Books and Documents

Islamic Ideology (10 Aug 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Morality or the Immorality of the Institution of Slavery and the Quranic Permission That Allowed Sex with Female Slaves

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

10 August 2016

This topic is of interest only from a historical point of view as slavery in the modern world is not only banned, but has become anachronistic on account of technological developments. From the moral perspective, Islam made far reaching changes to the then existing institution of slavery that made slavery a temporary state helping the slaves to win their freedom. It was however the US which was the first country to ban slavery completely under moral and weightier economic considerations. The freed slaves from the South were required to run the industries in the North. Technological advancement has relieved the beasts of burden such as horses, mules and donkeys of their burden, women of their back breaking household chores and slaves of their hard labour on the farms. Machines are slaves of the modern world which are cheaper, more reliable and more capable than what any beast or human is capable of.

Islam and the Institution of Slavery

Bernard Lewis, the best known living scholar of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Ottoman History writes in his book “Race and Slavery in the Middle East”:

“The Qur'an, like the Old and the New Testaments, recognizes and regulates the practice of the institution of slavery. The Qur'anic legislation, subsequently confirmed and elaborated in the Shariat Law, brought two major changes to ancient slavery with far-reaching effects. One was the presumption of freedom; the other, the ban on the enslavement of free persons except in strictly defined circumstances.

The Arabs practiced a form of slavery, similar to that which existed in other parts of the ancient world. The Quran urges kindness to the slave (4:36; 9:60; 24:58) and recommends liberation of slaves by purchase or manumission. The freeing of slaves is recommended both for the expiation of sins (4:92; 5:92; 58:3) and as an act of simple benevolence (2:177; 24:33; 90:13). It exhorts masters to allow slaves to earn or purchase their own freedom. An important change from pagan, though not from Jewish or Christian, practices is that in the strictly religious sense, the believing slave is now the brother of the freeman in Islam and before God (2:221). This point is emphasized and elaborated in innumerable hadlths (traditions), in which the Prophet is quoted as urging considerate and sometimes even equal treatment for slaves, denouncing cruelty, harshness, or even discourtesy and recommending the liberation of slaves.

Though slavery was maintained, the Islamic dispensation enormously improved the position of the slave, who was now no longer merely a chattel but was also a human being with a certain religious and hence a social status and with certain quasi-legal rights. The early caliphs who ruled the Islamic community after the death of the Prophet also introduced some further reforms of a humanitarian tendency. It was made unlawful for a freeman to sell himself or his children into slavery, and it was no longer permitted for freemen to be enslaved for either debt or crime, as was usual in the Roman world and in parts of Christian Europe until at least the sixteenth century. It became a fundamental principle of Islamic jurisprudence that the natural condition, and therefore the presumed status, of mankind was freedom, whoever is not known to be a slave is free. Since all human beings were naturally free, slavery could only arise from two circumstances: (1) being born to slave parents or (2) being captured in war. “

Prisoners of war were dealt with in different ways as listed below and enslavement was an exception rather than the rule:

1.       Exchanged

2.       Ransomed

3.       Freed especially if no longer considered a threat

4.       Enslaved and allotted by the commander among his soldiers

Slave Women         

The slaves enjoyed freedoms and humane treatment far superior to what prisoners of war enjoy in jails. A slave-owner was entitled by law to the sexual enjoyment of his slave women in the same manner that he could enjoy sex with his wife.

