Verse in Koran implicitly accepts the existence of brothels

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YUSUFALI: Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is Allah, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them),

PICKTHAL: And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you. Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful.

SHAKIR: And let those who do not find the means to marry keep chaste until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace. And (as for) those who ask for a writing from among those whom your right hands possess, give them the writing if you know any good in them, and give them of the wealth of Allah which He has given you; and do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail good of this world's life; and whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.



It is only sinful if you compel your slave girls.

If you do not compel them then it is OK.

Prostitution should certainly not of course be forced. If it is a willing transaction between punter and prostitute, then it is OK.

If your slave girls desire manumission then prostitution is one of the ways of earning it, then you must allow them the ways and means to obtain their manumission.

Therefore an Islamic state would legalise brothel-keeping.

Interestingly, a liberal-feminist state wishes to outlaw it. Hypocrisy and irrationality, anyone?

Comments

Rookh Kshatriya said…
Feminist antipathy to casual sex is perfectly rational. Casual sex or homosexuality eradicate women's potent status as controllers of sex. This is why women invariably oppose casual sex and male homosexuality. Homoerotic cultures like feudal Japan or Norman England tend to hold women in low esteem, for this very reason.
Kashif Shahzada said…
On this occasion Claire is not right!

1. Translations cited in the article render some words incorrectly that completely change the essence.

2. 'Fatiyatikum' in 24:33 means 'your young women', and not slave girls. The root letters of the word are "fa", "ta", "waw". 'Fatun' in Arabic is 'a youngster'. E.g. see 21:60 where Abraham was called a 'Fatun' i.e. a young man.

3. Slavery has been banned by the Quran in 3:79. People R not allowed to enslave others, but be slaves only to God. Wrong translation creates the impression as if slavery is endorsed. Which is not.

4. 'bighā in 24:33 does not mean 'Prostitution'. Its root is ba ghayn ya, whose the basic meaning is 'rebellion', 'wrong conduct', 'oppression', 'unchaste', and words of similar import.

See derivatives of baghā in 38:22, 22:60, 42:27, 19:20, 19:28 etc which demonstrate that the rendering of the word in 24:33 in the translations cited in the essay are inaccurate.

5. Statements like below go against numerous Quranic rejoinders:

" If you do not compel them then it is OK.",

"...If it is a willing transaction between punter and prostitute, then it is OK.",

"..Islamic state would legalise brothel-keeping..." etc


This is so because according to Quran:


a) 'Zinaa' (adultery, fornication) is a major sin and those guilty of it will be destined for hellfire, unless they repent and amend their conduct (see 25:68).

b) Believers R commanded not to even go near it. (see 17:32, 60:12)

c) Fornicators are to be penalised with a 100 lashes (see 24:2)

d) 'Fahisha' (obscenity) is prohibited (see 7:33).

In view of above and more, the assertions made in the article R incorrect.
Claire Khaw said…
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YUSUFALI: It is not (possible) that a man, to whom is given the Book, and Wisdom, and the prophetic office, should say to people: "Be ye my worshippers rather than Allah's": on the contrary (He would say) "Be ye worshippers of Him Who is truly the Cherisher of all: For ye have taught the Book and ye have studied it earnestly."
PICKTHAL: It is not (possible) for any human being unto whom Allah had given the Scripture and wisdom and the prophethood that he should afterwards have said unto mankind: Be slaves of me instead of Allah; but (what he said was): Be ye faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture and of your constant study thereof.
SHAKIR: It is not meet for a mortal that Allah should give him the Book and the wisdom and prophethood, then he should say to men: Be my servants rather than Allah's; but rather (he would say): Be worshippers of the Lord because of your teaching the Book and your reading (it yourselves).

I cannot see where this verse bans prostitution, Kashif.
Kashif Shahzada said…
3.79 bans slavery.

"..be my Ibaad (slaves), instead of Allah's..." should not be said by any man, even if he is a Prophet. Human beings R to be in bondage of God alone and not each other, is the quintessential message of the Qur'an.


17:32, 60:12 ban prostitution.
Claire Khaw said…
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YUSUFALI: Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).
PICKTHAL: And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way.
SHAKIR: And go not nigh to fornication; surely it is an indecency and an evil way.

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YUSUFALI: O Prophet! When believing women come to thee to take the oath of fealty to thee, that they will not associate in worship any other thing whatever with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit adultery (or fornication), that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey thee in any just matter,- then do thou receive their fealty, and pray to Allah for the forgiveness (of their sins): for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
PICKTHAL: O Prophet! If believing women come unto thee, taking oath of allegiance unto thee that they will ascribe no thing as partner unto Allah, and will neither steal nor commit adultery nor kill their children, nor produce any lie that they have devised between their hands and feet, nor disobey thee in what is right, then accept their allegiance and ask Allah to forgive them. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
SHAKIR: O Prophet! when believing women come to you giving you a pledge that they will not associate aught with Allah, and will not steal, and will not commit fornication, and will not kill their children, and will not bring a calumny which they have forged of themselves, and will not disobey you in what is good, accept their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

There are contradictory verses in the Koran about wine.

I prefer to interpret it as tolerating the selling and taking of alcohol or any other drug provided one does not become intoxicated, and to tolerate prostitution for those who have for one reason or another become enslaved and desire manumission.

The Koran clearly acknowledges and tolerates the existence of slavery.

If one has to technically enslave oneself to the state in order to become a prostitute working in a state-run brothel, then so be it.

Having women in brothels who do it for a stated price is better than having most women doing it for free IMHO.
Claire Khaw said…
There are contradictory verses in the Koran about wine.

I prefer to interpret it as tolerating the selling and taking of alcohol or any other drug provided one does not become intoxicated, and to tolerate prostitution for those who have for one reason or another become enslaved and desire manumission.

The Koran clearly acknowledges and tolerates the existence of slavery.

If one has to technically enslave oneself to the state in order to become a prostitute working in a state-run brothel, then so be it.

Having women in brothels who do it for a stated price is better than having most women doing it for free IMHO.

When you have two evils, always choose the lesser one!
Al Asker Khan said…
It is true that a lot of people push this subject ‘under the rug’ and do not understand it or are sometimes ashamed of this concept. That is because, today’s society and behavior is absolutely different from the conditions prevalent 1500 years ago at the time of Revelation of the Quran. There is no place on earth where this concept is practiced today, thus to really understand the concept in its entirety, we must try to imagine the times of the Revelation of the Glorious Quran.


Since time immemorial, slavery was an accepted practice; thus it was not Islam that started this practice, but rather Islam was the first system to inculcate the freedom of slaves and take steps to make them equal citizens of society. Slavery was abolished in modern society only a couple of centuries ago, and was openly practiced in almost all parts of the civilized world even until the early 1900s. But Islam made it a virtue to free slaves, and inculcate them into society as equal citizens, almost 1500 years ago

The prophet said regarding the rights of slaves:

Your servants and your slaves are your brothers. Anyone who has slaves should give them from what he eats and wears. He should not charge them with work beyond their capabilities. If you must set them to hard work, in any case I advise you to help them.

Source: Bukhari, Iman, 22; Adab, 44; Muslim, Iman, 38–40; Abu Dawud, Adab, 124

Ali reported that the last words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, were: "The prayer! The prayer! Fear Allah concerning your slaves ! "

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 158.

· Jabir ibn 'Abdullah said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, advised that slaves should be well-treated. He said, 'Feed them from what you eat and clothe them from what you wear. Do not punish what Allah has created.' "

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 188.

· Sallam ibn 'Amr reported from one of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Your slaves are your brothers, so treat him well. Ask for their help in what is too much for you and help them in what is too much for them."

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 190.

· Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The slave has his food and clothing. Do not burden a slave with work which he is incapable of doing."

Source: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari , Nr. 192.

Not one of you should [ when introducing someone ] say ‘This is my slave’ , ‘This is my concubine’. He should call them ‘my daughter’ or ‘my son’ or ‘my brother’.
Al Asker Khan said…
The Prophet, had stipulated in his "last pilgrimage" speech:

"And your slaves ! see that you feed them such food as you eat yourselves and dress them what you yourself wear. And if they commit a “mistake which you are not inclined to forgive then sell them, for they are the servants of Allah and are not to be tormented! "

Source: Ibn Sa'd, op. cit., vol. II:1, p. 133

"Serve God, and join not any partners with Him ; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours “who are strangers, the Companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet), And what your right hands possess : for God loveth not the arrogant, the “vainglorious" Surah An Nisa, verse 36

The phrase "What your right hands possess" refers to one’s slaves (male and female). Allah swt ordains the kind treatment of slaves in the same verse where He commands man to worship Him and to treat his parents, relations and neighbours generously, and this signifies the importance of this ruling.
Al Asker Khan said…
What were the rights of concubines?

The status was similar to that of wife. The children were exactly like the other children from the person’s legally wedded wife. They were to be given exactly the same rights as his other children. The children of the slave girl would inherit the property exactly as the other children. There was absolutely no difference amongst the children. And once any slave girl bore a child, she could not be sold to anybody else and thus became a permanent member of the household.

Then you will probably ask how is this any different from the modern days concept of a mistress/prostitution/adultery?

There is a huge difference between the slave girls of those times and the system of prostitution which is so prevalent as a disease in today’s society.

The slave girl was a social issue of the times, which if not solved by Islam would give rise to adultery and prostitution. In prostitution, the woman sells here services for a fee to anyone who is willing to pay. The slave girl was taken into a household as a full member.

In prostitution, the woman has sexual relationships with many men. The slave girl would have sexual relations only with the person she was given to; very similar to the husband-wife relationship, the only difference being that the wife came into the house through a marriage contract, and the slave girl was allotted to the person by the state.

Prostitution is a result of illegal lust, and is a huge sin in the eyes of Allah.
Al Asker Khan said…
The allocation of slave girls was a issue of the times to envelope the woman taken as slaves in a war into the Islamic society. Prostitution and adultery do not have any responsibility attached to it. The man- woman have a one-off relationship and depart. The slave girls were a responsibility of the person, who spent on them, gave them a place to live, fed them, clothed them, and raised their children as his children.

The children from adultery and prostitution are regarded as born out of wedlock and grow up without the name and without the shadow of a father. The children of the slave girls were known as the children of the person, grew up with his other children, and had exactly the same rights and inheritance as the other offspring. The system of slave girls was accepted and respected by the Islamic society of the times. The slave girl was treated like his wife, and the children from these slave girls were treated like their children by society. No religion, no state, no moral society accepts and respects the institutions of prostitution and adultery. This is a disease of society and every moral society has tried to eradicate this disease with little success.

Despite this, it was not simply a case of forcing someone into having sex to satisfy your desires.

Below are three English translations to the Verse where Allah commands the Muslim men to not force their slave women into sex.

Translation: Yusufali:

"Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them), (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"

Translation: Pickthall:

"And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you. Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful. (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"

Translation: Shakir:

"And let those who do not find the means to marry keep chaste until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace. And (as for) those who ask for a writing from among those whom your right hands possess, give them the writing if you know any good in them, and give them of the wealth of Allah which He has given you; and do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail good of this world's life; and whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (The Noble Quran, 24:33)"
Al Asker Khan said…
In all three translations, we clearly see that if the slave woman desires to keep chaste, then her Muslim master must not compel her into sex. It might sound odd to us today, but pagans back then were used to having sex with and raping their slave girls, even the ones who were married:

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: "Musaykah, a slave-girl of some Ansari, came and said: My master forces me to commit fornication. Thereupon the following verse was revealed: "But force not your maids to prostitution (when they desire chastity). (24:33)" (Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Divorce (Kitab Al-Talaq), Book 12, Number 2304)"

So to women back then, it was something normal for a married slave woman to sleep with her master. It was something normal in the society at that time.

Allah Almighty in the Noble Quran not only allows for the slave man or woman to earn their freedom from their Muslim master, and receive money from their Muslim master to help them start their free life, but also commands the Muslim men to not compel their slave women into sex.
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him also said:

Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari: "The Prophet said, "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)." (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)"
Al Asker Khan said…
Islam came to liberate all slaves and to end the Judeo-Christian and Pagan slavery that was practiced before Islam. When Allah Almighty made lawful for the Muslim men to have sex with their slave women, He did it to keep the Islamic society back then during Islam's weak, partial and venerable times under control.

Also, if any compulsion was made unto the slave woman, then Allah Almighty will add more mercy and forgiveness unto her in the Day of Judgement. Below is the commentary on this exact section and point in Noble Verse 24:33 by Minister (Sheikh) Abdullah Yusuf Ali; may Allah Almighty rest his soul:

"The poor unfortunate girls, who are victims of such a nefarious trade (i.e., slave trade), will yet find mercy from Allah, whose bounties extend to the lowest of His creatures."

When Islam was reveled to Prophet Muhammad, slavery was a worldwide common social phenomenon; it was much older than Islam. Slavery was deeply rooted in every society to the extent that it was impossible to imagine a civilized society without slaves.

In spite of this social fact, Islam was the first religion to recognize slavery as a social illness that needed to be addressed. Since slavery was deeply rooted in the society, Islam did not abolish it at once. Rather, Islam treated slavery in the same manner it treated other social illnesses. Islam followed the same methodology of gradual elimination in dealing with this social disease as it did with other social illnesses, for example: the prohibition of alcohol in three steps.

Concerning having slave women, we would like to let you know that it happens to be a practice necessitated by the condition in which early Muslims found themselves vis-à-vis non-Muslims, as both parties engaged in wars. Slave women or milk al-yameen are referred to in the Qur'an as “Those whom your right hand possess” or “ma malakat aymanukum”; they are those taken as captives during conquests and subsequently became slaves, or those who were descendants of slaves.

Thus, it was a war custom in the past to take men and women as captives and then turn them into slaves. Islam did not initiate it, rather, it was something in practice long ago before the advent of Islam. And when Islam came, it tried to eradicate this practice, bit by bit. So it first restricted it to the reciprocal practice of war, in the sense that Muslims took war captives just as the enemies did with Muslims.
Al Asker Khan said…

But as it aimed at putting an end to such issue, Islam laid down rules which would eventually lead to eradicating the practice. So it allowed Muslims to have intercourse with slave women taken as captives of just and legitimate wars. In so doing, the woman would automatically become free if she got pregnant. What's more, her child would also become free.

Not only that, Islam also ordered a Muslim to treat the slave woman in every respect as if she were his wife. She should be well fed, clothed and given due protection. In the family environment, she had the opportunity to learn about Islam and was free to accept it or reject it. She also had the opportunity to earn her freedom for she could be ransomed.

In the light of the above-mentioned facts, and the nature of the question posed by people, it's clear that some people misunderstand the wisdom behind the permissibility of having female slaves and think that it is meant to unleash men’s desires and give them more enjoyment. Never! That is not the point! It is, rather, means of freeing slaves; and this is clarified above in the fact that if a master got a female slave pregnant, then he could neither sell her nor give her away as a present. And if he died, she would not be considered part of his property. She'd receive her freedom and her baby would also be free.

But, we have to stress that this case should not be confused with that of female servants or maids, for they are free and not slaves. Therefore, it is forbidden to engage in sexual relations with them except through an Islamic marriage.

Slavery has been abolished by international conventions, and goes in line with aims and objectives of Islam, as it has called for centuries ago.

As for marrying slaves, it is something permissible under two conditions: first, if one is unable to pay the dowry of a free woman. Second, if there is fear of committing adultery if one doesn’t get married. This is clarified by the following verse: “And whose is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. This is for him among you who feareth to commit sin. But to have patience would be better for you.” (An-Nisaa’: 25)

This verse shows that Muslim men should abstain from illicit relations and seek enjoyment through marriage to free women or through their female slaves.
Claire Khaw said…
Thank you for your scholarly responses to the points raised in this post, Al Asker Khan.

However, I do not think it is obvious and conclusive that 3:79 forbids slavery.

'It is not for a human [prophet] that Allah should give him the Scripture and authority and prophethood and then he would say to the people, "Be servants to me rather than Allah," but [instead, he would say], "Be pious scholars of the Lord because of what you have taught of the Scripture and because of what you have studied." '

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