Quran 23:5-6 says among the qualities of Believers

And who guards their private parts except from their spouses and what their right hands possess, then surely they are not blameworthy. Quran 23:5-6

In regards to a slave women who has accepted Islam, shouldn't she also guard her private parts except from her spouse ?

  • In this situation many things needs to be considered before this..Like Is slave women were allowed to marry? if yes then with whom? etc..
    – smali
    Aug 26, 2015 at 6:44

3 Answers 3


As far as i know -and I'm talking about slave woman in general- there's no consensus about this matter in general.

A Muslim can't in any case have a Muslim slave (it's prohibited), only if she/he converted to Islam -later-: he can only marry a slave woman if she became free as the mulk al-yamyn (right hands possessing) is considered to be a stronger relationship than a marriage: this means a Muslim could never marry his own slave but someone else's slave therefore if he wants to marry her he should set her free first! But this also means he can have intercourse with a slave woman -even one who converted to Islam while he is her master- as she is mulk al-yamyn. As a mulk al-yamyn could be considered -as hard as it sounds for us today- as "not having a free will". Note that according to an interpretation of (4:25) mentioned in tafsir al-Qurtubi on (5:5) it is not allowed to marry a slave woman from the people of the book.

On the other Hand for the only today -theoretically- possible case for slavery we have a consensus this means a woman which became prisoner of war is automatically divorced.

In other cases of slavery some scholars say that when a slave couple has been bought by a new master they are automatically divorced.

But most seem to accept that a marriage between slaves is a marriage and by buying them the act of marriage would still hold as an evidence they quoted the Verse 24 in Surat an-Nissa' (4):

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

where the prohibited woman to a man are quoted! They explained that married woman are prohibited to all man except their husbands! This has been quoted by ibn Kathir in his Tafsir and he underlined the 2nd statement

On the other hand a prisoner of war would mean that the woman has fought the Muslims! This would mean such a woman won't be a Muslim because it's not allowed to make a Muslim prisoner of war even in a war between two Muslim sects/countries etc. according to fatwa 8263 here!


If a married woman somehow became slave of a Muslim this would mean she is not a Muslim, as a Muslim can't have (is prohibited to buy) a Muslim slave!

But she could convert to Islam while being a slave of a Muslim.

A slave won't automatically be set free because she/he became Muslim!

Most scholars will accept the marriage of the (bought) slave woman (but not for prisoner of war) as a reason to make her haram for her Muslim master according to the above Verse! Others consider becoming a slave equal to a divorce.

A slave has no free will according Muslim scholars so converting to Islam won't change their status as mulk al-yamyn and the rights of the master (however he can't have intercourse with a slave woman immediately and must wait for her 'Idah, which is her first menses or -if pregnant- the birth of her child). This means they will be at 1st considered as mulk al-yamyn then as believers as it seems. This would mean being a believer or not for a slave still is the same (as it seems) as the master could marry them whit whom he wants or take them for his own use in any way which is halal! So if she became a concubine (sariya) she of curse should guard her private parts for her master!

If the Marriage of a slave couple is considered to be valid then of course the woman should guard her private parts for her spouse only (Again it doesn't matter whether she is a believer or not, but a believer is asked for it according the quoted Verse!)!

Now if the woman (with a valid marriage to a male slave) converted there are 2 possible cases:

  1. Her husband converted also to Islam in this case the marriage still will be valid and therefore she can/should only have intercourse with her husband.
  2. If her husband didn't convert then according to shari'a this would mean they will be divorced (a according the rules of shari'a I'dah etc. which i don't know for slave!) in this case her Muslim master could have intercourse with her when the divorce takes effect ('idah) if his conscience allows him to do so!

