Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →