Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, is allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalized, de jure slavery. Slavery had previously existed throughout history, in many times and most places. The ancient Greeks, the Romans, Incas and Aztecs all had slaves. What does it mean to be a slave or enslaved person? To be a slave is to be owned by another person. A slave is a human being classed as property and who is forced to work for nothing.
According to Wikipedia, the abolition of slavery occurred at different times in different countries. It frequently occurred sequentially in more than one stages, for example, as abolition of the trade in slaves in a specific country, and then as abolition of slavery throughout the empires. Each step was usually the result of a separate law or action. In the third century B.C Ashoka abolishes the slave trade and encourages people to treat slaves well in the Maurya Empire, covering the majority of India, which was under his rule. In China, Wang Mang, first and only emperor of the Xin Dynasty, usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery and radical land reform from 9–12 A.D. Later, Pope Gregory I banned Jews from owning Christian slaves. Slavery in the Muslim world first developed out of the slavery practices of pre-Islamic Arabia, and was at times radically different, depending on social-political factors such as the Arab slave trade. It is claimed throughout Islamic history, slaves served in various social and economic roles, from powerful emirs to harshly treated manual laborers.
Although the Quran does not prohibit slavery, it does suggest certain means of integrating slaves, whom were explicitly enslaved after being captured in war, into the Muslim community. It allows and make preference for men to marry slaves than marrying a disbeliever as stated in Surah 2:221 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 women 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 Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden of bliss and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise. Also stated in Surah 4:25 If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess: And Allah hath full knowledge about your faith. Ye are one from another: Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours: when they are taken in wedlock, if they fall into shame, their punishment is half that for free women. This permission is for those among you who fear sin; but it is better for you that ye practise self-restraint. And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
As can be seen from the above in the Quran it was made a preference for a Muslim to marry a slave woman than a disbelieving woman and the penalty for those slaves who fall into shame is half of that of the free woman meaning from a hundred lashes penalty as quoted in Surah 24:2 they were to be punished with half or only 50 lashes to show that the slaves is to be treated with lighter penalty as their lives have not been one commensurate to those of the free women. However, in the Quran the more compassionate recommendation is to free the slaves in absolute term or as and when they wish to make a deal as stated in Surah 24:33 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.
Despite this protection in the Quran against sexual exploitation in slavery, there were Christian evangelists and non-Muslim writers claimed that in the Quran female slaves do not have the right to grant or deny sexual access to themselves. Instead, they claimed the Quran permits men to have sexual access to “what their right hands possess,” of female captives or slaves as they claimed that which is stated in the Surah 23:5-6 Who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for in their case they are free from blame (the same text is stated in Surah 70:29-30 to have unlimited sex with slaves). However, the slaves mentioned in both these Surah were the ones whom they have to be married first as a preconditioned before they can have sex as mentioned in the previous verses quoted earlier at Surah 2:221 and Surah 4:25 to marry them first.
Only the fabricators using falsehood materials claim a Muslim can have unlimited sex with his slaves and practise “Mutah” a temporary marriage as a screen to do fornication. It is impossible for a Muslim to have unlimited sex with the slave as they are prohibited even to be close with one another in a compromising position as quoted in Surah 17:32 Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).
There is therefore no free sex in the Quran as one had to marry whether it is to a free woman or a slave to be in union and must convene and accept all the responsibilities of the marriage covenant in the Quran. An in Surah 24:32 And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing. Furthermore, it is mentioned in the Quran, even the Prophet have to marry with the slaves by paying them their dowry as stated Surah 33:50 O Prophet! Surely, We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war. This means that the Prophet have to give the female slaves their dowries too as he had to give the free women their dowries and marry them to be in union.
If one is to look closer in the issues of slavery, there is a difference is the definition of slavery in Islam compared to Western understanding, a slave is defined in the Quran as a captive or a prisoner of war and not that being practiced by former Western colonialists who kidnapped and captured native Africans and then transported them to their various colonies in North and South America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world to work as hard labour for the owners of estates. In Islam, to own a slave even the Prophet have to fight wars as mentioned in Surah 8:67 It is not fitting for a prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he hath thoroughly subdued the land. Ye look for the temporal goods of this world; but Allah look to the Hereafter: And Allah is Exalted in might, Wise. Thus, war captives were made slaves because the enemies waged wars and caused hostilities on the Muslim communities.
In term of marital status, it is stated in the Quran although all free married women are prohibited for marriage to a Muslim, those married slave women whose husbands lost the war, one can marry them as stated in Surah 4:24 Also prohibited are women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. The marriage to a slave married women is valid only if she had converted being a Muslim as is stated in Surah 60:10 O ye who believe! When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: Allah knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower), and there will be no blame on you if ye marry them on payment of their dower to them. But hold not to the guardianship of unbelieving women: ask for what ye have spent on their dowers, and let the (Unbelievers) ask for what they have spent (on the dowers of women who come over to you). Such is the command of Allah. He judges (with justice) between you. And Allah is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom.
With such a situation, it must be reiterated, although the Quran does not prohibit slavery, it emphasises special humane treatment on slaves and giving freedom to them is considered a great righteous deed. In Surah 2:177 Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but righteousness is in one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing the slaves; and who establishes prayer and gives alms (zakah); those who fulfilled their promise when they promise; and those who are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.
Even in certain penalty the redemption is freeing a slave as stated in Surah 4:92 And never is it for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer by mistake – then the freeing of a believing slave and a compensation payment presented to the deceased’s family is required unless they give up their right as charity. Also in divorce cases as in Surah 58:3 But those who divorce their wives by calling the wife as their “mother’s back” (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 Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.
As can be seen from the evidences in the Quran Islam advocate humane, consideration, rectitude and justice when dealing with the slaves and it is treated as a priority to free the slaves as the feat is rank as virtue deeds for salvation as confirm in Surah 90:10-18 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 slaves; 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.