melk yamen

Details of the Question
What does milk yamin mean? Why can a man take 6, 8, 9 milk yamin? Are they paid mahr (marriage gift) just like in a marriage?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Milk yamin means concubine. The marriage with concubines is expressed as “whom your right hand possesses. It is also called as “milkul yamin or aqdul milk”. The verse related to the issue is as follows:
“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…” (an-Nisa, 25)
Fornication is definitely haram (forbidden). It is not licit to marry for a certain period of time in return for money by making an agreement. Having a mistress or a doxy are different forms of fornication. When a Muslim man needs to marry, he should primarily prefer a free believing woman if it is possible; it is permissible for him to marry a woman from the People of the Book (Christian or Judaist). Then, marrying a believing slave and a non-Muslim slave are preferred. Since a slave belongs to someone else, there are some drawbacks in marrying a slave; therefore, it is better to be patient and remain single for some more time than to marry a slave. The fact that, in the verse, the female slaves are described as ‘your girls’ and thinking that ‘all people originated from the same parents, Adam and Eve’ and asking people not to despise the slaves and not to avoid marrying them are important documents showing that Islam appreciates all people. War is the only fundamental source of slaves in Islam. Slavery is not the only alternative for the prisoners of war. If prisoners of war become slaves, people treat them almost like free people and aim to show them and to guide them to the true path.
The explanation of the late Elmalılı (a mufassir (interpreter)) about the verse:
Here muhsanat has the meaning of owning therefore it means free women. That is, whoever cannot afford to marry a free and believing woman should marry a young believing female slave that he owns. To marry a female slave will not cost much. However, a Muslim should always prefer a believing woman. A Muslim should definitely not regard marrying a believing woman and a female slave as humiliation because Allah knows your belief best; you are among you; those of you who are free and those of you who are slaves believe in the same religion. Marrying them when necessary with goodwill is not humiliation. The risk of fornication is real humiliation. However, preferring female slaves to free women means infringing the rights of free women. Therefore, a man who is married to a free woman is not allowed to marry a female slave; it is makrooh (abominable) or haram for a man who can afford to marry a free woman to marry a female slave. Then, marrying a female slave is regarded as humiliation. Although Imam Shafi’ regarded it as haram taking into consideration the opposite concept, Imam Azam Abu Hanifa said it was makrooh and added that what was haram was marrying a female slave while one was married to a free woman.
As for the condition, decree and aim of the validity of marrying a female slave: Marry female slaves by getting permission from their owners and give them their mahr (marriage gift) and allowance in the best way; Marry them due to their attributes of "not committing fornication, not taking paramours, living chastely..." and maintaining those attributes.
The word “Ahdan”in the verse is the plural of "Haden". It means to have a secret lover. During the period of Jahiliyyah, there were two kinds of fornication. One was by running a brothel openly; the other was taking someone as a paramour and committing fornication secretly. Mot acts of fornication involved female slaves. Islam banned both forms of the fornication. It should be noted that in the verse that dealt with women, the fornication of men was banned openly; here, the fornication of women was banned openly. It includes good manners and rhetoric.
It was explained that free women would not condescend to commit fornication and that since it was not appropriate to think about even the possibility of their prostitution and fornication, it could be planned by men and their unchastity. It was also explained that the female slaves were thought to be committing fornication due to their needs and that it was customary in the period of Jahiliyyah but it was caused by the immorality of men and that the disgrace could only be removed by men. It was added that if men acted with good intentions and carried out their duties, the female slaves would be freed from disgrace and poverty and therefore Muslims should be interested in ensuring the chastity and goodness.
Therefore, if female slaves commit fornication after they get married and their chastity is ensured, then half of the punishment that is due for free women must be applied to them. They will have no excuses under those circumstances; however, they will not be regarded in the same level as free women as long as they are slaves. Therefore, marrying female slaves are advised for men who face the risk of committing fornication and committing sin by not being able to control their lust. Otherwise, it is better for them to be patient. Imam Shafi’ deduces the meaning that it is better not to marry whether a free woman or a female slave and that worshipping is better than marriage. However, it is clear that this decree is about female slaves as Hanafis understand it. Therefore, marriage is wajib (obligatory) for those who can afford to pay mahr and to sustain their families if they face the risk of committing fornication. It is wajib for a man like that to marry a female slave if he cannot afford to pay mahr for and sustain a free woman; it is mandub (recommended) for him to prefer a believing female slave. To save female slaves from poverty is something desired. A believing female slave deserves it more than unbelievers. Therefore, marriage is wajib for those who face the risk of fornication. 
If there is no risk of fornication, then marrying a female slave is not wajib not even mandub because a marriage like that may cause free women to lose esteem, may deteriorate the nobility of the lineage and the choice of children. Therefore, Hazrat Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, A person who marries a female slave loses half of his freedom.” However, the drawbacks mentioned above are nothing at all in comparison to the risk of fornication. Fornication means eradicating one’s sperms directly and in general a filthy meanness both for men and women and a disgrace for humanity. No male animal goes after the female just to waste his sperm. No male animal including the dog jumps on the female by force unless the female invites except male animals imprisoned by men; male animals have sexual intercourse only to inseminate the female. It is known that the camels smell the pee of the female in order to find out whether the female is inseminated or not.
To sum up, even in the intercourse of the animals, there is no trait of fornication. Their nature and creation, in other words, their instincts, will not allow it. This disgrace, this love of infertility is an evil that puts men in a position lower than animals. Instead of facing that evil, it is better to marry a female slave. However, if there is no risk of fornication, patience and remaining unmarried is better. Although, remaining unmarried means being deprived of having children and reproduction, "Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

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