Note 3 (Quran Ref: 23:6 )

Lit., "or those whom their right hands possess" (aw ma malakat aymanuhum). Many of the commentators assume unquestioningly that this relates to female slaves, and that the particle aw ("or") denotes a permissible alternative. This interpretation is, in my opinion, inadmissible inasmuch as it is based on the assumption that sexual intercourse with ones female slave is permitted without marriage: an assumption, which is contradicted by the Qur’an itself (see 4:3, 24, 25 and 24:32, with the corresponding notes). Nor is this the only objection to the above-mentioned interpretation. Since the Qur’an applies the term ‘‘believers" to men and women alike, and since the term azwaj ("spouses"), too, denotes both the male and the female partners in marriage, there is no reason for attributing to the phrase ma malakat aymanuhum the meaning of "their female slaves’’; and since, on the other hand, it is out of the question that female and male slaves could have been referred to here it is obvious that this phrase does not relate to slaves at all, but has the same meaning as in 4:24 - namely, "those whom they rightfully possess through wedlock (see note 26 on 4:24) - with the significant difference that in the present context this expression relates to both husbands and wives, who "rightfully possess" one another by virtue of marriage. On the basis of this interpretation, the particle aw which precedes this clause does not denote an alternative ("or") but is, rather, in the nature of an explanatory amplification, more or less analogous to the phrase "in other words" or "that is", thus giving to the whole sentence the meaning, "save with their spouses - that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]", etc. (Cf. a similar construction 25:62 - ‘‘for him who has the will to take thought -that is [lit., "or"], has the will to be grateful".)(Quran Ref: 23:6 )