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Slavery In Islam?

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"Slavery under Christianity was immeasurably harsher because post-Gospel slavery operated under ethics inherited from the Greek and Roman worlds — which were bestial in comparison to Islamic ethics and civilization." GFH

1. Sex slaves in Islam

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad


Is it true that in the past slaves could have been forced into having sex by their masters as some people say?


The law allowed a master to have sexual relations with his female slave without a marriage contract, just as it allowed a man to have sexual relations with a free woman only with a marriage contract, but in neither case was the man allowed to rape the woman. A master was no more allowed by the law to rape his slave than a husband his wife. In the context of slavery, the Prophet’s (s) very last words was “al-Salat wa-mulk al-yamin” which means “Beware of neglecting prayer and beware how you treat your slaves.” The Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) treated even a slap in the face of a female slave as an offense of which the required expiation was to free her on the spot.

The dignity of the human person is affirmed in the Qur’an in the verse:

{ وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ }

{ wa la-qad karramna bani Adam.
We have indeed honored human beings. }
Surat al-Israa, 17:70

This is regardless of gender and social condition. Slavery under Christianity was immeasurably harsher because post-Gospel slavery operated under ethics inherited from the Greek and Roman worlds — which were bestial in comparison to Islamic ethics and civilization — and continued to do so until the late 18th century in Europe and the late 19th in the United States. Medieval European serfdom and slavery under the trans-Atlantic slave trade were the stuff of horror. Thus the statement by Reuben Levy in his 1931 book “The Social Structure of Islam” that “neither from the Quran nor from the ‘Traditions’ [Hadith] is it possible to infer that the abolition of slavery was intended” drips with deception and hypocrisy, but nevertheless strikes the note of all Orientalist references to the issue.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

link-out eshaykh.com - sex-slaves-in-islam

2. ISIS, Sex Slaves and Islam

Imam Zaid Shakir

Today’s New York Times’[n1] article highlighting ISIS’ sexual enslavement of Yazidi women has cast a critical light on the issue of slavery and Islam. The ensuing implications should concern all Muslims. This is so owing to the fact that ISIS presents its practices as normative Islam and accuses the masses of Muslims who reject their draconian interpretation of the religion as ignoramuses or cowards who are afraid to identify with “real” Islam.

ISIS’ practices and fatwas are based on a type of literalism that has never been part of normative Islam, both during its formulation and after its maturation. Why is this so? Normative Islam is based on both rulings and interpretive principles. Those who, like ISIS, separate the rulings from their interpretive principles both misrepresent Islam and open the door to varieties and degrees of harm that the religion strictly forbids.

The widespread rejection of slavery among Muslims approaches the level of irreproachable consensus as it has become the ‘Urf or convention of the Muslim people. In this case, such convention has legal authority.

Our religion is not this hideous Frankenstein-like creation being cobbled together by ISIS and their ilk and endorsed by some Islamic studies professors at Princeton University. It is a beautiful gift of a sophisticated civilization, however, that gift will not be understood or understandable when the principles that allow us to make sense of various rulings are cast aside.
May Allah grant us all understanding.

link-out ISIS, Sex Slaves and Islam, Imam Zaid Shakir

3. Sex With Slaves And Women's Rights

Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

“Islam restored dignity to slaves and enhanced their social status both by ancient and modern standards. Islam made no distinction between a slave or a free man, all were treated with equality. It was this fact that attracted non-Muslim slaves to Islam in droves.”

link-in Sex with slaves and women's rights, Response on the issues of female slaves in Islam. Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

4. Slavery — What Does Islamic Law Say?

By Professor Bernard Freamon

The article (in an ISIS magazine) argues, based on a variety of Shariah sources, that ISIS partisans have a religious duty to kill or enslave members of the Yazidi community as part of their struggle (jihad) against their enemies.

This argument is plainly wrong, hypocritical and astonishingly ahistorical, relying on male fantasies inspired by stories from the days of imperial Islam. It is also an affront to right-thinking Muslims everywhere and a criminal perversion of Islamic law, particularly its primary source, the Glorious Quran.

