The dealings of the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, with servants and slave girls
We always urge those who serve us to perfect their work and fulfill their duties, yet we probably forget – or pretend to have forgotten, the rights of those poor servants due on us. These rights have been ordained by Allah and the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
The Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, set the most splendid of examples with regard to good dealings with servants, freed slaves, and slaves (both females and males). He, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, set the best example of leniency and mercy towards them, whilst being just and fair with them. This is in complete accordance with his kind character, as well as the commands he, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, gave his nation.
His Dealings with Servants and Slaves:
The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, treated his servants in a manner that was similar to a compassionate father towards his child, or like a merciful brother towards his brother; he never differentiated between a slave, a hired hand or helper. This caused Zayd ibn Haarithah (his freed slave) to favor the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, over his parents and tribe.
The scholars of the Prophetic biography mention that Su`da bint Tha`labah, the mother of Zayd ibn Haarithah – visited her tribe while Zayd was with her. The homes of Banu Ma`n were invaded by some horsemen, and Zayd was taken as a captive when he was a child. He was then taken to the market of `Ukaath where he was put up for sale, and was purchased by Hakeem ibn Hizaam for four hundred Dirhams (silver coins). He purchased Zayd for his aunt Khadeejah (the wife of the Prophet).
When the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, married Khadeejah she gave him Zayd. Later on, some people from Kalb made the pilgrimage to Makkah and saw Zayd. They recognized each other and he (Zayd) said some lines of poetry that he asked to be conveyed to his father.
They left and conveyed the message to his father. They also described his location to him, and Haarithah and Ka`b (his brother) headed for Makkah upon hearing Zayd was there. When they reached Makkah, they asked about the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and were told, “He is in the Mosque,” so they entered the area in which he was sitting.They said to him, “O son of `Abd Al-Muttalib; O son of the chief of your people, you are the neighbors of (the House of) Allah (referring to the Sacred Mosque). You relieve those who are suffering, and feed those who are hungry. We have come to you regarding our son who is a slave of yours, so that you may be kind to us by allowing us to ransom him.”
The Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, responded: “I propose something else.” They said: “And what do you propose?” He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “I will call him here and I will give him the choice. If he chooses you two, then that is fine, and if he chooses me, then by Allah, I will not refuse the choice of someone who chooses me.”
They both said to him, “You have been more than just.” The Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, called Zayd and when he came he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, asked him: “Who are these two?” Zayd said: “This is my father Haarithah ibn Sharaheel, and that is my paternal uncle, Ka`b ibn Sharaheel.”
The Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “I will give you the choice, if you wish, you can go with them, and if you wish, you can remain with me.” He said: “Rather, I will stay with you.” His father said to him, “O Zayd, do you choose servitude over freedom, and over your father, mother, town and tribe?” Zayd said: “I have seen something from this man, and
I will never part from him.”
At this, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, took his hand, stood in front of the people, and said aloud: “Bear witness that this is my son, he inherits from me and I inherit from him.
The father’s feelings were eased and Zayd was called “Zayd, the son of Muhammad,” until Allah revealed the verse (which means):
«Call them by [the names of] their fathers.»