Text and context: How a 16-month-old video clip is today’s ‘breaking news’

Written by Javed Anand | Published on: January 18, 2016

Illustration : Jasons World. m-mediagroup.com 

Looking for some reference material on the subject, I did a Google search this morning on ‘Islam and women’. To my shock and horror the ‘lead’ news headline that leapt out of page 1 was this: “Allah allows Muslims to rape non-Muslim women in order to humiliate them, claims Islamic professor”. Source of the News? Zee News.

A quick follow-up search with the words “Allah allows Muslims to rape non-Muslim women” showed that the same news item has been flashed on several other websites in the last 24 hours. Among them is www.jihadwatch.org which is notorious for peddling Islamophobia 24/7.

Clicking on the video-clip attached to the news reports would leave you genuinely perplexed. For the original video clip of Suad Saleh, a female professor of theology at Cairo’s Al Azhar University, was telecast by the Arabic Al-Hayat TV (Egypt) on September 12, 2014. The video clip now posted has sub-titles in English provided by the USA-based MEMRI – Middle East Media Research Institute.

However problematic Suad’s propositions, how does a 16 months old video clip suddenly become today’s ‘Breaking News’? The only motive that comes to mind is this: fuel Islamophobia 24/7; night and day, any which way.

For viewers/readers content with skimming news headlines what message could this particular headline possibly convey except that Islam encourages all Muslim men to rape non-Muslim women to humiliate them, whenever and wherever possible? Some may be prompted to think: Ohhh! So it’s not only the ISIS; Islam itself sanctions rape of non-Muslim women by Muslim men.

Many Muslim countries and organisations across the globe have repeatedly denounced the ISIS for the sexual enslavement of Yazidi women and others. Yet the message being put out is that Islam, not ISIS, is the problem.  

Only if you read the news reports in full would you realise that however problematic, the professor is claiming that in addition to sex with their wives, the Quran (Allah) permits Muslim men to also have sex with those non-Muslim women who come to their individual share as “war booty” in the course of a defensive war.

For viewers/readers content with skimming news headlines what message could this particular headline possibly convey except that Islam encourages all Muslim men to rape non-Muslim women to humiliate them, whenever and wherever possible? Some may be prompted to think: Ohhh! So it’s not only the ISIS; Islam itself sanctions rape of non-Muslim women by Muslim men.

Here below is the text of the video clip, with English by MEMRI:

“Those whom you own” (slavery) existed before Islam. It existed among all nations and countries, not just among pre-Islam Arabs. Anyone could trade in freeborn men and women. This is called the selling of freeborn people. It’s like the selling of human organs and trafficking in freeborn humans today.

But when Islam emerged it put (slavery) into order, by limiting it to legitimate wars between Muslims and their enemies.

If we fought Israel, which is plundering land, and is an aggressor against people and their faith… Obviously it is impossible that we fight Israel, even though Surah Al-Isra in the Quran foretells this, and nothing is beyond the power of Allah…

The female prisoners of war are “those whom you own”. In order to humiliate them, they become the property of the army commander, or of a Muslim, and he can have sex with them just like he has sex with his wives.

Some opportunists and extremists, who only harm Islam, say: “I will bring a woman from East Asia, as (a slave girl) under the status of ‘those whom you own,’ and with the consent of my wife, I will allocate this woman a room in the house, and will have sex with her as a slave girl”.

This is nonsense. This is not prescribed in Islam at all. Islam says that a woman (with whom sex is permitted) is either a wife or a slave girl. Legitimately owned slaves come from among prisoners from a war, which is waged against the Muslims, a war to plunder land, a war against our faith, and so on.

What some people are doing now is an aggression against Allah, and against Allah’s legal texts in the Quran, and we must not be influenced by this at all.

What’s happening here? Apparently Professor Suad’s main concern is to castigate present day Muslims who seek justification in Islam for entrapping non-Muslim women from ‘East Asia’ and treating them as sex-slaves. Islam, she argues, is not to be blamed for bringing slavery into the world; when Islam was born, slavery was a practice prevalent across countries and cultures. It is in such a context, she claims to begin with, that apart from having sex with their wives, Islam also permitted Muslim men to have sex with women who they captured and enslaved in the course of a “defensive war”.

Many might question how Islam which claims to have been born to bring about human emancipation and a social revolution could have legitimised sex with women slaves captured during war, with the supposed purpose of humiliating them. Professor Suad only makes matters worse by implying that though it is “obviously impossible”, even today in a “defensive war” against Israeli aggression it would be legitimate in Islam for Muslim men to enslave captured Israeli women and have sex with them.

While professor Suad’s propositions are seriously problematic, no less problematic is the attempt to latch on to her remarks telecast 16 months ago into today’s breaking news.

Video Link: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f74_1452606016