Islam promotes universal equality amongst peoples and the eradication of slavery
Many People are attracted to Islam because of its beautiful simplicity and the spiritual wholeness that Islam encompasses. Also highly appealing is Islam’s ‘code of equality' amongst differing peoples, a truly unparalleled ideal when compared to any other faith.
Under Islam, all - black, white, red and yellow-are at one in justice, freedom and equality. For Islam, true excellence lies, not in the intellectual or manual attainments of people of differing gifts; but in the level of piety and fear of God.
The Prophet in his farewell sermon informed the believers relating to this matter:
"All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood."
Furthermore, God says in the Qur’an:
"O Mankind: We created you from a male and a female; and made you into tribes and nations that you may get to know each other. and verily, most honored before God is the most virtuous." – Qur’an English Translation [49:13]
Islam clearly states from the above quote in the Qur’an people are made equal in God’s eyes and one’s true test of character is not decided by what “tribe or ethnicity” he/she is from but rather how virtuous and pious the individual. Islam stresses the point that all of the God fearing believers of this world are a part of a single brotherhood.
And verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore fear Me (and no other). But people have cut off their affair (of unity), between them, into sects: each party rejoices in that which is with itself. But leave them in their confused ignorance for a time. – Qur’an English Translation [23:52-54]
Islam explicitly calls for the freeing of slaves
Islam was also unique to the other two Abrahamic religions due to the fact that it explicitly called for the freeing of slaves. In fact, one of the first converts to Islam and the first person selected by Prophet Muhammad to make the call to prayer was an Ethiopian freed former slave by the name of Bilal.
Bilal also helped the Prophet build the first Islamic Mosque ever built; the Quba Mosque in Medina. The story of Bilal, in fact, remains the classic and most frequently cited demonstration that in the Prophet's eyes: the measure of a man was neither nationality nor social status nor race, but piety.
Islam commands the Muslims to love and respect slaves and to treat them with kindness. Most importantly, Muslims are ordered to free slaves. Islam is a religion that came to fight slavery and established the perfect system that gradually eradicated its practice.
"It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing." – Qur’an English Translation [2:177]
In this Noble Verse, we see that God orders Muslims to spend from their money and wealth and to give with love and respect the kin, orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for slaves. Muslims have to help those who need it in their community.
"Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But God beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise." – Qur’an English Translation [2:221]
In this Noble Verse, we see that God in some cases considers a slave to be better than a "free" person. God orders Muslims not to marry from the Pagans, and He tells us that a slave Muslim (who is owned by a non Muslim) is better than a non believer, even if that non believer was alluring to the eye.
"Never should a believer kill a believer; but (If it so happens) by mistake, (Compensation is due): If one (so) kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased's family, unless they remit it freely. If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (Is enough). If he belonged to a people with whom ye have treaty of Mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two months running: by way of repentance to God: for God hath all knowledge and all wisdom." – Qur’an English Translation [4:92]
In this Noble Verse, we see that Allah ‘God’ ordered to free a believing slave if a Muslim accidentally kills another Muslim. This Noble Verse came to encourage Muslims to liberate slaves.
"God will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth God make clear to you His signs, that ye may be grateful." – Qur’an English Translation [5:89]
This Noble Verse is also another proof that Allah ‘God’ Almighty did encourage Muslims to liberate slaves.
"But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered, (It is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: Thus are ye admonished to perform: and God is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do." – Qur’an English Translation [58:3]
This Noble Verse is another proof that God Almighty did encourage Muslims to liberate slaves.
"Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?- And a tongue, and a pair of lips?- And shown him the two highways? But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?- (It is:) freeing the bondman; Or the giving of food in a day of privation To the orphan with claims of relationship, Or to the indigent (down) in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the Companions of the Right Hand. But those who reject Our Signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand. On them will be Fire vaulted over (all round)." – Qur’an English Translation [90:8-20]
"Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is Allah, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them)," – Qur’an English Translation [24:33]
How does the Bible view slavery?
"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.” - New Testament (1 Timothy 6:1)
"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." - New Testament (1 Peter 2:18)
"A student is not greater than the teacher. A slave is not greater than the master.” - New Testament (Matthew 10:24)
"Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Leviticus 25:44-46)
We clearly see that the Bible is not a book for freeing slaves. Slavery was practiced extensively during the times of Judaism and Christianity, and was fought against and ended during the times of Islam. Clearly, the above verse 1 Timothy 6:1, mentions how fighting slavery would "slander" or "defame" the teachings of the Bible.
During the slavery era in America slaves were often taught to blindly obey everything their master said…often these “masters” would support their role from such Biblical verses as just mentioned. So what was a slave to do in Christianity? How could he become freed? Who knows? Were the slaves just supposed to carry on as “good Christians” and continue the rest of their lives with hopeless dreams of freedom? Often these stolen Africans would try to be “Good Christians” as their master’s described by Blindly turning the other cheek?
Were slaves not considered Human Souls in Christianity? The Bible never mentions anything about freeing slaves so I guess slaves were considered just property from birth to death as the verse from the Old Testament described above in Leviticus 25:44-46. Clearly Islam advocates the opposite and treats them as human beings. Islam is a religion that came to fight slavery and established the perfect system that gradually eradicated and abolished its practice.
For more on human equality and the liberation of slaves in Islam:
Read more about Bilal, the freed Ethiopian slave:
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