Surah Nur Ayat 33 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 33
But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty. And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess – then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you. And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful.
Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is Allah, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them),
And those, who cannot find a match, should observe continence till Allah provides them with means out of His bounty And if those who are in your possession, ask for a deed of emancipation, execute the deed of emancipation with them, provided that you find some good in them; and give them something out of the means Allah has given you. And do not force your slave-girls into prostitution for your own worldly gains when they themselves want to keep chaste; and if anyone forces them into it, after such a compulsion Allah will be forgiving and merciful for them.
And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His Bounty. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you know that they are good and trustworthy. And give them something yourselves out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you. And force not your maids to prostitution, if they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain in the (perishable) goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them (to prostitution), then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to those women, i.e. He will forgive them because they have been forced to do this evil action unwillingly).
And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you. Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful.
And let the ones who do not find (the means) to wed keep abstaining until Allah enriches them of His Grace. And the ones your right hands possess who seek the Book, (Contract of emancipation) then contract with them (accordingly), in case you know that they are in charitable circumstances. And bring them of the wealth of Allah that He has brought you. And do not compel your handmaids to prostitution, in case they are willing to be chaste, (Literally: to be in wedlock) that you may inequitably seek the advantages of the present life; (Literally: the lowly life, i.e., the life of this world) and whoever compels them, then surely Allah, even after their being compelled, is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.
Those who are unable to marry should keep chaste until God gives them enough out of His bounty. If any of your slaves wish to pay for their freedom, make a contract with them accordingly, if you know they have good in them, and give them some of the wealth God has given you. Do not force your slave-girls into prostitution, when they themselves wish to remain honourable, in your quest for the short-term gains of this world, although, if they are forced, God will be forgiving and merciful to them.
اور ان لوگوں کو پاک دامن رہنا چاہیئے جو اپنا نکاح کرنے کا مقدور نہیں رکھتے یہاں تک کہ اللہ تعالیٰ انہیں اپنے فضل سے مالدار بنا دے، تمہارے غلاموں میں جو کوئی کچھ تمہیں دے کر آزادی کی تحریر کرانی چاہے تو تم ایسی تحریر انہیں کردیا کرو اگر تم کو ان میں کوئی بھلائی نظر آتی ہو۔ اور اللہ نے جو مال تمہیں دے رکھا ہے اس میں سے انہیں بھی دو، تمہاری جو لونڈیاں پاک دامن رہنا چاہتی ہیں انہیں دنیا کی زندگی کے فائدے کی غرض سے بدکاری پر مجبور نہ کرو اور جو انہیں مجبور کردے تو اللہ تعالیٰ ان پر جبر کے بعد بخشش دینے واﻻ اور مہربانی کرنے واﻻ ہے
Quran 24 Verse 33 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Nur ayat 33, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(24:33) Let those who cannot afford to marry keep themselves chaste until Allah enriches them out of His Bounty. And write out a deed of manumission for such of your slaves that desire their freedom in lieu of payment – if you see any good in them – and give them out of the wealth that Allah has given you. And do not compel your slave-girls to prostitution for the sake of the benefits of worldly life the while they desire to remain chaste. And if anyone compels them to prostitution, Allah will be Most Pardoning, Much Merciful (to them) after their subjection to such compulsion.
54. The best commentary on these verses are the traditions which have been reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this connection. Abdullah bin Masud has related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said: O young men, whoso among you can afford to marry, he should marry, because this will be a means of restraining the eyes from casting the evil look and of keeping one pure and chaste, and the one who cannot afford, should fast, because fasting helps cool down the passions. (Bukhari, Muslim). According to Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah has taken upon Himself to succor three men: (a) the one who marries with a view to guarding his chastity, (b) the slave who works to earn his freedom, and (c) the one who goes out to fight in the way of Allah.” (Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ahmad) For further explanation, see (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 25).
