"Right hand possessions" vs. Adultery in Islam

I am resurrecting this topic from another thread - mainly because it is one of my “buttons” and is a sticking point for me that reveals at least one reason how and why Islam is not from God.

It is the issue of Muhammad condoning adultery under the guise of slavery and “owners rights” in Islam when God clearly commanded us in the Ten Commandments “Thou shalt not commit adultery”.

I came across this information in a website: (emphasis mine)

Due to this right of ownership, It became lawful for the owner of a slave girl to have intercourse with her.

It may, superficially, appear distasteful to copulate with a woman who is not a man’s legal wife, but once Shariat makes something lawful, we have to accept it as lawful, whether it appeals to our taste, or not; and whether we know its underlying wisdom or not. It is necessary for a Muslim to be acquainted with the laws of Shariat, but it is not necessary for him to delve into each law in order to find the underlying wisdom of these laws because knowledge of the wisdom of some of the laws may be beyond his puny comprehension. Allah Ta’ala has said in the Holy Quran: ?Wa maa ooteetum min al-ilm illaa qaleelan? which means, more or less, that, "You have been given a very small portion of knowledge?. Hence, if a person fails to comprehend the underlying wisdom of any law of Shariat, he cannot regard it as a fault of Shariat (Allah forbid), on the contrary, it is the fault of his own perception and lack of understanding, because no law of Shariat is contradictory to wisdom.

Similarly, if a slave woman was married previously in enemy territory to a non-Muslim, and is then captured alone, i.e. without her husband, it is not permissible for any Muslim to have relations with her until** her previous marriage is nullified, and that is done by bringing her to an Islamic country and making her the legal possession of a Muslim.** Bringing her into Islamic territory necessitates the rendering of her previous marriage as null and void by Islamic law because with her husband in enemy territory and she in Islamic territory, it becomes virtually impossible for them to meet and live as man and wife. That is why it is not permissible to have intercourse with a woman whose husband is also taken into captivity and put into slavery with her. Another resemblance between the two is that, just as a divorcee has to spend a period called “Iddat” before another man is allowed to marry her, similarly, a slave woman has to spend a period called “Istibraa” before her owner can have coition with her. islam.tc/ask-imam/view.php?q=5482

I’m sorry, but I find this absolutely disgusting and I am still absolutely confounded by how this is not viewed as adultery? It was posed in the other thread that the verses in the Quran just meant that a Muslim could marry and then have sex with a slave-girl, but not have sex with her outside of marriage, but that is clearly not the view that is espoused here. It is also put forth here that the owner/slave relationship becomes sort of a ‘quasi-marriage’ since the owner has to take care of the slave, but it is also clear in this discourse that the slave is NOT a legal wife. Therefore, how is this not adultery?

This first part I quoted basically says that even if your conscience tells you this is wrong, Muhammad said that it is OK, so it must be OK. :mad:

Furthermore, there is a relatively current fatwa regarding this issue: (I am only posting the relavent part. You may read the whole thing here: islamweb.net/ver2%20/Fatwa/ShowFatwa.php?lang=E&Id=89155&Option=FatwaId )

The statement of your friend that the husband can have sex with his wife and his slave-girl only and not with a woman he is not allowed to have sex with is correct, but it does not necessarily mean that he is neglectful about the rights of his wife by committing adultery.

Here is another fatwa on the topic:

The last part also states:

Al-Umm, 5/43.

The wife has no right to object to her husband owning female slaves or to his having intercourse with them.

And Allaah knows best.

While I do understand that “slave girls” are not common in many countries so that this phenomenon would be rare in say the U.S., my point is just that it can occur if a formal jihad were to be declared and female captives taken. I just honestly do not understand how this is not viewed as adultery and how this is not viewed as a clear contradiction of previous scripture. :confused:

adultery: n adultery əˈdaltəri]
sexual intercourse between a husband and a woman who is not his wife or between a wife and a man who is not her husband.

Please note that I don’t wish for this to become a thread about slavery itself in Islam and hear all about how wonderful Islam was for slaves and freeing them. I am interested in the contradiction to previous scriptures and the issue of adultery with regard to slaves.

I veaguely remember something about Abraham & a slavegirl. I think it was accepted pratice at the time. But be that as it may, we grew grew out of it & have a better understanding of marriage now. I am not sure if the muslams have. Most of their laws and ways of dealing with such things we hear about seem to be stuck in the 8th century.

But, how is it not adultery? Abraham did commit adultery with Hagar and Ishmael was the result. Be that as it may it was still adultery - having sex with someone who is not your wife.