Treatment of Slaves

“In penal law, the penalty for an offense against a slave was half of that for a freeman. While maltreatment was deplored, there was no fixed shari'a penalty. In what might be called civil matters, the slave was a chattel with no legal powers or rights. He could not enter into a contract, hold property, or inherit. If he incurred a fine, his owner was responsible. He washowever, distinctly better off, in the matter of rights, than a Greek or Roman slave, since Islamic jurists, took account of humanitarian considerations. They laid down, for example, that a master must give his slave medical attention when required, must give him adequate upkeep, and must support him in his old age. If a master defaulted on these and other obligations to his slave, the Qadi could compel him to fulfill them or else either to sell or to emancipate the slave. The master was forbidden to overwork his slave, and if he did so to the point of cruelty, he was liable to a penalty which was, however, discretionary and not prescribed by law. A slave could enter into a contract to earn his freedom.” (Bernard Lewis)

In general, the treatment of slaves under Islam was far different from the images that slavery conjures. A British naval report, dated January 25,1858, speaks of black slave marines serving with the Turkish navy:

"They are from the class of slaves abandoned by merchants unable to sell them. There are always many such at Tripoli. Those brought by the Faizi Bari, about 70 in number, were on their arrival enrolled as a Black company in the marine corps. They are in exactly the same position with respect to pay, quarters, rations, and clothing as the Turkish marines, and will equally receive their discharge at the expiration of the allotted term of service. They are in short on the books of the navy. They have received very kind treatment here, lodged in warm rooms with charcoal burning in them day and night. A negro Mulazim [lieutenant] and some negro tchiaoushes [sergeants], already in the service have been appointed to look after and instruct them. They have drilled in the manual exercise in their warm quarters, and have not been set to do any duty on account of the weather. Those among them unwell on their arrival were sent at once to the naval hospital. Two only have died of the whole number. The men in the barracks are healthy and appear contented. No amount of ingenuity can conjure up any connection between their condition and the condition of slavery."

Former slaves rose to positions of authority in administration as well as military and even became ministers and rulers. “In a society where positions of military command and political power were routinely held by men of slave origin or even status and where a significant proportion of the free population were born to slave mothers, prejudice against the slave as such, of the Roman or American type, could hardly develop” (Bernard Lewis).

War, Sex and Rape

Is rape an inevitable part of modern as well as historic wars? Are there exceptions to the rule apart from the dispensation under Islamic law which eliminated it? Let us take a brief look at the history of warfare as it concerns the subject. The following solutions that man has devised to minimize the problem of rape is indicative of the problem.

Japanese Military Prostitution (Wiki)

The Japanese Imperial Army set up `comfort stations’ for the prevention of rape crimes committed by Japanese army personnel and thus preventing the rise of hostility among people in occupied areas.

The first "comfort station" was established in the Japanese concession in Shanghai in 1932. Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 from some Japanese scholars to as high as 410,000 from some Chinese scholars, but the exact numbers are still being researched and debated. Many of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines, although women from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military "comfort stations". Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina. A smaller number of women of European origin from Holland and Australia were also involved.

German Military Brothels in World War II (Wiki)

German military brothels were set up by the Third Reich during World War II throughout much of occupied Europe for the use of Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. Until 1942, there were around 500 military brothels of this kind in Nazi occupied Europe.

It is estimated that, along with those in concentration camp brothels, at least 34,140 European women were forced to serve as prostitutes during the German occupation. In many cases and Eastern Europe, the women involved were kidnapped on the streets of occupied cities during German military and police round ups.

American Military-Base Prostitution (Article by Jennifer Latstetter)

Rarely, if ever, has a war been fought in which the soldiers have not used the native women of the country sexually, through rape, kidnapping, and slave brothels that follow armies. Unfortunately, the United States -- a country that professes equality for all -- is one of the biggest perpetrators of this cult of military prostitution.  This victimization of women has accompanied all American military invasions and has been condoned by the United States government, as well as the occupied nation's government.  Furthermore, the use of Rest & Recreation sites, i.e., government-funded brothels, by the American GIs has been in full-fledge use since the Korean War.  The rationale for this blatant mistreatment of women is that it creates a necessary sense of brotherhood and camaraderie among the soldiers.

