A Bible for Slaves

Here is a shocking example of the lengths Christians have gone to edit or hide certain parts of their own scriptures. We already know historical examples of theological controversies which led Christians to edit their books, but here is a fairly recent example of editing the Bible for economic/political purposes.

Blogging Theology

A unique part of history, a terrifying part of history that shows how the Bible was used to justify slavery. It’s entitled, “Parts of the Holy Bible selected for use of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands”. Shocking to say the least.


This Bible is said to have omitted themes of slavery, so passages from the Book of Exodus were removed. It is currently housed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

and God knows best.

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6 thoughts on “A Bible for Slaves

  1. David Robertson

    Isn’t slavery in the Quran as well? And hasnt it been used throughout Islamic history? I’m not saying the Bible is innocent, but both Christianity and Islam have their nasty side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John sums it up well.

      Also, what strikes me is not the Biblical laws of slavery (even though Islamic laws were much more just, in my view), it’s the shameless editing that some Christians have done to hide certain parts when they don’t suit their personal views. Muslims have never done that, but Christianity has a long history of editing and redacting the Bible!


  2. John Stewart

    The concepts and practices are different. We never had anything like the ‘curse of Ham’ etc. Most people think all slavery was like colonial slavery which is not true. If you look at the Qu’ran on slavery you’ll see what I mean here are all the verses:

    1. Reintegration into society
    Do not marry idol worshipping women, unless they come to believe; a Muslim slave-girl is better than an idol worshipping woman, even though she may attract you. And do not marry Muslim women to idol worshipping men, unless they come to believe; a Muslim slave is better than an idol worshipping man, even though he may attract you… (2:221)

    …marry other women you like in twos, threes, or fours. However, if you’re concerned that you can’t maintain equality and fair judgment among them then marry only one or a concubine. That way you’re more likely to avoid injustice and oppression. (4:3)

    Notice that slaves are being encouraged to be married into family units. Imagine if African slaves were being encouraged to be married by colonialist. Next, it is unanimous for all Muslim scholars that a concubine can’t be raped. Finally, the children from slaves are considered part of his progeny and will inherit and if he were to die. Then she becomes ‘Umm Walad’ and is automatically set free. Which brings me to the next point.

    2. Multiple ways to be given freedom
    …If anyone kills a believer by accident they must free one Muslim slave and pay compensation to the victim’s family, unless the family gives up their right as charity. But if the victim was from a nation at war with you and they were a believer, then only the freeing of a believing slave.
    If they belonged to a nation which you have a peace treaty, then payment should still be handed over to their family, and a believing slave set free. Anyone who lacks the means to do this or cannot find a slave must fast for two months straight as an act of repentance to God. (4:92)

    Those of you who would say such a thing to their wives, then go back on what they have uttered, are to free a slave before the two of them may touch one another again. This is what you are being counseled to do, and God is fully aware of all that you do. (58:3)

    Have I not made for them two eyes, a tongue and a pair of lips? As well as guided them along to the split of the two mountain paths? But they won’t even attempt the steeper road. And what will make you understand what that steep road is? It’s to commit to freeing the necks of slaves from debt or slavery. Or giving food on a day when all are poor and hungry, to an orphan who is family, or to the poor man lying in the dust in misery. (90:8-16)

    There are more ways than this which is mentioned. But it’s really easy to end up being set free and it’s very encouraged for Muslims to do so. Also, you can’t beat a slave and hitting them in the face is automatic freedom. Which leads to the last point.

    3. Was set up to be for the most part phased out
    Charity is meant only for the poor, the needy, the people who assess and distribute it, those whose hearts need winning over, those whose necks are chained in either slavery or debt, those fighting in God’s cause and for travelers in need. This is a prescription from God because God is All Knowing and Wise. (9:60)

    Muslim pay tithe every year. Scholars differ in regards to if the categories above are to be split across the board or if its one after the other, i.e. all poor people are taken care of, then the people whose hearts need winning over, etc. But you’ll notice slavery is on there. Which means either opinion that’s followed eventually all slaves will be freed. This doesn’t mean that Muslims can’t take slaves in certain situations such as war or if the person’s family were legitimate slaves for generations but for the most part, it was severely crippled.

    There are a lot more evidences for these points but I tried to keep it short for space purpose. Sheikh Omar Suleiman has a very good lecture on this subject if you’re interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. interesting video, i still have an old discussion on this issue :

    Rape women ?

    “When a man calls his wife to his bed, and she does not respond and he (the husband) spends the night angry with her, the angels curse her until morning”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    If physical coercion were allowed, this hadith would never have existed because the husband would have just violently beaten his wife into submission and raped her. There would never be a need for a hypothetical scenario where a wife “doesn’t respond” to a husband’s request for sex.

    It shows assault doesn’t become permissible magically when it comes to sex.

