A Snowball in my Faith

I remember one time in high-school I asked my Islamic mythology teacher this hot question:
Did Islam prohibit Slavery as it did other sins like drinking alcohol and/or Man slaughter ?
And after some beating around the bush, with needed and unneeded arguments to get away with the answer I was seeking. She finally admitted that Islam definitely prohibited it, but INDIRECTLY. And she justified the reason behind this indirectness by saying:

Islam came at a time where the whole society was totally dependant on slaves. And it was not possible to prohibit it and collapse the whole system. That’s why it strongly encouraged freeing slaves, and threatened the ones who might abuse this right.

That was the most provocative answer I heard in my life. It opened a Pandora’s Box in my head; it busied my mind with millions of other unanswered questions and doubts.
How could this be?

If the verse “there is no God but one God” is the first sentence a Moslem recites to declare his deity to Allah; the one and only.
If it is the first vow that he takes in his shahada*.
If from that moment he is to understand that he and all others are equal before ONE God.
If his worshippers are to seal a sacred bond to the belief of equity before him.
Then how can this great Allah allow the sovereignty of man over man when he orders us not to bow but to his holiness. To his almightiness. To his ONENESS?

If God; The Equitable , who equates Arabs to none-Arabs and judges none, but each and every one’s individual deeds, then how can the JUST be unjust?

No, that just didn’t make any sense; forbidding alcohol was a very sensitive issue in that same society, yet Islam approach it in “stages”, Couldn’t then slavery be treated in the same manner?

It was then when I felt this urging need to seek the answer in Quran and 7adeath li ya6ma’n galbi**.
And in my quest for truth I found out that Islam handled the issue of slavery in a very peculiar manner wa lam ya6ma’n galbi ***

It did not prohibit it as our text books conditioned us to believe. Slavery existed for decades after Islam. It did not prohibit practicing its market. Free people were owned at times of war as Sabaya****, and Islam did not stop it. Islam even gave the owners of female slaves the right to mate as many of them as they owned. And regardless of how kind their masters were to those slaves, the fact remains that they were slaves; they didn’t have any choice.

But nevertheless, Islam did encourage freeing slaves and threatened the ones who might abuse this right. But it did not forbid owning slaves.

This is more like prescribing a Panadol for a patient that suffers from cancer.

Quran is explicit in postulating Islam as the antithesis of jahiliyya*****. It institutes legislation and determines principles of right and wrong conduct. If this is a known fact, then how come, according to Quran, drinking alcohol is considered a sin that leads to hell and Slavery is not?

Nothing can be as valuable as one’s freedom; taking a man’s freedom is like taking his life, may be even worse.

God, the mercy, the love, the just is much mightier than to allow such a brutal act, he created me a free soul, not to be enslaved by anyone but his ONENESS.

And the snowball continued to roll

* Shahada: to become a Moslem you have to recite and seal your bond to your faith by the verse: there is no God but Allah, and Mohamad is his messenger.
** li yatma’n galbi: to reassure my faith
*** lam yatma’n galbiIt: decreased my faith
**** Sabaya: in victory, the wining party were permitted to own the losing party’s men and women as slaves

***** jahiliyya: the ignorant time before Islam

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34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. McArabian
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 17:08:00

    Welcome to my world. I believe in Allah, but I don’t believe that Mohammad was very accurate in reciting the Quran, he is only a man after all. The Quran is full of stuff like this that doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not follow the stuff that I don’t agree with, and let Allah decide what to do with me come Judgement day.

    Reply

  2. TariqKhonji
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 17:16:00

    Great topic.

    There is also the fact that Islam states that it is OK to sleep with slave girls outside of wedlock…
    Slaves by definition are property and by this definition do not have the right to resist.
    So, this implies that Islam allows rape in certain circumstances…

    Reply

  3. Jingoism
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 20:02:00

    It’s “Islamic mythology” not “Islamic methodology”
    With extra emphasis on the myth.
    😉

    Reply

  4. AyyA
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 20:37:00

    Jingoism
    Copied….pasted, thanks
    Your style looks familiar though 😉

    Reply

  5. mishari26
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 20:46:00

    This link describes the issue to a great degree of accuracy.

    http://www.twf.org/Library/Slavery.html

    I would just like to remind people that irrasool Mohammad “La yan6eq 3an ilhawa” (does not speak out of his own whim). he was God’s messenger. I think its a great insult to Allah to say he chose a poor messenger that didn’t recite his message accurately.

