By Mohammed Abdullah
In 628 CE it is said that as the Muslim Empire began to expand northwards towards the edge of the Roman Empire, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had written a Charter to reassure the Monks at St. Catherine Monastery that they had nothing to fear from the Muslims. In the Charter the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) guaranteed for the Christians their security and rights to worship and live freely.
This letter remained in the possession of the Christians at St. Catherine Monastery for almost a 1000 years until it was later taken by the Turkish Sultan Selim I in 1517. It would remain in Turkey until this day, where it can be seen displayed in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul.
Whether you believe this letter to be authentic or not, there’s no doubt that the Muslims in 1517 held this document in high regards, and didn’t show any reservations towards the rights laid out therein. And even up until today, we haven’t heard from a single credible Islamic Scholar who says that this letter holds anything that would be considered against the teachings of Islam.
Now with the recent rise of such Terrorist Organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram who are said to have kidnapped innocent women and took them as “Sex Slaves,” it is imperative for us Muslims to defend our faith and prove that their vile actions are not sanctioned by Islam.
Now even though Islam has permitted non-permanent slavery as a substitute to prison sentences, nowhere in the Islamic Texts does it say that men are able to rape women. Be it they their wives, their prisoners of war or anything else. I could present many examples to prove my argument, but to keep things short and concise, I believe this letter in and of itself will be more than enough to prove my point. If you wish for a more detailed explanation of why Rape is not permitted in Islam please visit the website found HERE.
So now without further or do let us look at the Translation of this letter, which is said to have been sent by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to the Christians at St. Catherine Monastery, and see exactly what it says:
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
- No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
- No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.
- Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet.
- Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
- No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them.
- If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval.
- She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
- Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
- No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
[English translation from ‘Muslim History: 570 – 1950 C.E.’ by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, ZMD Corporation. P.O. Box 8231 – Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8231 – Copyright Akram Zahoor 2000. P. 167]
Now if you look at the place which I highlighted in bold which says “If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval,” at first glance you may not realize that this is prohibiting rape but actually it is. Let me explain.
What that portion of the Charter means is that if a women is engaged to get married, or even have already been married, then the marriage itself cannot be consummated without her consent (i.e. sexual intercourse). So if a Muslim is not permitted to hasten or force his own wife to consummate their marriage (which both are consenting parties), then how could one argue that Muslims would be permitted to force themselves upon their captives?
Let us not forget that Islamic Laws and Rulings are derived in almost the same way Secular Laws and Rulings are today. So just like how Western Law is practiced, when there is a precedent set which specifies the illegality of something then it is generally assumed that anything greater or worse than that is also considered illegal.
Take for instance the the No Smoking Signs you read at the doors of Malls and Stores you visit. To place that sign up there had to be a law passed which prohibited people from smoking indoors. Now even though the sign itself shows a cigarette, it is assumed that anything similar or worse to a cigarette is also illegal. So you cannot go into a mall carrying around a Hooka Pipe claiming that the sign only says cigarettes.
This logic also applies with Islamic Law. The general ruling is that you are not allowed to harm or treat bad anyone under your care. And there are specific Hadeeth which prove this point. For instance, the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“Whoever of you ever slaps or hits his slave, then the only recompense (for forgiveness) is to set that slave free.” (Narrated by Muslim on the authority of Ibn Umar).
And there are a number of Hadeeth where when Muslims lost their temper and hit their slave they immediately set them free or were told by the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to set them free.
So if this was the case for simply striking and hitting a slave, then how on earth could someone come and try to argue that Islam permits “Sex Slaves” and the raping of women?