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['Aalim Network QR] Slavery


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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 |\
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Salaam Alaikum:

The following was kindly provided by Mulla Bashir Rahim.

wa salaam

Mustafa F
Acting Moderator, 'Aalim Network
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QUESTION:

Dear Sir:

As you are well aware, the institution of slavery is 'verboten' in  the
current civilised world.  At one time it was practised in many nations.

What is the official stance of Islam (Shia/Sunna) regarding slavery?  If it
was allowed at one time, why the change?  Did that mean that the opinions of
Islam regarding slavery were incorrect?

What brought about this question is that, from what I read, some of the
Imams had slaves/concubines.

Since that was the case, if today we abhor slavery, why did the Imams
practice it?  From what I read, the Imams are 'Ma'sumeen', IE: Infallible.

Any information that you can shed on the matter will be greatly appreciated.

-----

ANSWER:

Thank you for you question. It would have helped if you had done some
reading on the subject of slavery and Islam. There is an excellent book 
written by Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (May Allah grant him a 
long and healthy life) which deals with this matter exhaustively.

Slavery was an institution deeply embedded in the civilised world of the
time and existed not only in Arabia but in all the countries in the West. A
sudden abolition would not have helped as it would have produced large pockets of impoverished ex-slaves without any civil rights. The abolition of slavery 
in America is testimony of the evil it brought about and till this day, in
spite of all the civil rights legislation, the descendants of the slaves are
discriminated against.

Islam dealt the problem in a number of ways-

(a)   It was mandatory to treat the slaves kindly and as members of the
       household;
(b)   Freeing of slaves was in many cases declared to be the expiation
	(kaffarah) for sins. For intentionally not fasting in the month of 	Ramadhan it remains one of the conditions of the kaffarah;
(c)   It was declared to be meritorious to marry slaves;
(d)   It was always an act of piety to free a slave.
(e)   Freed slaves had full civil rights and many rose to eminent position.
	Examples are Bilal, Jaun Shaheed and many ex-slaves who died for Islam 	at Kerbala.
  
In the case of our A'imma (a.s.) they were in the forefront of setting
examples of how slaves should be treated by Muslims.

I have only mentioned briefly the question of slavery in Islam. If you have
any further questions please address them to the Alim Network.


With salaams and du'aas from a humble servant of Ahlul Bayt and their
followers, and with a request to be remembered by you in your prayers,

Bashir Rahim


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