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Islam and Slavery

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Islam and Slavery is a very controversial issue even within Muslims themselves. Does Islam really legitimized Slavery ..?

 

My personal understanding is that Quran stood short of prohibiting Slavery. That was clear from reading of so many Suras that dealt with slavery as an existing status among muslims. For example some Suras had stated the right of marrying as many as slaves who a muslim owned "Ma meleket Aymanikum" ..

 

Yet there is a legitimate question that one might raise.. Is this the whole story..? Those who read Quran might aslo notice that there are so much emphasis on freeing slaves.. That is to the extent of considering such act as forgiveness to great sins. "Kufara "..

 

Others might also notice that among the close companions circle there were three salves "Black Bilal, persian Salman and Arab Amaar". the three were among the first believers that paid very high price of being committed to Mohamed's call. This historical irony might had its impact till today inspiring so many Afro americans to convert into islam to the extent that Islam was conisdered to be the fastest growing relligion in the pre 9/11 era in USA !

 

Through Prophet Mohamed's fights , Muslims used to enslave enemies women and got the religious cover to use them under slave status. However, Even under that case we found the prophet and his close circle followed a special pattern of getting some of those women slaves into a wife status, as the case with the mothers of believers Maria " the Copt" and the Jewish wife. Ali, prophet son in law, got married the two captured daughters of persian Kisra to his two sons. One of them was the mother of the most propmenent scholar Imam Ali zain Alabdeen, the only survived son of Ali's son, Husain's, male decendents!

 

This style of enslaving was even worse after the early Islamic era with the large scale expantions "Fotuhat". Islamic Historians mentioned once that women slaves were sold at a no price in Damascus after the the concur of Tunisia , as there were tens of thousands of them and there is no enough food to feed them !

 

Interestingly, today all Muslim countries consider slavery as a crime, the question that might come to minds, is how come no religious shiekh stand against such laws on basis of being non islamic, At a time Same shiekhs would takfeer any government that prohibits a similar controversial polygamy, as the case with Tunisian governement. ..

 

The reason , as I see it, is that Islam while didn't prohibited slavery, it didn't mind Muslims from applying such role, indeed it encourge them to disband it.. I might be wrong though!

 

Of course some might find the above as to find excuses, but this is not what I ment.. I just wanted to share my one cent value opinion with you.

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You are right the fact that freeing slaves was instituted as (Kaffarah) didn’t really help to reduce the magnitude of slavery practice. On the contrary Slavery Trading had flourished as a result of conquering other nations.

 

Unfortunately some Arab countries kept the slavery practice until the 20th century. In Saudi Arabia the slaves were not freed until 1968 and that happened under continuous external pressure.

 

If Mohammed had prohibited any further slavery trading or any more enslaving of war captives as he had forbidden theft, slavery would had come to an end even if he didn’t force people to let go their existing slaves and with or with out that type of (Kaffarah).

 

According to Dr Kamal Najar in his book “Critical Reading of Islam” (قراءه نقدية للإسلام), Mohammed himself enslaved a number of women after winning the battle with Bany Goridah (بني قريظة) and sent them to be sold in Najid. Such an action would help to enhance slavery business.

 

I don’t know how reliable the authors sources are but he presents very surprising information. The book can be found at:

http://www.kitabat.com/kamel_alnajar.htm

Check page 32.

 

If I had time I would have referred to the Sirah Books كتب السيره to check such information. May be some of the members can do that.

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Insan,

Very interesting refrence, I reposted the book of Dr. Najar here on baghdadee.

 

Your point of questioning Islam of not going much far as to prohibt slavery is a valid point . Let me have a better look to the page you had refrenced and come back yo you

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Insan,

I think the real issue here is the way the prophet had delt with social economic problems. It is very clear that islam didn't take a radicle stand as the case with faith related one.

