The Quran

Commentaries for 24.33

An Nur (The light) - النور

24.33 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And let those who cannot find a match) those who are unable to marry (keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace) until Allah gives them sufficiency from His provision. This was revealed about Huwaytib Ibn 'Abd al-'Uzza who refused to agree to give one of his slaves a chance to buy out his freedom. (And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation)) to buy out their freedom, (write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them) if you know they are righteous and keep their promise, (and bestow upon them) upon all people (of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you) so that they can make an agreement for their emancipation; it is also said that here the master is encouraged to forgive a third of what has been agreed upon with his slave who wants to buy out his freedom. Then the following was revealed about 'Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his host because they used to force their female slaves to commit adultery in order to earn money from them and have more slaves as result of the children they bore as a consequence, and so Allah forbade them from doing this and made such an act forbidden: (Force not your slave girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world) from what they earn from working as prostitutes and also from the children they give birth to, (if they would preserve their chastity) if they want to remain chaste. (And if one force them) and if one force these slave girl to commit adultery, (then (unto them), after their compulsion) and repentance, (Lo! Allah will be Forgiving) He forgives them, (Merciful) and He will show mercy towards them after they die.
24.33 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And let those who cannot find the means to marry be continent, [those who do not have] the bridal money or the means for financial support needed for marriage, [let them restrain themselves] from fornication, until God enriches them, [until] He improves their means, out of His bounty, and they marry. And those who seek a written contract [of emancipation], from among those whom your right hand owns, of male slaves and female slaves, contract with them accordingly, if you know in them any good, such as trustworthiness and the ability to earn [income] in order to fulfil the amount stated in the written contract, which might be worded for example thus: ‘I contract you for [the amount of] two thousand to be paid over a period of two months, at one thousand a month, and if you fulfill this, you are a free man’, and the other would say, ‘I accept’; and give them — this is a command for the [slaves’] owners — out of the wealth of God which He has given you, in the measure that will help them to fulfill their commitment to you (the action of ītā’, ‘giving’, here suggests that some of the amount to which they have committed themselves should be waived). And do not compel your slave-girls, your handmaidens, to prostitution, fornication, when they desire to be chaste, to abstain therefrom (this ‘desire’ is the cause of the [act of] ‘compulsion’, so that the statement is not properly a conditional), that you may seek, through such compulsion, the transient things of the life of this world — this was revealed regarding ‘Abd Allāh b. Ubayy, who used to force his slave-girls to earn money through fornication. And should anyone compel them, then surely God, after their compulsion, will be Forgiving, to these [slave-girls], Merciful, to them.
24.32-34 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Command to marry
These clear Ayat include a group of unambiguous rulings and firm commands.
وَأَنْكِحُواْ الأَيَـمَى مِنْكُمْ
(And marry those among you who are single (Al-Ayama)....) This is a command to marry. The Prophet said:
«يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ، مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمُ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ، فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ»
(O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him marry, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting the private parts. Whoever cannot do that, then let him fast, for it is a protection for him.) This was recorded in the Two Sahihs from the Hadith of Ibn Mas`ud. In the Sunan, it was recorded from more than one person that the Messenger of Allah said:
«تَزَوَّجُوا تَوَالَدُوا تَنَاسَلُوا فَإِنِّي مُبَاهٍ بِكُمُ الْأُمَمَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ»
(Marry and have children, for I will be proud of you before the nations on the Day of Resurrection.) The word Al-Ayama, the plural form of Ayyim, is used to describe a woman who has no husband and a man who has no wife, regardless of whether they have been married and then separated, or have never been married at all. Al-Jawhari reported this from the scholars of the (Arabic) language, and the word is applied to men and women alike.
إِن يَكُونُواْ فُقَرَآءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
(If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas: "Allah encouraged them to get married, commanded both free men and servants to get married, and He promised to enrich them.''