55. Mukatabat as a term means a deed of emancipation between the owner and the slave entitling the latter to earn his or her freedom after payment of an agreed sum of money in a certain period. This is one of the methods laid down in Islam for the slaves to attain their freedom. It is not essential that the slave must always pay in cash; he can also earn his freedom by rendering some special service to the owner, provided that both the parties agree. Once the agreement is signed, the owner is not entitled to put any obstacles in the way of the slave’s freedom. He will have to provide opportunities to enable him to earn for his emancipation and shall have to free him when the agreed amount has been paid in time. In the time of Umar, a slave entered into such an agreement with his lady owner, but managed to collect the amount in advance of the time limit. When the amount was offered to the lady, she refused to accept it on the ground that she would like to have it in monthly and yearly installments. The slave complained to Umar who ordered that the amount be deposited in the state treasury and the slave be set free. The lady was informed that her money lay in the treasury and she had the option to take it in a lump sum or in yearly or monthly installments. (Daraqutni).
56. A group of jurists have interpreted this as “execute the deed of emancipation with them”, that it is obligatory for the owner to accept the offer of a slave to earn his emancipation. This is the view of Ata, Amr bin Dinar Ibn Sirin, Masruq, Dahhak, Ikrimah, the Zahiriyyah and Ibn Jarir Tabari, and Imam Shafai also favoured it in the beginning. The other group holds that it is not obligatory but only recommendatory and commendable. This group includes jurists like Shabi, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Hasan Basri, Abdul Rahman bin Zaid, Sufyan Thauri, Abu Hanifah and Malik bin Anas and Imam Shafai later on also had adopted this view. The first view is supported by two things:
(a) The imperative mood of the verb to execute the deed suggests that it is a command front Allah.
(b) Authentic traditions contain the incident that when Sirin, father of Muhammad bin Sirin, the great jurist and traditionalist, made a request to his master Anas for a deed of emancipation, the latter refused to accept it. Sirin took he matter before Umar, who whip in hand turned to Anas, saying: Allah’s command is that you execute the deed. (Bukhari). From this it has been argued that it was not a discretionary and personal decision of Umar but it was taken in the presence of the companions and none expressed any difference of opinion. This therefore should be taken as an authentic interpretation of the verse.
The other group argues that Allah does not merely say: Execute the deed of emancipation with them, but adds: Provided that you find some good in them. This condition of finding some good in them lies entirely on the owner, and there is no fixed standard or means by which the question of finding good in them could be adjudicated through a court. Legal injunctions are never couched in such language. As such this injunction can only be regarded as recommendatory and not as legally mandatory. As regards to the precedent of the case of Sirin, the jurists say that there was not one slave who asked for a deed of emancipation but thousands of them in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the rightly-guided Caliphs, and a large number of them earned their freedom in that way. But apart from Sirin’s there is no case where an owner was forced by a judicial verdict to execute a deed of emancipation. Accordingly, this decision of Umar cannot be taken as a judicial decision. All that can be said is that Umar, apart from his position of a judge, was like a father to the Muslims and might have used his paternal authority in a matter where he could not intervene as a judge.
57. Good” implies three things.
(a) The slave must be capable of earning his emancipation money through hard work and labor. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: Execute the deed when you are sure that the slave can earn the required amount of money; do not let him go about begging the people for it. (Ibn Kathir).
(b) He should be honest, truthful and reliable for the purposes of the agreement. He should make the best of the opportunities and should not waste his earnings.
(c) The owner should make sure that the slave has no immoral trends and does not harbor feelings of enmity against Islam or the Muslims, nor should there be any apprehension that his freedom might prove harmful to the interests of the Muslim society. In other words, he should prove to be a loyal and faithful member of the Muslim society and not a fifth columnist. It should be noted that such precautions were absolutely necessary in the case of the prisoners of war taken as slaves.
58. This command is general and is addressed to the owners, the common Muslims and the Islamic government.
(a) The owner is instructed that he should remit a part of the emancipation money. There are traditions to confirm that the companions used to remit a sizable amount of the emancipation money to their slaves. Ali used to remit a quarter of the amount and exhorted others also to do the same. (lbn Jarir).
