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Ma malakat aymanukum ("what your right hands possess" ما ملكت أيمانکم) is a reference in the Qur'an to slaves.

Contents

Overview

The term itself is normally considered to refer to prisoners of war, or more broadly to slaves in general, according to the classic tafsirs. Bernard Lewis proposes the translation "those whom you own,"[1] but this is neither a literal nor properly idiomatic translation.

The general term ma malakat aymanukum (literally "what your right hands possess") appears fourteen times in the Qur'an, in the following Arabic variations:

Arabic Literal translation
ما ملكت أيمانكم what your (masculine plural) right hands possess *
ما ملكت أيمانهم what their (masculine plural) right hands possess *
ما ملكت أيمانهن what their (feminine plural) right hands possess
ما ملكت يمينك what your right hands possess
الذين ملكت أيمانكم Those whom your (masculine plural) right hands possess *
  • Note: Masculine plural may also refer to a group of males and females.

Although slavery was not outright condemned Muslims argue that this is because slavery was a vital part of the world during the time of the revelation and it would be difficult for society to end it immediately. Muslims argue that God sought to incrementally push for the abolishment of slavery through personal humanitarian initiatives. For example, "The Prophet said, "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)." [2]. Also when an individual erred such as missing a day of fasting they were to free a slave. Slavery was not encouraged, i.e there was no command to take slaves. On the contrary, there were commands that freeing slaves is a righteous act. Therefore this set the emancipation of slaves in motion. While this emancipation was occurring the Qur'an and the prophet established rights for slaves that were not before enjoyed as well as limiting the source of slavery to only prisoners of war.[3]

Therefore most Muslims argue the verses for "what your right hands possess" no longer apply. There are however a minority of Muslims who still believe that owning prisoners of war/slaves is legitimate.

"Ma malakat aymanukum" in the Qur'an

The main points about "those whom one's right hands possess" in the Qur'an are:

The right to request freedom

The Qur'an states:

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).[4]

Al-Bukhari said: "Rawh narrated from Ibn Jurayj: `I said to `Ata', "If I know that my servant has money, is it obligatory for me to write him a contract of emancipation." He said, "I do not think it can be anything but obligatory." `Amr bin Dinar said: "I said to `Ata', `Are you narrating this from anybody' He said, `No,' then he told me that Musa bin Anas told him that Sirin, who had a lot of money, asked Anas for a contract of emancipation and he refused. So he went to `Umar (bin Al-Khattab), may Allah be pleased with him, and he said, `Write it for him.' He refused, so `Umar hit him with his whip and recited, (give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them.) Then he wrote the contract." This was mentioned by Al-Bukhari with a disconnected chain of narration. It was also narrated by `Abdur-Razzaq who said Ibn Jurayj told them: I said to `Ata', "If I know that my servant has some money, is it obligatory for me to write him a contract of emancipation" He said, `I do not think it can be anything but obligatory.'" (It was also said by `Amr bin Dinar who said, "I said to `Ata', `Are you narrating this from anybody' He said, `No.') Ibn Jarir recorded that Sirin wanted Anas bin Malik to write a contract of emancipation and he delayed, then `Umar said to him, "You should certainly write him a contract of emancipation." Ibn Kathir comments that the chain of narrators in the latter is Sahih (Authentic). [5]

Collecting donation money for freedom

(And give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.) This is the share of the wealth of Zakah that Allah stated to be their right. This is the opinion of Al-Hasan, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and his father and Muqatil bin Hayyan. It was also the opinion favored by Ibn Jarir. [5]

(And give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.) Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "This is urging the people, their masters and others." This was also the view of Buraydah bin Al-Husayb Al-Aslami and Qatadah. Ibn `Abbas said: "Allah commanded the believers to help in freeing slaves." [5]

Ibn Kathir supports donation of money for this cause by quoting a hadith from Al-Bara' bin `Azib, in which Muhammad is supposed to have said that an action that draws closer to paradise and away from the fire is emancipating the person by freeing him on your own or by helping in the price to gain his freedom. [6]

Marriage

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.[7]

Muhammad Asad notes that for the expression ma malakat aymanukum ("those whom your right hands possess", i.e., "those whom you rightfully possess"), it is often taken to mean female captives can be taken in marriage irrespective of whether they have husbands in the country of their origin or not. Despite the differences of opinion, even among the Companions of the Prophet, regarding the legality of such a marriage, Razi in his commentary on this verse, and Tabari in one of his alternative explanations (going back to ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, and others) hold the view that ma malakat aymanukum denotes here "women whom you rightfully possess through wedlock".[8]

If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess: And Allah hath full knowledge about your faith. Ye are one from another: Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours: when they are taken in wedlock, if they fall into shame, their punishment is half that for free women. This (permission) is for those among you who fear sin; but it is better for you that ye practise self-restraint. And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.[9]

Ibn Kathir notes that "(This is for him among you who is afraid of being harmed in his religion or in his body;) indicates that marrying slave girls, providing one satisfies the required conditions, is for those who fear for their chastity and find it hard to be patient and refrain from sex." [10]

