Jump to content
IslamicTeachings.org

Slavery in Islam


Recommended Posts

 

SLAVERY IN ISLAM

 

slavery.jpg

 

A famous orientalist in his book Arab Civilization writes:

"When the word 'slave' is uttered in the presence of a European who is used to reading American writings, he conceives in his mind those helpless people who are shackled with chains, around whose necks are iron collars, who are lashed with whips and driven forth, whose food is barely enough to subsist, and for whom nothing more than dark dungeons are available to live in...there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that Islam's concept of slavery is completely different from the Christian concept of slavery."

 

 

Misconceptions abound regarding slavery in Islam. InshaAllah in this topic we will compile answers to the many questions raised regarding it.

 

The following are excerpts taken from the articles which follow to highlight the important points...

 

 

Slavery: practiced long before the advent of Islam

Slavery is a concept that existed since pre-recorded history. However the way it was practiced in the Islamic world differs greatly than how it was practiced in the rest of the world. Even in the more recent times, centuries after the introduction of Islam, the non-Muslims have practiced slavery in the most barbaric manner. The whole Trans-Atlantic nonsense that was practiced by the Americans is one of the worst forms of slavery man has witnessed. The slaves were not treated as humans and did not have any rights. (Ebrahim Saifuddin)

 

Firstly, it should be borne in mind that slavery was not something that was introduced by Islam; on the contrary, it was something that had its roots planted long before the advent of Islam. It would not be an exaggeration to state that slavery is probably as old as war itself, because it is one of the consequences of war. Thus, slavery apparently first reared its head with the first wars that took place an the face of earth. (Mufti Ebrahim Desai)

 

 

 

Slaves according to Islam

According to Shariah, slaves are those individuals (men and women) who were taken prisoners from the disbelievers during Jihad. As part of the distribution of the spoils of war they are given to the Muslims by the Amir of the time.  (These slaves can then be bought and sold between the communities) The offspring’s of these prisoners also become slaves except in some specific circumstances (Maariful Quran, Vol 2, P371).

Sayeedur Rahman

Darul Ifta, Birmingham

 

 

 

The status of slaves in Islam

The Islamic viewpoint regarding slaves has been made plain in a famous Hadith of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) as follows:

 

Your slaves are your brothers, and Allah has put them under your control. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats, and dress him of what he wears. Do not overburden them [slaves] to do things beyond their capacity, and if you do so, then help them.[sahih al-Bukhari, 2545, The Book on Manumission of Slaves]

 

It should be clear that Islam raised the status of slaves higher than that of free men in un-Islamic societies even by modern standards. The author of _The House of Saud_, an American journalist, recounts how the staff and management of the New York Waldorf-Astoria hotel were horrified that King Faysal in an early US visit had not only allowed his black servant into the state dining room but had seated him at his very table – a “white-only” table in a “white-only” room! They had no idea that even slaves in Islam had to be FED and CLOTHED with the same food and clothing as their owner as the Prophet, upon him peace, had stipulated in his “last pilgrimage” speech:

 

“And your slaves! see that you feed them such food as you eat yourselves and dress them with what you yourself wear. And if they commit a mistake which you are not inclined to forgive then sell them, for they are the servants of Allah and are not to be tormented!”

 

“The masters were obliged not to put slaves under hardship; slaves were not to be tortured, abused or treated unjustly. They could marry among themselves – with their master’s permission – or with free men or women! They could appear as witnesses and participate with free men in all affairs. Many of them were appointed as governors, commanders of army and administrators. In the eyes of Islam, a pious slave has precedence over an impious free man.” Al-Tabataba’i, Tafsir (16:338-358).

 

Islam restored dignity to slaves and enhanced their social status both by ancient and modern standards.

 

Islam made no distinction between a slave or a free man, all were treated with equality. It was this fact that attracted non-Muslim slaves to Islam in droves.

Qibla.com

 

Slaves were given rights which were not heard of in other societies. Islam gave them protection and asked people to treat them as brothers and give them to eat of what they ate and to wear what they wore. (Ebrahim Saifiddin)

 

 

 

Freeing slaves was encouraged

Apart from giving the slaves their rights, Islam also took it a step ahead and discouraged slavery from being practiced

 

History will show that Islam did not encourage slavery but rather encouraged moves towards the extirpation of slavery.

 

History will show that Islam did not encourage slavery but rather encouraged moves towards the extirpation of slavery. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said something to this effect in a Hadith, that: “Whosoever freed a Muslim slave, the Lord would redeem all his limbs – in compensation for each limb of the slave, so much so that the private parts for the private parts – from the Fire of Hell.

 

“If a slave woman becomes pregnant from her owner, and delivers his child, she automatically gets her freedom after the death of her master whose child she gave birth to.

 

Moreover, there are many wrongs and sins for which the liberation of a slave serves as a compensation and atonement. This was a further incentive for the extirpation of slavery. (Mufti Ebrahim Desai)

 

 

 

Slavery Today

The scholars are of the opinion that the conditions that are required to enable the possibility of possession of slaves do not exist nowadays. Source
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slaves in Islam – The Concept & Their Rights

 

By Ebrahim Saifuddin

 

blackwhite.gif

 

Slavery is a concept that existed since pre-recorded history. However the way it was practiced in the Islamic world differs greatly than how it was practiced in the rest of the world. Even in the more recent times, centuries after the introduction of Islam, the non-Muslims have practiced slavery in the most barbaric manner. The whole Trans-Atlantic nonsense that was practiced by the Americans is one of the worst forms of slavery man has witnessed. The slaves were not treated as humans and did not have any rights. This way was much similar to the form practiced before the advent of Islam in the Times of Ignorance (Ja’hilah). Islam indeed came as a blessing to all Mankind and it was seen that slaves were given rights, something which the rest of the world never gave them.

