This is a standard-issue Islamic apologetic piece from the Independent, replete with the usual ingredients: a great deal of whining about “Islamophobes,” vicious ad hominem attacks against them, and a slyly selective presentation of the facts at hand, designed to mislead. Note also Mariam Hakim’s repeated equation of “Islamophobic extremists” with “Islamist extremists,” and “ISIS” with “Islamophobes,” as if they were two sides of the same coin. This equation is not new with Hakim; it goes back years among Leftists and Islamic supremacists, and is designed to demonize all opposition to jihad terror. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, it is also ridiculous: there have been 27,000+ jihad terror attacks worldwide since 9/11; how many violent attacks by “Islamophobes”? More below.
“The truth about Muslims and sex slavery – according to the Quran, rather than Isis or Islamophobes,” by Mariam Hakim, Independent, February 16, 2016:
Like many myths about Islam, the Quran and Muslims, I’ve always heard the worst from Islamophobic extremists and Islamist extremists alike. They tend to share pretty much the same language, online content and perpetuate the same awful narratives about Muslims and their supposed religious practices.
As time wears on I’m starting to see these similarities are unavoidable – particularly online where it is rife. For example, this video of a female Muslim ‘scholar’ saying that men can have sex with female prisoners of war to ‘humiliate’ them has been shared widely on right-wing news sites and social media.
This narrative has been spread in the wake of recent sexual assault allegations in Cologne and reports of Isis fighters raping and selling sex slaves. It’s mainly been promoted by Donald Trump supporting anti-Muslim bigots, far-right extremists and people who’ll easily believe anything bad about Muslims.
Notice how Hakim focuses on who spreads this narrative, as if that were evidence of its falsity, but makes no effort to refute the substance of the case the “female Muslim ‘scholar'” actually made for sex slavery. Hakim’s points below do not address what that “scholar” said.
Those sharing the video usually make unfounded claims that the ‘North African/Arab’ men accused of the Cologne assaults were motivated by a ‘Muslim background’. The video has been used as proof of a culturally ingrained mindset that all Muslims apparently possess, as well as claims that the Quran supposedly endorses raping women, in particular female slaves.
It’s worth noting the video has also been shared by Muslims who have strongly refuted and ostracised the scholar, reacting with disgust over this extreme view.
And they are right: rape and sexual violence is not permitted in Islamic texts. It is of course something that causes harm to other humans, which is not Halal (permissible) and, in early Muslim communities, rape was a crime punishable by death.
However, seeing as this myth isn’t about to go away with a few online condemnations, what scripture is being cited by extremists and has it been distorted? After all, there are billions of Muslims across the globe that aren’t going round capturing women to rape as sex slaves.
The main reference cited is Chapter 23:1-6 in the Quran. It reads:
“And successful are the believers who guard their chastity … except from their wives or those that their right hands possess.”
The reference is about sexual relations, which are forbidden with any woman unless she is a spouse or ‘those their right hands possess’. To be clear, this means a concubine, bondmaid or a slave, but intercourse has to be consensual. Rape is forbidden as it is violent, and Islamic texts legislated for the proper and honourable treatment of slaves.
Hakim quotes a Qur’an passage that does indeed sanction sex slavery — 23:1-6. She could also have adduced 4:3, 4:24, 33:50 and 70:30. But her argument is absolutely absurd. The captives of the right hand, she admits, are concubines, bondmaids, and slaves, but then says “intercourse has to be consensual.” Note that she doesn’t quote any passage from the Qur’an or Hadith to buttress her argument here, because there is no passage she could quote. The very idea of being a bondmaid or slave is that you must do what you are told to do, and have no right to refuse consent. That’s what being a slave means.
Moreover, in Islamic law, even wives don’t have the right to refuse consent if their husbands want sex: a hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “If a husband calls his wife to his bed [i.e. to have sexual relation] and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning” (Bukhari 4.54.460).
And: “By him in Whose Hand lies my life, a woman can not carry out the right of her Lord, till she carries out the right of her husband. And if he asks her to surrender herself [to him for sexual intercourse] she should not refuse him even if she is on a camel’s saddle” (Ibn Majah 1854).
So would Mariam Hakim have us believe that under Islamic law, a wife cannot refuse sex but a slave girl can?
Even consensual sexual relations with a slave were not permissible if it caused harm and abuse elsewhere (e.g. to a wife) as all parties involved would be affected.
Furthermore this is not an entitlement. Concubinage and interpersonal relations with various bondmaids/slaves was already occurring at the time the Quran came about and subsequent passages list restrictions as a starting point to help to bring about the end of slavery. In any case, marriage was encouraged (Chapter 24:32) with slaves.
In fact, slavery was never endorsed by Islamic texts; rather it was something inherited from pre-Islamic cultures (pre-600s) that needed to be voluntarily and gradually weeded out of society through manumission, which was highly encouraged (Chapters 24:32-33 & 16:71). Islamic texts list a plethora of avenues to free slaves, as it was seen as a highly virtuous act. It’s difficult to find any references on how to make slaves out of people; rather the focus is always on ending slavery.
Conveniently this is something the extremists ignore, and this example further enforces the point that religious illiteracy is a root cause of extremism. Islamophobic extremists as well as Islamist extremists (like Isis) who promote and validate sexual violence through unspecific passages in the Quran – or without context – do so to justify their own violent mindsets.
Also, references in Islamic texts about slavery don’t apply any longer for a modern age given that slavery has been officially banned internationally since 1948. There is widespread consensus across all nations on this, including Muslims ones. There’s no desire among ordinary Muslims to drag humanity backwards into slavery, especially when there was a clear agenda in key Islamic texts to eventually eradicate it.
Here is another egregious falsehood. All the sects and schools of jurisprudence teach that Sharia is the immutable and perfect law of Allah, over and above any manmade law. Now Hakim would have us believe that Muslims have readily set it aside in favor of manmade laws dating back to 1948. Yet imams to this day routinely assert that Sharia is supreme above all human laws.
The majority of sane, law-abiding Muslims do not seek to impose themselves on others by force or aggression. They don’t even need me to explain passages in the Quran as they’re not interested in keeping a female slave to rape or ‘humiliate’….
It’s the insane, lawless ones I am concerned about.