A cyber friend had thankfully entrusted me with a query on Voluntary Slavery; or “An adult woman offers herself to be a free proprietary of a Muslim man”.. Of course; I’m not a formally authorized Sheikh or a Cleric, but a literate Muslim person; with an access to the “Linguistics” of Islamic rituals, doctrine and culture, which inevitably were in Arabic..

This controversial and exotic issue is only “linguistic rather than doctrine”.. yet, got the publicity by Muslim Radicals and Salafiests, who are famous in triggering controversial (mostly outdated) issues..

Certainly, logically and practically; there is nothing called Voluntary Slavery.. No mature person would voluntarily offer herself or himself to be propriety of another person, male or female.. unless forced or bullied by public or hidden motives.. This logic of “Freedom and Free-will” was the foundation of urbanity and civilization.. A pillar within the Intellectual Estate, for all Mankind.. Typically Islam had advocated for the Free-will; even to believe or not..

Muslim Matrimony is always public, someway or another.. Therefore, when a woman offers herself to be propriety of a man; it is an expression of love, respect or need.. Actually; she either aggressively persuading him to marry her.. or shamelessly declaring been irrevocably and irreversibly his life-time-maid (or a voluntary slave in this context).. A man (embarrassedly or uncontrolledly) may accept any of these two scenarios..
The 2nd seems irrational or unpractical in today’s world, yet stills a probability; despite how is practiced in the remote Muslim villages of Sub-Continent and Sub-Sahara..

Therefore, it is all about the 1st scenario, which in our Today’s Muslim World; would mean her choice to marry him “without a guardian’s consent or a dowry”.. Yet; witnesses would be there.. This is not a propriety nor a voluntary slavery.. It is just another form of marriage..

If couple of Muslim met somewhere at non-Muslim community, yet; decided to swiftly marry: How would they proceed..? Certainly; without Muslim Guardian, Dowry or Witnesses..  

In the history of Islam; “Proprietary of Others”; it had never been advised or encouraged; unless to relief a believer-slave from the suppression imposed by a non-Muslim owner.. Islam had made the emancipation of slaves as one of the tools for penance or sentence in most of judiciary processing.. Medieval Islam had followed the same till the formal termination of slavery in the modern times..


Proprietary or (ملك اليمين)had been mentioned in 10 Ayahs:

Surah Al-Mo’mienon 23/6: Definition of lawful believers, who only mate their wives “or” a proprietary
إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ

Surah Al-Ma’riej 70/30: Ditto/Same
إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ

Surah Al-Ahzaab 33/50: Specified role for the Prophet PBUH
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي آتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّاتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالَاتِكَ اللَّاتِي هَاجَرْنَ مَعَكَ وَامْرَأَةً مُؤْمِنَةً إِنْ وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِيِّ إِنْ أَرَادَ النَّبِيُّ أَنْ يَسْتَنْكِحَهَا خَالِصَةً لَكَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۗ قَدْ عَلِمْنَا مَا فَرَضْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِي أَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ لِكَيْلَا يَكُونَ عَلَيْكَ حَرَجٌ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفوراً رحيماً

Surah Al-Ahzaab 33/52: Ditto/Same
لَا يَحِلُّ لَكَ النِّسَاءُ مِنْ بَعْدُ وَلَا أَنْ تَبَدَّلَ بِهِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ حُسْنُهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رَقِيبًا

Surah Al-Niesaa 4/24: Role on women’s eligibility for marriage subject to Dowry; which is only for the “free” 
وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُمْ مَا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَنْ تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

Surah Al-Niesaa 4/3: Role to marry more than one women “or” aproprietary
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَىٰ فَانْكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَعُولُوا

Surah Al-Niesaa 4/36: Definition of whom charity should be given 
وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنْبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَنْ كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا

Surah Al-Noor 24/31: Definition of who may observe Muslim women without their “full” modesty
وَقُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِين لم يظهروا على عورات النساء ولا يضربن بأرجلهن ليعلم ما يخفين من زينتهن وتوبوا الى الله جميعا أيها المؤمنون لعلكم تفلحون

