Channel: Jamal Badawi
In the name of God that benevolent the Merciful, the creator and the Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever mean, I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger and servant of God, I greet you with our usual greeting, the universal greetings of peace, a greeting that has been used by all of the profits from Abraham through to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. Assalamu alaikum peace be unto you. Today we have our ace program in our series on the social system of Islam. We'll be talking about the emancipation of slaves on your
host, Mr. Rashid and I have joining me as usual on the program, Dr. Jamal Baddeley of St. Mary's University, brother, Jamal AsSalam alaikum.
Before moving on to the next section of this series, which will deal with the family in Islam.
Today, we'll be discussing a topic which relates to the broader issue of human equality and brotherhood that is the question of slavery in Islam his position on it? I wonder if perhaps we could begin today's program by having you explain just what the situation was like when Prophet Muhammad peace of blessings be upon him? I came?
Okay, what without claiming to make any comprehensive survey because that's a whole history program in itself. Yeah, exactly. Could be a program. But basically, one can say that, first of all, there was one major characteristic that slavery seemed to have been widespread in almost all parts of the world might have taken different forms.
Economic, physical, political, but some form of slavery, all the others that exists almost everywhere. In fact, it may be pointed out also that in some cases, it was not even limited to one particular ethnic group or color. Some people even refer to the term slave coming from slap nav, which refers to people, for example, in Europe, like the other slaves and other people from other European origin. Right, who some of whom were actually enslaved Also, during the medieval times.
The other major characteristics that
slavery seemed to have had several sources.
There were the people who were taken as prisoners of war, during wars, for example, this was one source
But there were also cases of simply kidnapping people, people who otherwise are free and just kidnapping them and enslaving them. That was a common worldwide source. Sometimes even people raid another place to kidnap people and take them.
In some cases, you might have heard of this also.
If you fail to pay your debts, that was even regarded as one source of slavery. In other words, you will be taken as a slave in payment of, of your different debts.
And other characteristic that should be kept in mind that even though it's very difficult to generalize, but when you talk about the situation at the advent of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him in the seventh century.
And even for sometimes afterwards, the nature of slavery simply has been
In many cases, the slave was stripped from his or her humanity.
Many legal systems, including for example, the Roman law, did allow the so called masters to do whatever he wishes with the slave.
The slave was regarded really as a commodity as a thing, really not a person.
Sometimes even killing, torturing got killing, and the slave was regarded as perfectly legal because he just like other possession was regarded as such.
I think most viewers perhaps are familiar with the
this famous entertainment that the Romans used to have having the slaves carrying swords and lances and just fighting each other and just enjoying when one of them comes together just for their personal entertainment. So in this kind of atmosphere, the
the task before Islam was really
challenging, and indeed a difficult one, because it requires not only near physical emancipation.
But it requires, above all, what is more important even is the psychological and human emancipation of people. That is to work on changing people themselves to change the psychology of both
the slaves and those who enslave them, to change them to a better human beings to bring them back to the original concept of human equality and brotherhood. So it was a very, very difficult test working on both physical as well as psychological emancipation. But one or perhaps I could have you expand a little bit more on this whole concept of psychological emancipation, that sounds like a very interesting angle, the various approaches to this very serious problem. Well, the first thing to remember, in terms of psychological emancipation, is that the whole notion of the whole structure of Islam, the cornerstone of Islam,
is based on the notion of avoiding or removal of any servitude, of a human being to another human being, that all servitude should be only to God. In other words, as was mentioned in one of the earliest series in this program, that Islam literally means to achieve peace through submission to that, yes, Islam means submission, but not submission to another human being, but submission exclusively to the creator of all those human beings.
This basic notion was afflicted by many of the early Muslims, for example, rapidly Nam in one of the earlier Muslims when they went to,
in their battle against the Persians, when the ruler asked them, What, What brought you here? Why did you come for, and he said, the beautiful world that has been frequently causes, he said, we can to bring people from the worship of another other human beings to the worship of the one who created all of them.
This, this basic
notion has been emphasized over and over in the Quran by indicating that all human beings regardless of whatever state, they might have passed through, regardless of whatever background, ethnic or otherwise, they are all basically human brothers. I think in the previous seven programs in this series, we have referred to various quotations from Lacan, for example, in chapter four that God created all mankind from a single soul. So there is no species as such, there is no one type of humans who are better or
superior to other. We quoted the various sing of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him which indicated that all of you are created or all of you are descendants of Adam and Adam is created from clay from dust.
