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Switch to Forum Live View How a Muslim acquires slaves
7 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2011 - 7:27PM #1
Posts: 14

I've been reading about the right of Muslim men to have sex with their female slaves.

How does a Muslim man acquire slaves?  What is the definition of a slave for a Muslim?  Does a prostitute count as a slave?  Does a kidnapped woman count as a slave or is it solely the booty of war?

How do Muslim men and women feel about a man's right to have sex with his female slaves in this day and age?

Can the female slave refuse the advances?

I'm struggling to understand how a religious scripture can incorporate this kind of material.

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2011 - 10:35AM #2
Posts: 882

Hi Ishna Rae, welcome to the forum!


This issue has to be considered in context and deeply sister to be understood properly; also any pre-concieved ideas of right and wrong should be put aside

Islam basically says that a person who dies as a non-muslim will burn in hell for all eternity sister [apart from those who the Message of islam has not reached; such people will be put to a test on the Day of Judgement] so this is why ALlah has allowed slavery in order to rehabilitate prisoners and give them a excellent chance of becoming muslim; the slavery system in islam is just that, a rehabilitation system, in which the slave enjoys unprecedented human rights and is virtually treated as part of the family, thereby being exposed to a most beutifull message of islam in action, hence many slaves have ended up accepting islam, and overwhelmingly, being a slave was a temporary condition

only a prisoner of war can become a slave and a muslim aquires a slave when the war booty is shared out by the muslim commander

Islam only fights those who are hell bent on destroying islam and allways inclines towards peace with those who want peace, hence the prisoners of war are only from the former category of people; Islam allows the women and children of the enemy who loses in battle to be captured too and enslaved, and this is a great mercy of ALlah in that the women and children of sworn enemies of the Truth will probably end up being the same if not put through a rehabilitation system; it's a bit like, 'social services' intervening where the women and chidlren in a family are likely to be harmed, but in a war context ofcourse

the Muslm male is allowed to have sex with the slave women as the slave basically becomes a property of her Master and the Master is allowed to derive pleasure from his property


I know all this sounds very harsh sister, but if we look upon this as a punishment of ALlah on those who warred against Allah and His messenger [saw], then it is more understandable in this context; basically the principle here is, if your not going to be a slave of ALlah, then taste the humiliation of being a slave of man, with all the benifits attached too as mentioned above

all of this however only pertains to the past as now slavery is prohibbited by treaties


hope this helps



ps: for a more deeper perspective. see link:

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2011 - 12:05PM #3
Posts: 882

Mar 7, 2011 -- 10:35AM, Abdullah. wrote:

Islam allows the women and children of the enemy who loses in battle to be captured too and enslaved, and this is a great mercy of ALlah in that the women and children of sworn enemies of the Truth will probably end up being the same if not put through a rehabilitation system; it's a bit like, 'social services' intervening where the women and chidlren in a family are likely to be harmed, but in a war context ofcourse


Another wisdom of slavery maybe, for there to be a strong detterent from waging war on one's creator and His messenger [saw]

Islam is needed for there to be peace and Justice on earth and for mankind to be saved from the most horrendous punishment imaginable, and warring against it aims to wipe this only 'saviour' out, thus such a strong detterent against it is understandable in this context

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2011 - 9:07PM #4
Posts: 14

Abdullah, thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

I will be keeping my pre-conceived ideas of right and wrong in this regard as I support basic human rights and the freedom from slavery I believe is a basic human right.

Wouldn't it be better to show genuine kindness to spead your faith rather than violence and abuse?  

I'm not sure Islam only fights those hell bent on destroying Islam.  If that's the case, why do Muslims fight each other?  Can a Sunni Muslim be the slave of a Shi'a Muslim or vice versa?

A human being should never be the property of another human being for one person to enjoy to the detriment of the other.  There is no kindness or compassion in abuse.  That is why it's been prohibited, because it's an inhumane thing to do.

Does anyone else have any other justification for slavery in Islam and the sex slavery of women prisoners of war?

Moderated by Abdullah. on Jun 12, 2011 - 11:20AM
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 8:48AM #5
Posts: 882

you asked a question sister, but jumped the gun before you received the answer :


Does Islam Permit Muslim Men to Rape Their Slave Girls?  


Bassam Zawadi  


There are those who argue that since Islam permits Muslim men to have sexual intercourse with their slave girls, this then means that they also have the right to rape them. 

This is absurd. The right to have sex with a woman does not necessarily imply that one has the right to rape her as well. To say that a Muslim man has the right to rape his slave girl is like saying that a man has the right to rape his wife; which is not true. Refer to this article. 

Rape in Islam is completely forbidden. See this and this.


Imam Maalik said: 

 In our view the man who rapes a woman, regardless of whether she is a virgin or not, if she is a free woman he must pay a "dowry" like that of her peers, and if she is a slave he must pay whatever has been detracted from her value. The punishment is to be carried out on the rapist and there is no punishment for the woman who has been raped, whatever the case.  (Imam Maalik, Al-Muwatta', Volume 2, page 734) 


Imam Al Shaafi'i said:  

"If a man acquires by force a slave-girl, then has sexual intercourse with her after he acquires her by force, and if he is not excused by ignorance, then the slave-girl will be taken from him, he is required to pay the fine, and he will receive the punishment for illegal sexual intercourse." (Imam Al Shaafi'i, Kitaabul Umm, Volume 3, page 253)


Notice that both of these top classical scholars have stated that a man is to be punished for raping a slave girl. Of course this not our ultimate proof that Islam forbids rape, but this is to show that the early classical scholars surely did not understand Islam to be teaching it.


In an authentic narration from Sunan Al Bayhaqi, Volume 2, page 363, Hadith no. 18685 we read the following story:


Abu al-Hussain bin al-Fadhl al-Qatan narrated from Abdullah bin Jaffar bin Darestweh from Yaqub bin Sufyan from al-Hassab bin Rabee from Abdullah bin al-Mubarak from Kahmas from Harun bin Al-Asam who said: Umar bin al-Khatab may Allah be pleased with him sent Khalid bin al-Walid in an army, hence Khalid sent Dharar bin al-Auwzwar in a squadron and they invaded a district belonging to the tribe of Bani Asad. They then captured a pretty bride, Dharar liked her hence he asked his companions to grant her to him and they did so. He then had sexual intercourse with her, when he completed his mission he felt guilty, and went to Khalid and told him about what he did. Khalid said: 'I permit you and made it lawful to you.' He said: 'No not until you write a message to Umar'. (Then they sent a message to Umar) and Umar answered that he (Dharar) should be stoned. By the time Umar's message was delivered, Dharar was dead. (Khalid) said: 'Allah didn't want to disgrace Dharar'

Notice that Umar ibn Al Khattab (the second caliph) ordered the man who captured the slave girl and had sex with her to be stoned for this crime, for he took the slave girl unjustly.

Do these critics who raise these arguments know Islam better than Umar ibn al Khattab?

  We anticipate what our opponents might say in response. They will say that the scholars whom I just cited and the story of Umar ibn Al Khattab only refer to someone who raped a slave girl who did not belong to him, however one may rape the slave girl that is his property. Even though the story in Sunan Al Bayhaqi makes it clear that the man had sex with the girl after possessing her, we will accept this response only for the sake of argument.

  It is nonsense to suggest that one could rape the slave girl he possesses because the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us that we must take good care of those under our authority:

"There is no person to whom Allaah has given people to take care of, and he fails to take care of them properly, but he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise." (Saheeh Bukhari no. 6731; Saheeh Muslim, no. 142)


'Umar ibn al-Ahwas (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say during his Farewell Pilgrimage:

"Verily, you have rights over your women, and your women have rights over you. As for your rights over your women, they are that they should not allow anyone to sit on your beds whom you dislike, or allow anyone into your houses whom you dislike. Verily, their rights over you are that you should treat them well with regard to their clothing and food." (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1163, and Ibn Maajah, 1851).


The Prophet (peace be upon him) made it clear that we shouldn't harm slaves:

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 29

Narrated Al-Ma'rur: At Ar-Rabadha I met Abu Dhar who was wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied, "I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names."  The Prophet said to me, 'O Abu Dhar! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names You still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity (power) and if you do so, then help them.


The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that our slaves are like our siblings. Who would rape his own sister?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade causing physical harm to slaves:

Saheeh Muslim

Book 015, Number 4082:

Hilal b. Yasaf reported that a person got angry and slapped his slave-girl. Thereupon Suwaid b. Muqarrin said to him: You could find no other part (to slap) but the prominent part of her face. See I was one of the seven sons of Muqarrin, and we had but only one slave-girl. The youngest of us slapped her, and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded us to set her free.


