Slavery is the process of stripping a person of the free will on his or her own existence, and legally surrendering it to another. There is no record on how such a process took place in history, yet it was associated with general exercise of mightiness against weakness. Most of the ancient tribes, principalities and states had known this practice, which was organized, legalized and regulated as well. Generally, the ancient civilizations had been built on drastic sweat, tears and bloods of their slaves; whom without, great doubts would be achieving concurrent conclusive legacy of Mankind.
The oldest legal document; Code of Law (1760BC) Issued by the sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi; had included about 34 clauses related to slavery out of its 282. This mathematically means that about 13% of activities were slave-related. In ancient Greece, most of the households had at least one slave, while 25% of the populations of Roman Empire were salves. As this practice was dominated by military offensives, almost no racial group was free from being enslaved in some point of time.
The so-called “Blue-Blood Dynasties” had their distinction not only for the un-tanned skin, but also as belonging to a slave-free heir. The Spanish-originated phrase could be traced in 35 languages between Spain and Philippines. Among tan or dark skin peoples in Americas, Africa and Asia; other phrases are used to serve the same meaning. Interestingly, only Arabic literature is void from such an ethnic segregation, as their nobility was conventionally driven by wealth not blood. Later, Arabs and Muslims start to distinct kinships related to the Prophet pbuh and his Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Certainly; more specialized researches in folklore, linguistics and anthropology would reveal the depth of the concept, and enable answering the relevant nobility of religious ancestries.
Generally, slavery was defined in four groups; war captives, forced labor, merchandized, and by born. Emancipation was usually driven by civic rulings, religious abolition or terms of emancipation. War captivity was the principle slavery resource; which was permanent or temporarily, based on conditions of emancipation. Both sex slavery and debt slavery are sub-groups of forced labor, which sometimes being initiated by a person to be enslaved or by his family-bread provider. While slave trade was formal business in most of the history, by born slavery varies as per cultural or religious attributes.
Throughout history, laws and customs had regulated processing ownership, inheritance, obligations and permissions of enslaved people and their owners. The complexities of urbanism in particular, had added more sophistication and details to the slavery code. However, both intent and grouping had never been affected by these details, which contrarily and notably had contributed to the slave trading and volume. This can answer the question on derivatives that globalized the slave trade across particular centers. Since 1600th BC, it was great business chronologically in Egypt, Greece, Rome, Tunisia, Yemen, Iberia, Netherlands, Tanganyika, Turkey, and Haiti; which ended in 1800th AD.
Islam had been called for in Arabian Peninsula in 600th AD, where the slavery issue formed a corner stone in its publicity, and eventually dominated reasonable amount of early legislations and guidelines. The slave motorized society in early days of Islam would require elaboration on managing the matter, within its cultural and regulatory contexts. This is no different from the same on earlier religions, which had differently addressed legal, social or economic foundations of slavery.
Then, what were the historical spots of slavery?
Despite the fierce debates, the modern scientific dialectic had dropped the “Curse of Ham” as Jewish justification of enslavement of both Canaanites and Black African. Despite the complex laws and guidelines, Judaism is distinct by permitting Permanent Slavery, Parent Perpetration and Fixed Term slavery. Also, distinction between Israelites and non-Israelites slaves had driven the Jewish regulations. The Old Testimony had treated the salves as extension to the family, allowing them to celebrate and perform their religious rituals and duties.
Both pro-slavery and abolitionism Christian advocates have found justification in the paradox between Old and New Testimonies. The ancient strong Christian states had to permit slavery to maintain and sustain their economic gears, with less intension to both religious and philosophical arguments. During that time, one third of the population was slaves. The New Testimony had clearly urged Christians to treat slaves as brothers, while condemning the practice of slavery. Christian Europe had suffered the Barbarian wars in the Middle Ages, which resulted in the first institution of slavery named “Serfdom”. This was new socio economic system that bond un-free peasants to the farming land. This system was common all over the Feudalist continent till early 1900th AD, and had inspired the Collective Farm system throughout the communist hemisphere.
Slavery in multi-caste India was complicated due to various ideological, religious and socio economic patterns; which some stills valid till date. The interpretation of the concurrent term of slavery was not practiced in ancient India, as forced labor was an economic trend rather than a social one. From 500 BC till 1200 AD, various forms of enslavement and their legal and statutory implications were observed. Arabs’ capture of Sindh in 700thAD had brought their known slavery practice, which marked the spread of Indo-ethnicities in Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, Levant and Central Asia. Turko-Afghans, Arabs and Persians had begun to massively trade the Indian slaves in 1000th AD, following the Muslims’ victorious invasion and full control of the subcontinent. Notably, this control had notoriously contributed to phenomenon of “By-Sword- Conversion”; which lift unhealed wounds in Indian society. Portuguese and Dutch had traded heavily in Indian slavery, till the issuing of Indian Slavery Act in 1843 AD, which affected the lives of nearly 9,000,000 slaves in the subcontinent. Today, the subcontinent has more than 20 million, mostly children, whom are considered bonded salves, while an unknown number is sex-slaves.
Slavery practices in Japan, Korea, Philippines Indonesia and China had varied between bonded labor and sexual slavery. African slavery is the most known and debated practice, which triggered all anti-slavery movements and actions. In today’s world, forced slavery and sexual slavery are still in practice in Africa and South Asia, despite the international acts and resolutions. For some visionaries, slavery maybe lost its known terminologies for new others extracted from global trends in economic, enterprising and investment. These are namely; human trafficking, wage slavery and penal slavery, which had been respectively known in Europe, North America and Australia. Deteriorated living conditions because of inequality, unemployment and ill-governance, is the concurrent cause for hidden slavery which force people to trade their free choice for bread.
