Islam and Sex Slavery

June 2, 2014 | 22 comments

One thing we know about Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group that has appalled the world by abducting and enslaving 300 schoolgirls, is that what it has done is completely contrary to the tenets of Islam.

Or at least that’s what everyone is saying.

“The Nigerian terrorist group that kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls has nothing to do with Islam, and it’s grotesquely irresponsible of the media to suggest it does.” So wrote Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah in the Daily Beast. Ahmadi Muslim spokesman Qasim Rashid wrote at FoxNews.com that “Boko Haram’s claim that Islam motivates their kidnappings is no different than Adolf Hitler’s claim that Christianity motivated his genocide. This terrorist organization acts in direct violation of every Islamic teaching regarding women.” The nation’s two Muslim Congressmen, Keith Ellison (D-MN) and André Carson (D-IN), wrote, along with a host of U.S. Muslim leaders, a scolding open letter to Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, telling him: “Your actions have shocked Muslims across the world and have disrespected Islam and the teachings of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).”

The only problem with these and all other Islamic disavowals and condemnations of Boko Haram’s actions is that none of them have addressed the Islamic justifications for them. For Boko Haram itself has expressly and avowedly said that its actions are based on Islamic teaching.

Shekau said in a video in February that his group was “fighting Christians wherever we meet them,” following the Qur'an’s command to wage war against “the People of the Book” (its term for Jews, Christians, and some others) “until they pay the jiza [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9:29).

And as for the abduction of the schoolgirls, the Qur’an tells Muslims to take captives when they meet unbelievers (90 percent of the girls are Christian) in battle: “Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens” (47:4). It also refers to slave women belonging to the Islamic prophet Muhammad as spoils of war: “O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war” (33:50).
 
What can be done with such captives? Islamic law has elaborated from these passages four options:

As for the captives, the amir [ruler] has the choice of taking the most beneficial action of four possibilities: the first, to put them to death by cutting their necks; the second, to enslave them and apply the laws of slavery regarding their sale and manumission; the third, to ransom them in exchange for goods or prisoners; and fourth, to show favor to them and pardon them. Allah, may he be exalted, says, ‘When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [Islam] then strike [their] necks’ (Qur’an sura 47, verse 4) (Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance).  

The first of these options, putting captives to death, is such a live possibility that it is stymieing a rescue operation. As for exchanging them, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to exchange the girls who have refused to convert to Islam in return for Boko Haram prisoners held by the Nigerian government. As for the third option, enslavement, Shekau has gloated in a video: “I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah...There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.” That is in line with the option of enslaving captives. The girls may be sold—if they haven’t been already—and then forcibly married to their new owners, all in accord with the Qur’an’s direction on the sexual enslavement of those taken as spoils of war:

If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial (Qur’an 4:3).

The twentieth-century Qur’an commentator Maulana Bulandshahri explains that such “enslavement is the penalty of disbelief,” and expresses a longing for the good old days:

The reason that the Muslims of today do not have slaves is because they do not engage in Jihad (religion war). Their wars are fought by the instruction of the disbelievers (kuffar) and are halted by the same felons. The Muslim [sic] have been shackled by such treaties of the disbelievers (kuffar) whereby they cannot enslave anyone in the event of a war. Muslims have been denied a great boon whereby every home could have had a slave. May Allah grant the Muslims the ability to escape the tentacles of the enemy, remain steadfast upon the Din (religion) and engage in Jihad (religion war) according to the injunctions of Shari’ah. Amen!

This is by no means an eccentric or unorthodox view in Islam. The Egyptian Sheikh Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni declared in May 2011 that “we are in the era of jihad,” and that meant Muslims would take slaves. In a subsequent interview he elaborated:

Jihad is only between Muslims and infidels. Spoils, slaves, and prisoners are only to be taken in war between Muslims and infidels. Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars—there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.

When a slave market is erected, which is a market in which are sold slaves and sex-slaves, which are called in the Qur’an by the name milk al-yamin, “that which your right hands possess” [Koran 4:24]. This is a verse from the Qur’an which is still in force, and has not been abrogated. The milk al-yamin are the sex-slaves. You go to the market, look at the sex-slave, and buy her. She becomes like your wife, (but) she doesn’t need a (marriage) contract or a divorce like a free woman, nor does she need a wali. All scholars agree on this point—there is no disagreement from any of them. [...] When I want a sex slave, I just go to the market and choose the woman I like and purchase her.

Around the same time, on May 25, 2011, a female Kuwaiti politician, Salwa al-Mutairi, also spoke out in favor of the Islamic practice of sexual slavery of non-Muslim women, emphasizing that the practice accorded with Islamic law and the parameters of Islamic morality.

A merchant told me that he would like to have a sex slave. He said he would not be negligent with her, and that Islam permitted this sort of thing. He was speaking the truth. I brought up [this man’s] situation to the muftis in Mecca. I told them that I had a question, since they were men who specialized in what was halal, and what was good, and who loved women. I said, “What is the law of sex slaves?”

The mufti said, “With the law of sex slaves, there must be a Muslim nation at war with a Christian nation, or a nation which is not of the religion, not of the religion of Islam. And there must be prisoners of war.”

“Is this forbidden by Islam?” I asked.

“Absolutely not. Sex slaves are not forbidden by Islam. On the contrary, sex slaves are under a different law than the free woman. The free woman must be completely covered except for her face and hands. But the sex slave can be naked from the waist up. She differs a lot from the free woman. While the free woman requires a marriage contract, the sex slave does not—she only needs to be purchased by her husband, and that’s it. Therefore the sex slave is different than the free woman."

The savage exploitation of girls and young women is, unfortunately, a cross-cultural phenomenon, but only in Islamic law does it carry divine sanction. Muslim leaders and media commentators who denounce Boko Haram without addressing its justifications for its actions are actually doing a grave disservice, for they are lulling non-Muslims into complacency without saying anything that might make Boko Haram (or other Muslims who believe the same way) change their views.

The abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls could have and should have been an opportunity to call upon Muslim leaders to work for genuine reform, so that the justifications for this savagery are removed. Instead, they altogether ignore the points of Islamic doctrine that need reform.