    Lastly, I don’t believe it is our right as humans to assume we should decide what is “right” and what is “wrong”. God has that right alone. He decides what is good, and what is bad. what is fair and what is not. Assumption of that ability is very egotistic on our part. And no one with a speck’s measure of ego in his heart will ever enter Heaven. “La yadkhol iljanna man fe qalbeh mithqal tharra min kibr”.

    Because ego is God’s property, all of it. none of it is ours. He deserves it, we dont.

    All I can do is authenticate to the best of my ability that a certain 7adeath has been carried reliably to us through multiple chains of trustworthy people who have not been known to lie or forget(the Sanad again). After that, that 7adeath is God’s command. I can’t choose to take some of Islam and throw the bits I don’t like, because again that places my own judgement over God’s, again places my ego over His. and I can’t do that.

    Reply

  6. shosho
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 21:20:00

    Ayya, I wonder what inspired you to write about this topic 😛

    I have always wondered about the matter too, and here are the possible explanations to this hot topic. For starters we need to identify how man became a slave back then.
    1- Financial debt, that can only be settled by selling oneself.
    2- War hostage.
    3- Being fathered by a slave (being mothered by a slave does not necessarily indicate that the person is a slave).

    Since a slave is either a debt settlement, war booty, or part of the cattle, we could deduce that salvery was a purely economic matter. Having established this fact, let’s look at how Islam dealt with it?

    1-Needless to say that Islam needed to tolerate slavery to a certain extent in order to flourish. The rules of war back then enforced it, and in not abiding by these rules, Muslims will always be the losers if they released the opponant’s POWS and theirs remained in hostage. However, when you look at the Prophet’s actions, he always released the Kuffar’s POWS and as a result many of them became muslim, because the gesture in itself was too magnificent as to not take this new religion seriously. Since Islam is based on both Quran and sunna, and judging from the Prophet’s actions that are part of sunna – POWS should always be released.

    2-Since part of the Zakat and Sadaqa is to relieve other Muslims from debt, there is no need to sell oneself in order to settle one’s debt.

    3-Finally, the crux of the matter: why is it that Islam did not abolish slavery and enforce freeing all the slaves?
    I think we need to look at the population of the Arabia back then, which included 2 classes of people, masters and slaves, and I think slaves outnumbered the masters. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ratio was 1:4, and if Islam did abolish slavery, then you could imagine the hardship it would create: many hands into the job market with few occupational options out there. There is the possibility that those released from slavery would seek work in neighboring empires, or even sell themselves there in order to live.

    Now one might think here that those who bought slaves, would be able to pay them a wage. That’s a plausible hypothesis, although I am more inclined to think that generally the people of Arabia were too poor to start with, and the fact that they resorted to slavery for domestic help and to invading other tribes for cattle is a clear indication that they were too poor to pay a standard wage to all their freed slaves.

    In the end, (sorry for the long comment cannot help it) the abolishment of slavery, just like forbidding drinking, was in a way gradual: Muslims should release slaves as a form of atonement for sin, and they cannot keep POWS or enforce a man in debt into slavery. So there are outlets of slavery that were literally shut by Islam, and the one that remained was bound to disappear by time.

    Reply

  7. shosho
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 21:28:00

    I just checked the link mishari posted here, I wish I read it before posting my long comment -it provided all the info I wanted to give!!! Thanks mishari 🙂

    Reply

  8. mishari26
    Oct 15, 2005 @ 22:15:00

    Thanks shosho for the your comment, it said everything I wanted to say.

    Reply

  9. Gigi
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 01:14:00

    Ayya.. yes according to Islam there is one deity and that is God, the only being that should be worshipped. Before him there are no wastas through a person’s connections or station in life or power or wealth or what have you. In that religion does not lie. We are indeed all equal before the eyes of God.

    Here on earth however that is another matter. There is and always will be Master and Servant, CEO and common Employee. And not only in matters of power. People are unequal in a million other ways: beauty, intelligience, charisma, wisdom.. etc. etc. The point is that all those inequalities are in the eyes of Mankind… before God they are all equal because God doesn’t see people based on those stratifications but based on their deeds.

    That’s one thing. The other thing you seemed to suggest was that a slave worships his/her slave- owner. That is so simply incorrect. The slave owner is not regarded as a deity. Therefore, there is no contradiction between’s God’s ultimate Oneness as you said and with the fact that slavery was not immediately abolished in Islam.