And Allah knows best

  • you didn't answer why a believing woman captive is not required to guard her private parts except her spouse(husband) as mentioned in 23:6.
    – Shafeek
    Aug 27, 2015 at 2:49
  • so you are saying what applies to believers does not apply to them. right ?
    – Shafeek
    Aug 27, 2015 at 7:12
  • All believers (including believing slaves) are to guard their private parts except from their spouse (in the case of women, husbands)(according to 23:6). So why shouldn't a believing slave woman also guard her private parts except with her husband. How is it permissible for her to seek other than her husband and seek her master ? hope it is clear now
    – Shafeek
    Aug 27, 2015 at 7:37
  • @Ziyad by the way the Verse means it would be considered (for man) as zina if he had intercourse to a slave woman he doesn't posses or to a foreign woman/girl.
    – Medi1Saif
    Sep 1, 2015 at 8:31

A slave concubine who is a Muslim or accepts Islam remains lawful for her master, as long as he too is a Muslim. She does not have to guard her private parts from her master.

Please note that that the proper translation of the verse is:

إلا على أزواجهم أو ما ملكت أيمانهم

Except from their wives or those their right hands possess

Quran 23:6

Meaning that grammatically the verse is addressed to men and not addressed to women. It is not gender neutral. And to be addressed to women it might have said something like:

إلا على أزواجهن أو ما ملكت أيمانهن

The law for women can not be derived from the literal text of the verse, rather it must be derived by the following ways:

  • By analogy i.e. arguing that what applies to men also applies to women. Analogy is already a weaker argument. Further using analogy is wrong for this verse by consensus, and consensus overrides analogy. It is agreed upon for example that women can not have concubines.

  • By implication. When men can un-guard their private parts from their wives this means that they can have sex with their wives. This implies that women too can have sex with their husbands because sex is mutual. It is meaningless to allow one without also allowing the other.

    In the same way men can have sex with their concubines, and this implies that the concubines can have sex with their masters. It is meaningless to allow for one without the other.

Next, you have asked about the spouse of the slave. Please note that enslavement after marriage will void any previous marriage (Quran 4:24,Muslim 1456). And marriage after enslavement will put a halt to concubinage. Concubinage is only done with a slave woman who is not currently married to anyone. Regardless of whether she is Muslim or non-Muslim. It is categorically forbidden for two men to have relationship with a single woman at the same time period:

إذا زوج أحدكم خادمه عبده أو أجيره فلا ينظر إلى ما دون السرة وفوق الركبة

When one of you marries off his female servant to his slave or to his employee, he should not look at her private part below the navel and above the knees.

Abu Dawud


فإنه خطاب للرجال خاصة دون النساء

This verse is specifically addressed to men and not to women

Ahkaam al-Qur’an

والآية في الرجال خاصة

This verse is addressed to men specifically

Tafsir al-Baghawy

  • Guarding private parts is not duty of men only I will add my answer soon.
    – Shafeek
    Nov 20, 2023 at 14:07
  • If your aim is to debate and make statements rather than to learn then this question should rather be closed.
    – UmH
    Nov 20, 2023 at 14:44

Guarding private parts except from the spouses is the duty of both men and women in Islam. As mentioned in another answer (by UmH), 23:5-6 is not men only, it applies to women also.

Why is captive people mentioned after spouses in 23:5-6 ? It is because if someone do not find a spouse, then he/she can marry captive people as mentioned in the following verses, it is better than going for fornication. That is reason OR (او) is used and not AND (و) is used between spouses and captives in this verse.

And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allāh will enrich them from His bounty, and Allāh is all-Encompassing and Knowing. Quran 24:32

And whoever among you cannot [find] the means to marry free, believing women, then [he may marry] from those whom your right hands possess of believing slave girls. And Allah is most knowing about your faith. You [believers] are of one another. So marry them with the permission of their people and give them their due compensation according to what is acceptable. [They should be] chaste, neither [of] those who commit unlawful intercourse randomly nor those who take [secret] lovers. But once they are sheltered in marriage, if they should commit adultery, then for them is half the punishment for free [unmarried] women. This [allowance] is for him among you who fears sin, but to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.Quran 4:25

The above verse do not make sense if sex without marriage is allowed between master and slaves. Ownership of female captive can change if her master transfer it to another person. If sex with master is allowed without marriage, the female slave would be confused who is her current master and with whom she is allowed to have sex.

Quran clearly instructs females also to guard their private parts.

... the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward. Quran 33:35


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