Egypt’s "first sex-slave marriage" took place mere days after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi was made president.
On the Egyptian TV show Al Haqiqa ("the Truth"), journalist Wael al-Ibrashi showed a video-clip of a man, Abd al-Rauf Awn, "marrying" his slave. Before making the woman, who has a non-Egyptian accent, repeat after him the Koran’s Surat al-Ikhlas, instead of saying the usual "I marry myself to you," the woman said, "I enslave myself to you" kissing him in front of an applauding audience.
Then, even though she was wearing a hijab, her owner-husband declared that she is forbidden from such trappings and commanded her to be stripped of them, so as "not to break Allah’s laws." She took her veil and abaya off, revealing, by Muslim standards, a seductive red dress (all the other women present were veiled). The man claps for her and the video-clip ends.
The man, Abd al-Rauf Awn, who identified himself as an Islamic scholar who studied at Al Azhar and an expert at Islamic jurisprudence, then appeared on the show, giving several Islamic explanations to justify his marriage, from Islam’s prophet Muhammad’s "sunna," or practice, of "marrying" enslaved captive women, to Koran 4:3, which declares: "Marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four… or what your right hands possess."
Though the term malk al-yamin literally means "that which is owned by your right hand," for all practical purposes, and to avoid euphemisms, according to Islamic doctrine and history, she is simply a sex-slave. Linguistic evidence even suggests that she is seen not as a human but as a possession.
Even stripping the sex-slave of her hijab, the way Awn did, has precedent. According to Islamic jurisprudence, whereas the free (Muslim) woman is mandated to wear a hijab, sex-slaves are mandated only to be covered from the navel to the knees—with everything else exposed. Awn even explained how Caliph Omar, one of the first "righteous caliphs," would strip sex-slaves of their garments, whenever he saw them overly dressed in the marketplace.
Awn further went on to declare that he believes the idea of sex slave marriage is ideal for today’s Egyptian society. He would re-institute sex-slavery—allowing men to marry and copulate much earlier in life, and women who want to dress freely to do so, as technically they are sex-slaves and mandated to go about loosely attired.
The other guest on the show, Dr. Abdullah al-Naggar, a professor in Islamic jurisprudence at Al Azhar, fiercely attacked Awn for reviving this practice, calling on him and his slave-wife to "repent," to stop dishonoring Islam, and arguing that "there is no longer sex-slavery"—to which Awn responded by sarcastically asking, "Who said sex-slavery is over? What—because the UN said so?"
In many ways, this exchange between Awn, who advocates sex-slave marriage, and the Al Azhar professor symbolizes the clash between today’s "Islamists" and "moderate Muslims." For a long time, Al Azhar has been engaged in the delicate balancing act of affirming Islam while still advocating modernity according to Western standards, whereas the Islamists—from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Salafis—bred with contempt and disrespect for the West, are only too eager to revive Islamic practices that defy Western standards.
While this may be the first sex slave marriage to take place in Egypt’s recent history, it is certainly not the first call to revive the practice. Earlier, Egyptian Sheikh Huwaini, lamenting that the "good old days" of Islam were over, declared that, in an ideal Muslim society, "when I want a sex-slave," he should be able to go "to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her."
Click here for the full report from Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
In an earlier additional report on the same subject, a Muslim woman, Salwa al-Mutairi, a political activist and former parliamentary candidate for Kuwait’s government said she seeks to "revive the institution of sex-slavery." A brief English report appeared in the Kuwait Times, but has since been removed but not before a copy was captured by bloggers. If you read and understand Arabic, the news website, Al Arabiya, has the sordid details, including a video of Mutairi addressing the topic.
In short, Mutairi begins by insisting that "it’s of course true" that "the prophet of Islam legitimized sex-slavery." She recounts how when she was in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, she asked various sheikhs and muftis (learned, authoritative Muslims) about the legality of sex-slavery according to Sharia: they all confirmed it to be perfectly legal; Kuwaiti ulema further pointed out that extra "virile" men—Western synonymous include "sex-crazed," "lecherous," "perverted"—would do well to purchase sex-slaves to sate their appetites without sinning.
Mutairi said, "A Muslim state must [first] attack a Christian state—sorry, I mean any non-Muslim state—and they [the women, the future sex-slaves] must be captives of the raid. Is this forbidden? Not at all; according to Islam, sex slaves are not at all forbidden. Quite the contrary, the rules regulating sex-slaves differ from those for free women [i.e., Muslim women]: the latter’s body must be covered entirely, except for her face and hands, whereas the sex-slave is kept naked from the bellybutton on up—she is different from the free woman; the free woman has to be married properly to her husband, but the sex-slave—he just buys her and that’s that.
She offers concrete suggestions: "For example, in the Chechnyan war, surely there are female Russian captives. So go and buy those and sell them here in Kuwait; better that than have our men engage in forbidden sexual relations. I don’t see any problem in this, no problem at all."
Mutairi suggests the enslaved girls be at least 15 years-old and further justified the institution of sex-slavery by evoking 8th century caliph, Harun Rashid—a name some may recall from Arabian Nights bedtime stories; a name some may be surprised to discover politically active Muslims modeling their lives after: "And the greatest example we have is Harun al-Rashid: when he died, he had 2,000 sex slaves—so it’s okay, nothing wrong with it."
And thus the Arab Spring continues.