    Ok moving on to the rest of your issues with why Islam didn’t put a direct end to slavery. First of all let me admit that my problem is that I’m too lazy to do research, and always simply resort to whatever (un?)common sense I may be said to have 😛 hehe

    So to put it simply the way I see it is, back in the day things couldn’t be done without slaves, simply because there wasn’t a stable currency for workers to be paid. Plus, a lot of people might have ended up starving to death for lack of jobs. Excuse my flippancy but Heck, unemployment is still a problem 😛 No but seriously the sad truth is that there are a lot of people, even today, who would agree to work for nothing but food and board, as did slaves. So just imagine how the situation was back then. I’m not saying that a well-to-do or even struggling Freeman who was given a choice would choose to be a slave or that none of the slaves wanted their freedom… All I can say is I’m sure life was a lot harder than it is now and the institution of slavery had its place in the world and a role to play among the people of a certain point in history.

    And another thing… this may sound crazy but how do we know but that there might be some time in an apocalyptic future where something very like the Slavery of Yore will be a harsh yet necessary way of life?! *imagines drying up of the world’s oil reserves and nuclear war and the destruction of capitalistic institutions* o_O !! Ok..ok.. maybe my imagination is running overboard here.. hehehe! But.. you never know!

    Ahem. Anyway, as for your comparison between the way Islam dealt with prohibiting alcohol and with only ‘discouraging’ slavery… Hasn’t history proven that slavery would become as good as extinct within the Worldly as well as Islamic framework that was set up to deal with it??

    As for alcohol, even with the clearest and strictest admonitions to abstain from it people still insist on “having their poison”, which is a common phrase I’m sure everyone has heard and wasn’t even coined by Islam but by the people who actually enjoy drinking (Well I see this in the movies.. when the bartender asks a customer “What’s yer poison?”):P
    What I’m saying is that people still find it hard to accept that drinking is bad for them even though so many things would point to the contrary.
    Ya3ni therefore, the fact that the religion was firmer in its stance regarding prohibiting alcohol is justified. Yaalla il-naas itsaddig!! 😛

    Mishari26:
    Just wanted to thank you for the informative link and to ariz waihi and say that though I feel the same way you do, unfortunately I don’t think that what you said would mean much to anyone who does not accept the infallibility of the Koran or the Prophet in the first place. Plus if a person’s argument stopped there then no dialogue can take place, that’s why I’m glad you posted the link which takes off the argument at the point where faith stops… And the link was indeed important because there are three kinds of potential believers there are those who “esalmoon” or accept freely without questioning (My mother is one of those, God bless her :)) and I forgot what the second type was but the third one was the type that questions everything and wants to be convinced in a rational manner before accepting anything simply on faith 🙂 (You guys might be surprised but I’m actually one of those).

    Shosho:
    Bravo! I tip my hat off to you for such an astute analysis which contained insights I didn’t even come across in the site that Mishari provided.
    Mashalla lailahilalla 3alaich ;*

    Jingoism:
    Thanks for the sound-byte! 😛

    Gigi, messily

    Reply

  10. Papillona ®
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 01:20:00

    great topic Ayya..
    There are many thing I can’t understand in Islam. I am sure there are some twisted facts. You know how people change “constitutions” according to their needs or interests or that they would protect some “rights” under “Islam”.

    So I don’t believe that everything we have now is exactly what it was 1500 years ago.

    technically I only believe whatever I find logic and convincing. Whether in Islam, christianity or even judaism.

    Reply

  11. Erzulie
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 07:36:00

    “So I don’t believe that everything we have now is exactly what it was 1500 years ago.”

    Nicely put Papillona.

    I’m not an expert on this subject but I do believe that the basis of religions is pure logic. For example, 75% of crimes in the U.S. are from alcohol abuse and consequences of its extreme consumption. With that said, I also want to add that the prohibition of alcohol in Islam was actually debated between Shyookh Deen, so that puts a little twist on things. On another note, the Quran is very metaphorical and a completely literal interpretation can be hazardous. And back in high school, my religion teacher would dismiss ‘absurd’ questions; I guess you have to do your own research on such touchy subjects. Excuse my jumping around between topics 😛

    Reply

  12. Misguided
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 12:35:00

    Dear AyyA,

    I commend your bravery in discussing openly such topics. I also find they way you tried to logically go through the issue very interesting.

    I may not agree with you completely…though. But I think the above readers did enough explanation.

