Slavery in the Bible & Why Slavery ?

Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as an offering to a deity or for some other ritual purpose. While it was practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia, there are reports suggesting that this practice still exists in India today. Numerous cases of human sacrifice have been reported in India in recent years, often involving children and young people. These incidents have caused shock and outrage across the country. Despite the illegality of human sacrifice in India, it appears that the practice continues in certain isolated communities.

There have been numerous cases of human sacrifice reported in India in recent years, with many involving children and young people. These incidents, which are often linked to religious or superstitious beliefs, have caused shock and outrage across the country. Despite being illegal, it appears that the practice of human sacrifice continues in certain isolated communities in India, with reports suggesting that there are thousands of such cases happening even today.

Did Islam start slavery in the first place?

It is important to note that Islam did not invent the practice of slavery. Rather, slavery was a widespread and longstanding institution in many societies around the world, including pre-Islamic Arabia. When Prophet Muhammad emerged in the 7th century, the institution of slavery was already well-established, and it continued in various forms under Islamic rule. The Qur’an and the Hadith (sayings and actions of Muhammad) contain several passages that regulate the practice of slavery and provide guidance on how slaves were to be treated. According to Islamic tradition, slaves were to be treated with kindness and respect, and they were granted certain rights and protections. The Qur’an also encourages the freeing of slaves as an act of piety and good deeds, and it states that those who free slaves will receive a reward from God.


It is noteworthy that in pre-Islamic Arabia, the status of women was low, particularly with regards to children. If a family was poor and had a newborn, they sometimes sold the child as a slave to repay debts or crimes, or as a source of income when they were in financial trouble. This was especially prevalent when the child was a daughter. This practice can be found in the Jewish and Christian Holy Bibles, which permit the sale of one’s own daughters. At the time, many Jews lived in Arabia and followed their corrupted Bible, leading to the sale of each other’s sons as slaves.

Here are a few examples of Bible verses that mention slavery:

Bible Verse Text
Exodus 21:7-11 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
Exodus 21:1-3 Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free.

Biblical rules on slavery

Verse Scripture Text
Leviticus 25:44-46 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: YOU MAY BUY MALE AND FEMALE SLAVES FROM AMONG THE NATIONS THAT ARE AROUND YOU. You may also buy…
1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
Titus 2:9-10 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith,…
Exodus 21:20-21 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he…
Exodus 21:26-27 When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.
  • There are many other verses in the Bible that mention slavery. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, slavery is discussed as an accepted part of life and often seen as a necessary and even beneficial institution. In the ancient world, slavery was a common practice, and the Bible reflects this reality.

Jesus and Slavery

It is important to note that Jesus did not directly address the issue of slavery in the New Testament, as it was a cultural institution at the time and not unique to any one country or religion. However, Jesus did teach principles that are relevant to the issue of slavery, such as the inherent value and dignity of all people and the importance of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. Additionally, the apostle Paul, who claimed to be an Apostle of Jesus and played a key role in the early spread of Christianity, wrote extensively about the concept of slavery and how Christians should approach it. In his letters to the early churches, Paul encouraged slaves to serve their masters faithfully and to respect their masters as they would respect Christ.

Islam’s Stance on Slavery

When Prophet Muhammad arrived, there were many causes of slavery, such as warfare, debt (where the debtor became a slave if they couldn’t pay off their debt), kidnapping, raids, poverty, and need. Slavery did not spread throughout all continents except through kidnapping; rather, kidnapping was the main source of slaves in Europe and America in later centuries.