إِن يَكُونُواْ فُقَرَآءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
(If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty.) It was recorded that Ibn Mas`ud said: "Seek the richness through marriage, for Allah says:
إِن يَكُونُواْ فُقَرَآءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
(If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty.)'' This was recorded by Ibn Jarir. Al-Baghawi also recorded something similar from `Umar. It was reported from Al-Layth from Muhammad bin `Ajlan from Sa`id Al-Maqburi from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said:
«ثَلَاثَةٌ حَقٌّ عَلَى اللهِ عَوْنُهُمْ: النَّاكِحُ يُرِيدُ الْعَفَافَ، وَالْمُكَاتَبُ يُرِيدُ الْأَدَاءَ، وَالْغَازِي فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ»
(There are three whom it is a right upon Allah to help: one who gets married seeking chastity; a slave who makes a contract with his master with the aim of buying his freedom; and one who fights for the sake of Allah.) This was recorded by Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah. The Prophet performed the marriage of a man who owned nothing but his waist wrap, and could not even buy a ring made of iron, but he still married him to that woman, making the Mahr his promise to teach her whatever he knew of the Qur'an. And it is known from the generosity and kindness of Allah that He provided him with whatever was sufficient for her and for him.
The Command to keep Oneself Chaste if One is not able to get married
Allah's saying:
وَلْيَسْتَعْفِفِ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَجِدُونَ نِكَاحاً حَتَّى يُغْنِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
(And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His bounty.) This is a command from Allah to those who do not have the means to get married: they are to keep themselves chaste and avoid unlawful things, as the Prophet said:
«يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمُ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ»
(O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him marry, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting the private parts. Whoever cannot do that, then let him fast, for it is a protection for him.) This Ayah is general in meaning, and the Ayah in Surat An-Nisa' is more specific, where Allah says:
وَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنكُمْ طَوْلاً أَن يَنكِحَ الْمُحْصَنَـتِ
(And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women)until His statement;
وَأَن تَصْبِرُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ
(but it is better for you that you practise self-restraint) 4:25 meaning, it is better for you to be patient and refrain from marrying slave-girl, because any child that is born will also be a slave.
وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful) 4:25.
وَلْيَسْتَعْفِفِ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَجِدُونَ نِكَاحاً
(And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste,) `Ikrimah said, "This refers to a man who sees a woman and it is as if he feels desire; if he has a wife then let him go to her and fulfill his desire with her, and if he does not have a wife, then let him ponder the kingdom of heaven and earth until Allah grants him means of livelihood.''
The Command to grant Slaves a Contract of Emancipation
وَالَّذِينَ يَبْتَغُونَ الْكِتَـبَ مِمَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ فَكَـتِبُوهُمْ إِنْ عَلِمُتُمْ فِيهِمْ خَيْراً
(And such of your servants as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them.) This is a command from Allah to slave-owners: if their servants ask them for a contract of emancipation, they should write it for them, provided that the servant has some skill and means of earning so that he can pay his master the money that is stipulated in the contract. Al-Bukhari said: "Rawh narrated from Ibn Jurayj: `I said to `Ata', "If I know that my servant has money, is it obligatory for me to write him a contract of emancipation'' He said, "I do not think it can be anything but obligatory.'' `Amr bin Dinar said: "I said to `Ata', `Are you narrating this from anybody' He said, `No,' then he told me that Musa bin Anas told him that Sirin, who had a lot of money, asked Anas for a contract of emancipation and he refused. So he went to `Umar (bin Al-Khattab), may Allah be pleased with him, and he said, `Write it for him.' He refused, so `Umar hit him with his whip and recited,
فَكَـتِبُوهُمْ إِنْ عَلِمُتُمْ فِيهِمْ خَيْراً
(give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them.)Then he wrote the contract.'' This was mentioned by Al-Bukhari with a disconnected chain of narration. It was also narrated by `Abdur-Razzaq who said Ibn Jurayj told them: I said to `Ata', "If I know that my servant has some money, is it obligatory for me to write him a contract of emancipation'' He said, `I do not think it can be anything but obligatory.''' It was also said by `Amr bin Dinar who said, "I said to `Ata', `Are you narrating this from anybody' He said, `No.''' Ibn Jarir recorded that Sirin wanted Anas bin Malik to write a contract of emancipation and he delayed, then `Umar said to him, "You should certainly write him a contract of emancipation.'' Its chain of narrators is Sahih. Allah's saying:
إِنْ عَلِمُتُمْ فِيهِمْ خَيْراً
(if you find that there is good and honesty in them.) Some of them said (this means) trustworthiness. Some said: "Honesty,'' and others said: "A skill and ability to earn.''
