Treatment of Slaves in Islam, Does Islam promote Slavery?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
Allah Exalted He has revealed the last and final divine Universal message of Islam to our Beloved Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him, in a time where Slavery was rife in the Arabic peninsula, so Islam had to deal with an existing chronic massive Problem of Slavery.
In saying that, Islam prohibited the enslavement of anyone- the only time Islam still allows slavery is for the enemy fighters who attacked Islam and Muslims. In other words the enemy prisoners of war are to be kept as slaves and servants as a DETERREN to aggressors who attacked Islam and Muslims.
Islam came to find various types of slavery that ranged from tribes raid other free people and enslave them, buy, sell, and swap them. And obviously mistreat them beside take their women.
Islam prohibited any form of enslavement to any peaceful free people regardless of their race, religion, or ethnicity.
The Only type of slavery that Islam allows is when the hostile enemy of Islam and Muslims takes aggressive offensive measures by starting to attack Islam and Muslims in in way, shape or form.
It is a will-known fact to anyone with common sense that victims reserve the absolute right to defend themselves. Therefore, if enemies of Islam fall in the hands of Muslims as prisoners of wars.
How and why, there is a certain type of Slavery that is still allowed in Islam?
In Islam usually slaves are those the non-Muslim enemy fighters and aggressors who started wars against Muslims and their children. Once they are captured in become prisoners of war at the hands of the Muslim army. The Muslim have four choices in dealing with those fighters and prisoners of war regardless of their gender.
Generally speaking, Muslim Slaves who accepted Islam without any pressure and would have been the children of non-Muslim prisoners of war
1. Return them without a price and peacefully to their place of origin and that is illogical and will encourage them to fight Muslims again.
2. Kill all of them and that would be harsh.
3. Enslave them to work for Muslims and emotionally humiliate them to make them regret fighting Muslims.
Yet treat them well in terms of food, shelter, medication and show them the true teachings of Islam which they were opposing due to the brainwashing Islamophobic black propaganda they grow up with.
4. Exchange the non-Muslim prisoners of war at the hands of the Muslim army with the Muslim prisoners at the hands of non-Muslim army. Or exchange certain benefits, lands, equipment, or any other beneficial things with prisoners of war.
Reiterating again that Islam came to and found various types of Slavery that were unjustified, that is why Islam start to prohibit those types and dry out the main sources of those types of Slavery.
The fact remained that there were slaves and as per the above-mentioned Hadith, our beloved Prophet Muhammed peace be upon, received a slave who wanted to accept Islam.
While the Prophet did not realise that this person was a slave owned by his master and he did not seek his master’s permission. That is why when his master came to the Prophet seeking to retrieve his slave, the Prophet done the swap which in some views he gave those two black slaves to the master of the slave and kept the slave since he accepted Islam and had agreement with the Prophet.
The Prophet was NOT buying or selling salves as a business nor he was a slave trader, but as part of trying to alleviate existing bad situation. The Prophet had to resolve that situation to the best possible working solution, by keeping the slave who accepted Islam and obviously later freed him.
And the two black slaves were given in exchange to the master and owner of the slave that the Prophet kept and Freed later since he accepted Islam.
Many non-Muslims will misquote the attached Hadith to this article, using it to try to prove that Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him bought, sold, and traded in “Slaves”. Obviously, The Glorious Qur’an told us on numerous occasions for some certain sins to be forgiven the solution was to free a neck=free a Slave.
Slaves mentioned in the attached Hadith has the meaning of employees=assistants=workers= helpers for the Prophet who he swapped with others.
It is one of modern day practices in companies, like employee transfer from a certain workplace to another including changing the employer. Make sure to read about modern day treatment of employees by multinational non Muslim companies across the world, including the Western world.
Additionally, make sure you read the following important note, to be able to understand within its proper context.
First, we must understand that words such as slave, slavery and alike were used to have meaning such as employee working for his employee or helper.
Word such as Master had the meaning of an employer with modern day terminology, these meaning did NOT only apply within Islam but ALSO almost for everyone including Pagans, Christians, and Jews at the time when they bought, sold, traded, or swapped a “Slave”.
This previous statement demonstrates that we as Muslims if you are going to claim that these terminologies were used as part of Islamic sources reflecting good treatment of slaves.
So, we as Muslims fair enough to use the same standard with other religions and faiths and not automatically claim that only Islam treated slaves well and others treated them bad.
Our claim as Muslims against Christianity is based on accurate account reflected in Biblical verses that promotes slavery in its worst forms and has enabled Medieval Christians, Crusaders and modern era Western colonialists to practise horrendous mass crimes in the name of the Bible that encouraged them to do.
The Problem here is not about what are we calling or naming them, The CRITICAL problem is HOW is each religion and how is the follower of each religion is dealing with and how “Slaves” were treated as per the holy text of the Glorious Qur’an and Authentic Statements of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him. Or how other religions and its followers treated them.
Let us NOT forget that there is HUGE GLOBAL problems called Modern day Slavery, real slavery where humans including minors are being trafficked for sexual exploitation across the whole world and in particular the Judeo-Christian Western World and under the sight of very “leader of the free world” the United States.
In fact, it is happening as we speak across the Southern US borders. In Europe women are trafficked from former Soviet Union countries, Eastern Europe and Russia into Europe for sexual exploitations, prostitution, human body parts trade all those huge crimes are happening while there are lot of law enforcement agencies such as Europol, Interpol etc.
Let us look at the following Sayings from our beloved Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him:
Abu Mas’ud al-Ansari reported: “When I was beating my servant, I heard a voice behind me (saying): Abu Mas’ud, bear in mind Allah has more dominance over you than you have upon him. I turned and (found him) to be Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him).
