Are Muslims allowed to have sex slaves?

It’s commonly claimed by some critics that Islam allows Muslims to have sex slaves. Their reasoning behind this argument is that there are verses from the Quran that talk about Muslims being allowed to have right hand captives, for example the following verse:

33:50 O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee

And then from the hadith:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri that during the battle with Bani Al-Mustaliq they (Muslims) captured some females and intended to have sexual relations with them without impregnating them. So they asked the prophet about coitus interruptus.  The prophet said, “It is better that you should not do it, for Allah has written whom He is going to create till the Day of Resurrection”.Qaza’a said, “I heard Abu Said saying that the prophet said, “No soul is ordained to be created but Allah will create it.”” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, number 506)

So from such Quranic verses, and hadiths, the critic makes the argument that this is proof of sexual slavery and that Muslims are allowed to rape their right hand captives.

Now if you actually read the verse, and hadith again, nowhere does it say anything about raping, or forcing a female captive to have sex. This is something the critic has literally made up, they have jumped and made the argument, that since the hadith talks about sex, it must mean rape. So the argument actually says more about their minds and what they’re thinking, rather than what the Quran and hadith are saying.

Not only do these texts say nothing about raping your captives, we do in fact have Quranic verses, hadiths, and scholarly opinions that forbid such acts. The Quran for example says:

“Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. 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: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you. But force not your slave-girls to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life.  (The Noble Quran, 24:33)”

This verse was revealed after the following incident:

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:  “Musaykah, a slave-girl of some Ansari, came and said: My master forces me to commit fornication. Thereupon the following verse was revealed: “But force not your maids to prostitution (when they desire chastity). (24:33)”  (Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Divorce (Kitab Al-Talaq), Book 12, Number 2304)”

So here we have a direct and explicit refutation to the precise argument of the critic. A man was forcing his slave girl into fornication, and so the Quran revealed a verse that said that you are not allowed to force slave girls, i.e. right hand captives, into fornication.

Hence the Quran completely refutes the argument of Muslims supposedly being allowed to rape or force their right hand captives into sex, this is a figment of the critics own warped imagination.

Now from the hadiths, and we read the following and very interesting hadith concerning how a Muslim must treat their right hand captive:

Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him ordered his followers to be kind to their slaves: Narrated Al-Ma’rur: At Ar-Rabadha I met Abu Dhar who was wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied, “I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names.” The Prophet said to me, ‘O Abu Dhar! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names You still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears.  Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity (power) and if you do so, then help them.’   (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Book 2, Belief, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 29)”

According to this hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that slaves are like our brothers; basically they are to be treated properly, and not to be abused. They are to be fed and clothed by the same things we eat and dress with. Now how on earth can one make the argument that Islam allows Muslims to rape their right hand captives when you have a hadith telling Muslims their right hand captives are like family and that they are not be abused?

Last but not least, we now turn our attention to what the classical scholars of Islam have said about the issue.

Imam Malik, founder of the Maliki School of jurisprudence said:

In our view the man who rapes a woman, regardless of whether she is a virgin or not, if she is a free woman he must pay a “dowry” like that of her peers, and if she is a slave he must pay whatever has been detracted from her value. The punishment is to be carried out on the rapist and there is no punishment for the woman who has been raped, whatever the case.  (Imam Maalik, Al-Muwatta’, Volume 2, page 734)

Imam Shaafi founder of the Shaafi School of jurisprudence said:

“If a man acquires by force a slave-girl, then has sexual intercourse with her after he acquires her by force, and if he is not excused by ignorance, then the slave-girl will be taken from him, he is required to pay the fine, and he will receive the punishment for illegal sexual intercourse.” (Imam Al Shaafi’i, Kitaabul Umm, Volume 3, page 253)

So in conclusion, Islam does not allow Muslims to rape their right hand captives, no such texts exist, on the contrary from what we have just seen, Islamic texts clearly forbid such acts. 

Categories: Islam

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2 replies »

  1. i found the following :

    IF they don’t desire chastity can they commit zina?

    1. Arberry makes plenty of mistakes, and is not infallible.

    2. Nowhere does Arberry argue that the phrase ‘if they desire chastity’, means that Muslims can use their slave-girls for prostitution if the slave-girls want to be prostitutes…IT IS YOU THAT IS ARGUING THAT THIS IS ARBERRY’S POSITION.

    What is clear is that the style is a COMMON feature of the Quran… “Do not take usury, doubling and re-doubling your wealth..” The expression doubling and re-doubling your wealth does not mean that one can take usury if one is only making 5 percent profit, or 1000 percent profit… it is a remark against the ‘psychological state’ of the one who takes usury, who is bent upon making as much money as possible without moral grounds…

    in english we say,
    “Don’t commit crimes thinking you can get away with it.”

    Does this mean one should commit crimes if a person thinks otherwise? The phrase “if they desire chastity’ is meant to MAGNIFY THE MORAL NATURE OF THE SIN of those that are being forced into prostitution.It is the EXACT OPPOSITE MEANING OF WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO PROVE.

    Do not trade my revelations at a paltry price…

    In this verse, the Qur’an has admonished the Banu Israel against ignoring God’s revelations for worldly gains. The implication of this verse, obviously, is that no worldly gain is great enough to qualify as the right price for turning one’s back on God’s revelations. The verse should, clearly, not be taken to imply that one may ignore God’s revelations only when one is offered a higher price to do so. This literary style is one in which the abhorrence and detestability of an impious act is highlighted. Similarly, in Aal Imraan 3: 130 the implication is not to allow Riba when charged at a simple rate but to highlight the abhorrence and detestability of the usurer’s mentality.

  2. So what you are saying is that those women, who just had their husbands and brothers murdered by Mohammed and his companions, were voluntarily having sex with the very murderers of their husbands and brothers? Why not rather admit that what Mohammed and his followers did to female POWs was wrong, and is not an example muslims or anyone else, should be following.

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