A Mith debuked: Muhammad owned black Slaves
Mohammed owned several black slaves.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya relies heavily on the prophet's biographies written by great ancient scholars. Therefore, he is regarded by Muslims as an authority, a primary source and a leader among the students of Islamic religion. This scholar tells us in his book, "Zad al-Ma'ad" (part 1, pp. 114-116), the following:"These are the names of Muhammad's male slaves: Yakan Abu Sharh, Aflah, 'Ubayd, Dhakwan, Tahman, Mirwan, Hunayn, Sanad, Fadala Yamamin, Anjasha al-Hadi, Mad'am, Karkara, Abu Rafi', Thawban, Ab Kabsha, Salih, Rabah, Yara Nubyan, Fadila, Waqid, Mabur, Abu Waqid, Kasam, Abu' Ayb, Abu Muwayhiba, Zayd Ibn Haritha, and also a black slave called Mahran."
Even in modern times, in
What was Mohammed's position on freeing the slaves?
In one instance , a man freed a slave that he kept as a sexual partner. When Mohammed heard what happened, he auctioned the boy and sold him for 800 derhams to Na-eem Ebn Abdullah Al- Nahham. (Sahih Moslem vol. 7, page 83). According to Mohammed, the punishment for committing adultery is different between a free man, a free woman and a slave-woman. The man is to be flogged one-hundred stripes and be exiled for one year. The free woman must be stoned to death. But the slave-woman (since she has a monetary value) will not be exiled or killed, she is to be flogged one-hundred stripes. If the violation is repeated, the slave-woman is to be sold.(Sahih Al Bukhary vol. 8:821 & 822)
Islam Looked Down on Blacks
SLAVERY IN ISLAM
Islam institutionalized slavery. Muhammad began to take slaves after he moved to
The West is familiar with the history of slavery in the new world. It was sinful and terrible, and it lasted for several hundred years. And it was abolished mainly through the efforts of Christians in
MUHAMMAD, MUSLIMS, THE QUR’AN, AND SLAVERY
To begin with, the Qur’an justifies slavery, and often mentions slaves. Here are some relevant verses:
33:50 - "Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom God has given you as booty."
This verse clearly shows that Muslims believe that taking slaves in war was a God-given right. These slaves were considered 'booty' or the spoils of war. As the saying goes: to the victors go the spoils.
23:5 - "... except with their wives and slave girls, for these are lawful to them:..."
The passage's context here (not quoted in full) details how Muslim males are allowed to have sexual relations with their wives and slave girls. Implicit in this is that Muslim males had slave-concubines. 70:30 is basically a repeat of 23:5.
Ibn Sa'd's "Tabaqat", gives a clear description of Muhammad having "relations" with at least one of his slave girls. Muhammad had sexual relations with Mariyah, his Coptic slave. Mariyah and her sister, Sirin were slaves given as gifts to Muhammad. Muhammad gave Sirin to Hasan Thabit, the poet. Ibn Sa'd says that Muhammad "liked Mariyah, who was of white complexion, with curly hair and pretty." [Taken from Ibn Sa'd's "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir" (Book of the Major Classes), p151].
Ibn Sa'd also writes that Mariyah bore Muhammad a son named Ibrahim. He died 18 months later. Sa'd writes: "If he had lived, no maternal uncle of his would have remained in bondage", p164. This shows that there were other Coptic slaves owned by the Muslims.
The Qur’an also instructs Muslims NOT to force their female slaves into prostitution (24:34), and even allows Muslims to marry slaves if they so desire (4:24), and to free them at times as a penalty for crime or sin (4:92, 5:89, 58:3) and even allows slaves to buy their liberty, if they meet certain of their master's conditions (24:33). [90:10 'freeing of a bondsman' refers to Muslims ransoming other Muslims who were slaves of non-Muslims.]. While I think it's nice to allow a slave to obtain his freedom, (at his master's discretion) it is tragic that Islam allows them to be enslaved in the first place. That's like robbing a bank and giving some of the money back to the bank, and thinking you did the right thing! The above verses show that taking slaves was ordained by Allah, and that it was permissible for Muslim males to have sex with their female slaves. It also shows that slaves were a valuable commodity to the Muslims, otherwise, Allah would not have imposed the penalty of freeing a slave to make up for a crime.
