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The first sentence under 'History' makes no sense: "Contrary to the common belief among some, a Muslim harem is the collective term for the wive(s)and in some cases concubines, only in the case of princes and the very rich it is generally part of a palace and its inhabitants do not necessarily consist solely of women with whom the head of the household has a sexual relation, their young offspring plus staff (women and eunuchs)." ..I'm attempting to fix it.

Consider Joining the Sexology and Sexuality project[edit]

Are you a member of the Wikipedia Sexology and Sexuality wikiproject ?

If not, consider joining if you want to make changes to this page, or other pages in this context.

If you don't have that kind of time, and just have a few changes, please note them in those talk pages, unless they are minor edits.

Note: You do not need to be a member of this project in order to edit this page, whether or not the edit is minor, per Wikipedia:Be bold, et al. 19:46, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Harems in old India and old China[edit]

Other cultures had harems, that is a group of kept women secluded from everyday life, and supported and enjoyed by a rich man, often a landowner in the country. I would like to see contributions by those with some knowledge of the culture of old India and old China.

David Erskine58.165.167.146 (talk) 05:36, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, badly placed.

To Do List[edit]

  • Need to find references for the noted items, and much more
 a) "While some Muslims assert that the Islamic religion never proscribes the use of harems, and that it emerged rather as an extension of Ottoman culture, there is no doubt that the Prophet Muhammad and his followers practiced slavery, accumulating women as war booty"[citation needed]. 
 b) "The Qur'an allots these captured women, married or not, as property "of the right hand," and sexual relations are said to be lawful with them"[citation needed]. 
 c) "As such, while it is true that women were not kept in a harem-style extensions of the household, the precedent for such tradition does stem from Islamic slavery practices"[citation needed].
  • In general, more breadth in the article, and some organization

Atom 17:40, 15 July 2006 (UTC)


[User:Fastifex] I left discussion about this on your talk page. Please take a look and respond there, or in my talk page [User_talk:Atomaton] (or here if you like) so that we can find wording that works. Atom 18:30, 17 July 2006 (UTC) It looks like a typo in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph: "Muslims assert that Islam never proscribes the use of harems, and that they (re)emerged rather as part of Ottoman culture." Check the difference between "prescribe" and "proscribe".

I think this page would be improved by a discussion of what happened to the harem in the 20th century? Do harems still exist? When were they outlawed in Turkey? What about in other Islamic countries? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:56, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Works of fiction are not reference sources[edit]

Why are historical novels being listed in the Sources and references section? Binabik80 16:18, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Fiction is acceptable, as long as it is referenced as fiction (as it is here), and not used as a cite for sources of information or facts in the article. A person referencing the article from a general interest perspective may find those of interest. Atom 12:01, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Maybe relabel as "Examples of the Harem in Fiction"? Even broaden it a little; the movie The Sheik would be one example.

meaning of Haram[edit]

It says Arabic word Haram(wives or concubines).Does the word Haram mean such thing? As far as I know the meaning is conserved or forbidden.-- 21:14, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

NOte that the article discusses two arabic words, translated into english as harim and harem. Ince the vowels are omited in Arabic, I am not certain how one knes the difference. However, someone who knows Arabic has suggested in the definion that " harîm حريم (compare haram) is the part of the household forbidden to male strangers" and the Turkish harem, from the Arabic haram (wives and concubines), originally entailing "women's quarters," literally: "something forbidden or kept safe," from the root harama: "he guarded, forbade." The triconsonantal H-R-M is common to Arabic words entailing forbidden."

Both from the H-R-M = forbidden root.

If you can clarify this based on your knowledge of Arabic, that would be appreciated. Atom 02:35, 15 August 2006 (UTC)


This article is a merge of the everyday Islamic term, and the vulgar western view of what was happening in the palaces of rulers. I want to split the later into a Non-Muslim view of Harem. Any objections? --Striver 10:05, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

10 days, still objections? --Striver 20:36, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean by "split" Putting a seperate section to focus on the current day Islamic usage of the term would be great. Splitting into another article is just a bad idea.

