What Happened To The Captive Women In Awtas Incident?

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐇𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐓𝐨 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐖𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐈𝐧 𝐀𝐰𝐭𝐚𝐬 𝐈𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭?

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar



1. Introduction
2. What Led to the Battle of Hunayn?
3. Historically on Captives
4. The Rights of Captives
5. Relations with pagan women were prohibited
6. Awtas: All the Captive Women Were Set Free
7. Conclusion

1. Introduction

This article seeks to examine few Hadith reports on the Hunayn (Awtas) battle. Our main focus would be in regards to the captive women mentioned in the Hadith.

Brief mention: Quran 4:24 was revealed in connection with the captives of the Awtas incident.

Critics have deduced from some authentic reports in Sahih Muslim, and in Jami at-Tirmidhi that the Muslim warrior men had sexual relations with pagan women in front of their husbands.

The Hadith reports used for this claim are:

Narrated Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri: “On the Day of Awtas, we captured some women who had husbands among the idolaters. So some of the men disliked that, so Allah, Most High, revealed: And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess… (Quran 4:24)” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3016, Sahih (Darussalam))


“Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that at the Battle of Hanain Allah’s Messenger 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 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 (Quran iv. 24)” (Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3432)

See reference section for a brief discussion on the claim the women’s husbands were present. [1]

2. What Led to the Battle of Hunayn?

Before going into the details surrounding the women captives and what happened to them. Let us revisit some important details, why the battle of Hunayn occurred.

The battle of Hunayn took place as a result of the league tribes who formed alliances to attack the Muslim community. The tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif (Thakefites) were using Awtas area for the purposes of attacks against the Muslims. Awtas was used as a place for military purposes.

Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 AD) reports to us:

… They (narrators) said: When the Apostle of Allah conquered Makkah, the notables of the Hawazin and the Thaqif moved from one side to the other.

They assembled and rose in rebellion. Malik Ibn Awf al-Nasri had brought them together and he was then thirty years old. He ordered them and they brought with them their wealth, their WOMEN FOLK and their children. They MOBILIZED AT AWTAS AND THE SUPPORTERS WERE COMING TO THEM. THEY AGREED ON MARCHING AGAINST THE APOSTLE OF ALLAH.” [2]

This is also reported in Al-Tabari (838 – 923 AD):

“The Prophet had been staying in Mecca during the year of its conquest for only a forth-night when [he received the news that the clans of [Hawazin and Thaqif [were marching against Mecca and] had already encamped at Hunayn intending to fight him. Hunayn is a valley next to Dhu al-Majaz.

Both the aforementioned tribes had assembled before [their match] after hearing about the Messenger of God’s departure from Medina, thinking that he was intending [to invade] them. When he learned that he had occupied Mecca, Hawazin marched against him [to Mecca] with their women, children, and possessions. Their leader was Mailk b. Awf from the Banu Nasr.

[The clans of] thaqif joined forces with them and encamped at Hunayn intending to fight the Prophet. When the Prophet, still in Mecca, was informed about them he decided to march against them. He met them at Hunayn, and God, the Great and Mighty, inflicted defeat on them.

God has mentioned this battle in the Qur’an. Since they HAD MARCHED WITH THEIR WOMEN, children, and flocks, God granted them as booty to His Messenger, who divided the spoils among those Quraysh who had [recently] embraced Islam. …

When Malik [b. Awf] DECIDED TO MARCH AGAINST THE MESSENGER OF GOD, he took with his men their possessions, wives, and children. After making camp at AWTAS, the men gathered around him. Among them was Durayd b. al-Simmah, who was carried in a Howdah [Shijar]. As soon as he had encamped he inquired what valley they were in. When he was told that it was Awtas, he said: ‘What a wonderful place for CAVALRY! Neither a rugged hill, nor a soft lowland full of dust. …” [3]

We read that the war was started as a result of these tribes forming to attack the Muslim community. Hence, the only option left for the Muslims was to defend themselves.

Another crucial and important detail in these two reports show that enemies brought their women to aid the men in war. If they were innocent, they would not have come along with their husbands, knowing fully well that they were preparing to attack the Muslim community. Hence, these women were not innocent, their capture was legal.

