Slave Girls and a Reminder About Asking Questions

QA brother from Singapore has sent this email:
Assalamualaikum, Please help me if I am right in coming to the conclusion that a master who owns slaves cannot have free-sex with them. This is pertaining to one Sheikh Abdul Manaf of Ingatan and Ar Ruh yahoogroups.com who claim that a master who own slaves (right hand possess) can have free sex with them without the need of marriage.
Please clarify your opinions.

23:5 Who abstain from sex, 23:6 Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for they are free from blame, 23:7 But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors;-

70:29 And those who guard their chastity, 70:30 Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (then) they are not to be blamed, 70:31 But those who trespass beyond this are transgressors;-

Please explain your position on this "hot" issue.
Thank you

ABismillaahi walĥamdulillaahi waŝŝalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi
I hope that you are asking this question sincerely thinking that perhaps it is useful to know Islamic teachings on this subject. I pray that Allaah reward you for your good intention.

However, I would like to remind you that Muslims have been strongly forbidden to pursue the matters or questions that do not pertain to their practical life. In this time and age, those Muslims who put any time or efforts in discussing the rulings or issues pertaining to slaves or concubines are wasting their precious time for which they will have to be accountable to Allaah SWT.

It is by the mercy and grace of Allaah swt that officially and legally there is no slavery in the world. And praise be to Allaah that the Muslim societies were centuries ahead of non-Muslims in this matter.

Now, if we do not have any slave girls why in the world any Muslim would waste time in discussing this issue? Have we accomplished all our important goals so that now we have nothing to do except discuss those things that have no practical value for us today?

Someone may say that we need to know how it was done at the time of the Prophet. Even from that perspective, there is no need for common people to discuss that issue. Let us leave that kind of discussions for scholars who may have to research these issues for scholarly purposes. Let us concentrate on the practical things in our life that are significant and important for us today.

Someone may say that we have to discuss this issue because non-Muslims ask such questions? I have been living in Canada for 26 years and have had many many exchanges, discussions and dialogues with non-Muslims of many kinds. I never had to discuss this issue.

I implore all brothers and sisters to please invest your time in practical things that will do good for you and for your Ummah today, instead of wasting time in useless discussions that are irrelevant to our life and the issues that face our Ummah.

February 20, 2004

Follow up

I received many emails on my response to the slave woman question. Except for three, all other responses agreed with my approach. For the benefit of three who wrote, and others who did not write but feel the same way, I would like to present the following point for your reflection (please remember this forum is to think and reflect, not just read and write):

First of all, please do not assume or ascribe any motives to me for not responding other than what I had described, i.e., this issue does not pertain to our life, hence we should not waste our time on pursuing matters that do not have practical benefits to us. If anyone thinks that there is any reason other than what I had described, he or she is absolutely wrong and is committing a grave sin by suspecting what is not true.

Personally, I had learnt all aspects of this issue from scholars long time ago. Also, whether it is this or any issue, I do not feel any shyness whatsoever in describing what is true and what is not true, whether people like it or not. What my concern is that it must be the truth that Allaah likes.

However, I feel a responsibility to the forum members and to the Ummah to direct their energies to the right kind of issues and concerns and to set our priorities right. I also feel responsible for providing the analysis on any issue that deals with the underlying problems rather than just responding to the symptoms. That is why my responses and comments are usually long and not just yes or no answers.

Because I am talking to Muslims on this forum, let me tell you that a Muslims who has the right kind of faith in Islam and right kind of understanding of its goals will never be bothered about an issue such as “is it ok to have sex with a slave girl or not?” why? Because (bear with me for repeating the first point):
It has no practical value for the questioner. It will be a pertinent question only if a person owns a slave or is a slave. If a person is in that situation, then I would like to know about it so that we can save that person from committing a grave sin of having an illegal slave or being an illegal slave. If someone is asking it just to satisfy a curiosity, then I am also curious about how many angels can dance on a pin’s head!

However, if questions such as these bother you and interfere with your loyalty to Islam or put doubts in your mind about the validity of Islamic teachings or the actions of the Prophet and his companions, then you are asking totally wrong questions. It means that you are trying to evaluate Islam on the basis of what people (Prophet and/or his companions) did or did not do. If your propaganda-infected mind likes what you hear, then Islam is OK. If not, then either you condemn Islam, or traditions or look for someone who says what you want to hear. There are many Muslims that behave in that manner. Unfortunately, that is not Islamic behaviour. Also, unfortunately, that is not how you evaluate a religion or faith. It indicates that your faith is built on very precarious grounds and need to be revisited and re-evaluated.

To all those Muslims, who are trying to judge and evaluate Islam on the basis of some issues, start re-evaluating your faith logically. Do your really believe in Allaah? The test of this faith is: Are you willing to happily and willingly accept whatever Allaah says in the Qur-aan, even if the whole world opposes it? If the answers is not a resounding yes, rethink if it makes sense to believe in Allaah. Then either believe in Him as he should be believed in or reject Him on the basis of the evidence you gather against His existence.

Your next questions should be, “Was Muhammad the last Messenger of Allaah?” and “Is Qur-aan truly word of Allaah and fully preserved to this day?” Unless you have proof against any of these assertions that you will be able to present to Allaah on the Day of Judgment, you must accept these realities with full conviction of heart and mind. In that case, you must accept “blindly” what the Qur-aan commands and what the Messenger orders us, even if the whole world dislikes what they say.

If faith is anchored in the heart and mind deeply and strongly, then issues such as slavery and other things will keep bothering you. Sometimes it will be one, sometimes another. There will be no dearth of issues for Shaytaan to keep you busy, bothered and anxious all your life. One issue after another will keep coming up to unsettle you. But, if you have the right faith, then none of these issues will bother you at all because you will always know whatever Allaah commanded and his Messenger practised must be right and good. Then, instead of worrying about whether they did right thing or not, you will be able to concentrate on what your responsibilities are today. You will become a practical person focussing on doing constructive things and accomplishing Islamic objectives. You will have no time to waste on what does not pertain to your life today.

To explain this point about questioning your faith, but following the commands blindly, please refer to one of my articles on this topic. Let us reflect on these points and the article on this topic. Any discussion on this concept and article will be most welcome. This is a fundamental issue (re-evaluating faith on rational basis, but adopting blind obedience) that we must talk at length until we understand each other’s view clearly.

February 24, 2004

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