Islam and Sex Slavery
By Robert Spencer
Bikya Masr reported last week that “a new report from George Washington University professor Michele Clark and Coptic rights activist Nada Ghaly has argued that thousands of young Coptic Christian girls in Egypt are the victim of kidnapping and forced servitude by Muslims in the North African country.” Meanwhile, every day seems to bring fresh reports of Muslim gangs in Britain forcing young non-Muslim girls into prostitution and sex slavery. Muslims from the Twin Cities area ran an interstate sex trafficking ring until they were caught and indicted in late 2010. The dirty secret behind such reports is that this behavior is sanctioned in Islam.
The Qur’an forbids Muslim men to have sexual relations with “wedded women, save what your right hands own.” (4:4) “Prosperous are the believers who in their prayers are humble and from idle talk turn away and at almsgiving are active and guard their private parts save from their wives and what their right hands own then being not blameworthy.” (23:1-6)
Those whom their “right hands own” are slaves, and inextricable from the concept of Islamic slavery as a whole is the concept of sex slavery, which is rooted in Islam’s devaluation of the lives of non-Muslims. The Qur’an stipulates that a man many take four wives as well as hold slave girls as sex slaves. These women are captured in wartime and are considered the spoils of war. Islam avoids the appearance of impropriety, declaring that the taking of these sex slaves does not constitute adultery if the women are already married, for their marriages are ended at the moment of their capture. A manual of Islamic law directs: “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled” (Reliance of the Traveller, o9.13).
This is by no means an eccentric or unorthodox view in Islam. The Egyptian Sheikh Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni declared in May 2011 that “we are in the era of jihad,” and that as they waged jihad warfare against infidels, Muslims would take slaves. He clarified what he meant in a subsequent interview:
…Jihad is only between Muslims and infidels….Spoils, slaves, and prisoners are only to be taken in war between Muslims and infidels. Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars--there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.
When a slave market is erected, which is a market in which are sold slaves and sex-slaves, which are called in the Qur’an by the name milk al-yamin, “that which your right hands possess” [Qur’an 4:24]. This is a verse from the Qur’an which is still in force, and has not been abrogated. The milk al-yamin are the sex-slaves. You go to the market, look at the sex-slave, and buy her. She becomes like your wife, (but) she doesn’t need a (marriage) contract or a divorce like a free woman, nor does she need a wali. All scholars agree on this point--there is no disagreement from any of them. [...] When I want a sex slave, I just go to the market and choose the woman I like and purchase her.
Right around the same time, on May 25, 2011, a female Kuwaiti activist and politician, Salwa al-Mutairi, also spoke out in favor of the Islamic practice of sexual slavery of non-Muslim women, emphasizing that the practice accorded with Islamic law and the parameters of Islamic morality.
…A merchant told me that he would like to have a sex slave. He said he would not be negligent with her, and that Islam permitted this sort of thing. He was speaking the truth….I brought up (this man’s) situation to the muftis in Mecca. I told them that I had a question, since they were men who specialized in what was halal, and what was good, and who loved women. I said, “What is the law of sex slaves?”
The mufti said, “With the law of sex slaves, there must be a Muslim nation at war with a Christian nation, or a nation which is not of the religion, not of the religion of Islam. And there must be prisoners of war.”
“Is this forbidden by Islam?,” I asked.
“Absolutely not. Sex slaves are not forbidden by Islam. On the contrary, sex slaves are under a different law than the free woman. The free woman must be completely covered except for her face and hands. But the sex slave can be naked from the waist up. She differs a lot from the free woman. While the free woman requires a marriage contract, the sex slave does not--she only needs to be purchased by her husband, and that’s it. Therefore the sex slave is different than the free woman.”
While the savage exploitation of girls and young women is an unfortunately cross-cultural phenomenon, only in Islamic law does it carry anything approaching divine sanction. Here is yet another human rights scandal occasioned by Islamic law that the international human rights community cravenly ignores.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Did Muhammad Exist?, is now available.