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(1,533 words)

, the period of sexual abstinence imposed on an unmarried female slave whenever she changed hands or her master set her free or gave her in marriage. Literally, istibrāʾ means to make sure of the “freedom”, that is the “emptiness”, of the womb. In fact, this period of abstinence was imposed to avoid confusion over paternity since—as there is hardly need to mention—female slaves, especially young ones, were nearly always the concubines of their masters. Nevertheless, the majority of fuḳahāʾ often lost sight of the point of this institution and imposed istibrāʾ in hypothetical cases whe…

Cite this page
Linant de Bellefonds, Y., “Istibrāʾ”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Consulted online on 14 November 2018 <>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004161214, 1960-2007

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