I am trialling an anti malware prog (full and free for thirty days!) called Emi soft anti-malware
            You can trial it free here…

    • Inspector, Jack is pleased you fought off this latest attack but who knows what deadly virus you may have picked up on your travels. Jack’s counsel is to stop these visits and seek specialist advice. More radical intervention might be necessary.

  • Roger Hudson

    Slavery is not, has never been, un-islamic. A persons status as slave or free is of no relevance as long as they are a ‘true’ muslim. There is certainly ‘modern’ slavery now in muslim countries condoned by religious law and until 1968 there was original style slavery in Oman until the British deposed the old Sultan.

  • I have to say that I have a sneaking sympathy for the Grand Imam [pause for shock and horror]
    There is no agreement within this babel of clerics as to who this ‘God’ actually is. Which one of the thousands of Hindu deities is he? What does he think about the caste system? And do the Buddhists actually have a god?
    And what does ‘Allah,’ who apparently neither begets nor is begotten, have to do with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
    All this inter-faith nonsense may be well-meaning, but it is still nonsense. It will not receive the blessing of the God who will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), and it will not do the slightest good because the hearts of men are evil (Romans 3:9ff).

    • Uncle Brian

      All this inter-faith nonsense may be well-meaning, but it is still nonsense. And it’s only well-meaning on one side, anyway. Well-meaningness has never been one of the islamic virtues.

    • dannybhoy

      Good points Martin. The idea that all roads lead to Nivana is alive and-

  • len

    I seriously wonder what God thinks when He looks down at this rag bag assortment of religions trying to come to some sort of agreement on the subject of slavery.
    Most of these religions are in bondage themselves to deception and are quite willing to enslave any or all who come within their grasp.
    Jesus Christ came to set the captives free and the Truth( about Christ) will set any and all free who are willing to embrace His Truth….
    Try breaking free from religion especially Islam and you will realise what sort of bondage you really are under and those within other faiths do not fare much better.

    • Busy Mum

      Yes; what is the point of fighting against physical slavery when minds are being enslaved?
      If Welby really wants to play ‘a key role in ending the inhuman practices of modern slavery – practices that disfigure our world’ a good place to start would be pressurising the government into repealing the Equality Act. He should also remember that the world is not ours….Psalm 50 v 12

    • Fasdunkle

      God is probably thinking he should have had a contract lawyer look over the books before he sent them

  • Mike Stallard

    My friend the Polish factory worker was dismissed after 7 years’ faithful service. He now works for an agency. Sometimes he is simply not paid, at other times his basic wage is paid – with deductions that bring it right down to £3.00 an hour.
    When he isn;t paid, is that slavery?

    • dannybhoy

      He is exploited..

    • He could always go back home. A slave does not have that option. I think you have completely (and, I suspect, wilfully) missed the point.

  • dannybhoy

    Islam Question and Answer
    General Supervisor: Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid

    “That is because slavery is well established in Judaism and
    Christianity, where it has taken unjust forms. They have many books which
    discuss that in detail and condone it. Therefore it makes you wonder: how
    can these churchmen call people to Christianity when Christianity condones
    and legitimizes slavery?”
    They should’ve invited this guy. At least he would have given a stout defence of the practice…