CAIR Condemns 19th Century Slavery in the United States, But What About Muhammad?

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Source: Jihad Watch, By Dr. Stephen Kirby, January 19, 2022

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has joined in the condemnation of monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers who fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

On November 10, 2021, CAIR “welcomed a vote by Virginia’s Washington County Board of Supervisors to remove several Confederate monuments from outside a local courthouse.” CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison stated, “People who betrayed this nation in order to preserve white supremacy and slavery do not deserve to be honored, especially not on public land.”[1]

However, CAIR’s appreciation of the action taken by the Washington County Board of Supervisors soon turned to condemnation because of a change that Board made by a unanimous decision. On December 15, 2021, CAIR “condemned a decision by Virginia’s Washington County to relocate two Confederate monuments to a space outside a government building.” CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison said, “By moving these monuments to treason from outside a courthouse to outside another government building, the Board of Supervisors is allowing for the continued reverence of white supremacy and systemic anti-Black racism.”[2]

It is interesting that CAIR condemns white supremacy. According to the teachings of CAIR’s prophet Muhammad, there is no such thing as white supremacy or any other supremacy based on skin color. As I pointed out in an earlier article,[3] according to the teachings of CAIR’s prophet Muhammad, all people were divided into only two, non-racial categories; Muhammad stated:

One is only a righteous believer [Muslim] or a doomed evildoer.[4]

So according to Muhammad, and Koran verses such as 3:110, 98:6 and 98:7, regardless of skin color Muslims are inherently superior to non-Muslims.

CAIR also seems particularly incensed about the existence of slavery in the United States during a particular time period. Perhaps CAIR should be similarly incensed about slavery when it comes to their prophet Muhammad, because Muhammad was a slave owner and dealer. And as we are well aware, Muhammad is the perfect example for Muslims to follow today.

Muhammad was a slave owner and dealer

Muhammad happened to own a number of black slaves. He:

  1. Had a black slave boy named Mid’am.[5]
  2. Had a black male slave camel driver named Anjasha.[6]
  3. Had a black male slave as a doorman.[7]
  4. Had black slave girls. One of these slave girls committed fornication and Muhammad ordered that she be given 50 lashes after her postpartum bleeding had ended.[8] And a black slave girl played a drum for Muhammad’s entertainment.[9]
  5. Used two of his black slaves to purchase another slave.[10]

And there are numerous other authoritative reports in which Muhammad was personally involved in possessing, buying, selling, and giving away slaves in general. Here are some eye-opening stories about Muhammad and his dealings with slaves:

  1. It was narrated from Anas that the Prophet bought Safiyyah [one of his wives] for seven slaves.[11]
  2. ‘Adda’ bin Khalid bin Hawdhah said to me: ‘Shall I not read to you a letter that the Messenger of Allah wrote to me?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ So he took out a letter. In it was: ‘This is what ‘Adda’ bin Khalid bin Hawdhah bought [from] Muhammad the Messenger of Allah. He bought from him a slave’ – or – ‘a female slave, having no ailments, nor being a runaway, nor having any malicious behavior. Sold by a Muslim to a Muslim.’”[12]
  3. They [the Muslims] took several captives from the people of Mina’ which is on the shore, a mixed lot among them. They were sold as slaves and families were separated. The apostle arrived as they were weeping and inquired the reason. When he was told he said, ‘Sell them only in lots’, meaning the mothers with the children.[13]
  4. At times Muhammad personally took that same approach in keeping families together when he was distributing slaves: It was narrated that ‘Abdullah said: Prisoners would be brought to the Messenger of Allah and he would give an entire family [to someone, as slaves], because he did not want to separate them.[14]
  5. After the defeat of the Jewish Banu Qurayzah tribe, Muhammad divided up that tribe’s “property, wives, and children” among the Muslims, with the exception of some of the women that he sent to Najd and to Syria to be sold for horses and weapons.[15] Muhammad personally sold some of the other captured women. One Muslim explained: I attended the Messenger of God who was selling the prisoners of the Banu Qurayza. Abu al-Shahm al-Yahudi bought two women, with each one of them three male children, for one hundred and fifty dinars. Muhammad also personally sold “a portion” of the women and children to ‘Uthman b. ‘Affan and ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Awf. [16]
  6. After the defeat of the Jews at Khaybar, Muhammad had the women of Khaybar “distributed among the Muslims.”[17]
  7. After the non-Muslim Hawazin tribe was defeated, Muhammad gave Ali, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman (all later “Rightly Guided” Caliphs[18]) each a woman from among those captured. ‘Umar then gave his to his son.[19] Muhammad gave other “slave girls” to some of his Muslim warriors, who, along with ‘Uthman, then had “intercourse” with their slaves. It was reported that ‘Uthman’s slave-girl “detested him” after the “intercourse.”[20]
  8. Muhammad found out that one of his wives, Maimuna, had freed her slave-girl. Muhammad told Maimuna she would have received “more reward” had she given the slave-girl to one of her uncles (who no doubt would have greatly appreciated that gift): Narrated Maimuna, the wife of the Prophet that she manumitted her slave-girl and the Prophet said to her, “You would have got more reward if you had given the slave-girl to one of your maternal uncles.”[21]
  9. Muhammad gave his foster-sister a gift of a male and a female slave.[22]
  10. Muhammad tried to get the Banu Salamah tribe to join him in attacking the Byzantines at Tabuk by promising them that they would get sex slaves and servants. He told their leader, O Abu Wahb, would you not like to have scores of Byzantine women and men as concubines and servants?[23]

