Book of Setting Free

The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari

by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

Chapter 52. Book of Setting Free

I: What has come about setting free and its excellence

The words of Allah Almighty, "Freeing a slave or feeding on a day of hunger an orphaned relative..." (90:13-15)

2381. It is related that Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If any man sets a Muslim free, Allah will save every part of his body from the Fire for every part of his body."

Sa'id ibn Marjana said, "I took this hadith to 'Ali ibn al-Husayn and 'Ali ibn al-Husayn went to a slave of his for whom 'Abdullah ibn Dinar had offered in ten thousand dirhams or one thousand dinars, and set him free."

II: Which type of slave is best to free?

2382. It is related that Abu Dharr said, "I said, 'Messenger of Allah, what action is the best?' He replied, 'Belief in Allah and jihad in His way.' I asked, 'What is the best kind of setting free?' He answered, 'That of the person most valued in the eyes of his people and the one with the highest price.' I said, 'What if I cannot do that?' He replied, 'Help an artisan or those who cannot work for themselves.' I asked, 'Messenger of Allah, what about someone who is too weak to do anything?' He said, 'Withhold your evil from other people. That is sadaqa from you to yourself.'" (Muwatta, Book 38, 15)

III: What is recommended of freeing slaves during eclipses and other signs

2383. It is related that Asma' bint Abi Bakr said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded that slaves be set free during solar eclipses."

'Ali corroborated it from ad-Darawardi from Hisham.

2384. It is related that Asma' bint Abi Bakr said, "We were commanded to set slaves free during eclipses."

IV: When someone sets free a slave owned by two people, or a slavegirl owned by partners

2385. It is related from the father of Salim [Ibn 'Umar] that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If someone sets free a slave who is owned by two people and is wealthy, the slave should have his price evaluated and then he should be freed."

2386. It is related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If someone frees his share of a slave and possesses enough money to cover the full price of the slave, the slave is then evaluated with a fair value, and he pays his partners their shares and he (the slave) is emancipated. Otherwise,  only that portion of him that he set free is free.  (Muwatta, Book 38, 1)

2387. It is related from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Someone who frees his portion of a slave must set all of him free if he possesses enough money to cover his price. If he does not have money when the slave is evaluated with a fair value, then that portion of him that he set free is free."

Bishr summarised it from 'Ubaydullah.

2388. It is related from Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If someone sets free his portion of a slave - or his share of a slave - and has enough money to cover his price with a fair value, then he (the slave) is emancipated."

Nafi' said, "Otherwise, that portion of him that he set free is free."

Ayyub said, "I do not know whether it is something that Nafi' said or it is something in the hadith."

2389. It is related that Ibn 'Umar used to give a verdict about slave or slavegirl who was owed by partners that if one of them set free his share of him, he would say, "It is obligatory for him to set all of him free if the one who set him free from his own money if he has enough money when a fair price is evaluated. He pays the partners their shares and the one set free goes his way. Ibn 'Umar reported that from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

A summary is related from Ibn 'Umar from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

V: When someone sets free a portion of a slave and does not have the money [for complete setting free], then the slave is allowed to work [to earn enough to completely free himself] without making it hard on him, as in the kitaba

2390. It is related that Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Someone who sets free a share of a slave..."

It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Someone who sets free a share or portion of a slave must redeem him from his wealth if he has wealth. If he does not have wealth, then the slave is evaluated and then the slave is allowed to work to earn it without making it too hard for him."

Hajjaj ibn Hajjaj, Aban and Musa ibn Khalaf corroborated it from Qatada. Shu'ba summarised it.

VI: Error and forgetfulness in setting free, divorce and the like. Setting free is only for the sake of Allah.

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Every man has what he intends." The one who forgets or errs has no intention.

2391. It is related that Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah has granted my request that He overlook for my community what  is whispered in their breasts as long as it is not acted on or spoken aloud."

2392. It is related that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab was heard to relate that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Actions are but judged according to intentions. Every man has what he intends. So whoever emigrates to Prophet and His Messenger, his emigration is to Allah and His Messenger. Whoever emigrates to gain something of this world or to marry a woman, his emigration is for that to which he emigrated."

VII: When a man says to his slave that he is for Allah and intends to set him free, and witnesses to the setting free

2393. It is related from Qays that when Abu Hurayra set out with his slave intending to become Muslim, they lost one another on the way. The slave came after that while Abu Hurayra was sitting with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "O Abu Hurayra, this is your slave who has come." He said, "Indeed, I testify that he is free." He said that this was when he said:

"O what a long and tiring night!
Although it has saved me from the abode of disbelief."

2394. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "When I came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, I said on the way:

'O what a long and tiring night!
Although it has saved me from the abode of disbelief.'"

He said, "A slave of mine had fled from me on the way. When I came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, I gave him my allegiance. While I was with him, the slave appeared. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, 'O Abu Hurayra, this is your slave.' I said, 'He is free for the sake of Allah,' and I set him free."

Abu Kurayb did not say from Abu Usama, "free."

