Egypt’s Sex-Slave Marriage

July 8, 2012 1:37 pm 0 comments

Sheikh Awn telling his concubine-bride what to say during their "nuptial vows," which included her "enslavement" to the self-proclaimed Sharia expert.

What is being dubbed as Egypt’s “first sex-slave marriage” took place mere days after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi was made president.

Last Monday, on the Egyptian TV show Al Haqiqa (“the Truth”), journalist Wael al-Ibrashi began the program by airing a video-clip of a man, Abd al-Rauf Awn, “marrying” his “slave.” Before making the woman, who had a non-Egyptian accent, repeat the Koran’s Surat al-Ikhlas after him, instead of saying the customary “I marry myself to you,” the woman said “I enslave myself to you,” and kissed him in front of an applauding audience.

Then, even though she was wearing a hijab, her owner-husband declared her forbidden from such trappings, commanding her to be stripped of them, so as “not to break Allah’s laws.” She took her veil and abaya off, revealing, certainly by Muslim standards, a promiscuous red dress (all the other women present were veiled). The man claps for her as the video-clip (which can be viewed here) ends.

The owner-husband, Abd al-Rauf Awn, then appeared on the show, identifying himself as an Islamic scholar and expert at Islamic jurisprudence who studied at Al Azhar. He gave several Islamic explanations to justify his “marriage,” from Islamic prophet Muhammad’s “sunna” or practice of “marrying” enslaved captive women, to Koran 4:3, which commands Muslim men to “Marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four… or what your right hands possess.”

For all practical purposes, and to avoid euphemisms, “what your right hands possess”—also known in Arabic as amelk al-yamin—is, according to Islamic doctrine and history, simply a sex-slave. Linguistic evidence further suggests that she is seen more as a possession than a human.

Even stripping the sex-slave of her hijab, the way Awn commanded his concubine-wife, has precedent. According to Islamic jurisprudence, whereas the free (Muslim) woman is mandated to be veiled behind a hijab, sex-slaves are mandated only to be covered from the navel to the knees—with everything else exposed. During the program Awn even explained how Caliph Omar, one of the first “righteous caliphs,” used to strip sex-slaves of their garments, whenever he saw them overly dressed in the marketplace.

Awn further explained that sex-slave marriage is ideal for today’s Egyptian society. He based his position on ijtihad, a recognized form of jurisprudence, whereby a Muslim scholar comes up with a new idea—one that is still rooted in the Koran and example of Muhammad—yet one that better fits the circumstances of contemporary society.

He argued that, when it comes to marriage, “we Muslims have overly complicated things,” so that men are often forced to be single throughout their prime, finally getting married between the ages of 30-40 (when they might be expected to have a sufficient income to open a household). Similarly, many Egyptian women do not want to wear the hijab in public.

The solution, according to Awn, is to reinstitute 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, anyway.

The other guest on the show, Dr. Abdullah al-Naggar, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al Azhar, fiercely attacked Awn for reviving this practice, calling on him and his slave-wife to “repent” and stop dishonoring Islam, 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 long, Al Azhar has been primarily 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 distinctly Islamic practices that defy Western sensibilities.

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 are over, declared that, in an ideal Muslim society, “when I want a sex-slave [I should be able to go] to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.” Likewise, a Kuwaiti female politician advocated for reviving the institute of sex-slavery, suggesting that Muslims should bring female captives of war—specifically Russian women from the Chechnya war—and sell them to Muslim men in the markets of Kuwait.

And so the “Arab Spring” continues to blossom.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.