Hatred and Violence in the Qur’an Awareness Month: “Forbidden to you are…wedded women, save what your right hands own”
More sex slavery in today’s installment:
Forbidden to you are your mothers and daughters, your sisters, your aunts paternal and maternal, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your mothers who have given suck to you, your suckling sisters, your wives’ mothers, your stepdaughters who are in your care being born of your wives you have been in to — but if you have not yet been in to them it is no fault in you — and the spouses of your sons who are of your loins, and that you should take to you two sisters together, unless it be a thing of the past; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate; and wedded women, save what your right hands own. So God prescribes for you. Lawful for you, beyond all that, is that you may seek, using your wealth, in wedlock and not in licence. Such wives as you enjoy thereby, give them their wages apportionate; it is no fault in you in your agreeing together, after the due apportionate. God is All-knowing, All-wise.
Any one of you who has not the affluence to be able to marry believing freewomen in wedlock, let him take believing handmaids that your right hands own; God knows very well your faith; the one of you is as the other. So marry them, with their people’s leave, and give them their wages honourably as women in wedlock, not as in licence or taking lovers. (Qur’an 4:23-25)
This passage forbids Muslims to marry women who are already married, except slave girls: according to Islamic law, once a woman is captured and enslaved, her marriage is immediately annulled (cf. “˜Umdat al-Salik o9.13). There is no consideration of her consent in that connection: she is a slave, a commodity.
At one point, according to a hadith reported by Sahih Muslim, “the Companions of Allah”s Messenger seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists.” So the Companions “asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah [verse] was revealed”¦Consequently, we had sexual relations with these women.” Again, no consent on their part is involved.
Meanwhile, a man who “has not the affluence to be able to marry believing freewomen” should marry Muslim slave girls (v. 25). Marry them with “their people’s” permission (not their own, apparently), and “give them their wages honourably.” You wouldn’t expect her to go unpaid, now, would you?
The Qur’anic discussion is a bit antiseptic. But these cold and clinical prescriptions have been the basis of unending misery for untold numbers of women.