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Umm al-Walad

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Mother of the son. Refers to a slave woman impregnated by her owner, thereby bearing a child. In the opinion of many classical jurists, such a slave woman cannot be sold. In sociohistorical practice, slave girls used their beauty and intelligence to attract the attention of powerful men and then used the birth of male children to place themselves in positions of power. In some cases they were raised to the rank of queen after giving birth to a son, especially under the Abbasids and Ottomans. Children, male or female, born of this union are legally free and enjoy all rights of legitimate parentage, including inheritance and use of the father's name.

Subjects: Religion

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