وَءَاتُوهُمْ مِّن مَّالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِى ءَاتَـكُمْ
(And give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.) This is the share of the wealth of Zakah that Allah stated to be their right. This is the opinion of Al-Hasan, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and his father and Muqatil bin Hayyan. It was also the opinion favored by Ibn Jarir.
وَءَاتُوهُمْ مِّن مَّالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِى ءَاتَـكُمْ
(And give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you. ) Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "This is urging the people, their masters and others.'' This was also the view of Buraydah bin Al-Husayb Al-Aslami and Qatadah. Ibn `Abbas said: "Allah commanded the believers to help in freeing slaves.''
The Prohibition of forcing One's Slave-Girls to commit Zina ®257
؛ Allah's saying:
وَلاَ تُكْرِهُواْ فَتَيَـتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَآءِ
(And force not your slave-girls to prostitution...) Among the people of the Jahiliyyah, there were some who, if he had a slave-girl, he would send her out to commit Zina and would charge money for that, which he would take from her every time. When Islam came, Allah forbade the believers to do that. The reason why this Ayah was revealed, according to the reports of a number of earlier and later scholars of Tafsir, had to do with `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. He had slave-girls whom he used to force into prostitution so that he could take their earnings and because he wanted them to have children which would enhance his status, or so he claimed.
Reports narrated on this Topic
In his Musnad, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Ahmad bin `Amr bin `Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Bazzar, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Az-Zuhri said, "`Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul had a slave-girl whose name was Mu`adhah, whom he forced into prostitution. When Islam came, the Ayah
وَلاَ تُكْرِهُواْ فَتَيَـتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَآءِ
(And force not your slave-girls to prostitution...) was revealed.'' Al-A`mash narrated from Abu Sufyan that Jabir said concerning this Ayah, "This was revealed about a slave-girl belonging to `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul whose name was Musaykah. He used to force her to commit immoral actions, but there was nothing wrong with her and she refused. Then Allah revealed this Ayah:
وَلاَ تُكْرِهُواْ فَتَيَـتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَآءِ
(And force not your slave-girls to prostitution,) until His saying;
وَمَن يُكْرِههُنَّ فِإِنَّ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ إِكْرَاهِهِنَّ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(But if anyone compels them, then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)'' An-Nasa'i also recorded something similar. Muqatil bin Hayyan said, "I heard -- and Allah knows best -- that this Ayah was revealed about two men who used to force two slave-girls of theirs (into prostitution). One of them was called Musaykah who belonged to the Ansari, and Umaymah the mother of Musaykah belonged to `Abdullah bin Ubayy. Mu`adhah and Arwa were in the same situation. Then Musaykah and her mother came to the Prophet and told him about that. Then Allah revealed:
وَلاَ تُكْرِهُواْ فَتَيَـتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَآءِ
(And force not your slave-girls to prostitution), meaning Zina.
إِنْ أَرَدْنَ تَحَصُّناً
(if they desire chastity,) means, if they want to be chaste, which is the case with the majority of slave-girls.
لِّتَبْتَغُواْ عَرَضَ الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا
(in order that you may make a gain in the goods of this worldly life.) meaning, from the money they earn and their children. The Messenger of Allah forbade the money earned by the cupper, the prostitute and the fortune-teller. According to another report:
«مَهْرُ الْبَغِيِّ خَبِيثٌ وَكَسْبُ الْحَجَّامِ خَبِيثٌ، وَثَمَنُ الْكَلْبِ خَبِيثٌ»
(The earnings of a prostitute are evil, the earnings of a cupper are evil, and the price of a dog is evil.)
وَمَن يُكْرِههُنَّ فِإِنَّ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ إِكْرَاهِهِنَّ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(But if anyone compels them, then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) meaning, towards them, as has already been stated in the Hadith narrated from Jabir. Ibn Abi Talhah narrated that Ibn `Abbas said, "If you do that, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, and their sin will be on the one who forced them to do that.'' This was also the view of Mujahid, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Al-A`mash and Qatadah. After explaining these rulings in detail, Allah says:
وَلَقَدْ أَنْزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكُمْ ءَايَـتٍ مُّبَيِّنَـتٍ
(And indeed We have sent down for you Ayat that make things plain,) meaning, in the Qur'an there are Ayat which are clear and explain matters in detail.
