Take the 2-minute tour ×
Islam Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Muslims, experts in Islam, and those interested in learning more about Islam. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
1  
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
    
@Ershad: I'm questioning the validity of the apparently outrageous claim by that web site. If it's true that Islam allows Muslim men to rape slave girls, then I suppose that might be where they found that claim, and that would make a good answer. –  Flimzy Jun 25 '12 at 19:05
    
Do you have any source for your question. As far as I know Muslims cannot have women as sex slaves. –  refhat Jun 25 '12 at 19:06
3  
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
1  
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

2 Answers 2

The Quran was written in a certain socio-cultural environment. In that environment and era, slavery was not only common but quite the norm. See Slavery article in Wikipedia for history.

In Arabia, before Islam, non-criminal sexual relationships between sexes comprised of three forms:

  1. Between husband and wife
  2. With slaves
  3. Out of wedlock and outside of slavery

When the Quran was being written, it "initially" rooted out sexual relationships that were not between spouses or with slaves. That's where one finds verses such as those quoted in the question:

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).

At the same time, the Quran exhorted, either as expiation of sins or as an act of piety, for Muslims to start freeing slaves. Thus, for example, act of piety:

"And what could make thee conceive what it is, that steep uphill road? [It is] the freeing of a slave" (The Quran 90:12-13)

and expiation of sin:

"Hence, as for those who would separate themselves from their wives by saying, "Thou art as unlawful to me as my mother," and thereafter would go back on what they have said, [their atonement] shall be the freeing of a slave before the couple may touch one another again: this you are [hereby] exhorted to do - for God is fully aware of all that you do." (The Quran 58:3)

Keep in mind that these are all Meccan surahs, i.e. an Islamic state had not yet been established.

We find that in the Medinan surah Al-Nur, the Quran asks Muslims to marry away (and free) their slaves:

AND [you ought to] marry the single from among you as well as such of your male and female slaves as are fit [for marriage]. If they are poor, [let this not deter you;] God will grant them sufficiency out of His bounty – for God is infinite [in His mercy], all-knowing. (The Quran 24:32)

The clause "if they are poor" indicates that one of the issues in freeing all the slaves in one go was also related to their being able to support themselves, since they were dependents of their owners.

In the following verse, it even asks owner to give the slaves part of their wealth.

... And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: and give them [their share] of the wealth of God which He has given you. And do not, in order to gain some of the fleeting pleasures of this worldly life, coerce your [slave] maidens into whoredom if they happen to be desirous of marriage;...! (The Quran 24:33)

Thus, we may conclude that the Quran was gradually ending the slavery with the final edict to marry them off or write a contract of their freedom. Once the slavery ended, the question of having sexual relationships with slaves does not remain.

The fact that the Quran commands in the verse above that the slave ought to be free may also be taken as an indication that slavery is not tolerable in Islam anymore. Thus Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes in his commentary (note #2992) for this verse:

Where slavery was legal, what is now called the "white slave traffic" was carried on by wicked people like 'Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, the Hypocrite leader at Madinah. This is absolutely condemned. While modern nations have abolished ordinary slavery, the "White Slave Traffic" is still a big social problem in individual States. Here it is absolutely condemned. No more despicable trade can be imagined.

I can likewise provide opinions of other commentators but many are in non-English languages (usually Arabic and some in Urdu).

share|improve this answer
    
Your conclusion is unclear. You stated "slavery is not tolerable in Islam anymore" which seems to mean "muslim men are not allowed to take slaves", yet, the Quran quotes you made only suggests "should not", and not "cannot". The only thing mentioning "cannot" is the commentary you provided from Abdullah Yusuf Ali. –  Pacerier Jul 30 '14 at 16:48

This topic of sex with slaves is again in focus after recent events in Middle east where ISIS or Islamic state is reported to have taken Yazidi women as slaves and allowed sex with them.

It is a misconception that Islam allows sex with slaves without marriage. Most people who say that it is allowed quote [23:5-7]

And they who guard their private parts Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors 23:5-7

The same people who quote these verses as evidence for having sex without marriage with slave are forced to put some restrictions like sex is not allowed if slave is married to someone else (which Quran permits) and also that female master is not allowed to have sex with male slave etc. So in effect they are agreeing that this verse is not a full licence for master to have sex with slave.

As we know Quran verses explains one another, the verse in question [23:5-7]is explained in detail in [4:23-24]. In this verse all prohibited women for marriage are mentioned and says all other women including slaves are allowed with this clause

[provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. 4:24

here the words used for seek is ibthaghu (بْتَغُوا ) same word used in 23:5-7 but explains how the seeking is. It is by giving mahr or dower to the bride, desiring chastity and not unlawful sexual intercourse. This mahr which is given by groom to bride should be accepted by bride in the presence of witness, so this makes her consent important. If she disagree on the mahr, marriage will not take place. Here the Arabic word used for "desiring chasity" is Muhsineena (مُّحْصِنِينَ ) which also mean "in marriage", like muhsnaath (مُحْصَنَاتُ) means married women.

One point raised by those who say 23:5-7 is proof for sex with slaves without marriage is why Quran separates wives and "right hand possession" in this verse ? In Quran verse 33:50 also we can see wives and those who can be married separated,

O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives] and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and... Quran 33:50

Of course the above verse is not justification for having sex without marriage with daughters of your paternal uncles, paternal aunts etc.

Another related issue is ISIS was capturing Yazidis, who they consider as polytheists. In Islam Muslims should not have sexual relationship with polytheists. Quran 24:26, Quran 2:221.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.