Which women are meant by ‘those whom your right hand possess?


murabbi asked Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa which women were referred to in the following verse: 

وَّالۡمُحۡصَنٰتُ‭ ‬مِنَ‭ ‬النِّسَآءِ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬مَا‭ ‬مَلَكَتۡ‭ ‬اَيۡمَانُكُمۡ

He further asked whether one was allowed to marry those women even though they were already married, or was this verse for a specific time and had now been abrogated. Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 22 July 2021, provided the following guidance on this issue: 

“You are a murabbi and yet you do not know that no verse of the Holy Quran can be abrogated. From your question, it appears that you have neither studied the books of the Promised Messiahas nor those of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, nor do you listen to the sermons and addresses of the Khulafa-e-Ahmadiyyat. Rather, you do not even know the basic beliefs of the Jamaat. Hence, you are asking whether this verse of the Holy Quran has been abrogated. It is a fundamental belief of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that the Holy Quran is the Word of God, which He has taken upon Himself to guard and that its entire text from the ba of the basmalah to the seen of wa n-nas is protected by the command of God Almighty and is immutable to the extent that not a dot, nay, not even an iota, of it can be abrogated. Moreover, just as the Holy Quran was pertinent 1400 years ago, it is still applicable and will continue to be practicable until the Day of Judgement, insha-Allah

“Yes, it is true that some commands of the Holy Quran are related to specific situations. When those situations arose during the lifetime of Holy Prophetsa such commands were applied to them. Should the same conditions arise again in the future, then these commands will be implemented under them. The commands regarding female prisoners of war described in the verse under discussion are also specific to similar situations.

“A murabbi’s job is not only to find answers by just submitting questions [to others] or to merely resort to Google search to find out something. Instead, a murabbi should have the habit of conducting his own research to increase his knowledge. His knowledge should be firm and deep, he should pay meticulous attention to the study of Jamaat books and other scholarly works and he should have the habit of contemplating and deliberating on them to extract new scholarly insights.

“As far as the question related to women in the above-mentioned verse is concerned, [one should remember that] in the early stages of Islam, the enemies of Islam would make Muslims a target of various kinds of atrocities. If they got hold of the wife of a poor and oppressed Muslim, they would include her among their wives as a slave. 

“Hence, in accordance with the Quranic injunction of جَزٰٓؤُا‭ ‬سَيِّئَةٍ‭ ‬سَيِّئَةٌ‭ ‬مِّثۡلُهَا [‘the recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof’], such women who came along with an assailing army against Islam in order to support them would be taken captives as prisoners of war in accordance with the custom of that era. Then, if such women did not earn their freedom by paying the ransom or through the method of mukatabat [an agreement between a slave and master, where the slave offers to pay their own monetary value in order to be set free] they would be distributed among the army as there were no royal prisons etc. to hold such prisoners of war in those days. These soldiers were responsible for meeting the needs of the female prisoners of war who came into their possession such as housing, food and clothing etc. So, in return, according to the custom of that era, these soldiers had full right to benefit from them, which included having a physical relationship with them. Therefore, in this verse, the same kind of women of the enemy are mentioned. If they came into the possession of the Muslims under the above-mentioned circumstances as female prisoners of war, regardless of whether they were married or unmarried, it was permissible to have conjugal relationships with them. 

“Here, I should also make it clear that in the light of the Holy Quran, the ahadith and the sayings of the Promised Messiahas, my position is that conjugal relations could be established with those female prisoners of war only through nikah. Nevertheless, their consent was not required for this marriage, nor was the consent of a wali, as is mandated in Islamic law, necessary for such marriage. Rather, as was the practice in many tribes and societies of the past, and is still practised in some countries that it is only pronounced in the society that ‘we are husband and wife’ and this is a kind of ‘nikah announcement’, in the same way, the act of [public] distribution of such female prisoners of war along with other spoils of war to the soldiers was considered a kind of ‘nikah announcement’. Moreover, a nikah to such a woman did not affect the permission for a man to rightfully marry up to four [free] women. In other words, a man could perform nikah with such a woman despite being married to four [free] women. However, if the female prisoner of war bore a child, she would become free as a result of being the mother of that child [umm al-walad].”

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