    What I find more interesting nowadays… is how modern slavery has changed.

    In Kuwait we are the largest consumers of Human Trafficking. Thousands of people from south east asia kept as servants, cleaners and workers. They cannot travel freely out of the country. Their passports are held by thier owners. They have little recourse in the law to voice their grievances….and unfortunetly their subjugation is encouraged by ignorant policemen.

    I think… if you do feel strongly about slavery, then we should stop using the economic excuse to take away workers rights.

    Truly,
    Misguided

    Reply

  13. mishari26
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 13:22:00

    Misguided

    I agree with you totally. About AyyA’s bravery and Kuwait’s indian population as well. I personally insist that the maids working at my house have 1 holiday a week. Its not a full day holiday, they leave at 2pm and come home at 9-10pm. And even with that poor excuse of a holiday, I get blamed by relatives that I spoil them. If one of my maids wanted to leave me and work with someone else, they often complain that they are “spoiled”.

    GiGi

    I wasn’t aware the infallibility of Qur’an was in question here. but, if it is, lets discuss it by all means. I can’t continue discussing anything without that basis. Its the basis of every opinion I have. as well as the infallibility of Al-sunnah il-9a7ee7a (authenticated).
    I’m not a “dayyen” or a “mulla”, I am very lazy with prayers and such. true I don’t drink, but I’m hardly a role-model. Yet that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t express my ideology and how much I believe in it. As AyyA so graciously said, everyone here is free to say what they want in a civil manner. I am interested though about the idea that “I believe in what my logic agrees with”. Is that truly subservient to God? to me all that is required is “hearing” the command and “authenticating its source”, not that my mind agrees with it. I don’t worship my mind. I think I’m what is called a “sheep” in one of the posts on your blog 🙂

    Reply

  14. AyyA
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 16:14:00

    Guys
    I have to clear something here. You have to understand that the purpose of this entry is neither egoistic (kibr), nor it was meant to pinpoint deficiency in any religion. This is the last thing I want to do.
    I know that no matter how much we search and analyze, there will still be something missing. Not because that thing is not in existence, but more like we either have not seen it, or the fact that the probability that our assumption was built on fallacy is valid.
    Since the day we’re born we are dependant on our parents on everything including our beliefs and religions. But God had created the soul directly from him (wa nafakhna feehi min roo7ina). And “The Mind” that resides in that soul is part of him as well. Therefore, it will never cease to discover the truth when we emotionally become independent.
    But truths are not absolute, what could be your truth, could as well be illogical to others. Nevertheless; it is your truth and you are contented with it and you take it as your solid belief.
    Islamic history is loaded with philosophers like Al-Ghazali whom strongly forbade the role of the mind; religion for him was submission, it was even considered kofr to justify any order that was given by God. While there were others like Averroes ( Ibn Rushd) whom stressed on the role of the mind to search the truth and strengthen ones beliefs and he also believed that this was an order from God. And I tent to see the latter more logical for one reason; it is almost impossible to stop the mind and submit it completely to any belief; you would still have doubts. Even a hermit has doubts that he associate with the works of the devil (waswasat alshaytan).
    Religion is emotional. Not because it posses such qualities, but more because it is associated with God. We don’t have to search for God, he resides in our souls, and we know him by nature. Man had known God even before any religion existed. And I don’t believe on the theory that God was created by man to explain the unexplainable events in his life. On the contrary; I believe that God did exist in human souls and man just strived to discover and know him, and then he linked him to other event.
    It was necessary for me to write the paragraphs above so that I would make a clear distinction between the absolute truth and the inherited truths.
    Now let’s go back to our subject:
    In all religions people have tried to twist facts so that they could explain a certain theory or give an illogical event a meaningful explanation. And Islam is no exception. Meaning:
    If I accepted the logical analysis that Shosho as well as Mishari provided in his link and not associate it with actual facts, my analysis would be inaccurate. Facts tell me that slavery was not stopped until the year 1956 by the United Nations. If the theory is accurate, then Islam would have seen some fruits of this movement much before that date, at least we would have seen it diminish in Islamic states, but this was not the case. It is true that religious preaching resulted in treating slaves in a much better manner when slavery was accepted, but no religion completely abolished it. Not only that; but the idea of slavery is more accepted to Moslems than any other nation today to a point that until today we still do not differentiate between paid labors and slaves. So long we pay them their wages, some still believe that we own them.