Even today, in the most democratic countries in the western World, women who aid enemy combatants would be jailed.

3. Historically on Captives

Scholars were of the opinion that Muslim men and women captives were allowed to have mutual sexual relations. Although they were captured, that didn’t mean that the women were to be kept in a 4 meter by 4 meter cell for years without the hope of release or their physical needs not be met, be that clothes, food or any other matter.

Prisons didn’t exist in those days. Hence, when women were captured for aiding enemy in war, they were allocated by the government to households to be servants. This was the most humane thing to do in early Islamic period. Prior to Islam, the women who aided enemy in war, were killed.

Many of these examples are given in the Bible. [4] [5] Whereas in Islam, killing women is forbidden (Haram). [6] [7] Hence why they were allocated to be servants for a period of time before they would be set free.

Another angle to understand this: some of these captive’s husband’s may have been killed. She may have had no involvement with the war, with her husband being killed who is going to provide for her or the kids? In those days the man was the breadwinner, providing the family with food, clothing and shelter.

It would have been double the anxiety and hurt where she has lost her husband, and then find out after that there is no one who could provide them with money and food. Islam came to take care of the woman and her children’s needs.

4. The Rights of Captives

Speaking on the Hadith on Awtas incident, as mentioned, some claim that the women were ‘raped’. We have over 100.000 hadith, there is not a single report where it speaks about rape of captives. If you were to re-read the Hadiths in the introduction carefully, nowhere is there in any mention of rape or if any sexual relation even occurred.

In-fact, when we read further, readers will come to know from earlier reports that all the women were set free and went back to their families. Some other women were given a choice to stay with their men or go back to their families.

Towards the end of the Hadith on Awtas event, it seems to mention that relations with women who were married is permissible. This part should not be taken literally. The captive-woman’s husband may have been dead, hence why the verse and the Hadith speak about marriage in this case.

Classical scholars were of the opinion that marriage of captive man and a woman does not get annulled at all when imprisoned together: this is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa (699 – 767 AD), Imam Malik (711 – 795 AD). [8] [9] This was also the opinion of Imam Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaybani (749 – 805 AD). [10] They were allowed to stay together. Their marriage is intact. Hence, any relation with them was forbidden.

There is strong historical evidence that the men weren’t even with the women when captured. Al-Jassas reports:

“Muhammad bin ‘Ali narrated: “When it was the day of Awtas, the (disbeliever) men fled to the mountains and their women were taken as captives.” (Ahkam al-Qur’an, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1994 volume 2 page 173)

Furthermore, even when relations were allowed, the man had to wait a period of one month. This is attested many early Hadith and classical scholars. [11] [12] If as critics claims that the Hadith was about sexual pleasure, why did they have to wait over a month?

The Muslim warriors were prohibited from forcing their captive-women to have relations. They were not allowed to just grab any women they like and have relations. Such acts were prohibited and it could get you executed in early period of Islam.

There is an early report from the second Caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab (b. 579 AD) where a Muslim man had relations with a captive, when he was not allowed to do so. Umar dictated that he be given the death penalty. This incident is reported in Bayhaqi’s Sunan al-Kubra:

“Khalid sent Dhirar bin al-Azwar in a party and they attacked an area of the tribe of Bani Asad. They captured a pretty woman, Dhirar 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 had done. Khalid said: ‘I permit her for you and make it lawful to you.’

He said: ‘No not until you write to Umar (about this)’. (Khalid informed ‘Umar about this) and ‘Umar wrote back that he (i.e. Dhirar) should be stoned (to death). By the time ‘Umar’s message reached, Dhirar had died. Khalid said: ‘Allah did not want to disgrace Dhirar.’ [13]

The fact that no harm was to be inflicted on captives, those who were entrusted to the household, the relationship between the captive and the man was mutual. Sexual intimacy was not allowed if there was no consent from the woman. [14]

The Quran and hadith maintain and order Muslims to be kind and to feed the captives. Not harm them.

