Equality and Marriage


in Race and Slavery in the Middle East

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780195053265
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854561 | DOI:
Equality and Marriage

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The chapter discusses the voice of Islamic piety on miscegenation. There are no bars to racial intermarriage. There are no racial and inferior races. This was a concern that arose from the legal doctrine Kafa'a which translates to equality of birth and social status in marriage. It ensures that a man should be a social equal of the woman he marries. It does not forbid unequal marriages. It aims to protect the honor of respectable families and to stop unsuitable marriages. It is determined by a number of factors: wealth, profession, freedom, Islam and descent. There is evidence that marriages of black men with white women were frowned upon. However, marriage was one thing, concubinage another. Muslim men who owned women slaves were accustomed to mate with them. A man could recognize his offspring by his slave woman as legitimate, conferring a formal legal status on both mother and child.

Keywords: Islamic piety; miscegenation; racial intermarriage; Kafa'a; social equal; unequal marriages; concubinage

Chapter.  3691 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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