It was narrated from Anas, that the Messenger of Allah had a female slave with whom he had intercourse, but 'Aishah and Hafsah would not leave him alone until he said that she was forbidden for him. Then Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, revealed: "O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you.' until the end of the Verse.

أَخْبَرَنِي إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ يُونُسَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَرَمِيٌّ - هُوَ لَقَبُهُ - قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي قَالَ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَتْ لَهُ أَمَةٌ يَطَؤُهَا فَلَمْ تَزَلْ بِهِ عَائِشَةُ وَحَفْصَةُ حَتَّى حَرَّمَهَا عَلَى نَفْسِهِ فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ ‏{‏ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ لِمَ تُحَرِّمُ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكَ ‏}‏ إِلَى آخِرِ الآيَةِ ‏.‏

كتاب عشرة النس 36 The Book of Kind Treatment of Women (4) Chapter: Jealousy (4) باب الْغَيْرَةِ ‏‏

Sunan an-Nasa'i 3959


2 Answers 2


Having sex with a slave that one owns is permissible in Islam as they are "those your right hand possesses" as mentioned in the verses 23:6 and 4:3. For details on this see Are Muslim men allowed to take "sex slaves?"

Having sex with a such a slave was also permissible for the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as the Quran explicitly states:

يا أيها النبي إنا أحللنا لك ... وما ملكت يمينك مما أفاء الله عليك

O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to ... those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives]

Quran 33:50

Scholars have recorded that the Prophet ﷺ had either two or four concubines:

  • Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah was a slave among the gifts sent to the Prophet ﷺ by al-Muqawqis the ruler of Egypt. She became the Prophet's Umm Walad by giving birth to his son Ibrahim. The hadith you have quoted is likely referring to her.

  • Rayhaanah from the tribe of Banu Nadir or Banu Qurayza. She was from the prisoners of war that were captured after the Jewish tribes were invaded.

  • Another captive of war.

  • A concubine who was gifted to him by his wife Zaynab bint Jahsh.


فصل في سراريه - صلى الله عليه وسلم -قال أبو عبيدة : كان له أربع: مارية وهي أم ولده إبراهيم، وريحانة، وجارية أخرى جميلة أصابها في بعض السبي، وجارية وهبتها له زينب بنت جحش

Section on the concubiness of the Prophet ﷺ - Abu ‘Ubaydah said: He had four: Mariyah who was the mother of his son Ibraheem; Rayhanah; another beautiful slave women who he got among some of the prisoners of war; and a slave woman who was given to him by Zaynab bint Jahsh.

Zaad al-Ma’aad also see Tarikh al-Tabari and Al-Bidaya wa'l-Nihaya

  • Thanks for the answer
    – NasZu 17
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 21:40
  1. Quran 4:25: “And whose is not able to afford to marry free women, let them marry from believing maids whom your right hands possess. This is for him who fear to commit Sin..”

What Sin? How to prevent from committing that Sin? Quran answer: Marry from right hand possess.

Hence, Quran prohibit sex with right hand possess outside marriage (Sin). If sex was allowed with right hand possess outside marriage, then Quran won’t mention this act as ‘Sin’.

  1. Hadees: Many Hadees collected are not genuine. Bukhari/Muslim hadees were written many years (250-300 years) after Prophet ﷺ death.

Hadees were passed orally & then written down after several years.

— Prophet Mohammad ﷺ to — Sahaba (disciple) to — Tabaeen (disciple childrens or new muslims) to — Taba Tabaeen (Tabeen childrens or new muslims) to — Imam Bukhari/Muslim who wrote down in their books.

Further, many hadees in same book (with saheeh chain of narration) contradicts each other. Hence, all cannot be genuine.

Conclusion: When Quran contradict hadees, then Quran is the only book that should be followed.

  1. Sunan Nisai 3959 - is not about sex slavery but honey which Prophet ﷺ forbade upon himself. Hadees have contradictions.