And that only ensures that there will be more such incidents.


Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) (both...

Not Peace, But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity And Islam
Some Christians view Islam as a sister religion, a branch of the same Abrahamic tree—lacking the fullness of revelation but nonetheless a religion of peace. Others are more critical of Islamic teachings but still see Muslims as valuable partners in the global fight against secularization and the Culture of Death.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Hello, Robert, thank you for your post. Interesting timing, we were just having a heated debate with Tim Staples in the previous post on whether or not Catholics and Muslims worship the same God. I say no we don't worship the same God, Tim says yes we do. Do you mind weighing in on that question?

Specifically, how do you feel about Lumen Gentium 16:

"But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind."

I have a problem with the council saying "ALONG WITH US THEY ADORE THE ONE MERCIFUL GOD". Some Bishops like Athanasius Schneider, think this statement needs to be re-worded or clarified. Do you agree? Or do you think the text is fine as it is written currently? I know this is off topic, sorry, I would just love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thank you Robert!

June 2, 2014 at 3:16 pm PST
#2  Geary Burch - Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Thank you for this blog post Mr. Spencer. What can we do, other than pray right for these girls right now? And also our enemies? There has to be something as an individual, society and a Church that we can do.

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works is dead.--James 2:14-17

June 2, 2014 at 3:27 pm PST
#3  Daniel Jimenez Cardona - Pereira, Risaralda

Dear brothers and sisters: I think that we would do better by thinking over our own historical and present mistakes, rather than focusing on those of others, especially Muslims. On our part, for instance, I've never heard a satisfactory explanation on why Saint Paul the Apostle sent Onesimus back to his master, instead of setting him free, which I think would reflect better the Spirit of Christ. I'm appreciate Saint Paul's teaching very much on other matters, but on this I don't know what to do. How about this: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling (...)" -- Ephesians VI, 5 ? What answer or explanation do you give to that passage of Sacred Scripture (and as Our Lord Himself said, Scripture cannot fail)?

What about the industrial slavery that's going on as we speak in Eastern Asia, in factories in Bangladesh, Vietnam and China (to name a few) or sexual exploitation of children in India and the Philippines? I remind you that such factories work for firms as Apple and others in the Western world, which is largely Christian, and we, Christians, seem to be doing nothing about it. Instead, whenever there is a scandal in which members of whatever other faith or religion are involved, we rush to draw conclusions without knowing the context.

It looks like we haven't learnt from Our Lord Jesus Christ that we should first "cast out the beams" out of our own eyes; and then we will see clearly to "cast out the mote out" of our neaighbour's eye.

June 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm PST
#4  Daniel Jimenez Cardona - Pereira, Risaralda

Edit: I'm appreciate Saint Paul's teaching...
Correction: I appreciate Saint Paul's teaching...

June 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm PST
#5  Tom Runkel - Weirton, West Virginia

Daniel,

The main difference between the wrongs of this Muslim group and the wrongs commited by american companies is the Muslim group claims to be doing their deeds in the name of their religion. The american companies are doing it for the motive of profit. Not that I agree with them but I think there is a huge difference.

June 3, 2014 at 5:46 am PST
#6  James Tavelli - Louisville, Kentucky

Daniel

I'm not a bible expert, but in just reading Philemon there is not a tone that Onesimus was sent back into slavery.

He was indeed sent back to his master but in
Philemon 15-17 its says:

"that you might have him back forever, NO LONGER AS A SLAVE but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you as a man - and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me."

Paul is calling Philemon to welcome Onesimus as he would Paul himself . . . so I don't think Paul's expectation was he was sending him back just to be a slave. Later in the letter (Philemon 21) he says "with trust in your compliance I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say"

Basically saying... "I know you're going to do this' and then telling him 'oh by the way, get a room ready for me too because I'm coming.'

Like I said, i'm no scholar by any means but seems clear Paul is doing the Christian thing by saying I consider Onesimus a brother and so should you, regardless if he was a slave at one point.

June 3, 2014 at 8:09 am PST
#7  Robert Spencer - Sherman Oaks, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Mark, I think that Bishop Schneider is entirely correct: the text about Muslims that you quote from Lumen Gentium, which is also in Catechism, is in serious need of clarification. I have seen people take it to mean all sorts of outlandish things: that it is wrong to preach the Gospel to Muslims, that it is wrong to speak critically about Muslim persecution of Christians, that it is wrong to speak critically about Islamic doctrines that deny and hold in contempt aspects of Christian teaching, etc. Much of that, of course, comes from the prevailing confusion of charity with "being nice," such that many people believe they're being charitable by glossing over or ignoring difficult truths. But much of it comes from what I believe are false assumptions arising from this text, as I explain at some length in the book "Not Peace But A Sword."

June 3, 2014 at 9:18 am PST
#8  Robert Spencer - Sherman Oaks, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Geary: There are any number of things we can do. As individuals -- that is something only you, knowing your own time, talents, and resources, can answer. But there is plenty that must be done. As a society, we must exhort our elected officials to face this problem realistically and act, and not accept from them the politically correct half-truths, distortions and lies that inform so much of U.S. policy toward the Islamic world. As a Church, we have to recover the courage to speak the truth in love, and stop allowing the truth to be suppressed and our obligation to speak out for our persecuted brethren muted by false hopes for "dialogue," etc.

June 3, 2014 at 9:22 am PST
#9  Robert Spencer - Sherman Oaks, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Daniel

While it is always wise to take the beam out of our own eyes before we tell our brothers to take the speck out of theirs, the fact that New Testament texts took the existence of slavery for granted actually does not remove our obligation to speak out for the human rights and human dignity of these enslaved girls in Nigeria. You might find it worthwhile to study why abolitionist movements arose among Christians who were well aware of the Letter to Philemon, but never arose among Qur'an-reading Muslims.

June 3, 2014 at 9:25 am PST
#10  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Thank You Robert, and I loved your book.

