An umm walad (Arabic: أم ولد, lit.'mother of the child') was the title given to a slave-concubine in the Muslim world after she had born her master a child. She could not be sold, and became automatically free on her master's death.[1][2] The offspring of an umm walad were free and considered legitimate children of their father, including full rights of name and inheritance.[2]

The practice was a common way for slave girls endowed with beauty and intelligence to advance in the court, especially if they gave birth to sons; under the Caliphates, quite a few of them were raised in rank to queen.[2][3] Few of them had been fortunate enough to be valide sultan (mother of the king).

Unacknowledged slave mother

If an unmarried slave bore a child and the slave owner did not acknowledge parenthood, then the slave had to face zina charges.[4]

Failure of economically maintaining female slave

Islamic jurisprudence was complicated, if a male owner failed to provide economic maintenance to female slave or if the owner goes missing, then the situation of female slave could get precarious if a local judge did not rule to free them.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Bowen 1928, p. 13.
  2. ^ a b c "Umm al-Walad". Oxford Islamic Studies.
  3. ^ Urban, Elizabeth. "The early Islamic mawālī: A window onto processes of identity construction and social change - ProQuest". Retrieved 2020-11-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b FREE FATHERS, SLAVE MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN: A CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY OF FAMILY STRUCTURES IN AL-ANDALUS Cristinadela Puente; Imago TemporIs. medIum aevum, vii (2013): 27-44. issn 1888-3931