The expression, “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” in the Quran


One of the most abused expression in the Quran is “Ma Malakat Aymanukum”, which translates word for word as “Ma (what), Malakat (possess), Aymanukum (your right hand)”. Many traditional Muslim scholars have abused this statement and made lawful the owners to have sex with their female slaves (servants). They have also introduced short term (temporary) marriage called “Muta marriage”; even have made rape of women permissible during war time in Islam. All these innovations and fabrications contradict the laws of God in the Quran. In addition, the critics of the Quran also used this abused expression to report it one of the controversial issues in the Quran to be unethical.

Description of different categories of these people

The Quran has expression “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” including 2 other similar expression, “Ma Malakat Aymanuhum“, and “Ma Malakat Aymanuhunna” with a minor variation in grammar with respect to person and gender. The literal meaning of these expressions is “What your right hand possess”, “What their right hand possess” and “What their (female) right hand possess” respectively. The careful review of the relevant verses in the Quran indicates that this expression covers five categories of people. They can be men, women, boys or girls, and the expression has different meanings in different contexts although all of them fall under the same class – a group of people who depend on you, almost totally, for their living requirements, security and well-being. However, the following is a description of all these categories of people in the Quran, and the nature of relationship between these people and those who belong to them or are responsible for them:

1. Ma Malakat Aymanukum = what you already have.

The first category is the women who were already married to their husbands even if their marriages did not follow the Quranic rules as their marriage occurred before the revelation of the Quran or before their conversion to Islam. In this case, if you already have a wife or wives, even from a category that became prohibited after the revelation of the Quran, you can keep them. You do not have to divorce them as God would not break an established marriage. Thus, this category of women falls under what you already have, and sexual relationship is permitted being married couples:
[Quran 4:3] If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers – you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have (Ma Malakat Aymanukum). Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
[Quran 33:50] O prophet, we made lawful for you your wives to whom you have paid their due dowry, or what you already have (Ma Malakat Yameenuka), as granted to you by God. Also lawful for you in marriage are the daughters of your father’s brothers, the daughters of your father’s sisters, the daughters of your mother’s brothers, the daughters of your mother’s sisters, who have emigrated with you. Also, if a believing woman gave herself to the prophet – by forfeiting the dowry – the prophet may marry her without a dowry, if he so wishes. However, her forfeiting of the dowry applies only to the prophet, and not to the other believers. We have already decreed their rights in regard to their spouses or what they already have (Ma Malakat Aymanuhum). This is to spare you any embarrassment. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[Quran 33:52] Beyond the categories described to you, you are enjoined from marrying any other women, nor can you substitute a new wife (from the prohibited categories), no matter how much you admire their beauty. You must be content with those already made lawful to you (Ma Malakat Yameenuka). God is watchful over all things.

2. Ma Malakat Aymanuhum = What is rightfully theirs.

The second category is also the women and sexual relationship with them is allowed. We, however, have to be very careful in understanding God’s law in the Quran. God deliberately used the word OR when permitting the sexual relationships between men and what is rightfully theirs. It is EITHER their spouses OR what is rightfully theirs. God did not choose AND in these particular verses(their spouses and what is rightfully theirs). God’s choice of His words is deliberate and He constructs His laws very clearly to leave NO doubt in the mind of His true worshippers. In this category of what is rightfully theirs, are situations where a man and a woman married each other without registering their marriage with the appropriate authorities. Common law marriage in the USA is one of these cases where both the man and the woman agrees to live together as a husband and a wife in front of God but do not register their marriage. It can also include cases described in the first category of people who becomes rightfully theirs by the permission given to them by God.
[Quran 23:6] Except with their spouses, or those who are rightfully theirs (Ma Malakat Aymanhum); then indeed, they are not to be blamed.
[Quran 70:30] Except with their spouses, or those who are rightfully theirs (Ma Malakat Aymanuhum); then indeed, they are not to be blamed.

Note:They guard their modesty except with their spouses or who rightfully theirs.