 

 

Treatment of Slaves

 

Apart from giving the slaves their rights, Islam also took it a step ahead and discouraged slavery from being practiced. It is seen in history that slaves were mistreated in the non-Islamic world. Not only were they verbally abused, they were physically abused as well. The master would overburden the slave and make them work all day. Slaves would wear torn and tattered clothes while the masters would dress with the finest threads available. When it would come to food, the slaves would get leftovers or if not, very little food which would certainly not include good quality food. Some would not even get meat or fruits which their masters ate. Prophet Muhammad(saw) with Divine Inspiration from Allah(swt) forbade such acts. Masters could not abuse their slaves and had to give them the same that they ate and wore.

Narated by Al-Ma’rur: At Ar-Rabadha I met Abu Dhar who was wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied, “I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names.” The Prophet said to me, ‘O Abu Dhar! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names you still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity (power) and if you do so, then help them.’” – [bukhari, Vol.1, Book 2, #29]

The introduction of Islam and with the application of Islam by Muslims, slavery had a new meaning altogether. It no longer meant that you have a beast under your control and hence you could abuse it, make it work like a donkey all day and at the end of the day give it crumbs to eat so that it stays alive. Islam made it clear to every follower that a human being who is a slave is yet the brother of a Muslim and the slave had their rights which is compulsory for a Muslim to fulfill. It taught that slaves and masters are equal in the sights of Allah(swt) and if a Muslim was given a brother under his command then he had to make sure that the brother was given the rights which Islam prescribed.

In another narration the importance of giving slaves education and teaching them good manners is stressed by Prophet Muhammad(saw):

Narrated Abu Burda’s father: Allah’s Apostle said “Three persons will have a double reward:

1. A Person from the people of the scriptures who believed in his prophet (Jesus or Moses) and then believed in the Prophet Muhammad (i .e. has embraced Islam).
2. A slave who discharges his duties to Allah and his master.
3. A master of a woman-slave who teaches her good manners and educates her in the best possible way (the religion) and manumits her and then marries her.” – [bukhari Vol.1, Book 3, #97A]

Here it is seen that not only education has been given importance but slavery is also discouraged. It is well known that a person belonging to the People of the Book would receive a double reward for accepting Islam. Similarly the same double reward is offered to a person who would free his woman-slave and marry her after giving her education and teaching her good manners. This way slavery is discouraged in the Islamic world. The Muslims were also forbidden from forcing their slave-girls into prostitution so that they would earn money out of it. There was an incident when the slave-girl of an Ansari was forced after which a verse relating to the act was revealed by Allah(swt).

Narated by Jabir ibn Abdullah: Musaykah, a slave-girl of some Ansari, came and said: My master forces me to commit fornication. Thereupon the following verse was revealed: “But force not your maids to prostitution (when they desire chastity).” – [Abu Dawud, Book 6, #2304]
 

 

The Lessons of Equality

 

There can be found numerous evidences in the Islamic traditions which teach us that slaves are to be treated like any other human being. Prophet Muhammad(saw) has taught us that slaves are equal to everyone else. People belonging to the days of ignorance would not stand next to a slave while Muslims stand next to them in prayers showing a sign of unity and uniformity in their status in front of Allah(swt). Hazrat Bilal was one of the first slaves to accept Islam. He was tortured by the pagans so that he would renounce Islam and come back to the pagan ways. However he did not reject Islam and adhered to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad(saw). He was also the first person to stand on top of the Ka’aba and give the Adhan (the Muslim call for prayer). It is also important to note that further evidence for the equality and recognition of slaves as normal human beings is seen in the numerous ahadith narrated by the slaves and freed slaves that are considered as true and followed by millions of Muslims in the world today. This means that their testimony is also recognized and accepted. We can also see from the traditions that slaves would not only stand shoulder to shoulder with others Muslims during prayer but would also lead the prayers.

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: When the earliest emigrants came to Al-’Usba a place in Quba’, before the arrival of the Prophet- Salim, the slave of Abu Hudhaifa, who knew the Qur’an more than the others used to lead them in prayer. – [bukhari, Vol.1, Book 11, #661]

In the Quran one can see clearly that the woman-slaves and man-slaves who have accepted Islam are better than the free women and men from the disbelievers. Muslims are advised to get the son or daughter married to a woman-slave or man-slave rather than a free woman or man from among the idolaters.

Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise. – [Quran 2:221]

Islam goes a step ahead in giving respect to the slaves and it is narrated that Prophet Muhammad(saw) asked people not to refer to a slave saying “this is my slave” but rather to say “this is my man” or “this is my woman”.
 

 

Islam Stresses on Freeing Slaves

 

Importance was stressed upon manumitting slaves a lot by Allah(swt) through his last and final prophet(saw). Even if a disbeliever practiced slave-manumitting before accepting Islam, it is told that he would yet be rewarded for this good deed after accepting Islam. In Islam there is a concept that all good done for the sake of Allah(swt) will be rewarded and all those done for other causes e.g. fame, fortune etc will not be rewarded in the Hereafter. Manumitting slaves is among those good deeds which are rewarded even if done before accepting Islam.

