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وَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنكُمْ طَوْلاً أَن يَنكِحَ ٱلْمُحْصَنَٰتِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَٰتِ فَمِنْ مَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَٰنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَٰتِكُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَٰتِ وَٱللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَٰنِكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ مِّن بَعْضٍ فَٱنكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَٰتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَٰفِحَٰتٍ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذَٰتِ أَخْدَانٍ فَإِذَآ أُحْصِنَّ فَإِنْ أَتَيْنَ بِفَٰحِشَةٍ فَعَلَيْهِنَّ نِصْفُ مَا عَلَى ٱلْمُحْصَنَٰتِ مِنَ ٱلْعَذَابِ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ ٱلْعَنَتَ مِنْكُمْ وَأَن تَصْبِرُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
-An-Nisâ’ ( النساء )

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

And whoever has not the means wherewith, [whoever] is not wealthy enough, to be able to marry believing (al-mu’mināt, ‘believing’, is in accordance with the prevalent practice, and does not add to the import), free, women in wedlock, let him take, in marriage, believing maids whom your right hands own. God knows very well your faith, so suffice yourself with its outward manifestation and leave the innermost matters to Him, for He is the One to know her [true] merit: many a slavegirl may be more excellent [in faith] than a free woman, and this is meant to encourage marriage with slavegirls; the one of you is as the other, being equal in religion, so do not disdain to marry with them. So marry them, with the permission of their folk, their guardians, and give them their wages, their dowries, honourably, without procrastination or diminution, as women in wedlock (muhsanāt, a circumstantial qualifier), in decency, not illicitly, openly fornicating, or taking lovers, companions fornicating in secret. But when they are given in wedlock, [when] they are married off (a variant reading [for the passive uhsinna, ‘they are given in wedlock’] has the active ahsanna, ‘they enter into wedlock’), if they commit lewdness, such as adultery, they shall be liable to half the chastisement, the legal punishment, of married, free, virgin, women, who commit adultery, and are thus given fifty lashes and banished for half a year; [male] slaves by analogy are liable to the same punishment. Here, God has not made wedlock the precondition for the prescribed punishment to show that stoning does not apply in their case [sc. slavegirls]. That, marrying of slavegirls on account of insufficient means, is for those of you who fear the distress of sin, fornication (al-‘anat originally means distress, but is used to mean zinā, ‘fornication’, because of the distress that it causes in the way of the punishment in this world and in the Hereafter), as opposed to those of you who might not have such a fear [of distress] with regard to their free women and for whom it is unlawful to marry her [the slavegirl]; likewise for one who has sufficient means to marry a free woman [it is unlawful for him to marry a slavegirl instead]: this is the opinion of al-Shāfi‘ī. Moreover, God’s words ‘believing maids’ precludes unbelieving women, whom it is unlawful to marry, even if one should find no believing women and fear [the distress of fornication]; yet it is better for you to be patient, and abstain from marrying slavegirls, lest the child should become enslaved also. God is Forgiving, Merciful, by allowing room for manoeuvre in these matters.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza
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