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Topic initiated on Saturday, October 14, 2006  -  10:59 AM Reply with quote
Are Captive Women Lawful for Men

Are Captive Women Lawful for Men

Q. .... this phrase in the Qur’an. “And we have made lawful to you your wives and those whom your right hands possess” or “And those who guard their chastity, except with their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess, for them they are not to be blamed” (70:29,30) According to the precepts of Islam, until a man and woman are bound by the lawful tie of marriage, whatever physical relationship or emotional connection they have outside it is akin to adultery or fornication. So, then my question is, how are the captives which your right hands possess lawful to a man without him giving them a marital status?

Though widespread, it is a wrong notion that Islam holds no bar on free sex with the enslaved women taken as war captives. Women are justified for having reservations against such practice (though rarely applicable in present days) said to be permitted by Deen-e-Fitrat. The verses you have quoted from 70:29-30 also occurred in 23:5-6. Both these Surahs (23&70) were revealed in Makkah. Later, in Madina, the law concerning sex with captive women was completed vide 4:25. Which specifically mentions Nikah with them after the payment of Mehr. It is like the order concerning drinks which were not strictly banned in the beginning but were later declared unlawful.

All the three orders related to drinks should be read together for a complete understanding of the law, which now states: 1. There are some benefits of drinks but its evil surpasses its benefits. 2. Salat is not valid if offered while under influence of intoxicants. 3. Intoxicants are unlawful. Similarly the law regarding captive women can only be comprehended when all the verses concerning them are put together.

Before elaborating it further, I might point out a slip by many a translator while translating these verses (i.e. 23:6 and 70:30). The Arabic word ‘WA’ means ‘AND’, while ‘AU’ is for the word ‘OR’. In both these verses ‘AU’ has occurred implying the permission of sex with their wives or the captives they possess. Replace ‘OR’ by ‘AND’ in the above and the meaning changes. Now compare it with the verse 33:50 where ‘WA’ (AND) has been used while describing an order exclusively for the Prophet (Pbuh). The verse reads: “O Prophet (Pbuh), indeed, we have made lawful unto you your wives unto whom you have paid their dowries ‘AND’ those whom you possess out of those whom Allah has given you as spoils of war...., a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) believers.

We are aware of that which we enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom they possess (as captives). (This has been made clear) so that you may be free from difficulty... “ (33:50) Read the correct word ‘OR’ in context with the believers (other than the Prophet) making it their wives ‘OR’ their captives and then read the exclusive order for the Prophet (Pbuh) in the above verse which allows your wives ‘AND’ your captives and then ponder over the explanation given in the last part of the verse (23:50), it will become evident that for general believers, the sexual relation with captives while they have wives, is not permitted. Another point which must be made clear is that for a number of reasons, (racial discrimination, not very certainly being one of them), which are not being discussed here, Islam in general does not approve of the marriages between free men and enslaved women, though it does not prohibit them. That is why they have been described as a different category alongwith wives, although they would also become wives after Nikah with them (which is a pre-condition for sex). Till the clear cut order of legitimate marriage with captive women was not revealed, sex without taking them into marriage was not prohibited, which explains the earlier practice and traditions.

After the revelation of Surah Nisa (No-4) in Madina, the comprehensive law can be read as under:
1. (The believers) who guard their chastity except with their wives or (The captives) whom their right hands possess, for them they are not blame worthy. (23:5,6 & 70:29:30)
2. And whosoever is not able to afford to marry free believing women, let them many from the believing maids whom your right hands possess instead of availing free sex with them. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. You proceed from one another (so the racialism is not behind the wisdom of this order). Wed them by permission of their folk and give unto them, their dowers (Mehrs) according to what is reasonable. They should be chaste, not fornicators (who submit to sex without marriage), nor of loose conduct.. this (leave of marrying captives) is for him among you who fear sin. But it is better for you (who have no means to marry free believing women), if you practise self restraint (instead of availing leave of marrying captives). Allah is forgiving, Merciful. (4:25)

Therefore, in the light of the 2nd rule, the first rule will read as: “Who guard their chastity except with their wives (taken from the free believing women) or (the believing captives in their marriage) whom their right hands possess, for then they are not blame worthy.”

Posted - Saturday, October 14, 2006  -  2:25 PM Reply with quote
Thank you for this explaination.

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