June 3, 2014 at 10:38 am PST
#11  Mark Advent - Simpsonville, South Carolina

Sex slavery is easily justifiable by the Koran.

Has bible-justified sex slavery ever been a problem in Christianity?

June 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm PST
#12  Daniel Jimenez Cardona - Pereira, Risaralda

Tom,

Are you really saying what you are saying? That is, do you think it isn't the same to enslave people for the sake of merchandising than enslaving them because of religion? Pardon me, but it is my contention that slavery is plainly and simply heartless, inhuman and inhumane, whatever the tag people might put upon it. Wasn't that what dear Saint John Paul II taught when he helped his people and that of eastern Europe to break free from communism, that dignity is ultimately inherent to us, humans, anytime, anywhere?

June 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm PST
#13  Daniel Jimenez Cardona - Pereira, Risaralda

Robert,

While it is true that we MUST speak out for these girls as well as any other people in the world under opressive regimes, I know of no Islamic country that, nowadays, make of slavery a common practice within an Islamic law framework. We HAVE to preach the Gospel to Muslims, because I personally don't think there is any salvation outside it, both here and in the life to come, but such preaching, I think, should start with clear facts in our minds. For what shall we say to a Muslim or Hindu (remember pariahs) or Buddhist, etc., when they come and tell us that Holy Scripture, both in the OT and NT, somehow acquiesces to slavery?

June 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm PST
#14  Jeffrey Taylor - Lawrenceville, Georgia

Daniel,

The issue is not whether or not a country institutes slavery, the issue is whether or not adherents of the religion are proponents of slavery, and the core of Islam is slavery to God (or Islam), not a question of conscience.

I believe the question of what to say is that despite a sola scriptura reference you have made and the simply unrelated question of commercial exploitation is that the Church ie Magisterium does not endorse slavery in any fashion, nor does it rely upon a book (as does Islam) alone, rather it is our oral and written tradition that combine for our stance.

The core problem is that Islam is an ego-driven cult that divides the world into "us" and "them", the "us" being the "better" people serving the lonely God of Islamic belief and "them" being the Western, blasphemous and idolatrous infidels who are better served by slavery than death and Jews which are just about regarded as sub-human. Christianity preaches and practices acceptance of the faith as a matter of conscience, not coercion, all loved by God who deserves our respect, but doesn't demand it. Therein lies ultimately your answer to every difference between Christianity, and Islam, which really is nothing more than as G.K. Chesterton astutely observed, is really just a Christian heresy in the final analysis. Don't fall into competing books, it is really a question of the lack of salvation in Islam and the perception of God's love for his creations.

June 5, 2014 at 6:27 am PST
#15  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

"Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God."

- from the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart

June 5, 2014 at 10:52 am PST
#16  Usulor Kenneth - Lagos, Lagos

Mark Jefford,
You are still cleaving to your former (protestant) way of life. It is high time you sloughed!! You are now in the kingdom of God where everyone submits and subjects their judgement to the judgements and decisions of the Church, that is, the Pope and the Sacred Councils or rather the Magisterium and not vice versa. While others are saying that the words of Lumen Gentium 16 needs clarification you insist that it is wrong or errorneous. It then means that Mathew 16:18 did not hold in the Second Vatican Council. Which means that the Church has erred and has been ovetcome by the gate of hell. God forbid! This unsubmission to the SVC is what was was practiced by Arius, Paul of Samosata, Luther and the host of other archheretics. Protestantism says in essence that the Sacred Council after making the final judgement on the matters of faith and morals using the Sacred Scripture, should submit such judgement to the individual faithful for further judgement and criticism using the Sacred Scripture illuminated by their individual minds. This is exactly what you (and some men of your kind) are doing now. Dear brother, I am not saying this to offend but to correct you. What SVC said as regards Muslims is correct. To worship God and to worship God in the right manner are two different things. Islam is the worship of the God of the Catholics in a wrong, perverse, offensive and unrevealed (uninspired) manner but not not-worshiping God. It is just a natural religion. It is the natural knowledge and concortion of the brain of Mohammed or rather the aspiration of Mohammed for God whom he wanted to know. God never revealed anything to him even though he claimed so. The universal revelation of God ended at the death of St. John almost 600 years before Mohammed. If you say that the Muslims are not worshiping the same God that we Catholics worship, either because of their terroristic tendencies or because of not believing all that the Church teaches especially the Trinity, let me equally hear from you that the Jews and Protestants do not worship the same God that we worship. Both of them have equally denied and rejected some of the truths of Divine Revelation. Or do you deny that God can be known with certainty through natural reason. The Church taught this in the First Vatican Council almost hundred years before the SVC. Now the First Vatican Council in the Dogmatic Constitution Concerning the Catholic Faith, chapter 2, says "The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with CERTITUDE by the natural light of human reason from created things; "for the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" Romans 1:20". It was made use of by St Pius X in the "Oath Against Modernism". If God can be known with certitude by the natural light of human reason, is it only Catholics that can know Him? The Holy Ghost in St Paul says "God is the Saviour of ALL men, especially of the faithful. 1Timothy 4:10. Please read Ecclus. 18:30 and stop your criticism of the SVC. Islam of course is not a religion from God, nevertheless, Muslims worship the God of the Catholics. It is not a religion of salvation because it was not revealed by God and so teaches human concocted doctrines about God.

June 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm PST
#17  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Usulor in comment 16, when others (like certain Bishops I've named), call for LG 16 to be clarified, they are talking about the text itself, not just the private interpretation that some have. They are saying the text itself as it is written currently is problematic.

To say LG 16 is erroneous, we would have to know the intention of the Council Fathers, we've been waiting 50 years to find that out, and until there is a clarification we won't know.

It is certainly possible for a future pope or council to make corrections to the text of LG 16 or any other of the council documents and that wouldn't mean the gates of hell had prevailed.

Usulor, the Church is bigger than Vatican II and the Magisterium is bigger than Vatican II. When there is a statement in Vatican II that conflicts with the Magisterium of all time, meaning what has always been taught by the popes and councils down thru the centuries, then tradition wins every time. And that's the Catholic in me speaking, not the former Protestant. The former Protestant Mark Jeffords would hold that tradition can change based on the times, and that is of course not true and the idea has been condemned by the Church.

