Islamic Slavery? Text and Context

All countries have banned slavery and the world is a better place for it. Yet for over 1000 years and since the very beginning, Islam and slavery seemed inseparable and scholars opposed its abolition.

Islamic slavery is an uncomfortable topic and can shake our faith. It is a vast and complex issue and we can only do it some justice by spending time to understand it better.

Complete this course to gain a deep and balanced understanding of slavery in the Muslim world, how it related to the practice in other civilisations and the complex reasons, including religious ones, for it eventually coming to an end.

If you enjoyed this module please consider the module Gender & Ethics next...

ISB's Classical to Contemporary Curriculum

This ambitious curriculum journeys through profound ideas on the questions of our time: exploring how we should define our understanding and priorities to best fulfil our purpose. At various points the curriculum will examine our attitudes, fiqh, culture and language in relation of our context today.

Students can expect to develop a deep understanding of our faith, society, culture and greater confidence in how to live our faith naturally and positively, with relevance to our modern lives, here in the West.

To access the complete videos and related content please visit

Course Details

This module explores:

1. The normative practice - i.e. what did Islamic teachings say about slavery?

2. The descriptive practice - how did Muslims actually treat slaves?

We will also explore two difficult questions:

Did Islam allow sex with female slaves (concubinage) and if so, why?
How can you take people as moral ideals when they owned slaves?

3. The cruelties of the slave trade - why it continued in the Muslim world and why it had to end.

4. The abolition of slavery in the Muslim world and how scholarly opinion eventually turned against slavery. This complex and intriguing story involves a journey across time, religions, and three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia, and covers the key role Britain played in all this.

Regarding slavery, how did Islamic Law and Ethics diverge, and why did this happen?

Course Instructors - Dr Rizwan Syed & Dr Sara Saigol

Dr Rizwan Syed is a longstanding member of initially, the Young Muslims UK and later, the Islamic Society of Britain, where he has held numerous posts, including currently, Lead of Tarbiyah for ISB (Development & Education). He was course organiser for the advanced level Summer Islamic Studies Residential courses for some years and teaches in a number of study circles as well as recently, being the lead teacher at the ISB Classical to Contemporary e-circles. He is also a mentor for ISB Campus.

Dr Rizwan has been studying and teaching Islam at a lay level since his late teens, developing interests in comparative religion, usul al hadith, usul al fiqh and history. He is particularly concerned with the challenge of how to make core Islamic teachings relevant to our contemporary context.

He is also a GP with interests in training, mentoring and musculoskeletal medicine.

Dr Sara Saigol graduated from The University of Birmingham Medical School and has since settled and works in South Manchester. She has been involved with various organisations in a voluntary capacity and this includes Young Muslims and the Islamic Society of Britain for almost three decades. Sara is a public speaker and writer and has recently developed a blog on faith in Britain.

Sara developed ISB campus since the Living Islam Festival in 2016 and has overseen its growth into the primary project of the Islamic Society of Britain. She continues as Lead Mentor for ISB Campus and is active in the pastoral care and development of policies to protect young people.

Dr Sara has many academic interests and leads two regular study circles for young people. Sara has been speaking in schools for many years and has developed an educational service for Schools on Islam as well as spearheading numerous projects that are offshoots from ISB Campus. 

Sara Saigol is married with three children and is a General Medical Practitioner.


· September 24, 2021