“And serve God and do not associate anything with Him and BE GOOD to the parents and to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the neighbour of (your) kin and neighbour who is not of kin, and the companion in a journey and the wayfarer and THOSE WHOM YOUR RIGHT HANDS POSSESS; surely God does not love him who is proud, boastful” – Quran 4:36

The Prophet Muhammed (p) prohibited slapping captives and ordered those who do such to set them free:

Hilal b. Yasaf reported that a person got angry and slapped his slave-girl. Thereupon Suwaid b. Muqarrin said to him: You could find no other part (to slap) but the prominent part of her face. See I was one of the seven sons of Muqarrin, and we had but only one slave-girl. The youngest of us slapped her, and ALLAH’S MESSENGER COMMANDED US TO SET HER FREE. (Sahih Muslim Book 15, Hadith 4082)

Narrated Suwaid bin Muqarrin Al-Muzani: “We were seven brothers without a servant except one, and ONE OF US SLAPPED her, so THE PROPHET ORDERED US TO FREE HER.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi volume 3, Book 18, Hadith 1542)

If a mere slap was prohibited and the captive was set free, then by default rape which is a much bigger crime is Haram (forbidden) in Islam. It is unthinkable for the Prophet (p) to allow such a heinous crime when he prohibited slapping a captive.

5. Relations with pagan women were prohibited

A further evidence that no sexual relations occurred is the fact that scholars commenting on the hadith in regards to Awtas incident, they say that sexual relation with such women was prohibited. The evidence comes from the Quran. Where men are prohibited from marrying polytheistic women and by default they were forbidden to cohabit with them if they were captives. See further discussion on ‘rape’ claim in reference section [15].

13th-century scholar Abu Zakaria Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (1233 – 1277) comments on the Awtas battle, specifically on the captive women mentioned in Hadith:

“Know that it is the way of Ash-Shafi’e and the scholars who agreed with him that it is UNLAWFUL to have intercourse with the CAPTIVE WOMEN AMONG THE IDOLATERS and other unbelievers who are without a divine scripture UNLESS THEY FIRST EMBRACE ISLAM. They are forbidden to approach as long as they are following their own religion and these captive girls were among the Arab polytheists who worshipped idols. This tradition and others like it imply that the women embraced Islam and this is how they must be interpreted. Allah knows best. (Abu Zakariya al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, 1456)

Another great and respected scholar of Islam from the 13th century, Imam Abu Abdullah al-Qurtubi (1214 – 1273) says similar in regards to polytheistic captive women. That Muslims are prohibited to have relations with:

“In classical Arabic, ‘nikah’ refers to both the marriage contract and sexual intercourse. Since Allah, The Exalted, uses the word ‘nikaah’ in the verse (that means): {And do not make nikaah with polytheistic women until they believe}, it is deemed unlawful for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim (polytheistic) woman or to have intercourse with her by virtue of ownership.” [16]

Al-‘Ayni (d. 855 A.H.) writes:

“The imams with ruling have agreed that it is not permissible to have intercourse with pagan (captive-women),” [17]

Fatawa Alamgiri (17th Century Fatwa):

“A Muslim is NOT to have carnal intercourse with an idolatress or a Magian by right of property (as a master, he is prohibited from having sexual relations with polytheistic women)…” (Fatawa Alamgiri, volume 1, page 398 – 399) [18]

As we have read from these classical scholars, the polytheistic captives captured in Awtas were prohibited for the Muslims to have relations with. Although their care had to be met, by clothing and feeding them, intimacy with them was haram (forbidden).

Sexual intimacy was only deemed permissible with these women if they voluntarily converted to Islam. Forced conversion was Haram (forbidden), as the Quran and scholar of Islam, Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292 – 1350 AD) states:

“When God sent His Apostle (p), most of the followers of these religions responded to him and to his successsors, voluntarily and willingly. NOBODY WAS COMPELLED TO DO SO. The Apostle fought only those who fought and waged war against him. He did not fight those who made peace with him, neither did he fight those who were under the pledge of truce. He was obeying the bidding of God Most Sublime were he said:

‘Let there be no compulsion in Religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks, and God heareth and knowth all things ‘ (al-Baqarah: 256).

