On September 29th, 1547, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born near Madrid, Spain, or as the Muslims refer to it, Al-Andalus. Cervantes was not a Muslim, as the "Moors" (Muslim invaders) had been driven back out of Spain a few generations before his birth. Cervantes' connection to Islam would come later in his life, when he battled, and when he was taken prisoner by, Muslim pirates.
Cervantes joined the Spanish army at the age of 23, and fought against the Turkish Ottoman Caliphate in the Battle of Lepanto. In this naval battle, the fleet of the Christian Holy League decisively defeated the Muslims, ending the Islamic invasion of Europe, and curtailing Islamic slave-raiding in southern and central Europe. In the battle, Cervantes was badly injured, and permanently lost the use of his left hand.
After finishing his military service, he began the sailing journey back to Spain, when he was captured by Islamic Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. He was taken to Algiers, where he served as the slave of Benedikli Hasan Pasha for five years, until the Christian Trinitarian friars paid his ransom.
Just as Eskimos (Inuit) supposedly have a multitude of words for types of snow, Muslims have a multitude of words for types of slaves. Cervantes was a Saqaliba, which is a transliteration of Greek "Sklavinoi", for "Slavs". It specifies slaves taken from Italy and Spain, and refers to their light skin tone. Saqaliba served as servants, eunuchs, craftsmen, and soldiers, and were highly prized by their Muslim captors for their relatively high level of education. They were similar to the Mamluks, who were also white slaves taken from the Caucusus and conscripted as soldiers.
According to Robert Davis, over 1 million Europeans were taken as slaves by Muslim slave-raiders between 1530 and 1780.
This paper by James William Brodman gives some detailed description of Islamic slave-raiding in Europe, and contains some quotes describing the conditions of the lives of the slaves:
Bougie and the other western ports became crowded with captives, the roads rang with the noise of their chains, especially when the unfortunates, bound with irons and chains, poured out of their quarters to work at their daily tasks. (Ibn Khaldun, Muslim scholar and historian)
Muslim emirates armed and sent forth their fleets with the sole intention of capturing kufirs' booty:
They arrived by surprise and took off all they could get their hands on; they also attacked the ships of the infidels [i.e., the Christians], very often seizing them and returning with them filled with booty and prisoners. (Ibn Khaldun)
Treatment of the slaves was harsh:
For he who has been captured by the Saracens is led to Lérida bound in iron chains, and afflicted with hunger and thirst and various sufferings, and is at last to be imprisoned as a slave. (Bishop Gaufred)
And yet modern revisionists such as Harold Cox and Edward Rothstein (h/t Hugh Fitzgerald) have the audacity to re-interpret Cervantes' work as being pro-Islamic, based on some very unconvincing and unsound reasoning. Imagine the outcry if revisionists attempted to claim that black slaves in America enjoyed slavery and admired their slave-owners, based on a literary device that Frederick Douglass used in one of his books.
His ransom paid to the Muslim warlords, Cervantes returned to Spain where he served in the government and began his literary career. His most famous novel was Don Quixote de la Mancha, the story of a confused and naive man who sets off on a series of journeys to uphold an idealized and childish version of chivalry, to rescue non-existent damsels in non-existent distress, and to save persons who are not actually in need of saving. All his "good deeds" end in failure and humiliation, in a story not without some resonance today. Don Quixote regains his sanity and lucidity before his death, and spends time philosophizing about deception and self-deception. Will the modern Don Quixote, with his Iraqi Light Unto the Islamic Nations project, regain his sanity? The answer is irrelevant at this point. It's too late, we'll be paying for his follies for the rest of our lives.
As for Cervantes, he continued his writing, finishing The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda just four days before his death at the young age of 68.
Previous Days in the "Religion of Peace™":
Sept 27: Emir of Kuwait begs UN for help
Sept 25: Assassination of Aqila al-Hashimi in Iraq
Sept 24: Abbasid Caliph al-Hadi
Sept 23: Gulf Air Flight 771
Sept 22: Iran-Iraq War