Rape in Islamic Law

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Rape, known in Islamic law as zina bil-ikrah or zina bil-jabr (literally "fornication by force"), is generally defined by Muslim jurists as forced intercourse by a man with a woman who is not his wife or slave and without her consent. As with enslaved females, according to Islamic law, married women are required to oblige their husbands sexual advances - raping one's wife is permissible.[1] The concept of "rape" is thus deemed to be equally non-existent in the contexts of both marriage and slavery.

A small number of hadiths are cited to support the Islamic punishments for rape. These narrations relate to the rape of free women and of female slaves who are not owned by the perpetrator. However, the Qur'an, on numerous occasions, permits Muslim men to have sexual relations with their own female slaves (famously referred to as "what your right hand possesses"), often in conjunction with the commandment for men to keep otherwise chaste. In addition, there are narrations in which female captives were raped prior to being ransomed back to their tribe.

The male rapist may be punished with a hadd penalty - stoning (if he is married) or lashings (if he is unmarried) - just as he would receive for ordinary Zina (fornication, or unlawful intercourse). There is no punishment for the rape victim if she is able to prove that she was raped. Four witnesses are required to prove that she was raped.[2][3] Jurists disagree on whether the rapist must also pay a dowry as compensation to the victim. A controversial position of some modern jurists is that the hadd penalty for outlaws should apply to rapists (hadd Hirabah), described in Quran 5:33. Others say that rape can be treated by the judge as an offence that receives Tazir (discretionary) punishment (as in Pakistan, for example). These approaches avoid the impractical four witnesses requirement for applying a zina hadd penalty in absence of a confession from a rapist. In some other modern courts a woman risks being accused of zina if she cannot prove to this standard that she has been raped.[4]

Kecia Ali, Associate professor of religion, Boston University (a Muslim convert) says regarding sex with slaves: "For premodern Muslim jurists, as well as for those marginal figures who believe that the permission [for slavery] still holds, the category “rape” doesn’t apply: ownership makes sex lawful; consent is irrelevant."[5] Dr. Jonathan Brown, Associate Professor and Chair of Islamic Civilization at Georgetown University (also a Muslim convert) has made similar comments.[6][7]

Rape in the Qur'an

There is no equivalent term for ‘rape’ in the Qur'an. And while chastity is encouraged as a virtue, it is frequently commanded alongside the recurring exception "except from their wives or those their right hands possess" (see Qur'an 23:1-6), encouraging men to pursue their sexual ends with those legal to them (their wives and slaves). There is no verse in the Qur'an which explicitly discourages forced sex.

Surah 4 is one of the surahs which discusses which women are lawful and forbidden to Muslim men. While the relevant verses in this surah, like much of the substantive content of the Qur'an, can border on the unintelligible in the absence of considerable context, the authoritative Tafsirs (Qur'an exegeses) and Sahih (authentic) Hadiths (prophetic narrations) associated with these verses have together worked to standardize the Islamic interpretive and legal tradition to some extent. Although the contents of the Qur'an are deemed theologically prior to the hadiths and especially the manmade tafsirs, independent and especially novel interpretations of the Qur'an that flaunt hadith and tafsir tradition are not accepted, particularly when such an interpretation results in a divergent meaning.

Qur'an 4:24 - rape of slaves and captives who were previously married

Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, 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;-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, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.

This verse indicates that women already married are forbidden for Muslims to marry except for those whom their right hands possess (sex slaves). This verse seems to suggest that one can marry and thereby have intercourse with their slave (even if the slave was already married, for that past marriage is nullified in the process of enslavement).

Sahih hadiths in Muslim and Abu Dawud detail the nature of the permission granted by this verse: some of Muhammad's fighters were reluctant to have sexual contact with female captives who were already married to the un-believing men of the defeated party.

Abu Sa’id Al Khudri said “The Apostle of Allah(ﷺ) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) were reluctant to have relations with the female captives because of their pagan husbands. So, Allah the exalted sent down the Qur’anic verse “And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hand posses.” This is to say that they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period.

The hadith in Sahih Muslim is found in a chapter dedicated to the topic; the chapter is entitled "Chapter: It is permissible to have intercourse with a female captive after it is established that she is not pregnant, and if she has a husband, then her marriage is annulled when she is captured".[8]

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah her pleased with him) reported that at the Battle of Hanain Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah's Messenger (may peace te upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah, Most High, sent down regarding that: "And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)" (i. e. they were lawful for them when their 'Idda [waiting] period came to an end).

Ibn Kathir, the most prominent of all Qur'an interpreters, had this to say in regards to verse 4:24:

The Ayah means 'also [forbidden are] women already married, except those whom your right hands possess'. You are prohibited from marrying women who are already married, except those whom your right hands possess, except those whom you acquire through war, for you are allowed such women after making sure they are not pregnant [that is, upon the completion of the "iddah" waiting period]. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, "We captured some women from the area of Awtas who were already married, and we disliked having sexual relations with them because they already had husbands. So, we asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah (verse) was revealed, 'Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess'. Accordingly, we had sexual relations with these women. [literally: 'as a result of these verses, their (Infidels') wives have become lawful for us']" This is the wording collected by At-Tirmidhi An-Nasa'i, Ibn Jarir and Muslim in his Sahih.