وَمَثَلاً مِّنَ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ
(and the example of those who passed away before you,) means, reports about the nations of the past and what happened to them when they went against the commandments of Allah, as Allah says:
فَجَعَلْنَـهُمْ سَلَفاً وَمَثَلاً لِّلاٌّخِرِينَ
(And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.) 43:56; We made them a lesson, i.e., a rebuke for committing sin and forbidden deeds.
لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
(for those who have Taqwa. ) meaning, for those who remember and fear Allah.
24.32-33 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The word ayama is the plural of ayyim which means a single person, and is applicable to every man who is without a wife and to every woman who is without a husband.
That is, those who show the right attitude in their dealings with you and in whom you find the capability of discharging the responsibilities of married life. The owner whose slave does not show the right attitude nor seems to possess the necessary capability and temper to lead a reasonably happy married life, has not been required to arrange his or her marriage. For in that case he would become the cause of ruining another person's life. This condition, however, has not been imposed on free persons because in their case the people who promote marriages are no more than mere advisers, associates and introducers. The actual marriage depends on the mutual willingness of the bride and the bridegroom. In the case of a slave, however, the entire responsibility lies on the owner, and if he makes the mistake of marrying a poor person with an ill-natured, ill-mannered spouse, the responsibility for the consequences will be entirely his.
..The imperative mood of the verb in "Arrange marriages.... the right attitude", has led some scholars to assume that it is obligatory to arrange such marriages; whereas the nature of the problem indicates that it cannot be so. Obviously it cannot. be obligatory for somebody to arrange the marriage of the other person. Marriage is not a one-sided affair; it needs another party also. If it were obligatory, what would be the position of the person who is going to be married? Should he willingly accept to be married wherever others arrange it? If so, it would mean that he or she had absolutely no choice in the matter. And if the one has a right to refuse, how are the others going to discharge their responsibility? Taking all these aspects into account the majority of the jurists have held that the Commandment is not obligatory but recommendatory. The intention is that the Muslims should ensure that none in the society should retrain unmarried. The people of the house, friends and neighbors, all should take necessary interest in the matter, and where no such help is available, the state should make necessary arrangements.
This does not mean that Allah will certainly bestow wealth on anybody who marries. The intention is to discourage a calculative approach. This instruction is both for the parents of the girl and of the boy. The former should not reject a pious and virtuous suitor merely because he happens to be poor. Similarly the boy's parents should not go on postponing his marriage because he is not yet a full earning member or is not yet earning sufficiently. Young men have been advised not to go on postponing their marriage unnecessarily waiting for better times Even if the income is not yet sufficient, one should marry with full faith in Allah. Very often the marriage itself becomes the cause of improving strained circumstances. The wife helps to control the family budget, or the husband starts to exert himself more to meet the new challenges and responsibilities. The wife cap: also earn to supplement the family budget. Then, who knows what the future holds in store for him. Good times can change into bad times and bad into good. One should therefore refrain from being too calculative in this regard.
The best commentary on these verses are the Traditions which have been reported from the Holy Prophet in this connection. Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud has related that the Holy Prophet once said: "O young men, whoso among you can afford to marry, he should marry, because this will be a means of restraining the eyes from casting the evil look and of keeping one pure and chaste, and the one who cannot afford, should fast, because fasting helps cool down the passions." (Bukhari, Muslim). According to Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet said: "Allah has taken upon Himself to succor three men: (a) the one who marries with a view to guarding his chastity, (b) the slave who works to earn his freedom, and (c) the one who goes out to fight in the way of Allah." (Tirmizi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad) For further explanation, see Surah An-Nisa: 25.