June 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm PST
#18  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Usulor, if you are interested in an more traditional alternative to Tim Staples position, here is a link to a piece called "That We May Know the True God" from the apologetics website www.catholicism.org

http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-150.html

Catholicism.org is an apologetics apostolate like Catholic Answers in full union with their local Bishop and with the Holy Father Pope Francis, and they provide documents on their website that prove their status for anyone unsure.

In the above linked article, Brother André Marie argues with St. Thomas Aquinas, that “unbelievers” (those who reject the trinity) do not believe in God, simple as that. The word “unbeliever” is used by St. Thomas to include heretics as well as Jews and pagans, which would include Muslims in the medieval theological lexicon.

Have a look.

God Bless!

June 5, 2014 at 7:36 pm PST
#19  Usulor Kenneth - Lagos, Lagos

Mark Jefford,
Thank you for the link. I will check it out. But remember that neither me, Tim Staple nor SVC is saying that Islamic worship of God is pleasing to God on the supernatural plane as that of the Catholics. That will be untrue. What we are saying is that the aspirations of the hearts of the Muslims is for that only one true God who has adopted Catholics even though they are taking the wrong route, channel or way to fufill that aspiration. They are not worshiping another God out there since there is only one true merciful God whom they profess to worship. True philosophy and the Church tell us that there is only one true God. This aspiration is the product of the 'certitude' of knowledge of God given by 'the natural light of human reason from created things' just as FVC has taught. Or do you reject that dogma of FVC? In referring me to Brother Andre Marie you are placing the judgement of a single man (who is fallible) over that of an Ecumenical Council. Remember that prior the SVC Protestantism equally received outright condemnation from the Church. What you have to know is that the Church has gotten a better knowledge of what other religions believe in recent times. In the former times the knowledge of Catholics about other religions is based much on assumption not on facts. I firmly believe that SVC is correct although it (may) need explanation in other not to be misunderstood. SVC taught nothing wrong or erroneous. Those who firmly maintain the contrary are simply enmies to their own souls.

