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June 22nd, 2014

Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!

Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines{1}, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!{2},{3}

“There is no verse in the Quran or any instance in the Holy Prophet’s life sanctioning what is called concubinage.”{4}

Slavery was rampant before Islam. Captives were taken in wars or in slavery raids, out of which both males and females ended up as slaves and concubines. Slave trade was of epidemic proportion until the arrival of Islam. Islam dried-up the swamp of slavery simultaneously by stopping the inflow of new slaves into the cesspool while it drained out the cesspit itself.

Quran separates slaves (Arabic: abad) who were already in bondage at the time of advent of Islam from those captured in a battle as prisoners, translated as – whom your right hands own or possess (Arabic:mimma malakat aimanukum). Thus a Muslim’s bondsman resulting from a war is not a slave but a fallen foe{5} and the entrusted Muslim of that fallen foe is not a slave master but a guardian (see v. 4:25 below).

In early Islam, there were neither prisons nor prison camps; hence the war captives were distributed under the custody of families who were responsible for their safety and wellbeing at par with their own self. Islam put a stop to any new slaves and existing slaves were to be released for any and every excuse. Captives allowed were only those captured in a battle and mechanisms were put in place for their release as well. These topics are now of historical importance only as under international treaties the captives in war have rights and protections as Prisoners of War. Credit goes to Quran, which eliminated these atrocities thousands of years before the modern ethics took hold only recently.

Quran discusses human rights across a wide spectrum of human behavior. It firmly establishes the fundamental equality of mankind to exclude from the minds the ideas of racial and economic divide that if not checked soon turn human tendencies into abuse of the weak of physique, gender, status, means, nation or race. The scrooge of slavery and its consequent exploitation of body and soul of its victims pervaded the human cultures from times immemorial because of dearth of this fundamental check on the psyche of man. A refresher of certain baseline teachings of Quran is in order that formed the basis of the charter of human rights from the very inception of Islam and are summarized below.

Equality of mankind, irrespective of national origin, race, tribe or gender:

10:19. And (all) people are but a single nation, then they disagree…{6}

49:13. O mankind! We have created you out of a male and a female, and We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognise (and do good to) one another. Surely the most honourable of you in the sight of Allâh is he who guards against evil the most. Verily, Allâh is All-knowing, All-Aware.{7}

Without any exception, no extra-marital sex is allowed in Quran, which is not only a check on an ordinary human tendency, but also prevents the historical unchecked exploitation of the slaves who were an easy prey of their masters:

17:32. And Keep away from adultery and fornication; surely, it is an abominable act and an (extremely) evil practice.{8}

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…{9}

With arrival of Islam, slavery was banned and no new slaves were inducted. No slave trade or slavery raids are allowed in Quran; individual liberty could be taken away only in case of prisoners taken in an actual battle. Of note is that the only war permitted in Quran is a defensive one:

8:67. It does not behove a Prophet to keep captives unless He has triumphed after a regular bloody fighting in the land. (If you take captives without warfare,) you desire the temporary and frail goods of this world, while Allâh desires (for you the good of) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.{10}

Prisoners of war, both men and women are to be released no matter what soon after the war is over, with or without a ransom:

47:4. … After you have bound them fast in fetters (as prisoners of war), then, afterwards, (release them, a must), either by way of grace or by (accepting) ransom. (That is the law,) until war lays down its weapons (and it is over).{11}

Contrary to the usual practice of sexual exploitation of the then existing bonds-women, the concubinage, was totally banned by Islam. Sexual relationships were allowed only after a full marriage, which not only restored dignity to bonds-women, but also made them a useful member of the society. The following verse in itself is a proof that a bonds-woman is not a concubine, but a marriageable woman:

4:25. And those of you who have not the means (- social or financial) to marry free believing women (may marry) such of your believing bonds women as your right hands own (by being captives in war). Allâh knows very well (the state of) your faith, you are all (sprung) one from another, so marry them with the permission of their guardians and give them their dowers with equity, they being properly married, not (committing fornication), to pursue their lust nor taking secret paramours…{12}

Note the mention of the word guardians of prisoners of war in the above verse, which is not the same as slave owners. The next verse reinforces the previous one:

