About Slavery and Prisoners of War in Islam


Assalamualaikum. I am Shibanul Haque from Bangladesh. I just cannot help but have to ask you some questions. Please take a look. I have to know it to eradicate my misconceptions if I have any.

1. Was it permissible to have an intimate relationship with POW's without marriage after the period of iddah. Was marriage required for this kind of relationship or just consent of POW's was enough?

2. It has been said in the Quran verse no. 47:4 that, either one can free POW's for generosity or for ransom. That was done by Prophet PBUH during the battle of Badr. But this was not followed in the battle with bani al mustaliq or in khyber or in the case of banu qurayza, why? Why people of these tribes enslaved after the clear commandment of Quran that either pow's

can be freed or ransomed but not to be enslaved. Am I missing something? Is there any difference between POW's and slave?

3. It has been said that only slave was allowed to be distributed as war booty and can be taken as a slave. A free person cannot be enslaved, they should be freed or ransomed. Although there was an exception in the case of Banu Qurayza. In the case of Banu al mustaliq and in the battle of khaybar, Juwayriyyah RA and Safiyyah RA both were enslaved and then freed. Why? Were not they a free person? Why they were distributed as a slave?

4. Is MARIAH (RA) is a UMMUL-MOMINEEN? Because some historians say that Prophet (PBUH) married her i.e. IBN KATHIR but somewhere it says that HE did not i.e. TABARI. If Prophet PBUH did not marry her, why didn't he marry her? Can you please elaborate?

5. Is there any chance that slavery can be resurrected if Khilafah somehow reestablished and if there is a war between the Islamic state and non-Muslims, why and why not? I am asking this question due to some reason, a. ISIS is doing exactly this heinous crime in the name of our DEEN, why? b. After the death of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, did the rightly guided Caliphs

used to enslave the POW's or just free them for generosity or by taking ransom?

5. Can you please describe the context of Surah at-Tahrim verse no 1 to 6. Because I think the background of those verses very much delicate. So I need to hear from a Scholar. Please let me know Sir. I have searched everywhere possible to get answer. But, I could not do so. I will be eagerly waiting for your reply,

Sir. I want to learn my DEEN better, please help me.



wa alaikumussalaam.

1. Sexual relations with POWs was recognized by the Qur'an, in view of the deep roots of the institution of slavery in the Arabian society or for that matter in the whole world. Marriage was not required for this type of relationship. The slaves were aware of their social position and consented to this relationship.

For questions 2 and 3 please refer to the chapter 'captives of war' from Mr. Ghamidi's book 'Islam - A Comprehensive Introduction' (Online link: http://www.javedahmadghamidi.com/%20meezan/view/captives_of_war)

4. As for Maria (ra), she was not a wife of the Prophet (sws) and therefore, not counted among the Ummahat al-Mumineen. The Prophet (sws) kept her as a slave because he was barred from marrying those slave girls who were not part of the booty of war, in the same verse that governed his marriage regulations (See Ahzab 33: 52). Hadhrat Maria Qibtia (ra) was presented to the Prophet (pbuh) by the ruler of Egypt. He loved her very much and treated her very well, in order to set an example for the Muslims in treatment of their slaves.

It should be kept in mind that although Islam condemned slavery, it did not abolish it instantly. The institution of slavery was so deep rooted in the society that it was not possible to do away with it at once. In fact, Islam adopted a gradual approach towards it by giving incentives to free slaves in return for reward in the hereafter or by treating them fairly and respectably. It was during this intermediary period that the Prophet (sws) set an example of good treatment of the slaves, in the case of Hadhrat Maria Qibtia (ra), for the Muslims to follow. The other example of the he set in relation to slaves was in the case of Hadhrat Zaid (ra), whom he freed and cared for him as his son. There is no strong evidence of any other slave girl in the household of the Prophet (sws).

5. First of all, in our view, khilafah is not a directive of our religion. So regardless of whether it is established or not, the practice of slavery should not be revived. It was a social nuisance that had gripped the world and the spirit of the Islamic teachings do not allow for this practice to be revived after it has ended globally. The prisoners of war should be treated according to the humane and just principles that are globally acknowledged and Islam also calls for the humane treatment of the prisoners.

In the period of the rightly guided caliphs, many steps were taken to free the slaves and according to some historical narrative, they did achieve success in at least ending this practice from the Arabian Peninsula. But the ever increasing conquests brought new slaves under the Muslim rule from outside Arabia. They could not have been freed at once for the same reasons that existed in Arabia earlier as their livelihood depended on their owners. But through the practice of Mukatabat, they were given the option to achieve their freedom if they so desired.

6. For the context and explanation of Surah Tahrim please visit this link >http://monthly-renaissance.com/issue/content.aspx?id=1272

Hope this helps.

About the Author

Mushafiq Sultan

Mushafiq Sultan, born in Kashmir (Indian Administered) in 1988, has been studying world religions from his school days. In 2009 Mushafiq came across the works of Ustaz Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and since then has been highly influenced by his thought. He has an exceptional interest in world religions, their philosophies and their mutual relations. He formally joined Al-Mawrid in 2016 as Assistant Fellow (Honorary). Presently, he is in charge of Al-Mawrid’s query service. In 2016, he published his first book ‘Muhammad (sws) in the Bible- An Exposition on Isaiah 42’. He has written articles on Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. He has also translated several articles of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi into Hindi.