(b) The common Muslim is instructed that he should extend liberal help to all such slaves who asked for help in this regard. One of the heads of Zakat expenditure as laid down in the Quran is the ransoming of slaves. (Surah At-Taubah, Ayat 60). In the sight of Allah freeing of slaves is a great act of virtue. (Surah Al-Balad, Ayat 13). According to a tradition, a bedouin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and requested him to instruct him what he should do to earn Paradise. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied You have asked about the most important thing in a most concise way. You should free the slaves and help them to earn their freedom, If you present a cattle to somebody, present such a one as gives plenty of milk. Treat your relatives kindly even if they treat you unjustly. If you cannot do all this, you should feed the poor, give water to the thirsty, exhort the people to do good and forbid them to do evil. If you cannot do even this, you should restrain your tongue: if you have to speak, speak something good, otherwise keep quiet. (Baihaqi).
(c) The Islamic government is advised to spend a part of the Zakat collections on the emancipation of slaves.
Here it should be noted that slaves in the ancient times were of three kinds: (i) Prisoners of war, (ii) Free men who were captured and traded as slaves, (iii) Hereditary slaves who did not know when their ancestors became slaves and to which of the above categories they originally belonged. Before the advent of Islam, Arabia as well as the outside world abounded in all kinds of slaves. The entire social and economic structure of society depended more on slave labor than on servants and wage-earners. The first question before Islam was to tackle the problem of the hereditary slaves, and secondly, to find a solution to the entire problem of slavery for all times to come. In tackling the first problem, Islam did not abruptly abrogate the ownership rights in respect of the hereditary slaves as it would have completely paralyzed the entire social and economic system, and involved Arabia in a far more destructive civil war than the one fought in America. Islam did not follow any such policy of reform. Instead it generated a great moral movement for the emancipation of slaves and employed inducements, persuasions, religious injunctions and legal enactments to educate and motivate the people to free the slaves voluntarily for earning their salvation in the Hereafter, or as expiation of their sins as enjoined by Islam, or by accepting monetary compensation. To set the pace the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself freed 63 slaves. One of his wives, Aishah, alone treed 67 slaves. The Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) uncle, Abbas, freed 70 slaves. Among others, Hakim bin Hizam freed 100 slaves, Abdullah bin Umar 1,000, Zulkala Himyari 8,000, and Abdur Rehman bin Auf 30,000. The other companions among whom Abu Bakr and Uthman were prominent also set a large number of slaves free. The people, in order to win Allah’s favor, not only emancipated their own slaves, but also bought them from others and then set them free. The result was that in so far as hereditary slaves were concerned, almost all of them had been freed even before the righteous Caliphate came to an end.
As for the future, Islam completely prohibited free men from being kidnapped and traded as slaves. As for the prisoners of war, it was permitted (not commanded) that they might be kept as slaves so long as they were not exchanged for Muslim prisoners of war, or freed on payment of ransom. Then, on the one hand, the slaves were also allowed to earn their freedom through written agreements with their masters, and on the other, the masters were exhorted to set them free just like the hereditary slaves, as an act of virtue, to win Allah’s approval, or as expiation of sins, or by willing that a slave would automatically gain his freedom on the master’s death, or that a slave girl would be free on the master’s death if she had borne him children, whether he had left a will or not. This is how Islam solved the problem of slavery. Ignorant people raise objections without trying to understand this solution, and the apologists offer all sorts of apologies and have even to deny the fact that Islam had prohibited slavery absolutely.
59. This does not mean that if the slave girls do not want to lead a chaste and virtuous life they can be forced into prostitution. It only means this that if a slave girl commits an immoral act of her own free will, she herself is responsible for it and the law will be applied against her alone. But if the owner forces her into it, it will be entirely his responsibility, and the law will proceed against him. Obviously the question of force arises only when someone is compelled to act against his own will. As for the words for your own worldly gains, these have not been used in a conditional or restrictive sense that if the owner is not sharing the immoral earnings of the slave girl, he is not an offender if he forces her into prostitution. The intention is to declare all such money unlawful as has been earned through illegal and immoral ways.
It is, however, not possible to comprehend the full import of this injunction merely from the words of the text. For this it is necessary to understand the entire background and circumstances prevalent at the time of its revelation. Prostitution in Arabia existed in two forms: Domestic prostitution and open prostitution in the brothel.
