What is the status according to sharia about the concept of concubines – the one’s your right hands posess? Are women also allowed to have such relationships with their slaves?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.
According to Shariah, slaves are those individuals (men and women) who were taken prisoners from the disbelievers during Jihad. As part of the distribution of the spoils of war they are given to the Muslims by the Amir of the time. (These slaves can then be bought and sold between the communities) The offspring’s of these prisoners also become slaves except in some specific circumstances (Maariful Quran, Vol 2, P371). The scholars are of the opinion that the conditions that are required to enable the possibility of possession of slaves do not exist nowadays, therefore the servants that are kept in houses nowadays to not fall under the category of slave and to live with someone by declaring that they are slaves is not accepted in Shariah and is haram.
Allah states in the Quran: “And the one who cannot afford to marry the free Muslim women, then (he may marry) the one you own of the Muslim girls. And Allah knows best about your faith. You are similar to each other. So, marry them with the permission of their masters and give them their dues… (Surah An Nisa: 25)
In this verse the word “taul” means power, capability and means. The meaning of the above verse is that one who does not have the capability or means to marry free Muslim women can marry a Muslim women slave. The verse clearly indicates that one should marry, as far as possible a free woman, however if he does not have the means and capability to do so then he should marry a Muslim women slave. (Maariful Quran, Vol 2, P371)
In regards to females having relationship with their slaves, Allah has stated in the Quran, “Likewise enjoin the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; not to display their beauty and ornaments except what normally appears thereof; let them draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their charms except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their own sons, their stepsons, their own brothers, their nephews on either brothers’ or sisters’ sides, their own womenfolk, their own slaves, male attendants who lack sexual desires or small children who have no carnal knowledge of women. (Surah Nur: 24)
The general sense of the wording includes both male and female slaves and servants, but many scholars and jurist consider that it applies only to female slaves, and not male slaves. Therefore, it is obligatory to be in cover before them, like other non-Mahrams. Said ibn Mussyab has said expressing his final view “Do not be under the misconception that the wordings “aw ma malakat aymanahunna” are general, and include male slaves as well. It is not so, this verse refers to only female slaves, male slaves are not included in it.” Abdullah ibn Masud, Hasan Basri and ibn Sirin have said that it is not permissible for a male slave to see his female owner’s hair (Maariful Quran, Vol 6).
From the above it is clear that for a female to have a relationship outside marriage with her slave will not be permissible.
Only Allah knows best.
Darul Ifta, Birmingham