Similarly in Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Qur'an interpretation by two Jalals namely: Jalaluddin Mahalli and Jalaluddin Suyuti, both authorities):

And, forbidden to you are, wedded women, those with spouses, that you should marry them before they have left their spouses, be they Muslim free women or not; save what your right hands own, of captured [slave] girls, whom you may have sexual intercourse with, even if they should have spouses among the enemy camp, but only after they have been absolved of the possibility of pregnancy [after the completion of one menstrual cycle]; this is what God has prescribed for you.

The tafsir attributed to (though in all likelihood not directly from) Ibn Abbas, Muhammad's paternal cousin, further confirms:

And all married women (are forbidden unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess) of captives, even if they have husbands in the Abode of War, after ascertaining that they are not pregnant, by waiting for the lapse of one period of menstruation. (It is a decree of Allah for you) that which I have mentioned to you is unlawful in Allah's Book.
Tafsir Ibn Abbas 4:24

Qur'an 23:1-6 & 70:29-30

Several other verses in the Qur'an mention sexual relations with slaves as a category distinct from wives, making it clear that sexual relations with female slaves are permitted without marrying the slave first. For example, Surah 23 makes mention of successful Muslims and their characteristics:

Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive And they who turn away from ill speech And they who are observant of zakah And they who guard their private parts Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed

The instruction to "guard [one's] private parts" is the Qur'an's standard manner of commanding chastity. What one's "right hand possesses" is likewise the Qur'an's standard manner of referring to one's slaves. Successful believers are those who engage in sexual activities only with their wives and slaves.

The same idea reoccurs in surah 70:

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

Rape in the hadiths

Scenes of Muhammad's companions, and indeed Muhammad himself, engaging in sexual activity with slaves and captives are common throughout hadith literature. While the female perspective is largely absent, leaving the reader to speculate as to whether the female slave or captive would have been receptive to the advances of Muhammad and his companions, it is fair to assume that in at least some (if not most or indeed all) of these cases, the sexual activity occurred without the female's consent and thus qualified as rape. This is particularly clear in the examples that follow where Muhammad's companions initiate sexual contact with the captive women shortly after having slayed their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers. At the very least, it can be said that in no such case does Muhammad intervene in and that in all such cases he actively permits what, by all appearances, is an instance of his companion's raping a captive or slave.

Muhammad has intercourse with his slave girl Maria bint Sham'un

Muhammad had a child with a slave girl of his known as Maria the Copt, who was a gift to him from the Governor of Alexandria. In a hadith from Sahih Muslim, a phrase translated as "slave girl" is, in the orignal Arabic, umm walad (أُمِّ وَلَدِ) (literally: "mother of the child") and is the title given to a slave concubine who bore her master a child.

Anas reported that a person was charged with fornication with the slavegirl of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to 'Ali: Go and strike his neck. 'Ali came to him and he found him in a well making his body cool. 'Ali said to him: Come out, and as he took hold of his hand and brought him out, he found that his sexual organ had been cut. Hadrat 'Ali refrained from striking his neck. He came to Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) and said: Allah's Messenger, he has not even the sexual organ with him.

The following hadith is graded Sahih by Dar-us-Salam:

It was narrated from Anas, that the Messenger of Allah had a female slave with whom he had intercourse, but 'Aishah and Hafsah would not leave him alone until he said that she was forbidden for him. Then Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, revealed: "O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you.' until the end of the Verse.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn says of the verse referred to in this hadith:

O Prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has made lawful for you in terms of your Coptic handmaiden Māriya — when he lay with her in the house of Hafsa who had been away but who upon returning and finding out became upset by the fact that this had taken place in her own house and on her own bed — by saying ‘She is unlawful for me!’ seeking by making her unlawful for you to please your wives? And God is Forgiving Merciful having forgiven you this prohibition.

An alternate, or additional circumstance for this verse has also been narrated in multiple sahih hadiths (in yet another version Sahih Muslim 9:3497, Muhammad ate honey at Hafsa's house instead of Zainab's).

'Aishah said that the Messenger of Allah used to stay with Zainab bint Jahsh and drink honey at her house. Hafsah and I agreed that if the Prophet entered upon either of us, she would say: "I perceive the smell of Maghafir (a nasty-smelling gum) on you; have you eaten Maghafir?" He came in to one of them, and she said that to him. He said: "No, rather I drank honey at the house of Zainab bint Jahsh, but I will never do it again." Then the following was revealed: 'O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you.' 'If you two turn in repentance to Allah, (it will be better for you)' about 'Aishah and Hafsah, 'And (remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives' refers to him saying: "No, rather I drank honey."