Mukatabat as a term means a deed of emancipation between the owner and the slave entitling the latter to earn his or her freedom after payment of an agreed sum of money in a certain period. This is one of the methods laid down in Islam for the slaves to attain their freedom. It is not essential that the slave must always pay in cash; he can also earn his freedom by rendering some special service to the owner, provided that both the parties agree. Once the agreement is signed, the owner is not entitled to put any obstacles in the way of the slave's freedom. He will have to provide opportunities to enable him to earn for his emancipation and shall have to free him when the agreed amount has been paid in time. In the time of Hadrat 'Umar, a slave entered into such an agreement with his lady owner, but managed to collect the amount in advance of the time limit. When the amount was offered to the lady, she refused to accept it on the ground that she would like to have it in monthly and yearly installments. The slave complained to Hadrat 'Umar who ordered that the amount be deposited in the state treasury and the slave be sec free. The lady was informed that her money lay in the treasury and she had the option to take it in a lump sum or in yearly or monthly installments. (Daraqutni).
A group of jurists have interpreted the words "execute the deed of emancipation with them" to mean that it is obligatory for the owner to accept the offer of a slave to earn his emancipation This is the view of 'Ata', 'Amr bin Dinar Ibn Sirin, Masruq, Dahhak, `Ikrimah, the Zahiriyyah and Ibn Jarir Tabari, and Imam Shafi'i 'also favoured it in the beginning. The other group holds that it.is not obligatory but only recommendatory and commendable. This group includes jurists like Sha'bi, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Hasan Basri, 'Abdul Rahman bin Zaid, Sufyan Thauri, Abu Hanifah and Malik bin Anas and Imam Shafi`i later on also had adopted this view. The first view is supported by two things:
(a) The imperative mood of the verb in "execute the deed...,' suggests that it is a Command front Allah.
(b) Authentic Traditions contain the incident that when Sirin, father of Hadrat Muhammad bin Sirin, the great jurist and traditionalist, made a request to his master, Hadrat Anas, for a deed of emancipation, the latter refused to accept it. Sirin took he matter before Hadrat `Umar, who whip in hand turned on Anas, saying: "Allah's Command is that you execute the deed." (Bukhari). From this it has been argued that it was not a discretionary and personal decision of Hadrat 'Umar but it was taken in the presence of the Companions and none expressed any difference of opinion. This therefore should be taken as an authentic interpretation of the verse.
The other group argues that Allah does not merely say: "Execute the deed of emancipation with them", but adds: "... provided that you trod some good in them." This condition of finding some good in them" lies entirely on the owner, and there is no fixed standard or means by which the question of "finding good in them" be got adjudicated through a court. Legal injunctions are never couched in such language. As such this injunction can only be regarded as recommendatory and not as legally mandatory. As regards the precedent of the case of Sirin, the jurists say that there was not one slave who asked for a deed of emancipation but thousands of them in the time of the Holy Prophet and the rightly-guided Caliphs, and a large number of them earned their freedom in that way. But apart from Sirin's there is no case where an owner was forced by a judicial verdict to execute a deed of emancipation. Accordingly this decision of Hadrat 'Umar cannot be taken as a judicial decision. All that can be said is that Hadrat `Umar, apart from his position of a judge, was like a father to the Muslims and might have used his paternal authority in a matter where he could not intervene as a judge.
"Good" implies three things:
(a) The slave must be capable of earning his emancipation money through hard work and labor. The Holy Prophet has said: "Execute the deed when you are sure that the slave can earn the required amount of money; do not let him go about begging the people for it." (Ibn Kathir).
(b) He should be honest, truthful and reliable for the purposes of the agreement. He should nuke the best of the opportunities and should not waste his earnings.
(c) The owner should make sure that the slave has no immoral trends and does not harbor feelings of enmity against Islam or the Muslims, nor should there be any apprehension that his freedom might prove harmful to the interests of the Muslim society. In other words, he should prove to be a loyal and faithful member of the Muslim society and not a fifth columnist. It should be noted that such precautions were absolutely necessary in the case of the prisoners of war taken as slaves.
This Command is general and is addressed to the owners, the common Muslims and the Islamic government.
(a) The owner is instructed that he should remit a part of the emancipation money. There are traditions to confirm that the Companions used to remit a sizable amount of the emancipation money to their slaves. Hadrat 'Ali used to remit a quarter of the amount and exhorted others also to do the same. (lbn Jarir).
