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1- Treatment of Slaves in Islam:
The sections of this article are:
1- Treatment of Slaves in Islam.
2- A slave can request and earn his freedom from his Muslim Master.
Let us look at the following Sayings from our beloved Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him:
Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported: "When I was beating my servant, I heard a voice behind me (saying): Abu Mas'ud, bear in mind Allah has more dominance over you than you have upon him. I turned and (found him) to be Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). I said: Allah's Messenger, I set him free for the sake of Allah. Thereupon he said: Had you not done that, (the gates of) Hell would have opened for you, or the fire would have burnt you. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4088)"
Abu Mas'ud al-Badri reported: "I was beating my slave with a whip when I heard a voice behind me: Understand, Abu Masud; but I did not recognise the voice due to intense anger. He (Abu Mas'ud) reported: As he came near me (I found) that he was the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and he was saying: Bear in mind, Abu Mas'ud; bear in mind. Abu Mas'ud. He (Aba Maslad) said: threw the whip from my hand. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Bear in mind, Abu Mas'ud; verily Allah has more dominance upon you than you have upon your slave. I (then) said: I would never beat my servant in future. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4086)"
Abu Mas'ud reported that he had been beating his slave and he had been saying: "I seek refuge with Allah, but he continued beating him, whereupon he said: I seek refuge with Allah's Messenger, and he spared him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: By Allah, God has more dominance over you than you have over him (the slave). He said that he set him free. This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Shu'ba with the same chain of transmitters, but made no mention of (these words) of his: I seek refuge with Allah, I seek refuge with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4089)"
If a Muslim beats his slave or slaps him on the face, then he must set him free:
"Zadhan reported that Ibn Umar called his slave and he found the marks (of beating) upon his back. He said to him: I have caused you pain. He said: No. But he (Ibn Umar) said: You are free. He then took hold of something from the earth and said: There is no reward for me even to the weight equal to it. I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who beats a slave without cognizable offence of his or slaps him, then expiation for it is that he should set him free. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4079)"
The above Sayings of our beloved Prophet peace be upon him are very straight forward. If a Muslim beats his slave, then the gates of hell will open for him. Muslims must not mistreat their slaves, because slaves in Islam are like brothers:
Narrated Al-Ma'rur: At Ar-Rabadha I met Abu Dhar who was wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied, "I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names." The Prophet said to me, 'O Abu Dhar! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names You still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity (power) and if you do so, then help them.' (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Belief, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 29)"
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: "When the slave of anyone amongst you prepares food for him and he serves him after having sat close to (and undergoing the hardship of) heat and smoke, he should make him (the slave) sit along with him and make him eat (along with him), and if the food seems to run short, then he should spare some portion for him (from his own share) - (another narrator) Dawud said:" i. e. a morsel or two". 4097. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4096)"
Narrated AbuDharr: "The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Feed those of your slaves who please you from what you eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves, but sell those who do not please you and do not punish Allah's creatures. (Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab, Book 41, Number 5142)"
2- Slaves are not meant to be slaves, because eventually they will all be set free. A slave in Islam can request and be granted his freedom from his master:
First, it is important to know that thousands of years ago life was different than today. Today, people wouldn't accept slavery for any reason. The reason for this is because people are a lot more independent both financially, education wise, mentally, etc... But people back then were different. When a tribe or a group of people lose a major battle and their money is mostly, if not all, is taken as war booty by the other side, then people could and would accept being slaves for the following reasons:
1- Both financial and social security. When their country or tribe lost the war, they also lost most or all of their money as war booty. Being out of money and food, it becomes necessary for an individual to find the means for basic survival in life. Living as a slave would provide this.
2- Protection from hostile individuals. Even under the Islamic rule, you can still find hostile individuals who violate the Law and take matters into their own hands. An enemy family can be sometime in danger if they don't have a "protector".
3- Widows, Orphans, and the extremely poor of the enemy side need the financial and social protection from a Master. Back then, there were no governments with good social system that protects everyone. Slavery back then was that social system in special cases.
There are probably more points I can add, but I think these are sufficient enough. Let us now see the Islamic System toward Slaves:
Slaves can request and get their freedom from their Muslim Masters:
Yes slaves were taken from the blood-thirsty and hostile enemies, but they were also given the right to get their freedom when ever they want. The Noble Quran not only allows slaves to request their freedom from their Muslim masters, but also orders the Muslim masters to pay the slaves money to help them stand on their feet and to be able to face life with a good jump start.
Let us look at Noble Verse 24:33 "Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them)," In this Noble Verse, we see that if a slave requests his freedom from his Muslim master, then his master not only must help him earn his freedom if there is good in the Slave, but also pay him money so the slave can have a good start in his free life.
"The law of slavery in the legal sense of the term is now obsolete. While it had any meaning, Islam made the slave's lot as easy as possible. A slave, male or female, could ask for conditional manumission by a written deed fixing the amount required for manumission and allowing the slave meanwhile to earn money by lawful means and perhaps marry and bring up a family. Such a deed was not to be refused if the request was genuine and the slave had character. Not only that, but the master is directed to help with money out of his own resources in order to enable the slave to earn his or her own liberty." 
Again, the Prophet peace be upon him said:
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari: "The Prophet said, "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)." (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)"
Narrated Asma: "No doubt the Prophet ordered people to manumit slaves during the solar eclipse. (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Eclipses, Volume 2, Book 18, Number 163)"
1- The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an.
Author: Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
Published by: Amana Publications, 10710 Tucker Street, Suite B, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2223 USA.
Telephone: (301) 595-5777.
Fax: (301) 595-5888.
ISBN: 0-91597-59-0 (HC).
2- The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an . Foot note #2991, page 875.
Further sites to research:
Slavery in the Bible. Total humiliation to slaves. Slaves are considered sub-humans and are equal to "animals".
Human rights and equality in Islam VS. Christianity.
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