Slave Women

Quran simply acknowledges POW laws that were practiced throughout Middle East, and that is why the Talmud also has “Beautiful Captive” laws.

Please see, “The Spirit of Jewish Law,” George Horowitz, page 151:

“The law with respect to a beautiful woman captured in battle was explained by the Rabbis as intending to prevent licentiousness, acts of rape on the field of battle, etc. for the captor must bring the woman ‘to his house’ (V. 12) and must make her a member of his family (Kiddushim 21b). He must permit her to mourn her parents for one month. And R. Akiva adds in the Talmud that through her religion may have been pure idolatry, she is to be permitted to mourn even loss of her religion (Yevamot 48b). Once having married her as commanded ‘she shall be thy wife’ v. 13), the husband-captor may not use her as a slave, nor treat her with less respect than any other wife. A captor, moreover, may not take such a beautiful captive for any other person (like a relative), but only for himself.”

In the Jewish tradition, only the “beautiful captives” (good looking female virgins) were saved. As the Old Testament testifies, everybody else was killed. In the Arab/Islamic laws of war, if there was no treaty for the exchange of prisoners, all POWs were made slaves but then a month was given to the enemy to pay ransom/reparations in order to free their people. During this time, the women were left untouched. The POWs themselves, if rich, could also offer money to buy their freedom.
In the ancient Middle East, soldiers were encouraged to bring along their women, so they would fight like hell,, because everybody knew that in case of defeat, their women would become captives of enemy soldiers.

In the Arab/Islamic tradition, the women who were captured on the battlefield were distributed by the Chief or head of the State. So some girls could be given to aged men or women who would simply treat them as maids or give them in marriage to other slaves or freemen, as several Hadiths suggests. Male slaves could also be given to free women to work as servants, and. free women could also marry a male slave. Slaves could also work over time to make money or start business on the side to raise money for their freedom. Prophet Muhammad praised a man who would educate a captured slave girl and marry her off to a free man or another slave. By his own example, the Prophet also taught that a woman should not be touched without her consent; if a woman said, “I seek God’s protection from you,” she was left unharmed.

The following are some examples that should prove to you that all of Prophet Muhammad’s relationships were consensual:

“…it is said the he [Prophet Muhammad] proposed to Safiyyah bt. Bashshamah [not to be confused with Safiya Bint Huyay], sister of the one-eyed al-Anbari. She was taken as a captive, so allowed her to choose between him and her husband. She chose her husband, and he sent her back.” The History of al-Tabari, Volume IX, page 140.

“The Messenger of God married Ghaziyyah bt. Jabir of the Banu Abi Bakr b. Kilab. [The news of] her beauty and skill had reached the Messenger of God, se sent Abu Usayd al-Ansari al-Saidi asking her hand in marriage. Being in a state of infidelity when she came to the Prophet, she said, ‘I was not consulted [about this marriage], and I seek refuge from you in the name of God.” He replied, ‘One who seeks God’s protection is inviolable,’ and returned her to her people.” The History of al-Tabari, Volume IX, pages 136-37.

So, it’s clear from this evidence that like David and Solomon. Prophet Muhammad liked women and had many wives but he never forced himself on any woman.

As I stated above, these things were dependent on having or not having a treaty for the exchange of prisoners. If there was a treaty, such a Geneva Convention today, then Muslims were obliged to abide by it. There is no requirement in Islam that POWs be abused or killed. On some occasions, Prophet Muhammad simply freed POWs out of plain goodwill, and Muslims have followed that tradition since ancient times.

Quran and Hadith make no distinction between a Muslim slave and a non- Muslim slave. The only difference is that according to one hadith, freeing a Muslim slave can save a person from hellfire. That does not mean that freeing non-Muslims is not meritorious or is not recommended for expiation of sins. Since, later, a law was established that no free Muslim would be taken as slave, limiting emancipation to Muslims would have been meaningless.

Verse 47:4 of Quran clearly suggests that non-Muslim captives who were made slaves can be freed as a “favor.” In the Battles of Hunain and Bani Mustaliq, non-Muslim slaves were freed. Tabari also lists several non-Muslims who were bought and freed by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) or freed when they were captured after a militarycampaign and they fell in his lot. People who were freed by the Prophet (s.a.w) included Yasar, Abu Muwayhibah, and Abu Kabshah, among others. Caliph Umar bin Abd al-Aziz had ordered that non-Muslim subjects, if taken prisoners by an enemy should be as much ransomed and liberated on state expenses as any Muslim subject [for reference see Ibn Sa’ad’s al- Tabaqat al-Kubra, Volume 5, pages 26, 272. For secondary reference see “Non-Muslims Under Sharia’ah Law” by Abdul Rehman Doi).

Verse 4:92 states:

[4.92] And it does not behoove a believer to kill a believer except by mistake, and whoever kills a believer by mistake, he should FREE A BELIEVING slave, and blood-money should be paid to his people unless they remit it as alms; but if he be from a tribe hostile to you and he is a believer, the freeing of a BELIEVING SLAVE (suffices), and if he is from a tribe between whom and you there is a covenant, the blood-money should be paid to his people along with the freeing of a BELIEVING SLAVE; but he who cannot find (a slave should fast for two months successively: a penance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

The verse deals with a specific condition in which a Muslim is found guilty of manslaughter for killing another Muslim. In the verse prior to this, it is clear that what is being referred to is unintentional killing of a Muslim, who may or may not be a hypocrite or who may be living in enemy territory. And if life of a Muslim was taken without proper justification, it was only right that another Muslim benefits and he/she gains freedom. Freeing of a Muslim slave as a compensatory corrective measure does not in any way negate the general principle that freeing of slaves, regardless of their faith, is a meritorious act. In other verses of the Quran, expiation of other sins is achievable through freeing of a slave, and no mention is made whether the slave has to be a Muslim or not. See Verses 90:13, 5:89, 58:03, 9:60, 2:177, 24:33.