Book 015, Number 4086

Abu Mas'ud al-Badri reported: "I was beating my slave with a whip when I heard a voice behind me: Understand, Abu Masud; but I did not recognise the voice due to intense anger. He (Abu Mas'ud) reported: As he came near me (I found) that he was the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and he was saying: Bear in mind, Abu Mas'ud; bear in mind. Abu Mas'ud. He (Aba Maslad) said: threw the whip from my hand. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Bear in mind, Abu Mas'ud; verily Allah has more dominance upon you than you have upon your slave. I (then) said: I would never beat my servant in future.


If the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade slapping and whipping slaves then it's unthinkable that he would have permitted raping them. It just makes no sense.


Thus, our argument is as follows:

- The Prophet (peace be upon him) has prohibited causing harm to and oppressing those under our authority.

- Rape is causing harm to someone and is considered a form of oppression

- If the critic says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made an exception to this general prohibition by allowing one to rape his slave girl, the burden of proof is upon him to show evidence for this exception.

- If he is not able to show evidence for this exception then we must assume that the Prophet's (peace be upon him) general command is upheld, thus proving that Islam forbids one to rape his slave girl.

Critics would reply back and say that it's unthinkable that slave girls back then would hae willingly consented to having sex with their Muslim captors who just killed their family members. They would usually point to the specific example of Banu Al-Mustaliq.


The narration states:

Sahih al-Bukhari 4138 - Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I entered the mosque and saw Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e., coitus interruptus). Abu Sa'id said, "We went out with Allah's Messenger for the Ghazwa of Banu Al-Mustaliq, and we received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So, when we intended to do coitus interruptus, we said, 'How can we do coitus interruptus without asking Allah's Messenger while he is present among us?' We asked (him) about it and he said, 'It is better for you not to do so. There is no person that is destined to exist, but will come to existence, till the Day of Resurrection.'" (Sahih Bukhari, no. 4138)


Here the critic's argument goes something like this:


- The Islamic traditions show that Muslims had sex with their slave girls

- According to my subjective logic it is inconceivable that slave girls would consent to having sex with the captors that just killed members from their tribe

- In conclusion, the Islamic traditions show that Muslims raped their slave girls

These critics are ignorant of history, for slave girls did consent to having sex with their captors back in the past.

John McClintock said:

Women who followed their father and husbands to the war put on their finest dresses and ornaments previous to an engagement, in the hope of finding favor in the eyes of their captors in case of a defeat. (John McClintock, James Strong, "Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature" [Harper & Brothers, 1894], p. 782)

Matthew B. Schwartz said:

The Book of Deuteronomy prescribes its own rules for the treatment of women captured in war [ Deut 21:10-14 ] . Women have always followed armies to do the soldiers' laundry, to nurse the sick and wounded, and to serve as prostitutes

They would often dress in such a way as to attract the soldiers who won the battle. The Bible recognizes the realities of the battle situation in its rules on how to treat female captives, though commentators disagree on some of the details.

The biblical Israelite went to battle as a messenger of God. Yet he could also, of course, be caught up in the raging tide of blood and violence. The Western mind associates prowess, whether military or athletic, with sexual success.

The pretty girls crowd around the hero who scores the winning touchdown, not around the players of the losing team. And it is certainly true in war: the winning hero "attracts" the women. (Matthew B. Schwartz, Kalman J. Kaplan, "The Fruit of Her Hands: The Psychology of Biblical Women" [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007] , pp. 146-147)


Thus we see from two non-Muslim authors that slave girls back in the past would consent to having sex with their captors. So if we put aside our 21st century mindset and look at history objectively, there is nothing wrong with saying that slave girls back then consented to having sex with their captors.

One might object to the fact that the above authors are only speaking about the Israelite era. However, that is really not a good response. The point I am trying to make is that the idea of the possibility of slave girls willingly having sex with their captors is not absurd. Thus, one is required to provide proof that those slave girls who had sex with their Muslim captors did not consent. This is especially due to the fact that 1) It was possible for slave girls back in the past to consent to having sex with their captors and 2) Muslims were prohibited from harming their slave girls.

If the critic says that not all of the slave girls felt this way and there were bound to be some who didn't want to have sex, I would agree with him. However, how does this prove that the Muslims raped their slave girls? How does the critic know whether the Muslim back then actually raped the slave girl who was unwilling to have sex with him? Isn't it possible that if he saw her unwilling he would have sold to her to another Muslim at a cheaper price? Or he would have purchased another slave girl who was willing to have sex with him? Or he would have waited for her to consent, for by that time he would have treated her very nicely and convinced her that Islam is true and that it was her tribe's fault for starting the battle, etc. Yes these things are possible.

How does the critic know that none of these things happened? What is his proof that the Muslims raped their slave girls?


The narration doesn't show:

- How many Muslim captors decided to go through with having sex with the slave girls?

- How many women actually ended up having sex with their Muslim captors?

- Most importantly, whether any slave girls were raped

Even if the critic is successful in showing that the Muslims raped them, what is his proof that this was approved by the Prophet (peace be upon him)? It's possible that Muslims committed sins back then and disobeyed the Prophet (peace be upon him). So where could the critic show us the Prophet (peace be upon him) approving of such behavior?

He cannot and I challenge him to.

Another narration that the critics appeals to is this:

Sunan Abu Dawud

Volume 2, Number 2150

Abu Said al-Khudri said: The apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain.  They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Quranic verse, 'And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess'.  That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period.

The critics would argue that no slave girl would consent to having sexual intercourse in the presence of her husband.

However, this is a completely false translation of the hadith. The words "in the presence of" are no where to be found in the Arabic text.


The full Arabic text (found here) states:


‏حدثنا ‏ ‏عبيد الله بن عمر بن ميسرة ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏يزيد بن زريع ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏سعيد ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏قتادة ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏صالح أبي الخليل ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي علقمة الهاشمي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي سعيد الخدري ‏

‏أن رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏بعث يوم ‏ ‏حنين ‏ ‏بعثا ‏ ‏إلى ‏ ‏أوطاس ‏ ‏فلقوا عدوهم فقاتلوهم فظهروا عليهم وأصابوا لهم ‏ ‏سبايا ‏ ‏فكأن أناسا من ‏ ‏أصحاب رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏تحرجوا من ‏ ‏غشيانهن ‏ ‏من أجل أزواجهن من المشركين فأنزل الله تعالى في ذلك ‏

‏أي فهن لهم حلال إذا انقضت عدتهن


If the reader does not know how to read Arabic, let him bring someone who does and ask him whether he can point out to him the words "in the presence of". He won't be able to. The translation in Saheeh Muslim seems more accurate:


Saheeh Muslim 

Book 008, Number 3432:

 Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah her pleased with him) reported that at the Battle of Hunain Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah, Most High, sent down regarding that:" And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)" (i. e. they were lawful for them when their 'Idda period came to an end).

 So here we see that the Muslim soldiers were feeling uncomfortable with engaging in sexual intercourse with women who were already married. However, the verse was revealed saying that it is permissible to engage in sexual intercourse with slave girls even if they are married.

 Imam Al Tabari in his commentary on Surah 4:24 cites several of the companions and second generation Muslims stating that the marriage of a woman is annulled after she has been captured and made a slave. 


Imam Nawawi in his commentary on this hadith states:

It (i.e. to come to own a slave girl) annuls the marriage between her and her disbeliever husband. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Ridaa', Bab: Jawaaz Wati' Al Missbiyyah Ba'd Al Istibraa' wa en Kaana laha Zawj Infasakh, Commentary on Hadith no. 2643, Source)


Thus, we see that in the eyes of Islam this marriage becomes invalid (some opinions like that of the Hanafi school state other conditions required for the annulment to occur). The critic would definitely argue back stating "what gives your religion the right?" but that is not the point of discussion. This is an external critique of Islam and the basis for this discussion really isn't about this topic in particular but about whether Islam really is true and whether this is God's decree. To debate the specifics is just useless. The Muslim sees this decree to be internally consistent and submits to God's law that states that action x results in a divorce.

One might shout out to the Christian as well, "What gives your Bible the right to declare a woman an adulteress if she happened to marry a man who divorced her by not following the proper procedures (Matthew 5:2)?" The Christian really has nothing to say except the fact that he believes that this is God's decree and submits to it. He believes that God has the power and right to determine how divorce should take place (e.g. what conditions are valid for divorce) and submits to them. Well, the Muslim says the same thing in this regard.

