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According to TheReligionofPeace.com:

The Quran also gives devout Muslim men license to capture women and use them as sex slaves, lest four wives prove insufficient.

The same site also makes the following claim:

The Qur'an actually devotes more verses to making sure that Muslim men know they can keep women as sex slaves than it does to telling them to pray five times a day.

As evidence, it provides the following verses (among others):

Qur'an (33:50) - "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee" This is one of several personal-sounding verses "from Allah" narrated by Muhammad - in this case allowing himself a virtually unlimited supply of sex partners. Others are restrained to four wives, but may also have sex with any number of slaves, as the following verse make clear:

Qur'an (23:5-6) - "..who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess..." This verse permits the slave-owner to have sex with his slaves. See also Qur'an (70:29-30).

Qur'an (4:24) - "And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." Even sex with married slaves is permissible.

Bukhari (62:137) - An account of women taken as slaves in battle by Muhammad's men after their husbands and fathers were killed. The woman were raped with Muhammad's approval.

(Many other verses referenced at the links above).

Is this an accurate understanding of these verses? If so, is this behavior still practiced and/or permitted? And if not, why the change?

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Apparently the site you mentioned has been there to defame Islam. It is not an authentic source of Islamic teachings. –  refhat Jun 25 '12 at 19:03
@refhat: Yes, it is clearly intended to defame Islam. That doesn't make it an inappropriate question, though... :) I suspect it should be easy to refute the claim made by the site. –  Flimzy Jun 25 '12 at 19:04
I have a doubt. Just to make it more precise. The only time Islam permits to take slaves during the war i.e. the war prisoners and this is for their protection. Refer - islam.stackexchange.com/questions/270/… . Can I assume your question means Does Islam permit Muslim men to rape their slave girls? Or is it something else? –  Abdullah Jun 25 '12 at 19:04
why do you use the word "rape" before you get the answer ?!, i think it's impolite word against islam according to the information given in the best answer. –  MhdSyrwan Jul 4 '12 at 2:14
about this : "An account of women taken as slaves in battle by Muhammad's men after their husbands and fathers were killed. The woman were raped with Muhammad's approval." these words are not mentioned in your source –  MhdSyrwan Jul 4 '12 at 5:13
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2 Answers

up vote 48 down vote accepted

Firstly, slavery doesn't exist in modern world (including the Muslim world). However, in pre-Islamic era, there was too much injustice towards the slaves and people used to take slaves for every silly reason. Islam restricted it to war prisoners only. When Islam came it started treating them justly and slowly emancipating them. In fact, we have a book of Emancipation of Slaves which has Prophetic tradition and commands to treat slaves justly and emancipate them.

Secondly, Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman. A slave woman with whom a man has intercourse is known as a sariyyah (concubine) from the word sirr, which means marriage.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O Prophet (Muhammad)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal‑money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (slaves) whom your right hand possesses — whom Allaah has given to you, and the daughters of your ‘Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your ‘Ammaat (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khaal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khaalaat (maternal aunts) who migrated (from Makkah) with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (slaves) whom their right hands possess, in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [al-Ahzaab 33:50]

“And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts from illegal sexual acts).

Except from their wives or the (women slaves) whom their right hands possess for (then) they are not blameworthy.

But whosoever seeks beyond that, then it is those who are trespassers” [al-Ma’aarij 70:29-31]

Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) took Haajar as a concubine and she bore him Ismaa’eel (may peace be upon them all).

BUT, 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.

Rape in Islam is completely forbidden.

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)

These two people are some of the famous classical scholars of Islam.

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

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.

And Umar ibn Al Khattab is one of the Caliphs of Islam and one of the most loved companions of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wassalm.

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.

I added some parts from a long and wide article on "Does Islam Permit Muslim Men to Rape Their Slave Girls? By Bassam Zawadi"

There are more examples where the Prophet Salallahu alayhi wassalam clearly forbid his people from doing any physical injustice to their slaves. That will just make this post longer. I hope there is no requirement for that.

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Thank you for the thorough answer. –  Flimzy Jun 25 '12 at 19:52
+1 for, well, an awesome answer –  Dynamic Jun 25 '12 at 20:28
Note that slavery does exist today, although much of it is illegal by international law, and as such is probably beyond the scope of this question (unless Islam allows slavery against local or international law in some case). –  Flimzy Jun 25 '12 at 20:51
@ant It would be a gross assumption to say I am knowledgeable. I am in very very beginning stage of seeking knowledge (baby stage) i.e. I can be classified as "layman" in Islamic terminology. I say this because I have seen people who study "Islam". If you ever meet them, you'll know what real knowledgeable means :) I hope you benefited from the answer :) –  Abdullah Jun 26 '12 at 21:21
@Ershad, let me get this clear. A man is not allowed to rape his female slave. That is, he may not sleep with her without her consent. But she must consent unless she has a valid reason. Is this correct? –  Lev Jul 7 '12 at 12:11
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In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This question is only of academic value now. It is most likely that people know about this issue theoretically, because some of the critics of Islam raise this question to attack Islam and its principles.

The situation of having concubines is related to several things: First, if the Islamic state exists. Second, if the Islamic state makes offers for other territories to join Islam or enter into treaties with them. Third, if those territories refuse all kinds of peace and amicable offers, or if they announce war. Fourth, during the time of war, both sides capture prisoners that are exchanged mutually, then there's no concubines. Fifth, if the prisoners have no possibility of being exchanged and they are kept under the conquered army, then the following things happen: Either they are killed, as what happened in Siberia, or they are put in prison where they are humiliated to death or the females are used as concubines.

Here it’s to be stressed that Islam has no double standards, and the situation of concubines is not a desirable option in Islam. If it happens, however, Islam solves it in a way akin to Islamic philosophy. That is, Islam deals with the issue on individual basis in the sense that the captives are distributed to Muslim individuals who can take care of them, teach them, and when they feel safe, free them. For this purpose, Islam related the freedom of slaves, with many Kaffarat (expiations) of sins.

Coming to your questions, there are two cases of concubine: one is a slave-girl living with a person as a maid only, in which case she will serve him, but he is not allowed to establish any sexual relationship with her. The other case is, if he decides to keep her as a partner, then he can establish a relationship with her, and then she will be freed as soon as she delivers any baby for him. Also, he will be the only person who has a relationship with her. This solution prevents any kind of prostitution, and at the same time, it finally leads towards the freedom of these concubines.

Currently, the conditions mentioned above do not exist, so no one can have concubines nowadays. That is why I consider the issue of concubines to be only of academic value, meaning that you only know it theoretically, because some of the critics of Islam raise this question to attack Islam.


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