(To everyone, please note that I am not judging Abraham or condemning him - that alone is for God to do. I am just trying to objectively point out his actions vs. what is the definition of adultery. Also Abraham did not give us any command to commit adultery or have sex with someone who is not a spouse.)

Easy :smiley: I did not say it wasn’t. We just have grown in what we know about what God expects of us. Muslam’s do not seem to have done that. I think we Christians have supieriour (sp) understanding of such things. I’m on your side. I just think that folks in the muslam world are fixated in it & refuse to grow. I only used Abraham as an example,

OK. :slight_smile: Thanks for the input. This is just one of those issues that irritates/frustrates me. It just sticks in the back of my mind and makes it so obvious to me (among many other things) that Islam and the Quran is not from God. I just honestly don’t get it and I don’t understand how Muslims don’t get it. Is it simply the, “We don’t understand, but Allah said so in the Quran so it must be OK and we don’t need to know why or care that it contradicts what God commanded before - we just simply obey”?

I hope the clipping doesn’t bother you. I do that just to not take up too much space.

I think they don’t get it because the devil has them blinded just as he misguided muhammed. But you are right, they just don’t get it.

“after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.”

what was required for Hagar to be a legitimate wife ?

For Abraham to not already be married and a legal marriage ceremony. “to be his wife” was a euphemism for intercourse. I’ve posted the verses after that one where Abraham continues to refer to Hagar as Sarah’s servant and tells her to deal with her herself. MuslimWoman confirmed for me that 1st wives do not have any authority over subsequent wives even if the husband says she does so Hagar could not have been a wife. I’ve also previously (in other threads) posted the subsequent verses where the angel who visits Hagar in the wilderness refers to her as “servant of Sarah” and not “wife of Abraham”. If you would like me to look them up and post them again I will. :slight_smile:

And how does this address the fact that Muhammad is telling everyone through the Quran that God is permitting and making lawful adultery?

The setting is that of semi-nomadic tribal life, not sedentary, still less “political”, life. In such a society, the father’s word is well-nigh absolute. What Abraham did, was accepted practice; Abraham’s union with Hagar was no wrong to Sarah - it was a benefit to Sarah (odd as that may seem). Women were little more than baby-producing machines - the important kind of baby, was the heir. As for wives, they were property, like donkeys and horses and slaves - Semitic societies seem to have given women a lower place than (say) the Sumerians did.

At that time, Sarah could not give her husband an heir. One of her slaves was however available to do so; doing so, would secure an heir for Abraham, and, very importantly, amount to the same thing for the purposes of inheritance as if Sarah had been the mother of the child herself. Although Ishmael son of Hagar had a slave for a mother, his right to inherit on his father’s death could be made good if he were adopted as heir by his father. And his father had the last word in such matters.

That was in chapter 16. A bit later, things change - Hagar & Ishmael are cast out, because Sarah has a son of her own body, in the shape of Isaac. So there is no need for Ishmael to be heir, and he is seen as a threat to Isaac; so out with the pair of them ! Not very nice - but given that women’s whole existence was made or unmade by having children or not, it’s not surprising.

So Abraham did not commit adultery - not unless we apply to him ethical standards of which, in the nature of the case, he could not have known.

BTW: what are “right-hand possessions” ?

In other words, someone who thinks that has what is called “an erroneous conscience” - his conscience, if it were not erroneous, would tell him that that practice is good, not wrong. Solution - inform conscience. To disobey an erroneous conscience when it is not known or suspected to be erroneous, is of course a sin; and so here, presumably.

If Christians can make use of the concept of an erroneous conscience in ethical discussion, why Muslims can’t is not clear. (If there is something in Muslim ethical or legal or theological discourse that does not allow them to use it, that is another matter.)

How is it not adultery? He had sexual intercourse with a woman who was not his wife?
I might buy your explanation since he did not have the Ten Commandments at this point and perhaps there was no concept of adultery. ??? I would still think there would be a concept of right and wrong. Would men and women have been offended if their spouse had intercourse with someone else?

Perhaps I would need to see marriage ceremonies of that time period and what expectations were held for each spouse to the other.

In any event, I’m not so much interested in Abraham and Hagar. I’m interested in the doctrine in Islam whereby God allegedly condones adultery in the form of permitting sexual intercourse with slave women who are clearly not wives after clearly announcing in the Ten Commandments through Moses “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and reaffirming this decree through Jesus when He told us:

"You have heard that it was said to the ancients, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, But I say to you that anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5: 27-28

“Right hand possessions” is the term used in the Quran for slave-girls or women.