  • The texts of Islam take a strong stance against this. In a hadith, it is stated:

Admonitions about treating slaves

Hadith Reference Hadith Content
Sahih al-Bukhari 2227 The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah says, ‘I will be against three persons on the Day of Resurrection: -1. One who makes a covenant in My Name, but he proves treacherous. -2. One who sells a free person (as a slave) and eats the price, -3. And one who employs a laborer and gets the full work done by him but does not pay him his wages.
Sahih Muslim 1657 If one beats a slave or slaps him without a valid reason, he should set him free as expiation.
Sahih al-Bukhari 30 Slaves are considered brothers and should be fed and clothed just as one feeds and clothes oneself. Do not ask slaves to do beyond their capacity, and if they do, help them.
Sahih Muslim 1509 b Whoever emancipates a slave, Allah will set him free from Hell.
Sahih al-Bukhari 5649 Visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and setting captives free are all recommended actions.
Sahih al-Bukhari 30 Abu Dhar was admonished by the Prophet for insulting someone’s mother, and was reminded that slaves are considered brothers and should be treated with kindness and respect.

Hadith along with additional references from the Quran and Hadith:

📖Qur’an 90:13-16: “And what will make you comprehend what the uphill road is? (It is) the setting free of a slave.” This verse highlights the importance of freeing slaves as a means of achieving righteousness and closeness to Allah.

📖Sahih al-Bukhari 5083: Abu Musa reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who has a slave-girl and educates her properly and gives her due share of food and clothing will gain a double reward.” This hadith emphasizes the importance of educating and caring for female slaves and rewarding those who do so.

📖Quran 4:36: “And worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” This verse encourages Muslims to treat their slaves with kindness and care, alongside other acts of charity and compassion.

📖Sahih al-Bukhari 97: Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The best of you are those who are best to their slaves, and the most blessed of you are the most blessed in their provision to them.” This hadith emphasizes the importance of treating slaves well and providing for them generously.

📖Quran 2:177: “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] 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 traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves.” This verse highlights the importance of freeing slaves as a means of achieving righteousness.

Overall, these references from the Qur’an and Hadith emphasize the importance of treating slaves with kindness and care, educating and providing for them, and freeing them when possible. They also provide a broader context for how Muslims should practice compassion and generosity in their lives.

Quranic Verses on Freeing Slaves

Quran Verse Message
Quran 90:7-13 Questions whether one is unseen, mentions two eyes, two ways, acknowledges the difficulty in the path of righteousness, and suggests freeing a slave as a means to break through the difficult pass.
Quran 9:60 Zakah expenditures are for the poor, needy, those employed to collect zakah, bringing hearts together for Islam, freeing captives (or slaves), those in debt, and for the cause of Allah.
Quran 2:177 True righteousness is in believing in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets; giving wealth to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask for help, and for freeing slaves; establishing prayer and giving zakah; fulfilling promises; and being patient in poverty and hardship.
Quran 24:33 Those who cannot afford marriage should remain chaste until Allah enriches them. If slaves wish to be emancipated through Kitābah (paying money), allow them to do so and give them from the wealth Allah has given you. Do not force maids into prostitution, and if one is compelled, Allah is Most-Forgiving and Very-Merciful.

Full Context of Quran 24:33

Quran Verse Explanation
Quran 24:33 Emphasizes not forcing slave girls into prostitution and respecting their autonomy. If someone does force a slave girl into prostitution against her will, Allah is forgiving and merciful towards her. Serves as a reminder to treat others with respect and compassion, regardless of social status.
Refrence Full Context of Quran 24:33
Quran 4:36 Slaves entitled to fair treatment
Quran 24:33 Those who cannot marry should abstain from sexual relations
Quran 16:75 Allah commands justice, kindness, and giving to relatives, and forbids immorality, wrongdoing, and oppression
Quran 4:25 Prohibition of forcing slave girls into prostitution or adultery
Quran 5:89 Prohibition of taking back gifts given to slaves, except in cases of clear abuse or mistreatment
Quran 9:60 Charitable contributions may be given to those in bondage and those in debt, among others.
Quran 2:275 Prohibition of usury and exploitation, and encouragement of giving in charity and avoiding injustice

Understanding Quranic Verses on Freeing Slaves

📖Quran 90:7-13 This passage highlights the importance of breaking through difficult obstacles and barriers. One of the ways to achieve this is through the act of freeing a slave, which was seen as a virtuous and commendable action in the eyes of God. This is because it is a means of showing kindness and compassion towards those who are in a vulnerable and disadvantaged position.