The Quran indicated quite clearly that the differences between people's languages or complexion, or colors, is not really anything for or any basis for superiority or inferiority, but rather, it is a sign of God's creation and mosaic of creation. This can be fun, for example, in chapter 30, in the Quran,
the prophet peace be upon him emphasized over and over again, that all of this journey or the day of ignorance attitude of superiority, on any basis other than piety are rejected. And Buhari for example, collections had this when he says that there is no superiority of an Arab over a non Arab or of a black or a white or a white or a black except by virtue of,
of piety. He was just reiterating what appears in chapter 49 in the Quran, with the novelist in the sight of God are those who are most conscious of this we have already made mentioned to before. But in addition to that, if I take it one step further, to indicate one angle of this psychological emancipation,
that Islam even made it preferable for the person to get married
to asleep, so called man or woman who is a believer and a good person, then to get married to another person was not delivered, even though he might appear to be quote unquote, free or attractive in one's eyes. This we can find, for example, in the second chapter in the Quran, in verse 21, on in, in chapter four in the Quran, it also talks again about the permission or the almost urging for Muslims to get married to the good so called slave girls. And the verse uses a beautiful term it says, Baba come back. Like when you translate a letter, it says, marry them
or marry those people of believing mates.
You are one from
Another, you are one from another there is no distinction. And then it says, marry them or with them with the permission of their families. So in all that sense, then the foundation is to establish this basic conception of the human being as a human being. And that all these variations means nothing, by way of superiority or inferiority, even though in some cases there might be a transitory stage in which a person may be under bondage.
Now, in addition to this broad basis of psychological emancipation, other other related teachings which deal with the way in which persons in bondage church should be treated, and could you give us some idea of what basic rights are recognized? Okay, well, the Quran and the saying of Muhammad peace be upon him are full of examples of this. I refer, for example, to chapter four in the Quran in verse 36, which commands a believer to worship God not associate others with him, and it talks about kindness and compassion in the treatment of and attention in the same line. It mentioned the parents, relatives, neighbors,
wayfarers, and what your lifetime possesses as the term uses of people who are in bondage, including the same level as the parents and other relatives.
The other thing that the Quran seemed to indicate that the state of bondage is nothing but a transitory stage is something that should not be regarded as something inherent in one of the explanation of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, he was appealing to people to be kind and compassionate towards those people in bondage, and he said, these are your brothers. And if it was the will of God, the situation could have been reversed, I mean, you could have been under their
under their charge or
being possessed actually by them.
And this sort of thing has been translated or this notion has been translated
by putting basic rules again, to make a person under bondage, like I said before, only in a transitory stage and equated in his basic human rights with any other person. Just to give you some examples of this. A person under bondage, temporary as it may be, has the full right to believe what he or she believes and practice his faith. And that's, again, has been emphasized in, for example, in the Quran in chapter two verse 256, which negates and prohibits any compunction in case regardless of people involved.
The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, as narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim the most important collections of sayings
indicated that a person in bondage should be treated as a brother, not as a slave. In fact, in one saying, he said,
your slaves are the people who are, you know, in bondage are your brothers, and whoever has a brother of his,
with him, let him feed him of what he eats, clothe him of what he clothes, and lets him not charge him with any work or labor that is beyond his power. And if he does, he must give him a hand or help him in doing this.
In the in terms of
punishment, as you know, the attitude of most people the attitude of just position, rather than brotherly treatment. And I think in previous program, we quoted one of the sayings of the Prophet peace be upon him and somebody asked him, How many times should I forgive my servant, he said, 70 times a day. And the various incidents where the Prophet peace be upon him,
very strongly objected to any harsh treatment of people in bondage.
Not only this, even in matters of leadership,
leadership position, one of the most fascinating sayings of the Prophet peace be upon him narrated in Buhari, he says, listen and obey, even if the ruler, or the leaders selected among you is an Ethiopian slave.
So long as he established the book of Allah, among you, that is, so long as he follows himself the teachings of Islam, you should listen and obey. Well, that's much ahead of time. It's time, perhaps even just as analogous today as saying that listen and obey even if the President of the United States is a black man, which is something that everybody knows that it's just a theory really nothing that
seemed to be forthcoming.
Even if a person is qualified. The person did not even give the most tender feelings but even working on it, even the question of feeling the way a person address the person in bondage.
In one of his sayings, as narrated by Abu hurayrah says, Let no one of you say, my slave boy or my slave girl, but let him say, in Arabic satire was attached, which could be translated, either my son, my daughter, or some people translated my man and my maiden, to even the the way of addressing is definitely, until the last moment of his life, Mohammed peace be upon him while he was just dying on his deathbed. One of the last thing, he said, prayers, prayers, and what your hand possessed that is, I commend you to be observant
towards two things, you recognize prayers with number two, to be kind and compassionate with those people who are still in that time.
And we have any indication that the issues that you've just indicated to identify that influence Muslim attitudes at the time, it did influence them tremendously, both in the lifetime of the Prophet peace be upon him and after him. And any aberration or deviation that might have taken place by some so called Muslims, or people claiming the name of Islam has nothing to do with the spirit of Islam. Let me just give you a few examples.
One of the most close companions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him the very famous villain, villain, who was an Ethiopian slave. And when he turned to slam his master used to torture him civilian that lots of stories about the kind of torture that used to have to him.
And then Abu Bakr, one of the companions of Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him once passed by him while he was tortured, and he was appealing to his masters, to have compassion on him. The master finally refused. And he said, you know, that you offered if you want, you can buy him, a buck used his own funds to buy the slave and then he set him free. It turns out to be one of the most prominent figures in the history of Islam. And in fact, he was the first non Muslim of the Prophet that's the person who makes the call for the prayers, it's very close to the Prophet peace be upon him.
The same thing, we find that some abubaker again, in a different occasion that one time he was seen, with some kind of simple garments on him, and with his slave wearing a better clothes, financial material, and somebody asked him, How come you know, you giving him something better, even then, what's your way? You know what his answer was? You said, you say I became old. And he is a young man. And he likes to learn new things and go find material. So he's, he's young, let him enjoy. This is the kind of attitude
the second clip after the Prophet. At one time, even he said that if Salim who was a slave, actually, before, he was dead at that time, but he said, If Selim was living today, I would have appointed him original Roland.
And he meant it.
There have been several incidents similar to this, for example, Abu hurayrah, the famous narrator of prophetic tradition, once saw a man riding on his whatever horse or camel, and his slave is just walking behind him. He got angry with him and said, carry him behind you. Let's call him on the same horse. Because he is your brother. And his soul is just like your soul.
Even in cases when people were a little bit off track, like the story of opposer, another Companion of the Prophet one time, he gets into an argument with a man, a penalty was a black man. And then he, under anger, he just said he knew son of a black woman. And the Prophet peace be upon him was very angry, he said, his face became reddish, and he said, facade, which means things exceeded the limits, things exceeded the limits. And then he said, there is no superiority of the son of the white woman over the son of a black woman. And then another narration, the prophet was have was supposed to have said to opposer, in a camera on ckj, you are a person who still have traces of this
understanding ignorance, days, preceding Islam.
To see how that affected the feeling of abuser even though it was just a matter of anger. He put his cheek on the earth. And he insisted kept begging that black man who had insulted him but that was to put his foot over his cheek. Of course, the other person, the black man was so novel that he didn't Of course want to do that. But he was ready to get that humiliation to get correction. You have the offensive word. You compare that with what has been going on until recently using very,
very inappropriate terms to call people because you differ with them in terms of ethnic background and all that. It's quite unique in terms of attitude.
But these are
Not only examples, as I said, I'm just giving a very brief abstraction in our brief summary of some of the attitudes or reflection of these teachings. But indeed, it is a well known fact that all of the companions of the Prophet I mentioned and others have been engaged in tremendous activity emancipating slaves, and many of them, especially those who are rich, like Abu Bakr did spend a lot of money from their own wealth to buy slaves and then set them
free. Indeed, many of the so called previous slaves or sons of the slaves came to occupy a very prominent position in Islamic history.
One example is that son of a slave or semi Abizaid was appointed as a commander of an army which had many of the nobert crush it under his command, and he was still a young man at that time. In the
among the scholars and jurists in Islam, there are people like APA in Abu Dhabi, a black man, who was actually regarded as the prominent jurist in Makkah, and he was the man he was the
or religious leaders in Makkah, which in Tibet says the holiest shrine of Islam, just like talking about the black Pope, for example, some something really unique. By way of the position he was occupying other very famous companions of the Prophet, disciple, and including people like and mokdad. as well. All of these people were most prominent and were accepted without any hangups. Simply, credit goes to Islam, even though we know that the background of herbs which was no better than the background, in other places where racism and superiority by ethnic
allegiance has been quite prominent. Now, besides this appeal to
individual piety, did Islam provide for any specific legal provisions to facilitate the emancipation of those who were under bondage? A plenty of it. First of all, there was the protection of their rights not only by way of appeal to goodness, but legally in one of the sayings of the Prophet which is narrated in at least five collections of heavies in Bukhari Muslim telnet in Saudi and Abu Dawood. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him says whoever kills a slave, we will kill him.