4:26. Allâh desires to make clear (His commandments) to you, and guide you to the (righteous) ways of your predecessors, and to turn to you with mercy. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.{13}

Any deviation from verses 4:25-26 by any action, intent or interpretation is nothing but lust, pure and simple, which is condemned in the next very verse:

4:27. Whereas Allâh desires to turn to you with mercy, those who follow (the dictates of their) lusts want you to drift far away (from the right path).{14}

Given the fact that as the Arabian society converted to Islam, there were existing slaves in the households of new Muslims. For all Muslims the details of 'high virtue' in Quran included 'to set slaves free', and that's what happened in Islam where the righteous beliefs were bridged to righteous deeds and homes were not only cleansed of slavery but the emancipated were rehabilitated in the society as well. Of note is that the same verse also binds the faithful to establish their former slaves to full independence because most if not all the former slaves fell into the category of orphansneedy and deserving of charity:

2:177. It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and gives the due charity; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty. {15}

Similarly, in challenging mankind for not taking 'uphill path ' of moral progress, Quran puts in the premier position ' freeing of a captive ' and a collective societal effort to 'exhort one another to be compassionate ' to rid the society of the evils, besides others, of slavery:

90:10-18. And We have pointed out to him the two conspicuous high ways (of right and wrong)? Yet he would not attempt the uphill path of steep and difficult ascent. And what should make you know what the uphill path of steep and difficult ascent is? (It is) the freeing of a captive (from the bondage of slavery, debt and other afflictions), Or feeding in the time of famine an orphan, near of kin, or a downtrodden poor man. And what is even more, then he is of those who believe and exhort one another to be patiently persevering and exhort one another to be compassionate (towards God's creation). These (who follow this hard path) are the blessed ones (- the people of the right hand). {16}

Existing slaves were to be released on any and every excuse as restitution for violation of any moral law, no matter how trivial custom it might have seemed then. For example:

58:3. Such of those who thus happen to call their wives their mothers and then retract what they have said, must free a slave before they two touch each other (for re-establishing conjugal relationship). This is what you are enjoined (to do in case you commit such a hateful thing). And Allâh is Well-Aware of what you do.{17}

In a masterly stroke, the above verse not only established the dignity of a helpless wife in an otherwise male dominated society, but simultaneously expunged one more from the ranks of the slavery.

State treasury as well individual wealth was to be used for emancipation of existing slaves:

9:60. Compulsory charities (- Zakât) are meant for the destitute and the needy, and for its functionaries, and (for) those whose hearts require to be consoled (in all sincerity), and for the emancipation of the slaves, and for (the relief of) those in debt, and (for spending) in the cause of Allâh, and for the wayfarer. (This is) an obligation imposed by Allâh, for Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.{18}

In the above verse the slaves were not only to be freed but once freed, they were to be rehabilitated in the society by the state treasury as they were destitute and the needy in their new found freedom.

Besides the general injunction on singles to marry, to emphasize the marriage of slaves, Quran identifies them by their gender, both males and females, and orders them to be kept chaste and marriages were to be obligatorily arranged for them, either by marrying them within the household or being given away in marriage, as married state is a natural state for adults in Quran and is an assurance for their chastity:

24:32. Arrange marriages for those of you who are single and for your male and female slaves as are deserving and fit (to lead a married life). If they are poor Allâh will grant them means out of His bounty; Bountiful is Allâh, All-Knowing.

The next verse eliminates prostitution of slave-girls by their masters, which was the norm of Arabia before Islam. On one hand it stops sexual relations with slave-girls by disallowing any such advances toward the potential victims by their masters, on the other, Quran does not rant empty lectures to avoid evil, but gives solution to shun evil, in this case the marriage of slave-girls:

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…(Another commandment for you is that,) with a mind to gain (by this unrighteous means) the benefits of the present life do not constrain your slave-girls to unchaste life (by keeping them unmarried) when they desire (to marry) to preserve their virtue. But if anybody forces them (to abstain from marrying and to become unchaste) they will find, after they are forced, that God is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.{19}

Thus Quran keeps at bay the potential aggressors, the guardians of the slaves and captives, from their potential victims, the slaves. The only mechanism to bridge the two for any sexual relations was a full marriage contract and all the obligations that fall under a free marriage contract. These mechanisms remained air tight till the time the existing slavery dissipated under the overall multipronged interventions both through Quran and change that emerged in the society in due course under the Prophet.

