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Real Talk: What Does Islam Say About Rape and Slavery?

05 December, 2017
Q With the horrific actions done by Boko Haram and other so called Islamic groups, I wonder if Islam is a religion that encourages rape and slavery.


Short Answer: Rape is an abhorrent hate crime which Islam does not stand for, and rapists are heavily punished, even up to and including death. Slavery was a common practice when the Quran was revealed, but Islam gradually did away with it. 

Asalamu Alaikum Adam

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Islam stands against all kinds of crimes that contradict human nature.


Although not all victims of rape are female, it’s important to note that Islam honors women, their dignity, modesty, and chastity.

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Islam forbids all illicit actions and does not allow rape under any circumstances, ever.

Islam views rape as a heinous and abhorrent crime.

Rape in general is prohibited and condemned by all religions.

People of sound understanding do not accept rape and consider it an attack on victims.

Islam prescribes severe punishment for those charged with rape.


As for slavery, the original state of humans is freedom. Everyone is born free. Everyone aspires to be free.

No human likes to be put under any circumstances that limit their freedom.

Slavery existed before the advent of Islam. It was common in the pre-Islamic society.

But Islam implemented gradual measures to put an end to this practice because the setting of seventh century Arabia made it difficult to put an end to it overnight.

When Islam came, the sources of slavery were numerous. But Islam tried all possible means to cut these sources off.

When Muslims took soldiers as prisoners of war, the first measure was to free them or to exchange them with Muslim captives.

This was done with a view to maintaining the original state of freedom of humans.

Islam also widened the sources of emancipating slaves.

Emancipate Slaves!

Islam encourages Muslims to set slaves free as a voluntary act for which a Muslim is promised a great reward.

Islam urges Muslims to help slaves put an end to this state by fulfilling a deed of emancipation.

In fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) books, such category of people is called the mukatab. We read in the Quran:

Moreover, if those whom your hands rightfully possess desire a deed of emancipation, then write it for them, if you come to know goodness in them. Moreover, give them of the wealth of God that He has given you. (Quran 24:33)

Islam made freeing slaves one of the ways of giving zakah (obligatory charity). We read in the Quran:

Indeed, prescribed charitable offerings are only to be given to the poor and the indigent, and to those who work on administering it, and to those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free those in bondage, and to the debt-ridden, and for the cause of God, and to the wayfarer. This is an obligation from God. (At-Tawbah 9:60)

No Racism In Islam

Islam treats all people on equal footing whether they are free or slaves.

The only criterion that distinguishes between people in their relation with Allah is their piety, not their color or race.

Allah says in the Quran what means:

And, indeed, the noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the most God-fearing of you. Indeed, God is all-knowing, all-aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Your slaves are your brothers, their food should be the same as your food and their clothing should be the same as your clothing […] (Ibn Majah -Sahih)

In another narration, the Prophet is reported to have said about slaves:

If you must set them to hard work, in any case, I advise you to help them. (Al-Bukhari)

Now, it is safe to conclude that Islam is not a religion that encourages rape or slavery.

I hope this answers your question.

Walaikum Asalam and please keep in touch.

(From AboutIslam’s archives)

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