Speaking at a lecture in Dubai during Ramadhan, Indian Muslim cleric Dr. Zakir Naik said that it was permissible to take slaves in Islam and that "the rights, the honor, and the treatment that the slave gets in Islam are far superior to those of the POW." He was responding to a question posed by an Iranian attending the lecture. Naik's statements aired on the UAE-based Peace TV channel on July 12, 2015.
Following are excerpts:
Audience Member: So (my question) is about a woman who is like a slave. There is a fight between Muslims and non-Muslims, and there is a woman (left) behind, like a widow or something like that. You can marry them, and it is like what you earned from your fight. Like slavery, according to my understanding.
Cleric Zakir Naik: In Islam, when you have a relationship you can only have it with your wife and that which your right hand possesses. Now, when you have a war – whatever booty you get, it becomes part of you, and what we have [are] prisoners of war. How we have prisoners of war, do you know? POWs…
Audience Member: Okay.
Cleric Zakir Naik: Today we say “slave”. In Islam, they are called “prisoners of war” normally, in technical terms. Now, compared to POWs of today and what Islam says – there is a world of difference. The rights, the honor, and the treatment that the slave gets in Islam are far superior to those of the POW. Even if you read the UN Charter...
Cleric Zakir Naik: In comparison to prisoners of war. In prisoners of war today, when you catch a prisoner, he’s enslaved in a jail. Correct?
Audience Member: Yes.
Cleric Zakir Naik: Or there may be a camp, he cannot go out.
Audience Member: Okay.
Cleric Zakir Naik: In Islam, our prisoners of war are free, but they should not run away. They are not enchained. You can use them, you can take work from them. But compared to prisoners of war in the modern world, where there is no freedom, they are kept in that jail or in that camp. They are not allowed to go out. Compare it to what happens in an Islamic war, when it takes place. That term – prisoners of war - they have got some restrictions, but they are treated much better compared to (those) kept in the jails. So if you compare this, (treatment of slaves in Islam) is far superior.
Audience Member: So there is no force in this situation, am I right?
Cleric Zakir Naik: No there’s no force.
Audience Member: Okay. Let’s go to the other part of the question. What is the jizya?
Cleric Zakir Naik: Jizya… As far as the second question is concerned, jizya is a tax imposed on the non-Muslims living in a Muslim state for their protection.
Cleric Zakir Naik: Every Muslim, if the Caliph says so, has to go out and fight. He has no option. He cannot say: “I am rich.” He cannot say: "I’m a doctor.” He has to go and fight. But as for a non-Muslim, he need not go and fight. He is protected. And for this protection he is paying a small amount.