The rape-as-jihad myth

Some folk reading this are going to start asking why I mention people like Robert Spencer so much on my blog. Well, if Spencer was some guy howling on the sidelines, like so many internet conspiracy theorists, I might leave him alone, but he likes to boast about how many American media outlets give him airtime, many of them, as I previously stated, being Murdoch outlets. I don’t have time for a whole piece on Rupert Murdoch here. Let’s state a few facts: Dennis Potter, the late playwright who died of cancer, named one of his tumours Rupert, after him. He publishes the Sun, a major London newspaper which, like many British newspapers (if not all) is widely read in the Irish Republic also. The Sun puts its political stories on page two, next to a topless bimbo on page three, and supported Margaret Thatcher’s government throughout the 1980s (and Major’s too, until the writing appeared on the wall around 1996 because of various scandals, when they switched their allegiance to Tory Bliar). And he was praised for his Australianness by the Prime Minister of Australia, after he’d given up his citizenship for a US passport in order to run more media outlets in the USA.

The media ownership here is appalling; while the UK has no constitutional provision for free speech, unlike the USA, it appears (to my knowledge, at least) to place no restrictions on foreign ownership of the country’s media (unlike the USA). While free speech is necessary in a democracy, the right of a small number of rich men to shout their opinions several thousand times louder than everyone else’s is certainly not. And as awful as the Sun is, I have yet to see any of his media here entertain someone as loathsome as Robert Spencer (unlike the Telegraph, of course, which published Will Cummins); but the appearance of people who belong in hate-fringe websites like Stormfront on Fox News in the USA should give British politicians some alarm.

The use of rape as a weapon is nothing new, and neither is the use of fear of rape, or indeed, of relationships between the women of one’s own tribe or nation and the men of the Other. We know of the mass rape which took place in Bosnia, in Indonesia in the mid-1990s after the economic crisis, in China during the Japanese occupation, and in other places. We also know that black men in the past have been accused, or even convicted, of rape for what were perfectly consensual relationships with white women. In 1997 a British Conservative MP tried unsuccessfully to hold onto his seat by proposing that “black bastards” who rape be castrated (not the only attempt by a Tory to appeal to racism, by the way). The fact is that there is nothing in Islamic literature connecting rape to jihad.

Spencer’s latest piece in Front Page magazine, an online magazine under the control of David Horowitz, starts off with accounts of rape being used at Beslan and in Darfur. He alleges that the Sudanese regime has airlifted women from Darfur to Khartoum for use as sex slaves. Whether this is true or not, neither situation gives a Muslim army the authorisation to take slaves. In Darfur in particular, a Muslim army fighting a Muslim rebel group may not enslave the rebels or their women or children; they may only use as much force as is necessary to stop the trouble. They may not fire on them as they retreat, for example, but only as they advance. The accusation that “both [Darfur and Beslan], no less than the 9/11 attacks, are examples of Islamic jihad terrorism”, is simply a lie. Darfur is a long-running tribal dispute between local Arabs and African Muslims. Tribal warfare is not jihad.

Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad wrote in Key to the Garden:

As for warfare and fighting among Muslims for the sake of leadership, political power, and for whatever else this life has to offer, or for group loyalities, nationalism, philosophies of progress, Baathism, reaction, sectarianism or socialism, this constitutes one of the greatest of sins and the most monstrous of crimes. It is the product of ignorance (jaahiliyya) - and what ignorance is worse than that of the twentieth century?

That of the twenty-first, seems the obvious answer (though the shaikh died in 1995, so he was fortunate not to witness any of it).

Gang violence emanating from irreligious youths of Arab descent in cities in France and Australia is not jihad either, contrary to the assertion (I don’t call it their opinion; they are not honestly mistaken but deliberately lying) of some corrupt commentators. Muslim immigrants in western countries are not entitled to wage war on the governments which allowed them or their parents into their country. (Even Al-Muhajiroun agree on this.)

Spencer then goes into the laws on the enslavement of battlefield captives, using (what else?) Reliance of the Traveller. Women and children captured after a battle are enslaved, and are then absorbed into the households of the conquerors, not necessarily as concubines. Spencer recounts an incident where the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was asked about coitus interruptus and advised against it; Spencer then alleges, “he’s referring to coitus interruptus, not to raping their captives. He takes that for granted.” He has no proof that rape is what is being talked about. In our time, the ancient laws of war generally no longer apply, and people are not enslaved, but held until the end of the conflict. In the time of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), people expected, and knew, that if they were conquered, they faced enslavement and concubinage.

The conduct of the Muslims was a far cry from the disorderly mass rape which accompanied conquests in other parts of the world. The “hero” of Shakespeare’s Henry V asks of the elders of Harfleur, which his army was besieging, if they would like their maidens to be subjected to “hot and forcing violation”, or would they prefer to surrender? There were no rape camps at Khaibar. As any classical textbook on Shari’ah will tell you, having sexual relations with slave women carries the potential for responsibility. If the woman becomes pregnant, the child is the legitimate descendent of the master; both the mother and child become free when the owner dies, and he cannot sell her. (This was, of course, not the case in the USA while slavery was in operation.) There is also the issue of the unwillingness of women in our time to accept slavery and concubinage - a Muslim who tries to do this today, even in the unlikely event of a Muslim conquest of an American or European city in the near future, is likely to be stabbed to death by the woman.

Spencer ends his piece with his usual calls for “reform” of Islam. And I repeat my usual call to Muslims not to fall into the “reformist” trap, because these people will drag you further and further into their trap, until you lose your religion. They will never be satisfied with you until this happens. Our deen is for all time, and cannot be sacrificed to principles invented by Europeans to shed some light on the darkness of medieval Europe, which they signally failed to follow when they themselves found them inconvenient in their dealings with Africans, native Americans, Muslims, and pretty much everyone else. Islam is timeless, it is not out of date, and the Salaf are not criminals.

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