"Honey" was also a sexual euphemism and an explicit example of its usage in this sense is found in a hadith in Abu Dawud:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was asked about a man who divorced his wife three times, and she married another who entered upon her, but divorced her before having intercourse with her, whether she was lawful for the former husband. She said: The Prophet (ﷺ) replied: She is not lawful for the first (husband) until she tastes the honey of the other husband and he tastes her honey.

Ali rapes an underage ward of the state

Another relevant hadith is one which concerns an incident which led to the famous event of Ghadir Khumm, which is much disputed between Sunnis and Shias. Both Sunni and Shia sources agree that Muhammad received complaints about 'Ali taking a slave-girl from the Khums (the fifth of all booty allotted for the state[9]) to which those complaining felt that no private party was entitled.

The Arabic of the Sunni hadith below mentions 'Ali taking a Ghusl bath (which is mandatory after sexual contact or ejaculation), implying sexual activity. Later, at a place called Ghadir Khumm, Muhammad tried to pacify those who were upset with 'Ali by declaring Ali to be his Mawla. Mawla is an honorific meaning something between "follower", "ally", and "leader", which the Shia interpret to mean "successor of Muhammad". Thus, in some sense, Ali's having raped an underage captive becomes the immediate cause of what the Shi'a insist was the the announcement of Ali's succession. The emergent Sunni polemic here casts some doubt on the historical reliability of the hadith, yet, as a hadith included in Sahih Bukhari, it more than meets the Sunni requirements for authenticity.

Narrated Buraida: The Prophet (ﷺ) sent `Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and I hated `Ali, and `Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus). I said to Khalid, "Don't you see this (i.e. `Ali)?" When we reached the Prophet (ﷺ) I mentioned that to him. He said, "O Buraida! Do you hate `Ali?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you hate him, for he deserves more than that from the Khumus."

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 1449), one of the most famous Hadith scholars of all time, points out in his seminal Fath al-Bari (the still-standard commentary on Sahih Bukhari) what several scholars before him noted: that in accounts of this event, Ali does not observe the required iddah (waiting) period to determine whether or not the girl was pregnant. Al-Asqalani quotes al-Khattabi who summarizes the possibilities: "she was either a virgin [strongly implying a young age in a culture where women married young], had not yet reached maturity, or Ali's ijtihad [independent reasoning] led him to not adhere to the waiting period in her case."[10]

Muhammad's companions rape captives intended for ransom

On one occasion, presented with newly captured women, Muhammad's companions were only concerned about whether coitus interruptus ('azl) was permissible.

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 interrupt us, 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."

In another version of the same hadith in Sahih Muslim (also found in Malik's Muwatta and Abu Dawud), it is said that the Muslims' goal was to ransom the women back to members of the defeated party for monetary gain. It is explained that as a result of not wanting to get the women pregnant prior to ransoming them, Muhammad's companions inquired as to whether coitus interruptus was permissible.

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ), 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.

Yet another version of the same story in Sahih Bukhari is even clearer about Muhammad's companions' sole concern being the potential detriment to the price of the captives if they were impregnated.

Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: that while he was sitting with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) he said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! 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 (ﷺ) 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.

Umar tells a man to beat his wife for preventing intercourse with his slave girl

Abdullah ibn Umar (the son of the 2nd Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab) said that his father ordered a man to have intercourse with a slave girl after his wife had tried to make this haram for him by means of adult suckling.

Yahya related to me from Malik that Abdullah ibn Dinar said, "A man came to Abdullah ibn Umar when I waswith him at the place where judgments were given and asked him about the suckling of an older person. Abdullah ibn Umar replied, 'A man came to Umar ibn al-Khattab and said, 'I have a slave-girl and I used to have intercourse with her. My wife went to her and suckled her. When I went to the girl, my wife told me to watch out, because she had suckled her!' Umar told him to beat his wife and to go to his slave-girl because kinship by suckling was only by the suckling of the young.' "

Ghusl (full body wash) not required between intercourse with slave girls

Imam Malik was asked about intercourse with multiple slave girls.

Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that the slave girls of Abdullah ibn Umar used to wash his feet and bring him a mat of palm leaves while they were menstruating. Malik was asked whether a man who had women and slavegirlscould have intercourse with all of them before he did ghusl. He said, "There is no harm in a man having intercourse with two of his slave girls before he does ghusl. It is disapproved of, however, to go to a freewoman on another's day. There is no harm in making love first to one slave girl and then to another when one is junub." Malik was asked about a man who was junub and water was put down for him to do ghusl with.Then he forgot and put his finger into it to find out whether it was hot or cold. Malik said, "If no filth has soiled his fingers, I do not consider that that makes the water impure."

Explicit distinction between zina and legal intercourse

Since zina (fornication or adultery) only applies to intercourse with other than one's wives or female slaves, it is only in these contexts that rape is considered possible. The following narration graded hasan (good) by al-Albani in Abu Dawud explicitly makes this distinction by recognizing offspring with one's wives or slaves as legitimate, and included in inheritance, and by labeling the offspring with other women as illegitimate, and removed from inheritance.