Imam Nawawi goes on to say: 

And know that the school of thought of Al Shafi'i and who agreed with him from amongst the scholars have stated that the idol worshipper and those whom have no religious book cannot be approached for sexual intercourse unless they convert to Islam first. As long as they are following their religion they are forbidden to approach. These slave girls (i.e. in the particular narration) are idol worshippers. This hadith and whatever resembles it must be interpreted as implying that the slave girls accepted Islam. There is no other choice but to interpret the hadiths this way and Allah knows best. (Ibid) 

So here we see that a great number of scholars have argued that just as Muslims are forbidden to marry idol worshippers, they are forbidden as well from engaging in sexual intercourse with idol worshipping slave girls. In order to engage in the sexual act, the Muslim must wait for the slave girl to convert to Islam and in Islam there is no shred of evidence whatsoever that the Muslim can force or compel his slave girl to convert to Islam.

 We see cases in the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) where slave girls willingly prefer to accept Islam over returning to their tribe due to recognizing the truth of Islam and injustice of their own tribe for provoking the Muslims to war. The most famous case being that of Safiyyah, one of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

 Furthermore, when analyzing the particular story mentioned in the hadith we see that no rape could have reasonably taken place.

 Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri states:

 The Enemy's March and their Encampment at Awtas

When Malik bin 'Awf - the general leader - decided to march and fight the Muslims, he made his countrypeople take their wealth, women and children with them to Awtas - which is a valley in Hawazin land and is quite near Hunain. It differs from Hunain in its being adjacent to Dhi-Al-Majaz which is around ten miles from Makkah in 'Arafat's direction. [Fath Al-Bari 8/27,42]

The War-experienced Man wrongs the Leader's Judgement

As soon as they had camped in Awtas, people crowded round Malik. The old sane Duraid bin As-Simmah, who was well-known as a war-experienced man, and who was among those who gathered round Malik, asked: "What valley are we in?" "In Awtas," they said. "What a good course it is for horses! It is neither a sharp pointed height nor a loosed soiled plain. What? Why do I hear camels' growling, the donkeys' braying, the children's cries and the sheep bleating?" asked Duraid. They said: "Malik bin 'Awf had made people bring their women, properties and children with them." So he called Malik and asked him what made him do such a thing. Malik said that his aim was to have everybody's family and properties around them so that they fight fiercely to protect them." "I swear by Allâh that you are nothing but a shepherd," answered Duraid, "Do you believe that there is anything whatsoever, can stand in the way of a defeated one or stop him from fleeing? If you win the battle you avail nothing but a man with a sword and a spear; but if you lose you will bring disgrace on your people and properties," then he resumed his talk and went on wondering about some septs and their leaders. "O Malik, thrusting the distinguished people of Hawazin into the battlefield will avail you nothing. Raise them up to where they can be safe. Then make the young people mount their horses and fight. If you win, those whom you tarried will follow you, but if you were the loser it would be a loss of a battle, but your kinsmen, people and properties would not be lost." (Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar): The Third Stage, Source)


So here we see that it was the disbeliever's fault for bringing their own women and children to the battle field. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not interested in invading their lands and taking their women as it would be made clear as we read on:

A similar battalion of horsemen pursued the idolaters who threaded the track to Nakhlah and caught up with Duraid bin As-Simmah, who was killed by Rabi'a bin Rafi'. After collecting the booty, the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] left for Ta'if to face the greatest number of the defeated idolaters. The booty was six thousand captives, twenty four thousand camels; over forty thousand sheep and four thousand silver ounces.

So here we see that the Muslims were victorious and obtained an impressive amount of war booty.

Continuing on:

The Distribution of the Booty at Al-Ji'ranah

Upon returning and lifting the siege in Ta'if, the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] had stayed over ten nights at Al-Ji'ranah before starting to distribute the booty. Distribution delay was due to the Prophet's hope that Hawazin's delegation might arrive and announce their repentance and consequently reclaim their loss. Seeing that none of them arrived, he started dividing the booty so as to calm down the tribes' chiefs and the celebrities of Makkah. The first to receive booty and the ones who obtained the greatest number of shares were the people who had recently embraced Islam.

Notice this crucial point. The Prophet (peace be upon him) intentionally delayed distributing the booty because he wanted the Hawazin to come back and surrender and then collect their lost war booty.

Notice how the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not eager to keep the women and have his men rape them as some critics allege.

What happens next is amazing:

Arrival of the Hawazin Delegation

Hawazin's delegation arrived a Muslims just after the distribution of spoils. They were fourteen men headed by Zuhair bin Sard. The Messenger's foster uncle was one of them. They asked him to bestow upon them some of the wealth and spoils. They uttered so touching words that the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] said to them: "You surely see who are with me. The most desirable speech to me is the most truthful. Which is dearer to you, your wealth or your women and children?" They replied: "Nothing whatsoever compares with kinship." Then when I perform the noon prayer, stand up and say: "We intercede with the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] to exhort the believers, and we intercede with the believers to exhort the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] to forego the captives of our people fallen to their lot." So when the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] performed the noon prayer, they stood up and said what they had been told to say. The Messenger [pbuh], then, said: "As for what belongs to me and to the children of Abdul Muttalib, you may consider them, from now on, yours. And I will ask my folksmen to give back theirs." Upon hearing that the Emigrants and the Helpers said: "What belongs to us is, from now on, offered to the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh]." But Al-Aqra' bin Habis said, "We will grant none of what belongs to me and to Bani Tamim,"; so did 'Uyaina bin Hisn, who said: "As for me and Bani Fazarah, I say 'No'." Al-'Abbas bin Mirdas also refused and said: "No" for Bani Saleem and him. His people, however, said otherwise: "Whatever spoils belong to us we offer to the Messenger of Allâh ([pbuh].)" "You have undermined my position." Said Al-'Abbas bin Mirdas spontaneously. Then the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] said: "These people have come to you as Muslims. For this I have already tarried the distribution of the booty. Besides, I have granted them a fair option but they refused to have anything other than their women and children. Therefore he who has some of theirs and will prefer willingly to give them back, let them do. But those who favours to keep what he owns to himself, let them grant them back too, and he will be given as a recompense six times as much from the first booty that Allâh may provide us." People then said, "We will willingly offer them all for the sake of the Messenger of Allâh." The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] said: "But in this way we are not able to find out who is content and who is not. So go back and we will be waiting for your chiefs to convey to us your decisions." All of them gave back the women and children. The only one who refused to comply with the Messenger's desire was 'Uyaina bin Hisn. He refused to let an old woman of theirs go back at first. Later on he let her go back. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] gave every captive a garment as a gift.


Just look at the mercy of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Indeed, this is the true definition of the word "mercy". Mercy is only real when one is in power to not be merciful yet willingly decides to be, just as we see the Prophet (peace be upon him) do in this situation (and many other situations as well).

So here we see that the Muslims weren't raping savages, but merciful human beings.

Thus, for this particular narration we can conclude that:

-          Muslims are not permitted to engage in sexual intercourse with idol worshippers unless they convert to Islam first and once they have converted to Islam it would make their consenting to sexual intercourse much easier.

-          There is no evidence of any ill treatment of the slave girls by the Muslim soldiers.

-          There is no evidence of any slave girls engaging in sexual intercourse with any Muslim soldier. The Muslims might have returned them back to their tribe before they had the chance to.

-          There is no evidence of any Muslim soldier raping his slave girl.

-          Even if there is evidence, there is no evidence that the Prophet (peace be upon him) approved of it.

The Islamic critic would also appeal to the following narration, which states:

Jami At-Tirmidhi 1137 - Jabir bin Abdullah narrated: "We practiced Azl while the Qur'an was being revealed." . . . Malik bin Anas said: "The permission of the free woman is to be requested for Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus), while the slave woman's permission need not be requested."

He would argue that this narration shows that one could engage in coitus interruptus without the permission of his slave girl, which means that he could rape her.

The first and most important thing to note is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) didn't say that, Imam Maalik said that. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is our final authority.

Imam Maalik's reasoning was that the free woman has the right to have a child. The man doesn't have the right to forbid his wife from having a child, thus he must ask her permission before doing azl. However, if the Muslim gets his slave girl pregnant, she seizes to become his slave girl and he must marry her. The Muslim therefore, doesn't have to ask for her permission to do azl when they make consensual sex.