📖Quran 9:60 This verse is from the chapter of the Quran known as Surah At-Tawbah, which discusses various aspects of Islamic law and society. Here, the Quran mentions the importance of zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is a form of obligatory charity that Muslims must pay, and this verse highlights the various categories of people who are eligible to receive zakat, including those who are in debt, travelers, and slaves or captives who are seeking to be freed.

📖Quran 2:177 This verse from Surah Al-Baqarah is one of the most comprehensive descriptions of what constitutes righteousness in Islam. It emphasizes that true righteousness is not just about outward displays of piety, but also includes acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion towards others. One of the examples mentioned is the act of freeing slaves, which was seen as a particularly meritorious deed in Islamic tradition.

📖Quran 24:33 This verse is from Surah An-Nur, which primarily deals with issues related to morality, ethics, and social conduct. Here, the Quran encourages Muslims to avoid engaging in immoral or exploitative behavior, particularly towards their slaves or servants. It also highlights the importance of treating such individuals with dignity and respect, and allowing them the opportunity to earn their freedom through a contractual agreement known as “kitabah”.

In addition to these verses, there are many other passages in the Quran and Hadith that speak to the importance of freeing slaves and treating them with compassion and kindness. For example, The Quran says that those who are kind and just to their slaves will receive a great reward from God (Quran 4:36).

Quran Verses and Hadith Applicability

The Quran is considered the central religious text of Islam and is believed by Muslims to be the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is considered eternal and applicable to all people and ages, providing guidance for all aspects of life. However, the interpretation and application of specific verses may vary depending on the context and time period in which they are studied. For example, in the event of a war where an army attacks the enemy’s country, resulting in deaths and captives, the relevant verses of the Quran and Hadiths, such as Sahih Muslim 1744 b, still apply today. The Prophet Muhammad prohibited the killing of women and children during war, the destruction of crops, trees, and buildings, and encouraged the humane treatment of prisoners of war. These teachings were based on principles of mercy and compassion, aimed at reducing harm and suffering in times of conflict and promoting justice and respect for human life. Islam recognizes the right to self-defense and defense of one’s community against aggression and harm, but the use of force should be limited to what is necessary for self-defense and should not be used for aggression or violating the rights of others. The Quran states, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits. God does not love those who exceed the limits.” (2:190), permitting the use of force in self-defense while emphasizing the importance of not exceeding necessary limits and respecting the rights of others.

Prophet Muhammad and the Abolition of Slavery in Islam

The Prophet Muhammad lived in a time when slavery was prevalent in many societies around the world. To mitigate the negative effects of slavery, he and his companions began the practice of buying and freeing slaves to prevent them from falling into the hands of cruel masters. Over time, the Prophet worked to abolish the institution of slavery, and his teachings and actions helped bring an end to slavery in many Muslim-majority countries. It’s important to understand that the Prophet’s ownership of slaves should be viewed in the context of his time, and his ultimate goal was to improve the lives of slaves and end slavery. Islam elevated the status of slaves by recognizing them as equal partners in the faith and granting them rights, instead of viewing them as mere property. Islam abolished slavery in a systematic and realistic manner, unlike Europe and America, where people continued to be enslaved from Africa even centuries after slavery had been abolished in the Muslim world.

Additional Information 

According to the Quran and Hadith, slavery is not explicitly abolished in Islam. However, if slavery were to occur, as it did in pre-Islamic Arabia and other places, Muslims are commanded to follow the teachings of the Quran and Hadith, which promote the freedom and good treatment of slaves, with the ultimate goal of abolition. Islam has always opposed the slave trade, abuse, dehumanization, and racism. Since slavery is no longer in practice today, these teachings do not apply.