What is being dubbed as Egypt’s “first sex-slave marriage” took place mere days after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi was made president.
Last Monday, on the Egyptian TV show Al Haqiqa (“the Truth”), journalist Wael al-Ibrashi began the program by airing a video-clip of a man, Abd al-Rauf Awn, “marrying” his “slave.” Before making the woman, who had a non-Egyptian accent, repeat the Koran’s Surat al-Ikhlas after him, instead of saying the customary “I marry myself to you,” the woman said “I enslave myself to you,” and kissed him in front of an applauding audience.
Then, even though she was wearing a hijab, her owner-husband declared her forbidden from such trappings, commanding her to be stripped of them, so as “not to break Allah’s laws.” She took her veil and abaya off, revealing, certainly by Muslim standards, a promiscuous red dress (all the other women present were veiled). The man claps for her as the video-clip (which can be viewed here) ends.
The owner-husband, Abd al-Rauf Awn, then appeared on the show, identifying himself as an Islamic scholar and expert at Islamic jurisprudence who studied at Al Azhar. He gave several Islamic explanations to justify his “marriage,” from Islamic prophet Muhammad’s “sunna” or practice of “marrying” enslaved captive women, to Koran 4:3, which commands Muslim men to “Marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four… or what your right hands possess.”
For all practical purposes, and to avoid euphemisms, “what your right hands possess”—also known in Arabic as a melk al-yamin—is, according to Islamic doctrine and history, simply a sex-slave. Linguistic evidence further suggests that she is seen more as a possession than a human.
Even stripping the sex-slave of her hijab, the way Awn commanded his concubine-wife, has precedent. According to Islamic jurisprudence, whereas the free (Muslim) woman is mandated to be veiled behind a hijab, sex-slaves are mandated only to be covered from the navel to the knees—with everything else exposed. During the program Awn even explained how Caliph Omar, one of the first “righteous caliphs,” used to strip sex-slaves of their garments, whenever he saw them overly dressed in the marketplace.
Awn further explained that sex-slave marriage is ideal for today’s Egyptian society. He based his position on ijtihad, a recognized form of jurisprudence, whereby a Muslim scholar comes up with a new idea—one that is still rooted in the Koran and example of Muhammad—yet one that better fits the circumstances of contemporary society.
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