|What is human history? It is a
story of the hunter and the hunted written in blood. Every section
of this story is both gruesome and pathetic. But the most morbid
section of this story is under the subtitle, Slavery. Slavery is
a disgraceful blot on humanity. What can be worse than considering
human beings your chattel and keep them like cattle? Even this
comparison does not give the correct picture of the conditions of
the slaves. Owner of the cattle does not throw them to the wolves.
But slaves have been actors in this drama also. The best loved
diversion of the innate barbarous and inhuman Romans was to throw
a helpless slave into the cage of a hungry lion and watch them
fight. Special arenas were prepared for this 'sport'.
When the last Messenger began his ministry he saw that the
slaves were an important aspect of the society. But for this flag
bearer of human equality this ignominy to humanity was
intolerable. He declared that it is not legal for a man to
consider another man his property. All men are human beings and
therefore equal. This is against human honor and dignity that man
should be considered a commodity or cattle. Freedom is the birth
right of man. In a human society slavery should come to an end.
Prisoners of War
At that time the tradition in the world was that the prisoners
of war were made slaves and after that their children were
considered born slaves. The Quran closed this fountain of slavery.
It said that no prisoner of war would be made slave. They would be
released either by taking ransom or in good faith.
Fa-izaa laqiitu-mullaziina kafaruu fazarbar-
riqaab; hat-taaa izaaa askhan-tumuuhum
fashuddul-wasaaqa fa-immaa mannam-ba-du
wa immaa fidaaa-an hattaa taza-al-harbu awzaarahaa.
Now when you meet in battle your opponents then it is smiting
of the necks until you have routed them; then bind fast the bonds;
then either give them a free dismissal afterwards or exact a
The Slaves that Already Existed
The prisoners of war till their release remained State guests.
After the closure of the fountain the river of slavery would have
dried up on its own. But some time was required for this drying up
process. The river already had some water and an outlet for it had
to be made. At that time slaves were a common feature of almost
every Arab house. Slaves worked on their agricultural lands and
slave girls did household chores. In this way they had become an
integral part of their social and economic life. By freeing them
in one stroke would have created complete disorder and chaos in
the Arab society. Not only the masters but slaves also would have
found themselves in difficulties. Besides, the Muslims themselves
were also not in a position to make proper arrangements for all
the freed slaves. Therefore, the demand of the circumstances was
that the mission of freeing the slaves and the slave girls be
carried out in steps and not en bloc. Moreover only in this
way they could have adjusted to the demands of a free society.
These slaves, as was said earlier, already existed in the Arab
society. The Quran has called them maa-malakat aymaanukum,
those who are in your possession. All orders of the Quran in
context of slavery are for these slaves only. Once they gained
freedom the concept of slavery itself met its doom. For the slaves
who existed were slowly but steadily absorbed in the free society
and there was no scope for recruiting new ones. The phrase
maa-malakat aymaanukum is in past tense. And at every place in
the Quran only this tense is used for the slaves. This shows that
the Quran is referring to only those slaves and slave girls who
already existed in the Arab society.
The Quran employed various methods for the emancipation and
betterment of the slaves who already existed (maa-malakat
aymaanukum) in the Arab society. First of all it encouraged
people to free slaves. The Muslims were urged to be kind and
considerate to their slaves. They were told that to emancipate a
slave was a meritorious act. They could atone for some of their
offences by setting a slave free.
Wa maa kaana li-Mu-mi-nin any-yaqtula
Mu-minan illaa khata-aa.Wa man qata-la
Mu-minan khata-an fatah-riiru raqabatim-
A Muslim would never kill another Muslim except by mistake. If
he kills another Muslim by mistake he should set free a believing
slave and pay blood money to the family of the deceased. (4/92)
Freeing the slaves so as to atone for frivolous oaths.
Laa yu-aakhizu-kumul- laahu bil-lagwi fiii
ay- maani- kum wa laakiny-yu-aakhizu-
kum-bimaa aqqattu-mul-ay-maan fa-kaflaa-
ratuhuuu it-aamu asharati masaa-kiina min
aw-sati maa tut-imuuna ahliikum aw
kiswatuhum awtah-riiru raqabah.
(If you have taken an oath not to partake a particular lawful
thing, mind it that) Allah holds you accountable only for oaths
taken with serious intent and not for frivolous oaths. The
atonement for breaking serious oaths is the feeding of ten poor
persons with such food as your family eats, or providing clothes
to them or setting a slave free. (5/89)
If a person in anger calls his wife as if she were her mother
then this is called Zihar. It is also an offence and can be
atoned by setting a slave free.
Wallaziina yuzaahiruuna min-nisaaa-ihim
summa ya-uuduuna limaa qaaluu
But those who pronounce the word Zihar (mother etc. in
state of anger) to their wives then wish to go back on the words
they uttered, (it is ordained that such a one) should free a
Today it is hard to understand the difficulty an Arab had to
undergo in these types of atonements. For we cannot estimate as to
how much valuable a slave was for them. Besides, this also
affected their social and economic life because slaves had become
part and parcel of their society. In such circumstances it was an
act of courage to free a slave.
As such the Quran has compared it with scaling a mountain
during which man looses his breath on every step.
Falaqtahamal-aqabah. Maaa adraaka
mal-aqabah? Fakku raqabah.
(But even after these facts) man does not gather strength to
scale a mountain. And do you know what scaling a mountain means?
It is freeing a slave. (90/11-13)
And if it was observed in any slave that he had the potential
to contribute positively to the society by being a free person
then a deed for his emancipation was written. Besides, he was
given economic support to begin a new life.
