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I am born in a Sunni muslim family. I have a Bohri Girlfriend who wants to know the meaning of the following

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

Salaam Brother,

I am born in a Sunni muslim family. I have a Bohri Girlfriend who wants to know the meaning of the following : I dont remember the chapter or verse number where excatly it is in the Holy Quran. Can you please explain to me the meaning of the verse. the last part of the verse is "Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hand posses"

I would like to know what is the meaning of "whom your right hands posses". Do they mean the slave girls. The sentence is regarding prohibition of marrying a already married woman and immediately the last part says except whom your right hand posses. Does it mean that one can marry a salve woman who is already married" Hope you got my question.

Thanks a lot. 

 

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Answer:

 

Slave girls married

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

Your Question: I dont remember the chapter or verse number where excatly it is in the Holy Quran. Can you please explain to me the meaning of the verse. the last part of the verse is "Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hand posses"
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisaa verses 23-24:

23 Prohibited to you (for marriage) are: your mother, daughters, sisters, father's sisters, mother's sisters, brother's daughters, sister's daughters, foster-mothers (who gave you suck), foster-sisters, your wives' mothers, your step-daughters under your guardianship born of your wives to whom ye have gone in no prohibition if ye have not gone in, (those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins, and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.

24 Also (prohibited are) women already married except those whom your right hands possess. Thus hath Allah ordained (prohibitions) against you: except for these all others are lawful provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property desiring chastity not lust. Seeing that ye derive benefit from them give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if after a dower is prescribed ye agree mutually (to vary it) there is no blame on you and Allah is All-Knowing All-Wise.

 

 

Your Question: I would like to know what is the meaning of "whom your right hands posses". Do they mean the slave girls.

Whenever the term whom your right hand possesses is used in the Quran, it does mean the slave-girls.

 

May Allah bless you and reward you for asking this question. A lot of believers today push this slavery or slave-girl subject under the rug and do not understand it completely or are sometimes ashamed of this concept. That is because, todays society and behavior is absolutely different from the conditions prevalent 1400 years ago at the time of Revelation of the Quran. There is no place on earth where this concept is practiced today, thus to really understand the concept in its entirety, we must try to imagine the times of the Revelation of the Glorious Quran.

 

Since time immemorial, slavery was an accepted practice; thus it was not Islam that started this practice, but rather Islam was the first system to inculcate the freedom of slaves and take steps to make them equal citizens of society. Slavery was abolished in modern society only a couple of centuries ago, and was openly practiced in almost all parts of the civilized world even until the early 1900s. But Islam made it a virtue to free slaves, and inculcate them into society as equal citizens, almost 1400 years ago!


 

So, the first question that needs to be answered is how did people (men and women) become slaves?

There were several ways in earlier times how a free person would become a slave.

1.      The already existent slaves and their offspring were also considered slaves.

2.      People used to steal children and then sell them as slaves in another place.

3.      One tribe would attack another tribe, kill the men, and take the women and children as slaves and then sell them as war-booty.

This practice was prevalent all over the world at the times, thus we must remember that Islam neither started it, nor encouraged it. Islam, in fact closed almost all the doors on how a free man becomes a slave, and in reality opened all the doors to free these slaves and make them responsible members in society. Islam was instrumental in eradicating slavery and made it a virtue and a means of earning huge rewards from Allah by freeing slaves and inculcating them into society.

 

The Messenger of Allah (saws) declared it a sin to kidnap any free man, woman or child and make them slaves. After the wars, the Prophet (saws) used to exchange the Prisoners of War if both the warring parties agreed to it. If not, the captives were set free by taking a ransom for them. If the slaves or their families could not afford the ransom, most times the Prophet (saws) showed generosity and released them without any ransom. Only if none of the above were possible, and the captives had no place to return to, then these captives were made slaves and all efforts were taken to inculcate them into the existing Islamic Society.

 

In some instances, when the enemy was still at war, there was always a fear that if the Prisoners of War were released, they would go back and join their armies and attack the muslims again. During these times, the Messenger of Allah (saws) allowed the prisoners to be taken as slaves as was the prevalent system of the times. Rather than put them in jail, the slaves were distributed to each household and they were responsible for the welfare of the slaves. The Messenger of Allah (saws) exhorted the believers to feed them what they ate themselves, and dress them in the clothes that they themselves dressed.

 

Thus, there arose a issue with the women who were captured as Prisoners of War, and were not exchanged, nor ransomed, nor had any place to return to. Most times the wars were with tribes, and whoever won these wars, the losing tribes were completely annihilated. Thus there was no place to send the Prisoners of War back to, and it became imperative that these people were inculcated within the society. Thus there were two choices left with the slave girls:

1.      Leave them alone in society with no family and no protection.

2.      Give them under the guardianship and protection of an existing family.

 

Option-1. Leave them alone in society with no family and no protection.