Surah Al-Noor 24/58: Definition of who may enter the parents’ room during their rest times  
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِيَسْتَأْذِنْكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحُلُمَ مِنْكُمْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ۚ مِنْ قَبْلِ صَلَاةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُمْ مِنَ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِنْ بَعْدِ صَلَاةِ الْعِشَاءِ ۚ ثَلَاثُ عَوْرَاتٍ لَكُمْ ۚ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَا عَلَيْهِمْ جُنَاحٌ بَعْدَهُنَّ ۚ طَوَّافُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

Surah Al-Ahzaab 33/55: Definition of who may observe Muslim women without their “Full” modesty 
لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِنَّ فِي آبَائِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَائِهِنَّ وَلَا إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاءِ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاءِ أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ وَلَا نِسَائِهِنَّ وَلَا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ ۗ وَاتَّقِينَ اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدًا


Accordingly, only 3 are addressing mating the proprietary, subject to a clear “OR” condition.. Meaning, “Not to Mate a Proprietary” if the person has the means to marry a free Muslim woman.. Adding to it, to mate a proprietary; she should be given a Dowry, which is only eligible to a free woman.. Therefore, if a Muslim Man wants; or finds no other way but to marry a proprietary; he should “Emancipate” her 1st, gives a Dowry and then “Announce” her as a legitimate wife.. It is notable that the process to emancipate was “Not” conditioned to be public, unless the owner prefers.. The dowry can only be an iron ring.. Therefore; it Is most likely that many female slaves had been set free, timely with mating.. Yet, Scholars are still debating the doctrine of witnesses, without annulling such practice.. The Islamic Code had never included “Mating a Salve or a Proprietary”; as both definitions are economic rather than sociocultural.. Both are temporary.. Therefore, they denounce the eligibility for marriage (which legitimizes mating) as surrounding circumstance may change, shift or invalid..  

The confusion about this matter is historical, when early Muslim men had mated their female slaves or proprietaries.. Then became a custom among wealthy Muslims and Statesmen, who created the brand “Hareem”.. There was “untold code” within such questioned practice: Owner-men had never sold away the female salves they had mated.. Nor set free the voluntary slaves they had.. It was a form of “irrevocable” marriage.. Eventually, as how such a woman will be a wife of yours; you can’t marry more than four of her-alike at any given time.. Simply; the practices among Ottoman, Mamluk or Mogul monarchs were deviations from the merit of Islam.. Hareem was the most wrong term in Muslim History, and the most destructive one as well.. 1970th had witnessed the formal termination of slavery in Muslim communities; worldwide apart from Mauritania and Mali.. Some few remote communities still in practice; which form socioeconomic challenges..

Today; there is no way to take a woman into proprietary, even in these classic interpretations of war, feudal or outdated social system.. What is carried out for practice in South Asia or African Sahara is not Islamic but revival of ancient social systems.. Therefore, these practices are NOT Islamic..!

Regretfully, many scholars and historian defend those odd practices in their aim to defend Islam.. yet, Islam is only honored, defended and advocated by true, integral and clear admission of Right and Wrong..!

  1. adilsud says:

    The Valide Sultans

    One of the greatest document-alike movies about Ottomans

    Role and impact of Ottoman Empire on both Europe and Islam are widely controversial.. Tracing the root-causes of style, trend and favoritism of the Sultans were always questions without answers.. The more time evolves, Turks are more open to disclose rituals and chronicles inside the Imperial Palaces.. Only then, we shall understand the true roots of Balkan, Levant and Caucus..!!

    The Mothers of the Empire: Valide sultans

    The valide sultan was the head of the imperial dynasty, and she had to ensure that there was a living male heir available to take over the throne

    Mothers-in-law have a sad reputation in Turkey, sometimes deserved, more often not. But without an official day of their own, perhaps they should be included in this weekend’s Mother’s Day. It’s most likely though that they would have had their own day, if some of the valide sultans (sometimes referred to as queen mothers) of the Ottoman Empire had had their way.

    The first such woman given the title of valide sultan was Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, a Crimean Tatar and the mother of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. She accompanied her son when he was appointed governor of Manisa at the age of 17 (1503) and on his succession to the throne in 1520 took charge of the imperial harem in Istanbul. Although there is some uncertainty about when the sultan’s harem actually came to take up residence at Topkapı Palace, she is credited with being an adviser to her son, practically a co-regent, until her death in 1534. She was probably the first valide sultan to have had built a large complex consisting of a mosque, a primary school, a college and a hospice in Manisa. In doing so, she set the tradition for the charitable works of future queen mothers.

