Muslims must be honest and acknowledge, the Qur’an permits them to have sex slaves

Toronto Sun comment masthead

“We Muslims are caught in a conundrum. If the Arab general bin Qasim is our hero for enslaving non-Muslim women in India in the eighth century, how could Boko Haram be judged wrong for doing exactly the same in Nigeria today?”

Nigeria demo

May 21, 2014

Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

In the aftermath of Islamic jihadis — the Boko Haram — enslaving Christian school girls in Nigeria, the Muslim intelligentsia, instead of doing some serious introspection, has chosen to exercise damage control.

Columns by my co-religionists have appeared in newspapers ranging from the Toronto Star to The Independent in London and on, where they avoid any reference to Sharia laws that permit Muslims to take non-Muslim female prisoners of war as sex slaves.

The fact is Muslim armies throughout history have been permitted under Islamic law to make sex slaves of non-Muslim prisoners.

Quran c33_50 with border

Here is chapter 33, verse 50 of the Qur’an:

“O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee.”

When asked for a clarification, a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa permitting sex slavery. He said:

“Praise be to Allaah. Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman, whether he has a wife or wives or he is not married … Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also did that, as did the Sahaabah (his companions), the righteous and the scholars.”

In the eighth century, when Arab armies invaded India, they took thousands of Hindu POWs as slaves back to the Caliph Walid in Damascus, who distributed the women as gifts to the newly emerging Arab nobility.

The ninth-century Persian historian al-Baladhuri writes in his book The Origins of the Islamic State that when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim invaded India in the year 711AD, the non-Muslim prisoners taken were given a choice of death or slavery.

Sixty thousand captives were made slaves in the city of Rur, among whom were “thirty ladies of royal blood.” One-fifth of the slaves and booty were set apart for the caliph’s treasury and dispatched to Damascus, while the rest were scattered among the “army of Islam.”

The nineteenth century Indian Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali, whose translation of the Qur’an is considered the most authentic, had the courage to be honest when he put a footnote to the Quranic verse mentioned above:

“The point does not now arise as the whole conditions and incidents of war have been altered and slavery has been abolished by international agreement.”

But courage to face facts is rare among many Muslims today. I asked the writers of the Toronto Star and The Independent columns why they had not addressed the passages of the Qur’an that permit Muslims to take slaves. They did not answer.

I wrote to a woman who told Christiane Amanpour of CNN that “Boko Haram do not understand Islam.” I asked her why she had not addressed Sharia law that permits taking non-Muslim females as POWs. She too, did not respond.

We Muslims are caught in a conundrum. If the Arab general bin Qasim is our hero for enslaving non-Muslim women in India in the eighth century, how could Boko Haram be judged wrong for doing exactly the same in Nigeria today?

All we Muslims need do today is to echo Abdullah Yusuf Ali by saying, “what was permitted in the seventh century, is no longer applicable in the twenty-first.” But alas, neither honesty nor courage comes easy.

27 comments for “Muslims must be honest and acknowledge, the Qur’an permits them to have sex slaves

  1. saurav sarmah
    May 25, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    What do you think about the concept of shruti and smriti? Can it be applied to Islam?

    • PS!
      December 30, 2016 at 3:30 PM

      No. It cannot be applied to Islam. Shruti and Smiriti have a different theological basis. Islam does not recognize the right of a human being having the Shruti experience!

    • Iks
      June 25, 2017 at 3:34 AM

      Shruti and Smirits are not nonsense as quran

    May 30, 2014 at 1:20 AM

    You’ve said it all Tariq, “Neither Honesty nor Courage comes easy”

    June 5, 2014 at 5:38 AM

    love, respect and blessings to mr. Tarek sir.

    “koi hindu, koi musalmaan to koi eesaai hai
    sab ne insaan na ban ne ki kasam khaayi hai”….

    mera ego increase hua isliye main respect nhi kar rha but only because he believes in being human and thtz i follow:”humanity”….
    itni choti zindgi aur us par bhi itni behuda baatein..

    “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
    There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
    You feel it, don’t you?”
    ― Rumi

  4. Irfan Brohi
    September 3, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    Below is what Rashad Khalifa who was an Egyptian scholar translated the verse in English. I consider it to be the most authentic as he knew Arabic more than any other non Arab translator.

    [33:50] O prophet, we made lawful for you your wives to whom you have paid their due dowry, or what you already have, as granted to you by GOD. Also lawful for you in marriage are the daughters of your father’s brothers, the daughters of your father’s sisters, the daughters of your mother’s brothers, the daughters of your mother’s sisters, who have emigrated with you. Also, if a believing woman gave herself to the prophet—by forfeiting the dowry—the prophet may marry her without a dowry, if he so wishes. However, her forfeiting of the dowry applies only to the prophet, and not to the other believers. We have already decreed their rights in regard to their spouses or what they already have. This is to spare you any embarrassment. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

    • Banu Hashim
      September 10, 2016 at 12:21 PM

      God of Hindus to King Harishchandra in a dream: “Renounce your kingdom to the first person you see in the morning and work at a cremation ground”. This is known only to Harishchandra and he renounces his kingdom and starts working at a cremation ground.

      Allah of Muslims to an ordinary person Mohammad: “Oh! prophet, no law applies to you, you can marry as many times as possible, including a 6 years old, your own daughter-in-law, everything is permitted to you, all your wives will be mothers of believers, just quote me freely whenever you are stuck”…

      This is known to Mohammad only and if we Muslims don’t believe this, we must die. Allah is indeed great….