Wallaziina yabtaguunal-Ki-taaba mimmaa
malakat ay-maanukum fa- kaatibuuhum in
alimtum fiihim khayranw-wa aatuuhum-mim-
And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (for
emancipation) then give them such a deed if you know any good in
them; besides, give them something yourselves out of the means
which Allah has given to you. (24/33)
After this the Quran said that marriages of the slaves and the
slave girls should be solemnized so that they may begin their
family lives and thereby become virtuous members of the society.
Wa ankihul-ayaamaa minkum wassaalihiina
min ibaadikum wa imaaa-ikum.
Marry those among you who are single, and the eligible ones
among your slaves, male or female. (24/32)
It was not that only the slaves married the slave girls others
also did so.
Wa mallam yastati min-kum taw-lan
fa-mimmaa malakat ay-maanu-kum-
Whoever amongst you cannot afford to marry a free believing
woman may marry a believing slave girl. If you marry a slave girl
do not treat her as inferior (because once she accepts Islam and
marries you she is at par with others). Allah knows all about your
Eiman (conviction in the Divine Order and following it.
Remember the only consideration for distinction is Eiman,
otherwise) the one of you is as the other. (4/25)
And you should behave properly and in good manners with your
slaves. Your behavior towards them should be as good as if it is
towards your parents and other near relatives.
Wa-budullaaha wa laa tushrikuu bibii
shay-anw-wa bil-waalidayni ihsaananw-
wabizil-qurbaa wal-yataamaa wal-masaakiini
wal-jaari-zil-qurbaa wal-jaaril-junub was-
saahibi- bil-jambi wabnis-sabiili wa maa
malakat aymaanukum innallaaha laa yuhibbu
And in dealing with your relatives you must strictly adhere to
the laws of Allah and no man-made law should be mixed with them.
Accordingly you should do well to: a. parents, b. kin-folk, c.
orphans, d. others in need, e. neighbors irrespective of whether
they are your relatives or not, f. way-farers who stand in need of
your help, and g. those in your charge (slaves) or those who work
under you. Allah does not like those who are proud and boastful.
The Arabs, during the age of ignorance, as per their custom,
maintained sexual relations with their slave girls but never gave
them the social status of wives. According to the Quran it was
wrong. If a slave girl has not been freed for one reason or the
other and you enjoy sex with her then it is your duty to elevate
her to the status of a wife. In this way the Quran by one stroke
of the pen changed the derogatory position of a slave girl to high
and axiomatic status of a wife. Their veiled relationships were
made lawful. And by giving axiomatic status to the strangeness of
their relationship the Quran provided them with equality in
marital life and their children were also given equal standing.
Wallaziina hum li-furuuji-him haafizuun,
Illaa alaaa azwaajihim aw maa malakat
aymaanu-bum fa-innahum gayru ma-luumiin.
(Who will be successful?) They are those who guard their
modesty. (Successful are those who guard themselves against
unlawful sex and every kind of sex perversion). But (lawful) sex
with wife or slave girl (elevated to the status of wife) is
End of Slavery
In this way the Quran brought an end to slavery. The problem of
slaves who already existed in the Arab society was solved and the
sources of recruiting new slaves were closed forever. Now the
question is: why methods of eradicating slavery are still
mentioned in the Quran? The answer is simple: if any community,
engrossed with the problem of slavery, embraces Islam then the
Islamic State should have laws before it to tackle this
From Where Did New Slaves Come?
But with the replacement of Islamic political system with
monarchy the Muslim society again adopted the customs and
traditions of the age of ignorance. These anti-Islamic ways of
life were accepted with such enthusiasm that it has become
difficult to find an era in which slave girls in thousands were
not present in harems of Muslim Sultans. One may ask as to why the
Muslims fell back on the age of ignorance when the Quran with
clear instructions was present with them? They have a backdoor
called Tradition literature. Through this every brigand thought or
act can undauntedly emerge. Therefore Traditions were fabricated
in favor of exploiting slave girls. And the tragedy is that these
inhuman thoughts and shameless slanders have been attributed to
the last Messenger whose piousness, modesty, integrity and
controlling of desires is beyond doubt. In the six books of
Traditions there are such absurd Traditions in context of slave
girls that put to shame even Shame herself. We do not have the
courage to reproduce them here. The nations opposed to Islam have
declared that slavery and prostitution are crime but in the sacred
city of Mecca slave girls are openly sold.1
Yaa-laytani mittu qabla haa-zaa wa kuntu nasyam-man-siyyaa
(19/23), Oh, would that I had died before this and had become a
thing of naught, forgotten! This is all because of the Tradition
literatures because the Quran had put an end to slavery at a time
when no nation had the wisdom to think on these lines. And despite
this the Muslims from pulpits and platforms do not fail to
announce proudly that they put an end to slavery. So the teachings
of the Quran are entirely different from the acts of those who
have become slaves to the Tradition literatures.
Manzilo maqsoode Qura'n digar-ast
Rasmo ainae Musalma diga-ast
Banda-e-momin za Qura'n ber na khurad
Dar ayaghe ou nami deedam na do'rad
Az mulokiyat nigha gardad digar
Aql-o-hosh-o-rasm-o-rah gardad digar
Different is Quran's objective, its destination
From Muslims' rites and their constitution.
From the Quran the Muslim does not drink
His cup is empty of wine, even sediment.
Monarchy has changed his perception,
His custom, his intellect, his discretion.