I said: Allah’s Messenger, I set him free for the sake of Allah. Thereupon he said: Had you not done that, (the gates of) Hell would have opened for you, or the fire would have burnt you. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4088)”
Abu Mas’ud al-Badri reported: “I was beating my slave with a whip when I heard a voice behind me: Understand, Abu Masud; but I did not recognise the voice due to intense anger. He (Abu Mas’ud) reported: As he came near me (I found) that he was the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and he was saying:
Bear in mind, Abu Mas’ud; bear in mind. Abu Mas’ud. He (Aba Maslad) said: threw the whip from my hand. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Bear in mind, Abu Mas’ud; verily Allah has more dominance upon you than you have upon your slave. I (then) said: I would never beat my servant in future.
(Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4086)”
Abu Mas’ud reported that he had been beating his slave and he had been saying: “I seek refuge with Allah, but he continued beating him, whereupon he said: I seek refuge with Allah’s Messenger, and he spared him. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said:
By Allah, God has more dominance over you than you have over him (the slave). He said that he set him free. This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Shu’ba with the same chain of transmitters but made no mention of (these words) of his: I seek refuge with Allah, I seek refuge with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him).
(Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4089)”
If a Muslim beats his slave or slaps him on the face, then he must set him free:
“Zadhan reported that Ibn Umar called his slave, and he found the marks (of beating) upon his back. He said to him: I have caused you pain. He said: No. But he (Ibn Umar) said: You are free. He then took hold of something from the earth and said: There is no reward for me even to the weight equal to it.
I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:
He who beats a slave without cognizable offence of his or slaps him, then expiation for it is that he should set him free. (Translation of Sahih Muslim,
The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4079)”
The above Sayings of our beloved Prophet peace be upon him are very straight forward. If a Muslim beats his slave, then the gates of hell will open for him.
Muslims must not mistreat their slaves, because slaves in Islam are like brothers:
Narrated Al-Ma’rur: At Ar-Rabadha I met Abu Dhar who was wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied, “I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names.”
The Prophet said to me, ‘O Abu Dhar! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names?
You still have some characteristics of ignorance?
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.’
(Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Belief, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 29)”
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “When the slave of anyone amongst you prepares food for him and he serves him after having sat close to (and undergoing the hardship of) heat and smoke, he should make him (the slave) sit along with him and make him eat (along with him), and if the food seems to run short.
Then he should spare some portion for him (from his own share) – (another narrator) Dawud said:” i. e. a morsel or two”. 4097. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4096)”
Narrated AbuDharr: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Feed those of your slaves who please you from what you eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves but sell those who do not please you and do not punish Allah’s creatures. (Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab, Book 41, Number 5142)”
2- Slaves are not meant to be slaves, because eventually they will all be set free. A slave in Islam can request and be granted his freedom from his master:
First, it is important to know that thousands of years ago life was different than today. Today, people wouldn’t accept slavery for any reason. The reason for this is because people are a lot more independent both financially, education wise, mentally, etc.
But people back then were different. When a tribe or a group of people lose a major battle and their money is mostly, if not all, is taken as war booty by the other side, then people could and would accept being slaves for the following reasons:
1- Both financial and social security. When their country or tribe lost the war, they also lost most or all of their money as war booty. Being out of money and food, it becomes necessary for an individual to find the means for basic survival in life. Living as a slave would provide this.
2- Protection from hostile individuals. Even under the Islamic rule, you can still find hostile individuals who violate the Law and take matters into their own hands. An enemy family can be sometimes in danger if they do not have a “protector”.
3- Widows, Orphans, and the extremely poor of the enemy side need financial and social protection from a Master. Back then, there were no governments with good social systems that protected everyone. Slavery back then was that social system in special cases.
There are probably more points I can add, but I think these are sufficient. Let us now see the Islamic System toward Slaves:
Slaves can request and get their freedom from their Muslim Masters:
Yes, slaves were taken from the blood-thirsty and hostile enemies, but they were also given the right to get their freedom whenever they want.
The Noble Quran not only allows slaves to request their freedom from their Muslim masters, but also orders the Muslim masters to pay the slaves money to help them stand on their feet and to be able to face life with a good jump start.
Let us look at Noble Verse 24:33 “Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you.
But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them),”
In this Noble Verse, we see that if a slave requests his freedom from his Muslim master, then his master not only must help him earn his freedom if there is good in the Slave, but also pay him money so the slave can have a good start in his free life.
“The law of slavery in the legal sense of the term is now obsolete. While it had any meaning, Islam made the slave’s lot as easy as possible. A slave, male, or female could ask for conditional manumission by a written deed fixing the amount required for manumission and allowing the slave meanwhile to earn money by lawful means and perhaps marry and bring up a family.
Such a deed was not to be refused if the request was genuine and the slave had character. Not only that, but the master is directed to help with money out of his own resources in order to enable the slave to earn his or her own liberty.” 
Again, the Prophet peace be upon him said:
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari: “The Prophet said, “Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom).” (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)”
Narrated Asma: “No doubt the Prophet ordered people to manumit slaves during the solar eclipse. (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Eclipses, Volume 2, Book 18, Number 163)”
Christians checik this Part of the Bible
How the Christians Opposed the First Commandment of the Bible —“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods besides Me.”
1- The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an.
Author: Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
2- The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an . Footnotes #2991, page 875.
Allah knows Best.
Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.
Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan
Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar-
Make sure to copy and email this post for your reference, you might need it later.
Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.