Rape of the Iraqi Population By US Security Personnel

"The General Secretary of the Union of Political Prisoners and Detainees in Iraq, Muhammad Adham al-Hamd declared that the US occupation administration in Iraq relies on systematic rape, torture, and sadistic treatment of Iraqi women prisoners in its prison camps in the country. Al-Hamd said that the enormous crimes being committed against women in the prison camps in occupied Iraq have the support and blessings of the US military, for whom the practices serve as a means to bring psychological pressure on men engaged in the Resistance, in an attempt to break their spirit and fighting will.”

US Army Secret wartime files made public only in 2006 reveal that American GIs committed 400 sexual offences in Europe, including  126 rapes in England, between 1942 and 1945. A study by Robert J. Lilly estimates that a total of 14,000 civilian women in England, France and Germany were raped by American GIs during World War II. It is estimated that there were around 3,500 rapes by American servicemen in France between June 1944 and the end of the war and one historian has claimed that sexual violence against women in liberated France was common. And mind you, these are not rapes by victors of the defeated population either! So, if this be the state of `friendly liberators’, what can be said about wars due to hostilities?

How Do The US Male Soldiers Treat Their Own Female Colleagues?

According to a 2011 Newsweek report, women are more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat. 25% of military women have been sexually assaulted, and up to 80% have been sexually harassed by their own male colleagues.


The rape of men by other men is also common in war. A 2009 study by Lara Stemple found that it had been documented in conflicts worldwide; for example, 76% of male political prisoners in 1980s El Salvador and 80% of concentration camp inmates in Sarajevo reported being raped or sexually tortured. Stemple concludes that the "lack of attention to sexual abuse of men during conflict is particularly troubling given the widespread reach of the problem. Mervyn Christian of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has found that male rape is commonly underreported.

How Are Raped Men And Women Treated By Their Spouses?

According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, 30% of women and 22% of men from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported that they had been subject to conflict-related sexual violence. Despite the popular perception that rape during conflict is primarily targeted against women, these figures show that sexual violence committed against men is not a marginal occurrence. The lack of awareness for the magnitude of the rape of men during conflict relates to chronic underreporting. Although the physical and psychological repercussions from rape are similar for women and men, male victims tend to demonstrate an even greater reluctance to report their suffering to their families or the authorities.

According to The Guardian, "Both perpetrator and victim enter a conspiracy of silence and male survivors often find, once their story is discovered, that they lose the support and comfort of those around them. In the patriarchal societies found in many developing countries, gender roles are strictly defined. […] Often, […] wives who discover their husbands have been raped decide to leave them. "They ask me: 'So now how am I going to live with him? As what? Is this still a husband? Is it a wife?' They ask, 'If he can be raped, who is protecting me?'”

In the case of women, those who fall into enemy hands are no longer acceptable by their husbands or even by their children or parents whether or not they have been raped. There are many Iraqi raped women who have been abandoned by their husbands, who cannot talk about their ordeal, because the society only knows how to further exploit a raped woman. Many of these women have migrated to Jordan to make a new beginning. Even with their husbands alive, they have no support or comfort.

Tipu Sultan [1750-1799 AD] defeated the Marathas in a battle who fled leaving their women behind. A tent full of women was captured. The Sultan sent the women, guarded by his 20 men the next morning, to the Marathas who had camped some miles away. The Maratha men refused to take them back as they had spent a night with the victorious Muslims.

- A woman who has fallen into enemy hands is no longer welcome, and it no longer matters whether she was married or single. Armies gang rape women and abandon them if they are still alive after the ordeal. "Survivors face emotional torment, psychological damage, physical injuries, disease, social ostracism and many other consequences that can devastate their lives," says Amnesty.

Why Rape Is An Inevitable Part Of War?

Why rape is an inevitable part of war must be answered by the psychologists. We know that wars are followed by a spurt in birth rates. There is a connection between violence and sex. Violence raises the libido of a man and also makes him irresistibly attractive to the woman. Women, appear hard wired to be attracted by the ‘bad boys’, soldiers and players and especially after a heist, a war or a closely fought game. Duels fought over a woman where the winner takes the woman as trophy was not without the woman’s consent (as it is made out today), although her consent was taken for granted because she never demurred but only purred. War affects even sexual assault rates among the civilian populations and also the aggressive behaviour of soldiers much after the war is over.

War Culture in US

Penny Coleman, author and widow of a Vietnam vet who took his own life, probes whether war itself is a contributory factor to male sexual violence in civilian society. Using World War II data and results from Bureau of Justice surveys of veteran populations, she summarizes findings that support this supposition. Rape rates increased dramatically (more than 27 percent) in US civil society during World War II compared to pre-war rates, even while rates of murder and non-negligent manslaughter decreased. A similar pattern of formidable increases in domestic violence, rape and sexual assault occurred in US civil society since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began, while every other surveyed crime declined except for a small increase in simple assault

Post-War Spill over of Male Violence against Women

Using national data on US veterans' crimes, Coleman also speculates whether military service turns young men into sexual predators. The majority of veterans in jail today are there for violence against women and children, a fact that has persisted since the Bureau of Justice began surveying imprisoned veterans in 1981. Yet the incidence of veteran violence against women does not carry over to other crimes. Male veterans are much less likely than their non-veteran counterparts to be in prison for all other violent crimes except sexual crimes.

Journalist Ann Jones pursued this same question - of the spill over of war violence into domestic violence - in her gripping account of post-war violence against women and girls in four war-ruined countries in Africa and in Cambodia and Iraq. With United Nations (UN) and country-wide data on sexual violence as her backdrop, she documents the environment of everyday violence against women and girls after war ends through interviews with them and through photos they took of their lives using cameras she provided. What their pictures and words expose is that, soldiers bring the habit of war back to domestic and civilian life. After men stop killing each other, many continue to beat and rape women and girls. UN studies of high rates of post-war violence against females are borne out in Jones' cameos of the six countries. The author's own life was, she writes, "darkened by war." Her thrice-decorated WWI-veteran father chronically turned his "war-ridden rage and war-honed violence" on her and her mother. This childhood spent with a violent veteran father prompted her, much later in life, to plumb the tragic affinity between war and domestic violence.

Permission in Islam to Have Sex with Female Slaves

Has any religion tried to codify the rules of war to the extent Islam has done and eliminate rape? Rape in the course of war is mentioned multiple times in the Bible: "For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped..." Zechariah 14:2 "Their little children will be dashed to death before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked, and their wives will be raped."Isaiah 13:16.

Laws against rape in the books of law remain on paper for the victors. Trial for war crimes is only for the losers. So what good is a law that makes rape in war a criminal offence if it is never applied to the victors and rarely to the vanquished either? Do we need laws that look good in the law books or laws that minimize misery?

There are several verses in the Quran that permit sex with female slaves as if they are wives and the codified law allows it with the same restrictions such as:

1.       If the slave woman was a married woman prior to her enslavement, then sex with her was permissible only after observing the period of iddat or waiting for four months or three menstrual cycles to confirm that she was not pregnant. The Iddat period is automatically extended up to childbirth if found pregnant.

2.       The slave woman could not be shared. The slave woman could marry with her master’s permission another slave or a free man and once she was so married, she was no longer available to the master.

3.       Children born of the master were born free and had full rights of inheritance etc. The slave woman also attained freedom on delivering her master’s child and her legal status automatically became that of a wife.

4.       Sex with a woman taken as a prisoner but not allotted as slave by the commander/leader was treated as rape and adultery and punished accordingly by stoning to death.

The women who fell into the hands of the Muslim army were therefore not raped, gang raped, publicly disrobed or treated in an undignified manner as is the case with how they are treated by every victorious army.If they were not ransomed or freed, they became slave of one master who could choose to have sex with her. Since the woman was not shared, this was not sex slavery unless marriage of a woman is also thought of as making her a sex slave. More importantly, the woman was not abandoned to her fate but was taken care of in a dignified manner. This is an important point since women who fall into enemy hands were/are generally not welcome back by their own husbands or family.

