It is not so surprising that a man who lived in seventh century Arabia saw nothing wrong with slavery.
It was not an enlightened time or place. Mohammed was naught but a sinner, but unfortunately he was not saved by grace.
The Koran concedes his erring ways and need for forgiveness:
"Therefore be steadfast thou and patient; for true is the promise of God: and seek pardon for
thy fault, and celebrate the praise of thy Lord at evening and at morning."
(Koran Sura 40:57).
"Know, then, that there is no god but God: and ask pardon for thy sin, and for believers, both
men and women. God knoweth your busy movements, and your final resting-places."
(Koran Sura 47:21).
"In token that God forgiveth thy earlier and later faults, and fulfilleth His goodness to thee, and guideth thee on
the right way, and that God succoreth thee with a mighty succor."
(Koran Sura 48:2-3).
"God forgive thee! Why didst thou give them leave to stay behind, ere they who make true excuses had become
known to thee, and thou hadst known the liars?" (Koran Sura 9:43).
Sura 80 of the Koran is devoted to scolding Mohammed for his rudeness to
a blind man:
"He FROWNED, and he turned his back,
Because the blind man came to him!
But what assured thee that he would not be cleansed by the Faith,
Or be warned, and the warning profit him?
As to him who is wealthy —
To him thou wast all attention:
Yet is it not thy concern if he be not cleansed:
But as to him who cometh to thee in earnest,
And full of fears —
Him dost thou neglect." (Sura 80:1-10).
Though millions follow him in hopes of finding salvation, he was
unsure of his own eternal destiny: "He was asked whether a Muslim man
who had died would go to paradise. His response was, 'As to him, by
Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah,
though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not not know what Allah will
do to me.' If Prophet Muhammad himself did not know if Allah would have
mercy on him and send him to paradise, who are ordinary Muslims in
Allah's sight?" (Hussein Hajji Wario, Cracks in the Crescent, p. 179).
Yet Muslims set this fallible man up as a template to be
imitated. To take a test case, look at his immediate reaction to the
Muslim set-back at the battle of Uhud. His uncle Hamza was killed
and his body mutilated, and he wanted pay-back:
"I have been told that the apostle went out seeking
Hamza and found him at the bottom of the valley with his belly
ripped up and his liver missing, and his nose and ears cut off.
Muhammad b. Ja'far b. al-Zubayr told me that when he saw this the
apostle said: 'Were it not that Safiya would be miserable and it
might before a custom after me I would leave him as he is, so that
his body might find its way into the bellies of beasts and the crops
of birds. If God gives me victory over Quraysh in the future I will
mutilate 30 of their men.' When the Muslims saw the apostle's grief
and anger against those who had thus treated his uncle, they said,
'By God, if God gives us victory over them in the future we will
mutilate them as no Arab has ever mutilated anyone.'" (The Life of
Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume,
This is an understandable human reaction, and it was imitated by
the faithful, as is their wont. But Mohammed thought better of it:
"Burayda b. Sufyan b. Farwa al-Aslami from Muhammad b.
Ka'b al-Qurazi, and a man I have no reason to suspect from Ibn
'Abbas told me that God sent down concerning the words of the
apostle and his companions 'If you punish, then punish as you have
been punished. If you endure patiently that is better for the
patient. Endure thou patiently. Thy endurance is only in God. Grieve
not for them, and be not in distress at what they plot.' So the
apostle pardoned them and was patient and forbade mutilation."
(The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A.
Guillaume, pp. 387-388).
Good for him! He was capable of taking correction. And so what is
the rule: 30X mutilation, the initial proclamation, or no
mutilation, the later correction? The latter. But when he left this
world, on his death-bed asking for but not receiving writing
materials, what wrongs remained to be made right by this man? What
unrepented errors still remain, not blotted out, in his biography? What folly to make
a fallible man into an idol, holding him up as if he were the
perfect man, a grand example for all to follow! In the modern world,
imitating this man can actually get you into legal trouble. He
married a nine-year old girl:
- “Narrated Aisha:
“The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six
(years). We went to Medina and stayed at the
home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got
ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew
(again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me
while I was playing in a swing with some of my
girl friends. She called me, and I went to her,
not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She
caught me by the hand and made me stand at the
door of the house. I was breathless then, and
when my breathing became all right, she took
some water and rubbed my face and head with it.
Then she took me into the house. There in the
house I saw some Ansari women who said, 'Best
wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck.'
Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared
me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's
Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother
handed me over to him, and at that time I was a
girl of nine years of age.”
- (Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234).
In response, Muslim apologists such as Yahya Snow assert that the Bible fixes the age of
consent at puberty, citing Ezekiel 16:4-14. This Bible passage,
recounting God's love for Jerusalem personified as a wife, does
imply that there is an age of consent: "Now when I passed by thee,
and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love. . ."
(Ezekiel 16:8), however it does not fix that age, either at puberty
or at any other time. The rabbis who authored the Talmud established
the age of consent on their own authority, not relying upon any
Biblical definition. There is no evidence that Aisha, at the age of
nine, had attained puberty, but it is not impossible that
she had. Moreover Yahya Snow cites the Catholic
in evidence that Joseph was aged ninety when he married Mary, aged
twelve to fourteen. But there is no reliable historical information
to this effect, and the narratives relied upon were crafted to
establish Mary's perpetual virginity! This is a Catholic belief
incomprehensible to Muslims. The article cited itself says, "These
dreams, as St. Jerome styles them. . .are void of authority. . ." It
is likely the creative authors chose these ages for Joseph and Mary
precisely to make it impossible for the reader to believe this
marriage was ever consummated. Biographical information made up in
the first place to establish the non-consummation of a marriage
cannot be offered as evidence for the appropriate age for
consummation of a marriage!
Nations such as Saudi Arabia are left unable to join the
civilized world's preference for an age of consent in the range of
14-16 years, because they must follow Mohammed ibn Abdallah's
unworthy example. Instead of defending the indefensible, Muslim
apologists would be doing their own societies a favor by remaining
silent on this issue. A little girl playing with dolls should not be forced
into marriage, neither in the seventh century nor today. One poor little
girl begged, "'Save me. I don't want him,' she cried." (Al Arabiya
News, January 17, 2010.)
As another example, Mohammed had an adopted son named Zaid. Yet
one day he announced, "Muhammad is not the father of any man among
you..." (Sura 33:40). His adopted son Zaid must have been
disappointed to hear this. Why did he disinherit this young
man? There is a reason. By a stroke of the pen he invalidated
adoption, from that time forward, for the whole Muslim world.
Adoption is a near-universal human custom which brings together two
populations who very badly need one another: orphan children and
childless couples. But just like that, it was over: "God hath not
given a man two hearts within him. . .nor hath he made your adopted
sons to be as your own sons." (Sura 33:4). This revolution in family
life, not previously suspected by the Arabs, who honored adoption
even as do other peoples, was sent down to
humankind just at the moment when Mohammed, who already had a
sizeable harem, desired to marry Zaid's wife, a move that would
have scandalized even the pagan Arabs. God not only
allowed this irregular marriage, He demanded it: "And when Zaid had settled
concerning her to divorce her, we married her to thee, that it might
not be a crime in the faithful to marry the wives of their adopted
sons, when they have settled the affair concerning them. And the
behest of God is to be performed." (Sura 33:37).
What does this remind us of? In the times of ignorance, when
benighted human beings worshipped idols, priest-craft stood ever
ready to impose upon the public's credulity:
"Under Hrihor’s theocracy such oracles became part of
the ordinary machinery of government. Whatever the High Priest
wished legally to effect could be sanctioned by special oracle of
the god at any time, and by prearrangement the cultus image before
which the High Priest made known his desires invariably responded
favourably by violent nodding of the head, or even by speech."
(Breasted, James Henry. A History of Egypt from the
Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest (Kindle Locations 4373-4376). Calathus
What a surprise: the Egyptian idol 'spoke,' and what's more amazing, it said just
what would be convenient for the greedy priests. Whether or not the
idol 'agreed,' the junior priest who pulled the lever that made the
thing nod its head certainly agreed. The ancients used to talk about
the 'ring of Gyges:' if you had a magic ring that made you
invisible, what would you do? The same thing you would do if you
knew everybody was looking? Mohammed had convinced these people,
even against all the ups-and-downs and confusion reflected in
abrogation and the like, that when he spoke, God spoke. So what did
God say? God told him to marry his daughter-in-law, a very
attractive young lady.