Irrational cruelty

WHAT is it about some people that some of their fellow humans just do not matter to them? How is it that we can exhibit such intense cruelty to others? Is it something inherent in us, that we are born with cruel streaks that we have to work hard to overcome?

Take slavery for instance, where human beings are taken to work for others for no pay, either because they are captured or because they owe someone a debt and then offer themselves as slaves to work the debt off. This immediately puts the “owner” in a powerful position, which then inevitably leads to abuse and even death. We may sneer at Western slaveowners in the American South of old but if we read our history, our people too thought nothing of owning slaves, sometimes capturing Orang Asli to make them work for us. This despite an authentic hadith recorded by Muslim which quoted the Prophet Muhammad saying “He who frees a slave, God will set free every limb of his body from Hell in reward for every limb of the slave’s body”.

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