Again, where is the rape? Even if Imam Malik said that you can rape her (which he didn't), he is not my final authority, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is. So what evidence did Imam Maalik use then from the Qur'an and Sunnah to justify his statement that one can rape his slave girl (which he didn't say, it's only for the sake of argument)?

The critic might reply back and say that the fact that the man has a "right" to have sex with his slave girl indicates that the man is permitted to do "all it takes" to take his rights.

Even if we say that it is his right, it is his right just like how it is his right to receive obedience from his children. Just like how it is his right to get inheritance if his father passes away.

Now is the critic seriously trying to argue that Islam would permit a man to physically abuse his children if they didn't give him his right of respect? Is he also trying to say that he can physically abuse and harm his sister if she were to try and steal some of his inheritance money?

In Islam, one of the rights that a Muslim has over his brother is to be visited when he is sick and to be greeted with peace. If my Muslim brother does not greet me with peace or visit me when I am sick, does that mean that I can physically abuse him until he does, so that "he gives me my right"?

It seems like this is what he is saying if he were to be consistent. According to this logic, if the Qur'an says someone is entitled to something or has a right to something that means that the person can do whatever he wants - even if it was forbidden - in order to obtain that right.

This is something absolutely ridiculous, which no Muslim scholar in antiquity has stated. I am really speechless and don't really know how to reply back to such a laughable argument.

Plus, this could also work against the Christian. I can argue that the Bible states that the man has the right to have sex with his wife, thus if she refuses then he can hurt her! The Christian would reply back and say that he can't hurt his wife because there are other verses that state that he can't do so and this is exactly what we have shown in this article in regards to the slave girl.



Islam forbids one to harm those under his authority. Since rape is considered a form of harm that would mean that rape is forbidden. We have also seen that history shows that slave girls in the past did consent to having sex with their captors; hence we must keep our subjective emotions aside and agree with this objective fact. In light of this fact, there is nothing absurd in believing that the Muslims did not rape their slave girls especially since they were forbidden from doing so. And even if some of the Muslims back then did rape their slave girls, this would only show that they committed a sinful act and not that the Prophet (peace be upon him) approved of such behavior. In conclusion, Islam does not permit the Muslim man to rape his slave girl.


 Recommended Readings on the Rape of Slave Girls in the Bible


Commentary on Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Haughty women are punished with rape

Isaiah 3:17, foreheads or secret parts?

Women are punished again with rape

More rape in the Hebrew Bible?

Biblical Law Permits Rape of Female Captives

Quick Reply
7 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 9:15PM #6
Posts: 14

Thank you again Abdullah for providing a response to my post.

You have stated that I have jumped the gun, however I think it may be that my definition of rape and your definition of rape are perhaps different.

My definition of rape is when a man has sexual intercorse with a woman when that woman does not consent. 

I asked "Can the female slave refuse the advances?" and you did not say that she can, you said "the Muslm male is allowed to have sex with the slave women as the slave basically becomes a property of her Master and the Master is allowed to derive pleasure from his property".

Reading your lengthy post #5, I can see how women in a war situation may choose slavery and sex slavery as the better option over death.  I find it very difficult to believe a woman who is taken in slavery would truthfully want to have sex with her captor.  She may willingly indulge his advances out of fear and in the hope of better priviledges.  Perhaps some truthfully participated in indulging their captors lust, but I'm thinking they would be in the minority, as I don't know any women in the real world who would be turned on by the man guilty of murdering her family.

In the article, there is mention of buying and selling slaves, however you stated previously that slaves are only the booty of war.  So if I am taken in war and become a Muslim's sex slave, I could technically remain a slave for all my life, traded between different Muslim men?

The arguments that this all occurred in history are fine -- what happens in history should stay in history, people do the best they can in the circumstances and justify their actions at the time.  However, humans should learn from history, and grow and change and prosper.  As humans have grown and realised good behaviour, it becomes apparent to them that slavery and sex slavery are not good actions.  What may have been "right" and justified in the past does not need to continue as mankind advances.

So do modern Muslims ignore the sections of the Quran which speak about slavery and sex slavery, or are these behaviours that modern Muslims engage in when given the chance?

Also, I will re-word my previous question in the hope that it can be answered, "Can a Sunni Muslim be the slave of a Shi'a Muslim or vice versa?"  By extension, could the slave Muslim consent to sex with her captor and remain a Muslim?  Wouldn't the act of consenting to sex with her captor go against the Quran as it applies to women only having sex with their husbands?

Also, I see the passages in the Quran that sex is only halal between a man's wives and his slaves, but I can't see where it says it should be consensual.  Is there anything in the Quran that stipulates a slave woman's rights in this?

It seems to me that the Quran isn't used as a guide as much as other literature, but that is a discussion for another thread.

Quick Reply
7 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 9:30PM #7
Posts: 14

And I will give credit where credit is due and say that at that period in history, I'm sure the Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) teachings were incredibly kind.  I thank a man who tells his followers not to hit and rape his female slaves.

Quick Reply
7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2011 - 12:21PM #8
Posts: 882


I weren't going to post here any longer for i thought you were beyond understanding, but now i see that nonetheless we have to keep on trying to show people the Soundness of islam, lest we should be guilty of neglect on the Day of judgement

I would reccomend you to look into the general islamic guidance, for if we only focus on the seemingly contreversial aspects, then one could easily lose the big picture

Since this issue is a bit hard for many non-Muslims to understand, due to the fallibility of the human mind, I think a few basic comments from me on this is not enough, so here are a few scholarly insights:


How is it that Islam, a religion inspired by God for the good of humanity, allows slavery?


There are historical, social and psychological dimensions to this question, which we must work through patiently, if we are to arrive at a satisfactory answer.

First of all, it is useful to recall why the institution of slavery is thought of or remembered with such revulsion. Images of the brutal treatment of slaves, especially in ancient Rome and Egypt, provokes sorrow and deep disgust. That is why even after so many centuries, our conception of slaves is of men and women carrying stones to the pyramids and being used up in the building process like mortar, or fighting wild animals in public arenas for the amusement of their owners. We picture slaves wearing shameful yokes and chains around their necks.

Nearer modern times there is the practice of slavery on an enormous scale by the Western European nations; the barbarity and bestiality of this trade beggars all description. The trade was principally in Africans who were transported across the oceans, packed in specially designed ships, thought of and treated exactly like livestock. These slaves were forced to change their names and abandon their religion and their language, were never entitled to hope for freedom, and were kept, again like livestock, for hard labouring or for breeding purposes-a birth among them was celebrated as if it were a death. It is difficult to understand how human beings could conceive of fellow human beings in such a light, still less treat them thus. But it certainly happened: there is much documentary evidence that shows, for example, how ship-masters would throw their human cargo overboard in order to claim compensation for their loss. Slaves had no rights in law, only obligations; their owners had absolute rights over them to dispose of them as they wished-brothers and sisters, parents and children, would be separated or allowed to stay together according to the owner�s mood or his economic convenience.

After centuries of this dreadful practice had made the West European nations rich from exploitation of such commodities as sugar, cotton, coffee, they abolished slavery-they abolished it, with much self-congratulation, first as a trade, then altogether. Yet the Muslim regions had also known considerable prosperity through the exploitation of sugar, cotton, coffee (these words in European languages are of Arabic origin), and achieved that prosperity without the use of slave labour. More important, let us also note, when the Europeans abolished slavery, it was the slave-owners who were compensated, not the slaves-in other words, the attitude to fellow human beings which allowed such treatment of them had not changed. It was not many years after the abolition of slavery that Africa was directly colonized by the Europeans with consequences for the Africans no less terrible than slavery itself. Further, because the attitude to non-Europeans has changed little, if at all, in modern times, their social and political condition remains, even where they live amid the Europeans and their descendants as fellow-citizens, that of despised inferiors. It is barely a couple of decades since the anthropological museums in the great capitals of the Western countries ceased to display, for public entertainment, the bones and stuffed bodies of their fellow human beings. And such displays were not organized by the worst among them, but by the best-the scientists, doctors, learned men, humanitarians.

In short, it is not only the institution of slavery that causes revulsion in the human heart, it is the attitudes of inhumanity which sustain it. And the truth is, if the institution no longer formally exists but the attitudes persist, then humanity has not gained much, if at all. That is why colonial exploitation replaced slavery, and why the chains of unbearable, unrepayable international debt have replaced colonial exploitation: only slavery has gone, its structures of inhumanity and barbarism are still securely in place. Before we turn to the Islamic perspective on slavery, let us recall a name famous even among Western Europeans, that of Harun al-Rashid, and let us recall that this man who enjoyed such authority and power over all Muslims was the son of a slave. Nor is he the only such example; slaves and their children enjoyed enormous prestige, authority, respect and (shall we say it) freedom, within the Islamic system, in all areas of life, cultural as well as political. How could this have come about?

