We all imply today that Slave Girls is an institution no longer valid and has no Islamic support. However, I was wondering why has the Qur’an not specifically forbidden this institution to end any ambiguities still arising today in this regard. If this institution was difficult to eradicate in one go, then it could have been in stages, like liquor was prohibited in three phases.
Islam did not completely abolish and uproot the institution of slavery because of the simple reason that it was not possible to do so. The institution of slavery had such deep roots in the world societies of old that it was quite difficult to even imagine a civilized society without a large percentage of slave population. It was in this historical background that the revival of Islam, at the hands of Mohammed (pbuh), started in the 6th century AD.
Anyone who is aware of the deep roots of the institution in the world societies of that time can easily understand that it was impossible for the Qur’an, even after twenty-three years of gradual reformation of the society to pass a final verdict of the complete abolition of the referred institution from the society. Had Islam given such a final verdict regarding the abolition of the institution of slavery, under the prevalent circumstances, it would have done more harm to the society as well as the individuals than the benefits that may have followed such a revolutionary step. For example, at the economic level, a large part of the society, consisting of slaves and slave girls would have stood deprived of even the basic necessities of life – including food and shelter – that they were being provided by their masters. A significant part of this population, it should be remembered, consisted of old and sometimes even incapacitated individuals. It is also known that the society was not in a position to provide employment opportunities at such a vast level, which would, obviously, have been required if all slaves were freed immediately. A completely deprived class in the society would have had extremely serious implications on the socio-moral and political levels. The sense of Deprivation and the inability to provide for even the necessities of life would have resulted in a tremendous rise in the crime rate as well as in the opening of brothels and other such institutions. Then, this situation of chaos would not have been restricted to the Arabian Peninsula. The later conquests of Muslims – covering a large part of the civilized world of the time – would, obviously, have introduced these serious problems in all those areas, which later came under the Muslim rule. Thus, the major hindrances in the complete abolition and prohibition of the institute of slavery were:
The existing internationally accepted social status given to the slaves and their prevalent moral training and position;
The social acceptability of interacting with slaves;
The macro economic situation in the societies (including the lack of employment opportunities for the unproductive slave population);
The serious socio-moral and political implications that were likely to follow a hasty action in this regard; and
The international situation
I am sure that anyone who studies the directives of Islam, keeping the above hindrances in perspective would agree that these directives clearly aimed at the reformation of the society in a way that guaranteed the minimal socio-economic, socio-political and socio-moral repercussions while achieving the best possible results.
The basic directives of Islam in this regard were aimed at:
Promoting freeing of capable slaves through various directives;
Improving the social status and the moral standards of the slaves;
Abolishing any future chances of converting any free men into slaves; and finally
Awarding the legal right to each and every capable slave, who wanted to live his/her life as a free person, to earn his freedom.
These directives, in my honest opinion, amounted to the best possible solution to the problem with the least potential of any negative repercussions on the society as well as the individuals.
I hope this helps.
September 23, 2000