Islamic views on slavery | Wikipedia audio article

Islamic views on slavery | Wikipedia audio article

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Islamic views on slavery

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
– Socrates

Islamic views on slavery represent a complex and multifaceted body of Islamic thought, with various Islamic groups or thinkers espousing views on the matter which have been radically different throughout history. Slavery was a mainstay of life in pre-Islamic Arabia and surrounding lands. It was in this social milieu that Islam emerged, whence the Quran and the hadith (sayings of Muhammad) address slavery extensively, assuming its existence as part of society but viewing it as an exceptional condition and restricting its scope. Early Islamic dogma forbade enslavement of free members of Islamic society, including non-Muslims (dhimmis), and set out to improve conditions of human bondage. The sharīʿah (divine law) regarded as legal slaves only those non-Muslims who were imprisoned or bought beyond the borders of Islamic rule, or the sons and daughters of slaves already in captivity. In later classical Islamic law, the topic of slavery is covered at great length. Slaves, be they Muslim or those of any other religion, were equal to their fellow practitioners in religious issues.In theory, slavery in Islamic law does not have a racial or color component, although this has not always been the case in practice. Slaves played various social and economic roles, from domestic worker to high-ranking positions in the government like Emir. Moreover, slaves were widely employed in irrigation, mining, pastoralism, and the army. Some rulers even relied on military and administrative slaves to such a degree that they seized power. In some cases, the treatment of slaves was so harsh that it led to uprisings, such as the Zanj Rebellion. However, this was an exception rather than the norm, as the vast majority of labor in the medieval Islamic world consisted of free, paid labour. For a variety of reasons, internal growth of the slave population was not enough to fulfill the demand in Muslim society. This resulted in massive importation, which involved enormous suffering and loss of life from the capture and transportation of slaves from non-Muslim lands.The Quran provides for emancipation of a slave as a means of religious atonement for sins.The Arab slave trade was most active in West Asia, North Africa, and Southeast Africa. In the early 20th century (post World War I), slavery was gradually outlawed and suppressed in Muslim lands, largely due to pressure exerted by Western nations such as Britain and France. For example, Saudi Arabia and Yemen only abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from Britain; Oman followed suit in 1970, and Mauritania in 1905, 1981, and again in August 2007. However, slavery claiming the sanction of Islam is documented presently in the predominantly Islamic countries of Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, and Sudan.Many early converts to Islam were the poor and former slaves. One notable example is Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi.


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