Contract Marriages

There is much confusion about Muta or contract marriages and clearly even if there was an instance of it, it was declared forbidden by Umar bin Khattab. I can however imagine that in some campaign in a distant land, where women were not taken captive, the leader of the Muslim army may have faced a situation where if he did not allow Muta he may have faced a revolt by his men. What can be said in favour of Muta is that rape was avoided and although it was `legalized prostitution’, it was with the consent of the women. Morality is quite often a matter of choosing the lesser evil or of minimizing misery.


War does strange things to people. War turns men into psychopath killers and rapists. The women soldiers in the US army are a sexually battered lot both during war and in peace times.

So the task for the critics of the Quranic verses permitting sex with female slaves  is to define the rules of war which are pragmatic and can be adhered to, and to look at the verses from the Koran in that light, and comment whether the `evil of allowing sex with women taken as slaves in war’ that was allowed, which limited sex with own slave only, was worse than leaving the subject untouched, and turning a blind eye to the inevitable gang rape of both the men and the women by the victorious armies.

The rules are not codified in the books in other societies but we know from the story in Mahabharata, that a Draupadi who became a slave of the Kauravas as a result of her husband losing her in a game of dice, could be publicly disrobed in the presence of her (ex) husbands and elders, without anyone raising their voice against such treatment. In Islam, nether can a woman be enslaved in this manner or dishonoured. That is the advantage of codifying the rules. The down side is that such rules become easy targets for criticism.

The Quranic verse allowing sex with female captives must be understood not with the sensibilities and morality of peace time, but with an understanding of what war does to people. The punishment for adultery is severe in Islam. Rape is worse than adultery and if this was to be eliminated even during war, sex with female captives had to be allowed without which there would have been rape without being able to punish for it. Crime which goes unpunished only breeds contempt for the law and eventually leads to a complete breakdown of the moral code.

Islamic wars were the only wars in history in which no woman was publicly humiliated by stripping and gang raping and abandoning her thereafter. The woman slave was never shared between men and although her owner had sexual rights, he could not ill-treat her and had to take good care of her, feeding her the same food that he ate. Children born to the women were born free and if the woman who had borne her master’s children was not given freedom by her master, she automatically became a free woman on his death.

Morality is not what the majority think is moral or immoral. Our concepts of morality change with the times just like fashions do. Morality is what promotes maximum good and who can know this better than God? If rape was not a feature of every war (including wars for liberation and wars to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people), I would have had no hesitation in condemning the permission to have sex with female captives as undoubtedly this is immoral in precept and aesthetically abhorrent. However, facts only confirm that the word of God cannot be found fault with even today since in practice, these laws saved the women from the indignities that are always heaped on them. While Slavery is rightly banned and such banning is in accordance with the spirit of the Quran, a solution to the problem of the crime of rape and sodomy as a consequence of war eludes a solution despite the laws that criminalize rape and make it punishable as a war crime.

Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/naseer-ahmed,-new-age-islam/the-morality-or-the-immorality-of-the-institution-of-slavery-and-the-quranic-permission-that-allowed-sex-with-female-slaves/d/108233

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  • 7/3/2017 1:13:20 PM  A kafir
    It is shameful
    when U
    try this shameful
    ..... (Hate speech deleted...Editor)
    If u have a guts then post it.  
    Dear Mr. Kafir,
    Personally I do not like the idea of deleting even hate speech. I would like Muslims to engage with you and remove your misunderstandings that may have led to this hatred. After all, hatred must have some reason. But this the law of the land. Hon'ble Supreme Court clarified it several years ago. You don't have the guts to post your hate speech with your name and address, so that action can be taken against you. The Editor would go to prison for publishing such comments, specially if the writer hides behind words like "A Kafir.".