Islam amended and educated the institution of slavery and the attitudes of masters to slaves. The Qur�an taught in many verses that all human beings are descended from a single ancestor, that none has an intrinsic right of superiority over another, whatever his race or his nation or his social standing. And from the Prophet�s teaching, upon him be peace, the Muslims learnt these principles, which they applied both as laws and as social norms:

Whosoever kills his slave: he shall be killed. Whosoever imprisons his slave and starves him, he shall be imprisoned and starved himself, and whosoever castrates his slave shall himself be castrated. (Abu Dawud, Diyat, 70; Tirmidhi, Diyat, 17; Al-Nasa�i, Qasama, 10, 16)

You are sons of Adam and Adam was created from clay. (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 49; Manaqib, 73; Abu Dawud, Adab, 111)

You should know that no Arab is superior over a non-Arab and, no non-Arab is superior over any Arab, no white is superior over black and no black is superior over white. Superiority is by righteousness and God-fearing [alone]. (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 411)

Because of this compassionate attitude, those who had lived their whole lives as slaves and who are described in ahadith as poor and lowly received respect from those who enjoyed high social status (Muslim, Birr, 138; Jannat, 48; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 54, 65). �Umar was expressing his respect in this sense when he said: �Master Bilal whom Master Abu Bakr set free� (Bukhari, Fada�il al-Sahaba, 23). Islam (unlike other civilizations) requires that slaves are thought of and treated as within the framework of universal human brotherhood, and not as outside it. The Prophet, upon him be peace, said:

Your servants and your slaves are your brothers
. Anyone who has slaves should give them from what he eats and wears. He should not charge them with work beyond their capabilities. If you must set them to hard work, in any case I advise you to help them. (Bukhari, Iman, 22; Adab, 44; Muslim, Iman, 38�40; Abu Dawud, Adab, 124)

Not one of you should [when introducing someone] say �This is my slave�, �This is my concubine�. He should call them �my daughter� or �my son� or �my brother�. (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 2, 4)

For this reason �Umar and his servant took it in turns to ride on the camel from Madina to Jerusalem on their journey to take control of Masjid al-Aqsa. While he was the head of the state, �Uthman had his servant pull his own ears in front of the people since he had pulled his. Abu Dharr, applying the hadith literally, made his servant wear one half of his suit while he himself wore the other half. From these instances, it was being demonstrated to succeeding generations of Muslims, and a pattern of conduct established, that a slave is fully a human being, not different from other people in his need for respect and dignity and justice.

This constructive and positive treatment necessarily had a consequence on the attitudes of slaves to their masters. The slave as slave still retained his humanity and moral dignity and a place beside other members of his master�s family. When (we shall explain how below) he obtained his freedom, he did not necessarily want to leave his former master. Starting with Zaid bin Harith, this practice became quite common. Although our Prophet, upon him be peace, had given Zayd his freedom and left him a free choice, Zayd preferred to stay with him. Masters and slaves were able to regard each other as brothers because their faith enabled them to understand that the worldly differences between people are a transient situation-a situation justifying neither haughtiness on the part of some, nor rancour on the part of others. There were, in addition, strict principles enforced as law:

Whosoever kills his slave, he shall be killed, whosoever imprisons his slave and starves him, he shall be imprisoned and starved himself. (Tirmidhi, al-Ayman wa l-Nudhur, 13)

Beside such sanctions which made the master behave with care, the slave also enjoyed the legal right to earn money and hold property independently of his master, the right to keep his religion and to have a family and family life with the attendant rights and obligations. As well as personal dignity and a degree of material security, the Islamic laws and norms allowed the slave a still more precious opening-the hope and means of freedom.

Human freedom is by God, that is, it is the natural and proper condition which must be regarded as the norm. Thus, to restore a human life, wholly or partly, to this condition is one of the highest virtues. To set free half of a slave�s body has been considered equal to saving half of one�s own from wrath in the next world. In the same way to set free a slave�s whole body is considered equal to assurance of one�s whole body. Seeking freedom for enslaved people is one of the causes for which the banner of war may be raised in Islam. Muslims were encouraged by their faith to enter into agreements and contracts which enabled slaves to earn or be granted their freedom at the expiry of a certain term or, most typically, on the death of the owner. Unconditional emancipation was, naturally, regarded as the most meritorious kind, and worthiest of recognition in the life hereafter. There were occasions when whole groups of people, acting together, would buy and set free large numbers of slaves in order to obtain thereby the favour of God.

Emancipation of a slave was also the legally required expiation for certain sins or failures in religious duties, for example, the breaking of an oath or the breaking of a fast: a good deed to balance or wipe out a lapse. The Qur�an commands that he who has killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave and pay the blood-money to the family of the slain (al-Nisa�, 4.92). A killing has repercussions for both society and the victim�s family. The blood-money is a partial compensation to the family of the victim. Similarly, the emancipation of a slave is a bill paid to the community-from the point of view of gaining a free person for that community. To set free a living person in return for a death was considered like bringing someone back to life. Both personal and public wealth were expended to obtain the freedom of slaves: the examples of the Prophet, upon him be peace, and of Abu Bakr are well known; later, especially during the rule of �Umar bin �Abd al-�Aziz, public zakat funds were used for this purpose.

Alas, there are, even among Muslims themselves, people who feel the need to somehow �disprove� the worth of Islam, especially on socio-political issues. In reality they feel this need because they have been more or less seduced by Western values, even though these values are only formal, theoretical utterances of law and principle and not, not by any means, lived realities. Such people do not go among the wretched and poor of the so-called �third world� and ask them about the merits of Western values as they are practised. Rather, they listen to an account such as we have given of the practised reality of Islamic values and claim, on purely theoretical grounds, that Islam is lacking in the best principles. This is what they say:

�It is true that Islam has commended humanity in the treatment of slaves, and encouraged most forcefully their emancipation. We can see from the history of many different peoples in the Islamic world that slaves quickly integrated into the main society and achieved positions of great prestige and power, some even before they gained their freedom. And yet, if Islam regards slavery as a social evil, why did the Qur�an or the Prophet not ban it outright? There are, after all, other social evils which pre-existed Islam, and which Islam sought to abolish altogether-for example, the consumption of alcohol, or gambling, or usury, or prostitution. Why does Islam, by not abolishing slavery, appear to condone it?�

Until the evil of the European trade in black slaves, slavery was largely a by-product of wars between nations, the conquered peoples becoming the slaves of their conquerors. In the formative years of Islam, no reliable system existed of exchanging prisoners of war. The available means of dealing with them were either (i) to put them all to the sword; or (ii) to hold them and attend to their care in prison; or (iii) to allow them to return to their own people; or (iv) to distribute them among the Muslims as part of the spoils of war.

The first option must be ruled out on the grounds of its barbarity. The second is practicable only for small numbers for a limited period of time if resources permit-and it was, of course, practised-prisoners being held in this way against ransom, many so content with their treatment that they became Muslims and changed sides in the fighting. The third option is imprudent in time of war. This leaves, as a rule for general practice, only the fourth option, whence followed the humane laws and norms instituted by Islam for what is, in effect, the rehabilitation of prisoners of war.

The slave in every Muslim house had the opportunity to see at close quarters the truth of Islam in practice. His heart would be won over by kind treatment and the humanity of Islam in general, especially by the access the slave had to many of the legal rights enjoyed by Muslims, and, ultimately, by getting his freedom. In this way, many thousands of the very best people have swelled the numbers of the great and famous in Islam, whose own example has then become a sunna, a norm, for the Muslims who succeeded them-imams such as Nafi�, Imam Malik�s sheikh, and Tawus bin Qaisan, to name only two.

The reality is that in Islam it is overwhelmingly the case that being a slave was a temporary condition. Unlike Western civilisation, whose values are so much in fashion, slavery was not passed down, generation after generation in a deepening spiral of degradation and despair, with no hope for the slaves to escape their condition or their status. On the contrary, regarded as fundamentally equal, the slaves in Muslim society could and did live in secure possession of their dignity as creatures of the same Creator, and had steady access to the mainstream of Islamic culture and civilisation-to which, as we have noted, they contributed greatly. In the Western societies where slavery was widespread, particularly in North and South America, the children of the slaves, generations after their formal emancipation, remain for the most part on the fringes of society, as a sub-culture or anti-culture-which is only sometimes tolerated, and mostly despised, by the still dominant community.