June 5, 2014 at 11:51 pm PST
#20  sham hassan - aa, Mizoram

islam and slavery

promoting education/good manners/marriege/
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 52 :: Hadith 255 ,Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 55 :: Hadith 655, Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 720, Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 723 , Muslim :: Book 8 : Hadith 3327 , 3327, Muslim :: Book 1 : Hadith 285
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari:
Allah's Apostle said, "If a person teaches his slave girl good manners properly, educates her properly, and then manumits and marries her, he will get a double reward. And if a man believes in Jesus and then believes in me, he will get a double reward. And if a slave fears his Lord (i.e. Allah) and obeys his masters, he too will get a double reward."
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 721
Narrated Al-Ma'rur bin Suwaid:
'Your slaves are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So, if one has one's brethren under one's control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them (in their hard job)."
Bukhari :: Book 1 :: Volume 2 :: Hadith 29
Malik :: Book 54 : Hadith 54.16.40 ,54.16.41
Muslim :: Book 15 : Hadith 4092, 4093, 4094, 4095
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.' "
Released war captive by the order of their family:
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 716
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 47 :: Hadith 778
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 53 :: Hadith 360
Bukhari :: Book 5 :: Volume 59 :: Hadith 608
Bukhari :: Book 9 :: Volume 89 :: Hadith 288
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 38 :: Hadith 503
Muslim :: Book 5 : Hadith 2308
Dawud :: Book 14 : Hadith 2681
Freeing slave
5 :89 Allâh will not punish you for what is uninentional in your oaths, but He will punish you for your deliberate oaths; for its expiation (a deliberate oath) feed ten Masâkin (poor persons), on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families; or clothe them; or manumit a slave.
9:60. As-Sadaqât (here it means Zakât) are only for the Fuqarâ' (poor), and Al-Masâkin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and for to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islâm); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allâh's Cause (i.e. for Mujâhidûn - those fighting in the holy wars), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allâh. And Allâh is All-Knower, All-Wise.
90: 10. And shown him the two ways (good and evil)?
11. But he has made no effort to pass on the path that is steep.
12. And what will make you know the path that is steep?
13. (It is) Freeing a neck (slave, etc.)
14. Or giving food in a day of hunger (famine),
2: 177. It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, and each and every act of obedience to Allâh, etc.) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allâh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masâkin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and gives the Zakât, and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.) in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al¬Muttaqûn
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 693,94,95,96,97,98,99, 701, 703 ,704,708,709,715,719, 729, 735, 736, 737, 738, 739
Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 79 :: Hadith 700,701,702,706
Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 70 :: Hadith 552
Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 63 :: Hadith 207
Bukhari :: Book 5 :: Volume 59 :: Hadith 676
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 51 :: Hadith 26
Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 73 :: Hadith 21
Bukhari :: Book 5 :: Volume 59 :: Hadith 652
Bukhari :: Book 5 :: Volume 57 :: Hadith 98,97,
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 56 :: Hadith 708
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 52 :: Hadith 282 ,283
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 47 :: Hadith 752,772
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 44 :: Hadith 671, 672
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 44 :: Hadith 681, 682
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 34 :: Hadith 423 ,366,378
Bukhari :: Book 2 :: Volume 18 :: Hadith 163
Bukhari :: Book 2 :: Volume 14 :: Hadith 68
Malik :: Book 38 : Hadith 38.1.1 ,38.2.2, 38.6.8, 38.6.9, 38.9.16
Muslim :: Book 15 : Hadith 4106, 4107, 4074
Muslim :: Book 31 : Hadith 6133
Muslim :: Book 9 : Hadith 3586, 3602, 3603, 3605
Dawud :: Book 29 : Hadith 3922, 23,37, 55
Muslim :: Book 9 : Hadith 3591
Dawud :: Book 29 : Hadith 3922, 23,37, 55
Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 79 :: Hadith 708
Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 65 :: Hadith 286
Malik :: Book 40 : Hadith 40.2.2 ,40.3.3
Muslim :: Book 1 : Hadith 225
Freeing slave without money:
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 53 :: Hadith 372
Muslim :: Book 19 : Hadith 4330,4331, 4346, 4358
Freeing captive with agreement:
47:4…..Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden.
Bukhari :: Book 4 :: Volume 53 :: Hadith 367
Muslim :: Book 19 : Hadith 4361
Good relationship to slave:
4: 36. Worship Allâh and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masâkin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allâh does not like such as are proud and boastful;
Don’t acquire slaves except through war
8:67 It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
Inheritance used for freeing slave
Dawud :: Book 18 : Hadith 2911
Slave self pay freedom allowed:
Dawud :: Book 29 : Hadith 3916
Free slave with complete freedom /free slave as much as possible
Muslim :: Book 15 : Hadith 4102 ,4103, 4104, 4108,4109,
Muslim :: Book 9 : Hadith 3578
Muslim :: Book 15 : Hadith 4110 [slave should not be overburdened], 4111
Freed slave have his right to choose his/her future:
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 50 :: Hadith 878
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 713
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 50 :: Hadith 889
Muslim :: Book 9 : Hadith 3588
Malik :: Book 29 : Hadith 29.9.26
ahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abdullah ibn Umar said that a female slave who was the wife of a slave and then was set free, had the right of choice as long as he did not have intercourse with her.
Slave rape prohibited:
Malik :: Book 36 : Hadith 36.16.14
Malik :: Book 41 : Hadith 41.2.13
Slave prostitution prohibited:
24:33. and let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His Bounty. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you know that they are good and trustworthy. And give them something yourselves out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you. And force not your maids to prostitution, if they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain in the (perishable) goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them (to prostitution), then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to those women, i.e. He will forgive them because they have been forced to do this evil action unwillingly).
Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 63 :: Hadith 260
Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 82 :: Hadith 822,823
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 731
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 36 :: Hadith 483
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 34 :: Hadith 440 ,436,439
Muslim :: Book 43 : Hadith 7180, 7181
Sex with slave act of ignorance:
Muslim :: Book 40 : Hadith 6856
……Qatada said: Abu Abdullah, would this happen? Thereupon he said: Yes. By Allah, I found this in the days of ignorance that a person grazed the goat of a tribe and did not find anyone but their slave-girl (and he did not spare her) but committed adultery with her.
Muslim :: Book 20 : Hadith 4554
It his been narrated through a different chain of transmitters, on the authority of Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman who said: Messenger of Allah, no doubt, we had an evil time (i. e. the days of Jahiliyya or ignorance) and God brought us a good time (i. e. Islamic period) through which we are now living Will there be a bad time after this good time? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. I said: Will there be a good time after this bad time? He said: Yes. I said: Will there be a bad time after good time? He said: Yes.
Bukhari :: Book 9 :: Volume 83 :: Hadith 21
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
The Prophet said, "The most hated persons to Allah are three: (1) A person who deviates from the right conduct, i.e., an evil doer, in the Haram (sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina); (2) a person who seeks that the traditions of the Pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance, should remain in Islam (3) and a person who seeks to shed somebody's blood without any right."
Slave sex only with master:
Malik :: Book 41 : Hadith 41.6.19
Slave illegal sexual intercourse /adultery prohibited:/blame prohibited even sinner /
4:24,70:30
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 34 :: Hadith 435, 436, 362 ,363
Muslim :: Book 17 : Hadith 4219,4221, 4224
Malik :: Book 41 : Hadith 41.2.13
Adultery with slave girl prohibited, stone death punishment:
Muslim :: Book 17 : Hadith 4201
Muslim :: Book 37 : Hadith 6676
Muslim :: Book 40 : Hadith 6856
Malik :: Book 41 : Hadith 41.2.13
Slave sex prohibited:
Bukhari :: Book 9 :: Volume 93 :: Hadith 506
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
That during the battle with Bani Al-Mustaliq they (Muslims) captured some females and intended to have sexual relation with them without impregnating them. So they asked the Prophet about coitus interrupt us. The Prophet said, "It is better that you should not do it, for Allah has written whom He is going to create till the Day of Resurrection." Qaza'a said, "I heard Abu Sa'id saying that the Prophet said, 'No soul is ordained to be created but Allah will create it."
Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 79 :: Hadith 706
Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 77 :: Hadith 600
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 46 :: Hadith 718
Malik :: Book 29 : Hadith 29.32.95
Muslim :: Book 17 : Hadith 4201
Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 34 :: Hadith 432
Forced sex with slave prohibited:
Bukhari:6949
Muslim :: Book 43 : Hadith 7181
Dawud :: Book 12 : Hadith 2304
Malik :: Book 54 : Hadith 54.16.42
Malik :: Book 41 : Hadith 41.3.15
Sex with slave who carries another man child prohibited:
Malik :: Book 28 : Hadith 28.8.21
Divorced Slave not halal for master:
Malik :: Book 28 : Hadith 28.13.30, 28.13.31
Forbid sex with both slave and her mother:
Malik :: Book 28 : Hadith 28.14.33
Forbid sex with both slave and her sister:
Malik :: Book 28 : Hadith 28.14.35

February 21, 2015 at 12:49 am PST
#21  sham hassan - aa, Mizoram

What is the Quran’s approach towards slavery ?

Slavery is a tradition which is non-existent in our society today. It is necessary to understand clearly the roots of slavery and the influence that it exerted on the societies in which it was prevalent when we set about to study this phenomenon of the past from the environs of today. Indeed, it is not possible to come to but one conclusion in a current study of past phenomena. It is only when we realize what slavery actually is, and the influence which it exerted on the past societies, that we can truly appreciate the greatness of the Quran’s own approach towards it.

By slavery is meant the state in which one person comes under the complete domination of another. Indeed, he is a slave who surrenders all that is of his own which includes his body, life, family and all else to the control of another person. He is the property of the owner. The owner may be an individual, a society or even a nation. No matter who that owner might be, the slave is the one who is destined to live under his master enjoying whatever the rights and privileges that is allowed to him by his owner.

