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Shaikh Hakim

Slavery, A Miracle Of Islam

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Salam to you all my dear brothers and sisters

 

I would like to share with you what I learned regarding slavery

Needless to say, Human being are undoubtedly servants of Allah and He is the true owner of the creation.

In the other hand, we are considered to be free to choose and no one has right to enslave us.

Now imagine a war between Muslims and enemies of Islam took place and fortunately Pro-Islam army prevailed over the anti-Islam army. Though most of them are killed in the battlefield, many of them are now captives in the hands of Muslims.

How should Muslims treat them? There are 3 possibilities:

1.       To eliminate the captives

2.       To send them to prison

3.       To bring them as slaves to the Islamic society

The third one provides an opportunity to live with Muslims which leads to understand the real Islam and wipe out the rumors against Islam they heard before.

As a result, there were too many slaves that converted to Islam. They were amazed by the ruling of Islam regarding slaves. Even slaves have their own rights!

In the other hand, Islam has placed different means to gradually set the slaves free. For example, one of the atonement of breaking fast is to free a slave.

 

Note: only captives of the war (enemies of Islam) are to be slaves

 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong

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For example, one of the atonement of breaking fast is to free a slave.

 

Does that not spark your curiosity even a little bit? If Islam were actually against the institution of slavery, why would it rely on a believer to disobey God in order to have a slave freed? Why not free slaves from the get go without any peculiar conditions?

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I'm not knowledgable in this matter and this is only my opinion but I agree with you , I think bringing them back as slaves within Islamic society might sound cruel but is the best solution out of the three. Just as you pointed out there were many slaves that converted into to Islam at the time of the prophet and they can also be freed within time.

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Salaamualaikum,

 

If I do recall correctly, didnt the prophet used to make the Kufar who had lost wars only pay a fine? And if they were unable to pay a fine then they had to pay for it through other means, and one of them being sharing their knowledge with the muslimeen, perhaps slavery was one of these? Im not sure about this, sorry.

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Salaamualaikum,

 

If I do recall correctly, didnt the prophet used to make the Kufar who had lost wars only pay a fine? And if they were unable to pay a fine then they had to pay for it through other means, and one of them being sharing their knowledge with the muslimeen, perhaps slavery was one of these? Im not sure about this, sorry.

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I'm not knowledgable in this matter and this is only my opinion but I agree with you , I think bringing them back as slaves within Islamic society might sound cruel but is the best solution out of the three. Just as you pointed out there were many slaves that converted into to Islam at the time of the prophet and they can also be freed within time.

 

But were all slaves captives?

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It's difficult to object to someone who justifies the owning of people and selling them like commodity solely on the basis that it makes Islam more prevalent. Essentially, what you are saying is that the ends justify the means. But that aside, I want to focus on your last statement:

 

Note: only captives of the war (enemies of Islam) are to be slaves

 

What about their women and children? Will they have to endure a life subjugation for something they did not commit?

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Does that not spark your curiosity even a little bit? If Islam were actually against the institution of slavery, why would it rely on a believer to disobey God in order to have a slave freed? Why not free slaves from the get go without any peculiar conditions?

 

Because doing so would not have been appropriate given the current climate of 7th century Arabia. The Quran and ahadith literature all emphasis the freeing of a 'slave' as a act of righteousness and Believers are exhorted to do so, not only for committing of sin. The Prophet changed the institution of slavery entirely and limited it in numerous ways.  Since the Quran and Prophet emphasised the freeing of slaves and it is not a neccessary aspect for Islam and the Ummah to function properly, if this institution disolves, then there is no need to restore it since its removal on a personal level was an illustration of uprightness anyway. 

 

 

But were all slaves captives?

 

Yes. The only condition where 'slaves' (this word is not even appropriate to use since its application by the Prophet is nothing like our current conception of slavery) is the taking of prisoners of war. What should we do with members of an opposing camp who were active in the shedding of your blood all because the Prophet called them to naught save their own Success? They could all be executed, or as the Prophet did, they be ransomed if they taught the illiterate amongst the early Umma how to read and write (I believe it was 10 people they were required to teach - a fairly decent bargain if you ask me for someone who waged war against the Prophet ) and killed numerous Muslims. 