This would obviously not have been a good option. There was obviously a fear that these women, who had absolutely no family and tribe to protect or feed them, would start immoral practices if left to fend for themselves. And because no one could determine their lineage, no honorable person at that time would marry them outright. And also it would not be right to just leave these women, who had absolutely no means, no family, and no protection in a foreign land.

 

Option-2. Give them under the guardianship of an existing family.

The state would determine which slave girl goes to which household. Neither the people who received the slave girl, nor the slave girl had a choice. Whatever was allotted by the state was received by them. This was considered the best and novel system to eradicate slavery and accept the slaves as members of society. We must not try to imagine this system of distribution and acceptance in todays society, but rather 1400 years at the time of the Prophet (saws). The training and discipline of the noble companions of the Prophet (saws), and the true Islamic society which was created in light of the Holy Quran and the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (saws) must be kept in view to get a full picture of the condition of the times.

 

The slave girl that was allotted by the state to the respective household, thus became the consort of one member of the household. Only this person was allowed to have a sexual relationship with this slave girl. The difference between this persons wife and the slave girl was that his wife came into his house through the proper marriage contract (Nikaah), and the slave girl was allotted by the state.

 

The status of the slave girl who was allotted to the believer was exactly like his wife. Only the person who was allotted the slave girl was allowed to have a sexual relationship with her. If the slave girl was allotted to the father, then the brothers or the sons had absolutely no right towards this girl. The only difference was that the Islamic law of equality of time and sustenance did not apply between the wives and the slave girl.

 

The children borne of the slave-girl were exactly like the other children from the persons legally wedded wife. They were to be given exactly the same rights as his other children. The children of the slave girl would inherit the property exactly as the other children. There was absolutely no difference amongst the children. And once any slave girl bore a child, she could not be sold to anybody else and thus became a permanent member of the household.

 

Your Question: The sentence is regarding prohibition of marrying a already married woman and immediately the last part says except whom your right hand posses. Does it mean that one can marry a salve woman who is already married" Hope you got my question.
Considering that these slave-girls who were captured in war were not exchanged as prisoners of war, nor ransomed, nor had any place to return to.because either their pagan husbands died in the war or had altogether deserted them, their prior married status or their religion were absolutely non-consequential and immaterial if they were to be inculcated into a righteous believing society in the future.

 

Thus regardless of the slave-girls married status or religion, she was allocated by the State to the guardianship of a believer as his allotted wife and that was the absolute best and only way for such women to be made a part or citizen of the society. One must keep in mind that when these slave-girls came and stayed with the companions and believers who were trained in the ultimate university of righteousness and piety of the Messenger of Allah (saws), and the way these slave-girls were treated with justice by their allotted guardian believers, more often than not these slave-girls accepted Islam as their way of life.

 

Beloved brother, again I reiterate that this system of slaves was not started by Islam, but was prevalent in the society in those times. Islam tried to encompass the slaves into Islamic society and gave them the respect and honor of being equal members and citizens of society. Almost all the doors and ways of creating new slaves were closed, and several options were created to free these slaves and entwine them into the Islamic society. It was considered a virtue in Islam to free slaves and a means of great reward from Allah Subhanah. Islam created a society whereby the compensation for repentance for many sins like murder, breaking of promises, missing of fasts, etc. was the freeing of slaves. In this way, Islam created an environment whereby slaves were made free and allowed to inculcate themselves into the normal Islamic society. We must be careful not to look into this slave-girls issue in isolation, but rather look at the whole picture of the Islamic society at the time of the Messenger of Allah (saws). The training, the discipline, the character, and the morals of the noble companions was a direct result of their association and teachings and guidance of the Prophet (saws) himself. The values and degree of Taqwa (God consciousness) and the love for the promised Paradise was so great amongst the noble companions of the Messenger of Allah (saws), that the system of justice and morality of the times just cannot be compared to todays un-Godly times! Neither can one compare the slaves in Islam to the slaves taken by the modern colonists, who captured any free man in sight in the occupied territories like Africa, chained them and shipped them to their countries and treated them worse than animals! Among the slaves of Islam were people of stature like Hadrat Bilaal (r.a.), Hadrat Ammar bin Yasser (r.a.), Hadrat Salman al Faarsi (r.a.) and Hadrat Zaid bin Haritha(r.a.), the freed slave and adopted son of the Messenger of Allah (saws) himself. The status of Hadrat Zaid bin Haritha (r.a.) is such that he is the only companion of the Prophet (saws) who is mentioned by name by Allah in the Holy Quran. Thus the concept and picture of the slavery as practiced by the west, is absolutely different from the concept of slaves in Islam!

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your brother and well wisher in Islam,

 

 

 

Burhan

 


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