Does Islam Allow Sex with Female Captives of War?

One of the big moral issues with the Quran is its explicit permission to have sex with female captives of war. Some believers claim that Islam came with the perfect moral system and way of life, and that Prophet Muhammad was the primary example of this type of perfection. Does the Quran really allow this? We will look at this first and then quote hadith next.

Brother Ismail who left Islam after 15 years of defending Islam and Prophet Muhammad actually mentioned this issue in his first video he made after leaving Islam.

Let us look at the evidence:

Allah says in the Quran,

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ
إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ
And those who guard their private parts
Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they are not to be blamed –

Surah Maarij 70:29-30

Also this is repeated in Surah Muminuun:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ
إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ
And they who guard their private parts
Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed –

(Quran 23:5-6)

Ibn Kathir and Al-Jalalayn in their tafseers say that “right hands possess” means slave girls

IslamQA in this fatwa explains that Intercourse with a slave girl is not considered Adultery

Allaah has permitted intimacy with a slave woman if the man owns her. This is not regarded as adultery

Also See What is a “right hand servant”? Does the owner of a “right hand servant” have to be married?

Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The reason why a person may be taken as a slave is his being a kaafir and waging war against Allaah and His Messenger. If Allaah enables the Muslims who are striving and sacrificing their lives and their wealth and all that Allaah has given them to make the word of Allaah supreme over the kaafirs, then He allows them to enslave the kuffaar when they capture them, unless the ruler chooses to free them or to ransom them, if that serves the interests of the Muslims.

If a mujaahid takes possession of a female slave or male slave, it is permissible for him to sell them. In either case – whether one acquires a slave through battle or through purchase – it is not permissible for a man to have intercourse with a female slave until she has had a period from which it may be ascertained that she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant then he must wait until she gives birth.

Prophet Muhammad himself owned many slaves, 16 male ones according to this list. His female slaves included: Salma, Maymoonah bint Sa’d; Khadrah; Radwa; Razeenah; Umm Dameerah; Maymoonah bint Abi ‘Usayb; Maariyah and Rayhaanah.

Is it too much to ask that Prophet Muhammad not partake in the slave trade and enjoying personal benefits (sexually and otherwise) from slavery?  

Is it too much to ask that Allah would have asked Muslim men to free and marry their female slaves first before having sex with them?

There is a story about him sleeping with some of his female slaves and making certain wives angry, but that is a story for another day.

Read more at Muhammad and his female captives (Answering Islam)

Slavery also had continued in the Muslim world almost until the 20th century.  Read more at Wikipedia on Arab slave trade

Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab world, mainly in Western Asia, North Africa, Southeast Africa, the Horn of Africa and certain parts of Europe (such as Iberia and Sicily) beginning in the era of the Roman Empire and continuing until the early second half of the 20th century. The trade was conducted through slave markets in the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, with the slaves captured mostly from Africa’s interior.

Although not necessarily condoned by Islam, the fact that the Quran explicitly allows slavery must have been one factor leading to certain people continuing to trade in slaves.  From my understanding, Islam only allows slaves that are captured as prisoners of war, not slavery done by kidnapping or otherwise. So I do not know if the arab slave trade would be officially condoned by the Quran & Sunnah, but it is a real problem that existed in the Muslim world for a very long time.

Back when I was Muslim, many many years ago I had a fellow Muslim brother (who was in Hizbut Tahrir) tell me that in Islam, the awrah for slave girls does not include their chest.  Thus some slave girls were not allowed to cover their chests. Apparently they even have a fatwa about this. I was really shocked when I heard this.


Merchant with a slave, Source unknown, obtained online


Examining Slaves” by Ettore Cercone, 1890, obtained online

Apparently there is evidence for this claim:

Narrated through Hamad Ibn Salama from Thamana Ibn Abdullah Ibn Anas from his grandfather Anas who said: “The slave-girls of Umar were serving us with uncovered hair and their breasts were shaking/wobbling ( تضطرب).”

Al-Albani: The chain of this Hadeeth is ‘Jayyid’ (at a level between Hasan and Saheeh) and all of it’s narrators are trustworthy except the teacher of Bayhaqi Abul Qasim Abdul Rahman Ibn Ubaidullah Al-Harbi and he is very Truthful as Al-Khatib says and Al-Bayhaqi said: “And the reports from Umar Ibn Al-Khattab concerning that matter are authentic.”

Ref: Irwa Al-Ghalil. Vol. 6, Pg. # 204

Umar hit the slave women from the family of Anas ibn Malik, when he saw them covered and said, “Uncover your head, and do not resemble the free women.” – Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanani (d. 211 AH/826 CE) in Al-Musannaf.   (Arab women pre-islam)

And here is another reference. The prominent Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) provides us with answers to these two questions in his authoritative work, Radd al-Muhtar.

Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) expounds on the issue of a slave-woman’s Awra. He states here and in another chapter of his work that the Awra of a slave-woman (excluding one’s own) is similar to the Awra of a Mahram woman, in that it is permissible to see of a slave-woman that which is permitted to see of a Mahram woman. The area between the navel up to and including the knees was understandable but there was a need to define the stomach and back. As such, he clarifies what precisely is meant by the stomach and back and stipulates clearly that the chest including the breasts and the area parallel to the chest from the back are not considered to be part of the Awra of a slave-woman and a Mahram. Thus, strictly speaking, it is not necessary for a woman to cover these parts in front of a Mahram male.

Similarly, it is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

“It is okay for a man to see from his mother, mature daughter, sister and all other Mahram women such as grandmothers, grandchildren, paternal and maternal aunts, at their: hair, chest, locks, breasts, forearms (shoulders) and shins. It is not permissible to look at their back, stomach and the area between the navel and (including the) knees.”(Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/328)

We read in Sunan al-Kubra by Imam Beyhaqi:

عن نافع ، عن ابن عمر ” أنه كان إذا اشترى جارية كشف عن ساقها ووضع يده بين ثدييها و على عجزها
Nafe’e narrated that whenever Ibn Umar wanted to buy a slave-girl, he would inspect her by analysing her legs and placing his hands between her breasts and on her buttocks”

Irwa al-Ghalil [6:201] by Sheikh Albani states:

أن ابن عمر كان يضع يده بين ثدييها ( يعني الجارية ) وعلى عجزها من فوق الثياب ويكشف عن ساقها
“Ibn `Umar (ra) used to put his hand between her [meaning the jariya’s] breasts and on her haunch from above (her) clothes and used to unveil her leg.”

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf says,

In an Islamic system in Medina there were women walking around bare breasted, and that is a fact, that is a historical fact and you can read it and look it up in the books.  Umar did not allow the ima (slave girl) to wear the hijab.  Source: Video on Youtube at 1min 16seconds

I find this quite strange, you can look at her breasts but not her stomach?

Also, A female cannot marry her slave.  How strange!  IslamQA states:

It is haraam for a slave to marry his mistress. Ibn al-Mundhir said: The scholars are unanimously agreed that marriage of a woman to her slave is invalid. Al-Athram narrated, with his isnaad from Abu’z-Zubayr, who said: I asked Jaabir about a slave marrying his mistress, and he said: A woman came to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, when we were in al-Jaabiyyah. She had married her slave, and ‘Umar rebuked her and thought of stoning her, and he said: He is not permissible for you.

If a woman owns her husband [i.e., if he is a slave or she bought him, for example], her marriage becomes invalid. End quote.

How one sided Islamic law is.

Further links:

4 thoughts on “Does Islam Allow Sex with Female Captives of War?

  1. I converted from Christianity to Islam (not that I care what non muslims think or say) and I did a lot of research before I did. Firstly, I would like to say it’s stupid to judge the medieval Arabian society (or any society) that existed thousands of years ago to our 21 century standard. Back in those days slavery was prevalent and existed In all societies. Unlike in the Bible, slavery was never endorsed by Islamic texts; rather it was something inherited from pre-Islamic cultures (pre-600s) that needed to be voluntarily and gradually weeded out of society through manumission, which was highly encouraged (Chapters 24:32-33 & 16:71). Islamic texts list a plethora of avenues to free slaves, as it was seen as a highly virtuous act. It’s difficult to find any references on how to make slaves out of people; rather the focus is always on ending slavery.

    Did we not show him the two paths? He should choose the difficult path. Which one is the difficult path? The freeing of slaves. Feeding, during the time of hardship… [90:10-14]

    Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in God, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveller, the beggars, and to free the slaves… [2:177]

    The charities are to go to the poor, and the needy, and those who work to collect them, and those whose hearts have been united, and to free the slaves, and those in debt, and in the cause of God, and the traveller. A duty from God, and God is Knowledgeable, Wise. [9:60]

    One of the big moral issues with the Quran is its explicit permission to have sex with female captives of war……

    False…..I don’t think you seem to realise that back in those days when men took part in battles and died, they left behind widows with children and these widows and children ended up as slaves and prostitutes, split apart from their parents and living in hardship.

    The Quran says Muslim men should marry these women first and provide them a dowry. They aren’t allowed to forcefully have sex with them, they are also not allowed to be passed on to other men to have sex. These women had to be treated equally to a believing Muslim wife, she wasn’t allowed to be forced converted to Islam, the husband should provide for her and treat any children she has with the same respect, kindness and equality as his own blood-related children. I won’t go into detail but there are numerous hadiths out there that says all this.

