Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 1 Rajab 1438
Home » Fatwas » New Issues

Slavery has no place in today's Islam

I am a newly convert Muslim. Is it really allowed, in Islam, to have sex with the female captives of war as claimed by the radical groups like ISIS (Daesh) and others?


Islam came to find slavery existing in every part of the world. At that time, slavery was practiced through different means; people were enslaved through kidnapping and abductions, wars, and debts. Islam abolished all of these means with the exclusion of the enslavement of war prisoners. In its characteristic manner of introducing rulings, Islam did not abruptly abolish slavery but banned it by degrees to maintain social stability. The phenomenon of slavery existed in all the communities around the world and slaves were considered an important manpower resource in the social and economic life of ancient times.

Enslavement [in general] and the enslavement of prisoners of wars were legal institutions worldwide. Islam limited the sources of slavery with the aim of abolishing it; Islam prohibited enslaving anyone except those captured in battles when Muslims fought and defended themselves against tyrant enemies. This prohibition included the offspring of previously taken slaves. Islam allowed the enslavement of those who fought against Muslims in non-Muslim countries including women and children. However, it is only the Muslim ruler who was entitled to decide this according to what he sees as being in the best interest of Muslims. It was categorically forbidden to enslave anyone who did not fight Muslims. Enslaving a warrior is less evil than killing him. Islam prohibited the killing of female captives of war and substituted this with enslavement. In spite of this, Islam set certain ethics for the good treatment of slaves. It urged Muslims to treat them kindly and not harm them and prohibited any aggression against them.

Out of its eagerness for freeing all people, Islam expanded the means for emancipating slaves by making the manumission of a slave an expiation for multiple acts of worship that Muslims violate. These include breaking the fast in the month of Ramadan, zihar (wherein a husband deems his wife as unlawful to him as his mother), involuntary manslaughter, breaking oaths and the like. At the outset, Islam urged its followers to emancipate slaves and then limited the sources of slavery which resulted in its gradual abolishment.

Islam commanded Muslims to treat slaves kindly until they obtained their freedom. This was stated in multiple texts of the shari'ah in which slaves were described as brothers to their masters since they shared with them the brotherhood of humanity which necessitated being merciful towards them and respecting their dignity. Mercy towards slaves was expanded and their emancipation was prescribed as an expiation for beating or abusing them. In the consequence of such great mercy towards slaves, people entered Islam in multitudes.

Islam's stance on slavery

Islam observed a noble stance towards the institution of slavery; it limited its sources, increased the means towards their freedom, and exhorted Muslims to treat them kindly and emancipate them. This differed from what prevailed worldwide at that time and [the evil practices] of slave traders in later centuries after the discovery of the discovered new world.

The Quranic verses on female slavery were meant to deal with an existing fact that Islam tried to change as previously mentioned. The entire world signed the anti-slavery treaty which was ratified by Muslim scholars and Islamic countries and the rest of the countries of the world at a time when there was a fierce competition for slaves. Consequently, slavery ended worldwide after the international treaty for the abolishment of slavery was signed in Berlin in 1860 AD.

Today, the enslavement of war captives is replaced by imprisonment and other practices stated in international agreements that Muslims and all world countries abide by. This has become a binding system that disallows anyone to enslave another.

Radical groups distorted correct beliefs

One of the distinctive challenges of the period we live in is the significant presence of violence in our societies stirred by radical groups. These acts of violence—killing the innocents, displacing people and rapping women—stem from a doctrine of hatred and intolerance that fracture societies into constant turbulence and upheaval. For violent organizations, this ideology of hatred is based on an extreme interpretation of Islam that divides the world into the realm of Islam and the realm of war.
Essentially, the extremists fail to understand the peaceful message of Islam, leading them to believe that, at the core, the relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims must be driven by enmity and hostility. Consequentially, it solicits revulsion of anyone or anything that they perceive as infidel. The perception is craftily tweaked to advocate and legitimize unrelenting war and aggression, all of which stem from the overwhelming and uncontrolled feelings of hatred.

Related links
» Personification of the Prophets and Messengers in movies
» Writing an abbreviated form of salawat on the Prophet
» Serving alcohol in restaurants in non-Muslim countries
» Using Electronic Device to monitor Prayer Movements
» If slavery no longer exists, how can we get the reward of emancipation of slaves?