BUKHARI'S HADITH AND SLAVERY
There are hundreds of Hadith that deal with slavery. Whole chapters of Hadith are dedicated to dealing with the taxation, treatment, sale, and jurisprudence of slaves. In addition to this, numerous Hadith mention slaves, and their relation to their Muslim masters. Here is a selection of Hadith on slaves: [all Hadith are from Sahih Bukhari, unless noted.]
Here, Muslims had taken female slaves, and had sex with them. Muhammad approved of this. He only admonished them not to practice coitus interruptus.
Here, the Muslims attacked the Banu Mustaliq, and took slaves. The female slaves were distributed as booty to the Muslim soldiers. Being away from home, the soldiers became horny, and want to have sexual relations with the newly captured female slaves. They went to Muhammad and asked about coitus interruptus. He told them not to practice that, but to complete the sexual act with the slaves. Related Hadith show that they didn't want to get the women pregnant because they wanted to be able to sell them later on. Under Islamic law they were not allowed to sell pregnant female slaves.
In effect, Muhammad okayed the rape of female prisoners.
Here a woman frees a slave girl, but Muhammad says that she would have gotten more (heavenly) reward if she had given the slave one of her uncles, thus keeping the slave in slavery.
This is a long Hadith, and the quote reveals that Muhammad has slaves working in his house.
This Hadith shows that another one of Muhammad's slaves was a tailor. #346 gives additional details.
This Hadith shows that Muhammad held a slave, who was struck with an arrow.
The note for this Hadith says "Buraida hated Ali because he had taken a slave girl form the booty and considered that as something not good."
Here Ali took a newly captured slave girl, and had sex with her. When Muhammad was told about it, he approved of it. Note that slaves were considered as booty, and as a man’s property, they can use the female slave for sex, i.e., rape them.
This Hadith details the attack on the Jews of Khaibar. Again, many of the women and children were taken and made into slaves.
Vol. 5-Chapter 67 Narrated Ibn Ishaq: The Ghazwa (attack upon) Uyaina bin Hisn waged against Banu Al-Anbar, a branch of Banu Tamim. The prophet sent Uyaina to raid them. He raided them and killed some of them and took some others as captives.
Here, Muhammad sent out his men to attack another tribe. The killed some of them and took others as captives. Once again, the Muslims attacked a neighboring tribe.
[another Muslim who owned the slave that killed Umar.]
....Al-Abbas had the greatest number of slaves....
[Al-Abbas, the future Muslim leader had many slaves].
Aisha had her own slave.
Also, volume 7-#s 845, 341, 352, 371, 410, 413, 654, ch. 22, ch. 23, and
volume 1-#s 29, 439, 661,
volume 9-#s ch. 23, ch. 32, #293, 296, 277, 100, 80.
All these Hadith detail that many other Muslims owned slaves.
MUHAMMAD, ABU DAWUD'S HADITH, AND SLAVERY
Abu Dawud, vol. 2, chapter 597 - "On a Man who Beats His Slave While he is in the Sacred State (wearing Ihram)."
#1814- "(Abu Bakr) began to beat him (Bakr's slave) while the apostle of Allah was smiling and saying: "Look at this man who is in the sacred state, what is he doing?" [The note for this Hadith says "Abu Bakr beat his slave to teach him sense of responsibility."]
Abu Dawud, vol. 2, chapter 683 - "On the Marriage of a Slave without the Permission of His Masters"
#2074- "Ibn Umar reported the prophet as saying: "If a slave marries without the permission of his master, his marriage is null and void." Abu Dawud, vol. 2, chapter 1317 - "Contractual Obligation of a Slave."
#3499, 3500- "The contractual obligation of a slave is three days. If he finds defect in the slave within three days, he may return it without any evidence; if he finds a defect after three days, he will be required to produce evidence that the slave had the defect when he brought it."
MUHAMMAD, THE MUWATTA OF IMAM MALIK, AND SLAVERY
The chapters mentioned below show just how intrinsic slavery was during Muhammad's life, and the lives of the Caliphs. The Muwatta is a book of Islamic jurisprudence. It is full of regulations on dealing with slaves. Slaves were used throughout the Islamic world. Judging from the amount of Hadith here, it is safe to assume that many Muslims owned slaves.
