You are on page 1of 4

slavery & Islam

Slavery is a very old practice that was gradually abolished in


Islam (Submission). Many people out of ignorance or out of
biased attack Islam (Submission) for its stand on slavery,
distorting and misrepresenting the true stand of Islam
(Submission). In this article we will see the great humane position
of Islam on slavery.
The central issue of slavery and equality is the concept of human
dignity. In Islam, God has conferred honor and dignity on all
human beings irrespective of their race, gender, age, social status
and beliefs.
In (17:70) God says, “We have honored the children of Adam,
and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided
for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages
than many of our creatures.”
Together with human dignity and honor comes freedom to live,
the right to be
respected on an equal basis before the law and to enjoy equal
social
treatment. Islam (Submission) stresses the equality of mankind as
God created man
from a common source and the only allegiance and obedience is to
God, the Almighty creator. Islam has never condoned any form of
discrimination. The only thing that sets men apart is their
righteousness.
[49:13] "O people, we created you from the same male and
female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you
may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of
GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant."

Slavery has been gradually abolished by Islam, it did not come by


decree or injunction but rather in the form of total management
principles which were applied during the early periods of Islam
and still applicable today if necessary.
Slavery has long been practiced before the coming of Islam
(Submission). In the
pre-Islamic Egyptian, Jewish, Greek and Roman societies ,
slavery was in full use in different aspects. Aristotle subscribed to
the idea that men were born not to be equal as some will become
master due to their superior brain power and intellectual capacity
while others will become slaves.
The approach taken by Islam (Submission) is full of wisdom and
at the same time provides a package of pro-active measures to
eliminate this practice. It is a gradual but effective approach
which combines several affirmative measures. The main strategy
is:
To narrow down the sources of slavery with a view to eliminating
it all-together; and
OPENING a wide avenue for slaves to gain independence.
People became slaves because of criminal actions, unpaid debts,
gambling, kidnapping, piracy, irresponsible parents who sold
their children into slavery, being descendants of slaves, prisoners
of war and voluntary submission to be a slave in order to get out
from the miseries of life such as acute poverty. These were
effectively reduced by Islam.
The provision of slavery through wars was no longer important
after the Islamic civilization redefined the mode of interaction
between nations -- from power struggle to peaceful and
productive coexistence. Indirectly but effectively Islam has closed
this source of slavery.
Islam (Submission) opened all the doors to free the slaves by
setting up rules which greatly facilitated the emancipation of
slaves:
The initiative of Islam in promoting independence for slaves was
carried out in the following ways:
(1) Encouraging the masters and the Muslim societies at large to
help in freeing the slaves. The act of freeing the slave is
considered a noble one which is highly valued by God. The slaves
themselves entered into an agreement with the master to buy
their independence by paying certain amounts of money. The
society was encouraged to help in providing the freedom money.
[24:33] “Those who cannot afford to get married shall maintain
morality until GOD provides for them from His grace. Those
among your servants who wish to be freed in order to marry, you
shall grant them their wish, once you realize that they are honest.
And give them from GOD's money that He has bestowed upon
you. ………”
(2) Making the act of freeing the slave a part of punishment for
any criminal act as well as for non-conformity of the Islamic
rituals. There are several verses in the Holy Quran which
specifically mentioned the requirement of freeing the slave as a
way of meeting the punishment for wrongdoing. See 4:92, 5:89
and 58:3
(3) Using Charity money as a financial source to free the slave.
[9:60] Charities shall go to the poor, the needy, the workers who
collect them, the new converts, to free the slaves, to those
burdened by sudden expenses, in the cause of GOD, and to the
traveling alien. Such is GOD's commandment. GOD is
Omniscient, Most Wise.
[2:177] “Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east
or the west. Righteous are those who believe in GOD, the Last
Day, the angels, the ******ure, and the prophets; and they give
the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the
traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they
observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory
charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a
promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution,
hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the
righteous.”
[90:10-13] Did we not show him the two paths? He should choose
the difficult path. Which one is the difficult path? The freeing of
slaves.

Finally we can say that Islam found the slavery system already
existing and put forward a plan to abolish it.
No slaves or Free the slaves:
Some people question why God in the Quran did not prohibit
slavery and instead commanded and rewarded the freeing of the
slaves.
God, The Almighty, knows that slavery is a social disease that will
persist as long as humans are present on earth. If the order in the
Quran is to prohibit slavery, it would be a noble command but
since ONLY the believers in the Quran would be the ones
following the Quran, the command would not help slavery outside
Islam (Submission.) Every Muslim would then free his slaves and
remind the other Muslims not to have slaves any more and their
duty stop at that. The command in the Quran to FREE THE
SLAVES, does not stop at the Muslims or Islam but extend to all
the slaves wherever they are. A muslim (Submitter) would
therefore free any slaves he might have had and after that turns
to any other slaves in any location and of any religion to free, as
commanded by God in the Quran. In other words, the command
to free the slaves is far more reaching and far more effective than
the mere order to stop having slaves.
Van Denburg, a non-Muslim historian says, "Many regulations
have been made by Islam, showing how noble was the feeling of
the Prophet Muhammad and his followers towards slaves. In
those regulations, we find that the merits of Islam are contrary to
all the systems used until recently by nations, who claim to be
most civilized and developed."
Islam never became a force nor a party that promoted and
condoned slavery. A balanced analysis of this issue would
recognize the wisdom of Islam in managing the heinous practice
of slavery and effectively putting an end to it