Why didn’t Muhammad free all slaves at once?

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Sahaaba (his companions) freed over 300,000 slaves in the Prophet’s time (PBUH). Remaining slaves were treated like family and it was one of the best deeds if you freed a slave (and not only free them, but also made sure they could live by themselves).

That was revolutionary and unheard of at the time. But why didn’t the Prophet (PBUH) free all the slaves at once?

The reason he did not, IMHO, is the same as the reason the prohibition of intoxication and usury was gradual: Breaking a bad, but strong habit cannot be done by a decree! How many people succeeded in quitting smoking cold-turkey?

After Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with a decree, tens of thousands of African Americans became jobless and homeless! And because their previous masters were forced to free them, they would not hire them. That’s the fault of Lincoln’s approach to the problem, however noble his intention was. Recall that after the emancipation proclamation, the bloodiest war in US history was launched and Lincoln was assassinated!

Compare that approach to this teaching of the Quran,
“Should he not then conquer the obstacle? And what may make you understand what the obstacle is? Untying of a neck! (freeing a slave)” (90:11-13)

To this day, black Americans suffer from discrimination, rooted in racism, that keeps many of them uneducated, unemployed and living in ghettos.

Had Lincoln followed the example of the Prophet (PBUH) instead, slaves would have been freed gradually, willingly and without bloodshed. The consequences of a hasty, from-the-top prohibition would have caused havoc and more pain whose main sufferers would have been the slaves themselves.

If Muslims had followed the Prophet (pbuh) in these teachings, slavery would’ve been abolished long before it was.

Another great point. Thanks for bringing it up. Muslims did NOT follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) and the Sahaaba in freeing slaves, but they did treat them like family.

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