(a) Domestic prostitution was carried out by freed slave girls who had no guardians, or by free women who had no family or tribal support. They would take residence in a house and enter into an agreement with a number of men simultaneously for financial help in return for sexual gratification. Whenever a child was born, the mother would name whomsoever she liked as its father and the man was accepted in society as the father of the child. This was an established custom in the pre-Islamic days, which was considered almost analogous to marriage. When Islam came, it recognized only that contract as legal marriage where a woman had only one husband. Thus all other forms of sexual gratification came to be regarded as adultery and punishable offenses as such. (Abu Daud).
(b) Open prostitution which was carried out entirely through slave girls was of two kinds. First, the slave girls were obliged to pay a fixed heavy amount every month to the owner, which they could only earn through prostitution. The owner knew well how the money was earned, and in fact there was no other object of imposing a heavy demand on the poor slave girl, especially when it was much higher than the usual wages for work or labor. Secondly, beautiful and young slave girls were made to stay in the brothel and a flag was put at the door to indicate that a needy person could satisfy his lust there. Such women were called qaliqiyat and their houses were known as mawakhir. All prominent men of the day owned and maintained such houses of prostitution. Abdullah bin Ubayy (the chief of the hypocrites of Madinah, who had been nominated as king of Madinah before the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) arrival there and who was in the forefront of the campaign to slander Aishah) himself owned a regular house of prostitution in Madinah, which had six beautiful slave girls. Not only did he earn money through them but also used them to entertain his respectable and important guests who came to see him from different parts of Arabia. He employed the illegitimate children thus born to enhance the splendor and strength of his army of slaves. When one of these prostitutes, named Muazah, accepted Islam and wanted to offer repentance for her past sins, Ibn Ubayy subjected her to torture. She complained of it to Abu Bakr, who brought it to the notice of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered that the woman be taken away from the cruel man. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVIII, pp. 55 -58, and 103-104; Al Istiab Vol 11, p. 762; p. 762; Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, pp. 288-289). Such were the conditions when this verse was revealed. If these conditions are kept in view, it will become obvious that the real object was not merely to stop the slave girls from being forced into prostitution but to ban prostitution itself as illegal within the boundaries of the Islamic state. Simultaneously, there was a declaration of general pardon for those who had been forced into this business in the past.
After the revelation of this divine command the Prophet (peace be upon him) declared: There is no place for prostitution in Islam. (Abu Da’ud). The second command that he gave was that the earnings made through adultery were unlawful, impure and absolutely forbidden. According to a tradition reported by Rafi bin Khadij, the Prophet (peace be upon him) described such earnings as impure, product of the worst profession and most filthy income. (Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Nasai). According to Abu Huzaifah, he termed the money earned through prostitution as unlawful. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). Abu Masud Uqbah bin Amr says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade the people to take prostitution earnings. (Sihah Sitta and Ahmad). The third command was that the slave girl could be employed for lawful manual labor, but the owner had no right to impose or receive any money from her about which he was not sure how it had been earned. According to Rafi bin Khadij, he prohibited accepting any earnings from the slave girl unless it was known how she had earned it. (Abu Daud). Rafi bin Rifaah Ansari has reported the same command in clearer words. He says: The Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah prohibited us from accepting anything from the earnings of a slave girl except that which she earned through manual labor, such as (and he indicated this with his hand) baking bread, spinning cotton or carding wool or cotton. (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Daud). Another tradition quoted from Abu Hurairah in Abu Daud and Musnad Ahmad says that taking of money earned by a slave girl through unlawful means is prohibited. Thus the Prophet (peace be upon him) in accordance with the intention of this verse, banned by religious injunction and law all kinds of prostitution prevalent in Arabia in those days. Over and above this, the decision he gave in the case of Muazah, the slave girl of Abdullah bin Ubayy, shows that an owner who forces his slave girl into prostitution loses his rights of ownership over her. This is a tradition from Imam Zuhri, which Ibn Kathir has quoted on the authority of Musnad Abdur Razzaq.
The tafsir of Surah An-Nur verse 33 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Nur ayat 32 which provides the complete commentary from verse 33 through 34.
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