The western usage may be viewed by you as "vulgar", but the purpose of the article is to describe the term in an encyclopedic manner. There is no "non-muslim view" as you put it. There is a term that means similar but differnt things to different people. That is the same as it would be to try and describe a "muslim view". There is no such thing. Islam is a spectrum of religious and philisophical thought. Atom 22:15, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

My stance is that there is a Muslim view, and the rest are non-Muslim views. As for there is no Muslim view, see Category:Muslim views. Or perhaps Non-Muslim view of Ali and Non-Muslim view of Muhammad. And my arguement is not about vulgarness, its about undue weight, you can't have a term used by Muslims, and then have an article that is in 80% about how non-Muslims view (not use) the term to be.--Striver 10:38, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
The article is about current usage of the term. In the English language Wikipedia, as in other language versions, there is a degree of ethnocentrism. I'm not saying that it should be so, or needs to be so. Of primary interest to English readers are the history of the Harem, as well as current usage. Muslim views (as there is not one view) are of interest of course. But, I don't feel that current day Muslims, have any ownership of the term. You suggest that there is something very different about the Muslim viewpoint. Why not start a section and express that? The article will be here for a long while. After you write such a section, we can work on polishing to find proper balance and integration with the historical view, etc.
Listen, the term Harem is a Islamic term, just as salat is. Even the views on salat has small differences between the madh'hab, but nobody is sugesting that it results in the term not being a Islamic one. Thing is, there is less disagreement on the concept of harem then the concept of Salat. Just pointing to some differences in the view of its users does not make the term less Islamic. And you know what? I have not even seen an example of the alleged different views among Muslims. So i repeat my stance, the article is overdominated by the western view of a term that is exclusivly used by Muslims, and that is undue weight. Thing is, the argument that the Islamic section of the article needs to be expanded is an argument for spliting out the western view, it is the lack of material in the Islamic section that gives the western view an undue weight. Its like having an article on christmass, only giving the christian view some minor presentation, and then following it up with how christmass is the ugly ritual of a blood cult, and who they engage in drinking the blood of a semi human God, complete with pictures that make no fairness to the Christian view. That is not what wikipedia is about. The missrepresenting western view must be split out in order to give a balanced representation of the topic, in the Islamic world, a Harem does not conote a place were you see semi-brothel activity, it is a place of seclusure and safetyness for the womans, not somewere they can be exploited for their bodies, and the viewer can indulge in visualy raping them. --Striver 10:12, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I haven't argued that historically the term "harem" had not originated in the Islamic world. If you read the article, you see that it has been adopted into the English language since at least the early 1800's. English has borrowed words from many, many languages, most notably french. So, "ownership" of the word is not an issue. This article subscribes to the WIkipedia policy of NPOV. That means that alternate meanings and interpretations that can be supported by references and citations are welcome. I've already asked you to contribute a section that describes and documents the Islamic view. I don't understand your description that the western view is seen as a place where one sees "semi-brothel activity". Indeed the western view is that it is a place of seclusion and privacy for women, largely forbidden to men. The pictures here are artwork, perceptions of artists who had seen Harem. They show the beauty and peaceful seclusion of a time from the past. Look at the recent image donated by Mr. Haydar Hatemi. It shows the beauty, grace, affluence and leisure of the women in a harem, and does not exploit them, or "visually rape" them in any way. I've worked very hard to make the article accurate, and yet elegant. The images here are of the past, of historical harem. It does not try to represent how Muslims, or the Islamic world views the current day harem.
I think that it is clear that english speaking cultures have very little understanding of how the Islamic world thinks. My personal opinion is that the Islamic world is, and has been at war with itself for more than a hundred years, the forces of fundamentalism trying to espouse various puritanical versions of Islam that have never existed in the past, and are not accurate interpretations of the Koran. The existing, more modernized Islamic world (Turkey, what is trying to emerge again in Iran), Indonesia, and Malaysia are involved in this battle. The western world has made the mistake of becoming involved in the middle of this. The views of a womans role, including what a harem is is directly tied up in this. The resurgence of the wearing of the veil (niqab), enforced upon women against their will in most islamic countries, when it had almost dissapeared from use 20 years ago is an example of this movement from the beauty of what Islam was (some of which can be seen in the artwork in the article) to the fundementalist views forced upon women, and persectution and violence in the name of "islamic law" (sharia).
What I propose is that you do not wish to make edits to improve tha article, that you submit some suggestions here on the talk page as to ways that it could be improved, and I and others will see if we can do that. I personally am not that interested in making revisionst edits to the article to change a description of what harem actually was, to a more puritanical view of how current day people wish it had been, or to censor description of what they wish it had not been. That being said, a section that talks about current day Islamic perspective is entirely welcome. Atom 13:46, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

