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Islamic stand on Slavery is despicable

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Submitted by Prashant, Jun 15, 2018 at 23:59

Dear Dr Pipes,

I was prompted to research Islam's stand on slavery after I read DNM's above post implying that Islam allowed men to own slave girls. I found in my research that DNM is 100% right in saying that Islam allowed men to have slave girls and can have sex with them. My research pointed me to many things in the Islamic doctrine that I find extremely despicable and objectionable.

I will first summarize the Islamic stand on slavery as described by many web references. Then, I will describe an apologist position that tries to sugar quote objectionable parts of Islamic doctrine as if they were good. Finally, I will discuss what Muslim scholars and people should do to truly make a difference and make Islam look less bad.

Islamic position on slavery allows Muslims to own slaves as long as slaves were acquired according to the norms allowed by Islam. It is clearly stated that the purpose of acquiring slaves is to make them Muslims. In fact, some sources vaguely indicate that once you are a slave you are automatically a Muslim. It is also stated that Muslims cannot own other Muslims as slaves (the readers should note that only kuffars have the privilege of becoming slaves!). As reprehensible as this doctrine is, it leads to a contradiction: if a kuffar becomes a Muslim after becoming a slave and a Muslim cannot own other Muslims as a slaves then how can the kuffar continue to remain a slave? Islam solves its contradictions promptly! A Muslim's right of ownership on a kuffar slave supersedes the slave's right to be free as a new Muslim. Problem solved. Heads you lose and tails you lose too (ref A). Even Islamic apologists admit that Q 23:1-6, allows any Muslim slave owner to have consensual sex with a female slave even if she was not his wife (or one of the many wives) (ref B).

That Islam allows slavery is bad but what is worse is that Islam recommends that only non-Muslims can be slaves. I have said many times on your site that non-Muslims should judge Islam by not Islamic standards but by our common neutral standards. The notion that a slave woman can give or deny consent freely is absurd.

Not that it will fix any problems in the doctrine but I wonder if female Muslim women were allowed to own any kuffar slaves and has similar consensual sex privileges over them.

Islamic apologists come in two varieties. First kinds of apologists are themselves Muslims. The second and worse kind of apologists are non-Muslims who somehow deny their own value system and apologize for Islam. Ref C below is a BBC article presenting the apology that Islam 'limited slavery in many ways'. Well into the 21st century on 09-07-2009 the cited BBC article does not lose a breath in saying that "Islam barred Muslims from enslaving other Muslims". BBC article failed to say that it is despicable today and must have been despicable 1500 years ago that Islam prohibited slavery on Muslims but did not prohibit it on non-Muslims. The golden rule of the testaments has existed for at least 600 years when Muhammad lived his life and Muhammad should have known about the golden rule when he invented Islam as a religion.

Then what is the problem with Islam and what should it do to solve it. First is what is called the Islamic-straight-jacket. Islam has tightened its hand completely. First, everything in Islam is permanently written and cannot be changed. So whatever Islam says about slavery can be easily verified and has to be true for all times to come. Islam needs to loosen this straight jacket. I will rather take an edited version of Quran than a version that doctrinally allows a man to have consensual sex with as many slave women as he wants. That permission is wrong on every possible count. But if Quran cannot be modified, at least, Islam needs to permit its criticism. Certain verses of Quran are objectionable and they should be accepted as God's word that does not hold true for modern humans. Finally, Islam needs to develop an attitude of scholarly self defense. All three of my citations are various articles on the Internet. They could be misleading, incorrect and, even, malicious. But Muslim scholars cannot just call Internet articles as work of right-wing Islamophobes and get away with it. They must write objective, serious and believable books defending Islam. These books need to be written with a secular point of view. But to be believable these books need to be objective and must admit Islam's shortcomings. That brings us back to square one: Islam ought to be democratic.

(references for this article: A) https://islamqa.info/en/13737 B) https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-truth-about-muslims-and-sex-slavery-according-to-the-quran-rather-than-isis-or-islamophobes-a6875446.html C) http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/slavery_1.shtml

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