While Islam proposes an egalitarian society, one of equality and respect, slavery was indeed a tolerated institution. The system of slavery was derived out of conquered peoples and the need for large protectorate armies and conquerors. When the Muslims made their great conquests in and around the Middle East, the conquered people who resisted were either killed or enslaved, much like the Romans before them. The institution of slavery in an egalitarian society proves to be quite a dichotomy, and in this paper I plan to explore many aspects of this fact.
To fully understand the implications of slavery in the Islamic Middle East, much less anywhere in the world, we must first begin by inspecting the true meaning of slavery. As defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, slavery is "a mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force". While we cannot immediately dismiss the notion that slavery existed in the Middle Eastern Islamic world under this definition, many historiographers would agree that Muslim slavery tended to be a somewhat less conventional practice under this definition. While this definition places most of its weight on the use of slaves as the dominant labor pool, Jok Madut Jok in War and Slavery In Sudan focuses his definition on the condition of the slave and the status of being owned. In most societies that have instituted a practice of slavery, the labor force in question was set to agrarian tasks, which were profit-producing industries. As you will find in the following text, this is not the standard for Islamic slavery, but rather the general exception. .
Now that we have a basic setting for the uses and meanings of the term "slavery", let us look at other practices of slavery. Roman slavery was complex and displayed virtually every characteristic associated with the institution, but what made Rome a slave society, rather than one more society that used slaves, was the significance of slave production agriculture.