    Assault of a slave is forbidden by hadiths like the following:

    It was narrated that Abdullah Ibn Umar has once beaten a slave-boy of his. Then, he called him and asked him: “Does it hurt you? The boy replied: “No”. Ibn Umar said: “Go you are free” and then picked some sand from the earth and said: “I have no reward in what I have done. I heard Allah’s messenger (PBUH) says: “Whoever beats or slaps his slave-boy on the face should manumit him as an atonement.” (Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad)

    You can’t physically harm others. ESPECIALLY those in relationships with mismatched power dynamics (wives or slaves). Because the Shariah shows penalties for acts which don’t even hurt, let alone those that do. On the other hand, if one guy slaps another guy (both free men), it would be taken a lot less seriously.

    Assault of others is forbidden EVERYWHERE in the Qur’an, Hadith and Sunnah.

    I just showed you a hadith which forbade physically harming a slave. So YOU have to prove where an EXCEPTION is made to this PROVEN RULE.

    Aamir Dastgir TL;DR – If you can’t beat your slave (explicitly stated with no exceptions). And you can’t beat your wife for sex (explicitly stated). Why would you be allowed to beat a slave for sex? The path to even rationalizing this indirectly is cut off completely.

    “Why not? Where does it say this is illegal?”

    It’s called logic. If you have a general rule prohibiting harming others, followed up by harsh specific rules prohibiting harming slaves and wives, along with an even more specific rule prohibiting harming a wife in the context of sex, there is no logical avenue left by which to justify beating a slave for sex. If you believe there is, prove it. Don’t just say “why not?” “Why not” is not a refutation or a proof.

    “For example, a slave cannot refuse (coitus interruptus) which obviously relates to the lack of sexual autonomy granted to a slave as opposed to what is granted to a wife who can legally refuse such contraceptive measures.”

    Technically, a slave can refuse. They would just be disobedient and in the wrong for doing so. There’s no exception to the rule prohibiting harming a slave based on sex. If you believe there is such an exception to the general rule, prove it.

    “I don’t see how your point is cogent because the sexual rights of slaves and wives are quite different.”

    The prohibition of beating/harming others is general, not specific to sex. We just also happened to have a saheeh hadith describing the Prophet’s (saw) condemnation of someone who beat/harmed his wife in a sexual context. That’s a bonus to make things clear in case someone really desperately wanted to beat women for sex (by using your “why not?” logic to ignore all law ever devised in any context).

    “(where they now have to have sex men other than their husbands”

    It’s kind of hard to talk to you when I have emphatically proven the legal logic behind the rulings and you just ignore it and continue repeating yourself like a broken record. If the marriage is dissolved, they are not married. Extramarital (meaning, extra-legal, as both marriage and concubinage are legally contracted) sexual relationships ARE NOT RECOGNIZED in Islam (or in most pre-modern but post-neolithic human civilizations) and are only recognized in MODERN WESTERN CULTURE (i.e, “girlfriend-boyfriend” or “lovers”) and even then, that’s a cultural thing, not a philosophically proven principle or value which Westerners uphold. In fact, it was routinely condemned by all their moral authorities as it evolved, and still is in many circles. You are not even holding a consistent position on WHICH Western values you want to retroactively apply. You’re mixing and matching randomly.

    ” the Sahaba would have refrained if that verse wasn’t revealed as they felt it was taboo to have sex with these married women whose husbands they even probably knew personally.”

    Until they were told the women’s marriages were dissolved (i.e, they were no longer married).

    ” This is not moral conduct. What I would expect righteous people to do would be to look after the prisoners of war without incursions upon their marriages and sexual autonomy.”

    This is not possible. You’re talking about imprisoning to some degree or other, a proportion of people larger than that which is currently imprisoned by the United States, which costs the United States billions, and requires the US to stick to untenable economic policies in order to afford such means.

    Why would a country, upon defeating another and conquering it, spend all of its money giving things to the people for free rather than having them work for it like their own citizens? Slaves were the bottom rung on the social ladder, BUT THEY WERE A RUNG ON THAT LADDER (I have to caps for emphasis since there is no bold/italics).

    Jail is not a rung on the social ladder. From slavery, they could integrate into the society and work their way out of it (as per the wiki on it linked earlier).

    “I mean do you think these women were overly promiscuous with their captors? Did they have Stockholm syndrome?”

    Which ones? I doubt most of them pursued relationships with their new masters. And that’s not to say simply pursuing a relationship would be reciprocated either. People knew what life was like back then. You can’t get your mind out of the modern world with its cars, trains, airplanes, etc. If you were captured in a war in the Ukraine and sold into slavery and traded to someone in an empire in Persia or Yemen, you knew that was your reality and never in a million years could you go back to where you were born and pursue that life again.

    The difference in the hadith you quote was that the people were nearby (other Arabs). But Arab polytheism was not tolerated as a culture. Their marriages were invalidated and that WAS a harsh move. By design. (As per the exchange between me and Zac). This treatment would not have applied to Jews, Christians, or even Magians, Sabeans, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, etc. Only Arab polytheists who were not allowed to become Dhimmis. This was a case of Arabs changing their own society (they weren’t foreigners either, obviously).