The “Slave Concubines” of Muhammad[24]

Muhammad had at least two slave concubines:

Mariyah bint Sham’un (Qibtiyyah),[25] the Copt:

Mariyah was a Coptic Christian given to Muhammad by al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Alexandria. She bore Muhammad a son named Ibrahim. When Muhammad was informed of Ibrahim’s birth by Abu Rafi, Muhammad gave Abu Rafi the gift of a slave because of the good news.[26] Ibrahim died as a young child in January 632.

Mariyah was the female slave mentioned in the following hadith where two of Muhammad’s wives were angry about a particular time he had intercourse with a female slave. This resulted in the “revelation” of 66:1 of the Koran, a portion of which is mentioned at the end of this hadith:

It was narrated from Anas, that the Messenger of Allah had a female slave with whom he had intercourse, but ‘Aishah and Hafsah would not leave him alone until he said that she was forbidden for him. Then Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, revealed: “O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you, until the end of the Verse.”[27]

The Tafsir Al-Jalalayn noted that Hafsa was angry because while she was away, Muhammad had slept with Mariyah in Hafsa’s bed.[28]

Rayhanah bint Zayd al-Quraziyyah (Rayhanah bint ‘Amr b. Khunafah):

Rayhanah was among the captives when the Muslims defeated the Banu Qurayzah, and she was chosen by Muhammad. Some reported that Muhammad freed her after she accepted Islam and married her in 627, while others reported that she remained his slave girl.[29] She died soon after his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage in February 632.

Additional Slave Girls

In one source it was reported that Muhammad also had two more slave girls. Jamilah, a captive, and another one, a bondwoman granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh.[30]

And Ibn Ishaq wrote that on one occasion Muhammad had been given “four slave girls,” one of whom was Mariyah.[31]

According to a prize-winning 20th Century biography of Muhammad, he did not free his own slaves until the day before he died.[32]

CAIR’s criticism of slavery in the United States during a particular time period would have more credibility if they were to also acknowledge that Muhammad possessed, bought, and sold slaves, and then to criticize Muhammad’s extensive involvement in that slave trade. Until then, CAIR’s criticism of the Confederacy rings somewhat hollow.

Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of six books about Islam. His latest book is Islamic Doctrine versus the U.S. Constitution: The Dilemma for Muslim Public Officials.

[1]           Ismail Allison, “CAIR Welcomes Vote to Remove Virginia Confederate Monuments,” CAIR, November 10, 2021, https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-welcomes-vote-to-remove-virginia-confederate-monuments/.

[2]           Ismail Allison, “CAIR Condemns Decision to Relocate Virginia Confederate Monuments to Outside Government Building,” CAIR, December 15, 2021, https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-condemns-decision-to-relocate-virginia-confederate-monuments-to-outside-government-building/.

[3]           Stephen M. Kirby, “Was Muhammad Really the ‘First Anti-Racist in Human History’”?, Jihad Watch, October 23, 2020, https://www.jihadwatch.org/2020/10/was-muhammad-really-the-first-anti-racist-in-human-history.

[4]           Abu Dawud Sulaiman bin al-Ash’ath bin Ishaq, Sunan Abu Dawud, trans. Yaser Qadhi (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2008),Vol. 5, No. 5116, p. 419.

[5]           Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi, Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas: The First Formulation of Islamic Law, trans. Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley (Inverness, Scotland: Madinah Press, 2004), 21.13.25, p. 179; Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 3, No. 2711, p. 323; and Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman Ahmad bin Shu’aib bin ‘Ali bin Sinan bin Bahr An-Nasa’i, Sunan An-Nasa’i, trans. Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2007), Vol. 4, Nol. 3858, p. 449.

[6]           Abu’l Hussain ‘Asakir-ud-Din Muslim bin Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi, Sahih Muslim, trans. ‘Abdul Hamid Siddiqi (New Delhi, India: Adam Publishers and Distributors, 2008), Vol. 7, No. 2323, p. 38; and Muhammad bin Ismail bin Al-Mughirah al-Bukhari, Sahih Al-Bukhari, trans. Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 1997), Vol. 8, Book 78, No. 6161, p. 106.

