Al-'Azl, (العزل) also known as coitus interruptus, is the practice of having sexual intercourse with a woman but withdrawing the penis before ejaculation. Al-'Azl with female captives and slaves was an important topic for Muhammad and his companions as evidenced by the abundance of Hadith material on the subject.
Practiced during Muhammad's lifetime
We used to practice coitus interruptus during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle .
We used to practice coitus interrupt us while the Quran was being revealed. Jabir added: We used to practice coitus interruptus during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle while the Quran was being Revealed.
It was narrated that Jabir said:
'We used to practice coitus interruptus during the time of the Messenger of Allah when the Qur'an was being revealed.” (Sahih)
When having sex with your captive, it is better to not pull out at the end
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: that while he was sitting with Allah's Apostle he said, "O Allah's Apostle! We get female captives as our share of booty, and we are interested in their prices, what is your opinion about coitus interruptus?" The Prophet said, "Do you really do that? It is better for you not to do it. No soul that which Allah has destined to exist, but will surely come into existence."
Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I saw Abu Said and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Said said, "We went with Allah's Apostle, in the Ghazwa of Barli Al-Mustaliq and we captured some of the 'Arabs as captives, and the long separation from our wives was pressing us hard and we wanted to practice coitus interruptus. We asked Allah's Apostle (whether it was permissible). He said, "It is better for you not to do so. No soul, (that which Allah has) destined to exist, up to the Day of Resurrection, but will definitely come, into existence."
Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I entered the Mosque and saw Abu Said Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus). Abu Said said, "We went out with Allah's Apostle for the Ghazwa of Banu Al-Mustaliq and we received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So when we intended to do coitus interruptus, we said, 'How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah's Apostle who is present among us?" We asked (him) about it and he said, "It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist."
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
That during the battle with Bani Al-Mustaliq they (Muslims) captured some females and intended to have sexual relation with them without impregnating them. So they asked the Prophet about coitus interruptus. The Prophet said, "It is better that you should not do it, for Allah has written whom He is going to create till the Day of Resurrection." Qaza'a said, "I heard Abu Sa'id saying that the Prophet said, 'No soul is ordained to be created but Allah will create it."
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: We got female captives in the war booty and we used to do coitus interruptus with them. So we asked Allah's Apostle about it and he said, "Do you really do that?" repeating the question thrice, "There is no soul that is destined to exist but will come into existence, till the Day of Resurrection."
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
That while he was sitting with the Prophet a man from the Ansar came and said, "O Allah's Apostle! We get slave girls from the war captives and we love property; what do you think about coitus interruptus?" Allah's Apostle said, "Do you do that? It is better for you not to do it, for there is no soul which Allah has ordained to come into existence but will be created."
Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-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 (may peace be upon him), 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.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Rabia ibn Abi Abd ar-Rahman from Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Habban that Ibn Muhayriz said, "I went into the mosque and saw Abu Said al-Khudri and so I sat by him and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Said al-Khudri said, 'We went out with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on the expedition to the Banu al-Mustaliq. We took some Arabs prisoner, and we desired the women as celibacy was hard for us. We wanted the ransom, so we wanted to practise coitus interruptus. We said, 'Shall we practise coitus interruptus while the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is among us before we ask him?' We asked him about that and he said, 'You don't have to not do it. There is no self which is to come into existence up to the Day of Rising but that it will come into existence.' "
It is okay to practice 'azl when having sex with your slave-girl
Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri: A man said: Apostle of Allah, I have a slave-girl and I withdraw the penis from her (while having intercourse), and I dislike that she becomes pregnant. I intend (by intercourse) what the men intend by it. The Jews say that withdrawing the penis (azl) is burying the living girls on a small scale. He (the Prophet) said: The Jews told a lie. If Allah intends to create it, you cannot turn it away.
Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: I have a slave-girl who is our servant and she carries water for us and I have intercourse with her, but I do not want her to conceive. He said: Practise 'azl, if you so like, but what is decreed for her will come to her. The person stayed back (for some time) and then came and said: The girl has become pregnant, whereupon he said: I told you what was decreed for her would come to her.
Your slave-girl is your field, so water it or leave it thirsty if you want
Yahya related to me from Malik from Damra ibn Said al-Mazini from al-Hajjaj ibn Amr ibn Ghaziya that he was sitting with Zayd ibn Thabit when Ibn Fahd came to him. He was from the Yemen. He said, "Abu Said! I have slave-girls. None of the wives in my keep are more pleasing to me than them, and not all of them please me so much that I want a child by them, shall I then practise coitus interruptus?" Zayd ibn Thabit said, "Give an opinion, Hajjaj!" "I said, 'May Allah forgive you! We sit with you in order to learn from you!' He said, 'Give an opinion! 'I said, 'She is your field, if you wish, water it, and if you wish, leave it thirsty. I heard that from Zayd.' Zayd said, 'He has spoken the truth.' "
You do not need your slave-girl's permission to practice 'azl with her
Yahya related to me from Malik from Humayd ibn Qays al-Makki that a man called Dhafif said that Ibn Abbas was asked about coitus interruptus. He called a slave-girl of his and said, "Tell them." She was embarrassed. He said, "It is alright, and I do it myself."