But why, our critics will ask, when the Muslims were secure in their conquests did they not grant emancipation wholesale to former captives or slaves? The answer has, again, to do with realities not theories. Those former captives or slaves would not have either the personal, psychological resources or the economic resources needed to establish a secure, dignified independence. Those who doubt this would do well to examine the consequences upon the slaves in the former European or American colonies of their sudden emancipation-many were abruptly reduced to destitution, rendered homeless and resourceless by owners who (themselves compensated for their loss of property) no longer accepted any kind of responsibility for their former slaves. We have already noted the failure of these ex-slaves to enter upon or make a mark in the wider society from which they had been so long excluded by law.

By contrast, every good Muslim who embraced his slave as a brother, encouraged him to work for his freedom, observed all his rights, helped him to support a family, to find a place in the society before emancipating him, might well be pleased with an institution that opened to him a means of pleasing God. The example that comes first to mind: Zayd bin Harith who was brought up in the Prophet�s own household and set free, who married a noblewoman, who was appointed as the commander of a Muslim army which included many of noble birth. But one might swell the list of examples to many thousands if one had the space.

Ah yes, our critics will say, it may be so, but now there are exchanges of prisoners if there are wars, now the institution of slavery does not exist, so are not the Islamic injunctions, however good, an irrelevance? No, indeed. There is nothing in Islam whose origin is in the commands and guidance of the Qur�an which can ever become irrelevant. Rather, we would say to these critics: open your eyes, study by what subtle means wars are now conducted, by what cunning devices whole nations are now conquered; how they are reduced to a state of absolute slavery (which is yet not called slavery) and made to devote their whole energies, indeed to dedicate the lives of their children for generations to come, to sustain their masters (who are yet not called masters) in a lifestyle of unbelievable affluence. We say, study how national currencies are bought and sold, how impossible sums of money are lent on terms of extraordinary brutality, not in order to help the poor nations, but in order to permanently entrap them in a state of dependence. To those who say, now there is no slavery, we say look into the faces of the earth�s poor peasants, striving to grow (in an increasingly barren soil) commodities which are not food for themselves but luxuries for the rich, and only if they have grown enough of these, have they some hope of buying something to eat-but there are still millions of others too poor to be poor peasants, who live upon mountains of urban rubbish, earn from it, eat from it. If you study the expressions of such people, locked in endless, fruitless toil, you will understand that slavery is not an evil that Western civilisation has eradicated, rather one which Western civilization has ably disguised and distanced from itself.

Let no person, at least let no Muslim, claim that mankind has nothing now to learn from Islamic values about how to deal with the problem of slavery. On the contrary, we have everything to learn. How urgent, then, is our need to pray for guidance of God lest we persist in error, for His forbearance lest we persist in arrogance, for His help in finding a sure way to end the domination of those who do not know compassion except as a fine-sounding word.

Quick Reply
7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2011 - 12:29PM #9
Posts: 882


The following is a response on the issues of female slaves in Islam in reply to two sets of questions.


I came across tafseer of the beginning verses of Surat-Al-Mu'minoon (Al-Mawdudi), [The Yusuf Ali translation reads, "who abstain from sex, except with those joined in the marriage bond [spouses], or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,-for (in their case) they are free of blame."] and I was kind of shocked and surprised that he states it is permissible for a man to have sexual intercourse with female slaves in his possession, in addition to his legal wives (v.5-6).

Was. Slavery is unlawful (1) in the absence of the Caliph of the Muslims AND (2) unless it results from captives following a lawful war. Even so, there was always the alternative to {let the captives go free, either with or without any ransom} (47:4). Furthermore, the Ottoman Caliphate had declared - long before the US Abolition - that it prohibited slavery in its realm.

Further preliminary remarks before addressing the questions:

It should be clear that Islam raised the status of slaves higher than that of free men in un-Islamic societies even by modern standards. The author of _The House of Saud_, an American journalist, recounts how the staff and management of the New York Waldorf-Astoria hotel were horrified that King Faysal in an early US visit had not only allowed his black servant into the state dining room but had seated him at his very table - a "white-only" table in a "white-only" room! They had no idea that even slaves in Islam had to be FED and CLOTHED with the same food and clothing as their owner as the Prophet, upon him peace, had stipulated in his "last pilgrimage" speech:

"And your slaves! see that you feed them such food as you eat yourselves and dress them with what you yourself wear. And if they commit a mistake which you are not inclined to forgive then sell them, for they are the servants of Allah and are not to be tormented!"

In another hadith he said, upon him blessings and peace:

"Be kind to slaves as to your own children...and those that say their prayers are your brethren."

A contemporary commentator said:

"The masters were obliged not to put slaves under hardship; slaves were not to be tortured, abused or treated unjustly. They could marry among themselves - with their master's permission - or with free men or women! They could appear as witnesses and participate with free men in all affairs. Many of them were appointed as governors, commanders of army and administrators. In the eyes of Islam, a pious slave has precedence over an impious free man." Al-Tabataba'i, Tafsir (16:338-358).

What ignorant times we live in, in which a nation that used a legally - enforceable concept of "white-only" since its inception and then went on to use it for two centuries, now crusades against Islam and the rest of the world over self-proclaimed civilizational values.

Islam restored dignity to slaves and enhanced their social status both by ancient and modern standards.

Islam made no distinction between a slave or a free man, all were treated with equality. It was this fact that attracted non-Muslim slaves to Islam in droves.

As someone said, it is sad to see that those who never cease to be vociferous in their unjust criticism of Islam remain blind to this principle of equality when even in this age there are countries where laws are made that discriminate against the vast majority of population to keep them in practical servitude.

As for the allegations of slavery made by the US and UK against Islamic Sudan they are part of a joint missionary and government rogue propaganda campaign against an Islamic government which has always condemned and actively repressed instances of abuse in inter-tribal warfare, while there has never been anything remotely near a full-fledged slave trade, cf. the Sudan Foundation papers by David Hoile posted in full:

What follows concerns the Fiqhi rulings pertaining to the slave period even if the present tense is used.

I'm far too ignorant to make judgments about the verse and that hukum taken from it, so I wanted to ask if you could explain the verse, if that opinion is generally accepted and why.  Do these verses refer solely to men, or women Believers also?

These verses refer to the permissibility of a man for intercourse with his unmarried female slaves without having to marry them. Such an option was not available to women owners of male slaves nor to men owners of married female slaves.

Is it in order to fulfill his desires and avoid any unlawful fitna?  (this is hard for me to understand, seeing as how taqwa, self-restraint, and other things are so emphasized in Islam) 

His and her desires, yes, but within certain parameters including rights. This will be detailed insha Allah.

However, it seems that intercourse with slaves was probably considered a method of contraceptive sexual enjoyment through coitus interruptus (`azl), since the slave owner could practice `azl without prior permission from his slave mate while he could not do so with his free wife without prior permission from her. And if the contraception intended by this `azl failed and the slave woman still bore a child from her master, her child was automatically freed and obtained a son or daughter's rights including inheritance. In addition, the mother herself could no longer be sold and was freed upon the owner's death.

From the slave's perspective, the above scenario could have formed an accepted kind of lawful gamble from which she stood to gain much more than to lose. This could be problematized with the claim that "the cost of freedom is therefore rape" but such is just an inflammatory rephrasing of the truism that the cost of a war captive's life is her imprisonment; emancipation from which is a dramatically enhanced possibility in the above scenario.

Consider some more the dynamic of manumission in Islam. It took the French until the 1780's and 1790's through their "Revolution" and "Terror" to finally decide that any slave that steps into French territory automatically becomes free; but Islam had already said, 11 centuries earlier: a free parent's newborn from a slave is free and that newborn inherits from his or her free parent.

In addition, Islam gave all slaves the inalienable right to buy themselves out, either on payment of an agreed sum or on completion of service for an agreed period. The legal term for this is mukataba and the slave party to such a written contract was called a mukatab or mukataba.

{And those of your slaves that seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if you are aware of any goodness in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah that He has bestowed upon you} (24:33).

{Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to *free the captives and the debtors,* and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise} (9:60).

{Righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and gives his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free} (2:177).

Note that the above verses stipulate that when a slave wants emancipation the master not only has to agree to it but is also directed to help the slave from his own wealth and from alms, which includes the public treasury (bayt al-mal), the only provision being the satisfaction that the slave would live a respectable life after earning his or her freedom!

In addition, if a non-Muslim slave accepted Islam before their masters, they would become free automatically. If the slave became blind or handicapped he would also become free.

In addition to these compulsory ways of emancipation, voluntary emancipation of slaves was declared as the purest form of charity and included providing the freedmen with sufficient means to earn their livelihood respectably. Thus, Islam is the first and only religion that has prescribed liberation of slaves as a virtue and a condition of genuine faith.

How is intercourse permissible without a marriage contract binding them? 

Because the contract in place is that of property which includes the right to sexual enjoyment but excludes the abuses used under all other historical forms of slavery such as mutilation, inhumane labor, or killing as was the rule in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times, and the cruelest of all forms, unparalleled in human history, the United States Transatlantic slave trade.(*)

(*) Incidentally, many scholars estimate that over 20 percent of Africans brought in bondage to both American continents and the Caribbean were Muslim. 

If the man then later frees the slave-woman, and perhaps she has a child, would the man need to marry her? Is he still liable for child-support? Does he still raise his children as a father? Is the man allowed to do this with slaves that are not Muslim? (if so, under what conditions?)  and is this woman entitled to any inheritance from him?  I was under the impression that a person can only inherit by either marriage or blood-ties.  wouldn't she be considered a "concubine"?

Yes, the word concubine literally means bed-mate and applies to any female slave that shares the bed of her master. The man is liable to support any child of his and whatever need of its mother that is related to that liability. He is not obliged to marry her but is definitely held to the responsibilities of a father including inheritability whether the mother is a Muslim or not, her child being Muslim. Nor is she entitled to any inheritance unless he decides to marry her AND she is Muslim. Allah knows best.


1- Is slavery allowed in Islam?

See the very first answer in this reply.

If not then what is the concept about female slaves that the right hand possesses? This phrase has been said in the quraan a few times.

Captives in a legitimate defensive war.

2- Why was sex with female slaves allowed?

There was no concept that it could or should not be.

If a man is married and he has a slave then why is he having sex with her?

Sex was part of the benefits to which the slave owner was entitled within the framework of rights already described.

I read that the prophet (pbuh) had a male child from his slave (Mariah). why should a married man have sex with a salve woman? Aren't their limitations to sexual desire?

Precisely, these limitations are those mentioned by the Qur'an.

Doesn't the slave have any rights?

Of course the slave has rights as we have already mentioned. In addition, in Islam, the slave even has rights to bring his or her owner before a law-court.

What happened to human rights in this whole scenario?

As we mentioned already, slavery and ransom were the alternatives to killing in war, but the slaves had to be fed and clothed with the same food and clothing as their owner, they could not be burdened with inhumane tasks, they could buy their freedoms, sue for their rights, and had other human rights that place Islamic ethics in the context of slavery above anything comparable in the ancient and modern worlds.

And when the slave gets pregnant there why doesn't the man have to marry her?

She and her child do obtain other rights as already mentioned but this is not one of them.

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2011 - 12:37PM #10
Posts: 882


A man may have intimate relations with his wife or slave girl. This applies no matter how many slave girls one may possess. He may not have intimate relations with his servant. A slave is one whom one physically owns. Since slavery is not in vogue nowadays, this does not apply today.

 What is the Islamic law with regard to slave-women? Was It permissible to have relations with these slave-women without a formal marriage ceremony?

ANSWER: Firstly, it should be borne in mind that slavery was not something that was introduced by Islam; on the contrary, it was something that had its roots planted long before the advent of Islam. It would not be an exaggeration to state that slavery is probably as old as war itself, because it is one of the consequences of war.

Thus, slavery apparently first reared its head with the first wars that took place an the face of earth. War is a factor that makes soft men stern, kind men harsh and delicate men rugged. A man who cannot bear to see the sight of blood under normal circumstances becomes capable of shedding the blood of hundreds under the pressure of war. Those who were not killed in warfare, used to be taken as prisoners of war. The pages of history will show that many alternative, expedient methods were used through the ages to deal with prisoners of war. Some used to be executed while others would be set free, with or without a ransom. Then, there were others who were neither executed nor set free. These were enslaved.

 When Islam came and prospered, its power was challenged by the enemies of Islam and the need to go to war arose. By that time, slavery had virtually become an international custom. It was also rife among the Arabs from the days of darkness and ignorance. Thus, abolishing it instantateously would have caused chaos and pandemonium among the Arab people. Hence, a process of gradual extirpation had to be implemented. Moreover, if the Muslims would set all their enemy-prisoners free and tolerate their fellow Muslims being captured and enslaved by the enemies, it would have lead to a sharp decrease in the Muslim military force and given a great advantage to the enemy forces which was something that the Muslims could not afford. Furthermore, it is a well known fact that warfare tactics used by one side are often countered by the opposing side in order to maintain a balance of power. Hence, wartime diplomacy necessitated the enslaving of prisoners.

In the "Jihaads" (Islamic wars) that took place, women were also, at times, taken as prisoners of war by the Muslim warriors. These women captives used to be distributed as part of the booty among the soldiers, after their return to Islamic territory. Each soldier was then entitled to have relations ONLY with the slave girl over which he was given the RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP and NOT with those slave girls that were not in his possession. This RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP was given to him by the "Ameerul-Mu'mineen" (Head of the Islamic state.) Due to this right of ownership, It became lawful for the owner of a slave girl to have intercourse with her. It may, superficially, appear distasteful to copulate with a woman who is not a man's legal wife, but once Shariat makes something lawful, we have to accept it as lawful, whether it appeals to our taste, or not; and whether we know its underlying wisdom or not. It is necessary for a Muslim to be acquainted with the laws of Shariat, but it is not necessary for him to delve into each law in order to find the underlying wisdom of these laws because knowledge of the wisdom of some of the laws may be beyond his puny comprehension.

 Allah Ta'ala has said in the Holy Quran: "Wa maa ooteetum min al-ilm illaa qaleelan" which means, more or less, that, "You have been given a very small portion of knowledge". Hence, if a person fails to comprehend the underlying wisdom of any law of Shariat, he cannot regard it as a fault of Shariat (Allah forbid), on the contrary, it is the fault of his own perception and lack of understanding, because no law of Shariat is contradictory to wisdom. Nevertheless, the wisdom underlying the permission granted by Shariat to copulate with a slave woman is as follows: The LEGAL possession that a Muslim receives over a slave woman from the "Ameerul-Mu'mineen" (the Islamic Head of State) gives him legal credence to have coition with the slave woman in his possession, just as the marriage ceremony gives him legal credence to have coition with his wife. In other words, this LEGAL POSSESSION is, in effect, a SUBSTITUTE of the MARRIAGE CEREMONY.

 A free woman cannot be 'possessed', bought or sold like other possessions; therefore Shariat instituted a 'marriage ceremony' in which affirmation and consent takes place, which gives a man the right to copulate with her. On the other hand, a slave girl can be possessed and even bought and sold, thus, this right of possession, substituting as a marriage ceremony, entitles the owner to copulate with her. A similar example can be found in the slaughtering of animals; that after a formal slaughtering process, in which the words, "Bismillahi Allahu Akbar" are recited, goats, cows, etc.; become "Halaal" and lawful for consumption, whereas fish becomes "Halaal" merely through 'possession' which substitutes for the slaughtering. In other words, just as legal possession of a fish that has been fished out of the water, makes it Halaal for human consumption without the initiation of a formal slaughtering process; similarly legal possession of a slave woman made her Halaal for the purpose of coition with her owner without the initiation of a formal marriage ceremony.

In short, permission to have intercourse with a slave woman was not something barbaric or uncivilised; on the contrary, it was almost as good as a marriage ceremony.

 In fact, possession of a slave woman resembles a marriage ceremony in many ways and both have a lot in common with each other. One similarity is this that just as a free woman cannot have two husbands simultaneously, a slave woman cannot be used for intercourse by two owners. Another similarity is that a free woman whose marriage is on the rocks, cannot marry another man until her previous marriage is nullified through divorce, etc. Due to the discrepancies between husband and wife, the marriage sometimes reaches a stage where it becomes virtually impossible for the couple to live as man and wife with the result that divorce is brought into force to nullify marriage ties.