It is noteworthy that short-term agreement between a man and a woman to have sex for any period of time is not included in this category. This short-term agreement is prostitution and is forbidden by God’s law in the Quran. In this short term agreement the man deprive the woman from her legal rights that a wife has, and free himself from having any obligation of a husband towards his divorced wife. The example of this short-term agreement to have sex between a man and a woman is what many scholars call Muta marriage. They make it legal, when it is against all the laws of marriage and establishing a family in the Quran.

3. Ma Malakat Aymanukum = Slaves (if any).

This category is the slaves who are dependent totally on their owner. Although the Quran advocates the freeing of the slaves in every possible occasion, the law is placed in the Quran to protect those who were slaves at the time of the revelation of the Quran and for those who may become slaves in any future time. Slaves and servants are protected and not considered as sexual partners under any circumstance outside a lawful marriage.
[Quran 4:25] Those among you who cannot afford to marry free believing women, may marry believing slave women (Ma Malakat Aymanukum). God knows best about your belief, and you are equal to one another, as far as belief is concerned. You shall obtain permission from their guardians before you marry them, and pay them their due dowry equitably. They shall maintain moral behavior, by not committing adultery, or having secret lovers. Once they are freed through marriage, if they commit adultery, their punishment shall be half of that for the free women. Marrying a slave shall be a last resort for those unable to wait. To be patient is better for you. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

In this verse, God clarifies the status of the believing slave women as being honorable women who may marry believing men after getting permission from their guardians. If these slave women are the sexual partners of their guardians, how can God offer them to the believing men? God asks them to MAINTAIN their moral behavior, by not committing adultery or having secret lovers. Thus, this verse clearly shows that those slave women are not the sexual partners of their guardians.

[Quran 24:33] Those who cannot afford to get married shall maintain morality until God provides for them from His grace. Those among your servants (Ma Malakat Aymanukum) who wish to be freed in order to marry, you shall grant them their wish, once you realize that they are honest. And give them from God’s money that He has bestowed upon you. You shall not force your girls to commit prostitution, seeking the materials of this world, if they wish to be chaste. If anyone forces them, then God, seeing that they are forced, is Forgiver, Merciful.

Two important teachings are found in this verse – to free the slaves (servants) to get married and not to force the girls to commit prostitution. According to this verse, servants (slaves), can be freed from their slavery to get married, and even helped them with money to do so. Had they been legitimate sexual partners of the owner or the guardian, they would not be available for marriage whenever they want to, as this verse teaches. Forcing them to have sex will be prostitution or rape.

4. Ma Malakat Aymanuhunna = Servants (male).

Since our servants are dependent on us in their living, we are responsible for their well-being but they are not our sexual partners. See what the Quranic verses teach us about this category:
[Quran 24:31] And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants (Ma Malakat Aymanuhunna) or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have not reached puberty. They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to God, O you believers that you may succeed.

There is a great lesson for us in this verse. God teaches us that the believing women may have the same category of people like the men do. Notice that the verse starts by asking the believing women to maintain their chastity.

It is very interesting to note that the male scholars who gave permission to any man to have sex with his servants, did not allow the same right for a woman who owns the same category. These scholars fabricated laws of their own that apply to the men but not to the women. Such fabricated laws have no basis in God’s laws in the Quran. These laws of God apply to all genders without discrimination. God prohibited sexual relationship with those who we possess outside a marriage for both the men and the women alike.
[Quran 33:55] The women may relax (their dress code) around their fathers, their sons, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, the other women, and their (female) servants (Ma Malakat Aymanuhunna). They shall reverence God. God witnesses all things.
[Quran 24:58] O you who believe, permission must be requested by your servants (Ma Malakat Aymanukum) and the children who have not attained puberty (before entering your rooms). This is to be done in three instances – before the Dawn Prayer, at noon when you change your clothes to rest, and after the Night Prayer. These are three private times for you. At other times, it is not wrong for you or them to mingle with one another. God thus clarifies the revelations for you. God is Omniscient, Most Wise.

