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Thursday, 02 March 2006



7. Sexual relations were permitted between a man and his female slaves.
It should be mentioned that sex in general is not considered a bad or evil thing in Islam. It is a lawful pleasure for both men and women. It is however restricted by certain parameters. One of the restrictions is that it must be within the confines of marriage, with the exception above. This was the norm at the time, and restricting this practice would perhaps been practically impossible. The onus on the master was still to treat his slaves with kindness and care. If the slave girl became pregnant she had to be freed, and the Prophet (saws) encouraged freeing and marrying of slave girls.

Im a little confused about this final point that you mentioned on your blog. I understand that engaging in sexual intercourse was part of the norm, but exactly why was it impossible to have stopped this(or is it precisely because it was the norm and so it was deemed normal and acceptable)? The reason i am confused, is because if in Islam sexual relations are only permitted with your spouse then why were the men allowed to engage in sex with the slave girls? Why did they not just marry the slave girl and then engage in sexual relations and if for example they were already married why not seek the pleasure from their own wife? (Unless ofcourse this was only applicable to the men who didnt have a wife, or did married men also engage in intercourse with slave girls)?
Apologies for any misunderstandings or taking things out of context- but i am slightly confused and maybe just need some clarification. If you could possibly elaborate slightly i would be very grateful.

Jazakallak Khair

Any ideas anyone. I just spent a good hour typing an answer and lost it! Qadr Allah.
I'd really encourage my brothers and sisters to think deeply themselves and see if they can come up with some answers.
Just to clarify a point.
It is halal, ie good and lawful for a man to have sex with his wife and to have sex with his salve girls. My suggestion that it was impossible to ban it, perhaps should have read "impractical"! But in fact maybe even that assesment is wrong, and a product of my own cultural difficulties in accepting the concept of salvery and slave girl concubinage. Maybe my response should read: A man having sex with his slave girls is ALL good, and why shouldn't he do that you strange people!



I am currently in the process of writing up my disertation on the way that slavery is viewed by modern scholars, and I was wondering if you ever did get round to writing an article about it?
Also, I was wondering if you had ever come accross the claim that Maududi wanted the re-introduction of slavery into the Pakistani constituion in the late 70's...It seems to be attributed to him, but there is no reference for it.

ARGcomment: errr, the answer is I haven't got round to it, and I never heard this about Maududi, although he has some interesting information about slavery in his explanation of the Quran you might find useful.


Assalam alaikum brother,

This is my two cents regarding the 7th point:

The pre-islamic arab society used to compel their female slaves into prostitution. Islam prohibited it altogether and put forward a norm -only the master could have relation with his slave- that is just and was beneficial to the female slave as a human being.

Asif Riffat

Assalamu Alaikum

Islam provides rights for every creature. It urges a Muslim to show good and kind treatment to anyone under his control; he should neither maltreat him nor exploit him in any way. Islam totally objects and fights all forms of slavery. The focus of Islam in all its teachings and practices was to eradicate this practice, which was then prevailing. Now slavery has been abolished by international conventions, and this goes in line with the aims of Islam, which called for this several centuries ago.

Slavery was not initiated by Islam, it had been in practice long before the advent of Islam. As we know, it’s the custom of war to have captives and those captives or prisoners used to be turned into slaves and concubines by their masters. This was not the case only in the pre-Islamic Arab regions, but it was there every other place. It was even worse in some societies, especially with women. She was subject to all kinds of injustice, oppression and barbarian treatment. This went as far as that Greeks used to consider her a mere commodity, to be bought and sold. As for Romans, she was a slave already by nature, even without being captured at war!

Slavery existed throughout the Biblical period including the time of Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him). Most of the Biblical prophets had slaves, both males and females. We find the following advice to slaves in the New Testament:

“Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed.” (1 Timothy 6:1) and “Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to be refractory…” (Titus 2:9)

In short, Islam is not the religion that jeopardizes the rights of woman, as Western scholars would have us believe, concocting any ideas to distort the image of Islam. Was it Islam that considered woman as being responsible for the banishing of man from Paradise? Was it Islam that took women as being the cause of all evils or regarded her as serpents? Was it in Islam that a meeting was held to debate whether woman could be regarded as a human being or not? No! This took place in France in 587 C.E. Actually all this was the norm of the day in the past Western civilizations. Yes, it was also the habit in the pre-Islamic Arab, when female babies used to be buried alive.

When Islam came, it tried to put an end to all such inhumane practices. It left no stone unturned in its quest to let women have their rights and dignity restored. This is clearly manifest in the way Islam handled the issue of slavery. Right from the start, Islam set a goal to eradicate this barbaric system. Yet, it needed to be done gradually, as the case with all bad habits that have gained ground. People never give up easily!