    There is a tendency to consider the famous Hürrem Sultan as a valide sultan, but in fact she died before Sultan Süleyman. Yet she set the precedent for future valide sultans by actively taking part in state affairs, even to the extent of corresponding with European rulers in her own name. What we know little about, however, is her rule over the harem, because that seems to have been the main responsibility of the valide sultan.

    The number of valide sultans who achieved notoriety for their involvement in governmental affairs is limited. Nurbanu, Safiye and Kösem were the three most active as the mothers of sultans. The span of time when they ruled, including Hürrem Sultan, has been termed the Sultanate of the Women.

    Nurbanu, the mother of Murad III, was Venetian and possibly Jewish and played a role during her tenure (1574-1583) in Mediterranean politics by strongly supporting Venice against its archrival, Genoa. She was able to govern with the assistance of Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Paşa and even corresponded with the French queen, Catherine de Medici. When she died suddenly, it was rumored that somehow the Genoese had poisoned her.

    Safiye Sultan was also a Venetian whom Nurbanu is supposed to have personally chosen as a concubine for her son Murad III. She became valide sultan (1595-1603) when her son became Sultan Mehmed III on the death of his father. She wielded considerable power and also pursued a pro-Venetian policy. Of interest is that Safiye exchanged letters and gifts with Queen Elizabeth I of England.

    Kösem Sultan earned a reputation for being the most dangerous and devious of the valide sultans (1623 to 1651). Her long tenure lasted through the reigns of her sons, Murad IV (r. 1623–40) and İbrahim I (r. 1640–48) and her grandson Mehmed IV (r. 1648–87). She is less known for her influence over governmental affairs and more for her intrigues in order to see that it was her sons who became sultans.

    Kösem was replaced by Turhan Sultan, a Ukrainian who was less interested in political affairs and basically allowed the grand vizier of the time, Köprülü Mehmed Paşa, to head the state. As valide sultan (1648-1682), she was more involved in building projects such as completing Yeni Cami at Eminönü.

    Ruling over the harem rather than the empire

    Although the list of valide sultans continues until the 20th century, the women contented themselves with ruling over the harem rather than the empire. The harem certainly needed a firm hand.

    The valide sultan was the head of the imperial dynasty as a family and she had to ensure that there was a living male heir available to take over the throne. The result was that the valide sultan would see to the education and grooming of suitable candidates who might catch the fancy of her son. So the responsibility for ensuring continuity fell to women and in particular the valide sultan.

    While traditionally a man would be the head of the family among the Turks, the various struggles for the throne, often in later centuries with the reigning sultan weak and ineffectual or simply too young to rule, meant someone strong had to be in charge. Grand viziers, who were in any case never members of the dynasty except by marriage, changed more frequently than sultans did. The valide sultan’s importance was underlined by the proximity of her chambers to the sultan’s privy chamber.

    As Leslie P. Peirce points out in “The Imperial Harem,” we know little about the harem but much can be divined by examining the various registers still surviving that deal with the personnel and expenses of members of the harem. Until the Old Palace was finally ruined beyond repair and abandoned, it was a place where young girls were trained to be concubines if they caught the eye of the sultan and where the young princes would receive some, if not all, of their education. When a sultan died, his valide sultan, women, daughters and their retinues would be housed in the Old Palace. Only the valide sultan of the reigning sultan would live at Topkapı Palace with his women and their retinues.

    The more women, the greater the number of servants.

    The figures relating to how much was given as a daily stipend to the members of the harem have been recorded and interestingly enough, the valide sultan received considerably more than anyone else including the sultan. Nurbanu Sultan received a daily stipend of 2,000 aspers, while her successor, Safiye Sultan, received 3,000 aspers when her son Mehmed III took the throne. In contrast, the highest stipends of leading public officials were: the mufti (750 aspers per day), the chief justices of Rumeli and Anatolia (572 and 573 aspers, respectively) and the commander of the Janissaries (500 aspers). Even the sultan himself only received a 1,000-asper stipend per day. Expenses grew with the number of people actually living in the harem and at the same time construction must have been continually going on to accommodate those numbers. It doesn’t seem as though anyone decided to have a smaller harem, more in line with revenue.

    So for 400 years, more or less, one of the most important roles in the Ottoman Empire was that of a woman, the valide sultan.



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