    Reply

  15. shosho
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 17:29:00

    Slavery was abolished in Tunisia in 1835, and in Egypt in 1877, prior to the date you have provided. Whereas in other states, such as Saudi Arabia, slavery was abolished much later in the 1960s.

    I am not sure about Kuwait, but I know for fact that my grandmother’s father had a slave whom he freed in the early 20th century, but I do not recall any law in Kuwait that refers to slavery – either abolishing it or condoning it – if there is one please refer me to it, it’s an interesting chapter of our history that I wish to know more about. But my sense is that people at some point decide to stop having slaves for different reasons, sometimes religion, sometimes modernization.

    But usually abolishment is more associated with movements of modernization, which explains why the abolishment of slavery took place in Eygpt almost a century before Saudi Arabia, and in Tunisia 75 years before china (1910). So attributing the persistance of slavery to religion alone is not entirely accurate, and as far as I know, although the United Nations has passed the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery in 1956, slavery still exists today, unfortunately.

    It is true that analyzing matters logically without facts leads to inaccurate conclusions, on the other hand, stating facts without much analysis would lead to gross generalizations 🙂

    Reply

  16. Misguided
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 19:19:00

    Dear Shosho,

    You cannot explain faith with facts…or logical reason.

    I am faithful to my religion… but I do not pretend that it can be explained with logic.

    Iman (faith)… is just that… a step without logic. I can logically rationalize that there must be a creator. But to have Iman I have to believe that its one god.

    Could there be not 2 or 3 or four. There is no logical way for you to prove the presence of only one… You have to believe… and thats it.

    Why? Because Mohammed (PBUH) said so… again why? Because I believe that he is his prophet there is no logical way for me to prove that he is… other than he brought forth the Qura’n or word of God…

    And why should I believe that… BECAUSE I DO!

    My point is do not try to understand the logic behind Iman… there is none. You either believe or you don’t… and accept that there is only one god and that mohammed is his prophet and that the Qura’n is the holy book.

    Any attempt to try to find logic behind faith is bound to fail… Because there is none. That is why being a Mo2men (Believer) and Muslim are different.

    To be a Mo2men is far more difficult. Because if you do believe.. In God and his word.. well then there is no argueing with God’s commandments now is there?

    Reply

  17. Misguided
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 19:23:00

    Ooops!.. I didn’t finish.

    Finally, I would like to say this.

    To each his own. What you choose to belive or not is an entirely personal choice. You cannot force it upon anyone.

    And yes… I too have difficulty at times following every dictate of my religion. I believe that god is merciful and will forgive my sins… but that again is based on my illogical faith.

    Truly,
    Misguided

    Reply

  18. AyyA
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 20:25:00

    Shosho
    I have mentioned the abolition of slavery date above as the first universal act. But if you go back in history, the abolition movement started way before that in the British Empire and both British and French colonies were influenced.
    more in history

    Reply

  19. Elegance
    Oct 16, 2005 @ 21:54:00

    Is it or is it not forbidden in Islam? I always thought that one of the things that Islam came for was to end slavory. Is this correcto or not?

    Reply

  20. shosho
    Oct 17, 2005 @ 00:49:00

    Ayya, and why do you think the abolition of slavery started in Britain and France before the rest of the world?

    Reply

  21. q80_demon
    Oct 17, 2005 @ 02:05:00

    Shosho:
    The first attempts to abolish slavery in Europe by the major powers date back to the Congress of Vienna in the early 1800s after the Napoleonic wars. As for Kuwait, the practice of importing and exporting slaves for the purpose of sale was prohibited by Shaikh Ahmad Al-Jaber in the early years of his reign.

    Reply

  22. AyyA
    Oct 17, 2005 @ 02:49:00

    Shosh
    I have only mentioned Britain and France before the rest of the world for their influence on their colonies, Abolition came as a series of revolts against slavery throughout the western world; it was never a religious act though.
    Here isa link if you are interested in revolts against slavery in the British Empire

    Reply

  23. mishari26
    Oct 17, 2005 @ 16:30:00

    Dear AyyA,

    The basis of your post is that Slavery is wrong and should be abolished. I agree with you. You also ask why didn’t Islam abolish it. I ask, did it have to? it gave us a system to deal with it and minimize it. Also, I think this approach is ideal because even today when finding a real slave in the classical sense is extremely difficult, you can find millions of slaves with different labels. So the system of compassion and fairness can be applied to anyone down on his luck in the capitalist foodchain. What I mean is, slavery is inevitable within capitalism. I find a small difference between a prostitute in vegas and a female slave in the old islamic states.

