Islamic views on slavery represent a complex and multifaceted body of Islamic thought, with various Islamic groups or thinkers espousing views on the matter which have been radically different throughout history. Slavery was a mainstay of life in pre-Islamic Arabia and surrounding lands. The Quran and the hadith (sayings of Muhammad) address slavery extensively, assuming its existence as part of society but viewing it as an exceptional condition and restricting its scope. Early Islamic dogma forbade enslavement of free members of Islamic society, including non-Muslims (dhimmis), and set out to regulate and improve the conditions of human bondage. The sharīʿah (divine law) regarded as legal slaves only those non-Muslims who were imprisoned or bought beyond the borders of Islamic rule, or the sons and daughters of slaves already in captivity. In later classical Islamic law, the topic of slavery is covered at great length. Slaves, be they Muslim or those of any other religion, were equal to their fellow practitioners in religious issues.
Slavery in Islamic law is not based on race or ethnicity. However, while there was no legal distinction between white European and black African slaves, in some Muslim societies they were employed in different roles: for example, in the Ottoman Empire white slaves served as soldiers and government officials, while black slaves served as eunuchs in the palace and the harems of elite families. Slaves played various social and economic roles, from domestic worker to highest-ranking positions in the government. They created some great empires in history including the Ghaznavid Empire, Khwarazmian Empire, Delhi Sultanate, Mamluk pashas of Iraq and Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and Levant. Moreover, slaves were widely employed in irrigation, mining, pastoralism, and the army. Some rulers even relied on military and administrative slaves to such a degree that they were considered above from the general public and sometimes they seized power. In some cases, the treatment of slaves was so harsh that it led to uprisings, such as the Zanj Rebellion. However, this was an exception rather than the norm, as the vast majority of labor in the medieval Islamic world consisted of paid labour by free persons. For a variety of reasons, internal growth of the slave population was not enough to fulfill the demand in Muslim society. This resulted in massive importation, which involved enormous suffering and loss... ...read more