Even, the existing captives were given the right to buy their freedom by a written contract of payment in installments of the loan that they may ask for from their own very masters. Once a captive, male or female, asked for such a contract, it could not be refused by the master:

24:33. …(There is another commandment,) as for those of your bondsmen (or women) as ask for a written contract (of freedom for themselves on payment of ransom), write this (deed of manumission for them)…{20}

Further, as an addendum to above freedom contract, the masters were obligated to invest in their slaves to establish them financially before and after their freedom so that they could not only buy their own freedom if not given for free, but also pay back the back the loan, if incurred:

24:33. … provided you find good capabilities in them and give them out of Allâh's wealth which He has given you…{21}

Additionally, in the verse 24:33, when read in toto, for the slave-girls, there in an implication of an extra injunction on the owner to ensure their chastity for which they were to be given means of sustenance. This in turn eliminates the risk of them falling into prostitution of their own accord only to sustain themselves.

Slavery was so much entrenched in the society that to raise slaves to a higher social status needed an incremental reform. For example, in the following verse, slaves, male or female were to be preferred in marriage over the otherwise higher clan status of the idolaters:

2:221. And marry not an idolatress until she believe; while a believing maid is certainly better than an idolatress even though she may highly please you. And do not give (believing women) in marriage to an idolaters until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a (free) idolater even though he may highly please you. It is they who invite to the Fire, but Allâh calls to the Paradise and to the protection by His command. He makes His Messages clear for the people so that they may take heed.{22}

The above verses set in stone equality of mankind, hence the basis of slavery were abolished. Bar was placed on any extra-marital sexual relationships, which excluded any possibility of concubinage which is another name and function for female slaves. Existing slaves, both men and women were protected from exploitation. Every means and excuse was utilized for their emancipation. Taking of newer slaves was prohibited. Prisoners of war were to be released, with or without ransom. It is absurd to even imagine that while Islam puts so much emphasis on freeing of slaves, that it also allegedly allows taking of slaves. Slavery is forbidden, as shown above. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, even freed prisoners for them teaching children and adults as their ransom. Below is an excerpted article from 'The Light' (February 24, 1984, pp. 13-17){23} which is a rebuttal to even the present day 'scholars' of Islam who make a case for concubinage, which is not only laughable but deplorable by standards of Quran:

If there is to be no slavery, then there can be no concubinage either, for concubines are nothing but female slaves turned into mistresses. There is no question of buying female slaves in the market. As for the female prisoners of war, they are to be set free without ransom, or with light ransom, as in the case of male captives. But the trouble about the female prisoners of war is that if they are sent back, even free, their menfolk are not prepared to take them back as they assume that the women must have been ravished by the captors, as was the common practice among Arabs before Islam, and as is the common lot of female prisoners today in all non-Islamic countries, even of the West.

Such disgraceful treatment of the female prisoners of war was not possible in the Holy Prophet's time or even under the Early Caliphate. When the moral standards were of the highest possible order not a single case is to be found in the history of those periods.

"And whoever among you cannot afford to marry free believing women, (let him marry) such of your believing maidens as your right hands possess. And Allah knows best your faith (i.e., do not set high standards for the faith of such women). Some of you are like others: So marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly … then if they are guilty of adultery when they are taken to marriage, they shall suffer half the punishment for free married women … " (4:25).

This important verse requires the following elucidation:

(1) If a Muslim cannot afford to marry a free believing woman, he may marry one of those ‘whom your right hands possess’.

(2) The much misunderstood term ‘whom your right hands possess’ has been much exploited. It is taken to mean concubines. To describe a concubine bought from the market or from her master as one 'whom your right hands possess' is a complete misnomer. The very use of the words whom your right hands have taken possession of (which is the correct rendering of the Arabic phrase mimma malakat aimanukum) clearly points to women captured in battle. That is where the right hand is used to take possession of a prisoner. To apply that phrase to a woman bought from a slave market or from a master is totally unwarrantable.

