In one of his many TV appearances, Zakir Naik was asked a question about Islam and slavery:
Even though Islam uplifted the status of slaves but why did it not abolish slavery completely?
Naik’s response is to waffle on, in his inimitable manner, irrelevantly about the banning of intoxicants during the Prophet’s lifetime. When he finally comes round to the answering the question posed on slavery, his answer is to throw up some truly bizarre fabrications, as can be seen from 2:10 into the video:
A transcript of his answer:
The abolishment of slavery came in stages. Initially Allah (swt) says give them rights, if you have to marry them them give mah’r (dowery) etcetera etcetera, slowly, slowly. But there various verses which say ‘Free the slaves etcetera, help them, give them charity. But there’s no direct verse in the Qur’an itself which totally prohibits [slavery]. The reason why Qur’an did not abolish slavery was because it was supposed to be abolished…afterwards. Because it was so much ingrained that most of the things which came as completely, alhamdulillah, during the time of the Prophet, they did. But certain things – like slavery, as said by scholars, were so ingrained that Islam set the ball rolling and the final outcome was supposed to take place, maybe, a few decades or a few years. Many things took place while he was alive. This abolishment of slavery, Islam set the ball rolling and saw to it that it was completed if not in the time of the Prophet then at least after that. Therefore if you read the Qur’an, there are several verses about the slaves and their rights. But it was so much ingrained, it was so much there in the society that it was supposed to be stopped maybe a few years afterwards.
So Naik admits that slavery should have been abolished but excuses Islam by saying that it “set the ball rolling and saw to it that it was completed if not in the time of the Prophet then at least after that”.
But as we know nothing of the sort happened; the Arabs did not abolish slavery anytime during or after the death of the Prophet. In fact they went on to profit hugely from the slave trade. Looking at the system of low-paid manual labour imported from Asian and African countries which operates in Arab states, it is not an exaggeration to say that modern day slavery in the Middle East exists to this day.
Consumption of alcohol was also “ingrained” in Meccan society during the Prophet’s life – but it was banned by dint of a single law revealed to the Prophet in the form of a Quranic verse. So where does Naik get the idea that slavery was too ingrained to be banned during the Prophet’s life but “was supposed to be stopped maybe a few years afterwards”?
Or is he just re-writing and fabricating Islamic history as he goes along?