For some unexplained reason, a few chapters at the end of the book dealing with marriage and divorce are on slaves.  This may be due to a faulty method of classification, or it may be that emancipating a slave was considered a form of talAq, which literally means �freeing� or �undoing the knot�; or it may be that the subject really belongs to the next book, which is on business transactions-a slave, after all, was no more than a chattel.

Modern Muslim writers trying to boost Islam as a humane ideology make much of the sayings of Muhammad on the emancipation (�itq) of slaves.  But the fact remains that Muhammad, by introducing the concept of religious war and by denying human rights to non-Muslims, sanctioned slavery on an unprecedented scale.  Pre-Islamic Arabs, even in their wildest dreams, never imagined that the institution of slavery could take on such massive proportions.  Zubair, a close companion of the Prophet, owned one thousand slaves when he died.  The Prophet himself possessed at least fifty-nine slaves at one stage or another, besides thirty-eight servants, both male and female.  Mirkhond, the Prophet�s fifteenth-century biographer, names them all in his Rauzat-us-Safa.  The fact is that slavery, tribute, and booty became the main props of the new Arab aristocracy.  Slaves continued to suffer under the same old disabilities.  They were the property of their master (saiyid), who could dispose of them as he liked, selling them, gifting them away, hiring them out, lending them, mortgaging them.  Slaves had no property rights.  Whatever they acquired became the property of their masters.  The master had the right to live in concubinage with his female slaves if they confessed Islam or belonged to the �People of the Book.� The QurAn (SUra 4:3, 4:24, 4:25, 23:6) permitted this.  Slavery was interwoven with the Islamic laws of sale, inheritance, and marriage.  And though the slaves fought for their Muslim masters, they were not entitled to the spoils of war according to Muslim religious law.

author : ram swarup

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