Ibn Kathir comments "(not fornicators) referring to dishonorable women, who do not refrain from illicit sexual relations with those who ask. Ibn `Abbas said that the fornicating women are the whores, who do not object to having relations with whomever seeks it" [11]

Ibn Kathir comments "(nor promiscuous) refers to taking boyfriends. Similar was said by Abu Hurayrah, Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi, Ad-Dahhak, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Yahya bin Abi Kathir, Muqatil bin Hayyan and As-Suddi." [11]

Imam Bukhari relates that Muhammad said that one of the three who would have a double reward is "a master of a woman-slave who teaches her good manners and educates her in the best possible way (the religion) and manumits her and then marries her."[12]

Treatment of slaves

Ibn Kathir comments on verse 36 in Chapter An-Nisa [Women (4)] in the Qur'an that people must behave kindly to the one held as captive by others since they are weak by quoting an authentic hadith, in his opinion, in which [[Muhammad](S.A.W) during an illness before his death recommended people to care of the captives. He also supports good treatment of captives by quoting hadiths from Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim that the slave has the right to have food, clothing and to only be required to perform what he can bear of work. [13]

Sexual intercourse

In Islamic Divine Law (Arabic: Sharia), Ma malakat aymanukum is the term for slaves or captives of war.

According to some Muslim theologians, it is lawful for male masters to have sexual relations with female captives.

Some however like Ibn Kathir claims for verse 25 in Chapter An-Nisa [Women (4)] in the Qur'an that the interpretation of it is that it is not allowed for "that your right hand possess" to commit fornication, and quotes Ibn Abbas interpretation to be not refraining from illicit sexual intercourse with whoever asks for it. In the same verse Ibn Kathir continues his interpretation by commenting that is not either allowed for "that your right hand possess" to take boyfriends according to Abu Hurayrah, Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi, Ad-Dahhak, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Yahya bin Abi Kathir, Muqatil bin Hayyan and As-Suddi. [11]

Dress codes

An-Nur 30–33, in the course of laying down the familiar dress code of Islam, explains that women "should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty" except to various familiar people, including those "whom their right hands possess". Al-Ahzab 55 makes it explicit that the same liberty is given to the Prophet's wives.

An-Nur 58 says that "those whom your right hands possess" and underage children should ask a believer's permission (before they come to their presence) at the three times of day when one is likely to be undressed.

They should not be forced into prostitution if they desire chastity

An-Nur 24:33 states, ... 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 the one being forced) [14],"

Ibn Abi Talhah narrated that Ibn `Abbas said, "If you do that, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, and their sin will be on the one who forced them to do that." This was also the view of Mujahid, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Al-A`mash and Qatadah. [15]

Being good to them

An-Nisa 36 reminds readers that a believer should do good to a variety of people, including "what your right hands possess".

an-Nahl 71 and ar-Rum 28 both use the same metaphor: just as the fortunate among people do not share their wealth with "those whom their right hands possess" to the point of making them equals, nor fear them as they fear each other, so does God with people, bestowing more on some than others, but never making them equals, let alone fearing them.

List

A list of people who were amongst Ma malakat aymanukum includes:

622 – 719 AD

See also

References

  1. ^ Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East, page 146.
  2. ^ Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286
  3. ^ Slavery
  4. ^ [Qur'an, Chapter (Surah) An-Nur (The Light)(24):33][1]
  5. ^ a b c Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"The Command to grant Slaves a Contract of Emancipation", [Qur'an, Chapter (Surah) An-Nur (The Light)(24):33], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208
  6. ^ Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"Virtue of freeing Slaves", [Chapter (Surah) Al-Tawba (Repentance)(9):60], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208
  7. ^ [Qur'an, Chapter (Surah) An-Nisa (Women)(4):24][2]
  8. ^ Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, Publisher: The Book Foundation; Bilingual edition (December 2003) Language: English, ISBN 1904510000,Chapter (Surah) An-Nisa (Women)(4):25
  9. ^ [Qur'an, Chapter (Surah) An-Nisa (Women)(4):25][3]
  10. ^ Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"The Slave Girl's Punishment for Adultery is Half that of a Free Unmarried Woman", [Chapter (Surah) An-Nisa (The Light)(4):25], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208
  11. ^ a b c Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"Marrying a Female Slave, if One Cannot Marry a Free Woman", [Chapter (Surah) An-Nisa (The Light)(4):25], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208
  12. ^ (Sahih Bukhari, Book 3 "Knowledge", Hadith 97)[4]
  13. ^ Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"Being Kind to Slaves and Servants", [Chapter (Surah) An-Nisa (The Women)(4):36], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208
  14. ^ Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"The Prohibition of forcing One's Slave-Girls to commit Zina", [Chapter (Surah) An-Nur (The Light)(24):33], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208
  15. ^ Ibn Kathir,Tafsir ibn Kathir (Koranic Commentary),"The Prohibition of forcing One's Slave-Girls to commit Zina", [Chapter (Surah) An-Nur (The Light)(24):33], Dar-us-Salam Publications,2000, ISBN 1591440203, ISBN 978-1591440208

External links

Traditional Sunni viewpoints

Traditional Shi'a viewpoints








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