Rape in Islam
Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 10382, November 24, 2005
- the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
Duress has two aspects. One is that it negates the person's consent to an act, such as sexual activity or the entering into a contract; or, secondly, as a possible legal defense or justification to an otherwise unlawful act. A defendant utilizing the duress defense admits to breaking the law, but claims that he/she is not liable because, even though the act broke the law, it was only performed because of extreme unlawful pressure. In criminal law, a duress defense is similar to a plea of guilty, admitting partial culpability, so that if the defense is not accepted then the criminal act is admitted.Duress or coercion can also be raised in an allegation of rape or sexual assault to negate a defense of consent on the part of the person making the allegation.
There is no equivalent term for ‘rape’ in the Qur'an. Likewise, there is not a single verse in the Qur'an which even remotely discourages forced sex. In contrast, there are several verses in this book which give the green light to rape and other sexual crimes against women.
Surah an-Nisa discusses lawful and forbidden women for pious Muslims. Before we delve into the particular verse, it should be noted that it is not easy to understand what is being suggested using the verse alone. Therefore, relying on authoritative Tafsirs (Qur'an interpretations) and Sahih (authentic) Hadiths associated with it, are necessary to get the exact picture.
What we see in the beginning of this verse as “forbidden” refers to sexual intercourse. The Qur'an dictates with reference to the above passage that apart from married women (unless they are slaves, but married), all women are lawful to the Muslim, however, only under the sanctity of marriage.
There are other verses in the Qur'an similar to verse 4:24. For example, Surah al-Mumenoon makes mention of successful Muslims and their characteristics:
Guarding private parts is denotative of abstaining from sexual activities. The Qur'an points out successful believers are those who are indulging in sexual activities only with their wives and sex-slaves.
This is confirmed again in Surah al-Maarij:
This practice of raping war captives was practiced by Islam’s very own prophet Muhammad, in his life. On two occasions, he married (for the sake of sexual gratification only) war captives and raped them. Those victims were namely Safiyah and Juwairiyah.
Safiyah the daughter of Huayy was the wife of a Jewish Rabbi named Kinana. When Muhammad conquered the Jewish village of Khaibar, he tortured and killed the Rabbi and took captive his wife. Sahih Hadith in Bukhari testify to this fact:
The following hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud bears out how Muhammad obtained Juwairiyah, a beautiful woman of a tribe called Banu Mustaliq. Muhammad was attacking the tribe without warning and conquering them:
The following hadith from Sahih Bukhari is evidentiary to the above:
Claims about verse 24:33
Muslims will frequently quote the following when confronted with the passages provided in this article and others like it:
The first part of the verse is telling unmarried people to keep themselves chaste. Now, the important thing to remember is that the Islamic definition of chaste is different than the commonly agreed upon definitions of the word. According to Quran 23:6, Quran 33:50, Quran 33:52, and Quran 70:30 a Muslim man is considered "chaste" so long as he only has sex with his wives (of whom he may have up to four) and his right-hand possessions (female captives/slaves). An unmarried Muslim man who has sex with his slave girl is still considered to be "chaste" by Islamic standards.
The second sentence speaks about slaves who ask for a way to pay for their freedom (like indentured servants) as long as the master knows of "any good in them". It would be interesting to discover how female slaves could earn any money at all if they had been kidnapped from their families and forced into slavery and did not have money-making skills. And if a female slave was to earn her freedom, where then could she go if her family had been massacred? How could she support herself and keep herself safe from rape, prostitution, etc.? Practicalities aside, this verse only tells Muslims to let their slaves purchase their freedom (but puts in a convenient disclaimer of "if ye know any good in them"). To give Muhammad credit, he did stipulate that the masters should give their slaves something (again conveniently leaving out what and how much).
The third sentence is what pertains to the Muslim claim that rape is forbidden. However, the word used is not simply sexual intercourse but is more specifically "prostitution" or "whoredom". Prostitution is not simply about sex, but sex for a price. This is why it is often referred to as one of the oldest professions. What this verse speaks of is a master forcing his maid to be a prostitute thereby making money by allowing other men to have sex with her. This verse says nothing about a master forcing himself upon his slave-girl who is considered "halal" for him according to Islamic law. The fourth sentence says that if a girl is indeed forced into prostitution, then Allah will forgive her for committing zina. What this verse does not say is what the punishment should be for a man who forces his maid into prostitution. All it says is that he should not do it. And what it definitely does not say is that a Muslim man cannot force himself on his own slave-girl.
Claims about Muhammad's behavior
From 4:24, it can be rightly assumed, that the Qur'an does not see any wrong-doing in Muslims having sex with captive women even if these women are married and their husbands are still alive. This clearly indicates that the Qur'an allows rape, as captive women, even in the unlikely case of agreeing to sexual intercourse, would still be having that intercourse under duress.
- The High Rape-Scale in Saudi Arabia - WomanStats Project (blog), January 16, 2013 (archived), http://womanstats.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/the-high-rape-scale-in-saudi-arabia/
- Sexual Slavery and Concubinage in Islam - Islam Watch
- What is the punishment for rape in Christianity and in Islam? - Answers to Islam
- Rape Law in Islam - THERE'S NONE - FFI Forum
- Gaines, Larry; Miller, LeRoy (2006). Criminal Justice In Action: The Core. Thomson/Wadsworth. ISBN 0-495-00305-0.
- 1st Class Investigations Glossary
- Ruling on having intercourse with a slave woman when one has a wife - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 10382, November 24, 2005