(3) The Holy Qur'an still speaks of such a woman being taken in marriage with the permission of her master. Who is this master? It was the practice of the Holy Prophet and the latter-day Muslim commanders to distribute all prisoners, male or female, to the soldiers as part of the spoils of war. They were kept in homes, sometimes in a better way than the master or the mistress of the Muslim home, but always at least on the same scale of living. It is this 'master' spoken of in the verse under consideration. If they are now kept in a war prison, the Government holding them is the ‘master’.

(4) Why are ‘those whom your right hands possess’ mentioned in this and other places separately from free women? That is also explained in this very verse. If the former are guilty of adultery after marriage, their punishment is to be half that of free married women. It is because of the separate treatment under the Quranic law of these women who have come recently from a non-Muslim society and, therefore, the same high moral standards cannot be expected from them, that their separate mention was required.

Incidentally, the punishment of stoning to death for married men or women found guilty of adultery cannot possibly be permissible in Islam:

(a) The Holy Qur'an, which is the paramount authority on Muslim law, does not prescribe stoning to death for any crime whatsoever.

(b) It prescribes instead one hundred strokes for adultery, whether committed by man or women, married or unmarried.

(c) One hundred strokes can be halved as required in verse 4:25 of the Holy Qur'an, but not the stoning to death.

Anyway, because of the clear ban on sexual indulgence outside marriage (24:33) and the requirement that even the women 'whom your right hands possess' must be married properly (4:25), concubinage is simply not permissible in Islam.

The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, being the perfect exemplar, properly married those female prisoners of war whom he took as wives. Much has been made by the Christian critics of the case of Mary the Copt, who was presented to the Holy Prophet by the King of Egypt. That he had married her too is now an established fact beyond doubt.

It may be added to above quoted article, that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by personal example, married two women prisoners of wars on advice of his peers who were 'whom your right hands possess'. Both were set free, namely Safiyya and Juwairiya. Both were daughters of chieftains vanquished in the battle and their marriages to the Prophet became a source for not only ending tribal enmities but resulted in the release of other captives under the Muslims as those captives were now relatives of the Prophet:

33:50. O Prophet, We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses, out of those whom Allah has given you as prisoners of war, …{24}

To reemphasize, the mention of the two types of women i.e. wives (Arabic: azwaaj)and whom your right hand possesses is only to distinguish the status of spouses in terms of those who were free women and those who were captives of war before their marriage. After their marriage, all of them were wives of equal dignity, and none remained as whom your right hand owns. It is the personal examples like these in which the Prophet eliminated slavery in his own household and elevated the dignity of former slave-girls to free wives in the society that no wonder Quran speaks so highly of the Prophet’s life as an example to be followed in matters of uplift and equality of mankind, besides many other virtuous deeds:

33:21. Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar…{25}

To sum it up, the nonsense of concubinage in Islam emanates because of the concoctions of the so called ‘scholars’ of ignorance and not of Quran, who are then oft re-quoted by their blind followers. To such scholar and their followers Quran admonishes very clearly for their advocacy of concubinage:

4:27. Whereas Allâh desires to turn to you with mercy, those who follow (the dictates of their) lusts want you to drift far away (from the right path).{26}


{1} Merriam Webster – Concubine: a woman with whom a man cohabits without being married: as 

a : one having a recognized social status in a household below that of a wife 

b : mistress 

{2} Reader is encouraged to read a detailed analysis on the subject: 

'Marriage of Slaves' in “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 488-495. 

'Islam and Slavery' – There is no concubinage in Islam, by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Islamic Review, p. 7-12, January 1958. 

{3}“The Quranic Message of Universal Freedom” by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, p. 1-8 , Paigham-e-Haqq, April/June, No. 66, Organ of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam, Fiji, 1994 

{4} Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz: Footnote to verse 4:25 

{5} Islam on Slavery by Al-Haj Lord Headley and Khwaja Kamaluddin, p. 20. 