So, first of all it confined the issue of taking captives to the period of warfare. This is just as a situation necessitated by hostility between warring states. Then it allowed the female captives to be married by their captors. But why? Does this mean giving men a golden chance to unleash their sexual desires or to sexually brutalize those captives? No, not at all!

Here lies certain wisdom that completely escapes the mind of those Western scholars, who take this issue to launch attacks against Islam.

As we know, after the end of hostility, it’s the norm that prisoners of war be freed and exchanged through mutual agreement between the parties. Islam has made this clear in its divine texts that the captives must be freed through ransom or without ransom. Also, it’s socially understood that marrying freed female captives, would normally secure their rights, more than would be the case if they were set free without any guarantee for survival or for preserving their dignity. Thus, Islam gave them hope of survival, trying to prevent their becoming prostitutes. In fact, they would have definitely found it hard to find suitors, even from among their free male counterparts, who’d suspect them of being ravished by their captors. Though glimmer it may be in the beginning, this hope soon turned glittering by securing them a marital home, whereby their rights and dignity would be secured.

Here comes the issue of “ma malakat aimanukum” (what your right hands possess). This is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an, like the following:

"If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess: And God hath full knowledge about your faith. Ye are one from another: Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable."
[Holy Quran 4:25]

This verse confirms what I have just said; opening the door for female slaves or captives to be married by destitute Muslims who cannot afford the dowry of free women. Notice here that the Qur’an uses the expression “what your right hands.” What is the significance of this expression?

The word “right hands” here refers to women taken as prisoners of war. It is by no means an implication of concubinage, for this is totally prohibited in Islam. Nor does it refer to purchasing female slaves from market to be used to satisfy sexual urge. It’s during warfare that the right hand actually takes possession of captives, and this is what the Qur’an means. That’s point number one.

Point number two is that, the word “right hands possess” also has another significance that clearly reflects the great concern Islam has for preserving the rights of those captives. As we know, the right hand has its special merit and privileged functions that man instinctively reserve for it. Imam Kurtubi, in his commentary on this verse, says: “Allah Almighty uses the word ‘right hand’ here for it denotes great honor and respect. It suffices that it’s the one used when referring to spending, as mentioned in the hadith ‘… he who provides charity (seeking only Allah’s reward) in a way that his left hand does not know what his right hand spends …’ And it is the very hand used in making pledge of allegiance … etc.” All this indicates that the word “what your right hand possess” has a special and glorified meaning in Islamic usage. In fact, it signifies the great care and good treatment that captives or prisoners of wars should be accorded. This is how Islam dealt with the issue from the earliest stages. All this did not materialize all of a sudden, for slavery was a social ailment that needed to be addressed. So it was a gradual strategy laid down by Islam, not only to eradicate slavery, but also to give the freed slaves a complete social rehabilitation. First of all, Islam stipulated that all masters should take care of their captives; they should not be overburdened with tasks, nor should they be deprived of their human rights.

The Prophet (pbuh) made this clear in his hadith that masters should treat their slaves as their brothers and female captives as their sisters, if not in faith, at least in humanity. He said:

“Your servants are thy brethren. Allah has put them under your control. He could, if He willed, make you under their control. Thus, whoever has his brother under his control, let him feed him of his same food and dress him of his same dress. Never saddle them with work that goes beyond their capability. If the work happens to be somehow difficult, lend them a helping hand.”

As for female captives, Imam Bukhari quotes the Prophet, as saying:

“If any of you have a slave girl, whom he gives good education and excellent training, and then he emancipates her and marries her, he shall have a two-fold reward.”

That’s how Islam set the course of emancipating slaves. They should definitely be well treated. Also, educating female captives and marrying them, after emancipation is considered an act of charity, which would earn one great reward. Not only that. Islam further put an end to the habit of using derogative names of “slaves” or “servants”.

For in Islam, man must not show servitude to anyone besides Allah the Almighty. So it was stipulated that the captives should be addressed by “fatah” (boy) or “fatat” (girl). Besides, the act of emancipating slaves used to be a competitive work among the Prophet’s Companions, for it was highly recommended by Islam and was considered an act of worship. What’s more, Islam has also made use of what was an international custom during that era; i.e. the custom of having intercourse with female captives.