    By A Kafir - 7/4/2017 9:33:29 PM

  • Naseersaab,

    You have not answered any of the points that I had raised in my last comment. Instead you made some highly inappropriate and irrelevant remarks. Kindly respond to my post or concede that the claim that moral/ethical precepts can only be divine is patently ludicrous.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/12/2016 2:06:51 PM

  • GM Sb,

    Now you go back on your own wonderful analogies!

    Debating with you is like playing chess with the pigeons as Hats Off would say.

    By the way what have you got to say on the state of relationship between the various sects in Iraq before the war? Who can argue with one determined to argue for the sake of argument? It is tiresome in the extreme. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/12/2016 12:28:45 AM

  • Naseersaab,

    You said, "The Creator of human beings, heavenly bodies, coal etc is the Divine. In the case of medicine, he studies what is there and produces what is required because he can produce them."

    You missed the point! Whether a moral precept is of human or divine origin, a philosopher will systematically study it and expound on it, but it is not his job to produce moral precepts. In the realm of physical sciences, the scientist of course studies the creation of Nature or God. In the realm of humanities, including morality, law, poetry or history, a scientist or a philosopher studies whatever literature exists on the subject.

    You asked, "Why doesn’t “The Science of Moral Duty” only study the moral principles given by religion but does not produce them?"

    It studies all moral precepts whether they are from Confucius or Christ. Confucius' work deals extensively with morality and ethics. He said, 500 years before Christ, "Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself". That's why some people have tried to call Confucianism a religion. But it was a philosophy, not a religion. The fact that Confucius was such a prolific producer of aphorisms does not mean all philosophers have to produce such aphorisms. Socrates, who lived 100 years after Confucius, taught, "ethical virtue is the only thing that matters." Perhaps we should say that the earliest philosophers did produce ethical precepts, but later philosophers just studied them.

    You said, "Moral Principles must be inspired/revealed by the same Entity that created the stars."

    You underestimate the capabilities of the human mind. You cannot convert a falsehood into truth just through persistence.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/11/2016 2:39:37 PM

  • For the benefit of everyone to help follow the argument.

    Naseer’s Question

    The Science of medicine studies medicine and also produces medicine

    Why doesn’t “The Science of Moral Duty” only study the moral principles given by religion but does not produce them?

    GM’s Response:

    Moral principles are like the stars that man studies but does not produce.

    Why is this so difficult for you to understand?

    Naseer’s argument:

    Now I get what you are saying.

     Moral principles are like the stars that man can only study but not produce.

    It is not like medicine which man can both study and produce.

    I have been trying to say the same thing.

    Moral Principles must be inspired/revealed by the same Entity that created the stars as claimed by religions which have given us the moral principles.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/11/2016 10:13:59 AM

  • GM Sb,

    You say:Without responding to my previous comment, you ask a new question: " If ethics is the science of moral duty, why does it not generate its own moral principles ?"


    You had deliberately ducked answering this question twice before. It is not a new question.



    You say: Science is a systematized study of a subject. According to Kidder, ethics studies moral duty. It does not produce moral precepts. A physicist studies energy. He does not produce coal or petroleum. An astronomer studies the stars. He does not create any heavenly bodies.


    That is a great analogy GM Sb. Your analogy and my analogy prove the point that I was making and you were unable to get.

    I agree that man studies what is there and produces what he can. He studies anatomy of a human being, he does not and cannot create human beings, he studies heavenly bodies, he does not and cannot create them, he studies moral principles, he does not and cannot create them.

    The Creator of human beings, heavenly bodies, coal etc is the Divine.

    In the case of medicine, he studies what is there and produces what is required because he can produce them.

    My point is proved. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/10/2016 11:44:37 PM

  • Naseersaab,

    Without responding to my previous comment, you ask a new question: " If ethics is the science of moral duty, why does it not generate its own moral principles ?"

