Query: Assalamu Alaikum, Dear learned colleagues, I am seeking guidance and clarification on a subject which I have been unable to properly research sue to the many conflicting views I have come across. This is the Islamic jurisprudence on ‘Slavery‘. My questions are very specific and I would be grateful if you can answer them for me.
- What is Islam’s ‘in principal’ view of slavery?
- How does one become a slave? Are there conditions? Please explain all conditions by which a free person can become a slave?
- What rights (if any) do slaves have? For example, religious freedom, social freedom etc.?
- Are there laws defining the obligations of a slave owner? For example, the provision of food, shelter and protection?
- Does a slave owner have absolute power over a slave? Can he sell a slave? Punish a slave? Or discipline a slave by beating him/her?
- Does a child of a slave automatically become a slave? Can the owner lawfully remove the slave from it’s parent? What laws govern this issue?
- Can an owner kill his slave?
- How does a slave become free? What are the conditions for this?
- Can a slave owner lay with (have intercourse) with his slave? If the slave has a child, what is the legal status of this child? Is he/she a slave or free? What laws govern the obligations of the father toward this slave?
- Are there limits or restrictions on the duties which a slave owner can command his slave to perform? For example, limits on work?
Thank you for providing guidance.
Dear Brother, There are main and secondary questions in your list. As for the main questions, Islam was sent down while slavery was commonplace in all communities back then. It was allowed as it was commonplace and beneficial for the economy. Allah (Glory be to Him) says in the Glorious Qur’an:” And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts).
(5) Except from their wives or (slaves) that their right hands possess;” (23 – 5:6).
Islam has kept the right of having slaves as long as it’s valid in the community. Nowadays, slavery is deemed impermissible as it doesn’t serve the objectives of Islam.
As for the other questions, they are hypothetical and there’s no need to raise them. Answering these questions wouldn’t benefit you and ignorance of which wouldn’t hurt you.
Sources: Al-Azhar Al-Sharif
Also, Read: Can I Get Married in Secret Islam?