2395. It is related from Qays, "When Abu Hurayra came with his slave seeking Islam, they lost one another. After this, he said, 'Indeed, I testify that he is for Allah.'"

VIII: The umm walad

Abu Hurayra reported from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "One of the signs of the Last Hour is that the slave-girl will give birth to her master."

2396. It is related that 'A'isha said, "'Utba ibn Abi Waqqas enjoined his brother, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas to take care of the son of the slavegirl of Zam'a. 'Utba said, "He is my son.' When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came in the time of the Conquest, Sa'd took the son of the slavegirl of Zam'a and brought him to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. 'Abd ibn Zam'a came with him. Sa'd said, 'Messenger of Allah, this the son of my brother who told me that he is his son.' 'Abd ibn Zam'a stood up and said, 'Messenger of Allah, this is my brother, the son of my father's slavegirl. He was born on his bed.' The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, looked at the son of the slavegirl of Zam'a, and he had the greatest resemblance to him ('Utba). The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'He is yours, 'Abd ibn Zam'a,' because he was born on his father's bed. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Veil yourself from him, Sawda bint Zam'a,' because of what he saw in him of his resemblance to 'Utba. Sawda was the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace."

IX: Selling a mudabbar

2397. It is related that Jabir ibn 'Abdullah was heard to sayy, "A man among us freed a slave of his as a mudabbar [to be freed after the death of the master]. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called for the slave and sold him."

Jabir said, "The slave died the same year."

[See 2034]

X: Selling and giving away the wala'

2398. It is related that Ibn 'Umar was heard to say, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade selling or giving away the wala'." (Muwatta, Book 38, 20)

2399. It is related that 'A'isha said, "I purchased Barira and her people made a stipulation that they would keep her wala'. I mentioned that to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said, 'Set her free. The wala' goes to the one who pays the silver.' So I set her free. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, summoned her and gave her a choice about remaining with her husband (or leaving him). She said, 'Even if he were to give me such-and-such, I would not stay with him,' so she chose herself."

XI: When a man's brother or uncle is taken captive, can be ransom him if he is an idoater?

Anas said, "Al-'Abbas said to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 'I ransom myself and I ransom 'Aqil.' 'Ali had a share in that booty which was taken from his brother 'Aqil and uncle 'Abbas."

2400. It is related from Anas that some men of the Ansar asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, for his permission, saying, "Allow us to forgo the ransom of our nephew 'Abbas." He said, "Do not forgo even a dirham of it."

XII: Setting an idolater free

2401. It is related from Hisham that his father informed him that Hakim ibn Hizam set free a hundred slaves in the time of Jahiliyya and provided a hundred camels*. When he became Muslim, he provided a hundred camels and set free a hundred slaves. He said, "Messenger of Allah, what do you say about the things by which I used to worship in the Jahiliyya?' i.e. by which I intended piety.' The Messenger of Allah* said, 'You became Muslim with all the good you did in the past.'"

[* Either for the use of people going on hajj or for jihad.]

XIII: The one who owned Arab slaves and gave, sold or had intercourse with them or took their ransom and their offspring as captives

The words of Allah Almighty, "Allah does make a likeness: an owned slave possessing no power over anything, and someone We have given plentiful provision who gives out from it secretly and openly. Are they the same? Praise be to Allah! They are not! But most of them do not know." (16:75)

2402. It is related from Marwan ibn al-Hakam and al-Miswar ibn Makhrama that when the delegation of Hawazin came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, he got up. They asked him or return to them their property and captives. He said, 'I have with me those you see. The words I love the best is the most truthful. Choose between one of two: either the property or the captives. I have delayed distributing them.' The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had waited for them for about ten days after he returned from Ta'if. When it was apparent to them that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, would only return one of the two groups to them, they said, 'We will take our captives.' The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, got up among the Muslims and praised Allah as He is worthy and then said, 'Following on from that: these brothers of yours have come in repentance and I think that their captives should be returned to them. Whoever of you is happy with that should do it. Whoever of you wants to have his share until we pay him from the first spoils which Allah brings us can do it. The people said, 'We are content with that.' The Prophet , may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'We do not know who among you has allowed it and who has not. Go back so that your leaders can inform us of your business.' The people went back and their leaders spoke to them and then returned to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and told him, 'They are happy with that and give their permission.' This is what we heard about the captives of Hawazin."

Anas said that 'Abbas said to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 'I have ransomed myself and I have ransomed 'Aqil.'"

[This was after the Battle of Hunayn.]

2403. It is related that Ibn 'Awn said, "I wrote to Nafi' and then he wrote to me that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had launched a sudden attack on the Banu'l-Mustaliq while they were unwatchful and their herds were being watered at the watering-place. He killed their fighters and took their women and children captive. He got Juwayriyya [in his share] on that day. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar reported it to me, and he was in that army."

