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Salam aleikum,

I read and watched a lot about the topic of slavery in Islam in the last days. Besides the (r)evolutionary restrictions for the masters and in the sources of slavery, and in addition the humane commandments from the prophet (saw) in taking care of slaves, slavery was still allowed to happen in conditions. Rather the prophet (saw) set impulses in direction of human rights of slaves in light of the given time (there are not a similar cases in human history until that time).

Norm and moral feelings of a society can change. In the past slavery was considered normal. So the given explanation could be, that slavery is seen as an additional hierarchy in society besides other hierarchies (as freedom is always relational) and not bad by its nature, but the conditions of slavery can be bad. At the end of the matter God allowed some type of slavery and God‘s morals can only be right. He did not abolish it completely. That would support this view.

But in reviving our God given Fitrah: Is there a morally explanation (also from scholars), that illuminate on the theological matter of slavery. How do someone explain the people of today, that it is (in Islam) not evil?

It could be explained in distinguishing slavery or in other ways. Thanks for responses. May Allah bless you.

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  • Well worded question. I share your concerns on this topic as a fellow Muslim.
    – SpiderRico
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:03
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    Does this answer your question? Why does Islam tell a slave it is haram to run away from a master?. Mainly that Islam wanted to abolish it gracefully through time. If it doesn't answer, then can you link it in your question and mention what else you want to know?
    – Thaqalain
    Dec 3, 2020 at 13:20
  • Thanks, it is a good analysis. I found a very good talk on YouTube, so my question is answered. We look to much to the word, rather to what really happens. In essence there is not that much difference between a contract for wage labor and slavery. We are „owned“ by our employers und have to fulfill the conditions. If we don‘t fulfill, we get punished, because we did not fulfill the contract. And being born in lower class would mostly mean you will work in wage labour, so there is no choice. From this view there are not that much difference between wage labour and slavery. Both are allowed.
    – user40519
    Dec 3, 2020 at 13:55
  • But with humane and Islamic conditions and slavery is already a thing of the past, so I think religiously I should not bother too much about it. Nevertheless it should be said that more likely only the word changed. Today’s world is also full of slaves (in employment), depending on the perspective.
    – user40519
    Dec 3, 2020 at 14:00

2 Answers 2

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The slavery that was practiced according to the Islamic laws is not, in its very nature, evil. That would be saying 1) that the Prophet (SAW) and the companions participated in an evil and 2) Allah left something evil in His religion. Both of these are false and unacceptable statements.

The religion of Islam was completed in the lifetime of the Prophet (SAW). There was nothing left in it that needed to be "abolished."

Allah says:

This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. (5:3)

So, it would not be correct to feel "morally wrong" about the slavery that follows Islamic laws completely. The feelings people have in them that condemn it are wrong. It is not correct to follow your feelings in matters where divine law has been revealed.

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  • I agree completely. Slavery is allowed, hence it can’t be evil. My question just was: how does we explain to the people of today that slavery in Islam is not evil and in agreement with our natural fitrah.
    – user40519
    Dec 3, 2020 at 11:40
  • I did not mean to suggest that it is evil. Maybe my wording was a bit misleading. Never I would speak like that about the Prophet. May Allah protect me from something like this.
    – user40519
    Dec 3, 2020 at 13:35
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Slavery was already in existence when the Prophet was called upon to spread the message of Islam. Given that in Islam it is not acceptable to enslave another Muslim, and given that the message of Islam was universal - it was not a message for a certain people - it can be seen that slavery as an institution was frowned upon and when universally thought out, banned.

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  • Thanks for the response. When slavery was there, the bad threatening was frowned upon and banned, but the concept was still allowed (war prisoners) in certain conditions. So the question is, how we bring this in connection to the moral understanding of a muslim. My question addresses a deeper issue.
    – user40519
    Dec 1, 2020 at 19:56
  • @FromAnatolia: You will need to improve your grammar befire addressing any profounder questions as its otherwise incomprehensible. Its not enough to assert a question is profound, it must demonstrate that this is the case. Dec 2, 2020 at 17:42