The Quranic expression 'right hand possesses'

There's a common misunderstanding in certain circles that the Quran allows a man to have concubines (same as mistresses). That's because some readers, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, are confusing the term concubine with the expression "right hand possesses" that appears in the Glorious Quran.

The expression "right hand possesses" refers to slaves, not concubines. There's a huge difference between the two. A concubine is basically the same as a modern day mistress - a woman who cohabits with a man without being legally married to him. She is a man's secondary wife who has the right to quit anytime she pleases. At present in the permissive West, mistresses (as they don't like being called concubines) have substantial legal rights and a fairly high social status. In various other countries like China, Japan etc., they have very little or no legal rights with a low social status. However, nowhere is a concubine / mistress legally chained to the man she's living with.

Islam (Quranic laws) gradually abolished slavery, not radically in the form of a revolution as that would create its own kind of unrest. And history is witness to the fact that in the Arabian peninsula, slavery was gone from all Muslim circles in 23 years since the advent of Islam. During this transitional period, slave owners had to retain their slaves (including female slaves, some of whom had the same status as secondary wives of their masters, the only difference between them and concubines/mistresses being that the former unlike the latter could not leave at her discretion), with a set of rules for the protection of the rights of these slaves which are elucidated in the Quran.

Thus, a slave woman being lawful to her master in regard to physical intimacy was allowed ONLY as long as the culture & practice of slavery remained in the society. After a little more than 2 decades of the Prophet Muhammad's (on whom be peace) Call, when slavery hardly existed in that region, the practice of the 'right hand possessing a woman' also no longer existed.

Today slavery is history everywhere (though it still goes on in some places in the name of "feudalism" etc.) Thus, IN ACCORDANCE with the laws clearly stated in the Noble Quran, having a concubine (with the title of 'right hand possesses) would be a blatant violation.

Check the following verse of Surah Al-Maidah, one of the latest revelations when Islamic rules had almost total control in Arabia, including the abolition of slavery.

"This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honour, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter." 5:5