What i most strongly notices was that you asserted that non-mahram was acctualy allowed into the so-called harem of somebody, and on top of that, the women in the harem, not only did not became horrifed, but in fact showed their brest to the non-Maharam?!

You do NOT show your breast to non-Mahram, SPECIALY not in Harem. It is this kind of "nudness is ok as long as its in the harem" attitude of the west that this article portrays that is making me react. There is no disscussion about this, no room for interpretation, Muslim woman are NOT allowed to show their breast for non-Mahram.

This two views are so blatantly opposed to each other that it is a disservice to accuracy to portray them in the same article. --Striver 18:11, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

In the article I don't see the area that you object to. I'll review it again. Where does it say that it allows opposite sex anywhere in the article, with the exception of children, or of eunich servants? I agree with you that predominantly in harems from long ago to very recently would not allow non-mahram in the harem, especially regarding nudity. The artwork presents that nudity was common in the harem, which is true, but that nudity was only amongst the other women of the harem, and eunichs or children of the harem. The one section that discusses that males up to age 16 were allowed in the harem is the one thing I think is unlikely, but may be historically accurate in the context described (Ottoman harem). The artwork is from artists long ago, and at that time Islam was not as conservative, and sharia law did not yet exist.

I'll try to come up with a paragraph that describes maharim and the relationship in the harem. Atom 01:02, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

A section clarifying what could be missrepresented by the pictures is a start. It also needs to be put through that the subject of the pictures did not pose for them, since that would be totally against the very principle of having a harem. Also, the subjects, if they are actually persons, would with all likely hood object to being portrayed nude. The pictures are from 19th century. Are you arguing that Sharia was not formed in the 19th century? If not then, then when? --Striver 10:44, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

harem art section[edit]

Its breaking the page for me in both Firefox and Avant and I'm at 1024x768. I want to replace the current table with the gallery below.

Harem Art

Any objections?--KrossTalk 00:26, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Go for it. Looks good to me. Atom 00:51, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

How accurate are these pictures? Do we know if the artists were allowed access to a harem? If not, did female visitors to a harem advise the artists? David Erskine58.165.167.146 (talk) 05:46, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

The whole topic deserves a separate article, something like Harem depictions in Western art as a typical motif of Orientalism. The article Harem should concentrate on historical facts. --Mkill (talk) 01:04, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm no art historian, but how does a painting of a single nude woman depict a harem? --SweetNightmares (awaken) 21:30, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

This section is confusing! "Sex ratio in harems"[edit]

The section: "Sex ratio in harems" is confusing. It would be helpful if someone could make it more idiot-friendly. As it is, I have no idea what it is trying to explain. Althena 07:21, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Opposite to Harem?[edit]

What's the opposite of a Harem i.e. where a dominant female has many male followers? Ryan4314 (talk) 19:10, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Two possible terms I found on wiki here; Reverse Harem and Male Harem. Ryan4314 (talk) 19:39, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

History Rocks (the real French girl in the harem), Fiction Sucks (the Christian's ridiculous sorry version)[edit]