(b) The common Muslim is instructed that he should extend liberal help to all such slaves who asked for help in this regard. One of the heads of Zakat expenditure as laid down in the Qur'an is "the ransoming of slaves". (IX:60) In the sight of Allah "freeing of slaves" is a great act of virtue. (XC :13). According to a Tradition, a Bedouin came to the Holy Prophet and requested him to instruct him what he should do to earn Paradise. The Holy Prophet replied "You have asked about the most important thing in a most concise way. You should free the slaves and help them to earn their freedom, If you present a head of cattle to somebody, present such a one as gives plenty of milk. Treat your relatives kindly even if they treat you unjustly. If you cannot do all this, you should feed the poor, give water to the thirsty, exhort the people to do good and forbid them to do evil. If you cannot do even this, you should restrain your tongue: if you have to speak, speak something good, otherwise keep quiet"'. (Baihaqi).
(c) The Islamic government is advised to spend a part of the Zakat collections on the emancipation of slaves.
Here it should be noted that slaves in the ancient tunes were of three kinds: (i) Prisoners of war, (ii) Free men who were captured and traded as slaves, (iii) Hereditary slaves who did not know when their ancestors became slaves and to which of the above categories they originally belonged. Before the advent of Islam, Arabia as well as the outside world abounded in all kinds of slaves. The entire social and economic structure of society depended more on slave labor than on servants and wage-earners. The first question before Islam was to tackle the problem of the hereditary slaves, and secondly, to find a solution to the entire problem of slavery for all times to come. In tackling the first problem, Islam did not abruptly abrogate the ownership rights in respect of the hereditary slaves as it would have completely paralyzed the entire social and economic system, and involved Arabia in a far more destructive civil war than the one fought in America, leaving the problem where it was as it is in America, where the Negroes are still facing humiliation and disgrace. Islam did not follow any such foolhardy policy of reform. Instead it generated a great moral movement for the emancipation of slaves and employed inducements, persuasions, religious injunctions and legal enactments to educate and motivate the people to free the slaves voluntarily for earning their salvation in the Hereafter, or as expiation of their sins as enjoined by Islam, or by accepting monetary compensation. To set the pace the Holy Prophet himself freed 63 slaves. One of his wives, Hadrat 'A'ishah, alone treed 67 slaves. The Holy Prophet's uncle, Hadrat `Abbas, freed 70 slaves. Among others, Hakim bin Hizam freed 100 slaves, 'Abdullah bin 'Umar 1,000, Zulkal'a Himyari 8,000, and 'Abdur Rehman bin 'Auf 30,000. The other Companions among whom Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat 'Uthman were prominent also set a large number of slaves free. The people, in order to win Allah's favor, not only emancipated their own slaves, but also bought them from others and then set them free. The result was that in so far as hereditary slaves were concerned, almost all of them had been freed even before the righteous Caliphate came to an end.
As for the future, Islam completely prohibited free men from being kidnapped and traded as slaves. As for the prisoners of war, it was permitted (not commanded) that they might be kept as slaves so long as they were not exchanged for Muslim prisoners of war, or freed on payment of ransom. Then, on the one hand, the slaves were also allowed to earn their freedom through written agreements with their masters, and on the other, the masters were exhorted to set them free just like the hereditary slaves, as an act of virtue, to win Allah's approval, or as expiation of sins, or by willing that a slave would automatically gain his freedom on the master's death, or that a slave girl would be free on the master's death if she had borne him children, whether he had left a will or not. This is how Islam solved the problem of slavery. Ignorant people raise objections without trying to understand this solution, and the apologists offer all sorts of apologies and have even to deny the fact that Islam had prohibited slavery absolutely.
This does not mean that if the slave girls do not want to lead a chaste and virtuous life they can be forced into prostitution. It only means this that if a slave girl commits an immoral act of her own free will, she herself is responsible for it and the law will be applied against her alone. But if the owner forces her into it, it will be entirely his responsibility, and the law will proceed against him. Obviously the question of force arises only when someone is compelled to act against his own will. As for the words "for your own worldly gains", these have not been used in a conditional or restrictive sense that if the owner is not sharing the immoral earnings of the slave girl, he is not an offender if he forces her into prostitution. The intention is to declare all such money unlawful as has been earned through illegal and immoral ways.