There are no relevent documents that serve to show the exact way in which the institution of slavery developed or how, or when, it did start off. It is, however, certain that this institution had commenced by twenty centuries before Christ. Slaves have found mention in the legal code U r Name which existed around 2050 B.C. It is believed that slavery must have originated from the practice of curtailing the freedom of those caught as prisoners-of-war and of forcing them into unpaid labour, This belief is founded on the names with which slaves were referred to in the ancient Sumerian language. The male slave was named Nida-koor and the female slave Munas-koor. The meaning or these terms were ‘Foreign man’ and ‘Foreign woman’ respectively. It is believed that as the prisoners-of-war were brought in from foreign lands and made slaves, they were referred to by these very names.

Slavery, in one form or the other was prevalent in almost all parts of the world. The Old Testament of the Bible, which describes the ancient tales of Israeli society, is replete with many accounts concerning slavery. It can be seen that the tradition of selling people existed during the time of the patriarch prophet, Abraham, itself. (Genesis 17:13,14). It is the commandment of the Bible that prisoners-of-war are to be enslaved (Deuteronomy 20:10,11). The Bible, which permits the torture of the slave by the master, nevertheless, stresses the point that the slave is not to be killed during the course of torturing. The law which prevailed, in this matter, amongst the Israeli society was that, “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)

The instituion of slavery was prevalent both during, and after, the time of Jesus Christ. There has been nothing from among the sayings of Jesus, which serve to show the treatment that was to be meted out to the slaves. If, the statements: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eyes is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good be does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism

with him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9) and “Slaves, obey your earthly mastersin everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22) are excepted , there is nothing in the letters of Paul which deal with slavery. It can be seen that the cruel system of slavery that prevailed in the Graeco-Roman tradition continued to exist without any change, whatsoever, even after its Christianization. It is of greater pertinence to note that the official religion of the Roman civilization which boasted of its own tales of a cruel, and barbaros form of slavery, was Christianity.

In India, slavery existed as part and parcel of religion itself. The caste system was an inextricable portion of religion.We see the roots of the caste system in the purusha verse of the Rig Veda (10:90:12), the foremost among the vedic compilations which, in themselves, form the most important part of the Shruthi. It was but natural that under the caste system that was based on the reference in the Rig Veda that “the Brahman is created from the head, the Vaishya from the hands and the Shudra from the feet of the Parampurusha”, the Brahman was considered highly and the Shudra of a lowly stature. All the books of Hinduism have only sought to justify the caste system

The Bhagavath Gita, which is known to be the book of shruthi of modern Hinduism, has itself said: “Chaturvarnyam Mayasrishtam guna karma Vibagusha” (4:13). This means that, “I have created the four castes according to the division of their deeds.” It was natural then that the one who was created from the feet of God was destined to a life of foot-service alone. Indeed, it was believed that the shudra was specially created for the very purpose of service alone. The religious scriptures had taught that one is born of a lower caste owing to the sins of an earlier life and that if one is to attain salvation at least in the next life, he is to render service to those of the higher castes and employ himself in keeping them satisfied in this life. The Chandoupanishad has compared those of the lower caste to pigs and dogs. A reading of the Manusmrithi and the Parasharasmrithi will serve to show that the attitude and conduet adopted towards them was more cruel and wicked than that shown to the animals.

It can also be seen that along with the tradition of condemning to slavery by virtue of one’s birth, there also existed, in India, the slave trade that was accompanied by all the cruelty that goes with it. It is also given to understand from the scrolls unearthed in Tamilnadu that the slave trade which was associated with temples flourished both during and after the period of the Cholas. Slave trade was prevalent in Myrore, Bihar and Kerala as well. With the arrival of the English East India company, the practice of taking away people from India, of enslaving them and then taking them overseas also came into being. Some historical documents record the incident wherein an Italian priest from Trancubar sells off, for the sum of thirty pagodas, the wife and four children of a Christian from Madurai to the captain of a ship bound for Manila [Sarvavijnanakosham, Volume I, page 258] According to a survey taken in 1841, there were between eighty to ninety lakhs of slaves in India at that period. Moreover, it was in the Malabar region, where the largest concentration of slaves in India existed. Indeed, it has been remarked that 15 percent of the entire population in the region were slaves! (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 27, p.289)

It is further given to understand that the most cruel form of slavery had prevailed during the period which lasted between the second century before Christ and the next long stretch of six hundred years in the Roman empire. The slave in the Roman empire was merely an object of trade with no rights in any form whatsoever. He was treated as lowly as to be destined to a fate wherein he was even doomed to death in a fight against another slave merely to provide sadistic pleasure to his master. Indeed, it was the usual practice of the masters to shout ‘hurray’ and to threaten the slaves at the point of the whip when the loss of blood from the body of the slave, so involved in a fight unto death, increased in quantity! The most cruel form of slavery this was!

It was Columbus’s discovery of America which had, in fact, served to make slavery rampant in the modern world. The Negroes were made slaves and were traded in the markets. It was a Spanish bishop, Barthalocha De Lascasas, who had first initiated the American system of slavery. There were companies in Europe which had been registered for the purpose of slave trade alone. The trade of these companies involved the bringing away of slaves from the coastal regions of Africa and then selling them off in America. It is estimated that nearly one and a half crores of slaves were thus imported into America during the 17th to the 19th century. The slaves were taken away in pairs abroad the ships bound in hand and feet chains to one another. A sizeable portion of the slaves would perish while overcoming the Atlantic Ocean itself. There are no records which show the number of persons who had died in this manner. How cheap, indeed, was the life of the slave ?!

It has been as an introduction to the study of the Quran’s vision on slavery as well as its approach towards it that the origins and history of the said tradition has been dealt with in some detail. Instead of an impractical and unscientific approach whereby a centuries-old institution was sought to be abolished by a single declaration, Islam developed and implemented a very practicable system of eliminating slavery.

