Concubine

Posted on 03/22/2012 by marina

CONCUBINE. Arabic Surriyah سرية,
pl. sarari. The Muslim religion appears to give almost unlimited license to concubinage, provided the woman be a slave and not a free Muslim woman.
Those female slaves must be either (1) taken captive in war, (2) or purchased by money, (3) or the descendants of slaves. Even married women, if taken in war, are, according to the injunction of the Qur’an, Surah iv. 28, entirely at the disposal of the Muslim conqueror. “(Unlawful) to you are married women except such as your right hand possess (i.e. taken in war or purchased as slave).” This institution of concubinage is founded upon the example of Muhammad himself, who took Rihanah the Jewess as his concubine after the battle with the Bani Quraizah (A.H. 5), and also Maria the Copt, who was sent him as a slave by the Governor of Egypt.
Should a concubine bear her master a child, the Muslim law rules that she and her offspring are ipso facto free. For a further treatment of this subject, see the article on SLAVES.
Amongst the Shi`ahs, the temporary marriage called Mut`ah exhibits the worst form of concubinage. [MUT’AH.]
It is interesting to compare the condition of the concubine under Muslim law and under the Mosaic. Under the law of Moses, a concubine would generally be either a Hebrew girl bought of her father, or a Gentile captive taken in war. So that whilst the Muslim law forbids concubinage with a free woman, the Mosaic law permitted and legislated for it. See Exodus xxi.: “If a man sell his daughter to be a maid-servant, she shall not go out as men-servants do. If she please not her master who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed; to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.”
With regard to female slaves taken in war, the Mosaic law ruled. Deut. xxi. 10: “When thou goest to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, and seest a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldst have her to thy wife: then thou shalt bring her to thine home, &c… And it shall be if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will, but thou shall not sell her” &c.

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam