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Some Muslims argue that male master can have sex with female slaves, even without marriage. See my answer here why they should be married for having relation with them Are Muslim men allowed to take "sex slaves?"

My question is Quran lists the group of people a woman can show herself in 24:31 but strangely her master is not included in this list. Isn't this proof that female slave can't have sex with master without marriage ? It can be argued that 24:31 is talking about Muslim women and slaves are non Muslims. Then if a slave woman converts to Islam after her being enslaved, will she become forbidden to her master as she cannot reveal herself to her master ?

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    The question is more of historical value. The Qur'an gave orders that would gradually lead to its end. Now, that it has been abolished why would one revive that curse. – a_fan Apr 21 '15 at 6:41
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salaams regardless of whether or not the woman slave is muslim or not, the master should not have intercourse with her, so long as they are not married together (if the slave is a muslim, she is to be freed). This is because no matter what, it will always be counted as zina if the intercourse is out of marriage. Regardless of whether or not she is muslim, the man should also always lower his gaze, so this shouldnt be an issue, but yes, the slave women should cover herself as much as possible and try to avoid being alone around him too much. There is a reason why marriage is so important in islam, and one of the reason is so the men and women can fulfill their desires in a lawful manner

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    any evidence of your opinion from quran hadith, any fatwa? – user12159 Mar 22 '15 at 6:05
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    This answer is plain false, I'm not aware of any scholar who says marriage is a requirement for having intercourse with a slave woman you own. – G. Bach Apr 17 '17 at 12:36
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There are two types of women: Free and slave. The Ayah you are referring to: 24:31 applies to free woman. In contrast some scholars say, because of that Ayah that the Free Woman Awrah is the same for her father as her male/female slaves, which is included in the Ayah you posted:

او ما ملكت أيمانهن

Or what she owns

Let me add that the ruling for a slave women is different than free woman. So a master can indeed have sex with his slave women as prescribed in the Quran in many instances including [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.

A slave can still be Muslim in only two situations:

  • Slave was a non-Muslim and becomes Muslim while being in captivity.
  • Slave was born to a mother that was a slave, as slave is by inheritance.

Fatwa: http://islamqa.info/ar/218082

Let me add that Hijab was never required for Muslims (it was something that eventually, down the line, became more of a religious thing opposed to culture, which is how it stared). Jilbab on the other hand was prescribed to free woman to differentiate between them and slave woman: as reported that Omar used to hit slave woman who dress up in Jilbab ابن تيمية - حجاب المرأة ولباسها في الصلاة - تحقيق محمد ناصر الدين الألباني- المكتب الإسلامي - ص 37.

  • What is "Jibab"? – servant-of-Wiser Jun 28 '15 at 18:22
  • @azam You might want to check the following answer I just added @ islam.stackexchange.com/a/25111/12537 – user12537 Jun 28 '15 at 19:17
  • There is no mention in 24:31 that it is for free women only. Believers is inclusive of all, including free and non free. Just because you are held as captive do not mean you are not believer any more. 33:50 also mentions about cousins along with slaves, that doesn't mean sex without marriage is allowed with them. – Abu Ziyad Jun 29 '15 at 6:24
  • I do see your point. However, I do believe that there are different rules for different situations in Islam, including being a slave/free believer which came in the Sunnah. – user12537 Jun 29 '15 at 16:36
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Yes, she can because there is Ijma (consensus) that it is permissible to have intimate relations with slave women, even without marriage, and hence by consensus there is no 'awrah of a slave woman in front of her master هـ, because it follows logically from that permission.

This is proven in the Quran, where they are mentioned besides and separately from wives:

إلا على أزواجهم أو ما ملكت أيمانهم فإنهم غير ملومين

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

Quran 23:6

فانكحوا ما طاب لكم من النساء مثنى وثلاث ورباع فإن خفتم ألا تعدلوا فواحدة أو ما ملكت أيمانكم

Then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses.

Quran 4:3

It is also proven by the practice of the Prophets Abraham, David, Suleman عليه السلام as well as that of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who had relations with his female slaves: Rayhana and Maria without marriage. The same has been practised by the Sahabah: Ali bin al-Husain ibn Ali, Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Salim bin Abdullah ibn Umar were among the well known children of the Sahabah from Umm Walad slaves.

To insinuate that all of these people and generations after generation of Muslims have misunderstood the Quran and erred, and that you have understood it correctly, is not credible and is equal to negating the statements of the Quran itself (see 9:100, 3:110, 4:115).


Regarding the verse of the Quran that you have asked about:

ولا يبدين زينتهن إلا لبعولتهن

... and not expose their adornment except to their husbands ...

Quran 24:31

The word here is بعل (Ba'al) which can mean both husband or master. See Tafsir al-Qurtubi:

التاسعة : قوله تعالى : إلا لبعولتهن والبعل هو الزوج والسيد في كلام العرب ؛ ومنه قول النبي - صلى الله عليه وسلم - في حديث جبريل : إذا ولدت الأمة بعلها يعني سيدها ؛ ... مسألة : فالزوج والسيد يرى الزينة من المرأة

Ninth: The Saying of Allah "except to their husbands", البعل is the husband or master in the speech of the Arabs, as in the hadith of the Prophet, the hadith of Gabriel: "when slave-girl gives birth to her master" (source: Sahih Muslim) ... The husband or master can see the adornment of the woman

From Edward Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon:

enter image description here

From Brown-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon:

enter image description here

So, the owner of a believing slave woman is among the people who have been granted the concession.


هـ An exception is where the original owner has married off the slave to another person. In this case the owner can not see her private parts, nor have relations with her, and her ruling will be similar to that of a mahram.

  • Few points to clarify my position (not for discussion) (1) if "Baula" is taken as master, as mentioned in your answer, she cannot show herself to her master if she is married to someone else. doesn't this mean Baula cannot be taken as all masters, there are conditions to it. I understand the condition is she should be married to master as mentioned in 4.25 (2) I am not claiming they all erred, I am saying they all married their slaves as Quran instructed in quran 4:25. – Abu Ziyad Feb 13 at 4:50
  • (3)You mentioned 4:115 "follows other than the way of the believers " Let me ask you how many muslims are following this so called "way of the believers" now. Muslims have no problem abolishing slavery altogether, will that be considered following ways other than believers? – Abu Ziyad Feb 13 at 4:51
  • (4) some claim that Maria was not married to Muhammed(s.a) but they also claim that slaves can be acquired only from war. But Maria is not acquired from war, she was gifted by a king. How she is considered as a slave. you can answer related question here islam.stackexchange.com/questions/28795/… – Abu Ziyad Feb 13 at 4:52
  • @AbuZiyad (1) Please read the verse. There are different levels of awrah for women, 24:31 is talking about mahrams, not just talking about whom can she show her private parts to. Just like a woman is not allowed to show 'everything' to e.g. their fathers, sons or brothers, married slaves are not allowed to show their private parts to their masters, however the master is still included in the verse and is a mahram to her to whom she can show more than she can to a stranger. – UmH Feb 16 at 13:34
  • (2) 4:25 is about marrying other people's slaves, which is a discouraged act ( ذلك لمن خشي العنت منكم وأن تصبروا خير لكم) and only a concession for those unable to afford to marry free women (ومن لم يستطع منكم طولا أن ينكح المحصنات ). How can the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahaba, who already had other free wives, fall into this concession? How can a person who owns a slave, not be able to afford mahr of a free woman? (3) That is tangential to the question, and it is not clear what you are getting at. – UmH Feb 16 at 13:34

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