The Apostle did not compel anyone to adopt IslamThe above quoted verse from the Qur’an negates compulsion in the sense of prohibition that is: do not compel a soul to embrace the Religion. The verse (Sura) was revealed to admonish some of the men among the companions whose children embraced Judaism and Christianity before the advent of Islam, and where with the advent of Islam, their fathers embraced the religion of Muhammad and attempted to compel their children to follow their lead. God Most Exalted prohibited the fathers from resorting to compulsion to inspire their children to embrace Islam out of their choice. …

To him who ponders over the biography of the Prophet (p) it becomes clear that he did not compel anyone to embrace his religion, and that he only fought those who fought him. He did not fight those who made truce with him as long as they kept and honoured the truce. He never broke a promise, for God Most High bid him to fulfil his promises to them as long as they kept theirs. [19]

6. Awtas: All the Captive Women Were Set Free

Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 AD) in al-Tabaqat al-kabir, Tabari (838 – 923 AD) and Ma’mar Ibn Rashid (714 – 770 AD) in his ‘Kitab al-Maghazi, which predate the reports mentioned in the introduction section, report in great detail on Awtas incident. All three make mention that the captive women were not distributed.

Furthermore, the Hawazin who attacked the Muslims, some of the men were Muslim (these ones may have not taken part in the war), they came and asked for the freedom of the captives. The Prophet with his Companions agreed to free all the captive women and hand them back over to their families.

Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 AD):

“There were six thousand slaves, twenty-four thousand camels, more than forty thousand goats, and four thousand uqiyahs of silver. The Apostle of Allah, DELAYED (THE DISTRIBUTION) OF SLAVES LEST A DEPUTATION MIGHT WAIT UPON HIM (TO OBTAIN THEIR FREEDOM). … A deputation of Hawazin waited in on the Prophet. They were fourteen persons and their head was Zubayr Ibn Surad.

Among them was Abu Burqan, the foster uncle of the Apostle of Allah. They begged him to be generous with them regarding the captives. He (Prophet) asked them: Whether your children and women are dearer to you or your wealth?

They said: We do not consider any thing equal to our women and children. Thereupon he (Prophet) said: Whatever belongs to me and to the family of Abd al-Muttalib is yours, and I shall ask the people (about their shares). The Muhajirs and Ansar said: What is ours, is at the disposal of the Apostle of Allah. …

The Apostle of Allah said, These people have come as Muslims, and this was why I delayed the distribution of the captives. I offered them a choice, and they did not consider anything equal to their women and children. So he who possesses any slave SHOULD RETURN HIM cheerfully.

And he who is not willing (to return), should ALSO RETURN and it will be a debt on us to be repaid from those six thousand shares of spoils… They (Muslims) said: WE AGREE TO IT AND SURRDENER. THEN THEY RETURNED CAPTURED (WOMEN), none backing out except Uyaynah Ibn Hisn who denied to return the old women who had fallen to his share. SUBSEQUENTLY HE ALSO RETURNED HER[20]

Al-Tabari (838 – 923 AD):

“The captives of Hunayn, along with their possessions, were brought to the Messenger of God, Mas’ud b. Amr al-Qari overseeing the spoils. The messenger of God then ordered that the captives and their possessions be taken to al-Ji’ranah and held there in custody. … When the defeated men of Thaqif came to al-Ta’if, they shut the gates of the city and made preparations for war. …

When he had finished at Hunayn, the Messenger of God and his companions went directly to al-Ta’if and encamped there for a forthnight, waging war against Thaqif. Thaqif fought the Muslims from behind the fort and none came out in the open. All of the surrounding people surrendered and sent their delegations to the Messenger of God.

After besieging al-Ta’if for a forthnight, the Prophet left and halted at al-Jiranah where the captives of Hunayn were held with their women and children. It is alleged that those captives taken from the Hawazin numbered six thousand with women and children. When he reached al-Ji’ranah, the delegations of Hawazin came to the Prophet and embraced Islam. THERE, HE SET ALL THEIR WOMEN AND CHILDREN FREE and decided to make the lesser pilgrimage [directly] from al-Ji’ranah.” (Al-Tabari, volume 9, page 20) [21]

Ma’mar Ibn Rashid (714 – 770 AD) – Kitab al-Maghazi:

“When the Hawazin came back before the Messenger of God, ‘they said, You are the most upright and faithful in honouring bonds of kindship, but our women and those in our care have been taken captive, and our wealth seized.’ The Messenger of God replied, ‘I patiently bided my time for you, and with me are those you see.