It is clear from this verse that your servants, do not have the permission given to your spouse (sexual partner) of freely entering your sleeping quarters. Had your servants been considered your sexual partners, such a permission would not be needed.

[Quran 4:36] You shall worship God alone – do not associate anything with Him. You shall regard the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the poor, the related neighbor, the unrelated neighbor, the close associate, the traveling alien, and your servants (Ma Malakat Aymanukum). God does not like the arrogant show-offs.
[Quran 16:71] God has provided for some of you more than others. Those who are given plenty would never give their properties to their subordinates (Ma Malakat Aymanukum) to the extent of making them partners. Would they give up God’s blessings?
[Quran 30:28] He cites for you herein an example from among yourselves: Do you ever elevate your servants or subordinates (Ma Malakat Aymanukum) to the level where they rival you, and to the point that you pay them as much allegiance as is being paid to you? We thus explain the revelations for people who understand.

5. Ma Malakat Aymanukum = Women who leave their disbelieving husbands during wartime and join the believers camp.

This special category is also protected in the Quran and not exempted as sex slaves. They must be treated like any free woman, asked for permission for marriage and given all the due respect and payments that apply to a legal marriage. This is also clarified in (60:10).
[Quran 4:24] Also prohibited are the women who are already married, unless they flee their disbelieving husbands who are at war with you (Ma Malakat Aymanukum). These are God’s commandments to you. All other categories are permitted for you in marriage, so long as you pay them their due dowries. You shall maintain your morality, by not committing adultery. Thus, whoever you like among them, you shall pay them the dowry decreed for them. You commit no error by mutually agreeing to any adjustments to the dowry. God is Omniscient, Most Wise.
[Quran 60:10] O you who believe, when believing women (abandon the enemy and) ask for asylum with you, you shall test them. God is fully aware of their belief. Once you establish that they are believers, you shall not return them to the disbelievers. They are not lawful to remain married to them, nor shall the disbelievers be allowed to marry them. Give back the dowries that the disbelievers have paid. You commit no error by marrying them, so long as you pay them their due dowries. Do not keep disbelieving wives (if they wish to join the enemy). You may ask them for the dowry you had paid, and they may ask for what they paid. This is God’s rule; He rules among you. God is Omniscient, Most Wise.

God’s law is clear in the Quran. We, as submitters to our Creator, have no choice but to obey His law. Any person breaking His law is not practicing Islam (Submission) and cannot be considered to be a Muslim (Submitter). Indeed, such individuals who do not obey God’s laws are “Objectors” not “Submitters.”

[Quran 24:51] The only utterance of the believers, whenever invited to God and His messenger to judge in their affairs, is to say, “We hear and we obey.” These are the winners.
[Quran 5:7] Remember God’s blessing upon you, and His covenant that He covenanted with you: you said, “We hear and we obey.” You shall observe God; God is fully aware of the innermost thoughts.
[Quran 2:285] The messenger has believed in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and so did the believers. They believe in God, His angels, His scripture, and His messengers: “We make no distinction among any of His messengers.” They say, “We hear, and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord. To You is the ultimate destiny.”


The expression, “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” covers five different categories of people including both men and women. The Quran teaches beyond doubt that these people are part of our families who should be treated with respect as they deserve rights as human beings. It is clear from the Quran that 2, out of the five categories are allowed for sexual relationship only after being part of a marriage (as a spouse). Thus, under no circumstances does God allow in the Quran either a man or a woman to have sex unless the man and the woman become a husband and wife. The short-term marriage is forbidden by God’s law in the Quran and is prostitution. Even in case of war, all the captured women (and men), fall under the protected category and cannot be considered sex objects. They should be treated with respect and asked for marriage, and given their due dowries. The Quran also teaches that rape of women during war time same as peacetime is a crime while righteousness is defined by an established moral value that is best judged by the words of God in the Quran, and not by war or peace.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.
Tafazzal (4/17/2015)