 

If you look at how the Prophet treated and instructed the treatment of prisoners of war you will see these people had anything but a 'life of subjugation'. We assume the way the Muslims veiwed 'slavery' is the same way Western civilasation more or less has. Which is not the case at all. Anyone who looks into the matter will see they are not even comparable. In public you're not even permitted to allow any physical difference to exist between you and your 'slave' (prisoner of war). You have to clothe him with what you wear, feed him with what you wear, and so on. Keep in mind the Qur'an even says if your 'slaves' desire freedom by purchasing it, then you are to comply with their wish. With the above in mind, anyone seriously want to call this slavery or having to 'endure a life of subjugation'? No one denys there were exceptions to this treatment, but this is nothing but a deviation from the principles set by God and His Prophet

 

This doesnt sound too gruesome to me. Actually, this seems like a win for the Kuffar who not only tried to destroy Islam and the Prophet but were even treated kindly and with dignity without being publically degraded or even killed for what they did. They could then see Islam and the Prophet of God first hand, his character, his Teachings, and this would give them a greater reason to accept him and free themselves (from kufr and as a prisoner of war). 

 

 

What about their women and children? Will they have to endure a life subjugation for something they did not commit?

 

 

Regarding the issue of women and children, I'm not very familiar with the history surrounding this but a good work to consult regarding this topic as well as the broarder history of the Prophet's statesmanship would be "Who is better than God to Rule" - An Inquiry into the Formation of the First Islamic State (622-32 CE) by Fiazuddin Shuayb. It was submitted as a PhD dissertation. It can be found and downloaded here. I only read chapter V on warfare but from what I could tell, it was quite good. Skimming through it, I assume the rest of the work is of equal quality. 

Edited by Ali Musaaa :)

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Salam to all

one important thing we have to notice is that looking at phenomena regardless to the context it appears in, is not a proper way. we have to keep in mind that actually Islam did not established slavery. Islam started to shape  and weaken the institution of slavery that was already prevalent in Pensacola. So the main question is that if Islamic teachings succeed to approach what had been rooted in hard minded people for ages in a way that they admit to put aside the cruel treats they used to do upon slaves?

therefore, one has to look at this issue from this aspect. the note that usually is overlooked and we see always Islam is subject to this question that,"Why Islam talks of Slavery? Is not it a religion which respect the human rights?..

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The Quran and ahadith literature all emphasis the freeing of a 'slave' as a act of righteousness and Believers are exhorted to do so, not only for committing of sin.

 

But that foregoes the obvious option of not enslaving them in the first place. 

 

 

What about their women and children? Will they have to endure a life subjugation for something they did not commit?

 

 

Basically, the women (married ones) would be taken captive and forcibly separated from their husbands so that the slave owners could have legal access to them. I refer you to verse 4:24.

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Regarding the issue of women and children, I'm not very familiar with the history surrounding this but a good work to consult regarding this topic as well as the broarder history of the Prophet's statesmanship would be "Who is better than God to Rule" - An Inquiry into the Formation of the First Islamic State (622-32 CE) by Fiazuddin Shuayb. It was submitted as a PhD dissertation. It can be found and downloaded here. I only read chapter V on warfare but from what I could tell, it was quite good. Skimming through it, I assume the rest of the work is of equal quality. 

 

Okay I'll read through it. I have reservations over the title "Who is better than God to Rule" because, already, the author presupposes an infallible ruler; and hence, any conclusion he draws must support this supposition. But regardless, I'll try to withhold my judgement until I finish reading it.and be as open minded and objective as I could be. Thanks for linking the download version.

 

And thanks for the moderator who corrected my post.

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Okay I'll read through it. I have reservations over the title "Who is better than God to Rule" because, already, the author presupposes an infallible ruler; and hence, any conclusion he draws must support this supposition. But regardless, I'll try to withhold my judgement until I finish reading it.and be as open minded and objective as I could be. Thanks for linking the download version.

 

And thanks for the moderator who corrected my post.

 

 

:wacko:? Remarkable. Honestly, I'm not even sure what to make of this.

 

You're welcome. 'Never judge a book by it's cover (or title..)'. 

 

 

 

But that foregoes the obvious option of not enslaving them in the first place. 

 

Are you serious? So, what do you suppose to do with all the prisoners of war? You'd didnt address this issue or the answers given to your questions. Instead, you gave a little smart comment whilst ignoring the entirety of my post. So, what is? Should we give them a free pass into Medinah or go back to Mecca where they can rally more troops for another assault in future? I suppose criminals who commit acts of agression should just let back into soceity despite committing cimes as well? This absurdity aside, they were given freedom if they purchased it or taught people literacy. A crime has been committed. 

 

I think you misunderstood the point. The Qur'an emphasises the freeing slaves as did the prophet. This is a soceity where slavery is part and pacel of human life and experience and an accepted practice prior to the advent of the Prophet . The Prophet changed this institution and made it difficult to own slaves and removed all the social barriers of distinction between a man and his slave. Additionally, he clearly stated that those who had slaves had to treat them with dignity and respect. The possibility of having slaves/servants was on the condition they were taken as prisoners of war. The conditions of treatment laid down by the Prophet ensured that they were to be treated fairly with the hope they would leave their disbelief and enter Islam. 

Edited by Ali Musaaa :)

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It is interesting to see how creative muslims can be when it comes to coming up with incredibly faulty arguments to justify the institution of slavery within islam.  Quite understandable though as an honest critical examination of the topic could seriously hinder one's faith, it is in one's best interest to reconcile ones faith with basic human empathy, through whatever means possible.

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Just a thought... One incentive against going to war with another nation is the risk of death.  Another is the risk that you may be enslaved.  A third is the risk that your family will be enslaved.  Take away any of these deterrents, then the enemies of Islam 1400 years ago would have been more likely to wage war against Muslims.  There would have been more wars, more death, and a greater risk that Islam was destroyed and surviving Muslims enslaved.  Today the stakes arent so high, and the enemies of Islam generally dont practice slavery.

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Islam has often been represented by Christian writers as a religion which not only tolerated slavery but also encouraged it. This is a serious accusation labeled against Islam.

Some people say that why Islam hasn't forbidden the slavery, while Quran says "there is no force in religion" and human beings are free to choose their religion.

About Islam' view regarding to slavery, we should consider some points:

First, the religion of Islam wasn't the inventor of slavery and it existed before Islam.

Second, Islam has considered the grievous destiny of slaves as a big social problem.

Third, Islam had an exact plan for releasing slaves; because they had been forming half of population which hadn't any jobs and suitable life. If Islam had released all of them, their life would have been perished or a great part of population would have been attacked to society. So it shows that Islam has an exact plan for slavery up to release of all slaves.

This plan includes some parts:

  • Islam had closed the roots of slavery.
  • Islam has opened the door of release.
  • The revival of slaves' personality.
  • The behavior toward slaves
  • Islam stated selling human as a worse thing.

According to this plan, our prophet and Imams (as) acted. So in many situations they released their slaves and even in some situation their slaves prevented to leave the house.

For more information this link is very good:

http://www.al-islam.org/slavery-from-islamic-and-christian-perspective-sayyid-akhtar-rizvi/islam-attacks-slavery

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Are you serious? So, what do you suppose to do with all the prisoners of war? You'd didnt address this issue or the answers given to your questions. Instead, you gave a little smart comment whilst ignoring the entirety of my post. So, what is? Should we give them a free pass into Medinah or go back to Mecca where they can rally more troops for another assault in future? I suppose criminals who commit acts of agression should just let back into soceity despite committing cimes as well? This absurdity aside, they were given freedom if they purchased it or taught people literacy. A crime has been committed. 

 

I think you misunderstood the point. The Qur'an emphasises the freeing slaves as did the prophet. This is a soceity where slavery is part and pacel of human life and experience and an accepted practice prior to the advent of the Prophet . The Prophet changed this institution and made it difficult to own slaves and removed all the social barriers of distinction between a man and his slave. Additionally, he clearly stated that those who had slaves had to treat them with dignity and respect. The possibility of having slaves/servants was on the condition they were taken as prisoners of war. The conditions of treatment laid down by the Prophet ensured that they were to be treated fairly with the hope they would leave their disbelief and enter Islam. 

 

Why were the children and women enslaved though? That doesn't fit the assumption that enslavement is an alternative to incarceration. 

In regard to the 'reformation' of the institution, per se, that claim is tenuous at best. If you take a look at how the Islamic legal system treats slaves, it's basically discriminatory. I can provide an example if you wish. 

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Why were the children and women enslaved though? That doesn't fit the assumption that enslavement is an alternative to incarceration. 

In regard to the 'reformation' of the institution, per se, that claim is tenuous at best. If you take a look at how the Islamic legal system treats slaves, it's basically discriminatory. I can provide an example if you wish.

Women and children would not fare too well on their own without their menfolk to protect them. By being taken as slaves, they were offered protection, food, shelter (which were no small things), an eventual means to freedom, and most importantly, exposure to Islam. Part of the problem with many of these discussions is the Muslim tries to argue on some imaginary 'neutral ground' with the non-believer in which there is no life after death, or judgement. Islam's laws obviously presuppose these things, and can not be ignored when discussing the justice of these laws.

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Women and children would not fare too well on their own without their menfolk to protect them. By being taken as slaves, they were offered protection, food, shelter (which were no small things), an eventual means to freedom, and most importantly, exposure to Islam.

 

But were they compelled to perform menial tasks daily for the slave owner? That would be unfair. 

 

 

Part of the problem with many of these discussions is the Muslim tries to argue on some imaginary 'neutral ground' with the non-believer in which there is no life after death, or judgement. Islam's laws obviously presuppose these things, and can not be ignored when discussing the justice of these laws.

 

 

So a slave who kills a free man, even for a legitimate reason, must be killed. But a free man who kills his slave does not get killed. Rather he must either fast or feed the needy to atone.

But if a free man kills a slave owned by another free man he is to be fined and beaten severely. Why is there a difference? Because harming your own property is obviously not as bad as harming the property of another. 

 

Justice served!

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The word slave and how we understand it does not appeal what the Qur'an states about the "ma malakat aymanukum". They had rights which they could negotiate with their "owner".It's called mukataba. Through negotiations the slave could buy his freedom. There are narrations that the captives have the right to eat the same food as the owner and dress the same way. Imam Ali (as) bought even better clothes for one captive.

The owner is responsable for the captives not only in a material way but has also to protect and guide them. But most important is that the Qur'an doesn't encourage slavery but gives way to handle captives and recommends the freeing of them.Re-enslavement or new enslavement is forbiden and children of slaves are free.

If the Qur'an had abolished slavery overnight, it would have created a large number of unemployed people in the early muslim society, with no one to take care of their plight. With the number of unemployed people, the crime rate would possibly have increased.

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(bismillah)

 

(salam)

 

Haydar

 

There are policies like [polygamous] marriage, charity, distribution of tax-money, non-destruction of houses in conquered lands and compulsory education that could address the issues raised in your first two sentences, which does not require making these blameless individuals second-class items of purchase and sale, and sometimes compulsory sex.

If there is a reason, it must be something that could not be achieved without the degradation.

Maybe there are, and maybe there aren't. It's not so easy to be certain that these other methods would work, when they haven't been tried in practice, and when we lack sufficient knowledge about the circumstances of the time. Surely it makes more sense to assume that Islam allowed the best of the feasible possibilities?

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Women and children would not fare too well on their own without their menfolk to protect them. By being taken as slaves, they were offered protection.

 

LOL some of these justifications are beyond comical, seriously, what is the point?  Do you people realize how silly all these arguments are?  

 

"Oh the islamic slaves are meant to be treated nicer than other slaves subjected to different forms of slavery around the world"

"They were enslaved so they could be introduced to islam" LOL!

"The economy would have collapsed!"

"Islamic slavery is not bad at all, it's actually quite nice"

"Slaves were entitled to the same food as the owners and similar clothing!" 

and on and on and on...

 

These are all nonsensical justifications based on premises which miss the entire point.  They aren't even worthy of a careful response.

 

Only Jebreil here has tried to offer some perspective and hinted at how utterly ridiculous this entire discussion is, at least he is willing to be honest and admit to the difficulties in trying to rationalize these things, it is a futile exercise.

 

I wish muslims would stop playing apologetics and simply come out and admit that they believe in these concepts due to the source being infallible divine wisdom, no further explanation or justification is necessary, that alone should be sufficient.  Any sensible person would realize that from a philosophical/social/moral perspective, all of these arguments would be destroyed without much effort.

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There was already slavery when Islam came.You cannot deny that factor and the complexity of reformation processes in societies.

Islam says we are born free and as such encourages to set slaves free. War captives became slaves , as well as criminals because there were no prisons at that time. What would you suggest,set all free and have chaos?

When deep changes happen in societies like revolutions or war there is always a vacuum which is mostly filled with anarchy.I think that the system of war captives is a better alternative to chaos.

I will think about my silly arguments,though.

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There was already slavery when Islam came.You cannot deny that factor and the complexity of reformation processes in societies.

Islam says we are born free and as such encourages to set slaves free. War captives became slaves , as well as criminals because there were no prisons at that time. What would you suggest,set all free and have chaos?

When deep changes happen in societies like revolutions or war there is always a vacuum which is mostly filled with anarchy.I think that the system of war captives is a better alternative to chaos.

I will think about my silly arguments,though.

 

Islam is a perfect religion for all times, a religion which happens to legalize and legitimize subjugation of one human being by another through the institutionalization of slavery.  If the ends justify the means, then what happens when we achieve these ends?  Regardless of the economic predicament, the involuntary subjugation of one man/woman to another is still legal under islamic law, and this is part and parcel of the perfect, just divine code from above.  The ends do not justify the means, since we are talking about a moral/social code that is eternal.  The entire range of economic/anarchy arguments are irrelevant, that is like saying we can torture children today and deem it forever legal because otherwise there would be total anarchy or something, the entire issue is that the torture of children is highly immoral and should not under any circumstances be deemed legal under the banner of a perfect moral code.

 

If you are bent on arguing about the economic/social conditions at that time, and if Islam was really serious about eradicating slavery, then there were countless other ways in which the desired result could have been achieved without deeming such highly immoral relationships as halal forever, and there is no definitive reason to suggest that society would have collapsed if slavery was deemed illegal, the Prophet had undertaken far more radical and revolutionary steps, but as I said all this is besides the point.  It would also help if we could spend a little time thinking about the nature of such relationships and what it meant for countless women and children who for all purposes could:

 

have been enslaved to unknown individual men they totally hated for the rest of their lives

not allowed to marry of their own choice

not allowed to own any property

had to give into sexual demands of their owner

could have been born into slavery, had no choice in the matter

even the mahr was the property of the owner

and the list goes on

We know that the purchase of females slaves for sex was one of the leading reasons for this practice throughout islamic history and god knows how many men carried out such practices using sharia as an excuse.

 

It is a miserable existence that we wouldn't wish on our enemies, even if the slave owner happens to be a really nice bloke.

 

It is rather obvious that the goal of the reformist approach to slavery was not the eradication of slavery, slavery was understood to be an unavoidable natural fact of life, so the goal was to improve the conditions of slaves and the prophet should be held in high esteem for accomplishing this.  There is little or no credible evidence to suggest that the goal was ever to abolish slavery, and this is understandable.

 

Now there are a handful of people who do believe that totally involuntary subjugation of one human being to another, as in the case of female/child war captives is not immoral, well then they have to present sound arguments, and none of these can hold a candle in a well reasoned discussion.

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if Islam was really serious about eradicating slavery, then there were countless other ways in which the desired result could have been achieved without deeming such highly immoral relationships as halal forever

 

 

There is little or no credible evidence to suggest that the goal was ever to abolish slavery, and this is understandable.

 

I don't understand. What is your position? If there were, as you put it, 'countless other ways' to abolish slavery why did it not happen? But then you also maintain that it is understandable that it was not abolished. It appears that there is an inconsistency in what you're saying.

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