Elevation

Auther : Haya Muhammad Eid

To provide the necessary uplift to slaves, the Prophet (Pbuh)pushed his efforts at brotherhood, matrimony, social participation, and many merciful teachings by which they were smoothly blended into the society of free people.

In Al-Madinah, the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)forged the bonds of brotherhood between the Muhajirun (Emigrants) and the Ansar (Supporters) without regard to wealth or social status. He (Pbuh)united as brothers some of the freed slaves with some of the free dignitaries of the Arabs; Bilal bin Rabah (who was a black slave) as brother of Khalid bin Ruwaihah, his freedman Zaid as brother of his uncle Hamazah, and Kharijah bin Zaid as brother of his father-in-law Abu Bakr. This brotherhood was a true bond, equivalent to a blood connection and entailed inheritance.1

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “When the emigrants came to Al-Madinah, an Emigrant used to inherit a Supporter (and vice versa) in place of their own blood relatives because of the bond of brotherhood which the Prophet (Pbuh)had established between them, which was abrogated (inheritance through the bond of brotherhood) upon revelation of the Ayah:

(And to everyone, We have appointed heirs.) 

(An-Nisa’ 4: 33)

Still, this was not enough in the eyes of the Prophet (pbuh).

He (Pbuh)gave his niece, Zainab bint Jahsh, in marriage to his freedman Zaid. Marriage was a very sensitive issue, especially to a free woman. She only accepted to marry someone above her and refused to have a husband inferior to her in descent, family, or wealth. She felt that this would debase her social standing and humble her pride. However, the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)was aiming at a loftier goal, which was to elevate the slaves from the dark abyss into which unjust humanity had thrust them, to the rank of the greatest masters of Quraish.2

Still, this was not enough in the eyes of the Prophet (pbuh).

He (Pbuh) deputed his freedman Zaid to be the leader of an army composed of the Muhajirun and the Ansar, among whom were the masters of the Arabs. When Zaid was martyred, the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) entrusted the leadership of the army to his son, Usamah bin Zaid, although Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were in the army – the two ministers of the Messenger (Pbuh) and his successors. Thus, the Prophet (Pbuh) did not stop at the restoration of rights but also granted the capable and qualified freedmen leadership and presidency over free people.You should hear and obey, even if the one made your chief was an Abyssinian (Ethiopian) slave whose head looks like a raisin.”3

Within a few years of reformation, their community attained a level of kindness and nobility unmatched by any other place or time. Some freed slaves were even unwilling to leave their former masters, although they were capable of that, after they had become financially independent and had developed within themselves the ability to shoulder their own responsibility. They considered their masters their own folk, having what resembled the ties of blood connecting them to one another.4 The Prophet (Pbuh) said, “The freed slave of a people is from themselves.”5

‘Umair, the freedman of Abu Lahm, narrated, “I was a slave (of Abu Lahm). I asked the Messenger of Allah r, ‘Can I give some charity from my master’s wealth?’ He (Pbuh) said, ‘Yes, and the reward shall be (shared) between you both, two halves.’”6

References

  1. Muhammad Qutb, Shubuhat Hawl Al-lslam: Islam and Slavery, p. 49; excerpted with modification.
  2. Muhammad Qutb, Shubuhat Hawl Al-lslam: Islam and Slavery, p. 49.
  3. Muhammad Qutb, Shubuhat Hawl Al-lslam: Islam and Slavery, p. 50.
  4. Anas bin Malik, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Ahkam, Hadith no. 6609.
  5. Muhammad Qutb, Shubuhat Hawl Al-lslam: Islam and Slavery, p. 42, excerpted with modification.
  6. Anas bin Malik, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Fara’id (Laws of Inheritance), Hadith no. 6264.


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