Why mention that trash written by a know-nothing western woman in your text? Her story is so full of you-know-what to please a bigotted and frustrated and racist western readers out to protect White Christian women's honor and chastity. What a load of crock and full of bunk! Why not mention the REAL French girl who conquered the harem? Aimee Debucq de Rivery, a real French girl from Martinique. In 1784, on her way back to Martinique from Nantes, the 21-year-old Amiee was captured by the corsairs and sold to the Dey of Algiers. The Dey presented her to the Sultan Abdulhamid I in Istanbul. Being exotic and fair, the sultan named her Nakshedil (Emvroidered on the Heart). She had a son Mahmud. Being very intelligent, she rose to be the 4th kadin and earned the title Sultana. She survived the death of Abdulhamid in 1789 and was asked by the new sultan Selim III to remain in the harem because he had always admired the French. She taught him French and inspired him to send an ambassador to Paris. He even started a French newspaper in Istanbul. But Selim's francophile raised the ire of the establishment and he was assasinated in 1807. Nakshedil hid her son from the assassins and Mahmud II became the next sultan. As the mother of the reigning sultan, she became very powerful and influential and continued the reform. Throughout her stay in the harem, she remained a Christian and her religion was tolerated because Muslims consider Christians "brothers of the Book". When Nakshedil was dying in 1817, a Catholic priest was sent for to give her the last rite. Now, let's tell it like it is. Religious Intolerence has historically been one sided, Christians against Muslims, for over 1,000 years. Only in the last few decades has the trend been reversed. --VimalaNowlis (talk) 19:07, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

In the past, it has been more like Christian against Christian, Catholic against Protestants, Christians against Pagans, Christians against anyone with differing beliefs. Muslims have been only one group of people that Christian Kings or Rome has seen as an enemy. In current times, it is the same thing with a twist. The larger battle is Muslim against Muslim, not Muslim against Christians. Atom (talk) 22:32, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Your story is a good one -- facinating and true. There is much more to it, of course. There is already a Wikipedia article on Aimée du Buc de Rivéry. Atom (talk) 22:32, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Is it normal to put claims without any verification or source of claims in main wikipedia articles?[edit]

I read the following for the first time and i have never see any refference to sassanids having harems: "It is claimed that harems existed in Persia under the Ancient Achaemenids and later Iranian dynasties (the Sassanid Chosroes II reportedly had a harem of 3000 wives, as well as 12,000 other women) and lasted well into the Qajar Dynasty."

Panturkist even cliams that harems are a byzantine tradition, but without a reliable source you should remove claims from the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:42, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Too much imaginary paintings[edit]

There are too much imaginary paintings in the article that makes it look non-encyclopedic, poor erotic Orientalism. Almost all paintings are not historical and informative encyclopedic, which makes non-free paintings not fair use. As in Talk:Harem#harem art section section other users said:

  • The whole topic deserves a separate article, something like Harem depictions in Western art as a typical motif of Orientalism. The article Harem should concentrate on historical facts. --Mkill (talk) 01:04, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I'm no art historian, but how does a painting of a single nude woman depict a harem? --SweetNightmares (awaken) 21:30, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

I'll clean up the article and retain some pictures. For more pictures the reader will see the commons, just like other wikipedia's articles.--Taranet (talk) 16:21, 7 December 2012 (UTC)


I don't think I believe this: "Due to the secluded nature of the Harem, there are virtually no reliable accounts of life in any of them at any time, and most accounts in the literature are conjectural." A brief search turned up several, for example "Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood" by Fatima Mernissi. Kendall-K1 (talk) 16:57, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

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Harem anime[edit]

Perhaps something on harem anime and how the harem captured Japanese anime and manga artists' imagination would be fitting for this article.

In short, it is a major genre of Japanese anime, where there is only one boy or man in an all-women cast. There is also the reverse-harem, for which it's the other way round.

It may be worth a mention on this article. Yannis A. | 14:13, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

An answer to 'How does Islam justify harems?' would be useful[edit]

Assuming it does, what does Islam offer to the suggestion this is a form sex slavery without ambiguity? Ender's Shadow Snr (talk) 18:57, 23 September 2014 (UTC)