The Roma (Gypsy) are the living dilemma of both physical and emotional humiliations. Their history since their migration in 1200th AD from west India, spreading throughout Neat East, North Africa, Europe, and across the Atlantic to North America, had horrible stories of abuse, torture and ill-persecutions wherever they land. Their issue still open till date; despite the enthusiastic activities of advocates and political groups. They are a living example on cultural classification and segregation that are deeply embedded within our humane mind-set.
Now, what are the slavery concepts in Islam?
Early Islamic state did not offend or force the change of slavery patterns in Arabian Peninsula, considering its importance for those tribal and nomad communities. Adequately to the cultural environment; gradual change had synchronized the growing religious belief and awareness. The word Abed (slave in classic Arabic) was increasingly used as a prefix as new Muslim names; attached with names and descriptions of Allah swt; e.g., Abdalla, Abdelrahman, Abdelqadir, etc. This was smart cultural move meant to vacate the word from its notorious meaning. However, it is fair to admit that both presence and role of slavery among Arabs, who were the early recipients of Islam, had colored their future practices as Muslims and Rulers of vast ethnic and geographic coverage.
Notably, Islamic rulings and guidelines did not regulate obtaining slaves in any case accept religious war, inheritance or voluntary enslavement. The voluntary enslavement is confusing as was only subject to females above the legal age, who would on a-free-will enslave themselves to a Muslim man. This was not associated with any elaboration on emancipating these females. Also, there was nothing on merchandizing of slaves, despite what been repeatedly recorded of purchasing Muslim slaves in order to emancipate them. Therefore, Islamic societies did not know abolition concepts or movements, but official rulings during the last three centuries, to correspond with some civic or political reforms.
Islam had set parameters for slavery, which later been often violated with the growing urban complex of its societies and ethnic groups. Some Islamic societies had conventional or new strong-economic patterns based on indispensible slavery for its growth and sustainability. Others were culturally and socially complex to tolerate abounding slavery. However, in later Islamic states, demise between free and slave persons had diminished, which enabled Mamluks (terms created by Ayyubid dynasty, who at their height ruled Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Hijaz and Yemen in 1188 AD; which means slaves in modern Arabic, but inspired by Arian-Turkish culture) to rule Egypt and Syria for four centuries.
These concepts were interpreted in the following patterns:
Firstly. Gradual reduction of slavery was managed by regulating some religious and civic violations or offensives; which were alternatively pardoned by emancipation of slaves. Therefore, number of salves in the First Islamic State was much lowered. Then; the forcibly growing slavery trends had been divided into two different scenes, driven by cultural and urban sophistications. In Arabian Peninsula, Nomadic or Arab Muslims had treated their slaves as servants. In other parts of the State; Urban or Arabizationed Muslims had treated slave as controlled properties. Therefore, both fictions and non-fiction tales were focusing on the second trend, which had witnessed many varieties, activities and excitements..!!
Secondly. The Muslim believers were continuously educated on equality among all races with no nobility or ethnic preference. This principle was based on acknowledgement of a sole Creator swt; which is the core of Islamic belief. Rejecting such a belief by surrounding nations, had justified the famous Jihad wars, which had generated the war captivities; or slaves. Historically, the Muslim army was constituted by volunteers who can afford their own ammunitions, logistics and supply, therefore, their war captives were simply their own. When the Islamic state got matured and grown, it became capable to recruit and fund its troops; it overwrote the individual ownership of war captives.
Thirdly. Political Islam is no different from any other governing regime; which applies the psychology of war and peace. Therefore, truce terms between Muslim armies and defeated nations had been ruled to include the supply of slaves. These truce-salves were often recruited in armed battalions or assigned for particular state logistics. Later, their surplus had been put for auctions; which had initiated the famous and notorious slave business.
Fourthly. Islam, as well as most of religions, had constrained any unlawful consensual relations between the two sexes. Muslim men were permitted to touch and conceive their female slaves, whom usually converted to Islam. Muslim female salves were almost wives, missing only the formal spouse title and inheritance share. This had produced the famous yet notorious Hareem phenomenon (means the spouse females whom are not formal wives); which was associated with grown power and wealth of Muslim States. Eventually, the female slaves lose their enslavement once delivered a child, who is legitimately recognized with full family rights. Simply; the father cannot sale the slave mother of his children. Even so, childless Hareem were rarely put for trade, but would be given away.
Fifthly. As all people are born free, there is no born-slavery in Islam nor penal or forced. War generated slavery was a closed issue since 1700th AD, while the concurrent generated from demotic violence in some tribal areas, like Darfur, is mutual yet unspoken tradition between rivals. Female slaves would be used as servant and sex mates, and their conceived children are recognized as free sons and daughters. Penal slavery is stranger to Muslim heritage, contrarily to capital punishment. Forced slavery among Muslim is more adequately to be described as wage slavery, which allows the slave a payment against effort, right of marriage and lawful inheritance.
Certainly, involvement of some Muslims in modern humane trafficking, resulting in sex slavery and wage slavery cannot condemn Islam for the same. Generally, slavery contradicts with universal welfare, stable urbanism and good governance, which is the strive of all Mankind.