To me, the most preferable speech is the most honest. So choose one of the two, either the property or the captives.’ ‘O Messenger of God!’ they replied. ‘As far as we are concerned, if you force us to choose between property and honor, we shall choose honor.’ Or they said, ‘We esteem honor above all else.’

Thus they chose their women and children.
Then the Prophet rose to address the Muslims. He first gloried God, as His due, and then proceeded to say: ‘As for the matter at hand, these men, your brethren, have come as Muslims’ – or ‘having surrendered ourselves (mustaslimin)’ – ‘and we have given them a choice between their offspring and their property. They regarded nothing as equal to their honor; this, I have seen it fit for you to return their women and children to them.

Whoever wishes to act so magnanimously, let him do so; and whoever wishes to demand compensation for his share so that we may give him a portion of what God has granted us as spoils, let him do so.’ The Muslims answered God’s Messenger: ‘THE JUDGEMENT IS GOOD!’ The Prophet then said, ‘I do not know who has permitted that and who has not so command your leaders to convey this information to us.’

Once the leaders had informed the Messenger of God that the people had acquiesced to the agreement and permitted it, GOD’S MESSENGER RETURNED THE WOMEN and children TO THE HAWAZIN CLAN. GOD’S MESSENGER ALSO GRANTED TO THE WOMEN whom he had given to several Qureshi men the CHOICE BETWEEN REMAINING IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF THOSE MEN AND RETURNING TO THEIR FAMILIES[22]

Notice towards the end on this report, where the women were given a CHOICE to go back to their families or stay.

7. Conclusion

We see from the dozen or more evidences, the hadith in regards to the incident on Awtas, their capture was as a result of them helping and aiding their people in warfare against the Muslims. The Hadith does not, nor was it understood historically by scholars of Islam to permit rape. Furthermore, Prophet Muhammed, prohibited slapping a captive, it is as mentioned, inconceivable for the Prophet (p) to have allowed much bigger, heinous crime of rape.

Similarly, the early scholars of Islam commenting on the Hadith and sexual relations, clearly prohibited any physical contact with the polytheistic women. This again, shows the true context in regards to the Hadith on Awtas, that relations between them only occurred if she voluntarily, freely converted to Islam. [23] Otherwise it was prohibited.

Lastly, reading from earlier reports on the Awtas incident, all the women were set free and handed back to their families. So for those to claim that the Prophet (p) allowed intimacy front of their husbands, or forceful sexual intimacy, this has no historical truth to the incident in Awtas. As shown, the evidences refute this malicious lie. Islam treated criminals, war captives with respect, dignity, kindness and goodness. [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30]


[1] The claim that the women who were captured immiediately had sexual intimacy with the captives and their husbands being present is not true, given the fact the men all ran into the mountains. Al-Jassas (d. 370 A.H.);
“Muhammad bin ‘Ali narrated: “When it was the day Awtas, the (disbeliever) men fled to the mountains and their women were taken as captives.” (Ahkam al-Qur’an, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1994 volume 2 page 173), quote extracted from the following site: No rape of Slave Women in Islam

[2] Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, [Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009)] volume 2, page 185

[3] The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet – [Translator: Ismail K. Poonawala], volume 9, page 2 – 4

[4] The killing of women in the Bible:
“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones (taph), and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the female children (taph), that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Webster’s Bible Translation Numbers 31:17-18)

[5] Another passage on killing women in the Bible:
‘Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (New American Standard 1977 , 1 Samuel 15:3)

[6] Prophetic saying on prohibition of killing women:
“It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet saw a woman who had been killed on the road, and he forbade killing women and children. (Sunan Ibn Majah, volume 4, Book 24, Hadith 2841)

[7] Another Prophetic statement forbidding the killing of women:
“Abd Allah bin (mas’ud) said “A woman was found slain in one of the battles of the Apostle of Allaah. The Apostle of Allaah FORBADE to kill women and children. (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 14, Hadith 2662)

[8] “A group said that the marriage of couple imprisoned together is NOT annulled. But the imprisonment of one prior to the other annuls their marriage. This was Abu Hanifa’s opinion. … There are two opinions from Malik. First, that imprisonment does not annul marriage at all. Second, that it annuls it absolutely, as in al-Shafi’i’s opinion.” (Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid, Ibn Rushd, volume 2, page 52)

[9] “Imam Abu Hanifa holds it to be unlawful to marry those female slaves who together with husbands have been taken captive.”