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. سورة النساء , An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #24)

Muslims and Jews don’t consider polygamy to be adultery… even in this day, some Sephardic and Yemenite Jewish communities do have polygamous marriages.

I am sure most Jews don’t think that Abraham committed adultery

That’s fine - I’m not addressing polygamy. And I’m not particularly interested in Abraham and Hagar. I’m addressing the doctrine in the Quran where sexual intercourse with slave girls, women who are clearly not wives, is permitted.

did you read the following ayah (#25) ? if so … did you see the connection between these two verses (24 and 25) regarding “right hand possessions”

Yes, it says they may marry them if they can’t find a “believing” woman to marry. How does that address the permissability of sex with slave-women who are not wives? Did you read the quotes and commentary in my OP? Perhaps all of the imams issuing these fatwas and explanations are incorrect and are disseminating false information to Muslims?

the imam is South African who studied from an Indian teacher. It seems that he is somehow into Suffism…anyway, Issuing a fataw comes from a council of scholars learned in Islamic Figh (law) and not from one individual.

yes “believing” is one of the conditions…

I’ll do some more research on this subject and hopefully answer you questions…

Consider this, that event happened much earlier in the bible. The commandments came much later. Perhaps there was reason for such a thing to happen. As mentioned before it was so Abraham could have an heir. Sarah felt like it was never going to happen from her. So she wanted to secure an heir. Wasn’t populating the earth pretty important back then? I mean I haven’t studied the bible as much as I would like to, but I need to… but different times called for different things. Now when Moses presented the commandments then there were the laws (the root). Laws that needed to be followed till this very day. A lady at my church was briefly telling me about the Baltimore catechism. How the teachings are like the roots of a plant. When our parents tell us not to do something we are suppose to not do it, with the understanding of why not to do it comes later. Our parents don’t have to explain a thing to us. But we are to obey them. Now God gave us the commandments. And if I recall correctly he didn’t explain anything. He wanted us to obey Him. He didn’t want us to worship false idols. Yet what happened the people did. Now there was more suffering. The root was to obey, to understand why comes later. Again perhaps because of the times it was acceptable. I hope this helps clear anything up.

May God Bless you

Thank you for your post. :slight_smile: My issue with Islam is the fact that God did give us this command to not commit adultery, which Jesus confirms in His teachings. Then Muhammad comes along and says that God permitted sex with slave-girls who are not wives - effectively saying that God’s previous law can be broken simply because it was the “norm” at the time for owners to have sex with their captive women. If the Quran was from God, Muhammad’s revelation should have said sex with anyone but your wife is forbidden - effectively upholding previous scripture. Then all of the other issues regarding slavery and its abolishment could have stood (i.e. freeing them if they ask, etc.). It’s the fact that God supposedly went back on His law that I have an issue with.

Thank you, Hadi! You are always so kind and respectful - I enjoy dialoguing with you and appreciate your patience when I don’t understand stuff. :slight_smile:

I also found this tafsir: (emphasis, mine)
There is also Arabic included, but I don’t know if the Arabic that applies is above or below the tafsir so I won’t post it here. :o You can read it in the link.

[51-52] You are granted the option that you may keep aside any of your wives you please, and keep to yourself any of them you please, and call back any of them you had set aside: there is no blame on you in this regard. Thus, it is expected that their eyes will be cooled and they will not grieve, and they will all remain well satisfied with whatever you give them.91 Allah knows whatever is in your hearts, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Forbearing.92 No other women are lawful to you after this,** nor are you allowed to have other wives instead of them, even if their beauty may be very pleasing to you.93 You may, however, have slave-girls**.94 Allah is Watchful over everything. englishtafsir.com/Quran/33/index.html

I was a little hesitant to post this but I’ll go ahead. You echoed the words I wanted to say. God gave us the bible, why should the Quran be different? I feel that it’s just all false teachings. We have the truth. This topic, well there is no real justification for it, for sexual relations to be allowed with a slave girl. Muhammed wasn’t legit as far as I’m concerned. If God really said all those things, then everything in the bible would perhaps need to be dismissed. We don’t have the commandments for nothing. The commandments were for everyone. I just feel that you will always find teachings in the Quran that will contradict what God intended it to be. Muhammed…well someone said on here that he was blinded by satan. Well I wouldn’t doubt if he was blinded by something alright. I don’t think you will find a justifiable answer to your question.

Thanks and God Bless

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