Lawful Are Women Your Right Hands Possess?
June 2004 version

"Abu Sai'd al-Khudri said : The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) 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 the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur'anic verse: [Sura 4:24) "And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period. (1479)" Abu Dawud vol.2:2150 p.577

Sex with Captives

The fact that it was OK for Muslims to have sex with captive women is also in Sahih Muslim vol.2:3371-3374 p.732-735; Abu Dawud vol.2:2150 and footnote 1479 p.577-578.

Stripping female captives of their clothes is OK, according to Sahih Muslim vol.3:4345 p.953 and Ibn-i-Majah vol.4:2840 p.187.

Sex with captives among the Bani Al-Mustaliq. Bukhari vol.9:506 p.372; Abu Dawud vol.2:2167 p.582

"Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri that while he was sitting with Allah's Apostle he said, 'Oh 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?' [a sexual practice] 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." Bukhari vol.3:432 p.237. See also Bukhari vol.5:459 p.317; vol.7:136-137 p.102-103; vol.8:600 p.391; Abu Dawud vol.2:2166,2168 p.582

"After the distribution of the spoils of war a man may have intercourse with the female slave after passing one menstrual period, if she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant one should wait till she delivers the child. This is the view held by Malik, al-Shafi'i and Abu Thawr. Abu Hanifah holds that if both the husband and wife are captivated together, their marriage tie still continues; they will not be separated. According to the majority of scholars, they will be separated. Al-Awza-I maintains that their marriage tie will continue till they remain part of the spoils of war. If a man buys them, he may separate them if he desires, and cohabit with the female slave after one menstrual period. ('Awn al-Ma'bud II.213)" Note that Mohammed married Safiyah right after the battle. Abu Dawud vol.2 footnote 1479 p.577-578.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Not thieves, not covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (KJV)

A Muslim warrior has to wait until a woman's menstrual course is finished before having sex with her. Abu Dawud vol.2:2153-2154 p.578

Narrated Ibn Muhairiz : I saw Abu Sa'id and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Sa'id said, "We went with Allah's Apostle in the Ghazwa of Bani 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." Bukhari vol.3:718 p.432

Notice that the captives were in no way considered "wives". They were neither wives nor concubines, or they would not have seen any need to ask Mohammed about this.

In contrast to this, the Old Testament teaches that if a soldier wanted a captive woman, he had to marry her first, and only after waiting for a month in Deuteronomy 21:10-14.

Extra-marital Sex with Slave Girls

That Muslims can force captives to have sex may be a surprise not only to some westerners. Even many Muslims who are not very familiar with their own hadiths might not know that Mohammed and Muslims historically did this. It is perfectly reasonable that a Muslim would be expected not to believe this unless there was thorough evidence, so here is the thorough evidence.

"...We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-Mustaliq and took captives 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 [sex] with them but by observing .... 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." Sahih Muslim vol.2:3571 p.732-733.

Note that in this quote these women were in no way considered "wives".

Bukhari vol.7:22; vol.3:after 436, vol.3:432; vol.5:459; vol.8:600 also teach it is morally acceptable to force female slaves to have sex.

"Can one travel with a slave-girl without knowing whether she is pregnant or not? Al-Hasan found no harm in her master's kissing or fondling with her.

Ibn 'Umar said, 'If a slave-girl who is suitable to have sexual relations is given to somebody as a gift, or sold or manumitted [freed], her master should not have sexual intercourse with her before she gets one menstruation so as to be sure of absence of pregnancy, and there is no such necessity for a virgin.'

'Ata said, 'There is no harm in fondling with one's pregnant (1) slave-girl without having sexual intercourse with her. Allah said: 'Except with their wives and the (women captives) whom their right hands possess (for in this case they are not to be blamed).'" Footnote (1) says, "Pregnant from another man, not her present master." Bukhari vol.3 ch.113 after no.436 p.239-240. (Same 'Ata as previous.)

"And 'Ata disliked to look at those slave girls who used to be sold in Mecca unless he wanted to buy." Bukhari vol.8:246 p.162.

Mohammed was asked about sex with slave girls. - It is fine. Sahih Muslim vol.2:3377,3383-3388. p.734-735 In contrast to this, in the Old Testament a man who had sex with a slave, and not his wife, was killed.

Sex with captives is OK. Sahih Muslim vol.2:3371-3376 p.733; Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:2517 p.506

Sex with slave girls is OK. Ibn-i-Majah vol.1:89 p.52; vol.3:1920 p.158; vol.3:1927-1928 p.162. See also Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:1851 p.117.

Islam even has a special word for this: an Umm Walad (or um Walid) is a slave girl who gives birth to her master's child. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 footnote 1 p.257. Mariya was an um walid of Mohammed according to al-Tabari vol.13 p.58.

The child of a slave girl and her master is mentioned in Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:2004 p.207.

However, A Muslim slave owner cannot look at the nakedness of a slave girl if she is married to someone else. Abu Dawud vol.1:496 and footnote 198 p.126.

All of these quotes are available in Muslim books you can buy, so there is no real secret here. Now if you were brought up in a Muslim school, perhaps your teachers did not tell you about this part of Islam. Perhaps when you decided to follow Islam you were not told the full story, and joined Islam under false pretences.

Partners Besides Wives in the Qur'an

If one reads the Qur'an (as I have from cover to cover), one can miss many things if you do not know the terminology. Now that we understand what "those whom your right hands possess" means, let's see what the Qur'an clearly states.

"Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess...." Sura 4:24.