Narrated Hakim bin Hizam: I said to Allah’s Apostle, “Before embracing Islam I used to do good deeds like giving in charity, slave-manumitting, and the keeping of good relations with Kith and kin. Shall I be rewarded for those deeds?” The Prophet replied, “You became Muslim with all those good deeds (Without losing their reward).” – [bukhari, Vol.2, Book 24, #517]

Allah(swt) through his prophet(saw) stressed the good in freeing a slave. A person once came to Prophet Muhammad(saw) saying that he had sexual intercourse with his wife while he was fasting and thus wished to seek guidance in that matter. The first form of compensation which Prophet Muhammad(saw) informed him of was the freeing of a slave.

Narrated by Abu Huraira: While we were sitting with the Prophet a man came and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I have been ruined.” Allah’s Apostle asked what was the matter with him. He replied “I had sexual intercourse with my wife while I was fasting.” Allah’s Apostle asked him, “Can you afford to manumit a slave?” He replied in the negative. Allah’s Apostle asked him, “Can you fast for two successive months?” He replied in the negative. The Prophet asked him, “Can you afford to feed sixty poor persons?” He replied in the negative. The Prophet kept silent and while we were in that state, a big basket full of dates was brought to the Prophet. He asked, “Where is the questioner?” He replied, “I (am here).” The Prophet said (to him), “Take this (basket of dates) and give it in charity.” The man said, “Should I give it to a person poorer than I? By Allah; there is no family between its (i.e. Medina‘s) two mountains who are poorer than I.” The Prophet smiled till his pre-molar teeth became visible and then said, ‘Feed your family with it.” – [bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #157]

There were times when a slave was jointly owned by two people. In such cases there were times when one owner, for the sake of Allah(swt) would want to manumit his share in the joint ownership. Under such circumstances it was told that the person manumitting his share of the ownership should also pay for the remaining share to ensure that the slave is freed completely. However if he could not do so, the remaining price would then be estimated and the slave had the right to work and pay the amount required for his freedom to the other owner.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever manumits his share of a jointly possessed slave, it is imperative for him to get that slave manumitted completely by paying the remaining price, and if he does not have sufficient money to manumit him, then the price of the slave should be estimated justly, and he is to be allowed to work and earn the amount that will manumit him (without overburdening him)”. – [bukhari, Vol.3, Book 44, #672]

Further in the Quran it is seen that people are encouraged to marry the slaves. If a person cannot marry a free woman for whatever reason, to prevent him from committing sin, the Quran asks them to marry from among the slave women.

If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess: And Allah hath full knowledge about your faith. Ye are one from another: Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable. – [Quran 4:25]

They can take the permission of the master and marry the slave. This was yet another example of Allah(swt) ensuring that slaves would be freed as marriage with the slave of another would make the slave a free person.
 

 

Why Gradual Elimination?

 

There is no doubt that Islam encouraged the freeing of slaves. However one would ask that as slavery is a social disease, why Islam did not make it forbidden. Firstly slavery as seen in Islam is poles apart than the one practiced by those who do not follow the guidelines presented by Islam. Secondly slavery could not have been forbidden in those days. Islam did not allow the selling of free people as slaves. Majority of the slaves were the people captured in the wars fought by the Muslims against the non-Muslims. Due to the lack of prison systems in those days, it was important to keep the captured people as slaves. If these people would be allowed to live freely within the Muslims, they would have regrouped and not only attacked the Muslims but probably would have also tried to assassinate the Sahabah or even Prophet Muhammad(saw). By giving these people as slaves, they were distributed and thus could not regroup and attack the Muslims.

Islam never started slavery and it is well known that slavery was practiced much before the introduction of Islam. Islam actually laid down all the rules so that eventually slavery would be eliminated completely. There are many great rewards for freeing a slave. Allah(swt) has given man all the incentive to free slaves which would in return eventually eradicate slavery completely. Another narration goes as follows:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever frees a Muslim slave, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the (Hell) Fire as he has freed the body-parts of the slave.” Said bin Marjana said that he narrated that Hadith to ‘Ali bin Al-Husain and he freed his slave for whom ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far had offered him ten thousand Dirhams or one-thousand Dinars. – [bukhari, Vol.3, Book 46, #693]

 

 

Islam’s Stand on Slavery

 

Islam teaches its followers to respect all Mankind regardless of their color, race or their bank balance. Slaves were given rights which were not heard of in other societies. Islam gave them protection and asked people to treat them as brothers and give them to eat of what they ate and to wear what they wore. The Bible too speaks about slaves and lays down laws regarding the treatment of slaves.

“If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.” – [Exodus 21:20-21]

As it can be seen, the Bible allows a person to beat their slave and the master will not be punished unless the slave dies. The slave is treated as a personal property of the master. Islam came to correct such manmade rules regarding not only slavery but a lot of concepts. Islam has been the original advocate for humanity and has always taught men the importance of humanity.

With the introduction of Islam slaves were treated as human beings rather than personal property. Moreover Islam made sure that gradually people will not perform this act and encouraged the freeing of slaves. Manumitting a slave was encouraged for the smallest of reasons. If there was a solar eclipse, people were recommended to free a slave – If there was a lunar eclipse, people were recommended to free a slave. It can be seen that Muslims were encouraged to free slaves for any and every reason. Islam gave security to the slaves and laid down directions so that slavery would eventually be eliminated completely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rules and regulations of Slavery in Islam

Shaykh (Mufti) Ebrahim Desai (HA)

 

Question

Is slavery still allowed in Islam in this day and age?

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

 

Answer

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

 

Before answering your query, we shall reproduce an excerpt regarding slavery in Islam from Ma'ārif al-Qur`ān by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Uthmani below:

 

Let us now address the objection that Islam is the great upholder of human rights. Then how is it that it allows the enslaving of human beings?

 

This objection is a fallacy based on the false analogy drawn between Islamic concept of slavery and its practice in other religions and communities; whereas in Islam after the rights given to the slaves and the social status granted to them, they can hardly be called slaves in the generally accepted sense of the word. They in fact constitute a brotherhood. A famous orientalist in his book Arab Civilization writes:

 

When the word 'slave' is uttered in the presence of a European who is used to reading American writings, he conceives in his mind those helpless people who are shackled with chains, around whose necks are iron collars, who are lashed with whips and driven forth, whose food is barely enough to subsist, and for whom nothing more than dark dungeons are available to live in...there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that Islam's concept of slavery is completely different from the Christian concept of slavery.

 

The Islamic viewpoint regarding slaves has been made plain in a famous Hadith of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) as follows:

 

Your slaves are your brothers, and Allah has put them under your control. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats, and dress him of what he wears. Do not overburden them [slaves] to do things beyond their capacity, and if you do so, then help them.[sahih al-Bukhari, 2545, The Book on Manumission of Slaves]

 

The social and civil rights that Islam has accorded to the slaves are almost equal to free individuals. Thus, as opposed to other nations, Islam has not only permitted the slaves to marry but also emphasized that the masters should marry off those of their slaves and slavegirls who are righteous [Al-Quran, 24:32] so much so that he can even marry a free woman. A slave's share from the spoils of war is equal to that of a free person. If he gives refuge to an enemy, it would be respected in the same way as given by a free individual. There are so many injunctions in Qur`ān and Hadīth regarding good treatment of slaves that if they are collected together, they can be compiled into a voluminous book. Sayyidunā 'Alī (radiyallahu 'anh) says that the last words of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) before his departure from this earthly life were:

 

"Take care of prayer; take care of prayer and keep your duty to Allah regarding slaves under your command."[sunan Ibn Majah, 2698, The Book of Wills]

 

Islam organized education and training programmes for slaves. Its effect was seen during the reign of 'Abd-ul-Malik Ibn Marwan in almost all the provinces of the Islamic State. Some of the best and greatest authorities on education and intellectual development were slaves whose chronicles are narrated in several history books. Furthermore, this nominal slavery was gradually abolished or reduced. There is a huge number of Qur'anic verses and Holy Prophetic Traditions which set out the virtues and merits of setting the slaves free. There is no act better than emancipation of slaves. In juristic injunctions, pretexts have been looked for to emancipate slaves: expiation for violating fast, for murder, for zihār, for violating oaths and vows - in all these cases the first compulsory command is to emancipate a slave. A Hadīth tells us that if a person has slapped a slave, its expiation is to set him free. Thus, the Companions used to emancipate slaves in large numbers.

 

To sum up: anyone who looks impartially at the comprehensive reforms Islam introduced in the system of slavery, he cannot escape the conclusion that drawing analogy between Islamic concept of slavery and its practice among other nations is absolutely false.

 

Furthermore, holding prisoners of war in bondage is only up to the point of permissibility which means that if an Islamic State deems it appropriate, it may hold them in bondage, but it has not been taken as an obligatory or as a commendable act. As a matter of fact, the collective teachings of Qur'an and Hadīth lead us to believe that emancipating them is more meritorious. [uthmani, M. Shafi, "An Objection and its Rebuttal", Ma'ārif al-Qur`ān]

 

Now that the general concept of slavery in Islam has been understood, we will move on to the question of slavery and its permissibility in this day and age. Simply put, if Muslim nations enter into a compact with non-Muslim nations regarding a certain issue, as long as it does not contravene the general principles of Sharī'ah, then such a pact will be binding upon those Muslim nations and it will be there duty to hold up such a covenant.[uthmani, M. Shafi, "An Objection and its Rebuttal", Ma'ārif al-Qur`ān], Arabic as follows:

 

وإذا رأي الإمام موادعة أهل الهرب، ولم يأخذ علي ذلك مالا، فلا بأس به، والكلام ههنا في فصول: أحدها: ؟إذا طلبوا من الإمام الموادعة سنين معلومة بغير شيء، والحكم فيه أن الإمام ينظر في ذلك، إن رأي الموادعة خيرا للمسلمين لشدة شوكة أهل الحرب وما أشبه ذلك فعل ذلك، فقد صح أن رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم صالح أهل مكة عام الحديبية علي أن وضع الحرب نينه وبينهم عشر سنين...ومن النظر حفظه قوة المسلمين أولا، وربما يكون ذلك في الموادعة إذا كان للمشركين شوكة، أو يحتاج الإمام إلي أن يور في دار الحرب؛ ليتوصل الإمام إلي قوم لهم بأس شديد، فلا نجد بدا من أن نوادع من علي طريقه لنأمن منهم.

(المحيط البرهاني، ج ٧، ص ٢٩٠، إدارة القرآن والعلوم الإسلامية)

[قال صاحب الهداية] (وَإِذَا رَأَى الْإِمَامُ أَنْ يُصَالِحَ أَهْلَ الْحَرْبِ أَوْ فَرِيقًا مِنْهُمْ وَكَانَ ذَلِكَ مَصْلَحَةً لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ فَلَا بَأْسَ بِهِ) لِقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى {وَإِنْ جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ} [الأنفال: 61] «وَوَادَعَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ - صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ - أَهْلَ مَكَّةَ عَامَ الْحُدَيْبِيَةِ عَلَى أَنْ يَضَعَ الْحَرْبَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُمْ عَشْرَ سِنِينَ» ، وَلِأَنَّ الْمُوَادَعَةَ جِهَادٌ مَعْنًى إذَا كَانَ خَيْرًا لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ لِأَنَّ الْمَقْصُودَ وَهُوَ دَفْعُ الشَّرِّ حَاصِلٌ بِهِ، وَلَا يُقْتَصَرُ الْحُكْمُ عَلَى الْمُدَّةِ الْمَرْوِيَّةِ لِتَعَدِّي الْمَعْنَى إلَى مَا زَادَ عَلَيْهَا، بِخِلَافِ مَا إذَا لَمْ يَكُنْ خَيْرًا؛ لِأَنَّهُ تَرَكَ الْجِهَادَ صُورَةً وَمَعْنًى

[قال البابرتي] وَقَوْلُهُ (لِتَعَدِّي الْمَعْنَى) وَهُوَ دَفْعُ الشَّرِّ.

(العناية شرح الهداية، ج ٣، ص ٢٦٣، دار الكتب العلمية)

 

In our times, there are international treaties upheld by many countries between many nations that state that "no person shall be held in slavery." This clause can be found under article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many countries signed this pact and agreed to uphold such a covenant. For a broad list of such treaties and the general agreement between such nations, you may refer to the following two links:

 

Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

 

These laws further extended to abolishing all forms of human trafficking as a result of the ongoing sexual abuse, human bondage, and complete disregard to human rights resulting from today's form of human slavery. Examples of such laws include the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the Palermo Protocol regarding children and women.

 

All in all, as stated before, the Islamic form of slavery cannot be compared to the atrocities committed by the slavery we have come to know today. In order to combat such oppression and violation of human rights, international laws were created and many Muslim nations also agreed to abide by these laws for the greater good and to combat the oppression resulting from modern slavery.

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Bilal Mohammad

Student Darul Iftaa

New Jersey, USA

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

Askimam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question: Is having a Slave (girl) for sex nowadays allowed?
 
Answer

A man may have intimate relations with his wife or slave girl. This applies no matter how many slave girls one may possess. He may not have intimate relations with his servant. A slave is one whom one physically owns. Since slavery is not in vogue nowadays, this does not apply today. Refer attached and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

 

 

 

Rules and regulations of Slavery in Islam

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

 

Question

What is the Islamic law with regard to slave-women? Was It permissible to have relations with these slave-women without a formal marriage ceremony?

 

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

 

Firstly, it should be borne in mind that slavery was not something that was introduced by Islam; on the contrary, it was something that had its roots planted long before the advent of Islam. It would not be an exaggeration to state that slavery is probably as old as war itself, because it is one of the consequences of war. Thus, slavery apparently first reared its head with the first wars that took place an the face of earth. War is a factor that makes soft men stern, kind men harsh and delicate men rugged. A man who cannot bear to see the sight of blood under normal circumstances becomes capable of shedding the blood of hundreds under the pressure of war. Those who were not killed in warfare, used to be taken as prisoners of war. The pages of history will show that many alternative, expedient methods were used through the ages to deal with prisoners of war. Some used to be executed while others would be set free, with or without a ransom. Then, there were others who were neither executed nor set free. These were enslaved.

 

When Islam came and prospered, its power was challenged by the enemies of Islam and the need to go to war arose. By that time, slavery had virtually become an international custom. It was also rife among the Arabs from the days of darkness and ignorance. Thus, abolishing it instantaneously would have caused chaos and pandemonium among the Arab people. Hence, a process of gradual extirpation had to be implemented. Moreover, if the Muslims would set all their enemy-prisoners free and tolerate their fellow Muslims being captured and enslaved by the enemies, it would have lead to a sharp decrease in the Muslim military force and given a great advantage to the enemy forces which was something that the Muslims could not afford. Furthermore, it is a well known fact that warfare tactics used by one side are often countered by the opposing side in order to maintain a balance of power. Hence, wartime diplomacy necessitated the enslaving of prisoners.

 

In the "Jihaads" (Islamic wars) that took place, women were also, at times, taken as prisoners of war by the Muslim warriors. These women captives used to be distributed as part of the booty among the soldiers, after their return to Islamic territory. Each soldier was then entitled to have relations ONLY with the slave girl over which he was given the RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP and NOT with those slave girls that were not in his possession. This RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP was given to him by the "Ameerul-Mu'mineen" (Head of the Islamic state.) Due to this right of ownership, It became lawful for the owner of a slave girl to have intercourse with her.

 

It may, superficially, appear distasteful to copulate with a woman who is not a man's legal wife, but once Shariat makes something lawful, we have to accept it as lawful, whether it appeals to our taste, or not; and whether we know its underlying wisdom or not. It is necessary for a Muslim to be acquainted with the laws of Shariat, but it is not necessary for him to delve into each law in order to find the underlying wisdom of these laws because knowledge of the wisdom of some of the laws may be beyond his puny comprehension. Allah Ta'ala has said in the Holy Quran: "Wa maa ooteetum min al-ilm illaa qaleelan" which means, more or less, that, "You have been given a very small portion of knowledge". Hence, if a person fails to comprehend the underlying wisdom of any law of Shariat, he cannot regard it as a fault of Shariat (Allah forbid), on the contrary, it is the fault of his own perception and lack of understanding, because no law of Shariat is contradictory to wisdom.

 

Nevertheless, the wisdom underlying the permission granted by Shariat to copulate with a slave woman is as follows: The LEGAL possession that a Muslim receives over a slave woman from the "Ameerul-Mu'mineen" (the Islamic Head of State) gives him legal credence to have coition with the slave woman in his possession, just as the marriage ceremony gives him legal credence to have coition with his wife. In other words, this LEGAL POSSESSION is, in effect, a SUBSTITUTE of the MARRIAGE CEREMONY. A free woman cannot be 'possessed', bought or sold like other possessions; therefore Shariat instituted a 'marriage ceremony' in which affirmation and consent takes place, which gives a man the right to copulate with her. On the other hand, a slave girl can be possessed and even bought and sold, thus, this right of possession, substituting as a marriage ceremony, entitles the owner to copulate with her. A similar example can be found in the slaughtering of animals; that after a formal slaughtering process, in which the words, "Bismillahi Allahu Akbar" are recited, goats, cows, etc.; become "Halaal" and lawful for consumption, whereas fish becomes "Halaal" merely through 'possession' which substitutes for the slaughtering.

 

In other words, just as legal possession of a fish that has been fished out of the water, makes it Halaal for human consumption without the initiation of a formal slaughtering process; similarly legal possession of a slave woman made her Halaal for the purpose of coition with her owner without the initiation of a formal marriage ceremony.

 

In short, permission to have intercourse with a slave woman was not something barbaric or uncivilised; on the contrary, it was almost as good as a marriage ceremony. In fact, possession of a slave woman resembles a marriage ceremony in many ways and both have a lot in common with each other. One similarity is this that just as a free woman cannot have two husbands simultaneously, a slave woman cannot be used for intercourse by two owners. Another similarity is that a free woman whose marriage is on the rocks, cannot marry another man until her previous marriage is nullified through divorce, etc. Due to the discrepancies between husband and wife, the marriage sometimes reaches a stage where it becomes virtually impossible for the couple to live as man and wife with the result that divorce is brought into force to nullify marriage ties. Similarly, if a slave woman was married previously in enemy territory to a non-Muslim, and is then captured alone, i.e. without her husband, it is not permissible for any Muslim to have relations with her until her previous marriage is nullified, and that is done by bringing her to an Islamic country and making her the legal possession of a Muslim. Bringing her into Islamic territory necessitates the rendering of her previous marriage as null and void by Islamic law because with her husband in enemy territory and she in Islamic territory, it becomes virtually impossible for them to meet and live as man and wife. That is why it is not permissible to have intercourse with a woman whose husband is also taken into captivity and put into slavery with her. Another resemblance between the two is that, just as a divorcee has to spend a period called "Iddat" before another man is allowed to marry her, similarly, a slave woman has to spend a period called "Istibraa" before her owner can have coition with her.

 

Another similarity between marriage and possession of a slave woman is that just as the wife becomes a dependant of the husband and he has to provide a home, food and clothing for her, a slave woman also becomes a dependant of her owner and he has to provide a home, food and clothing for her. Yet another similarity is this that just as marriage makes the close relatives of the wife Haraam upon the husband; i.e. he cannot get married to his wife's mother, grandmother, sister, etc., similarly if a man has copulated with a slave woman the slave woman's close relatives also become Haraam upon the owner. With all these similarities it does not make sense to regard copulation with a slave woman distasteful whilst copulation with one's wife is not regarded as distasteful.

 

A question that may still arise is that why does the owner of a slave woman not marry her before having relations with her? Well, this is impracticable because of a few intricate technicalities. Firstly, we know that a man has to give "Mahr" (dower-money) to his bride. The Holy Quran says:-

 

 "And allowed unto you is whatsoever is beyond that, so that ye may seek them with your substance (i.e. with your dower-money). " - (4:24).

 

Thus, "Mahr" is a conditional prerequisite of Nikah. If a man has to marry his slave woman, it would not be possible for him to abide by this condition of 'Mahr' because by Islamic law, a slave does not have rights over any property, i.e. she cannot own anything. In fact, whatever she has with her too, i.e. her clothing, etc., is all regarded as the property of her owner. Therefore, If he gets married to his slave girl and gives her the 'Mahr' she cannot become the owner of it because she has no right of ownership. The 'Mahr' would bounce back to the owner of the slave girl and it would tantamount to giving the 'mahr' to himself. Hence, the owner would become the payer as well as the PAYEE of the 'mahr' which would only result in the mockery of the whole system of 'mahr'. It would be absolutely superflous to have such a marriage ceremony performed that makes a mockery of the 'mahr' system. Hence, the owner cannot get married to her while she remains a slave girl. However, if he sets her free, then he can get married to her on the basis of her having become a liberated woman.

 

Although the owner himself cannot get married to his slave woman, without giving her freedom, he can get her married to someone else. If he gets her married to someone else, then only her husband can now have intercourse with her and the owner's right of having intercourse with her comes to an end. All these facts prove that the slave girl does not become an instrument of sex; on the contrary, her honour is upheld, in that only one man is allowed to have intercourse with her JUST AS only one man (the husband) is allowed to have intercourse with his lawfully wedded wife.

 

Islam ensured that the slave girl's duties were not restricted merely to domestic chores but also gave her master permission to copulate with her. This concession created an atmosphere of love and harmony between the slave girl and her master. Islam thereby raised the status of the war captive-maidens close to that of wives. It was a psychological cure to her grief-stricken heart, being deprived of her family and thrown into the hands of a strange society.

 

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) enjoined his followers to treat the slaves kindly, gently, and, above all, to regard them as members of the family. In this way, they were made to feel wanted; which was far better than treating them as outcasts and leaving them to wander the streets of a strange society in a peniless, destitute condition. Such treatment would have ultimately forced them to take up evil occupations such as prostitution in the case of slave woman in order to fill their hungry stomachs. The First World War in 1914 was a clear reflection of the evils involved in setting captive women free to roars about in a strange society with strange surroundings. During that war, German and English women prisoners on either side were set free to roam the streets with no-one to feed them. The result was obvious that they resorted to other unrefined and uncivilised methods of income on the streets. Thus, it is evident that the Islamic treatment of women prisoners of war was conducive towards better social relations and led to the refinement of their overall social lives.

 

Over and above all this, History will show that Islam did not encourage slavery but rather encouraged moves towards the extirpation of slavery. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said something to this effect in a Hadith, that: "Whosoever freed a Muslim slave, the Lord would redeem all his limbs - in compensation for each limb of the slave, so much so that the private parts for the private parts - from the Fire of Hell.

 

"If a slave woman becomes pregnant from her owner, and delivers his child, she automatically gets her freedom after the death of her master whose child she gave birth to.

 

Moreover, there are many wrongs and sins for which the liberation of a slave serves as a compensation and atonement. This was a further incentive for the extirpation of slavery. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam also taught that whosoever teaches good manners to his slave girl, adorns her with politeness and good education, then frees her and gets married to her, for him there is double recompense and reward. These encouraging teachings served as incentives towards the emancipation of slaves and slaves were liberated by the thousands. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam himself freed 63 slaves, Hazrat Abu Bakr Radhiallahu Anhu freed 63, Hazrat Abdur-Rahman bin Auf Radhiallahu Anhu 30,000; Hazrat Hakim bin Huzam Radhiallahu Anhu 100; Hazrat Abbas Radhiallahu Anhu 70; Hazrat Ayesha Radhiallahu Anha 69; Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar Radhiallahu Anhu 100; Hazrat Uthman Radhiallahu Anhu used to free one slave every Friday and he would say that he would tree any slave who performed his prayers with humility. Hazrat Zul-Kilah Radhiallahu Anhu freed 8,000 slaves in a single day.

 

Hazrat Umar Radhiallahu Anhu passed certain laws during his Khilafat which led to the emancipation of thousands of slaves, and to the prevention of certain specific forms of slavery. Some of the edicts that he issued:

 

1 All the apostate tribes that were enslaved during the Khilaafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr Radhiallahu Anhu were to be freed.

 

2 A Zimmi (protected non-Muslim subject of an Islamic state) should not be enslaved.

 

3 Arabs will not be enslaved.

 

4 Those who had been enslaved during the days of ignorance (prior to the advent of Islam) and had lived to witness the Islamic era, should redeem themselves from slavery by paying their costs (their value) to their owners whether they were willing or not.

 

As a result of all these laws, there came a time when slavery was totally extirpated. But of course, this extirpation came about after a gradual process because that was the only safe and expedient way of tackling the problem.

 

Because of the prevalence of slavery in the initial stages of Islam the necessity of educating the people about the treatment of slaves also arose. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam taught his followers how the slaves should be treated with kindness, etc. In fact, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam himself possessed slave girls. In this way, he was able to demonstrate practically how kindly and politely the slave should be treated. Because it is relevant to the topic, it would be appropriate to mention here that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam also had four slave girls. One was Hazrat Maria Qibtiyya Radhiallahu Anha who was the mother of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam's son, Ibrahim Alayhis Salaam who passed away in infanthood. The others were, Hazrat Rayhaan binte Samoon; Hazrat Nafisa and a fourth, whose name has not been recorded in History.

 

One question that still remains is whether slavery still legally prevails anywhere in the Islamic world and whether it can be successfully implemented in this age. Well, there is no prevalence of lawful slavery in the Islamic world today and it would be difficult to implement it because of the stringent conditions attached to it. Firstly, the prisoners have to be captured in 'Jihaad' in the true sense of the word. Then again, If true 'Jihaad' did break out somewhere, there are still a number of other laws and conditions to abide by which are far too stringent for any Islamic country in the world to abide by in this time and age when people's personal gains and whims and desire are being given preference to over Islamic Law. According to Islamic Law, captive female prisoners are also part and parcel of the booty. One fifth of the booty has to be first distributed to the needy, orphans, etc. The remaining four-fifths should then be distributed among the soldiers who participated in the war. The distribution can only take effect after the booty is brought into Islamic territory. The Ameerul-Mu'mineen (Head of the Islamic State) remains the guardian of the female prisoners until he allocates them to the soldiers. Only after a soldier has been allotted a slave girl, and made the owner of her, will she become his lawful possession. After she spends a period called 'Istibraa', which is the elapse of one menstrual period, It becomes permissible for her owner to have relations with her. After possession of the slave too there are a number of other laws that affect the master and slave. There is hardly any Islamic country today that can abide to all these conditions, with the result that it is quite difficult to implement slavery in this time and age.

 

The subject of slavery in Islam is quite comprehensive and there are many laws that pertain to slaves which the Jurisprudents of Islam have outlined. It is, however, hoped that the above mentioned facts will be adequate enough to answer your question.

 

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

Askimam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Non-Muslim writers on Slavery in Islam

 

 

Roger Du Pasquier, "Unveiling Islam"

 

To answer this question, it should first be remarked that Islam has tolerated slavery but has never approved of it, and that all its teachings and prescriptions in this regard lead to its alleviation as far as possible in the short term, and, in the longer term, conduce to its progressive suppression. To abolish it would have been impossible in a world in which it was generally practiced by all the states which bordered on the new Muslim empire, and in which the idea of challenging the principle itself had not occurred to anyone. It was the custom to enslave prisoners of war -- when these were not simply massacred -- and the Islamic state would have put itself at a grave disadvantage vis-a-vis its enemies had it not reciprocated to some extent. By guaranteeing them humane treatment, and various possibilities of subsequently releasing themselves, it ensured that a good number of combatants in the opposing armies preferred captivity at the hands of Muslims to death on the field of battle.

It should be very clearly underlined that the slavery once practiced in the Muslim world cannot be compared to the form it had assumed -- for instance -- in the Roman Empire. Islamic legislation subjected slaveowners to a set of precise obligations, first among which was the slave's right to life, for, according to a hadith, 'Whoever kills his slave shall be killed by us'. In consequence, the murder of a slave was punished like that of a free man.

 

There are many other hadiths which define Islam's true attitude in this regard. The Prophet said: 'Your slaves are your brethren; therefore whoever has a brother who depends upon him must feed and clothe him in the way he feeds and clothes himself; and should not impose upon him tasks which exceed his capacity; should you ask them to do such things, then you are obliged to help them.' The Sharia takes this injunction, among many others, into account when defining the responsibilities and duties of slaveholders.

 

There is another teaching which enjoins respect for the human dignity of slaves: 'Let none of you say, "This man, or this woman, is my slave". He must rather say: "This is my man, and this my woman."' Putting into relief the provisional character of social ties and the authority exercised by slaveowners over their slaves, the Prophet said: 'It is true that God has made you their masters, but, had He so wished, He could equally well have made you their slaves.'

 

To manumit a slave has always been regarded as one of the most meritorious of all acts, and many passages of the Qur'an recommend or even require it, particularly as a means of expiation for serious faults. Traditional legislation lays down the methods of voluntary liberation of slaves by their masters (itq), and there were very many Muslims who observed these, especially at the end of their lives, so as not to die and appear before God without having given full freedom to the human beings placed in their power during their earthly lives.

 

Additionally, slaves had the ability to enfranchise themselves at their own initiative, without waiting passively for the goodwill of their masters: the procedure known as mukataba allowed them to buy their own freedom with sums which they saved from their work, and which the state frequently augmented with advances -- a measure which the slaveowner had no right to oppose. In contrast to the situation under Roman law, slaves were not deprived of the legal ability to exercise their rights and to appeal to a judge against their masters in all cases of illegal treatment.

 

Besides domestic slavery, which was generally imbued with a patriarchal character, there also existed a form of military slavery, which was frequently employed by princes in need of recruits, especially for their personal guards. This situation had the effect of conferring an often considerable influence and power on men of servile condition or origin, and some of these became the founders of great and illustrious dynasties such as the Tulunids and Mamlukes of Egypt.

 

The object of a prosperous commercial sector, which under the Abbasid Empire was often the speciality of non-Muslims, particularly Byzantine and Venetian Christians, and Jews, slavery gradually declined in importance until, at the beginning of the present century, it was confined to a few survivals which have now disappeared entirely. Thanks to the strict traditional controls which have always regulated the practice, it would be difficult to deny that social conditions were remarkably humane during the great periods of Muslim civilization, and that these, moreover, were in conformity with the 'egalitarian' spirit of Islam, which, in a hadith, teaches that 'the blackest of Abyssinians' is superior to most noble of Quraishites, if he has more faith. -- p. 104 - 107

 

 

 

 

Annemarie Schimmel, "Islam: An Introduction"

 

Slavery was not abolished by the Koran, but believers are constantly admonished to treat their slaves well. In case of illness a slave has to be looked after and well cared for. To manumit [free] a slave is higly meritorious; the slave can ransom himself by paying some of the money he has earned while conducting his own business. Only children of slaves or non-Muslim prisoners of war can become slaves, never a freeborn Muslim; therefore slavery is theoretically doomed to disappear with the expansion of Islam. The entire history of Islam proves that slaves could occupy any office, and many former military slaves, usually recruited from among the Central Asian Turks, became military leaders and often even rulers as in eastern Iran, India (the Slave Dynasty of Delhi), and medieval Egypt (the Mamluks). Eunuchs too served in important capacities, not only as the guardians of the women's quarters, but also in high administrative and military positions. -- p. 67

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...