{6} Yunus – Jonah: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{7} Al-Hujurat – The Chambers: Nooruddin 

{8} Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin 

{9} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{10} Al-Anfal – The Voluntary Gifts: Nooruddin 

{11} Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin 

{12} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{13} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{14} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{15} Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{16} Al-Balad – The City: Nooruddin 

{17} Al-Mujadilah – The Pleading Woman: Nooruddin 

{18} Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin 

{19} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{20} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{21} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{22} Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin 

{23} ‘Slavery and Concubinage’ – The Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement as a Defender of Islam – II, The Light (February 24, 1984, pp. 13- 17) 

{24} Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{25} Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{26} Al-i-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin

6 Responses to “Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!”

  1. June 24th, 2014 at 10:31 pm
    From Roshnara Musthafa:

    Why is there such a confusing treatment of Mary the Copt in biographies of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)? I have read Barnaby Rogerson's "Heirs of the Prophet" , which relegates her to the status of a concubine, who earned her freedom after she gave birth to Prophet Muhammad's son, Ibrahim, but never earned the title of "Mother of the Faithful", even though Muhammad Haykal does consider her to be a wife of the prophet in the biography that he authored. It felt comforting to read here that her status as prophet's wife has been established. Could you give some reference to any scholarly studies that establishes this?

  2. Three simple historical facts refute the allegation that Mary the Copt was a concubine. Firstly, one has to be a slave before one could have been a concubine. Secondly, both friends and foes of the Prophet agree that he never held slaves. His only slave was gifted to him much before his prophethood – Zaid whom he set free immediately and adopted him as his son and later married him to his cousin. Thirdly, there was never any war between the Prophet and Egyptians resulting in the possibility of Mary being gotten as a slave. Fact is that she was a free woman, who had converted to Islam and only later the Prophet married her.

    As to from where this nonsense about one of the respected wife of the Prophet emanates, one may not be surprised if it came from Christian missionaries, which it did, but whom should one lament if the source is the so called Muslim ‘scholars’ themselves?

    Below is a Book Review published in “The Light” November 24, 1981, p. 7-9 (pdf link) that refutes the calumny against the Prophet in the matter of Mary – the mother of the believers:

    NAMUS-I-RASUL  (A Great Calumny against the Honour of the Holy Prophet) by Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Quraishi of 3 Cambridge Avenue, Greenford (Middx) UK. Price £ 3.50. (Address in Pakistan: Maktabah Jama’at Islamiah, Kohat). Pp. 338, January, 1981.

    The late Maulana Abul A'Ia Maududi, the Founder of the Jama’at Islami, translator and commentator of the Qur'an and author of several books on Islam says with regard to the status of a slave girl:

    "According to the Qur'an, a woman who has been captured by force falls in the category of a slave-girl (kaniz). And . because the Qur’an confines the use of force to  the fighting (qital) in the way of God, thus according to the Qur'an a slave girl is that woman who falls in the hands of Muslims as a prisoner  during the course of war  waged in the in the way of God" (Rasa'il wa Masa’il 3rd edition, p. 102, vol. 3, as quoted in Namus-i-Rasul, p. 304).

    How many slave girls a Muslim fighter may have besides his legally wedded wives, according to Maulana Maududi:

    "There is no limit to their numbers (unkay liyay ta’dad ki ko’I qaid nahin)(Tafhim ul Quran – Commentary of the Quran by Maulana Maududi, vol. iv, under verse 33:52).

    On the same subject Maulana Maududi says about the Holy Prophet:

    "According to this permission those women who came into his possession from a God-granted slav-girls, he selected for himself Hazrat Raihana, Hazrat Juwairiyah and Hazrat Safiyah taken as prisoners of war in the skirmishes with Banu Quraizah, Banu Mustaliq and at Khaibar (respectively) and also Hazrat Mariyah (Mary) the Coptic sent as a gift by Maqauqis (Patriarch) of Egypt. The former  three he set free and took them into wedlock while he lived with Hazrat Mariyah on account of possessing her by the right hand. It has not been established (historically) that he set her free and took her into wedlock" (Tafhim ul-Qur’an, vol. iv under verse 33:50, pp 113-114). [Editor’s comment: see footnote 88(1) under verse 33:50 – link]

    When the author of Namus-i-Rasul, Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar, read this part of the commentary by Maulana Maududi he started in earnest studying literature on this subject. The result of this research has been admirably presented in Namus-i-Rasul ("Honour of the Prophet").