'Amr b. Shu'aib on his father's authority said that his grandfather reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) decided regarding one who was treated as a member of a family after the death of his father, to whom he was attributed when the heirs said he was one of them, that if he was the child of a slave-woman whom the father owned when he had intercourse with her, he was included among those who sought his inclusion, but received none of the inheritance which was previously divided; he, however, received his portion of the inheritance which had not already been divided; but if the father to whom he was attributed had disowned him, he was not joined to the heirs.

If he was a child of a slave-woman whom the father did not possess or of a free woman with whom he had illicit intercourse, he was not joined to the heirs and did not inherit even if the one to whom he was attributed is the one who claimed paternity, since he was a child of fornication whether his mother was free or a slave.

Muhammad's other female captives

On at least two occasions, according to accounts in sahih hadiths, Muhammad captured and cohabited with war captives Safiyah and Juwairiyah, presumably against their will (having just led the slaughter of their families and tribes).

Surah 33 twice gives Muhammad explicit and direct permission to have sexual contact with his existing wives (having married more than a dozen times, he is prohibited here from marrying further) and with any slaves he may possess now or may acquire in the future.

O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father's side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother's side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers - We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess - that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them and receive unto thee whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou desirest of those whom thou hast set aside (temporarily), it is no sin for thee (to receive her again); that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieve, and may all be pleased with what thou givest them. Allah knoweth what is in your hearts (O men), and Allah is ever Forgiving, Clement. It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee, save those whom thy right hand possesseth. And Allah is ever Watcher over all things.

Safiyah bint Huayy

Safiyah the daughter of Huayy was the wife of a Jewish Rabbi named Kinana. when Muhammad conquered the Jewish village of Khaibar, he had the Rabbi tortured and then killed. According to an account in Sahih Bukhari, Muhammad then took captive the Rabbi's wife.

Narrated 'Abdul 'Aziz: Anas said, 'When Allah's Apostle invaded Khaibar, we offered the Fajr prayer there yearly in the morning) when it was still dark. The Prophet rode and Abu Talha rode too and I was riding behind Abu Talha. The Prophet passed through the lane of Khaibar quickly and my knee was touching the thigh of the Prophet . He uncovered his thigh and I saw the whiteness of the thigh of the Prophet. When he entered the town, he said, 'Allahu Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. Whenever we approach near a (hostile) nation (to fight) then evil will be the morning of those who have been warned.' He repeated this thrice. The people came out for their jobs and some of them said, 'Muhammad (has come).' (Some of our companions added, "With his army.") We conquered Khaibar, took the captives, and the booty was collected. Dihya came and said, 'O Allah's Prophet! Give me a slave girl from the captives.' The Prophet said, 'Go and take any slave girl.' He took Safiya bint Huyai. A man came to the Prophet and said, 'O Allah's Apostles! You gave Safiya bint Huyai to Dihya and she is the chief mistress of the tribes of Quraiza and An-Nadir and she befits none but you.' So the Prophet said, 'Bring him along with her.' So Dihya came with her and when the Prophet saw her, he said to Dihya, 'Take any slave girl other than her from the captives.' Anas added: The Prophet then manumitted her and married her." Thabit asked Anas, "O Abu Hamza! What did the Prophet pay her (as Mahr)?" He said, "Her self was her Mahr for he manumitted her and then married her." Anas added, "While on the way, Um Sulaim dressed her for marriage (ceremony) and at night she sent her as a bride to the Prophet . So the Prophet was a bridegroom and he said, 'Whoever has anything (food) should bring it.' He spread out a leather sheet (for the food) and some brought dates and others cooking butter. (I think he (Anas) mentioned As-SawTq). So they prepared a dish of Hais (a kind of meal). And that was Walima (the marriage banquet) of Allah's Apostle ."

Juwairiyah bint al-Harith

A hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud explains how, following a surprise attack on the Banu Mustaliq, Muhammad took captive the "very beautiful" Juwairiyah, making Aisha jealous.

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith ibn al-Mustaliq, fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, or to her cousin. She entered into an agreement to purchase her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman, most attractive to the eye. Aisha said: She then came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) asking him for the purchase of her freedom. When she was standing at the door, I looked at her with disapproval. I realised that the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) would look at her in the same way that I had looked. She said: Apostle of Allah, I am Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith, and something has happened to me, which is not hidden from you. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, and I have entered into an agreement to purchase of my freedom. I have come to you to seek assistance for the purchase of my freedom. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Are you inclined to that which is better? She asked: What is that, Apostle of Allah? He replied: I shall pay the price of your freedom on your behalf, and I shall marry you. She said: I shall do this. She (Aisha) said: The people then heard that the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) had married Juwayriyyah. They released the captives in their possession and set them free, and said: They are the relatives of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) by marriage. We did not see any woman greater than Juwayriyyah who brought blessings to her people. One hundred families of Banu al-Mustaliq were set free on account of her.

