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The issues of slavery in classical Islamic law and thought as well as the social reality of slaves and ex-slaves (clients) in the medieval Near East have been gaining increased attention in recent decades. Much remains to be done, however. For instance, I am not aware of any specific study (book or article) focusing on slavery and slaves in the Quran or Quranic environment. I will begin this chapter by briefly discussing the Quranic passages that have a bearing on slavery in the late antique Arabian context before moving on to deal in detail with one specific verse, Quran 52:24, which seems to suggest that, in fact, there might be slaves in the afterlife serving the believers. The crux of the matter is the interpretation of the expression ghilmān lahum, which could be understood as ‘slave boys belonging to them’, ‘young servants of theirs’, or simply ‘children of theirs’.
This chapter surveys phenomena and trajectories related to atheism, doubt, and freethought in the medieval Islamic world. Since the existence of God was thought to be rationally proven by both Muslim philosophers and theologians alike, there were next to no Muslims that came to espouse atheism in the Middle Ages. However, there were a number of authors and scholars – some of them highly influential – who can be called freethinkers, though no such term existed in the Arabic or Persian of the time. Similar to their seventeenth-century European counterparts, the medieval Muslim freethinkers held that arguments and positions about truths should be based on reason and demonstrative argumentation rather than revelation and tradition. Some of them directed venomous criticism against prophecy and the Quran, which they all but rejected. Perhaps surprisingly, many of the works (or citations of them) of the medieval Muslim critics of religion have survived to this day.
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