    Science is a systematized study of a subject. According to Kidder, ethics studies moral duty. It does not produce moral precepts. A physicist studies energy. He does not produce coal or petroleum. An astronomer studies the stars. He does not create any heavenly bodies.

    Why are these things difficult for you?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/10/2016 4:25:34 PM

  • I am surprised that many Muslim ( not all ), especially who are in bandwagon to prove Islam is best, use Philosphy to prove Islamic view point.

    Slavery cannot be eradicated and will never go as long as humans are their, the forms had changed and will change, the degree of freedom had been given time to time and restriction of expression of freedom is stopped, time to time to achieve political and relgious means and agendas.

    So Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and other relgion have no clean chit on it.

    So does, Democracy, Dictatorship, Kings or any other form of governing system has clean chit in matter of slavery.

    But my view is opposite to Manzural Haqe, keep discussing so we get our share of degree of freedom, which had chance of getting snatched away by tricks and brainwash.

    By Aayina - 9/10/2016 6:53:47 AM

  • Only a colour-blind person would dismiss the role of Islam in dealing with slavery. True, Islam did not abolish slavery on a certain Sunday , but it rather took a different route. It worked to eradicate slavery. When liquor was banned people threw their wines down the drains. By banning slavery outright, were the slaves also to be thrown down the drain? Their integration to the society was more important because they were human beings and not objects. I have read that in some cases the slaves used to commit suicide on the death of their masters. The attitude of slavery was sometimes two-way. As an after-effect of changes in attitudes, when a slave became a sovereign king, what was there for him to abolish?And even after abolition of slavery in modern times in non-Muslim countries , can we say the poor man is free? Ask  a Westerner on the street. Slavery in another shape , is coming back in a big way, and it might be that this time man would have  lost the ability to fight against slavery. Let us not take this serious issue to the childish level and waste our effort defaming Islam.
    By Manzurul Haque - 9/10/2016 3:13:58 AM

  • GM Sb,
     You have not answered the following question:
     Rushworth Kidder states that "standard definitions of ethics have typically included such phrases as 'the science of the ideal human character' or 'the science of moral duty'".
      Can we even talk about moral duty without moral principles? If ethics is the science of moral duty, why does it not generate its own moral principles ?
     If medicine is the science of curing people, isn’t producing appropriate medicine for various diseases a part of the science of medicine or that of its sub branches or related branches? There was a time when only what was available such as natural herbs were used. So is philosophy at the same stage where it can only use what is available from wherever and cannot produce any moral principle?
    Why hasn't the science of moral duty developed like any other science and give us the latest moral principles? Why do we have to depend on religion?
    And why has religion been so successful?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/10/2016 2:44:48 AM

  • Naseersaab,

    Thanks for reproducing that Bishop piece. However it does not mean what you think it means. It does not  offer proof of the failure of philosophy as far as morality is concerned. It only bewails the loss of moral certainty and reflects how modern man finds himself with   no authentic moral framework for making value distinctions. Philosophers study and expound on this vacuum but they do not hold philosophy  responsible for it. Philosophers have no mandate to be either the generators or even guardians of morality. They are in-depth students of morality, among other things.

    My questioning the distinction between utilitarian and ethical precepts was only as regards man's capability to produce them, and had no other implication.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/10/2016 1:30:40 AM