The Social Laws Of The Qoran: Considered, and Compared with those of the Hebrew and other ancient codes [Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, London And New York, 2007], by Robert Roberts B.A (Wales), PH. D. (Leip), page 16

[10] Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaybani – the student of Abu Hanifa, the Imam- said: “When the army takes a woman captive followed by her husband who is also taken captive sooner or later and either the woman does not have menses during that period or has had upto three menses but she is not taken out of the Territory of War before her husband is taken, their marriage shall continue. ” (Kitab Al-Siyar Al-Saghir- The Shorter Book on Muslim International Law- Translated by Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad, 1998 p.51) Quote retrieved from the following site: 

No Rape of slave women in Islam

Does Islam Permit Muslim Men to Rape Their Slave Girls?

[11] Abu Sa’id Khudri narrated the following statement from Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) regarding the captives of Awtas:
“There must be no intercourse with a pregnant woman till she gives birth, or with one who is not pregnant till she has had one menstrual period.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 2152. Albani classified it as Sahih)

[12] In fact it was stressed in very strong words;
Narrated Ruwayfi’ ibn Thabit al-Ansari: Should I tell you what I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say on the day of Hunayn: It is not lawful for a man who believes in Allah and the last day to water what another has sown with his water (meaning intercourse with women who are pregnant);

it is not lawful for a man who believes in Allah and the Last Day to have intercourse with a captive woman till she is free from a menstrual course; and it is not lawful for a man who believes in Allah and the Last Day to sell spoil till it is divided. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 2153 Classified as Hasan by Albani)

[13] Al-Bayhaqi’s Sunan al-Kubra, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 2003 vol ume 9 page 177 Hadith 18222,, quote was retrieved from the following website: No Rape of slave women in Islam

[14] Professor of Law Intisar A. Rabb:
“Classical Islamic family law generally recognized marriage and creation of a master-slave relationship as the two legal instruments rendering permissible sexual relations between two people.

Not every scholar recognised the second. It was disputed by prominent jurists and theologians in Islam’s early period, that is, the first/seventh through the third/ninth century.

See, for example, Muwaffaq al-Din Ibn Qudama (d. 620/1223), al-Mughni, ed. ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turki and ʿAbd al-Fattaḥ Muḥammad al-Ḥilw (Cairo: Hajar, 1986), 9:552 (noting an objection from al-Ḥasan al-Baṣri (d. 110/728)); ʿAbd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi (d. 429/1037), Kitab Uṣul al-din (Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadida, 1981), 336 (noting the objections of a group of early Muʿtazili rationalist theologians).

Similarly, known Sunni and Shiʿi jurists-cum-exegetes came down against any blanket permissibility of master-slave sexual relations with skepticism. See Ṭabari (d. 310/923), Jami al-bayan ʿan taʾwil ay al-Qurʾan (also known as Tafsir al- Ṭabari), ed. Ṣalaḥ ʿAbd al-Fattaḥ al-Khalidi and Ibrahim Muḥammad al-ʿAli (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam; Beirut: al-Dar al-Shamiyya, 1997), 8:151–69 (INTERPRETING QURʾAN, 4:24, AND OTHER VERSES TO REQUIRE A SLAVE WOMAN’S CONSENT BEFORE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH HER MASTER ARE DEEMED PERMISSIBLE); Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-Ṭabaṭabaʾi (d. 1403/1983), al-Mizan fi tafsir al-Qurʾan (Beirut: Muʾassasat alAʿlami liʾl-Maṭbuʿat, n.d.), 4:266–68

(alluding to the opinion of “some exegetes” who generalized the meaning of the Qurʾānic verse 4:24 to refer not to slave women but to chaste women, implying a position against the notion that master-slave relationships automatically validate sexual relations).