      • tufail chaturvedi
        December 31, 2016 at 1:11 AM

        Subhan allah. Peace upon you.

        • Mohit Tiwari
          April 17, 2017 at 2:13 PM

          Well said Guruji… and well wished

      • Sudhanshu Narayan Lal
        June 26, 2017 at 4:56 AM

        The day God has said and given that much freedom to his messenger , God made himself worst than a street dog .As there is certain parameter for God to be called otherwise what I have said above.

    • Imad Jaffar
      December 30, 2016 at 5:19 AM

      This “Egyptian Scholar” and “Knew Arabic better than any one else” is standard Khalifite rant. Khalifa made things up that suited his particular agenda. This translation is disingenuous. The words in original Arabic have connotations of “rightful property.” That no withstanding, fact remains that historically this particular verse has been used by Muslims to justify having sex with slaves. Long before the onslaught of Boko Haram, innumerable Muslim rulers in the myriad emirates scattered all over Nigeria used this same verse to justify having large harems of concubines who are generally gifted to them at their coronation, an ongoing practice.

    • tufail chaturvedi
      December 31, 2016 at 1:18 AM

      Allah is not merciful. According to quraan he is crual, qatal fi sabilillah, jihad fi sabilillah is his wordings

    • Enayet
      December 31, 2016 at 6:21 AM

      Rashad khalifa was killed by fellow muslims fir this kind of translation.

    • Tapas
      June 25, 2017 at 4:27 AM

      How come women, sex slaves could be a part of a peaceful religion if some one purposefully injected those to the text for fullfilling the lust of males on poor woman being taken after invading a community.
      Now muslims take it as message of God….
      If ISIS Bokoharm do the same to the woman in the name of following Prophet we can not blame them..

  5. Asif
    September 3, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    Quran did not come in vacuume , slavery was everywhere in the world . Quran dealt with that and encourages freeing slaves as a compensation for sins and as sadqa( charity) it does not exist in the world except in the minds of terrorists .

    • Ravi Krishna
      September 3, 2016 at 8:07 PM

      So Prophet merely followed others, instead of setting an example. Some messenger of god he was.

    • Banu Hashim
      September 10, 2016 at 12:25 PM

      Are you telling Quran is not word of God?? It has indeed come in vacuum. Why do we need to follow it then?? Keep killing cows and keep hating non-Muslims?? Why don’t we Muslims dont give rights to our own women?? Keep then inside a vail for entire life??
      We Muslim must accept that we are most hypocrite people on earth and justify everything wrong in our society.

  6. Anila Gull
    September 3, 2016 at 3:47 PM

    And still, Tarek calls himself Muslim when he believes and refers the interpretation of ” and those whom thy right hand possesses”.

  7. Piisam
    September 3, 2016 at 11:57 PM

    Quran and haddiths and Sira are clear that slaves are part of Shariah. Death and damnation to those that deny the truth. Only demons deny the truth. They live in lies and deception.

  8. Ashok R
    December 30, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    Only honest acknowledgement of the contents of any holy book will liberate the followers through introspection. Sadly the defenders of the faith forget that only such an admission will uplift them, not the Mullahs, nor promise of Paradise.

  9. Yogeshwar Dubey
    December 30, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    लगता है उन लाचार-ग़ुलाम औरतों की बद्दुआयें अल्लाह तक अब पहुँच गई हैं और सारी दुनिया में मुस्लिमों का क्या हश्र हो रहा है वो सब के सामने है, …अल्ला खैर करे !!!

  10. Tom vog
    December 30, 2016 at 9:07 AM

    Always be honest with what was wrong. When you try to argue that will do more damage to your religion. Man of flesh and blood wanted to enjoy as warrior by captivating women as sex slaves. That can not be an example of respecting woman and empowering them . Is it not a big hyperoptic to a honest religion?

  11. Saleem Chaudhry
    December 30, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Time has come for Muslims and followers of all other religions to recognize once for all that modern universally accepted laws take precedence over centuries old Divine laws.

  12. Raga Puranam
    December 30, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    Everything in life is dynamic and evolves with time and needs of the society so that we can lead a life of love and righteousness. Religion and religious books are no exception to this universal law. When we forget or don’t understand this truth, we create a hell for ourselves and others. We become dogmatic, cruel, irrational and blind. Everyone is a child of the Divine even if he is an atheist. Alas, when will we understand!

  13. Yogeshwar Dubey
    December 31, 2016 at 1:33 AM

    In order to justify their lust and greed crookeds take support of Holy Books. They are the people who ultimately contaminate the religion.

  14. Prashant
    June 25, 2017 at 9:32 AM

    I salute Tarek, who has taken an a formidable task to wake up people who are pretending to sleep. You are the first crusader from Muslims community who has taken, you must be having like minded people around you, groom them which may help you in this movement.

    We are with you

  15. Mohammed Ram khilavan
    June 25, 2017 at 11:50 PM

    Why give so much attention to concept called Islam? Give focus to sensible laws of the land. Spend more time on laws and justice. Religion is personal matter. Treat it like that.
    However if anyone does anything anti-law just handle him as per law. Religion is not supposed to interfere with sensible law and justice. Religion cannot override law and modern justice system except if the judge himself is sick

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