    [4:24] And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

    [4:25] And whoever among you cannot [find] the means to marry free, believing women, then [he may marry] from those whom your right hands possess of believing slave girls. And Allah is most knowing about your faith. You [believers] are of one another. So marry them with the permission of their people and give them their due compensation according to what is acceptable. [They should be] chaste, neither [of] those who commit unlawful intercourse randomly nor those who take [secret] lovers. But once they are sheltered in marriage, if they should commit adultery, then for them is half the punishment for free [unmarried] women. This [allowance] is for him among you who fears sin, but to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

    The term ‘ma malakat aymanukum’ (Literally: What your right hands possesses) is not gender specific and as an idiomatic expression, applies to ‘those that one keeps in protection and honour’. This can include captives, slave girls, maidens, servants (fatayatikum 4:25) etc. Please note that the ‘right hand’ has a somewhat glorified meaning in the Quran which is apparent from its usage in different contexts (e.g. those on the right hand in heaven; books of one’s deeds given to the right hand etc).

    Finally, I’d like to say is that Like many myths about Islam, the Quran and Muslims, I’ve always heard the worst from Islamophobic extremists and Islamist extremists alike. They tend to share pretty much the same language, online content and perpetuate the same awful narratives about Muslims and their supposed religious practices.

    It’s actually very very boring hearing non Muslims go on about the same old thing over and over again. Islam doesn’t allow rape too and during Muhammad’s time, rapists were stoned to death. Conveniently this is something the extremists ignore, and this example further enforces the point that religious illiteracy is a root cause of extremism. Islamophobic extremists as well as Islamist extremists (like Isis) who promote and validate sexual violence through unspecific passages in the Quran – or without context – do so to justify their own violent mindsets.

    1. The point of revelation from an Islamic perspective is so that they follow ‘ gods message ‘ I put that in inverted commas because I am an ex muslim atheist now.anyway according to Islam it’s the Last message and therefore don’t you think it’s logical for god to outlaw slavery or does s/he have a problem or difficulty. Couldn’t he outlaw it like he did with alcohol , gambling many other things! People use to drink and it was common and within a century or so there was no longer an an alcohol in arabia! How could you follow something that supports slave captives!

    2. You are wrong, the Quran does not say that men have to marry the slave first before being allowed to have sex with them. You are the one who is religiously illiterate as you have misinterpreted An Nisa 4.24. It means, leaving aside Married women and Slave, all other women should be offered dowry and wedded in order for them to be lawful.

      There are so many Quran quotes and Hadith that are clear on the issue, please read the following thread for clarity and I’d like to hear how you explain away and/or misinterpret all these;

      Its interesting how Muslims always say ‘but that’s what it was like back then in medieval times’ to so many issues however if the all knowing and all wise is responsible for the Quran then he would know that slavery was not necessary and that it would be abolished as we became civilised. You make out it was to do them a favour and to free them, well you need to have slaves in the first place in order to free them so why have them in the first place? Why didn’t the all wise simply say ‘look guys, slavery is wrong and not necessary in a long time from now it will be completely outlawed, so just kill the soldiers in battle and leave all the other non fighting men alone and they can look after the women and children left behind along with the rest of their families. Oh and don’t take all the war booty just leave some behind for them to live off because that’s the loving and compassionate and right thing to do’!

      I tell you why Allah never said that, its because the man/men who created the Quran did not realise slavery was wrong, not necessary or that it would be abolished in the future.

      People like ISIS are actually following the Quran and Hadith and are living like the Prophet and his men did back in medieval times which is completely wrong, hence another reason for it being man-made. Of course there are those ISI fighters that do not follow the teaching and violate the rules laid down by Allah and the Prophet but it is only those who are terrorists not all of them. That’s like saying all Muslims are terrorists!

      The so called miracles of the Quran are also a nonsense, most of them were plagiarised from the ancient Greeks (although they did not claim them to be miracles – great minds of their time worked things out) and even contain the same errors the Greeks made of their understanding of matters in those days. All the miracles have been debunked, they were always built on Muslims clutching at straws, making something out of nothing, mistranslating words to suit their needs of a miracle. Nothing mentioned in the Quran was out of the ordinary for the people of that time and place.

      There is nothing in the Quran or Hadith that proves Islam is real but there is plenty to prove that it is man-made by the fanciful and unbelievable stories it contains. The nail in the coffin for the Muslim however is the fact that the Quran is the ‘clear’ word of Allah and is the ‘perfect book’ and is the ‘only guide needed for all mankind’ yet it is the most difficult scripture known to man to translate, you need a PhD in Arabic to ‘fully understand it’ and even then you need to argue with other fully fluent Arabic scholars about the interpretation of the Arabic meaning.

      And that is the biggest joke of all, the fact it’s far from clear and straight forward to understand and so open to meaning different things. Surely an all wise being would foresee this to happen and that it would cause so much havoc amongst its own people let alone those outside of the religion.

      Anyway it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks as long as you believe then you will be one whom it to be admitted to the garden of paradise and I the loser whom will enter the hell fire. Never mind the fact I’m a kind loving person to my family and friends and take part in charitable event to help the poor and donate to the poor I deserve to burn in hell for eternity. You however whom recites Arabic and have no idea what you are saying and follows the other arbitrary rules laid down, you will surely be deserved of paradise. HOW SILLY.

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