In this context, if the sheer practicability of Islam’s line of action is to be fully appreciated, we will have to understand the very psychology of the slave as well. There exists a vast difference between the mindset of the slave and that of the free man. In the formation of the mindset of the slave, a life of continual slavery exerts a very great influence indeed. As a result of carrying the yoke of slavery upon himself for generations, the habits of obedience and submission will have become deep-rooted within his mind. He is, as such, incapable of executing tasks on his own or taking up any responsibility. His mind, however, is ever ready to take upon his head any command of the master and knows, moreover, to carry forward all matters according to his master’s wishes. Neverthless, he is able only to obey and execute orders. His mind will be incapacitated in taking up responsiblities. His mind can, in no wise, be so burdened. He is only able to flee from taking up responsibilities. However, he will always be ready to take upon his head whatever it is that the master commands.

The psychology of the slave and the master is located at two opposite poles or extremes. If one is that of arrogance, the other will be that of meekness. The example of America is, in itself, the best case in point to show that the emancipation of slaves that is not based on an approach whereby these mindsets, which are located at opposite poles, are first brought together on to the same plane, will never be emancipation at all. It was through the activism of Abraham Lincoln that, through a single proclamation, the slaves in America achieved freedom one fine morning! But what was it that actually happened there? The slaves who ultimately recieved their freedom were, however, unable to bear the ‘weight’ of this freedom. They looked around, not quite knowing what it was that they were to do. Since there was none to command them now, they were unable to do anything at all. Indeed, they returned back to their masters and actually asked them to to take them back as slaves. Here, it is seen that it is futile to physically set free those who are psychologically unprepared for that freedom.

The Quran, which has been revealed by God who is fully aware of the physical and mental states of human beings, has provided a completely practical code of action. The system of slavery was one of the pillars of the economic set-up of Arabia. It’s roots had penetrated much deeper than to enable its eradication by a mere order of prohibition. As a system that had prevailed in the regions where Islam flourished as well as in areas where it did not, not only would it be practically difficult to abolish it, but such a course of action would, far from being effective, be quite harmful, indeed. It was, therefore, that Allah, who is acutely aware of the nature of human society, contrary to bringing a law that would completely abolish slavery, accepted a practical code of action for its eradication.

Islam had, firstly, sought to bring the two groups of people, situated as they were at two extreme states of the mental condition, on to a common platform. The Quran had put forward a programme of civilizing both slave and master. Besides this, it kept open all the ways for achieving freedom as a gift and as a product of one’s own labour. The Quran had, by bringing the slave and the master on to the same plane of psychological awareness, opened out the ways for achieving freedom and, furthermore, enabled him (i.e., the slave) to protect that freedom once he had attained it. Indeed, such alone was the practical way in the matter.

February 21, 2015 at 12:52 am PST
#22  sham hassan - aa, Mizoram

What is the Quran’s approach towards slavery ?

Slavery is a tradition which is non-existent in our society today. It is necessary to understand clearly the roots of slavery and the influence that it exerted on the societies in which it was prevalent when we set about to study this phenomenon of the past from the environs of today. Indeed, it is not possible to come to but one conclusion in a current study of past phenomena. It is only when we realize what slavery actually is, and the influence which it exerted on the past societies, that we can truly appreciate the greatness of the Quran’s own approach towards it.

By slavery is meant the state in which one person comes under the complete domination of another. Indeed, he is a slave who surrenders all that is of his own which includes his body, life, family and all else to the control of another person. He is the property of the owner. The owner may be an individual, a society or even a nation. No matter who that owner might be, the slave is the one who is destined to live under his master enjoying whatever the rights and privileges that is allowed to him by his owner.

There are no relevent documents that serve to show the exact way in which the institution of slavery developed or how, or when, it did start off. It is, however, certain that this institution had commenced by twenty centuries before Christ. Slaves have found mention in the legal code U r Name which existed around 2050 B.C. It is believed that slavery must have originated from the practice of curtailing the freedom of those caught as prisoners-of-war and of forcing them into unpaid labour, This belief is founded on the names with which slaves were referred to in the ancient Sumerian language. The male slave was named Nida-koor and the female slave Munas-koor. The meaning or these terms were ‘Foreign man’ and ‘Foreign woman’ respectively. It is believed that as the prisoners-of-war were brought in from foreign lands and made slaves, they were referred to by these very names.

Slavery, in one form or the other was prevalent in almost all parts of the world. The Old Testament of the Bible, which describes the ancient tales of Israeli society, is replete with many accounts concerning slavery. It can be seen that the tradition of selling people existed during the time of the patriarch prophet, Abraham, itself. (Genesis 17:13,14). It is the commandment of the Bible that prisoners-of-war are to be enslaved (Deuteronomy 20:10,11). The Bible, which permits the torture of the slave by the master, nevertheless, stresses the point that the slave is not to be killed during the course of torturing. The law which prevailed, in this matter, amongst the Israeli society was that, “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)

The instituion of slavery was prevalent both during, and after, the time of Jesus Christ. There has been nothing from among the sayings of Jesus, which serve to show the treatment that was to be meted out to the slaves. If, the statements: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eyes is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good be does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism

with him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9) and “Slaves, obey your earthly mastersin everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22) are excepted , there is nothing in the letters of Paul which deal with slavery. It can be seen that the cruel system of slavery that prevailed in the Graeco-Roman tradition continued to exist without any change, whatsoever, even after its Christianization. It is of greater pertinence to note that the official religion of the Roman civilization which boasted of its own tales of a cruel, and barbaros form of slavery, was Christianity.