To further clarify, in case of a non-Muslim victim of manslaughter at the hands of a Muslim or vice versa, other punishments or penalties may be given. The verse in question was strictly dealing with manslaughter of a Muslim by another Muslim in times of conflict, and under normal circumstances a judge should come up with proper verdict in other cases, including freeing of a non-Muslim slave, if possible. Since slavery no longer exists, other measures may be prescribed to inculcate repentance. Regarding protection of non-Muslims, the Prophet once said “Their property is like our property and their blood is like our blood” (see Mishkat al-Masabih, Ch. 25, Hadith 10). Caliph Ali (r.a.) had also stated, “The blood of a Dhimmi (protected non-Muslim) is like the blood of a Muslim, his goods and chattels are like those of the Muslims.”

One Hadith states:

Sahih Muslim
Book 009, Number 3604:
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who emancipates a BELIEVING SLAVE. Allah will set free from Fire his every limb for every limb of his (slave’s), even his private parts for his.

The Hadith simply implies that freeing a Muslim slave is such a supererogatory act that a person can save himself from hellfire. It does not mean that freeing a non-Muslim slave does not have its own rewards. Most of the other Ahadith and Quran do not make a distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim slave when manumission of a slave is recommended for expiation of sins.


3 thoughts on “Slave Women

  1. Herman December 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm Reply

    The author writes, “Verse 47:4 of Quran clearly suggests that non-Muslim captives who were made slaves can be freed as a ‘favor.'” This provides additional evidence THAT THERE WAS NO NEED TO ENSLAVE ANYONE TO BEGIN WITH.
    Koran 33:50 indicates that Muhammad himself owned slaves. At this point in his life, the author views Muhammad as a fine role model to follow (see, for example, Koran 68:4). Consequently, the author at this point in his life will not condemn slavery as being immoral.
    Muhammad stated in Koran 70:29-30 that men need not worry about guarding their chastity with slaves. That is to say, men could commit adultery and fornication with slave women. The author conveniently leaves this part out in his discussion of “Slave Women.”

  2. sincereadvisor December 20, 2013 at 4:07 am Reply

    I thought I made it clear that, as in Jewish Law, a slave master could sleep with his slave, but he didn’t have to. Even Thomas Jefferson slept with his slave and had several children with her! The difference here is that Islam is THE ONLY RELIGION that linked freeing of slaves with expiation of one’s sins. This encouraged freeing of thousands of slaves. Furthermore, Islam is the only religion which allowed slaves to buy their own freedom, to start their own business, to marry free men and women. Slavery was not based one race! Yes, Islam did not abolish slavery but you have to admit that it made it easy for slaves to be freed. Abraham Lincoln issued Emancipation Proclamation but Southerners didn’t accept Blacks as equal until the Civil Rights Movement. And even so, the politics in the US still revolves around the issue of race. Islam never had this problem. Nobody remembers whose ancestors were slaves, and that;s because in Islam, the children of slaves were always born free.

    Slavery for POWs existed in those days because there was no Geneva Convention. Armies brought women with them to encourage soldiers to fight hard. They knew that the consequence of defeat meant slavery of their women, and women knew that as well! When armies were defeated, the women on the battlefield were distributed among soldiers of the winning army. That was the law of war. Islam didn’t invent it; it had been in existence for hundreds of years [See my reference with regard to Jewish Law]. Islam imposed certain restrictions on this, encouraged god treatment of slaves, and often freed them as a favor. The Prophet taught by his own example that a woman should not touched without her consent.

    The kind of thing you are expecting or requiring of Islam is simply not possible in this imperfect world. Look at Gitmo. Hundreds of people have been put behind cages like animals without a trial. Israel has caged up entire Gaza strip, You do not condemn them but you condemn Prophet Muhammad who freed so many and gave dignity to countless others. Most of the early Muslims were in fact slaves or former slaves.

  3. Herman January 15, 2014 at 3:53 pm Reply

    Please reconsider exactly what you write!! THINK DEEPLY ABOUT WHAT YOU WRITE.
    “…a slave master could sleep with his slave, but he didn’t have to.” This means that a slave-owner could fornicate and commit adultery with his slaves, but he didn’t have to. IS THIS THE SUBLIME MORALITY YOU SEEK FROM A GOD AND PROPHET?

    “Islam is THE ONLY RELIGION that linked freeing of slaves with expiation of one’s sins. This encouraged freeing of thousands of slaves.” THEN CLEARLY THERE WAS NO NEED TO ENSLAVE ANYONE TO BEGIN WITH.

    “Yes, Islam did not abolish slavery but you have to admit that it made it easy for slaves to be freed.” THIS IS RIDICULOUS. For most of its time on our planet, Islam has been enslaving people. A hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Saudi Arabia got around to abolishing slavery. Why were some Muslims so heavily involved in the slave trade? BECAUSE THEIR SO-CALLED “FINE MORAL EXAMPLE,” MUHAMMAD, BOTH OWNED & TRADED SLAVES.

    You mention such things as Gitmo, Thomas Jefferson, Gaza Strip, Southerners, etc. THESE ARE IRRELEVANT. One’s god and prophet are supposed to be morally perfect. Citing the moral transgressions of others DOES NOTHING to show that your god and prophet are morally perfect.

    Finally, you write: “The Prophet taught by his own example that a woman should not touched without her consent.” Do you mean this hideous example here, from Sahih Muslim? –> “We went out with Allah’s messenger on the expedition to the Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing azl” (withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: “We are doing an act whereas Allah’s messenger is amongst us; why not ask him?” So we asked Allah’s messenger and he said: “It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born”.

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