Islam, slavery and rape today


A letter to a New Zealand publication this week claims that Islam permits the trade in women for purposes of sexual gratification.


Qur’an cover


This letter appears under the heading Sex slaves normal part of Islam culture, and is signed William Clarke. It alludes specifically to allegations of mass rape in the ongoing Syrian conflict, which in any case is no manner of Islamic holy war, jihad or anything similar.

The organisation Human Rights Watch has documented allegations of sexual abuse; this report is dated from last June.

As with allegations of rape on American campuses, there are difficulties with verification; the report makes this clear, but it is probably fair to say that some, perhaps many, sexual assaults have occurred. Certainly countless murders have. And this concerns Islam how?

The allegation that the Qur’an endorses rape and other unholy practices is far from new.

Mr Clarke’s letter claims: “There is no disagreement on this practice among Islamic scholars. The prisoners and spoils of war are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.”

Is this true? Yes, but with a massive caveat, what is missing here, as always, is context. The citation he gives from the Qur’an is Surah 4:3. So what does the holy book actually say?

Here it is: “And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].”

If that is unclear, here is a white convert explaining it in plain English, American Yusuf Estes. In other words, this is not an endorsement of rape but a practical and humane solution to dealing with women left destitute by war. Granted it would be better to have no war and therefore no widows and orphans, but as with the present day, it is not always possible to avoid confict if the other side is spoiling for a fight.

We find the sort of nonsense espoused by Mr Clarke all over the place, including on Fox News with this report on so-called Radical Islam. The important word here is radical; this is really a reference to Islamism, which is a political ideology that has stolen the garb of religion for its own ends. You wouldn’t judge Christianity by the Westboro Baptist Church, so why would you judge Islam by the likes of Abū Qatāda, or even by the Syrian Army?

[The above article was first published January 9, 2014; the original wasn’t archived.]

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