In Qur'an translations, we see that the phrase right hands possess is used in many ayahs. What exactly does that phrase refer to?


5 Answers 5


It means a female slave. There is no need for marriage to her be Halal to her owner man. Buying her or receiving her as a share of Jihad spoils is enough that she be Halal to the man who possesses her.

Before Islam, Arabs had a heavy slavery culture, but Islam had many rules about slaves and offered very high rewards for making them free. The Prophet and Ahl Bayt bought many slaves and freed them, and many of them became the best sahaba of the prophet and Ahl Bayt. In fact, rules of Islam about slaves are about controlling slavery and not encouraging it. It also says some slaves must be freed so that a sin or mistake is forgiven. Islam encourages freeing slaves. Freeing slaves is rewarding in Islam. If Islam wanted to oppose slavery strictly from the start, indeed tribal Arabs would have killed prophet and never accepted Islam. But Islam fought slavery step by step by controlling it.


Enlightening Commentary of the Holy Quran - Volume 4

  • Please quote the relevant part of your sources. You frequently just post links with a lot of content; instead, paste relevant parts and block-quote and cite it properly.
    – ashes999
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 19:02
  • so does this mean that islam permits raping a female war captive ?
    – amphibient
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 1:55
  • 1
    @amphibient please ask it as a new question Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 3:26

The right hand possess means Female slaves. In the 6th century it was common for everyone having slaves. But Islam created a new rule for slavery. Islam encouraged Freeing slaves. And marry them or get them marry to others. Like Battle of Karbala said, Islam banned slavery. Islam made slaves humans. 6th century Arabs didn't even treated slaves as humans.

  • 1
    Islam didn't ban slavery and battle of karbala actually doesn't say so. Islam introduced rulings that, when applied adequately should make an end to slavery. But slavery is clearly considered in the shari'a and there are many rulings that apply on slaves exclusively or at least apply on slave differently as on free men/women.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:34

Ma malakat aymanukum refers to ethics and inner innate. It refers to upright moral values. That is why Aymanakum is mentioned in the verse.

  • 2
    Any evidences to support your claims?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 7:46

The Quran clearly states that to be a Muslim one must not enslave one another.(Q 3:64).

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلَّا نَعْبُدَ إِلَّا اللَّـهَ وَلَا نُشْرِ‌كَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْ‌بَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَقُولُوا اشْهَدُوا بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ ﴿٦٤﴾

[3:64] Sahih International

Say, "O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you - that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah." But if they turn away, then say, "Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]."

Taking one another as lords in here is a kin to enslaving one another as arbaban would also have the notion of master/slave concept.

In order for one to be a mu'min (a faithful/believer) one must be a Muslim (in peace) first according to 49:14.

قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَ‌ابُ آمَنَّا ۖ قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَـٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۖ وَإِن تُطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ لَا يَلِتْكُم مِّنْ أَعْمَالِكُمْ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ ﴿١٤﴾


The Arabs say, "We have believed." Say, "You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], 'We are in peace,' for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."

Then according to 23:1-6 a mu'min must have the following attributes

إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ‌ مَلُومِينَ ﴿٦﴾

[23:6] Sahih International

Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed -

Hence, it would be contradictory to assume that ma malakat aymanahum (MMA) has the notion of slave as part of its meaning since that would violate the requirements of being a mu'min and hence being a Muslim also.

IMO the range of possible meaning to MMA cannot intersect the meaning of wives, otherwise it would be redundant to pair them in one verse.

So, one possible meaning of your right hands possesses/MMA would be whomever you have acquired their consent from. This would not violate the requirement of being a mu'min

  • if I am not wrong in understanding you(please excuse), are you saying it is allowed to have sex with those who give consent without marriage ?
    – Shafeek
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 7:00
  • Certainly, this is why i asked the following question: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/5984/… Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:01
  • so what you say about Quran forbidding adultery or zina
    – Shafeek
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:04
  • 1
    zina is not adultery, it is closer to za ya na than adultery.. it has constructs that resembles riba and ra ya ba.. quran doesnt exactly define zina, thats why i hinted to other verses and concepts that might give an answer, through the bigger picture.. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:45

What your right hand possess has nothing to do with captive slave girls. who has translated these translations creates a big question to the credibility and understanding of devine language. the right hand is referring to the right hemisphere of the brain which is connected to devine. you have similar phrases in bible as cast your net to the right side if you want to catch a fish. it has nothing to do with fishing.

  • 4
    I strongly suggest to elaborate your answer by adding references to your claim!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 5:58
  • Add reference for this explaination Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 10:50
  • The verse you seem to be referring to is John 21:6: "He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish." Reading the whole verse, not just the first phrase, it clearly is about actual fish (because they immediately respond by literally catching fish). To come up with the brain-hemisphere interpretation you would have to allegorise it completely, but the broader context gives no justification for that.
    – Nick W.
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 23:21

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