"Those whom their right hands possess" is also mentioned in Sura 16:71.


"...abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess - for (in their case) they are free from blame," Sura 23:5-6

"And those who guard their chastity, Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess, - for (then) they are not to be blamed," Sura 70:29-30

It is not lawful to marry more than "these", except for those whom your right hands possess. Sura 33:52. See also Sura 33:50. So more than four "partners" is OK, as long as they other are merely those whom your right hands possess.


All the quotes of the Qur'an in this video, unless otherwise stated, are from Yusuf 'Ali's translation, and "(captives)" is not in the Arabic but his translation. Apparently it is to try to soften the impact of "those whom your right hands possess", but the truth is, it is not limited to captives.

Non-Muslim Sex Slaves may be OK, but non-Muslim Wives are Bad

"Do not marry polytheistic women until they have become true believers. For a woman who is a true believe is better than a woman who is a polytheist, even should you find the latter greatly pleasing. Furthermore, do not permit your women to marry polytheistic men until they have become true believers. For a man who is a true believer is better than a man who is a polytheist, even should you find the latter greatly pleasing... Sura vol.2:221 (quotes from Women In Islam p.53)

"Whenever Ibn 'Umar was asked about the marrying of a Christian or Jewish woman, he replied: 'Truly, God has made polytheistic women unlawful for true believers, and I do not know anything worse in polytheism than for a woman to say 'Our Lord is Jesus', though he was merely just one of God's servants!'" Bukhari vol.7:209 p.155-156. Also quoted in Women in Islam p.53

Yet Mohammed had at least two concubines who were not Muslim. Mary the Christian and Rayhana/Raihana/Rayhanah bint Zayd/Zaid. He also had some slave girls on the side too. Bukhari vol.7:274 p.210; Abu Dawud vol.3:4458 p.1249. Salmah for example, was a maid-servant of Mohammed. Abu Dawud vol.3:3849 p.1084. al-Tabari vol.12 p.202 also mentions that 'Umar was going to give 10,000 dirhams to each of Mohammed's widows, but none for Mohammed's slave girls. However, the wives insisted that Mohammed's slave girls each get 10,000 dirhams too.

Mohammed probably never had sex with the wife of someone else though. "He [Mohammed] replied, 'Conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hands possess (slave-girls).'" Abu Dawud vol.3:4006 p.1123

Women of Mohammed's Right Hand

"...abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess - for (in their case) they are free from blame," Sura 23:5-6. See also Sura 4:24

"He [Mohammed] replied, 'Conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hands possess (slave-girls).'" Abu Dawud vol.3:4006 p.1123

Abu Dawud vol.3:4443-4445 p.1244 shows that having sex with a slave-girl a man owns is OK, but a man will be flogged for having sex with his wife's slave-girl.

As was typical of wealthy Arab men, Mohammed had a few slave girls too. See Bukhari vol.7:274 p.210.

Salmah for was a maid-servant of Mohammed. Abu Dawud vol.3:3849 p.1084

Maimuna was the freed slave girl of Mohammed. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:2531 p.514; Abu Dawud vol.1:457 p.118

Mohammed briefly had a "very beautiful" captive before he gave her to Mahmiyah b. Jaz' al-Zubaydi. al-Tabari vol.8 p.151

One of the slave girls belonging to Mohammed house committed fornication with someone else. It is the "someone else" part that was a problem. Abu Dawud vol.3:4458 p.1249

Mohammed called a black slave-girl to come and conceal Abu Dharr behind a curtain while he was taking a bath. Abu Dawud vol.1:332 p.87

Beating Wives Should Not Be As Severe As Beating Slave Girls in Islam

Bukhari vol.7:132 p.101 says not to flog your wife as you flog a slave and then sleep with her later. (It does not specify whether the slaves are male or female, because at another time (Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:1983 p.194) Mohammed criticized Muslim men for beating their wives in the same way they beat their slave-girls.)

"'How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then he may embrace (sleep with) her?' And Hisham said, 'As he beats his slave.'" Bukhari vol.8:68 p.42.

References is a very extensive web site presenting and debating many aspects of Islam.

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Hasan, Prof. Ahmad. Sunan Abu Dawud : English Translation with Explanatory Notes. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters 1984 (three volumes)

>The History of al-Tabari. Ihsan Abbas et al. editorial board. Volumes 1-11. SUNY Press.

>The Holy Qur-an : English translation of the meanings and Commentary. Translated by 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali. Revised and edited by The Presidency of Islamic Researches, IFTA, Call and Guidance. King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex. (no date)

Khan, Dr. Muhammad Muhsin (translator) The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari Arabic-English. Islamic University, Al-Medina Al-Munawwara AL MAKTABAT AL SALAFIAT AL MADINATO AL MONAWART. No date, No copyright.

Malik, Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam. English Translation of the Meaning of AL-QUR'AN : The Guidance for Mankind. Institute of Islamic Knowledge. 1997.

>Sahih Muslim by Imam Muslim. Rendered into English by 'Abdul Hamid Siddiqi. International Islamic Publishing House. (no date)

>Sunan Ibn-i-Majah by Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Yazid ibn-i-Majah al-Qazwini. Translated by Muhammad Tufail Ansari. Kazi Publications 121-Zutgarnain Chambers, Ganpat Road, Lahore, Pakistan. Worldwide Copyright 1993 Zaki Publications Lahore Pakistan.

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>The NIV Study Bible : New International Version Zondervan Bible Publishers. 1985.

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