You have written in one of your responses1
In fact, the Qur’an has clearly discouraged making slaves of prisoners of wars and has directed the Muslims to either set them free, as a show of graciousness or by taking money in return of their freedom (Muhammad 47: 4).
I have two questions regarding the verse mentioned above:
Is that verse specific for prisoners of wars among men only? Or also women are included in this directive?
The verse, as you explained above, gives two options regarding the captives:
Set them free as a show of graciousness.
Taking money from them in return of their freedom.
Does the verse limits and restricts Muslims to these two options only? I mean if the captive were not able to give money in order to get his freedom then is it obligatory upon the Muslims to free him as a show of graciousness? According to your explanation, Muslims have two options only here. They don’t have any third option, so must Muslims choose the first if the second is impossible?
Furthermore, some brothers claim that taking the captives as slaves has some advantages especially if the captives were women. They say: Imagine that there is a war. A big number of men will die in that war. Now, if we didn’t take the women as slaves then who will take care of these women? So even in our days we need to take them as slaves and take care of them as slaves to protect the society from a social disaster. Having a big number of free women without husbands will cause a social disaster in addition to economic disaster. So it is better for men to take these women as slaves in order to take care of their economic needs and other vital needs of women.
What is your opinion in their view?
As for your first question, If no one were willing to pay the ransom to set the slaves free, then, according to the provisions of the referred verse, Muslims could keep the war prisoners as slaves, if they did not want to set them free as a show of graciousness, till the time that the required sum was offered to them as ransom. This means that under the social and international laws of the times, Muslims could only keep war prisoners as slaves till the time that the ransom required for their acquittal was not paid. Once they were offered the desired ransom, it was obligatory upon them to accept the ransom and set the prisoners free.
As for the opinion expressed by the brother, I have already addressed this question in my earlier response, which you have referred to in this question.
I hope this helps.
August 3, 2002
- Reference is to the question titled “Regarding Slavery, International Treaties & the Shari`ah“. [↩]