A hadith in Sahih Bukhari confirms the same narrative.

Narrated Ibn Aun: I wrote a letter to Nafi and Nafi wrote in reply to my letter that the Prophet had suddenly attacked Bani Mustaliq without warning while they were heedless and their cattle were being watered at the places of water. Their fighting men were killed and their women and children were taken as captives; the Prophet got Juwairiya on that day. Nafi said that Ibn 'Umar had told him the above narration and that Ibn 'Umar was in that army.

Punishments for rape

Rape of a free woman

Muhammad ordered the stoning of a confessed rapist who attacked a free woman to whom he was not married.

Narrated 'Alqamah bin Wa'il Al-Kindi: From his father: "A women went out during the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) to go to Salat, but she was caught by a man and he had relations with her, so she screamed and he left. Then a man came across her and she said: 'That man has done this and that to me', then she came across a group of Emigrants (Muhajirin) and she said: 'That man did this and that to me.' They went to get the man she thought had relations with her, and they brought him to her. She said: 'Yes, that's him.' So they brought him to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and when he ordered that he be stoned, the man who had relations with her, said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I am the one who had relations with her.' So he said to her: 'Go, for Allah has forgiven you.' Then he said some nice words to the man (who was brought). And he said to the man who had relations with her: 'Stone him.' Then he said: 'He has repented a repentance that, if the inhabitants of Al-Madinah had repented with, it would have been accepted from them.'"

Rape of another's slave

If the individual raped is a slave owned by other than the rapist, reparations are due to the owner of the slave in the form of a replacement slave or the amount by which the raped slave's value has been depreciated as a result of the rape. The authenticity of hadiths concerning this incident are graded da'if (weak) by al-Albani, while Dar-us-Salam grade them hasan (good).

It was narrated that Salamah bin Al-Muhabbaq said: "The Prophet passed judgment concerning a man who had intercourse with his wife's slave woman: 'If he forced her, then she is free, and he has to give her mistress a similar slave as a replacement; if she obeyed him in that, then she belongs to him, and he has to give her mistress a similar slave as a replacement.'"

In another, similar incident, the rapist of his wife's slave is to be punished by stoning.

It was narrated from An-Nu'man bin Bashir that the Prophet said, concerning a man who had intercourse with his wife's slave woman: "If she let him do that, I will flog him with one hundred stripes , and if she did not let him, I will stone him (to death)."

Malik in his Muwatta confirms this punishment.

Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan gave a judgment that the rapist had to pay the raped woman her bride- price. Yahya said that he heard Malik say, "What is done in our community about the man who rapes a woman, virgin or non-virgin, if she is free, is that he must pay the bride-price of the like of her. If she is a slave, he must pay what he has diminished of her worth. The hadd-punishment in such cases is applied to the rapist, and there is no punishment applied to the raped woman. If the rapist is a slave, that is against his master unless he wishes to surrender him.

Limitations on rape

Avoiding severe physical injury

Beyond the temporary requirement of waiting past the Iddah period or conversion of a slave, the only restriction on raping one's slaves or wives is that the victims not incur severe physical injury in the process. However, this derives from a generic prohibition against incurring severe physical injury upon anyone at any time, and men are authorized to beat their wives and slaves as a form of physical discipline if they deny him sexual access or fail to obey him in some other mandatory capacity.

In practical terms, the relevance of the "do-no-harm" principle in this case is that a man should not penetrate his wives or slaves against their will if they are physically too small to withstand penetration (i.e. in the case of very young girls) or if they are seriously ill or injured to the point where penetration would inhibit their healing or magnify their injury. There is no consideration here for harm in the form of "mental anguish", and men are permitted to sexually utilize very young, ill, and/or injured wives and slaves against their will through means other than penetration (the example of "thighing" being one discussed explicitly by Islamic jurists) if such less egregious means will help avoid severe physical injury.

Waiting until the completion of the Iddah or childbirth

A hadith graded sahih by Dar-us-Salam in Abu Dawud describes the Iddah waiting period as the "one menstrual period" after acquisition of the slave wherein the new owner must abstain from sexual contact in order to ascertain whether or not the slave is pregnant, so as not to confuse paternity.

Abu Sa’id Al Khudri traced to Prophet (ﷺ) the following statement regarding the captives taken at Atwas. There must be no intercourse with pregnant woman till she gives birth to her child or with the one who is not pregnant till she has had one menstrual period.

Another hadith graded sahih by Dar-us-Salam in Tirmidhi explains that if the slave is pregnant

Narrated Umm Habibah bint 'Irbad bin Sariyah: From her father who told her that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prohibited intercourse with female prisoners, until they deliver what is in their wombs."