Chapter 368 - "Who takes the Property of a Slave When He is Freed"
Chapter 371 - "Slaves who cannot be set Free in the Obligatory Freeing of a Slave"
Chapter 383 - "Cohabitation with a Slave Girl after Declaring Her 'Mudabbir" (free after the master's death).
Chapter 387 - "Who is Entitled to the Property of a Slave or Slave Girl at the time of
Chapter 388 - "The Limit of Responsibility of the Seller in the
Chapter 390 - "On the Conditional
There are additional chapters dealing with slaves. This list is enough to show that dealing with slaves during and after Muhammad's time was extensive.
OTHER ISLAMIC WRITINGS ON MUSLIMS OWNING SLAVES
There are additional Islamic writings that document how Muhammad took purchased, sold, and gave away slaves. The following quotes are from "Behind the Veil".
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, a great scholar and Islamic historian says in his book "Zad al-Ma'ad", part 1, p160:
"Muhammad had many male and female slaves. He used to buy and sell them, but he purchased more slaves then he sold. He once sold one black slave for two. His purchases of slaves were more than he sold." "Muhammad had a number of black slaves. One of them was named 'Mahran'. Muhammad forced him to do more labor than the average man. Whenever Muhammad went on a trip and he, or his people, got tired of carrying their stuff, he made Mahran carry it. Mahran said "Even if I were already carrying the load of 6 or 7 donkeys while we were on a journey, anyone who felt weak would throw his clothes or his shield or his sword on me so I would carry that, a heavy load". Tabari and Jawziyya both record this, so Islam accepts this as true."
Ali, who was Muhammad's son-in-law, whipped Aisha's slave in front of Muhammad to make her talk about the adultery charges against Aisha. Muhammad did not say a word to Ali about beating the female slave. [From the Sirat Rasulallah, p496.]
In the Sirat Rasulallah, Muhammad massacred 800 males and took their women and children as slaves. He kept at least one Jewish female named Rayhana as his concubine, and gave the rest away to the Muslims.
The Sirat says (p466) "Then the apostle divided the property, wives, and children of Banu Qurayza among the Muslims....and "Then the apostle sent Sa'd Zayd brother of Ashhal with some of the captive women of Banu Qurayza to
One thing for certain: MUHAMMAD WAS A SLAVER. The names of many of Muhammad's slaves are detailed in Muslim writings and they can be found in "Behind the Veil". Some Muslims claim that slaves under Islam were always treated fairly and kindly, and that slaves in the West were always treated like "chattel". The fact is that the real treatment slaves in both the west and under Islam has varied. Some slaves were treated fairly, others were treated brutally. Both the Qur’an and New Testament command masters to treat slaves fairly. Compare Ephesians 6:9 with Sura 4:36. Both are similar. However, the New Testament condemns slave trading in 1 Tim (menstealers is the same word for slave-traders), the Qur’an allows for, even urges slave-taking.
THE RIGHTS OF SLAVES UNDER ISLAM
According to the Hughes Dictionary of Islam, slaves had few civil or legal rights. For example:
- Muslim men were allowed to have sex anytime with females slaves - Sura 4:3, 4:29, 33:49.
- Slaves are as helpless before their masters as idols are before God - Sura 16:77
- According to Islamic Tradition, people at the time of their capture were either to be killed, or enslaved. Shows you that they were at the bottom of the barrel to start with.
- According to Islamic jurisprudence, slaves were merchandise. The sales of slaves was in accordance with the sale of animals.
- Muhammad ordered that some slaves who were freed by their master be RE-ENSLAVED!
- It is permissible under Islamic law to whip slaves.
- According to Islam, a Muslim could not be put to death for murdering a slave. Ref. 2:178 and the Jalalayn confirm this.
- According to Islam, the testimony of slaves is not admissible in court. Ibn Timiyya and Bukhari state this.
- According to Islamic jurisprudence, slaves cannot choose their own marriage mate. - Ibn Hazm, vol. 6, part 9.
- According to Islamic jurisprudence, slaves can be forced to marry who their masters want. - Malik ibn Anas, vol. 2, page 155.
Slavery continued in Islamic lands from about the beginning to this very day. Muslim rulers always found support in the Qur’an to call 'jihad', partly for booty, part for the purpose of taking slaves. As the Islamic empire disintegrated into smaller kingdoms, and each ruler was able to decide what Islam's theology really meant. Usually, he always found it in support of what he wanted to do. Their calls of jihad against their neighbor facilitated the taking of slaves for Islam. The Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence support the taking of slaves, so, those petty Muslim rulers were following the Qur’an when they needed slaves.
WHO COULD BE MADE SLAVES UNDER ISLAM?
- Islam allows Muslims to make slaves out of anyone who is captured during war.
- Islam allows for the children of slaves to be raised as slaves
- Like #1, Islam allows for Christians and Jews to be made into slaves if they are captured in war. After Muslim armies attacked and conquered
- Christians and Jews, who had made a treaty with the ruling Muslims could be made into slaves if they did not pay the "protection" tax. This paying for 'protection' was just like paying a Mafia racketeer! This allowed Muslim rulers to extort money from non-Muslim people.
POST MUHAMMAD SLAVERY
WHERE DID MANY OF THE MUSLIM'S SLAVES COME FROM?
Although Muslims took slaves from all over the lands they conquered, many of the Muslim slaves were black Africans. There were forced to do the harshest labor. There was a famous black slave revolt in
ABUSES OF SLAVES IN MODERN ISLAM TODAY
Muhammad did say that slaves should be treated fairly. But they were still a Muslim's property. Just as abuses occurred under Christianity, so too, many abuses occurred, and still occur under Islam. The difference between the two is that Islam ordains the taking of slaves during war, thus perpetuating slavery. Christianity does not. In slavery's perpetual existence, Islam has seen great abuses of slaves. Everyone knows about the abuses of slaves in the new world. What do you know about the abuses of slaves under Islam? I found two very good books on slavery and Islam.
- "Slavery and Muslim Society in
- "The Slave Trade Today" by Sean O'Callaghan, pub in 1961.
Both books really opened my eyes to how terrible slavery under Islam really is. I use the present tense, because it is obvious that these abuses continue to this day.
I also have a number of other references concerning slavery in Islam. A general survey is Hughes Dictionary of Islam. It notes a few basic points:
- Slaves have no civil liberty, but are entirely under the authority of their owners.
- Slavery is in complete harmony with the spirit of Islam. Islam did make life better for the average slave, but Muhammad intended it to be a perpetual institution.
- Hughes also says that it is a righteous act to free a slave. I just find it hard to understand that the god who told Muhammad to take slaves later tells him it's good to free slaves?
In 'The Slave Trade Today', Sean O'Callaghan toured the
This is just a portion of what O'Callaghan saw. This happens because Islam has made it legal for slavery. Yes, some of this is against Islam, but because Islam has made it into an institution, abuses will occur. Remember, this happened just 35 years ago or so, and it is probably still happening today. It is also noted that as the slaves get too old to perform service or sexually satisfy their masters, their masters 'manumits' the slaves. Now, aged, worn out, they are put out on the streets to fend for themselves. These ex-slaves are left to fend for themselves. Their former owner has committed a great, righteousness act in freeing a slave! He gets rid of the burdensome slave, and gets a bonus in heaven. What a religion! In Fisher's book, other observations are recorded: In Mecca:
"We take note of 20 tall Negroes in turbans walking near the Kaba. They are eunuch slaves and are employed as police in the great Mosque. There are about 50 of them all together." "The streets are full of slaves... we see a few old slave women. They are recognized by the poverty of clothing... but we see nothing of the younger women slaves who are kept in the houses of the city." "As we move along we see two or three very old men and women who look like black skeletons. If we go to the mosque at sunrise we shall see some of these, if we go at sunset they will be there too, and if we pass by at , we shall see them there still .. Sleeping on the stones in their rags. They have no home but the mosque, and no food but what they receive in alms; (they were) turned out to seek the bounty of Allah, as their masters would say." Speaking of how Saudi obtains so many black slaves: "they (the slave traders) pose as Muslim missionaries who guide their compatriots (black African Muslims), to the Holy Places of Islam, to make the Pilgrimage, and be instructed in the Qur’an in Arabic." Once transported, they are made into slaves. "So with the connivance of the Saudi authorities the ancient trade in black ivory is perpetuated in our time in spite of the international conventions".
Fisher also notes that white slaves are most highly prized. Another interesting comment I've come across is that there were regions in black