[Friday Sermon] The Prohibition Of Rape In Islam, By Imam Murtada Gusau

Imam Murtada Gusau

By Imam Murtada Gusau

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His ‘abd (servant) and Messenger.

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.”(Al-Imraan, 3:102)

“O people! Revere you Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another; and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is ever Watchful over you.” (An-Nisaa’, 4:1)

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great victory.”(Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)

Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.

Dear servants of Allah!

Islam has forbidden rape and sexual abuse since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) until today. Allegations by anti-Muslim activists are only buttressed by the appalling criminal behaviour of terrorist groups acting in the name of Islam who use rape as a weapon of war. Rape by itself is an atrocity, but it is made even worse, tantamount to idolatry, when it is falsely justified in the name of Allah and His Messenger.

The basic principle in Islamic law is that a Muslim is forbidden from harming another person or animal unless it is necessary to repel a greater harm.

Ubada ibn As-Saamit reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, issued a decree:

“Do not cause harm or return harm.” (See Sunan ibn Majah, 2340)

As-Suyuti expresses the legal principle as follows:

 “Harm should be removed.” (See Al-Ashbah wa Nathaa’ir, 7)

Since it is well-established that rape causes innumerable harms to mind, body, and spirit, without any rational justification of preventing a greater wrong, it follows that rape is absolutely forbidden in Islam. This by itself is enough to establish the prohibition of rape. Even so, the Prophet further set the precedent that rape should not be tolerated in Muslim society. A man in Madinah was caught after he raped a woman and the Prophet (SAW) applied legal punishment on him, the maximum of which is the death penalty.

Abu Alqama reported:

“A woman went out to pray during the time of the Prophet (SAW) and she was met by a man who attacked her and raped her. She said, “This man has molested me!” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “He is condemned to death.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 1454)

The righteous Caliphs who succeeded the Prophet continued this policy of legal punishment for the crime of rape. The victim of rape would not be punished regardless of the circumstances.

Ibn Umar reported:

“Umar ibn Al-Khattab was given a servant girl among the girls who served the leadership. She was forced upon by one of the young men, so Umar flogged the man and he did not flog the woman.” (See Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah, 29012)

Nafi’ reported:

“A man was invited as a guest of the family of a household, and then he forced himself upon a woman among them. It was referred to Abu Bakr, so he flogged him an expelled him, and he did not flog the woman.” (See Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah, 29013)

Hajjaj reported:

“An Abyssinian forced himself upon a woman among them. It was referred to Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz and he applied legal punishment on him.”(See Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 29014)

Brothers and Sisters!

Also the righteous jurists who succeeded the companions of the Prophet (SAW) established a legal consensus that rape was forbidden and should be punished as if it were adultery. They only disagreed about the monetary fine that was to accompany legal punishment.

Ibn Abdul Barr writes:

“The scholars agreed that the rapist must be given legal punishment if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves punishment or if he confesses to it. If the evidence is not as clear, then he is given a discretionary punishment. There is no punishment for the victim if it is true that she was forced and overpowered, as would be evident by her screams and cries for help.” (See Kitaab A-Istidhkaar, 32083)

 And according to the Encyclopedia of Islamic Law it is said:

 If a woman were to be raped, meaning without consent, then the rapist must be given legal punishment and his fine is agreed upon, although the jurists disagreed on the amount. The Hanafi scholars said he must pay the maximum blood money and no less. The Maliki scholars said he must pay the dowry and a just settlement. The Shafi’i scholars said he must pay blood money. The Hanbali scholars said he must pay a third of her blood money and a dowry similar to it.” (See Mawsu’at Al-Fiqhiyyah, 3212)

The prohibition of rape applied to all women, including slaves and prisoners of war.

Imam Ash-Shafi’i said:

“If a man acquires a slave girl by force and then he rapes her, and he is not an ignorant person, then the slave girl is taken from him. He must pay the fine and the legal punishment for adultery will be applied to him.” (See Kitaab Al-Umm, 253)

My respected people!

Indeed, it is even forbidden in Islam to slap a slave or a servant, let alone commit any greater harm. If a Muslim so much as slapped his servants, the Prophet (SAW) would command them to be set free.

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Whoever strikes his slave without limit or slaps him, then the expiation for his sin is to emancipate him.” (See Sahih Muslim, 1657)

Suwaid ibn Muqarrin reported: He had a servant girl and someone slapped her, so he said to him:

“Did you not know that it is forbidden to strike the face? I was the seventh of my brothers during the lifetime of the Prophet and we had only one servant. One of us became enraged and slapped him, so the Prophet commanded us to set him free.” (See Sahih Muslim, 1658)

If it is forbidden to simply strike a slave in a humiliating way, then how can it be lawful to commit rape which is many times worse?

Anti-Muslim activists and their extremist Muslim counterparts in criminal terrorist organizations agree that Islam allows the rape of captive women, yet they cannot produce any clear scriptural and legal proof for their position. Instead they must rely upon the ignorance of their audience who are unable or unwilling to investigate the intended meaning of the Quran and Sunnah.

The Noble Quran speaks about marriage to “those, whom your right hands possess,” meaning slaves and servants. This was known as the institution of concubinage which was a form of marriage in pre-modern Arab and Muslim society. To infer from these verses that rape is permissible, or even praise worthy, is an incredibly unwarranted eisegesis, or a reading into the text that which it does not say.

Likewise, extremists cannot find any instance in the prophetic traditions or biography in which the companions of the Prophet (SAW) raped captive women. Therefore, they must once again erroneously infer their desired interpretation by citing a prophetic tradition without any regard to context and scholarly commentary.

Their primary proof-text used to justify rape is the following tradition:

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri reported:

 “At the battle of Hunain, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, sent an army to Awtas and they encountered the enemy and fought them. Having overcome them and taken them prisoner, the companions of the Messenger of Allah refrained from having intercourse with the captive women because their husbands were idolaters. Then Allah revealed the verse: ‘(Prohibited for you) are married women except those whom your right hands possess’.” (4:24). (See Sahih Muslim, 1456)

Interpreted on its own, this tradition might appear to sanction the rape of captive women. Yet the scholarly methodology requires the collation of all texts and commentaries on a given topic before coming to a conclusive rule, principle, or practice. We must see how the companions of the Prophet, their students, and the scholars who succeeded them understood and applied the tradition within the entirety of Islamic teachings.

In reality, we will find that this tradition is a proof against their position. Sexual intercourse was only made lawful with these women after they embrace Islam, which requires consent.

An-Nawawi comments on this tradition, saying:

“Know that it is the way of Ash-Shafi’i and the scholars who agreed with him that it is unlawful to have intercourse with the captive women among the idolaters and other unbelievers who are without a divine scripture unless they first embrace Islam. They are forbidden to approach as long as they are following their religion and these captive girls were among the Arab polytheists who worshiped idols. This tradition and others like it imply that the women embraced Islam and this is how they must be interpreted. Allah knows best.” (See Sharh Sahih Muslim, 1456)

Hence, contrary to the practice of Muslim terrorists who rape their hostages, the righteous jurists prohibited intercourse with non-Muslim prisoners of war, just as they prohibited compulsion in the propagation of Islam.

Brothers and Sisters!

Following the Prophet (SAW) is done by adhering to the scholarly method and prioritizing the foundational Islamic values and principles at the heart of all authentic religious practice. Forcing a predetermined interpretation onto scripture by clinging to the literal meaning of texts, without regard to context and exegesis, is not faithfulness or devotion; it is ignorance and illiteracy.

My respected people!

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:

 “The best of you are those who are best to their women.” (See Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 1162)

O Allah! Make us among those who earn your forgiveness and acquire safety from the fire, Ameen.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Prayers, peace and Mercy be upon our beloved master, Muhammad (SAW), his family and companions.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Raby’ al-Awwal 27, 1437 AH (8 January, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.