  • GM Sb,
    If you haven't understood the difference between Utilitarian precepts and Moral precepts, read philosophy or simply Kant's "supreme principle of morality".
    or just the following:
    "Philosophers have totally abandoned the idea of a unifying, universal secular morality, whether derived from Kant to Sartre or from Post-modernist Scepticism to Nietzsche. Morality has floundered on the rocks of Utilitarianism, Pluralism, Universality, Prescriptivism, Existentialism, Postmodernist Scepticism, Moral Relativism, Moral Absolutism and any other philosophical 'ism' one cares to name. Post-modernist critical theory seems to have destroyed any hope of moral certainty. The consequence of this argument is that we, as individuals, now believe that we inhabit a moral vacuum where there is no firm foundation for moral concepts. There is no moral compass, and no authentic moral framework for making value distinctions. We are left with nothing except a feeling of powerlessness, an absence of moral awareness, a lack of a shared experience and social solidarity. There is nothing but a post-modern culture of narcissism, devoid of any real moral framework for making value distinctions. It is apparent that we have no respect for ourselves or for others as independent free moral beings. The knowledge that we do not have defined moral values has encouraged a deep-rooted culture of suspicion in society and a scarcity of basic trust between people. Attempts to constantly extend mechanisms to make people more 'accountable' flounder; because without personal moral accountability, we are reduced to doing what we are told and we do not, in turn, trust the people doing the telling. There is no duty and necessity of critique, by enquiring into one's own individual conduct and the conduct of established institutions. The consequence of people not being trusted is that they become less and less trustworthy. The downward spiral continues.” (Bishop, A. (2005) 'Moral principles defined: a decision-making perspective', Int. J. Management and Decision Making, Vol. 6, Nos. 3/4, pp.326-333)
    While philosophy has give us Utilitarianism, Pluralism, Universality, Prescriptivism, Existentialism, Postmodernist Scepticism, Moral Relativism, Moral Absolutism and any other philosophical 'ism' one cares to name it has floundered as far as morality is concerned.
    There you have proof of the failure of philosophy as far as morality is concerned and the fact that it is not the same as Utilitarianism etc.. What next?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/9/2016 11:19:16 PM

  • Naseersaab asks, " If you are taking an evolutionary view of development of all moral principles minus help from the Divine, why don't you go all the way and answer the question asked by me?"

    That is a strange question to ask when I had just said, " I see no conflict between man's achievements and religious teachings. I think they compliment each other."

    And you deliberately misquote me when you say that I am "taking an evolutionary view of development of all moral principles," when you know fully well my position that moral precepts can have both human and divine origins.

    Trying to make much of the distinction between ethical precepts and utilitarian precepts is fallacious. As man's brain grew in size and as his ability to analyze and learn from his struggle to survive increased, he developed the capability to generate both utilitarian and ethical precepts.

    Instead of using such deceptive techniques to keep the discussion going would it not be wise to drop the ridiculous assertion that religion is the only source of moral precepts? Such an assertion is not necessary for being a good Muslim or a good Christian.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/9/2016 1:33:03 PM

  • GM Sb, If you are taking an evolutionary view of development of all moral principles minus help from the Divine, why don't you go all the way and answer the question asked by me?
    As far as hunting is concerned, animals also hunt in packs including tigers and lions not to speak of the wolf and the hyena. Savages also killed other savages in packs. Pack level cooperation existed. Man has always been a social being and lived in communes. Intra-commune cooperation existed among the savages. Here man is not going beyond instinct and utilitarian considerations or learning from his environment. Man has always been excellent at seeing the utilitarian angle of anything but not the moral one on his own. He can learn morals from the example of other societies or from the behaviour of animals. Ethics of Utilitarianism is a human construct.
    We can discuss the topic further when I write the article on why human beings have found it difficult to produce moral principles.  The article will provide answers to several other interesting questions also. This may take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how much time I get for research.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/9/2016 5:41:34 AM

  • Naseersaab asks, "Are you saying that Islam is a construct of Muhammad and God or divinity has nothing to do with it?"

    Did you read my last post and the article that I had linked? Man must have started developing moral codes when big game hunting started. As the article says, "When hunter-gatherers formed groups, survival essentially boiled down to one key tenet—cooperate, or die." 

    Religions enriched this process,  adding more moral precepts and giving them divine sanction. I see no conflict between man's achievements and religious teachings. I think they compliment each other.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/9/2016 2:18:40 AM

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