For an opinion with similar implications from a minority group, see Abū Muḥammad ʿUthman b. ʿAbd Allah al-ʿIraqi (mid-sixth/twelfth century), al-Firaq al-muftaraqa (Ankara: n.p., 1961), 16 (quoting the Khariji group called the Ḥamziyya, who considered the enslavement of prisoners of war illegal altogether).

Doubt in Islamic Law: A History of Legal Maxims, Interpretation, and Islamic Criminal Law (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization) by Intisar A. Rabb, page 59

[15] A narration reported by Abu Dharr tells us that:

“The Prophet (p) said: “Feed those of your captives who please you from what you eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves, but sell those who do not please you and DO NOT punish Allah’s creatures.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 5142. Albani classified it as Sahih)

This report tells us if a captive-woman were to refuse to please her master, by making food or getting intimate, he was NOT allowed to force her. God orders Muslims to sell her and move away from her. The Prophet also recommended to set free captives. They were NOT to punish.

From leaving each other, maybe the second person she goes to may have a better relationship. The idea about ‘raping’ captive-women is described by God to be “punishing Allah’s creatures”, which is the most heinous crime to do.

[16] Imam Abu Abdullah al-Qurtubi, Tafsir al-Qurtubi, volume 1, page 561
[17] ‘Umdatul Qari, Dar al-Ahya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, n.d. volume 7 page 103, quote retrieved from the following site: No Rape of Slave women in Islam

[18] The Muhammadan Law: Being a Digest of the Law Applicable Especially to the Sunnís of India, [Calcutta: Thacker, Spink And Co. Bombay: Thacker, Vining & Co. Madras: Higginbotham & Co. London: W. Thacker & Co. 1873], by Professor of Law, Shama Churun Sircar, page 305

[19] Guidance To The Uncertain In Reply To The Jews And The Nazarenes (‘Hidayatul Hayara Fi Ajwibatul Yahud wa al-Nasara’) – [Translated by Abdelhay El-Masry, Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah] by Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziah, page 25 – 27
[20] Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, [Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009)] volume 2, page 188 – 19

[21] History of al-Tabari: The: The Last Years of the Prophet, volume 9, page 20
[22] The Expeditions (‘Kitab al-Maghazi’) – An Early Biography Of Muhammad By Ma’mar Ibn Rashid [Translated: Sean W. Anthony – Copyright 2014 by New York University], page 107 – 109

[23] The great scholar Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (780 – 855 CE) states that some of the female captives in Awtas (Hawazin) who did engage in sexual intercourse with the companions, converted to Islam freely first (See Khallal, Ahl al-Milal, by Ahmad Ibn al-Hanbal, page 246 (Numb. 477).

[24] “Imam Al-Shaffi’I states that this hukm (ruling) applies to idolaters or Zoroastrian women who have fallen into captivity; according to him, none of the Prophet’s companions had sexual relations with captured Bedioun women until they embraced Islam.” (Kitab al-Umm, by Imam Shafi’I, volume 5, page 244. See also Muhalla, by Ibn Hazm, volume 9, page 545)

[25] “A man who acquired a slave-girl who is an idolater or Zoroastrian may not engage in sexual relations with her until she performs wudhu (ablution), performs Salat (prayer), and has her menses once while in his house.” (Musannaf San’ani, volume 7, page 195 – 197)

[26] “Malik Ibn Anas and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal have prohibited both concubinage with Zoroastrian slave-women and marriage with free Zoroastrian women.” (Mukhtasar al-Quduri, page 145. See also, al-Mughni by Ibn Qudama, volume 6, page 591. See also Majmu fatawa by Ibn Taymiyya, volume 32, page 186-189 and al-Mudawwa by Sahnun ibn Sa’id ibn Habib at-Tanukhi (Maliki), volume 2, page 307)

[27] Ibn Qudaamah’s book Al-Mughni:

As for the people whose free women are impermissible for Muslims to marry of Magians and all other disbelievers save Christians and Jews, it is also IMPERMISSIBLE to have sexual intercourse with the slave-women who are from among such people according to the majority of the scholars….

Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr said, “A group of renowned jurists around the (early) Islamic world (Fuqahaa’ Al-Amsaar) and the majority of scholars maintained this opinion. …
Ibn Qudaamah – Al-Mughni, online source, http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=272452 )

[28] An interesting conversation classical scholars had on whether a slave that is bought – is her previous marriage still binding. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal responds by saying if the woman says she has a husband, then sexual relations with her is forbidden (haram):

“139 I heard Ahmad say, ‘Abu Sa’id used to say this aya was revealed with regard to those captured at Autas. Ibn Mas’ud said it was revealed concerning Muslims and unbelievers.’
140 I heard Ahmad asked about a man who buys a female slave who tells him she has a husband.
He said, ‘she is forbidden (haram) to him.’

141 I heard Ahmad say, ‘If a slave gets married with his master’s permission, the divorce is in the hands of the slave.”(Chapters on Marriage and Divorce: Responses of Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Rahwayh [Translated With Introduction And Notes by Susan A. Spectorsky – University Of Texas Press, Austin, 1993], page 81 – 82)

[29] E.J. Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam on the term ‘mamluk’ – ‘malaka’ in the Quran and Hadith:
“Mamluk (A., plural mamlukan and mamalik), participle passive I of malaka ‘to posses’, denotes the slave as his master’s possession.

‘The term owes its origin probably to the current phrase of the Kur’an ma malakat aimanukum ‘what your right hands possess’, a general designation of slaves without specialisation of gender. Mamluk occurs once only in Kur’an (Sura xvi. 77), in the expression ‘abd mamluk ‘a slave in the possession of his master’, mamluk alone not yet being a technical term for slave, to all appearance.

In hadith ‘abd mamluk occurs likewise (Darimi, siyar, b. 34), but throughout the literature of hadith mamluk alone is already a technical term synonymous with abd. The distinction between a slave born and a slave slave born from free parents, must be made by the addition of a genitive to abd, in the former case kinn (abdu kinnin), in the latter mamlaka (abdu mamlakatin).

It may be remarked that neither in hadith, nor, to all probability, in Arabic literature, has the term mamluk ever received the religious meaning of devotee, as is the case with abd. The Kur’an enjoins the master to be humane towards ‘what his right hands posses’ (Sura iv. 40).

Hadith is copious on this point. It assures us that Muhammad on his death-bed did not cease repeating ‘)I recommend to you) Salat and what yours hands posses’ (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, iii. 117; cf. I 78). ‘Whosover does not treat his mamluk as he ought to do shall not enter paradise.’ Ahmad b. Hanbal, i. 12). ‘When the mamluk performs salat, he is thy brother’ (Ibn Madja, Adab, b. 10) ‘The mamluk may claim his food raimant’ (Muslim, Aiman, trad. 41). ‘The Apostle of Allah used….

And to protect the mamluk who appealed to his help (Ibn Madja, Zud, b. 16). ‘The mamluk who acquits himself of his obligations towards Allah and towards his master, will receive double wages’ (Bukhari, Ilm, b. 31) and ‘one is bound to pardon his mamluk even unto seventy times a day’ (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, ii. 111).” (E.J. Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, [Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, A.J. Wensinck, E Levi-Provencal, H.A.R. Gibb and W. Heffening – E. J. BRILL, Leiden, New York, Koln, 1993] volume 5, page 216)
[30] Dr. Titus Burckhardt (1908 – 1984)

“w13.1 (Titus Burckhardt: ) Slavery within Islamic culture is not be confused with Roman slavery or with the American variety of the nineteenth century: in Islam the slave was never a mere ‘thing.’ If his master treated him badly, he could appeal to a judge and procure his freedom. His dignity as a Muslim was inviolable. Originally the status of slave was simply the outcome of having been taken as a prisoner of war.

A captive who could not buy his own freedom by means of ransom remained in the possession of the captor until he had earned his freedom by work or until he was granted liberty by master (Moorish Culture in Spain, by Titus Burckhardt, (y32), 30).”

(Reliance of the Traveller A translation of the classical manual of Islamic Sacred Law (Shari’ah) `Umdat as-Salik by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 769/1386), in Arabic with facing English text, commentary and appendices edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, page 871)

The Battle Of Autas (Awtas)

Paul the False Apostle of Satan