[7]           Abu ‘Eisa Mohammad ibn ‘Eisa at-Tirmidhi, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, trans. Abu Khaliyl (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2007), Vol. 6, No. 3318, p. 50; Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 46, No. 2468, p. 376; Vol. 6, Book 65, No. 4913, p. 363; and Vol. 9, Book 95, No. 7263, p. 227; and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal ash-Shaibani, Musnad Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, trans. Nasiruddin Al-Khattab, ed. Huda Al-Khattab (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2012), Vol. 1, No. 222, p. 144.

[8]           Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1, No. 332, p. 212; and Musnad Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol. 1, No. 1142, p. 530.

[9]           Jami At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 6, No. 3690, p. 368. Abu Hurairah, a close companion of Muhammad, also had at least one black slave girl: Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2, No. 2174, p. 566.

[10]         Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 5, No. 4189, p. 126; Muhammad bin Yazeed ibn Majah al-Qazwini, Sunan Ibn Majah, trans. Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2007), Vol. 4, No. 2869, p. 107; and Jami At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3, No. 1239, p. 49, and No. 1596, p. 360.

[11]         Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, No. 2272, p. 298. This purchase price was also mentioned in Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, No. 1365R4, p. 360.

Safiyyah had been among the captives taken when the Jewish community of Khaybar was defeated. The Muslims also captured two female cousins of Safiyyah, who Muhammad gave to Dihya b. Khalifa al-Kalbi, one of his Muslim warriors – see Muhammad ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), trans. Alfred Guillaume (Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 511.

[12]         Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, No. 2251, p. 285. For a report about Muhammad buying a slave from bin Khalid, see Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 34, Chapter 19, p. 171.

[13]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), n. 914, p. 791. There was a similar incident in which Muhammad ordered the selling of two slaves who were brothers; he said they should only be sold together – see Musnad Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol. 1, No. 760, p. 385.

[14]         Musnad Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol. 3, No. 3690, p. 324.

[15]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 466. This is also mentioned in Sahih Muslim, Vol. 5, No. 1766, p. 186; Safiur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2008), p. 378; and Muhammad b. ‘Umar al-Waqidi, The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, trans. Rizwi Faizer, Amal Ismail, and AbdulKader Tayob, ed. Rizwi Faizer (London and New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 256-257.

[16]         The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, pp. 256-257.

[17]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 511.

[18]         The first four caliphs after Muhammad’s death were Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali. These four caliphs were called the “Rightly Guided” Caliphs because they are believed to have held the most firmly to the teachings and example of Muhammad.

[19]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 593.

[20]         The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, p. 462.

[21]         Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 51, No. 2594, p. 442. Muslim women also had slaves. According to the four major Sunni schools of Islamic Sacred Law it is not permissible for a man to have intercourse with his wife’s slave girl, even if the wife gave her permission – see Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Ar-Rahman as-Safadi, The Mercy in the Difference of the Four Sunni Schools of Islamic Law, Trans. Aisha Bewley (Dar Al Taqwa: London, 2004), p. 190.

[22]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 576.

[23]         Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Wahidi, Al-Wahidi’s Asbab al-Nuzul, trans. Mokrane Guezzou (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2008), p. 122.

[24]         This is the description used in Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, Vol. IX, trans. and annotated Ismail K. Poonawala (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1990), p. 141.  Ibn Hisham said he had been told that Mariyah was Muhammad’s “concubine” – see The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), n. 129, p. 711. Mariyah and Rayhanah were referred to as Muhammad’s “slave girls” in the Salahuddin Yusuf, Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, trans. Mohammad Kamal Myshkat (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2010), Vol. 4, p. 402.

[25]         In listing “slave girls” owned by Muhammad, Ibn Kathir identified Mariyah as Mariyah Al-Qibtiyyah – see Abu al-Fida’ ‘Imad Ad-Din Isma’il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi, Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), abr. Shaykh Safiur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, trans. Jalal Abualrub, et al. (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2000), Vol. 7, p. 720.

[26]         The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, p. 39.

[27]         Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 4, No. 3411, pp. 204-205. Here is 66:1: O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

[28]         Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli and Jalalu’d-Din as-Suyuti, Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, trans. Aisha Bewley (London: Dar Al Taqwa Ltd., 2007), p. 1220. A variation of this hadith reported that Hafsa actually found Muhammad and Mariyah in her house engaged in “an intimate moment” – see Al-Wahidi’s Asbab al-Nuzul, p. 237.

[29]         The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, n. 909, p. 137. Ibn Ishaq did not indicate that Muhammad freed Rayhanah; instead, Ibn Ishaq wrote that Rayhanah “remained with him until she died, in his power” – see The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 466. That she was Muhammad’s “captive” instead of a freed woman was also pointed out in The Sealed Nectar, p. 565. In listing “slave girls” owned by Muhammad, Ibn Kathir identified Rayhanah as Rayhanah bint Sham’un An-Nadariyyah – see Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 7, p. 720. Rayhanah was not listed as being among Muhammad’s wives in The Honorable Wives of the Prophet, ed. Abdul Ahad (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2004).

[30]         The Sealed Nectar, p. 565.

[31]         The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), p. 653.

[32]         The Sealed Nectar, p. 555.

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