It is, however, not possible to comprehend the full import of this injunction merely from the words of the text. For this it is necessary to understand the entire background and circumstances prevalent at the time of its revelation. Prostitution in Arabia existed in two forms: Domestic prostitution and open prostitution in the brothel.
(a) 'Domestic' prostitution was carried out by freed slave girls who had no guardians, or by free women who had no family or tribal support. They would take residence in a house and enter into an agreement with a number of men simultaneously for financial help in return for sexual gratification. Whenever a child was born, the mother would name whomsoever she liked as its father and the man was accepted in society as the father of the child. This was an established custom in the pre-Islamic days, which was considered almost analogous to "marriage". When Islam came, it recognized only that contract as legal marriage where a woman had only one husband. Thus all other forms of sexual gratification came to be regarded as adultery and punishable offenses as such. (Abu Da'ud).
(b) Open prostitution which was carried out entirely through slave girls was of two kinds. First, the slave girls were obliged to pay a fixed heavy amount every month to the owner, which they could only earn through prostitution. The owner knew fully well how the money was earned, and in fact there was no other object of imposing a heavy demand on the poor slave girl, especially when it was much higher than the usual wages for work or labor. Secondly, beautiful and young slave girls were made to stay in the brothel and a flag was put at the door to indicate that a "needy person" could satisfy his lust there. Such women were called "qaliqiyat" and their houses were well known as, "mawakhir"'. All prominent men of the 'day owned and maintained such houses of prostitution. `Abdullah bin Ubayy (the chief of the hypocrites of Madinah, who had been nominated as king of Madinah before the Holy Prophet's arrival there and who was in the forefront of the campaign to slander Hadrat `A'ishah) himself owned a regular house of prostitution in Madinah, which had six beautiful slave girls. Not only did he earn money through them but also used them to entertain his respectable and important guests who came to see him from different parts of Arabia. He employed the illegitimate children thus born to enhance the splendor and strength of his army of slaves. When one of these prostitutes, named Mu'azah, accepted Islam and wanted to offer repentance for her past sins, Ibn Ubayy subjected her to torture. She complained of it to Hadrat Abu Bakr, who brought it to the notice of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet ordered that the woman be taken away from the cruel man. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVIII, pp. 55 -58, and 103-104; Al Isti`ab Vol 11, p. 762; p. 762; Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, pp. 288-289). Such were the conditions when this verse was revealed. If these conditions are kept in view, it will become obvious that the real object was not merely to stop the slave girls from being forced into prostitution but to ban prostitution itself as illegal within the boundaries of the Islamic state. Simultaneously there was a declaration of general pardon for those who had been forced into this business in the past.
After the revelation of this Divine Command the Holy Prophet declared: "There is no place for prostitution in Islam." (Abu Da'ud). The second Command that he gave was that the earnings made through adultery were unlawful, impure and absolutely forbidden. According to a tradition reported by Rafi` bin Khadij, the Holy Prophet described such earnings as impure, product of the worst profession and most filthy income. (Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi, Nasa'i). According to Abu Huzaifah, he termed the money earned through prostitution as unlawful. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). Abu Mas`ud `Uqbah bin `Amr says that the Holy Prophet forbade the people to take prostitution earnings. (Sihah Sitta and Ahmad). The third Command was that the slave girl could be employed for lawful manual labor, but the owner had no right to impose or receive any money from her about which he was not sure how it had been earned. According to Rafi` bin Khadij, he prohibited accepting any earnings from the slave girl unless it was known how she had earned it. (Abu Da'ud). Rafi` bin Rifa`ah Ansari has reported the same Command in clearer words. He says: "The Prophet of Allah prohibited us from accepting anything from the earnings of a slave girl except that which she earned through manual labour, such as (and he indicated this with his hand) baking bread, spinning cotton or carding wool or cotton." (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). Another tradition quoted from Hadrat Abu Hurairah in Abu Da'ud and Musnad Ahmad says that taking of money earned by a slave girl through unlawful means is prohibited. Thus the Holy Prophet in accordance with the intention of this verse, banned by religious injunction and law all kinds of prostitution prevalent in Arabia in those days. Over and above this, the decision he gave in the case of Mu'azah, the slave girl of `Abdullah bin Ubayy, shows that an owner who forces his slave girl into prostitution loses his rights of ownership over her. This is a tradition from Imam Zuhri, which Ibn Kathir has quoted on the authority of Musnad `Abdur Razzaq.