Here Islam stipulated that if through sexual intercourse, the female slave got pregnant from her master, she would automatically gain her freedom. So would her child, for he’d be born free then. What a wise approach to eliminate a bad habit! So it was not a means of unleashing sexual desires. Otherwise, it would have been something permanent, being pregnant would have availed the slave woman nothing, for she’d remain the property of her master no matter how. No, Islam was not after such a sensual and voluptuous goal. The Qur’an teaches that freeing the salves is a great virtue:

"As-Sadaqat (i.e., Zakah / Charity) are only for the Fuqara'(Poor), and Al-Masakin (those who are in need) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah's cause, and for Ibn As-Sabil; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise." [Holy Quran 9:60]

"But he has not attempted to pass on the path that is steep. And what will make you know the path that is steep. Freeing a neck Or giving food in a day full of Masghabah, To an orphan near of kin. Or to a Miskin(needy) cleaving to dust. Then he became one of those who believed and recommended one another to patience, and recommended one another to compassion. They are those on the Right." [Holy Quran 90:11 - 18]

But he has not attempted to pass on the path that is steep. "This means, will he not traverse upon the path which contains salvation and good Then He explains this path by his saying, And what will make you know the path that is steep Freeing a neck, or giving food.'' Imam Ahmad recorded from Sa`id bin Marjanah that he heard Abu Hurayrah saying that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said,

(Whoever frees a believing slave, Allah will free for every limb (of the slave) one of his limbs from the Fire. This is to such an extent that He (Allah) will free a hand for a hand, a leg for a leg, and a private part for a private part.) `Ali bin Al-Husayn then said (to Sa`id), "Did you hear this from Abu Hurayrah'' Sa`id replied, "Yes.'' Then `Ali bin Al-Husayn said to a slave boy that he owned who was the swiftest of his servants, "Call Mutarrif!'' So when the slave was brought before him he said, "Go, for you are free for the Face of Allah.'' Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i, all recorded this Hadith from Sa`id bin Marjanah.

If Muslims had consistently followed the Islamic teachings in this regard, slavery would have become extinct a long time ago. It is unfortunate that some Muslims did not follow these teachings of Islam and slavery continued in Muslim lands for centuries. We are ashamed that some Muslims practiced slavery against the teachings of Islam. However, it is also a historical fact that for centuries the worst type of slavery in its most extensive and horrible form was practiced by those who claimed themselves to be the followers of Christ. They enslaved millions of free men, women, and children and shipped them like animals from one continent to another. They made millions in profit by this most shameful trade of human beings.

I wish to remind those who blame Islam by what Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)"

To cover all the aspects of humane treatment of slave women in Islam, it’d take volumes of books. So I think this brief remark will do for now.


Asalamualiakum Brother AR Green,

Sheikh Yusuf Estes has not commented in his article on Sex being permitted with slave women in Islam. His article is here http://www.prophetofislam.com/slaves.php

If Muslims are allowed to have sex with slave women then what happens to the Shareeh Law that permits sex Only between husband and wife? Won't that be a contradiction?

Also, this gives non practicing Muslims an excuse to have as many slave women just for sex and they will call it Lawful Sex.

Brother can you clear this for me, I need to do dawah and I don't have a convincing answer for this issue.

Thanks. Aslamu alaikum.

ARGcomment: please attend our dawa training course at iera:
see www.iera.org.uk


Assalam Alikum,
I am sure almost all of you have seen this stuff going on on the internet and TV as well .
I have tried to reply some of them some places but the main thing is the yuth that is getting hurt by this all .
I have tried to clear the minds of few and my own to be honest and have successded to some extent . there are only 2,3 things or question that they put forward are left in this whole thing and Please help me out as being a muslim to sort this whole thing and hopefully we can help lot of our brothers out there.

We have solved almost all the things on this issue only 3 points about only slave-girls are left which are following.
1- Why a slave girl is not allowed to do PARDA or Vail ? this really hurts the Islam's concept of segrigation of sexes.
2- Why a man is allowed to get as many slave girls as he want when he already has wifes ? if so dose it not hurt the rights of a wife? if a man is always with a group of young beautiful slave-girls will he be able to give same attention to his wife that he can give her if she is alone or with 3 other wifes ( as 4 are allowed).
3- Please give me (so that I can give it to many other) some hadith or anything that stops a man to actually take the slave girl by force.

apart from there 3 points if anyone is hanging some where in this whole comprehensive study of slave system or slave dealing in Islamic sharia I am sure I can help him out a lot but I know that The words of Allah are final but I am a man as well and if I try to explain to some one I need to know much about it so please help me for the sake of Allah,
jazak Allah khair.

ARGcomment: there may be many things that donn't make sense to us, but the most important matter is to remember that these things could never determine the truth or falsehood of Islam. The really ONLY important question is:
Is the Quran from God or not.
if it is we must do what it says, whether we understand it or not.

Fawaz Ahmed

As-salamu alaykum...

There is an interesting lecture by Dr Abdullah Hakim Quick on the subject "Islam,Slavery and the African".

That lecture goes in detail about many aspects of the subject of slavery.


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