Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Free Fathers, Slave Mothers and their Children : a Contribution to the Study of Family Structures in Al-Andalus

Cristina de la Puente


This article seeks to make a brief study concerning a very concrete matter: the family of a free man, whose concubine had his child or became pregnant by him. We will attempt to answer the following questions: 1) what is the legal source of the family structure that is established; 2) what is a slave-mother (umm walad) and how is she juridically defined through her rights and obligations; and 3) what is the legal situation of children born
within a relation of concubinage? Despite all the deficiencies that can be attributed to Arabic Medieval legal sources, such as the certain fact that they are composed within an urban medium and do not reflect what exists beyond it, they still happen to be the works that offer the most fertile information for social history and the only ones that make it possible to study how “islamisation” and “arabisation” of the institutions influenced the
evolution of family structures family in Islamic societies. The legal sources offer plentiful and detailed information about the presence of slaves within family structures.

Text complet: PDF