2404. It is related that Ibn Muhayriz said, "I saw Abu Sa'id and I asked him about it [coitus interruptus] and he said, "We went out with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the attack against the Banu'l-Mustaliq. We took from Arab captives and we desired the women as the separation had been hard on us, and we wanted to practise coitus interruptus. We asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said, 'There is nothing that says you should not do it. There is no soul which exists until the Day of Rising but that it will be.'" (Muwatta, Book 29, 95)

2405. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "I still love the Banu Tamim."

It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "I have loved the Banu Tamim since I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say three things about them. I heard him say, 'They will be the strongest community against the Dajjal.' When their sadaqa came, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'This is the sadaqa of our people.' 'A'isha had a slavegirl from them and he said, 'Set her free. She is one of the descendants of Isma'il.'"

XIV: The excellence of someone who instructs his slavegirl and teaches her manners

2406. It is narrated from Abu Musa that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A man who has a slave-girl whom supports well* and treats well  and then frees her and marries her has two rewards."

[*One text has "teaches'.]

XV: The words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Slaves are your brothers, so feed them from what you yourself eat."

The words of Allah Almighty, "Worship Allah and do not attribute partners to Him. Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbours who are related to you and neighbours who are not related to you, and to companions and travellers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful." (4:36)

2407. It is related that al-Ma'rur ibn Suwayd said, "I saw Abu Dharr al-Ghifari wearing a cloak and his slave had a cloak on too. We asked him about that and he said, 'I exchanged insults with a man and he complained about me to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, "You abused him by insulting his mother!" Then he said, "Your slaves are your brothers whom Allah has placed under your authority. Anyone who has authority over his brother should feed him from what he eats and clothe him from what he wears and you should not oblige them to do what is too much for them. If you ask that of them, then give them a hand."'"

XVI: When a slave worships his Lord well and is faithful to his master

2408. It is related from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When a slave is faithful to his master and worships his Lord well, he has his reward twice over." (Muwatta, Book 54, 43)

2409. It is related from Abu Musa al-Ash'ari that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Any man who has a slave-girl whom he teaches adab (i.e. good manners) so that she has good adab and educates her in the best possible way and then frees her and marries her has two rewards. Any slave who fulfils his duty to both Allah and his master has two rewards."

2410. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'A virtuous owned slave has two rewards.' By the One who has the soul of Abu Hurayra in His hand, were it not for jihad in the way of Allah, the hajj, and devotion to my mother, I would like to die as a slave."

2411. It is related that Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Excellent is the one who worships his Lord well and is faithful to his master."

XVII: The dislike of looking down on a slave and saying, "My slave" or "My slavegirl"

Allah Almighty says, "Or the righteous ones among your slaves, male and female," (24:32) and He says, "a slave under the dominion of another," (16:75), and "They both found her master near the door," (12:25) and He says, "slavegirls who are believers." (4:25) The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Rise for you master." And "Mention me to your lord." (12:42) And the Prophet said, "your master (sayyid)" and "from your master."

2412. It is related from 'Abdullah that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When the slave is faithful to his master and worships his Lord well, he has his reward twice over."

2413. It is related from Abu Musa that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ""A slave who worships his Lord well and gives his master the right which he owes him, good advice and obedience has two rewards."

2414. It is related that Abu Hurayra was heard to relate that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "One of you should not say, 'Feed your lord (rabb)', 'help your lord (rabb) doing wudu'','Give water to your lord (rabb)'. He should say, 'My master (sayyidi, mawlaya).' One of you should not say, 'My slave ('abdi) and my slavegirl (amati). He should say, 'My slave (fataya, fatani and ghulami).'"

2415. It is related that Ibn 'Umar said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever sets free his portion of a slave and possesses enough to cover his price, should have him evaluated with a fair value, and then he (the slave) is is set free from his money. Otherwise, that portion of him that he set free is free."

2416. It is related from 'Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir in charge of the people is a shepherd and he is responsible for them. A man is a shepherd in his family and is responsible for them. The woman is a shepherd in her husband's house and children and is responsible for them. The servant is a shepherd of his master's property and is responsible for it. All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock."

2417. It is related that that it was heard from Abu Hurayra and Zayd ibn Khalid that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When a female slave commits fornication, flog her. Then if she commits fornication again, flog her. Then if she commits fornication, flog her - on the third or time - he should sell her, even for a rope made of hair."

XVIII: When someone's servant brings him food

2418. It is related from Abu Hurayra from the Prophet, "When a servant of one of you brings him food, if he does not sit with him, he should at least give him a morsel or two - or a bite or two. He is the one who prepared it."

XIX: A slave is the shepherd of his master's property

2419. It is related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar that he heardd the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. An Imam is a shepherd and he is responsible for those in his care. A man is a shepherd in his family and is responsible for those in his care. The woman is a shepherd in her husband's house and is responsible for those in her care. The servant is a shepherd of his master's property and is responsible for what is in his care." He said, "I heard these words from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and I think that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, also said, 'A man is a shepherd of his father's property and is responsible for what is in his care. All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock.'"

XX: When someone strikes a slave, he should avoid the face

2420. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When one of you fights, he should avoid the face."