    The story of Mary, started with the Holy Prophet's sending an invitation to Islam, in the form of a letter, to the Patriarch of Egypt which the Patriarch replied thus:

    "I know that there is yet a Prophet to come but in my opinion he would be raised in Syria. Nevertheless I have treated your emissary with respect and am sending you a gift of two girls (jariyatain) who enjoy great respect among the Coptics" (as quoted in Namus, p. 74).

    The word jariyah (dual plural jariyatain) is the basis of all the controversy about Mary the Coptic. Even Maulana Maududi has translated jariyatain as 'two girls' (Tafhim ul-Qur’an, vol vi, p. 16 under verse 66:1) but as has been mentioned above, Mary the Coptic was considered by him a `slave-girl' and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and 'blessings of Allah be upon him) did not marry her 'after setting her free' (Tafhim ul-Qur’an, vol., vi, p. 114).

    Jariyah means a girl, or young woman; a female slave (Lane's Lexicon). However, the qualifying statement "that they enjoy great respect" or special status among the Coptics, shows that they were not slave-girls but respectable young women of that community. On their way to Madinah they accepted Islam (Namus, p. 75). The author of Namus then quotes references from the writings of Maulana Muhammad ‘Ali, Abdul Majid, Yusuf ‘Ali, Muhammad Asad, Muhammad Hussain Hyckle, Abdul Kalam Azad and others to show that the Holy Prophet had in fact married Mary the Coptic and that she was considered one of the wives of the Prophet. A passage has also been quoted from Az-Zurqani vol. iii where the Prophet declared Mary as from among the Ahl-i Bait (member of the Prophet’s household) (Namus, p. 82).

    It is, however, surprising that Maulana Maududi and many other Muslim scholars never took notice of the following report which clearly states of the marriage of the Prophet to Mary the Coptic:

    “It is reported from ‘Abdullah al-Zubairi who said: that after this the Holy Prophet married (tazawwaju) Mariah daughter of Sham’un. This is the same Mariyah who was sent by Maqauqis, the ruler of Alexandria to the Prophet as a gift” (Sahih al-Mustadark Hakim, vol. iv, as quoted in Namus, p. 86).

    It must be borne in mind that in Maulana Maududi’s view the word azwaj (wives) according to common usage in Arabic language and in the Qur’anic terminology is only used for women who have been properly married (Tafhim ul-Qur’an vol. iii, under verses 23:5-7). In the above report a derivative of zwj (tazawwaju he married) has been used. What other historical proof is needed to establish the point that Mary the Coptic was a wife of the Prophet in a proper sense?

    The Qur'an also forbade the "wives" (azwaj of the Prophet to marry again after his death (33:53) because they were considered the mothers of the believers (33:6). Mary the Coptic never married after the death of the Prophet.

    The Prophet once remarked: "A person who has a slave-girl and trains her in the best manner and gives her the best education, then sets her free and marries her, he will have a double reward (in the next life) (Mishkat al Masabih, Kitab al-Iman ch. I; Bukhari 3:31 ; as quoted in Namus, p. 31). How could the Prophet himself go against his own preachings –  supposing for a moment that Mary the Coptic was sent to him as a slave-girl?

     Undoubtedly, this is the only book on this subject which has discussed this subject in such a scholarly and detailed manner. Quite a number of pages have been devoted to the question of slavery (or prisoners of war) which in itself is a separate subject but has been incorporated in the main body of the book.


    NOTE: From the archives of it seems that the English translation of a portion or summary of the above book under the title “Slavery and Islam – by Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar) was published in 3 parts in the year 1983 between April to December in the quarterly ‘al-ahmadiyya’ (link).

    Unfortunately the First part for April-May-June is missing. The other two are available for July-August-September (pdf link) and October-November-December (pdf link).

  3. June 26th, 2014 at 12:25 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Regarding the book Namus-i Rasul by Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Qureshi, referred to in the above comment by Ikram, I am making available at this link the short book "The Quran and Slavery", which is the English translation of the preface to the book, with a couple of reviews and a preface by the translator added. I located it among my books and have just created this pdf file.

    Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Qureshi used to meet members of our Lahore Ahmadiyya UK Jamaat in the days when he was writing this Urdu book around 1980. I never met him but he phoned me a couple of times. He asked me to translate his preface into English. I translated it (it was one of my earliest translations) but I omitted the poetic verses which he had included and pointed out to him that that style suits an Urdu book and is not really the style of English books. I also pointed out that his criticism of those who believe in concubines should be made less emotional. He strongly disagreed and then had the preface translated by someone else who translated it to his satisfaction. This is what you see on p. 10 to 39 in the above book. Of course, I don't object at all to the author not agreeing with me about style. It was his right.

    One of those poetic verses is on page 14. I can still recall it in Urdu:

    Quran ne to ghulami khatam kar di magar, Dil-o-damagh per londi ho to kya kahiay.

    which the translator has accurately rendered as: "The Quran has put an end to slavery, but what can one say to those who dream of concubines?"

  4. The fact that the issue of Concubinage is still alive in Muslim thought, and we are only trying to expunge it, is a testament in itself to the fact that followers of the Prophets, over time, corrupt the message and history in which they malign both the Messenger and the Message. It is with a great pain that I see Muslims paralleling the Jewish faith. The former are advocating that our Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had extramarital relations with a concubine that he housed, whereas, the latter similarly stated that the Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) had incestuous intercourse with both of his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38, link). How far apart is then Islam and Judaism or they have essentially merged in spirit and behavior? Of course, the Jews will not sanction incest, but some Muslims will definitely stand for their rights to enforce concubinage. Of the flag bearers of such decay amongst our midst, late Maulana Maudoodi definitely holds a prominent position in this Judaic trend. The book under discussion, the link of which was provided by Dr. Zahid Aziz above, has a rebutting letter on page 16 from the said Maulana who was questioned about his grave error of attributing concubinage to Quran and the Prophet. It is reproduced below:

    Dear Sir,

    Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah.

    Your letter was received.  Firstly it is difficult to prove with an element of surety that Hazrat Maria Qabtia was related to the Royal family. Then racially she was from the coptic race which is an age old race of Christian Egyptians. When the ruler of Egypt sent Maria and her sister to the Prophet (peace be upon him) she was a slave girl and at that time there were male and female slaves in Arabia and all over the world. Your friend sitting in London can dream up any kind of questions he has a notion to, but the fact is that although the Qur'an and Hadith strongly encourage the freeing of slaves Allah and his messenger state that you should immediately release the male and female slaves who come in to your possession or that you should free them when they become Muslims. Then in Islam laws are not only made but implemented. If idolators and unbelievers with whom there was conflict every day had known that in any case the Muslims would have to free their prisoners without delay, only an utterly foolish and idiotic unbeliever would have cared to trade his Muslim prisoners with his fellows captured by the Muslims or to offer ransom for them . Similarly if acceptance of Islam had made freedom obligatory then no captured unbeliever man or woman would have been so foolish as not to recite the kalima immediately, obtain his freedom and go back to join the ranks of the enemies of Islam. Those who ask such questions should first deliberate on their own sanity.

    Humbly yours

    Ghulam Ali

    Special Assistant to Maulana Sayyid Abul A'la Maudoodi .

    The above letter is clearly indicative of a writer who is unaware of Quran and is trying to circumvent his perceived deficiency in Quran that immediately freeing of captives of war would be a counterproductive war strategy. What he does not know is that Quran addresses this comprehensively in that that freedom can only be awarded to the POWs when war and its implications have ended i.e. till the war lay down its burdens. Sorry Maudoodi sahib, after that, whether one likes it or not, according to Quran there is no choice but to free the captives. If you have a problem with that, then it is a problem against Quran:

    47:4. So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, strike the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make (them) prisoners, and afterwards (set them free) as a favour or for ransom till the war lay down its burdens… [Footnote: This passage mentions the only case in which prisoners of war can be taken, and thus condemns the practice of slavery, according to which people could be seized anywhere and sold into slavery. Here we are told that prisoners of war can only be taken after meeting an enemy in regular battle, and even in that case they must be set free, either as a favour or after taking ransom. It was the former alternative that the Holy Prophet adopted in most cases. Only in the case of the seventy prisoners taken at Badr is there mention of redemption having been taken, but this was when Islam was very weak…] Ref: Maulana Muhammad Ali, ed. Dr. Zahid Aziz.

    Thus, after the war is over, all the captives are to be freed, hence there remains no possibility of future slaves. But, before the war lay down its burdens, the captives during that time cannot be molested either in any extramarital manner, which has been discussed in the main body of the article at the beginning of this thread.

    There is also another interesting aspect in the same letter that might be missed by a casual read. Towards the end, the writer clearly states that by merely reciting Kalima and becoming a Muslim, no matter how fake it maybe, the captive could trick the captors and get his or her release as the Muslims cannot hold fellow Muslims as captives. Essentially, the writer admits, as clear as daylight, that Kalima is the ONLY dividing line between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Wow! What happened in the Pakistan National Assembly in 1974 when the main proponents of declaring Kalima reciters as Kafirs were none others than the members of the organization founded by the same Maudoodi sahib, while he himself was the instigator of riots in that country in 1950s for the same reason.

  5. June 27th, 2014 at 1:13 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Thanks for the last point, Ikram. Maulana Maudoodi has stated this explicitly about the Kalima in his book khutbaat, available in English as Let us be Muslims (Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, 1985)

    I quote below from a text version at

    Difference the Kalimah Creates

    Brothers in Islam! You become Muslims by reciting a few words called the Kalimah:

    La ilaha illa 'llah Muhammadu 'r-rasulu 'llah

    There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

    On pronouncing these words a man is supposed to have radically changed. He was Kafir, now he is a Muslim; he was impure, now he is pure. He deserved Allah's displeasure; now he deserves to be loved by Him. He was going into Hell; now the gates of Heaven are open for him.

  6. To quote in full the Kalima and its imperatives from Maudoodi, as pointed out by Dr Aziz above, it states:

    On a more concrete level, in social life, this Kalimah becomes the basis for differentiating one man from another. Those who recite it constitute one nation, while those who reject it form another. If a father recites it but his son refuses to, the father is no longer the same father, nor the son the same son. The son will not inherit anything from the father, his mother and sisters may even observe purdah from him. On the other hand, if a total stranger recites the Kalimah and marries into a Muslim family, he and his children become eligible for inheritance.

    The power of the Kalimah is thus so strong that it takes precedence even over blood ties; it can join strangers together into a nation; it can cut members of the same family off from each other. [Emphasis added]

    There is no doubt that Kalima has a unifying force built into it, but it is totally wrong to assume that it creates any divisiveness in the society. On the contrary, it is the non-Kalima reciters who can be the cleaver of a household when Muslims are in their midst, that we saw in the life of the Prophet and his Companions. Again, it is the Maudoodi mentality that deprives the non-Kalima reciters from inheritance of a Muslim ancestor, not Islam. For reasons best known to them, their Islam runs counter to God given human intelligence, Quran and the examples of the Prophet, his family and his companions. For example:

    Safiyya died in 670 or 672, during the reign of Muawiyah, and was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi graveyard. She left an estate of 100,000 dirhams in land and goods, one-third of which she bequeathed to her sister's son, who followed Judaism. Her dwelling in Medina was bought by Muawiyya for 180,000 dirhams. [Emphasis added: link]

    According to Maudoodi, Safiyya could not have bequeathed her estate to her non-Muslim nephew, but it happened. So who is right then, Saffiaya or Maudoodi, but not both? On the reverse, the unifying spirit that the Kalima engenders in the hearts and the minds of its reciters was foremost trampled under the feet of the ignorance of the same Maudoodism in the premium institution of Pakistan in its National Assembly when it passed the infamous second amendment declaring the Kalima reciters as non-Muslims.

    This negating and divisive interpretation of Islam by Maudoodism is rebutted by Quran, which gives us an opportunity to segue into related topics that will be posted in the near future under the heading – “SECTION III – MISTAKES: Some deliberate, some non-contextual Quotes by some” (link)