In India, slavery existed as part and parcel of religion itself. The caste system was an inextricable portion of religion.We see the roots of the caste system in the purusha verse of the Rig Veda (10:90:12), the foremost among the vedic compilations which, in themselves, form the most important part of the Shruthi. It was but natural that under the caste system that was based on the reference in the Rig Veda that “the Brahman is created from the head, the Vaishya from the hands and the Shudra from the feet of the Parampurusha”, the Brahman was considered highly and the Shudra of a lowly stature. All the books of Hinduism have only sought to justify the caste system

The Bhagavath Gita, which is known to be the book of shruthi of modern Hinduism, has itself said: “Chaturvarnyam Mayasrishtam guna karma Vibagusha” (4:13). This means that, “I have created the four castes according to the division of their deeds.” It was natural then that the one who was created from the feet of God was destined to a life of foot-service alone. Indeed, it was believed that the shudra was specially created for the very purpose of service alone. The religious scriptures had taught that one is born of a lower caste owing to the sins of an earlier life and that if one is to attain salvation at least in the next life, he is to render service to those of the higher castes and employ himself in keeping them satisfied in this life. The Chandoupanishad has compared those of the lower caste to pigs and dogs. A reading of the Manusmrithi and the Parasharasmrithi will serve to show that the attitude and conduet adopted towards them was more cruel and wicked than that shown to the animals.

It can also be seen that along with the tradition of condemning to slavery by virtue of one’s birth, there also existed, in India, the slave trade that was accompanied by all the cruelty that goes with it. It is also given to understand from the scrolls unearthed in Tamilnadu that the slave trade which was associated with temples flourished both during and after the period of the Cholas. Slave trade was prevalent in Myrore, Bihar and Kerala as well. With the arrival of the English East India company, the practice of taking away people from India, of enslaving them and then taking them overseas also came into being. Some historical documents record the incident wherein an Italian priest from Trancubar sells off, for the sum of thirty pagodas, the wife and four children of a Christian from Madurai to the captain of a ship bound for Manila [Sarvavijnanakosham, Volume I, page 258] According to a survey taken in 1841, there were between eighty to ninety lakhs of slaves in India at that period. Moreover, it was in the Malabar region, where the largest concentration of slaves in India existed. Indeed, it has been remarked that 15 percent of the entire population in the region were slaves! (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 27, p.289)

It is further given to understand that the most cruel form of slavery had prevailed during the period which lasted between the second century before Christ and the next long stretch of six hundred years in the Roman empire. The slave in the Roman empire was merely an object of trade with no rights in any form whatsoever. He was treated as lowly as to be destined to a fate wherein he was even doomed to death in a fight against another slave merely to provide sadistic pleasure to his master. Indeed, it was the usual practice of the masters to shout ‘hurray’ and to threaten the slaves at the point of the whip when the loss of blood from the body of the slave, so involved in a fight unto death, increased in quantity! The most cruel form of slavery this was!

It was Columbus’s discovery of America which had, in fact, served to make slavery rampant in the modern world. The Negroes were made slaves and were traded in the markets. It was a Spanish bishop, Barthalocha De Lascasas, who had first initiated the American system of slavery. There were companies in Europe which had been registered for the purpose of slave trade alone. The trade of these companies involved the bringing away of slaves from the coastal regions of Africa and then selling them off in America. It is estimated that nearly one and a half crores of slaves were thus imported into America during the 17th to the 19th century. The slaves were taken away in pairs abroad the ships bound in hand and feet chains to one another. A sizeable portion of the slaves would perish while overcoming the Atlantic Ocean itself. There are no records which show the number of persons who had died in this manner. How cheap, indeed, was the life of the slave ?!

It has been as an introduction to the study of the Quran’s vision on slavery as well as its approach towards it that the origins and history of the said tradition has been dealt with in some detail. Instead of an impractical and unscientific approach whereby a centuries-old institution was sought to be abolished by a single declaration, Islam developed and implemented a very practicable system of eliminating slavery.

In this context, if the sheer practicability of Islam’s line of action is to be fully appreciated, we will have to understand the very psychology of the slave as well. There exists a vast difference between the mindset of the slave and that of the free man. In the formation of the mindset of the slave, a life of continual slavery exerts a very great influence indeed. As a result of carrying the yoke of slavery upon himself for generations, the habits of obedience and submission will have become deep-rooted within his mind. He is, as such, incapable of executing tasks on his own or taking up any responsibility. His mind, however, is ever ready to take upon his head any command of the master and knows, moreover, to carry forward all matters according to his master’s wishes. Neverthless, he is able only to obey and execute orders. His mind will be incapacitated in taking up responsiblities. His mind can, in no wise, be so burdened. He is only able to flee from taking up responsibilities. However, he will always be ready to take upon his head whatever it is that the master commands.

The psychology of the slave and the master is located at two opposite poles or extremes. If one is that of arrogance, the other will be that of meekness. The example of America is, in itself, the best case in point to show that the emancipation of slaves that is not based on an approach whereby these mindsets, which are located at opposite poles, are first brought together on to the same plane, will never be emancipation at all. It was through the activism of Abraham Lincoln that, through a single proclamation, the slaves in America achieved freedom one fine morning! But what was it that actually happened there? The slaves who ultimately recieved their freedom were, however, unable to bear the ‘weight’ of this freedom. They looked around, not quite knowing what it was that they were to do. Since there was none to command them now, they were unable to do anything at all. Indeed, they returned back to their masters and actually asked them to to take them back as slaves. Here, it is seen that it is futile to physically set free those who are psychologically unprepared for that freedom.

The Quran, which has been revealed by God who is fully aware of the physical and mental states of human beings, has provided a completely practical code of action. The system of slavery was one of the pillars of the economic set-up of Arabia. It’s roots had penetrated much deeper than to enable its eradication by a mere order of prohibition. As a system that had prevailed in the regions where Islam flourished as well as in areas where it did not, not only would it be practically difficult to abolish it, but such a course of action would, far from being effective, be quite harmful, indeed. It was, therefore, that Allah, who is acutely aware of the nature of human society, contrary to bringing a law that would completely abolish slavery, accepted a practical code of action for its eradication.

Islam had, firstly, sought to bring the two groups of people, situated as they were at two extreme states of the mental condition, on to a common platform. The Quran had put forward a programme of civilizing both slave and master. Besides this, it kept open all the ways for achieving freedom as a gift and as a product of one’s own labour. The Quran had, by bringing the slave and the master on to the same plane of psychological awareness, opened out the ways for achieving freedom and, furthermore, enabled him (i.e., the slave) to protect that freedom once he had attained it. Indeed, such alone was the practical way in the matter.

February 21, 2015 at 12:52 am PST

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