Waiting until adult polytheist slaves convert, by force if necessary

Although Muhammad's men seem to have had intercourse with captive polytheist women whom they had captured during the expedition to Awtas/Autas, most jurists later ruled that this was later forbidden by Quran 2:221 (the verse only forbids marriage to polytheist women, but scholars inferred that this also applied to intercourse with slaves). Intercourse with Muslim, Christian, or Jewish slaves was not affected by this restriction.[11]

Early scholars of fiqh devised a workaround for this restriction, including the allowance of raping younger captives who were polytheist:

According to a report included in the Jāmi‘ of al-Khallāl (d. 311 A.H. / 923 A.D.), Ibn Hanbal maintained that
if Zoroastrian and idolatrous women are taken prisoner, they are coerced into Islam; if they embrace it, sexual relations with them are permissible and they can (also) be used as maidservants. If they do not embrace Islam, they are used as maidservants but not for sexual relations (wa idhā subhīna (sic) al-majūsiyyāt wa ‘abadat al awthān ujbirna 'alā al-Islām fa-in asl ama wutiʼna ma 'stukhdimna wa in lam yuslimna 'stukhdimna wa lam yūtaʼna).

The contradiction inherent in this passage is evident: despite the unspecified coercive measures, some of the women in question refused conversion and, consequently, the masters could not take full advantage of their services. If the only way to embrace Islam is pronouncing the declaration of faith, the conversion of a defiant woman may not be possible: it is not always feasible to force someone to utter the shahāda. According to a tradition transmitted on the authority of Hasan al-Basri, the Muslims used various devices to attain their objective: they turned the Zorastrian slave-girl toward the Ka‘ba, ordered her to pronounce the shahāda and to perform ablution. Her master then engaged in sexual relations after she had one menstruating period while in his house. Others hold that the master must teach the slave-girl to pray, to purify herself and to shave her private parts before any intercourse. The participation of the girl in this procedure is minimal, and this wording may be interpreted us a considerable lowering of the conversion requirements so that the girl becomes eligible for sexual intercourse as expeditiously as possible. Among the early traditionists, only a few were willing to go beyond this and allow sexual relations with a Zoroastrian slave-girl without insisting on at least a semblance of conversion.

Shafi‘i's treatment of the issue is slightly different. Speaking of grown-up Zoroastrian or polytheist women taken into captivity, he maintains that no sexual relations with them are allowed before they embrace Islam without bringing up the question of converting them forcibly. If the female captives are minor but were taken captive with at least one of their parents, the ruling is the same. If, however, the girl was captured without her parents, or one of her parents embraced Islam, she is considered a Muslim and is coerced into embracing it (nahkumu lahā bihukm al-Islām wa nujbiruhā ‘alayhi). Once this happens, sexual relations with her are lawful.

Modern perspectives

While most Islamic scholars today are comfortable with at least the temporary abolition of slavery in light of the fact that Islamic scriptures universally praise the freeing of slaves as a meritorious act, few are comfortable with the idea of permanently and irreversibly amending divine law. As a result, the legal rulings relating to slaves and the technical permissibility of owning slaves under the proper circumstances (e.g. under the rule of a "legitimate khilafah", or caliphate) persist, as exemplified in the following fatwa from the most popular Islamic fatwa in the world.

With regard to your question about it being permissible for a master to be intimate with his slave woman, the answer is that that is because Allaah has permitted it.
Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid, ed, (March 18, 2004), "Fatwa No. 13737: What is the ruling on intimacy with slave women?", Islam Q&A, March 18, 2004 (archived from the original), https://archive.fo/16upP 

Likewise, as with all rulings of the shariah, the basic rulings governing family relations are unchanging. It would be difficult even today to find a trusted Islamic authority that does not still, at some level, permit marital rape and give general license for wife beating as a potential means by which to compel one's able but unwilling spouse into sexual activity, among other things.

The wife is obliged to obey her husband if he calls her to his bed, and if she refuses then she is sinning, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (3237) and Muslim (1436) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If a man calls his wife to his bed and she does not come to him, and he goes to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.”

Modern revisionary perspectives and criticisms thereof

Violations of the spoils-distribution system as rape

Quote from al-Shafi'i

A quote from al-Umm of Imam al Shafi'i, the founder of the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, is sometimes misrepresented[12] as forbidding slave owners from raping their female slaves.

"If a man acquires by force a slave-girl, then has sexual intercourse with her after he acquires her by force, and if he is not excused by ignorance, then the slave-girl will be taken from him, he is required to pay the fine, and he will receive the punishment for illegal sexual intercourse."
al-Shafi'i, al-Umm, 3, p. 253 

It is clear, however, that "acquires by force" here refers to the manner in which the man gained possession of the slave girl, not a description of the later sexual act. According to Islamic law, a fifth of all war and raid spoils (referred to as the Khum - literally "fifth"), including captives who may be sold for funds, is to be allotted for public spending. Taking and raping a captive from this public allotment, as Ali is reported to have in one instance, amounts to theft and zina (illegal intercourse). This, as well as taking and raping someone else's slave, is of course prohibited and punishable. Indeed, in the remainder of his many-volume legal work al-Umm, al-Shafi'i painstakingly outlines the laws regarding the sexual obligations of one's wives and slaves, in no place suggesting that rape of the female is punishable in these contexts.

