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  • Writer's pictureJoe Gilmore

Muslims and slavery

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Islam is very much like Christianity in the way that it is organic. It changes over time and the inferred teachings of each of the holy texts change as time goes on to fit the way society grows.

When Islam was in its early creation, slavery was still a big proponent of society.

In the late 700s CE, a Muslim Hadith scholar by the name of Abd al-Razzaq ibn Hammam ibn Nafi' al-San'ani compiled the Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq. This is where a lot of my information comes from. Muslims today don't follow the same teachings as they did 1500 years ago.

The Muslims have a Hadith about feeding your slaves the same food that you eat. When this Hadith was compiled into the Musannaf, it was seen as a suggestion. It was not a requirement, but rather a way that Muslims could provide additional service to others. Like many religions, the followers of that religion believe they are called to serve others. This verse was just another way to serve others. It was, however, in no way meant to be a rule that everyone must follow. Today, it is understood and taught that it is a mandatory requirement. As society has drifted away from slavery, so do the organic understandings of the holy texts.

A Muslim, in those days, could have three wives and multiple concubine slaves. There was no need or no such thing as consent between your wives or concubines. What we call rape today was normal practice for Muslims in the beginning of Islam.

When Muslims would buy their concubine slaves, they would inspect this slaves naked. If the slave girl was not wed to another, there was no reason in Muslim culture that the owner would not be able to see her naked. If this slave girl was married, then the Muslim was supposed to respect her body.

If the slave was not married, the Muslim slave master had every right to her body at any point. Quran 23:5-6

For the wives who were not afforded basic consent, they're only recourse was to take their husband to a Muslim Court to complain if the husband was too frequent in his sexual endeavors. This was usually an effective tool since each Muslim man wanted to be seen as a good Muslim by his peers. But with the cornucopia of women to choose from, this probably wasn't a frequent issue to be heard by the Muslim courts.

One difference between Christian and Muslim teachings according to their holy texts is that in christianity, children born to slaves are still the property of the slave owner and would be slaves for life, whereas in islam, the children are free.

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