The Merit of liberation of Slaves in Islam

Allah, the Exalted, says:
“But he has not attempted to pass on the path that is steep (i.e., the path which will lead to goodness and success). And what will make you know the path that is steep? (It is) freeing a neck (slave).” 

Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “He who sets free a Muslim slave, Allah will deliver from the fire of Hell every limb of his body in return for every limb of the slave’s body, even his private parts.”

Commentary

Many deeds are held high in the eyes of Allah SWT and the merits associated with them are also elevated. In the ayat above freeing a slave is metaphoric to passing a path that is steep. The path is steeply yet it is the path that leads to goodness and success. Freeing a slave requires wealth but whoever possesses strong faith in Allah does not desire worldly goods because he wants to please Allah and knows that He will give him reward much greater than imagined. It was the outcome of such merits and instructions by Allah and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that his companions did their best to liberate salves and passed on the knowledge to others to act and benefit the same as them. Hazrat Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (RA) bought many slaves and set them free. ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf released as many as thirty thousand slaves. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar liberated more than a thousand of them.

Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), “Which deed is most excellent?” He replied, “Faith in Allah and Jihad in His path.” I then asked, “Which slaves are most excellent (to set free)?” He replied, “Those who are held in high esteem by their people and whose value is higher.”

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