Quote from Malik

A quote from the Muwatta of Imam Malik, founder of the Maliki school of jurisprudence, is also sometimes misrepresented in this vein.[12] As with the quote taken from al-Umm, this quote from the Muwatta is likewise only referring to stolen slaves and has no bearing on one's own slaves and wives. And, just like Imam Shafi'i, Malik details the legal practices of slavery in several other places throughout the same text.

Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan gave a judgment that the rapist had to pay the raped woman her bride- price. Yahya said that he heard Malik say, "What is done in our community about the man who rapes a woman, virgin or non-virgin, if she is free, is that he must pay the bride-price of the like of her. If she is a slave, he must pay what he has diminished of her worth. The hadd-punishment in such cases is applied to the rapist, and there is no punishment applied to the raped woman. If the rapist is a slave, that is against his master unless he wishes to surrender him."

Weak hadith regarding the caliph Umar

A hadith in the Sunan of al-Bayhaqi transmitted by a weak narrator (Harun bin al-Asam) describes the Caliph Umar punishing Dharar for raping a captive woman and is sometimes presented as evidence that one is not permitted to have sexual intercourse with slaves.[12]

Abu al-Hussain bin al-Fadhl al-Qatan narrated from Abdullah bin Jaffar bin Darestweh from Yaqub bin Sufyan from al-Hassab bin Rabee from Abdullah bin al-Mubarak from Kahmas from Harun bin Al-Asam who said: Umar bin al-Khatab may Allah be pleased with him sent Khalid bin al-Walid in an army, hence Khalid sent Dharar bin al-Auwzwar in a squadron and they invaded a district belonging to the tribe of Bani Asad. They then captured a pretty bride, Dharar liked her hence he asked his companions to grant her to him and they did so. He then had sexual intercourse with her, when he completed his mission he felt guilty, and went to Khalid and told him about what he did. Khalid said: 'I permit you and made it lawful to you.' He said: 'No not until you write a message to Umar'. (Then they sent a message to Umar) and Umar answered that he (Dharar) should be stoned. By the time Umar's message was delivered, Dharar was dead. (Khalid) said: 'Allah didn't want to disgrace Dharar'
al-Bayhaqi, "Hadith 18685", Sunan al-Bayhaqi, 2, p. 263 

As with the quotes taken from Imam Shafi'i and Imam Malik, this is almost certainly refers to a violation of the system for distributing war spoils. Dharar's intercourse with the captive was ilegal and merited stoning not because he failed to get the consent of the girl he raped, but because he had intercourse with the girl without that girl having been allotted to him at the behest of the caliph (Umar in this case), who has the responsibility of distributing spoils. Consent was not a factor here.

Freedom and marriage as a universal requirement

Verses 4:23-24 (Quran 4:23-24) are sometimes presented as evidence for the idea that a man must first manumit and marry a slave in order to have sex with her. The verse lists the types of women a Muslim man is permitted to marry, one given option being his slave women, of whom he may free and marry. While 4:23-24 do not mention slaves outside of a marital context, several other verses (e.g. Quran 23:1-6 and Quran 70:29-30) make clear reference to sexual activity with slaves with whom the owner is not married by explicitly distinguishing between his sexual access to his wives and his sexual access to his slaves. The further example of Muhammad's companions raping captives from Banu al-Mustaliq prior to ransoming them (a scenario which effectively necessitates their non-marriage) confirms this idea.[13]

In addition, there is the universally attested legal category of the Umm Walad (literally "mother of child") that is used by Islamic jurists to refer to those slaves who have given birth to one of their master's children. An Umm Walad is legally distinct from a free mother because she is still a slave. Indeed, the concept of Umm Walad is apparently attested even in the prophet's time according to a hadith in Sahih Muslim - further clarifying the matter is the fact that in this very hadith, Muhammad approves of the companion's sexual relations with his unmarried slave girl.

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported that mention was made of 'azl in the presence of Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) 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).

Encouragement to chastity as a prohibition on rape

Verse 24:33 (Quran 24:33), which instructs unmarried men to keep chaste and instructs slaveowners to "force not [their] maids to prostitution", is sometimes presented as evidence for the idea that sexual activity is only permitted in a marital context and that slaveowners may not compel their slave girls to sexual activity of any sort.

Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is Allah, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them),

Chastity is instructed throughout the Qur'an and is repeatedly defined as the habit of one who "guards their private parts" from all except "their wives [of whom they may have up to four] and what their right hand possesses [i.e. female slaves, of whom they may have an unlimited number]" (e.g. Quran 23:6, Quran 33:50, Quran 33:52, and Quran 70:30). It is clear that, in the view of the Qur'an's author, an unmarried male may be considered chaste even if he engages in sexual activity with a technically unlimited number of women, so long as they are his slaves.