    My other point I guess is that no law can enforce compassion. which is the real need. Only faith in a higher ideal can lead one to be compassionate with the unfortunate.

    Reply

  24. AyyA
    Oct 17, 2005 @ 17:28:00

    Mishari
    Believe me I’m more than you striving to find a logical explanation, and btw Shosho was the one who started this debate between me and Elegance about Slavery and Islam. And the reason I posted this was because I was looking for answers for both of us. I have asked shiyookh deen about it before, but until today, I’m still not convinced.
    Slavery is slavery. Freedom is freedom; there is no other word for slavery.

    Reply

  25. shady q80
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 03:24:00

    I can’t help but note that these “slavery laws” are particularly suited for a particular time/place yet Islam claims to be fit for all times/geographies.

    ditto, alcohol.

    Reply

  26. shady q80
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 04:10:00

    One more thing to point out in this lovely discussion: would anyone care to define what slavery is.

    Reply

  27. Gigi
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 06:49:00

    Mishari:
    Hi mishari, first of all let me clarify that I wasn’t trying to dispute the infallibility of the Qur’an or Prophet. I do have faith in those two things. I was just assuming from the conclusions that Ayya was reaching in her post as well as from McArabian’s comment that they didn’t 🙂 and in such a case, I was saying that it would be more effective to address the discussion in a form that best suits their standpoint, using roughly the same approach one might take when explaining something about Islam to a non-muslim. I’m sorry that you understood what I said as an attempt by me to stop you from expressing your ideology and how much you believe in it. That was not my intention. My intention was to try and avoid taking certain paths that I thought might result in ending dialogue.
    As for your queries about faith and needing to rationalize things, I think I’ll email you about that to tell you where I personally stand on those issues and my history of struggling between the two 🙂 I won’t do it here because I don’t want to go off on a personal tangent.. my comments are getting long enough as it is! 😀 hehehe. Oh, but let me just assure you that you are in no way a sheep in my books 🙂

    Ayya:
    Hi Ayya 🙂 You didn’t acknowledge my first comment 😦 I feel left out 😛
    Anyway I just wanted to respond to when you said “If I accepted the logical analysis that Shosho as well as Mishari provided in his link and not associate it with actual facts, my analysis would be inaccurate.”
    Well, I just wanted to say that nobody is telling you to disregard facts.
    What I am saying is that regardless of when exactly each country, muslim or otherwise, did something to end slavery or whether it was the United Nations that did something to stop slavery.. the point is,(Like I said in my first comment) that [History has] proven that slavery would become as good as extinct within the Worldly as well as Islamic framework that was set up to deal with it
    So, in lieu of that knowledge, the fact that the religion didn’t ‘take as much trouble’ to prohibit slavery point-blank as it did with prohibiting alcohol, suggests to me that Islam understood that the issue of slavery was dependent on historical social and economic conditions and circumstances that would be dealt with in time.
    One other thing, you seemed to put value on the fact that the United Nations Act was the first universal one. The fact that it was ‘universal’ is thanks to its place in history, where communication between nations is possible to an extent that it never was before.

    One final thing:
    When you said “but the idea of slavery is more accepted to Moslems than any other nation today to a point that until today we still do not differentiate between paid labors and slaves. So long we pay them their wages, some still believe that we own them.”

    I think you really stepped into a land-mine with that one :/ First of all, Muslims do not make up one nation, and furthermore, questions I ask to consider are:
    Are you referring to ALL MUSLIMS or only to Kuwaiti Muslims? Or to only to all Gulf Muslims? Or only to All Wealthy Muslims around the world? Or are you really referring to ALL Muslims, including muslims from Far East Asia as well as Europe, in addition to Shamiyeen and Khaleejiyeen???

    And about the issue of “paying wages and believing we own them”, you’re really mixing up your topics here. Because now you’re talking about how SOME Kuwaiti’s take advantage of their housekeepers. But if you wanted to use the issue of “taking advantage of the poor” then you should also look at how they are treated in countries like India and China, to name but a few, where due to the massive populations and poverty I’m sure you will find even worse levels of worker-abuse than the Kuwaiti ‘Muslim’ who doesn’t give his housekeeper a holiday.
    So I strongly disagree that this has any bearing on how Muslims as a whole are or are not tolerant towards slavery.

