Alleged Sexual Immorality: Understanding 4:24 in the light of Quran's own Guidance

It is presumed by some critics [and even unwittingly by some secterian Muslims] that God endorses sexual immorality generally and even assault/rape against ‘women in captivity’ in particular, in the verse 4:24 of the Quran - opinioned/interpreted/interpolated based upon ‘secondary sources’ (perhaps more appropriately termed as, ‘authorized apocryphal sources').

However, the Quran ought to be only understood within the Quran’s own context. The verse states as follows:

And Al-Muhsanat out of the women [those protected in (marriage) bond] (are also forbidden to be taken in wedlock) except those whom your right hands held in trust — a written covenant from Allah to you. And has been made lawful to you whatever is to you outside this (class) — that you may seek (them in marriage) with your wealth (and possessions) harbouring intention to remain in bond without (being those) who have fluid, temporary or shifting intentions. So what you enjoyed and benefited by this (bond of marriage) through those women (as your wives), then deliver to them their rewards made compulsory (by Allah). And (there is) no blame on you in which you became mutually agreed upon regarding it after (it becomes) a must and compulsory. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. [4:24]

Otherwise stated as (in the rendition by Bijan Moenian):

It is also against God’s law to marry married women, unless they have fled the tyranny of their disbeliever husbands who are at war with you. Apart from the above mentioned ones, you may engage in marriage (and not consenting adult sex) contract, with any other woman as long as you mutually agree upon a gift (or a sum) upon the wedding; if you mutually decide later to renegotiate this sum, you may do so as God is the Knowing and the Wise.

A particular inference may be understood by the following verse in the Quran:

O you who believe! When ‘believing women’ come to you as refugees (and emigrants) examine (and verify) them (for their faith): Allah knows best as to their faith: Then if you ascertain that they are believers, then do not send them back to the unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the unbelievers, nor are the (unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the unbelievers what they have spent (on their dowry). And there will be no sin (or blame) on you, if you marry them on payment of their dowry to them. But do not hold the guardianship of unbelieving women: Ask for what you have spent for their dowry, and let the (unbelievers) ask for what they have spent (on their dowers of women who have come to you). Such is the Judgment (the Command) of Allah: He judges (with justice) between you. And Allah is All Knowing (Aleem), All Wise (Hakeem). [60:10]

In other words (in the rendition by Bijan Moenian):

The believers hereby ordered to test the women who claim have fled the enemy and ask for asylum. God is fully aware of their faith. If you found that they are true believers, do not extradite them to disbelievers. The newly converted Muslim women are not lawful to remain married to disbelievers. Muslim women may not marry the disbelievers. Therefore, return to their ex-husbands the dowers that they have given to their ex-wives. You are encouraged to ask their hands in marriage having paid a dower to them. The Muslim man should divorce his disbeliever wife after having paid her dower. The disbeliever man also should be asked to return the dower of his ex-wife who has recently embraced Islam. This is God’s command; He rules among you. He knows everything and is the Most Wise.

A situation had existed where women were leaving their idolatrous lives / partners and starting anew under the covenant of true Islam. Believers were encouraged to assist these women by not sending them back to their disbelieving partners and to give back to their previous partners whatever was due to them as per God’s Message (60:10).

Therefore, any previous marriage contract that a woman had with disbelievers was not recognised in this context (and was effectively dissolved). They arguably consisted of women who had come forward to be kept in 'protection and honour' after fleeing as emigrants from their previous husbands and lives. Their answerability in marriage was also reduced due to their exceptional and compromised circumstances.  (4:25)

Furthermore, women are not a property to be inherited against their will following the death of their husbands, a divorce or an annulment of marriage and moreover women have a right and freedom to divorce without coercion. (4:19)

There is nothing, within the context of verse 4:24 and in the wider context of the Quran to suggest that there is support for any sexual immorality of any type against anyone be it by mutual consent as in 'temporary marriage' or forced to divorce/annul any previous marriage contract in order to remarry.

Thus clearly, God does not condone sexual assault or immorality of any type in the Quran.



And Allah knows best

Right Hands Possessed



For Younger Readers

God teaches in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims that:

Married (believing) women refugees or emigrants escaping oppression of Kufr may remarry without the need of divorce - since her former marriage is considered void or canceled due to the womens new 'faith'.