In the first place, we would like to stress that Islam totally objects and fights all forms of slavery. The focus of Islam in all its teachings and practices was to eradicate this practice, which was then prevailing. Now, slavery has been abolished by international conventions, and this goes in line with the aims of Islam, which called for this several centuries ago.
It is worthy mentioning here that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) did not own slaves. He had many slaves purchased and freed. The Qur’anic encouragement to free slaves is in itself a procedure that was taken towards abolishing of slavery that was an existing institution to which Islam was fighting tooth and nail and not approving its existence. As we stated, slavery was an existing phenomenon when Islam came, and it was really difficult to eradicate this well-established phenomenon save through practical and gradual steps. Thus, Islam did not initiate this phenomenon but it came to face it and eradicate it gradually until it vanished. One more thing that is worthy mentioning here which is that Islam gave slaves certain rights in order to protect them against mistreatment, let alone it puts certain legislations in order to abolish this well-established phenomena gradually.
Moreover, the institution of slavery, by the grace of Allah, no longer exists in the world. Therefore, the question regarding keeping slaves or slave girls does not arise anymore. We should not pay much attention to such issues which are of no avail or practical use nowadays. Islam encourages its followers to concentrate on issues of real and practical relevance.
In this regard, we would like to cite the following fatwa issued by Dr. Taha Jaber Al-`Alwani in which he states the following:
“When Allah created human beings, He created them to be free and to be vicegerents on the earth. Slavery is something that came from people who couldn’t understand the position of the human being and it was made, in the past, as a global phenomenon.
When Islam came, it tried to bring change to get the human being back to being free, as Allah has created us, by certain procedures. Those procedures of Islam went through without interference from the other nations or states who are non-Muslim states or nations. Maybe within the third century of Hijrah or the migration of the Prophet to Madinah, this phenomenon would have been over and disappeared. But as I mentioned, because it was a global phenomenon, that procedure which was established by Islam couldn’t go through and finish with this very bad phenomenon.
آow, al-hamdulillah all people have agreed to stop this phenomenon and stand up against it. With this, there is no way to go back to adopt this phenomenon again in any way, especially for Muslims, since they must protect the freedom of others and always be with their rights to be free servants of Allah only. We should remember when the Caliph `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said in a famous khutbah (Speech or sermon) of his, “When did you make the people as slaves or servants of you while Allah, the Almighty, created them free?!”
This means that the Muslims from the very beginning advocated the freedom of all human beings and were against the oppression of free people by tyrants and dictator leaders.”
Based on what is mentioned above, we would like to state that it was a war custom in the past to take men and women as captives and then turn them into slaves. Islam did not initiate it, rather, it was something in practice long ago before the advent of Islam. And when Islam came, it tried to eradicate this practice.