24.33 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them…) [24:33]. This verse was revealed about a slave of Huwaytib ibn ‘Abd al-‘Uzza who was called Subayh. The latter asked his master for a writing of emancipation but he refused. When Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse, Huwaytib agreed to write a letter of emancipation in exchange for a hundred pieces of gold. Out of this sum, he offered him twenty pieces of gold which he paid. But he was killed in war at the Battle of Hunayn. (Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity) [24:33]. Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Qadi informed us> the chamberlain of Ahmad al-Tusi> Muhammad ibn Hamdan> Abu Mu‘awiyah> al-A‘mash> Abu Sufyan> Jabir who said: “‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy used to say to a slave-girl of his: ‘Go and earn something for us from whoring’, and so Allah, glorious and majestic is He, revealed (Force not your slave-girls to whoredom) up to His words (Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful!)”. Narrated by Muslim from Abu Kurayb from Abu Mu‘awiyah. Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Farisi informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hamdun> Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Hafiz> Muhammad ibn Yahya> Isma‘il ibn Abi Uways> Malik> Ibn Shihab> ‘Umar ibn Thabit who related that the verse (Force not your slave-girls to whoredom) was revealed about Mu‘adhah, the slave-girl of ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul. And through this chain of transmission> Muhammad ibn Yahya> ‘Ayyash ibn al-Walid> ‘Abd al-A‘la> Muhammad ibn Ishaq> al-Zuhri> ‘Umar ibn Thabit who said: “Mu‘adhah was Muslim as well as being the slave-girl of ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul. The latter used to force her to whoredom, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Force not your slave-girls to whoredom) up to the end of the verse”. Sa‘id ibn Muhammad al-Mu’adhdhin informed> Abu ‘Ali al-Faqih> Abu’l-Qasim al-Baghawi> Dawud ibn ‘Amr> Mansur ibn Abi al-Aswad> al-A‘mash> Abu Nadrah> Jabir who said: “‘Abd ibn Ubayy used to have a slave-girl by the name of Musaykah whom he forced to whoredom. And so, Allah, glorious and majestic is He, revealed (Force not your slave-girls to whoredom) up to the end of the verse”. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “This verse was revealed about Mu‘adhah and Musaykah, two slave-girls of ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, whom he used to force to whoredom and tax them for it. This was a pre-Islamic practice; people used to drive their slave-girls to whoredom and take a certain amount of the money they made from it. Upon the advent of Islam, Mu‘adhah said to Musaykah: ‘This business of ours is one of two things: if it is good, we have done plenty of it; and if it is evil, it is high time that we leave it’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Said Muqatil: “This verse was revealed about six slave-girls who were owned by ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy. The latter forced them to whoredom in order to benefit from the money they earned from selling themselves. These slave-girls were: Mu‘adhah, Musaykah, Umaymah, ‘Amrah, Arwa and Qutaylah. One day, one of them brought back with her one piece of gold while another one brought back with her a stripy garment. He said to them: ‘Go back and do more’. They said: ‘By Allah, we will not; Allah has brought us Islam and made adultery forbidden’. They went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and complained to him. And so, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Al-Hakim Abu ‘Amr Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz informed us, through that which he wrote to me> Ahmad ibn al-Fadl al-Haddadi> Muhammad ibn Yahya> Ishaq ibn Ibrahim> ‘Abd al-Razzaq> Ma‘mar> al-Zuhri who related that a man from the Quraysh was taken prisoner at the Battle of Badr. He was the prisoner of ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy. The latter had a slave-girl called Mu‘adhah. The Qurashite prisoner sought to tempt Mu‘adhah to sleep with him but she persistently refused because she was Muslim. Ibn Ubayy tried to force her to sleep with the Qurashite and hit her to make her comply. He was hoping that she would eventually get pregnant from the Qurashite so that he could demand a ransom for his child. However, Allah, exalted is He, said: (Force not your slave-girls to whoredom) up to His words (Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful!), He says: I will forgive them that which they were forced to do.