    Allowances/exceptions for sex still exist. Every country (well, almost) allows immigration of people’s spouses. This involves legally recognizing the foreign marital contract and then fast tracking (an exception to the general rule) their immigration status to that of a permanent resident and then, citizen (concubinage was a similar way to fast track people in sexual relationships to legally recognized married citizen status… the normal way was for slaves to work and earn money to buy their freedom (and even that was made easy, as per the wiki page on slavery linked earlier)).

    Even though this technically violates all the principles you are trying to uphold here. This should be immoral by your logic because one party to the relationship holding citizenship while the other does not but desires to establishes a mismatched power dynamic which then ruins the opportunity for consent, which then automatically violates the sexual autonomy of the sponsored individual. Everyone who does this today is, by your logic, a rapist.

    Well, assuming you acknowledge the rest of that. Here’s a post I was making in reply to the main video:

    “This video is actually really good and comprehensive about an hour in. He clearly lays out everything regarding slavery pre-Islam, and during Islam, and I assume, later covers post-Islam. I’ve heard plenty of non-Muslim history students (historians or grad students) describe the emergence of Islam as a sort of civil war in Arab society whereby the downtrodden (poor and slaves) rebelled against the upper class and they basically coalesced around Muhammad’s religion in a giant populist wave which transformed society completely. The most successful slave rebellion of all time which actually managed to win over the elites (or force them into line) and integrate the classes into a new society centered around travel and trade (almost like an attempt to push “middle class” values). The society which emerged, the Islamic union of Arab tribes, was powerful enough to take over large swaths of the known world in a very short time and found a lasting civilization.”

    I’m posting this here because this is an important insight. From non-Muslim Westerners no less. The Islamic struggle was about transforming the Arabs, the prophet Muhammad’s (saw) own people, into an Islamic society. They opposed him so violently at first that they burned all bridges when they enslaved, tortured, killed, and starved the Muslims. There was no political forgiveness after that (except by God of course). By which I mean there was no political forgiveness for the Jahiliya culture, the source of this conflict (hate the sin, not the sinner). The people themselves got mass amnesty when Mecca was taken at the very end, provided they converted to Islam or took their time in moving out of Arabia.

    The culture of Arab Jahiliya was simply not tolerated. It sought to annihilate Islam and the Muslims at every turn in the religion’s infancy. There was also no room for it because it was squatting “illegally” (according to God) in Abraham’s temple and city (the Kabah in Mecca).

    I highly recommend watching the MBC TV show, ‘Umar’. It’s kind of like a TV show based on the saheeh hadith canon. It portrays the pre-Islamic Jahiliya society extremely well and makes them well rounded characters with depth and intelligence, not caricatures. Most of the Arab elite (the victims you’re worried about here) not only converted to Islam, but became zealous followers and helped lead Islamic civilization’s expansion.

    The culture not being tolerated means they were strongly encouraged to convert to Islam. Or leave Arabia. Those who fought against Muslims got even less mercy. Keeping in mind they were usually a superior military force fighting a bunch of poor people and rebellious slaves. The people were forgiven wherever possible, but the old institutions of the jahiliya could not be allowed to exist.


    1. stewjo004

      @ Tony
      Interesting points but as an add-on to what you said:

      We have hadith that explicitly state you can’t rape slaves. (Note the lashing is a difference of opinion. I favor if no weapon is used, lashing, if a weapon is used it goes underneath highway robbery and becomes a much more serious penalty. Also as another difference of opinion (I favor this as well) the woman is also given money)

      And Safiyya bint ‘Ubaid said:
      “A governmental male-slave tried to seduce a slave-girl from the Khumus of the war booty till he deflowered her by force against her will; therefore ‘Umar flogged him according to the law, and exiled him, but he did not flog the female slave because the male-slave had committed illegal sexual intercourse by force, against her will.” Az-Zuhri said regarding a virgin slave-girl raped by a free man: The judge has to fine the adulterer as much money as is equal to the price of the female slave and the adulterer has to be flogged (according to the Islamic Law); but if the slave woman is a matron, then, according to the verdict of the Imam, the adulterer is not fined but he has to receive the legal punishment (according to the Islamic Law). (Bukhari)

      Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan gave a judgment that the rapist had to pay the raped woman her bride- price.
      Yahya said that he heard Malik say, “What is done in our community about the man who rapes a woman, virgin or non-virgin, if she is free, is that he must pay the bride-price of the like of her. If she is a slave, he must pay what he has diminished of her worth. The hadd-punishment in such cases is applied to the rapist, and there is no punishment applied to the raped woman. If the rapist is a slave, that is against his master unless he wishes to surrender him.” (Malik Muwatta)

      Slavery still exists and is thriving
      We actually have more slaves now than any time in history it just went “underground” so people could feel better about themselves.

      There’s even a charity organization trying to fight against it

      Even in my country, the U.S. “land of the free” prisoners are considered slaves which many people don’t know. From the U.S. Constitution:

      Article XIII (Amendment 13 – Slavery and Involuntary Servitude)
      Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


      Mushrik Arabs
      Most scholars say that because they transgressed and were warned so many times Allah’s punishment descended and they became a destroyed nation like Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah’s people, etc. and that, that was basically why Surah Tauba was so harsh.

      Liked by 1 person

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