    Gigi, opposedly

    Reply

  28. mishari26
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 14:01:00

    Dear AyyA,

    Ofcourse I don’t question your sencerity! 🙂 in fact that’s one of the main reasons I chose this blog as somewhat of the bridge for my troll to live under. And I too am inspecting my own opinions about this subject as we are discussing it. remembering the reasons I supported them and some ideas were changed as I learned more about the rights of a slave under Islam which I didn’t know before.

    As for “labels” of slavery, the “maids” situation we have in Kuwait is hardly unique. I have a friend in Texas who tells me about farmers who pay less than half minimum wage to illegal mexican immigrants crossing the border and seeking work. Its still a better life than they had back home. I don’t mean to justify what other people think is wrong. Or villify what people think is right. I’m just trying to illustrate that the “unfortunate” or “poor” can and do systematically lose alot of “freedoms” that the rich can afford.

    The more entrepreneural you are, the more “free” you can become. That’s a natural byproduct of a capitalist economic system.

    As for the slavery rules of Islam, they create more “outlets” of the system than they allow “inlets”. And any systems engineer would realize that this system if applied would be unsustainable.

    The slaves that existed in recent history I think are acquired in an illegal manner. This is my opinion which I don’t base on any real research, just some limited observation. I think most of them were kidnapped or abducted in african nations and sold to wealthy Khaleeji men who travelled there. I think these abductions are what caused the slavery trade to extend into the early 20th century in Kuwait and other similar countries.

    In the end, where I stand is that I’m quite satisfied with the “system” which Islam provides to lead an islamic community towards the extinction of slavery.

    Reply

  29. AyyA
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 14:07:00

    Shady Q8i
    A valid question, only I would leave answering it to others 🙂

    Gigi
    Sorry if you felt left out, but as you know, this issue is very sensitive, especially to the ones that deal with religion as submission and do not accept logic. I’m not saying that you are one or the other, but the point is that I tried by my comment”to all” not to divert the subject and end up in circles as always the case when I discuss matters of logic in Islam. And if I did not reply to each statement that you made, this means I either agree with you, or the point was irrelevant to my enquiry.
    And to give you an example of some comment that I deliberately do not reply to is your statement “Are you referring to ALL MUSLIMS or only to Kuwaiti Muslims? Or to only to all Gulf Muslims? Or only to All Wealthy Muslims around the world? Or are you really referring to ALL Muslims, including muslims from Far East Asia as well as Europe, in addition to Shamiyeen and Khaleejiyeen???”
    I don’t see why this argument should be of any importance, furthermore it may divert from the original subject.
    Another example is alcohol abuse and it’s implication on the society. Unless you wanted me to believe that alcohol abuse has much hazardous implications on society than slavery. And that’s the reason why God was sterner when dealing with it. But that again doesn’t make any sense. And my answer to that “Nothing can be as valuable as one’s freedom; taking a man’s freedom is like taking his life, may be even worse”
    Again you are arguing the around the issue when you said” [History has] proven that slavery would become as good as extinct within the Worldly as well as Islamic framework that was set up to deal with it”, as if you are saying; khalas it’s diminished and it’s over with, whether Islam had a hand or didn’t, God knew that this will eventually happen and that’s why he only organized it.
    Islam came as the last of the three major religions and I quote Shady here “Islam claims to be fit for all times/geographies”, the question here is why did God leave that to man? Why did we have to wait centuries for it to be diminished? Why Sudan and Mauritania; two Islamic states are still practicing slavery?
    The last paragraph you argued was my personal opinion as a reply to Misguided.
    And again notice that no one answered Elegance’s question which is the core of the subject.
    I hope by that I did not leave you out :p

    Reply

  30. mishari26
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 21:06:00

    Sorry. to answer Elegance’s question (to the best of my knowledge):

    Slavery is not prohibited in Islam. However it has rules and regulations which make its entrances few and its exits many. Also many rights of slaves were protected like the right to work, marry, seek judicial action and also the right to free him/herself by working and buying their freedom.

    As to why it didn’t prohibit it completely? we can theorize or speculate as much as we want (and we did kinda), but no matter the result I don’t presume to criticize God’s law as flawed.

    I wonder why slaves in modern history are mostly black? doesn’t that make one wonder how they came into slavery? eshme3na all of them are african? I don’t see any white or asian slaves. muslim states or not. Africa has been exporting slaves in 3 major channels, the 1st is towards Brazil and North America (approx. 10 million total were trafficked, being the largest by far). The 2nd is older and involved slow trafficking of slaves northwards across the desert towards europe since the time of the greek and roman empires. The 3rd being the export of slaves to the middleeast area and north africa.

    I think the point I’m trying to make is that most of these slaves were victims of skirmishes between warring tribes and captured prisoners. Some even sold their daughters from fear of hunger and inability to feed them (that still goes on today). All illegal actions not permitted by Islam. There’s nothing that prohibits anyone from making the owning of a slave illegal as well, Islam doesn’t force us to accept slavery and maintain it. It only provides a system to manage it towards diminishment.

    Reply

  31. AyyA
    Oct 18, 2005 @ 21:35:00

    Thanks Mishari for the nice words, and I will make sure Elegance sees this 🙂

    Reply

  32. Elegance
    Oct 19, 2005 @ 02:18:00

    Thanks Mishari for answering a simple question that the answer took everyone days, just to maneuver around it in defense of Islam, which was not needed by the way. Islam is a belief and we shouldn’t question each other’s believes, we just have to respect it. Of course Islam did not encourage it, we all know that. Actually no religion did. I just wanted a clear answer to clarify the misconception that most people have (myself one of them) that one of the things Islam prohibited was Slavery and it is not true.

    Reply

  33. Gigi
    Oct 20, 2005 @ 17:19:00

    Elegance:
    “Thanks Mishari for answering a simple question that the answer took everyone days, just to maneuver around it in defense of Islam”

    Elegance, I have to ask, did you even read Ayya’s post? Nobody was maneuvering around anything. Especially myself, who responded to Ayya’s post point by point in my first comment. The fact is, the “simple question” that you asked did not exist in Ayya’s post. She was not asking “does Islam prohibit slavery?” She already knew the answer to that question and what everyone else was trying to do was to try and convince her that what with all the limitations Islam put on it we might as well say that it did. I didn’t take that path because that wasn’t the thrust of Ayya’s post.

    However, what Ayya did say was:
    1)”How could Islam allow slavery when God is supposed to be the One and Only deity to be worshipped?”
    I responded to that in my first comment by showing how there was no contradiction in Islam’s monotheism with allowing slavery since the slave-owner is not considered to be a deity.

    2)”How could God who is supposedly Just and we’re supposed to be equitable before him allow such an unjust thing as slavery?”
    I responded to this in my first comment by showing that there is no contradiction between God’s justness and people’s inequalities since God sees people according to their deeds and not to the stratifications. I also pointed out that being a slave or master is not the only inequality there are other Power Inequalities as we can see such as those between Master and Servant, CEO and employee etc. and even many other inequalities that don’t have to do with power.

    3)”Why was Islam so clear about prohibiting alcohol and not slavery?”
    I responded to this in my first comment when I said that the reason that Islam was more incisive regarding the issue of alcohol is because, unlike slavery that is dependent on socio-economic needs and would fade when the need for it would no longer be viable, alcohol abuse would remain.

    Ayya:
    You said that the reason you didn’t respond to my first comment was because you either agreed with what I said or ignored it because it was “irrelevant to your enquiry”. Since I followed your post point by point I don’t see much in my first comment that was irrelevant to your enquiry so by that should I assume that you agreed with everything I said in my first comment? 😛 If you did it would have been nice to know 😛

    As for the example you gave of what you chose to ignore, well that was from my 2nd comment, and not the first comment which I was asking why you didn’t comment on. In any case, when I asked which Muslims you were referring to, that was in response to when you said “the idea of slavery is more accepted to Moslems than any other nation today to a point that until today we still do not differentiate between paid labors and slaves. So long we pay them their wages, some still believe that we own them.” The reason I asked you which Muslims you were referring to was to try and get you to realize that just because some Kuwaities or rich Arabs abuse their housekeepers doesn’t mean you can generalize about all Muslims. In fact, the premise that taking advantage or abusing the poor has any bearing on the Muslim views regarding slavery is just plain illogical since by that you then are disregarding how other nations of every other faith have similar if not even more severe examples of mistreating the poor and powerless.

    I have more to say and discuss but for clarity’s sake I will stop here and give a chance for what I have said so far to be responded to.

    Also because I’m dizzy and it’s almost time for futoor 🙂

    Gigi, thirstily

    Reply

  34. AyyA
    Oct 20, 2005 @ 23:17:00

    Gigi
    Point taken

    Reply

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