Whoever cuts the nose or mutilate the nose of a slave, we will cut his nose. Whoever sterilizes a slave, we will sterilize him. So I put them in the legal sense, in the same line on the same level as any other person. In addition to this, Islam did encourage a great deal. The emancipation of slaves. In fact, in verse 13, chapter one thing in the Quran, it talks about one of the main causes for a person to avoid being thrown into the Hellfire or to atone for his sins. It's a Sakura, two, three slave and the saint of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as narrated in necessity and a Buddha would. He mentioned a number of things that
would help in saving the person the Hereafter, besides feeding the hungry and visiting the sick, and he added hokulani and that is emancipate those who are in bondage. But in addition to this, the Islam also legalized emancipation under certain circumstances. For example,
as atonement for certain sense, emancipation of slaves, was the way out of it. For example, in chapter five in the Quran, verse 92, in the case of involuntary manslaughter, that one of the punishments that the person would have to be subject to is to free a slave. So that's one way
in other cases, like some kind of family problems, which was known as a person swearing for example, that she will not sleep with his wife or something of that sort. Again, if he wants to go back on that, he has to be a slave, a person who swears or second author commitment of something other than this even and does not fulfill it. Again, to atone for breaking his promise you would have to feed a slave. Some also some tourist added that a person who deliberately break the fast even one day during the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting, again, that wasn't meant to be a free slave. So the door was wide open, that instead of
to encourage people because this sense are repetitive, people
can constantly make these kind of mistakes because they are human so then which means that it would be a constant way out to emancipate slaves. The other thing also
So the Prophet indicated is that if a person is jokingly says to his slave, you're free, he becomes free.
If a person severely beat his slave, or slap him on the face, the only atonement for that is to set him free. And that was narrated in Muslim. If a person, or if two people have come and claim in one person in bondage, and one of them freed him automatically, is free. So it's quite obvious that Islamic teaching, both on the spiritual, more and even legal level, are all geared towards gradually getting rid of that social.
I guess, a lot of people, including many Muslims, Wonder as to why Islam didn't explicitly make slavery or holding another person in bondage illegal, and thereby bring about a faster change in
this situation, okay, in order to bring about change and something like that which has been deep rooted, you have to look at the methodology of change, you have to look at how you dry the sources of slavery. And then you consider additional positive steps to free those who are already in bondage. Now, the main problem here is that slavery has been a very deep rooted institutions social and political and economic and it's very difficult to read the society from it by just issue an order. We know what's happened in the US, for example, and just make it from above, without getting people freed first, spiritually, morally and psychologically, to accept the new situation.
Secondly, as we have already indicated, Islam dried, all new sources of slavery and the Prophet peace be upon him, consider it a big sin, to try to take anyone who is free and enslaved them. So there is nothing like that you cannot enslave someone because he's in debt, but you have to help him to pay his debt. The only additional source or the only source that remain, at least in a temporary basis was the case of war captives are prisoners of war, until such time that exchange of prisoners or arrangement could be made with the enemy who's fighting. But otherwise, all other sources were totally forbidden, whether it's kidnapping or any other thing of that nature.
And certainly, in addition to that, like indicated, the door was open wide, by way of atonement for sins by wave encouragement by wave, charitable activity, to
to free, whoever is remaining. So it took perhaps a little bit more time, or it required more time to really move in a smooth and short way, rather than creating a commotion that would not lead to any benefit to those who are really suffering or those who are really looking for this.
We know that there was a gradual prohibition of intoxicants,
which was all completed during the life of Prophet Muhammad. Why didn't the final prohibition of bondage take place also during his lifetime? intoxication is a fisherman habit. It's a bad habit, but especially with habit. And it's quite possible to think that within a period of 10 years since the establishment of the Islamic State in Medina, 10 years were enough to detoxify for detoxification, right. But this was a deep rooted institution that required apparently more than 10 years. And as I indicated before, once you dry the old sources, and open the door, all it takes really is perhaps one or two generations to totally read the society from that, if that true spirit
of Islam, or detoxification, in the case of slavery was followed, it would have slavery would have completely disappeared, like I said, in no more than one generation or two. But the fact that some people violated that whether they were Muslims or non Muslim, this has nothing to do with the spirit of Islam. The road was made very clear, and the path was very well established.
That we'll have to conclude our program for today. We've exhausted our time. We want to invite you back next week we will continue our series on social system of Islam, and we'll be talking about the family in Islam. Thank you for watching. Assalamu alaikum Peace be on