The portion of the verse which instructs slaveowners to "force not [their] maids to prostitution" has traditionally been understood in its simplest sense, which prohibits slaveowners from playing the role of a pimp and trafficking their slave women - such a business built on illegal intercourse is of course prohibited and, understood this way, the verse says nothing of novel import. Another accepted sense of this verse is that if a female slave desires her (or, say, her child's) freedom, her master ought to give her some legal means by which to pursue it, the alternative being her feeling compelled to prostitute herself to earn the funds necessary to purchase that freedom (traditional tafsirs also mention the also undesirable possibility of a master forcing a slave to prostitution as a condition for her freedom). Since such a temptation on the part of the slave girl is all the more plausible given the likelihood that she was captured in a war or raid where her people were both slaughtered and enslaved (leaving her with no means), and so the verse concludes by saying that if a slave girl is driven to such behavior, then Allah will be forgiving. And in the simpler sense, if her master forces her to prostitution, then Allah will forgive her for what was not in her control.[14]

See Also

  • Rape - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Rape

External Links

References

  1. Susila, Muh Endriyo (2013). "Islamic Perspective on Marital Rape" 20 (2). Jurnal Media Hukum, p.328. 
  2. Peters, R.. "Zinā or Zināʾ". in P. Bearman. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill, 2012. 
  3. Quran 24:4
  4. Dr Azman Mohd Noor, Punishment for rape in Islamic Law, Malayan Law Journal Articles [2009] 5 MLJ cxiv
  5. Kecia Ali, "The Truth About Islam and Sex Slavery History Is More Complicated Than You Think", Huffington Post, August 19th, 2016 (archived from the original), http://www.webcitation.org/6yjfMCtwF 
  6. "In the case of a slave-concubine, consent was irrelevant because of the master's ownership of the woman in question" Brown, J.A.C. "Slavery & Islam", Chapter 7, London: Oneworld Publications, 2019
  7. "'slave rape' is a tough term to decipher from a Shariah perspective. A male owner of a female slave has the right to sexual access to her. Though he could not physically harm her without potentially being held legally accountable if she complained, her 'consent' would be meaningless since she is his slave." Comment by Dr. Jonathan AC Brown on his Reddit AMA session, 2016 Archive
  8. "(9) Chapter: It is permissible to have intercourse with a female captive after it is established that she is not pregnant, and if she has a husband, then her marriage is annulled when she is captured", Sahih Muslim (Book of Suckling), https://sunnah.com/muslim/17  See the three hadiths it contains: Sahih Muslim 8:3432, Sahih Muslim 8:3433, and Sahih Muslim 8:3434
  9. Quran 8:41
  10. لِاحْتِمَالِ أَنْ تَكُونَ عَذْرَاءَ أَوْ دُونَ الْبُلُوغِ أَوْ أَدَّاهُ اجْتِهَادُهُ أَنْ لَا اسْتِبْرَاءَ فِيهَا

    Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 9, Dar Taybah, p. 487, https://www.google.com/books/edition/%D9%81%D8%AA%D8%AD_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A_%D8%AC_9_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%8A/YzZJCwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%D9%84%D9%90%D8%A7%D8%AD%D9%92%D8%AA%D9%90%D9%85%D9%8E%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%90%20%D8%A3%D9%8E%D9%86%D9%92%20%D8%AA%D9%8E%D9%83%D9%8F%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8E%20%D8%B9%D9%8E%D8%B0%D9%92%D8%B1%D9%8E%D8%A7%D8%A1%D9%8E%20%D8%A3%D9%8E%D9%88%D9%92%20%D8%AF%D9%8F%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8E%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%92%D8%A8%D9%8F%D9%84%D9%8F%D9%88%D8%BA%D9%90%20%D8%A3%D9%8E%D9%88%D9%92%20%D8%A3%D9%8E%D8%AF%D9%91%D9%8E%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%8F%20%D8%A7%D8%AC%D9%92%D8%AA%D9%90%D9%87%D9%8E%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%8F%D9%87%D9%8F%20%D8%A3%D9%8E%D9%86%D9%92%20%D9%84%D9%8E%D8%A7%20%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%92%D8%AA%D9%90%D8%A8%D9%92%D8%B1%D9%8E%D8%A7%D8%A1%D9%8E%20%D9%81%D9%90%D9%8A%D9%87%D9%8E 

  11. Ruling on sexual intercourse with one's polytheistic slave-woman, Islamweb.net, November 14, 2014 (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20201227215257/https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/272452/ 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Bassam Zawadi, "Does Islam Permit Muslim Men to Rape Their Slave Girls?", Call to Monotheism (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20201112021758/https://www.call-to-monotheism.com/does_islam_permit_muslim_men_to_rape_their_slave_girls_ 
  13. Sahih Bukhari 5:59:459, Sahih Muslim 8:3371, Al-Muwatta 29:95, Sunan Abu Dawud :2167, and Sahih Bukhari 3:34:432
  14. See Tafsir Qurtubi 24:33 in particular; see also Tafsir al-Tabari 24:33, Tafsir Ibn Kathir 24:33, and Tafsirs 24:33 in general