 Similarly, if a slave woman was married previously in enemy territory to a non-Muslim, and is then captured alone, i.e. without her husband, it is not permissible for any Muslim to have relations with her until her previous marriage is nullified, and that is done by bringing her to an Islamic country and making her the legal possession of a Muslim. Bringing her into Islamic territory necessitates the rendering of her previous marriage as null and void by Islamic law because with her husband in enemy territory and she in Islamic territory, it becomes virtually impossible for them to meet and live as man and wife. That is why it is not permissible to have intercourse with a woman whose husband is also taken into captivity and put into slavery with her. Another resemblance between the two is that, just as a divorcee has to spend a period called "Iddat" before another man is allowed to marry her, similarly, a slave woman has to spend a period called "Istibraa" before her owner can have coition with her.

 Another similarity between marriage and possession of a slave woman is that just as the wife becomes a dependant of the husband and he has to provide a home, food and clothing for her, a slave woman also becomes a dependant of her owner and he has to provide a home, food and clothing for her. Yet another similarity is this that just as marriage makes the close relatives of the wife Haraam upon the husband; i.e. he cannot get married to his wife's mother, grandmother, sister, etc., similarly if a man has copulated with a slave woman the slave woman's close relatives also become Haraam upon the owner. With all these similarities it does not make sense to regard copulation with a slave woman distasteful whilst copulation with one's wife is not regarded as distasteful.

 A question that may still arise is that why does the owner of a slave woman not marry her before having relations with her? Well, this is impracticable because of a few intricate technicalities. Firstly, we know that a man has to give "Mahr" (dower-money) to his bride. The Holy Quran says:- [ A r a b i c ] Trans:

"And allowed unto you is whatsoever is beyond that, so that ye may seek them with your substance (i.e. with your dower-money). " - (4:24).

Thus, "Mahr" is a conditional prerequisite of Nikah. If a man has to marry his slave woman, it would not be possible for him to abide by this condition of 'Mahr' because by Islamic law, a slave does not have rights over any property, i.e. she cannot own anything. In fact, whatever she has with her too, i.e. her clothing, etc., is all regarded as the property of her owner. Therefore, If he gets married to his slave girl and gives her the 'Mahr' she cannot become the owner of it because she has no right of ownership. The 'Mahr' would bounce back to the owner of the slave girl and it would tantamount to giving the 'mahr' to himself. Hence, the owner would become the payer as well as the PAYEE of the 'mahr' which would only result in the mockery of the whole system of 'mahr'. It would be absolutely superflous to have such a marriage ceremony performed that makes a mockery of the 'mahr' system.

 Hence, the owner cannot get married to her while she remains a slave girl. However, if he sets her free, then he can get married to her on the basis of her having become a liberated woman. Although the owner himself cannot get married to his slave woman, without giving her freedom, he can get her married to someone else. If he gets her married to someone else, then only her husband can now have intercourse with her and the owner's right of having intercourse with her comes to an end. All these facts prove that the slave girl does not become an instrument of sex; on the contrary, her honour is upheld, in that only one man is allowed to have intercourse with her JUST AS only one man (the husband) is allowed to have intercourse with his lawfully wedded wife.

 Islam ensured that the slave girl's duties were not restricted merely to domestic chores but also gave her master permission to copulate with her. This concession created an atmosphere of love and harmony between the slave girl and her master. Islam thereby raised the status of the war captive-maidens close to that of wives. It was a psychological cure to her grief-stricken heart, being deprived of her family and thrown into the hands of a strange society. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) enjoined his followers to treat the slaves kindly, gently, and, above all, to regard them as members of the family. In this way, they were made to feel wanted; which was far better than treating them as outcasts and leaving them to wander the streets of a strange society in a peniless, destitute condition.

 Such treatment would have ultimately forced them to take up evil occupations such as prostitution in the case of slave woman in order to fill their hungry stomachs. The First World War in 1914 was a clear reflection of the evils involved in setting captive women free to roars about in a strange society with strange surroundings. During that war, German and English women prisoners on either side were set free to roam the streets with no-one to feed them.

 The result was obvious that they resorted to other unrefined and uncivilised methods of income on the streets. Thus, it is evident that the Islamic treatment of women prisoners of war was conducive towards better social relations and led to the refinement of their overall social lives. Over and above all this, History will show that Islam did not encourage slavery but rather encouraged moves towards the extirpation of slavery. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said something to this effect in a Hadith, that: "Whosoever freed a Muslim slave, the Lord would redeem all his limbs - in compensation for each limb of the slave, so much so that the private parts for the private parts - from the Fire of Hell."

If a slave woman becomes pregnant from her owner, and delivers his child, she automatically gets her freedom after the death of her master whose child she gave birth to. Moreover, there are many wrongs and sins for which the liberation of a slave serves as a compensation and atonement. This was a further incentive for the extirpation of slavery. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam also taught that whosoever teaches good manners to his slave girl, adorns her with politeness and good education, then frees her and gets married to her, for him there is double recompense and reward.

These encouraging teachings served as incentives towards the emancipation of slaves and slaves were liberated by the thousands. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam himself freed 63 slaves, Hazrat Abu Bakr Radhiallahu Anhu freed 63, Hazrat Abdur-Rahman bin Auf Radhiallahu Anhu 30,000; Hazrat Hakim bin Huzam Radhiallahu Anhu 100; Hazrat Abbas Radhiallahu Anhu 70; Hazrat Ayesha Radhiallahu Anha 69; Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar Radhiallahu Anhu 100; Hazrat Uthman Radhiallahu Anhu used to free one slave every Friday and he would say that he would tree any slave who performed his prayers with humility.

 Hazrat Zul-Kilah Radhiallahu Anhu freed 8,000 slaves in a single day. Hazrat Umar Radhiallahu Anhu passed certain laws during his Khilafat which led to the emancipation of thousands of slaves, and to the prevention of certain specific forms of slavery. Some of the edicts that he issued: 1. All the apostate tribes that were enslaved during the Khilaafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr Radhiallahu Anhu were to be freed. 2. A Zimmi (protected non-Muslim subject of an Islamic state) should not be enslaved. 3. Arabs will not be enslaved.

4. Those who had been enslaved during the days of ignorance (prior to the advent of Islam) and had lived to witness the Islamic era, should redeem themselves from slavery by paying their costs (their value) to their owners whether they were willing or not. As a result of all these laws, there came a time when slavery was totally extirpated. But of course, this extirpation came about after a gradual process because that was the only safe and expedient way of tackling the problem. Because of the prevalence of slavery in the initial stages of Islam the necessity of educating the people about the treatment of slaves also arose. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam taught his followers how the slaves should be treated with kindness, etc. In fact, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam himself possessed slave girls.

 In this way, he was able to demonstrate practically how kindly and politely the slave should be treated. Because it is relevant to the topic, it would be appropriate to mention here that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam also had four slave girls. One was Hazrat Maria Qibtiyya Radhiallahu Anha who was the mother of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam's son, Ibrahim Alayhis Salaam who passed away in infanthood. The others were, Hazrat Rayhaan binte Samoon; Hazrat Nafisa and a fourth, whose name has not been recorded in History. One question that still remains is whether slavery still legally prevails anywhere in the Islamic world and whether it can be successfully implemented in this age. Well, there is no prevalence of lawful slavery in the Islamic world today and it would be difficult to implement it because of the stringent conditions attached to it.

Firstly, the prisoners have to be captured in 'Jihaad' in the true sense of the word. Then again, If true 'Jihaad' did break out somewhere, there are still a number of other laws and conditions to abide by which are far too stringent for any Islamic country in the world to abide by in this time and age when people's personal gains and whims and desire are being given preference to over Islamic Law. According to Islamic Law, captive female prisoners are also part and parcel of the booty. One fifth of the booty has to be first distributed to the needy, orphans, etc. The remaining four-fifths should then be distributed among the soldiers who participated in the war. The distribution can only take effect after the booty is brought into Islamic territory.

 The Ameerul-Mu'mineen (Head of the Islamic State) remains the guardian of the female prisoners until he allocates them to the soldiers. Only after a soldier has been allotted a slave girl, and made the owner of her, will she become his lawful possession. After she spends a period called 'Istibraa', which is the elapse of one menstrual period, It becomes permissible for her owner to have relations with her. After possession of the slave too there are a number of other laws that affect the master and slave. There is hardly any Islamic country today that can abide to all these conditions, with the result that it is quite difficult to implement slavery in this time and age. The subject of slavery in Islam is quite comprehensive and there are many laws that pertain to slaves which the Jurisprudents of Islam have outlined. It is, however, hoped that the above mentioned facts will be adequate enough to answer your question.

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