Jurists around the world acknowledge that there is now a universal consensus recognizing an irrefutable human right to be free from slavery and slave-trading.

First, consistent with the new ethic, the emphasis in all of the revelations on slavery [in the Quran] is on the emancipation of slaves, not on their capture or the continuation of the institution of slavery. (See, for example, verses 2:177, 4:25, 4:92, 5:89, 14:31, 24:33, 58:3, 90:1-12.)

There is not one single verse suggesting that the practice should continue.[2] Further, the Quran makes no mention of slave-markets or slave-trading and it repeatedly exhorts believers to free their slaves as an exemplification of their piety and belief in God.

Perhaps the best example of this emancipatory ethic is chapter 90, which is explicitly addressed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It posits that there are two roads one can take in life and that the “high road” is the one that leads the righteous human being to free slaves.
The Prophet ﷺ followed this exhortation, exhibiting a great solicitude for the material and spiritual condition of the slaves in the society around him.

It seems that the ISIS ideologues want to revive this shameful legacy.

link-out ISIS says Islam justifies slavery — what does Islamic law say?

5. Sex Slavery History Is More Complicated

Kecia Ali

There are reasons why the story of enslaved Yazidis is one that captures the front page of the New York Times: it fits into familiar narratives of Muslim barbarity.

However (for Daesh to), singling out slavery or rules governing marriage or punishments for a handful of crimes as constituting the enactment of "authentic" Islamic law surely reflects a distorted notion of a Muslim polity.

In the thousand-plus years in which Muslims and non-Muslims, including Christians, actively engaged in slaving, they cooperated and competed, enslaving and being enslaved, buying, selling and setting free. This complex history, which has generated scores of publications on Muslims and slavery in European languages alone, cannot be reduced to a simplistic proclamation of religious doctrine.

By focusing on religious doctrine as an explanation for rape, Americans ignore the presence of sexual abuse and torture in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and in Assad's Syria by the regime and other factions in its vicious ongoing war. None of this is to deny the horror of the systematic rapes Callimachi1 reports or the revolting nature of the theology she describes. It is to point out that there are reasons why the story of enslaved Yazidis is one that captures the front page of the New York Times: it fits into familiar narratives of Muslim barbarity.

link-out The Truth About Islam and Sex Slavery History Is More Complicated Than You Think; Kecia Ali

6. ISIS, Slavery, and Islamic Abolitionism

By Usaama al-Azami

Muslim scholars in the Gulf, where migrant workers are routinely abused, and have frequently died in large numbers due to unsafe working conditions, should speak publicly about such matters[3], and use the potency of religiously grounded arguments to raise public awareness regarding such issues. This could lead to real change, while empowering Muslim scholars with ethical agency in their communities.

Returning to the original question of this piece: does Islam sanction slavery? Muslims today, like their counterparts in other major religions, overwhelmingly respond in the negative.

link-out ISIS, Slavery, and Islamic Abolitionism August 28, 2015

7. Fatwa on slavery in Islam

Fatwa of Dar al Ifta Misriyyah (Egypt)


link-out - expired link (before 2023-02-04) dar-alifta.org - Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta: Islamic legislation is clear in prohibiting slavery

Oriental Pattern


Related texts
link-out ISIS, Slavery, and Islamic Abolitionism, By Usaama al-Azami

  1. ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape, by RUKMINI CALLIMACHI; Photographs by MAURICIO LIMAAUG. 13, 2015, - expired link (before 2023-02-03) - todayonline.com
    Claiming the Quran's support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool.

  2. However, "many forget that, for hundreds of years, Muslim imperialists and slave-traders illegally raided non-combatant villages in Eastern Europe, West Africa, East Africa, India and Southeast Asia, plundering, pillaging and capturing and raping women and children with impunity under pretextual jihads."

  3. Of course, Muslim scholars in the Gulf and elsewhere should speak out and they will certainly be locked up for the next 10 or 20 years by governments which are under the protective cover of the greedy superpowers, USA and the rest.


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *