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['Aalim Network QR] Slavery in Islam

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\

Salamun `Alaykum

The following questions were kindly answered by Dr. Takim.

NOTE: The following questions came from two individuals, but were combined
      as they both dealt with the issue of Slavery in Islam.

Fee Amaanillah,

Akil Karim
Acting Moderator - 'Aalim Network

---------- Forwarded message ----------


I would like to know why in the qur'an or hadith, slavery is not banned.
One possible argument, that the times were not appropriate, is not valid
to me because alcohol was forbidden in "one shot." 

Also, what I have great difficulty understanding is why a slave master
has sexual rights on his slave girls. What about the basic human rights
of the slave girl? 
Please answer with references.


Slavery cannot be compared with alcohol because the former has wider
socio-economic repurcussions. 

If the Qur'an had abolished slavery overnight, it would have created a
large number of unemployed people in the nascent Muslim society, with no
one to take care of their plight. With the number of unemployed people,
the crime rate would possibly have increased. It is to be remembered that
Medina had also had an influx of Muhajirun (emigrants) many of whom had
to be rehabilitated in the Muslim community. Other Muslims later returned
from Abyssinia and many others had converted. So what the Qur'an aimed at
was a gradual emancipation of slaves. That is why when you look at the
Kitab al-Kaffarah in our fiqh books, when a person has to offer an
expiation for deliberately missing a fast or breaking an oath, he has to
initially free a slave. Moreover, freeing a slave was deemed to be a
meritorious deed. 

By this measure, it can be seen the Qur'an was working towards the
emancipation of slaves. In the meantime, Islam had set measures for the
better treatment of slaves. A master was no longer allowed to mistreat
his slaves. Therefore the Qur'anic verses on slavery can be construed as
REGULATING rather than ENCOURAGING slavery. 

Moreover, Islam also introduced the concept of mukataba in slavery
whereby a slave can negotiate his freedom with his master. Through such
negotiations, a slave could buy his freedom. Furthermore, a child born to
a slave girl after conjugal relationship with her master was considered
to be free from bondage. 

As for the human rights of the slave girls, it is to be remembered that
Islam did not endorse the haphazard taking of slaves. Only those taken in
wars which they had fought against Muslims were allowed to be enslaved.
The slave girls were to be treated like other wives as seen in verses
like 4:24-5. 

Iltimase du'a


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