Hadees: This incident has been reported in Hadith books and History books primarily under exegesis of Quran 66:1-4. There are two separate incidents reported under exegesis of Quran 66:1-4. The first one is what has been referred to in the Question and is included in the following books of Hadith:

From Anas bin Malik (rta) (all variants with more or less the same wording):

Sunan Nisai 3959 (https://sunnah.com/nasai:3959), Sunan Nisai Al-Kubra 11539 and 8857 (through one same chain of narrators), Mustadrak lil Hakim 2/492, Sunan-Al Kubra Bayhaqi 7/351 (through same primary chain of narrators), Al-Ahadith-ul-Mukhtara by Al-Muqdasi 1694.

From Umar bin Khattab (rta):

Al-Ahadith-ul-Mukhtara by Al-Muqdasi 189, Jamay Al-Bayan by Tabri 23/88 (Tafsir-e-Tabri).

Abdullah Ibn-e-Abbas (rta):

Al-Moajam Al-Awsat Tabarani 8764.

These are all the references in which some narrators (one or two), despite having some weaknesses can be taken to the level of Hassan or Sahih. The rest of all the narrations in history books and tafsir books are either with broken chains or include narrators who fabricate narrations or lie or are weak/extremely weak.

Answer — But none of these narrations come from the first-hand source i.e. people who were involved in the incident like Ayesha (rta) or Hafsa (rta). These kinds of narrations are called Mursal of a Sahabi, which may or may not be accepted depending on different factors; and one of these factors which render this narration as non-acceptable is the second incident reported under exegesis of same verses of Quran 66:1-4 by Ayesha (rta) herself, and is reported in the primary Hadith Books including Bukhari and Muslim, please see:

https://sunnah.com/bukhari:5267 https://sunnah.com/bukhari:6691 https://sunnah.com/muslim:1474b https://sunnah.com/nasai:3958 https://sunnah.com/abudawud:3714 and several other books.

Imam Nisai himself wrote in Sunan Al-Kubra after narrating this incident by Ayesha (rta):

هذا الحديث إسناده جيدغاية صحيح، حديث عائشة هذا في العسل

“This hadith has a very good chain of narration, and it is Sahih. This hadith of Ayesha is about honey”.

(Excerpt from Sunan Nisai Al-Kubra 5584)

It can be seen that this incident reported with a stronger chain of narrators and in primary books of hadith contradicts the incident referred to in the question. In addition to this, this incident comes from first-hand source which is Ayesha (rta) herself as opposed to Mursal of a Sahabi. Therefore, many exegetes have concluded that the narration of Bukhari correctly depicts the incident. For instance, Al-Qurtubi mentions the story of Ayesha (rta) and Honey followed by narrations that include Maria (rta), then he writes:

أَصَحُّ هَذِهِ الْأَقْوَالِ أَوَّلُهَا وَأَضْعَفُهَا أَوْسَطُهَا

“The most correct of these opinions is the first of them, and the weaker of them are the others”

(Tafsir al-Qurtubi 66:1 – 18/179)

Ibn-al-Arabi concludes:

وَإِنَّمَا الصَّحِيحُ أَنَّهُ كَانَ فِي الْعَسَلِ وَأَنَّهُ شَرِبَهُ عِنْدَ زَيْنَبَ وَتَظَاهَرَتْ عَلَيْهِ عَائِشَةُ وَحَفْصَةُ فِيهِ وَجَرَى مَا جَرَى فَحَلَفَ أَلَّا يَشْرَبَهُ وَأَسَرَّ ذَلِكَ وَنَزَلَتْ الْآيَةُ فِي الْجَمِيعِ

“And the only authentic narration is that it was about honey, that the Prophet drank it with Zainab (rta), and Ayesha (rta) and Hafsa (rta) pretended to be offended by it. There occurred what occurred and the Prophet made an oath never to drink it again. He confided that to his wife and the verse was revealed regarding all of them”.

(Ahkam al-Quran 66:1 – 4/294)

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