Malik said, "A man does not practise coitus interruptus with a free woman unless she gives her permission. There is no harm in practising coitus interruptus with a slave-girl without her permission. Someone who has someone else's slave-girl as a wife, does not practise coitus interruptus with her unless her people give him permission."
Sa'd b. Abu Waqqas (Allah be pleased with him) reported that a person came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: I do 'azi with my wife. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Why do you do that? The person said: I fear harm to her child or her children. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (way peace be upon him) said: If that were harmful it would harm the Persians and the Greeks.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported: We took women captives, and we wanted to do 'azl with them. We then asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) about it, and he said to us: Verily you do it, verily you do it, verily you do it, but the soul which has to be born until the Day of judgment must be born.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) (was asked if he had heard it himself), to which he said: Yes. (I heard) Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: There is no harm if you do not practise it, for it (the birth of the child) is something ordained (by Allah).
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) was asked about 'azl, whereupon he said: There is no harm if you do not do that, for it (the birth of the child) is something ordained. Muhammad (one of the narrators) said: (The words) La 'alaykum (there is no harm) implies its Prohibition.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported that mention was made of 'azl in the presence of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) whereupon he said: Why do you practise it? They said: There is a man whose wife has to suckle the child, and if that person has a sexual intercourse with her (she may conceive) which he does not like, and there is another person who has a slave-girl and he has a sexual intercourse with her, but he does not like her to have conception so that she may not become Umm Walad, whereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: There is no harm if you do not do that, for that (the birth of the child) is something pre- ordained. Ibn 'Aun said: I made a mention of this hadith to Hasan, and he said: By Allah, (it seems) as if there is upbraiding in it (for 'azl).
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Mention was made about al-'azl in the presence of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), whereupon he said: Why any one of you practises it? (He did not say: One of you should not do it), for there is no created soul, whose creator is not Allah.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was asked about 'azl, whereupon he said: The child does not come from all the liquid (sermen) and when Allah intends to create anything nothing can prevent it (from coming into existence).
Jabir b. 'Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them) reported that a person asked Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) saying: I have a slave-girl and I practise 'azl with her, whereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: This cannot prevent that which Allah has decreed. The person then came (after some time) and said: Messenger of Allah, the slave-girl about whom I talked to you has conceived, whereupon Allah's Messeuger (may peace be upon him) said: I am the servant of Allah and His Messenger.
It was narrated that Abu Sa'eed Al-Kudri said:
“A man asked the Messenger of Allah about coitus interruptus. He said: 'Do you do that? If you do not do so, it will not harm; for there is no soul that (SWT) has decreed will exist but it will come into being.' “ (Sahih)
Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'n-Nadr, the mawla of Umar ibn Ubaydullah from Amir ibn Sad ibn Abi Waqqas from his father that he used to practise coitus interruptus.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'n-Nadr, the mawla of Umar ibn Ubaydullah from Ibn Aflah, the mawla of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari from an umm walad of Abu Ayyubal-Ansari that he practised coitus interruptus.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abdullah ibn Umar did not practise coitus interruptus and thought that it was disapproved.
Yahya said that Malik related from Ibn Shihab from Salim ibn Abdullah ibn Umar from his father that Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "What's the matter with men who have intercourse with their slave-girls and then dismiss them? No slave-girl comes to me whose master confesses that he has had intercourse with her but that I connect her child to him, whether or not he has practised coitus interruptus or stopped having intercourse with her."
Malik related to me from Nafi that Safiyya bint Abi Ubayd informed him that Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "What is the matter with men who have intercourse with their slave-girls and then leave them to go? No slave-girl comes to me whose master confesses that he has had intercourse with her but that I connect her child to him, whether or not he has practised coitus interruptus or left off from intercourse with her."
Yahya said that he heard Malik say, "What is done in our community about an umm walad who commits a crime is that her master is liable for what she has done up to her value. He does not have to surrender her, and he cannot be made to bear more than her value for her crime."
Sahabah engaged in al-'Azl so their slaves would not get pregnant and could continue both working and giving their owners sexual pleasure
With regard to ‘azl (coitus interruptus), or withdrawing during intercourse, the correct scholarly view is that there is nothing wrong with it, because of the hadeeth of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him): “We used to practise ‘azl at the time when the Qur’aan was being revealed” – i.e., at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). If that action had been haraam, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have forbidden it. But the scholars say that one should not engage in ‘azl with a free woman except with her permission, because she has the right to have children. Moreover, withdrawing without her permission diminishes her pleasure, because the woman’s pleasure can only be completed after ejaculation. So not asking her permission causes her to lose out on pleasure and on the possibility of having children. Hence we state the condition that this may only be done with her permission.
From Fataawa al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen.
From Fataawa Islamiyyah, vol. 3, p. 190.
Thirdly: the reason why the Sahaabah engaged in ‘azl was because they did not want the woman – especially a slave woman – to get pregnant, so that they could continue to enjoy a physical relationship with them and the woman would still be able to do their work. Abu Dawood narrated that a man said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I have a slave woman and I engage in ‘azl with her, because I do not want her to get pregnant, but I want what men want. But the Jews say that ‘azl is a lesser form of infanticide.” He said, “The Jews are lying. If Allaah wants to create (a child) you cannot prevent that.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Nikaah, 1856; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 1903).
This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Women which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic