The Heart's Witness Against Muhammad: Propheting from Slavery
Not only is chattel slavery part of Islam, chattel slavery is part of Muhammad.
In light of the natural law's condemnation of chattel slavery, and Muhammad's participation in chattel slavery, we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Muhammad was neither God's messenger, nor the seal of the prophets. He was but a man, his head perhaps in the clouds, but with feet of clay.
In Islam, Muhammad--held to be al-insan al-kamir, the perfect model of a human being--is someone whose life ought to be imitated. To criticize any aspect of Muhammad's life is blasphemous under Islam's law, the Shari'a. And yet it is an indisputable fact that Muhammad, after acquiring power and money in Medina, owned slaves, captured slaves, accepted slaves as gifts, traded slaves, enjoyed the fruits of slave labor, and had sex with his female slaves.
From the many instances that could be cited, one might observe that he had a wooden bench or pulpit made by a slave. Sahih Bukhari 1.8.439. He had a slave he nicknamed "ship" because he could carry such a load. He had slaves as household servants. Sahih Bukhari 3.43.648. He had a slave that was his tailor. Sahih Bukhari 7.65.345. He had one slave named Anjashah which drove his camels. Sahih Bukhari 8.73.221. He personally took slaves captive, and gave them away as gifts. Sahih Bukhari 1.8.367 and 4.53.373. He bought and sold slaves. Sahih Muslim 10.3901. Many other examples could be cited, but these suffice for our purposes.
Apologists for Muhammad insist that the founder of Islam was a humanitarian reformer: they point that on occasion he manumitted slaves, that he prohibited the earnings of slave girls through prostitution, and such other events. But lest we get too pious about Muhammad, we ought to mention that Muhammad also instructed his followers they ought not to lash their wives as they would their slaves, suggesting that slave lashing is something that his followers may do (as well as wife lashing, but only less severely). Sahih Bukhari 6.60.466.
Muhammad also advised that coitus interruptus with a female slave was acceptable (even if she was married before capture, as her capture nullified the marriage to a nonbeliever, and made her property of the Muslim who acquired her). By approving a Muslim's coitus interruptus ('azl) with a slave, of course, Muhammad necessarily approved of a Muslim's coitus with his slave. Sahih Muslim, 8.3383.
Unquestionably, Muhammad had his hands deep in slavery. His hands are stained crimson with the unfortunate human who suffered from his law of capture. Now, by his treatment of men and women as if they were possessions, Muhammad showed that he is not the khair ul-bashar, the "best of all mankind." Not by a long shot.
It is true, many of our National heroes are no different than Muhammad. Washington owned slaves, and Jefferson owned them and, it is alleged, slept with one and fathered a child. Historically, the West's hands are mired in slavery, and the institution was part of ancient Greece and ancient Rome. It took hundreds of years to confront it, erase it, only to see it come back again, and removed again. It is a historical blight on the history of our nation which was only overcome with much blood.
It is also true that some of the Jewish patriarchs owned slaves. Even the Christian Scriptures make mention of the institution without its express condemnation, though certainly not with any approval. Only implicitly in the mustard seed of the Gospel may be found the seminal source for the understanding that chattel slavery is against the natural moral law.
But none of those slave-owning men in our history are al-insan al-kamir. None of them have been perfect, or claimed perfection. All are sinners. Most have had feet of clay. None of them have disciples that claim their heroes perfect, the "best of all mankind," khair ul-bashar: none of them unable to be criticized; none of them must be slavishly followed (excuse the pun).
There is one man that Christians slavishly follow, Jesus. And Jesus owned no slaves. And the Gospel that he preached contained an implicit rejection of the underlying assumptions that justify slavery. Jesus undermined slavery's foundations. As an institution, slavery is inconsistent with St. Paul's credo in his letter to the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you all are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).
The Gospel's teaching was social salt indeed. And through the tutorship of the Gospel, we--all humanity, Christian or no--have learned much ...
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