Letter from Farzana: 'Islam prohibits sex with slave women and Abolishes slavery'
31 Dec, 2006
Letter from Farzana
Subject: Islam prohibits sex with slave women and Abolishes slavery
Farzana: Below are three English translations to the Noble Verse where Allah Almighty commands the Muslim men to not force their slave women into sex.
Translation: Yusufali: "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 maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them), (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"
In all three translations, we clearly see that if
the slave woman desires to keep chaste, then her Muslim
master must not compel her into sex. It might sound odd to us today, but pagans back then were used to having sex with and raping their slave girls, even the ones who were married:
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)"
Dear Farzana, thank you for pointing to errors in our articles. Let me first put the other relevant verses here before going into the discussion.
[Q 4:3] If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.
In these two verse, Allah gives unrestricted license to the masters to have in sex with slaves-girls (right hand possession). It is absolutely halal. There is nothing criminal about it. Allah is not threatening hellfire for it.
Now coming back to the verse 24:33 you have cited and its interpretation you have provided, it sounds confusing. Having sex with slave-girls, which is legal for the master according to 4:3 and 70:29-30, cannot be called prostitution. Prostitution is related to making money from selling sex. In fact, Ibn Kathir, who is unrivaled in his authority of the Koran, has the following tafsir of this verse:
﴿وَلاَ تُكْرِهُواْ فَتَيَـتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَآءِ﴾
(And force not your slave-girls to prostitution...) Among the people of the Jahiliyyah, there were some who, if he had a slave-girl, he would send her out to commit Zina and would charge money for that, which he would take from her every time. When Islam came, Allah forbade the believers to do that…..]
This tafsir of Ibn Kathir makes complete sense. Forcing your slave girls into prostitution for making money is only discouraged.
So your claim that Islam Allah discourages the masters against having sex with the slaves is thoroughly wrong. Slave girls are still halal in Islam according to verse 4:3 and 70:29-30.
Most importantly, even sending the slaves to prostitution for making money is not totally banned. It is mildly discouraged over the complaint of one ansari slave girl. In the last line of the verse (But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them)..), Muslims still can send their slaves to prostitution and Allah is always there to forgive. So our Muslim brethren around the world can engage in this trade without fear of any reprisal from Allah – the most merciful, compassionate and most of all, the most just creator of all things. However, he will burn the Jews and Christians in hellfire for eternity just for their following an earlier faulty version of His own religion.
[Farzana: In Islam, men are not allowed to rape their slave-girls. Allah Almighty clearly prohibited it in Noble Verse 24:33. In Islam, slavery is also not allowed. Please visit The liberation of slaves in Islam, to see how Islam gradually ended the Judeo-Christian and pagan slavery.]
There is not dispute that Muslims are legally allowed to have sex with their female slaves. They might prostitute them to make some money too.
Your claim of gradual abolition of slavery is thoroughly nonsensical. There is not a single verse in the Koran that outright bans slavery. Instead, all indication suggests, slavery became more and more firmly rooted with the power of Islam. The prophet had no slave when he started preaching Islam. But when he died, he left 36 personal slaves behind. It clearly indicates prophet’s support for and propagation of the slavery, instead of discouraging it.
[So to women back then, it was something normal for a married slave woman to sleep with her master. It was something normal in the society at that time.]
That was their social custom of the time, which always evolves. Of course, slavery existed all across the world at the time. But Allah made the existing changeable social custom of the pagan divine and valid for eternal time. Such creative is Allah that He has to borrow such terrible customs of the pagans to create His most perfect religion. I really wonder if Allah will truly punish the pagans with hellfire or should reward them for providing so much of materials for creating His last religion of complete truth and guidance.
Furthermore, Islam took the culture of slavery to a higher level. There is no indication of any powerful leader of the Arabian Peninsula had 36 slaves as Muhammad had at the time of his death.
[Allah Almighty in the Noble Quran not only allows for the slave man or woman to earn their freedom from their Muslim master, and receive money from their Muslim master to help them start their free life, but also commands the Muslim men to not compel their slave women into sex.
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him also said:
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari: "The Prophet said,
"Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and
release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)." (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)"]
This is a nonsensical claim you make. How could paying ransom mean receiving money from the master. It should the other way round: master receiving ransom/money for releasing his captive slave. The prophet used to attack and raid non-Muslim caravans and community and used to carry away the captured women, children and men to Medina. He used to ask for ransom for their freedom from the family of the captured people. He used to hold them in captivity, often in chains, until ransom is paid.
[Islam came to liberate all slaves and to end the
Judeo-Christian and Pagan slavery that was practiced
before Islam. When Allah Almighty made lawful for the Muslim men to have sex with their slave women, He did it to keep the Islamic society back then during Islam's weak, partial and venerable times under control.]
This is utterly false or unsubstantiated statement of yours. Never in Christianity or Judaism was slavery in the scales that Islam brought to the world. Unlike Prophet Muhammad, Jesus never attacked any non-Islamic community for making captives and kept them as slaves until ransom was paid. Not sure about Moses, although the latter in all probability is a mythical character.
[Also, if any compulsion was made unto the slave
woman, then Allah Almighty will add more mercy and
forgiveness unto her in the Day of Judgment. Below is the commentary on this exact section and point in Noble Verse 24:33 by Minister (Sheikh) Abdullah Yusuf Ali; may Allah Almighty rest his soul:
"The poor unfortunate girls, who are victims of
such a nefarious trade (i.e., slave trade), will yet find
mercy from Allah, whose bounties extend to the lowest of His creatures." ]
But the traders, who do such terrible crimes, need not face any punishment in Allah’s justice. However, civilized human conscience demand that slavery must be banned altogether and those who engage in slave-trades must be put to jail. One should be little concerned about what Allah will give them in afterlife, the existence of which is totally doubtful.
[There are other Noble Verses in the Noble Quran where Allah Almighty grants forgiveness and mercy to those who had been forced into illegal things:
"He hath only forbidden you Dead meat, and blood, And the flesh of swine, And that on which Any other name hath been invoked Besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, Without willful disobedience, Nor transgressing due limits -- Then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (The Noble Quran, 2:173)"
"Why should ye not Eat of (meats) on which Allah's name hath been Pronounced, when He hath Explained to you in detail What is forbidden to you -- Except under compulsion Of necessity? But many do mislead (men) By their appetites unchecked By knowledge. Thy Lord Knoweth best those who transgress. (The Noble Quran, 6:119)"]
I don’t understand how you connect these verses with slavery. Which food is halal and which is not has nothing to do with slavery.
[So: No, the Muslim man can not rape his slave woman according to the commands of Allah Almighty in the Noble Quran.]
You have not made any case for this claim. This is either outright lie or denial of the facts clearly otherwise.
The truth is: Allah gives unrestricted license to the Muslim masters to have sex with the slaves and they can even force them into prostitution for making money without fearing any punishment from Allah.