Was sexual intercourse with female slaves of war (concubines) before they were divided up?

The Details of the Question

Abu Said al-Khudri narrates an incident that he personally participated in:
“I was with Muhammad in the Expedition of Sons of Mustaliq. When we had intercourse (in the desert) with the women we captured in the raid, we would discharge the sperm outside the women’s uterus to prevent them from getting pregnant. When we asked Muhammad whether what we did was in accordance with the religion, he replied, ‘Yes, there is no problem; you can use such a method.’
- Is it understood from the hadith that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the women who are captured during the war before they are distributed to warriors?

- As far as I know, a man can have sexual intercourse with his female slave (concubine) only after the spoils including slaves are divided up. According to the hadith in question, were the captured women selected and used as desired and then distributed to the warriors?
- Were all the female slaves brought together in one place, and did those who wished go there, have sexual intercourse with the female slaves and leave?
- Did they do it in the presence of other people?
- How should we understand it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

First of all, we should state that there is no concubinage today.

No, sexual intercourse with a prisoner of war is not permissible; it is haram. A soldier who rapes a captive woman can be sentenced to flogging or death penalty.

During the periods when concubinage was in question, girls and women captured by the enemy during the war were taken as “concubines”. Since they were considered booty by law, they were given to the warriors in need of maids by the Islamic state. From that moment on, the “concubine” was considered a part of the family and a member of the family and was treated accordingly. The “master”, the owner of the concubine, could employ her in personal services and household chores; if he wished, he could have sexual intercourse with her without the need for a wedding ceremony.

After this short information, let us deal with the issue in the question:

In the Expedition of Sons of Mustaliq (Muraysi), which took place in Shawwal of the 5th year of the Hijrah (February-March 627), 200 families were taken prisoners from the enemy and divided among the warriors.

The issue mentioned in the question took place after that sharing. That is, it is related to the concubines given to the warriors.

“After the war, the captives were divided up among the warriors and handed over to them. Camels and sheep were also divided. One camel was regarded as equal to ten sheep. Each cavalryman received two shares, one for the horse and one for himself, and each infantryman received one share.” (1)

When the Prophet (pbuh) married Juwayriyya, the daughter of Harith b. Abu Dirar, the chief of the tribe, most of the Companions released their captives without any ransom, and some captives were released with a ransom in exchange for six shares of the booty.

Although there is not a single verse in the Quran related to the enslavement of people, the emancipation of slaves was encouraged on various occasions; it was decreed that some of the state revenues would be allocated to the emancipation of slaves; in addition, emancipation of slaves was made obligatory due to some crimes such as oath breaking and killing.

The reason why Muslim jurists accepted enslavement as a regulation regarding captives was because it was an international custom at that time. However, Islam made the treatment of slaves extremely humane, as many Western researchers who were interested in the subject admitted; Muslims did not subject their slaves to harsh treatment as in the Western world, but regarded them as members of their own families. (2)

Based on the rule of retaliation, when necessary, Islam forbade the ill-treatment of captives, even though they were given the status of slaves. As a matter of fact, if Muslim hostages are killed, non-Muslim hostages cannot be killed by means of retaliation. (3)

Click for additional information:

What punishment is given to a person who has intercourse with a captive woman?

What is a concubine?

Footnotes:

1) see Vaqidi, Maghazi, 1/410, Ibn Sad, Tabaqatul-Kubra, 2/64; Ibn Sayyid, Uyunul-Athar, 2/93; Diyarbekri, Tarikhul-Khamis, 1/470, Halabi, Insanul-Uyun, 2/585.
2) Murray Gordon, L’Esclavage dans le monde arabe (transl. Colette Vlérick), Paris 1987, pp. 20-21, 24-25; E.R. Toledano,
Osmanlı Köle Ticareti: 1840-1890 (transl. Y. Hakan Erdem), Istanbul 1994, pp. 3-6.
3) Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, Cairo 1386/1966, 4/265.

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