I don't want to put excuses , but it looks to me that Mohamed's main concern was the concept of God. From day one this was the main confrontation line, it remain same till his death. As for other issues, one can trace a path of evolution over the the years. Such evolution was complying with the needs and possibilities. For example, the prohibtion of marying two sisters. It is only allowed for those who already go that before Islam. If it is forbidden then it sould be so after becoming a muslim. another example, the alchohol case.. Another, is the pray direction..

 

For a system that is economically and socially based on slavery, you can't just jump in to force prohibtion.However, a better way is to go through a reforming path that encourage non slavary.

 

As for your point of Prophet's sira, "bibography", I would refer you to same book of Dr. najar. According to these Sira books, Mohamed is a cruel, sexually disturbed man that might look even after his raised son's wife !

 

reading through Quran, as the only document that all Muslims would agree on authenticity, I would find a big difference between a man who had believed in it and paid his life strugling for it's concepts and that whom the Sira writers claim to be..

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When Ibrahim Lincoln wanted to free the Slaves in America, the southern states resisted because their economy depended on slaves (Farmers). Yet Lincoln has done it. Nothing can justify Slavery.

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When Mohamed wanted to free his people from idols worshiping " slavery", the whole nation stand in fornt of him, not only part of it.Yet nothing stopped him from doing. He thought that nothing justified idolatory.

 

My friend , we need to set priorities. Mohamed is a prophet preaching for a new religion. Licoln was a nation viosionist and political leader.

 

I think what Mohamed might though of was that freeing mind of people from slavery would end up to free their bodies too. Indeed that what had happened through the revolution in the human mind set out of being jailed by previous era religions. Setting a new rule of DIRECT relation with their GOD was for him the most imprtant.If he realy ment it that way or not, that is another interesting dialoge we can go through.

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I respect Mohammed so much, not because he was a messenger of god because god- I believe - needs not to send a human to humans, that’s so primitive a tactic since he can implant religion in peoples mindes just like the rest of the built in drives and desires.

But I respect him as an extraordinary brain who knew how to unite the rivalry tribes and create a nation. Of course the way to consolidate people is religion.

But I just wish that before he said “today for you I have completed your religion ...” that he said something like this:

لماذا استعبدتم الناس وقد جاءوا من الطبيعة أحرارا. لكم من رق الجهالة ما اقترفت أيمانكم وحرمنا عليكم المزيد من العبيد

But the winds blow against the sailor’s wishes.

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That is another dimension .. We are here to discuss slavery and not our opinions of Mohamed prophecy. We might go back to this on a different dialogue though

 

As for your comment

But I respect him as an extraordinary brain who knew how to unite the rivalry tribes and create a nation. Of course the way to consolidate people is religion.

 

Unfortunately I don't agee with what the western historian and to certain instant , what main stream islam scholars claimed of having Mohamed's rule in uniting what they call "ummaha" nation. This had never been part of his call , you can read through Quran to find the only rare instant that such reference was made was through a reminder to muslims to be a good faithful Nation and call for human " Maaroof" aspects and to deny " Tanhoun" bad doing.

 

This nation that these scholars are referring to was a by product of the success of the islam teachings of no aggression " La taatadoo" and the natural development of social and economic prosper that had necessitate such central governing authority that later Khaleefs thought to be good to have..

Don't you agree that there no one aya in Quran talk about how to rule , if that what Mohamed for, then at least he needed to teach them how to manage.. Right?

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There is a fraction of an Aya that says:

“وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ”

But this really doesn’t say so much. Yes, since he was sent by a god who has an absolute knowledge, one would expect mohammed to spell out all the know-how. But all of his actions were just “Ertijalat”, responses to stimuli. This tells us that the whole history with it’s pleasant and horrible events comes out of humans iteraction and their strong will to become something “mithkora”. Nothing came from above.

Therefore, how to rule and how to manage and how to interact with various aspects of life is a product of humans experience.

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Insan,

To my humble understanding, Quran is the constitution and not the book of detail Jurisdictions.

This statement is just like the UN big banner of human rights, it doesn't tell you how to do it but to institute the concept. Something that we all need to give credit to a document that is considered today as the first to call for

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