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Rape in Islam

Rape in Islam

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Published by Abhishek Jaguessar
Incest and rape are not new in this day and age; these problems have always existed and will continue to exist if not confronted face on. If you have ever worked with an incest, sexual abuse or rape survivor you will never be able to forget the devastating impact it has on all aspects of their life, nor will you be able to sit back and do nothing about this issue. These are serious crimes that corrode the fabric of family and society and cannot go un-addressed, since these problems do exist in Muslim families it is about time that we address it openly and take action to put an end to it.
Incest and rape are not new in this day and age; these problems have always existed and will continue to exist if not confronted face on. If you have ever worked with an incest, sexual abuse or rape survivor you will never be able to forget the devastating impact it has on all aspects of their life, nor will you be able to sit back and do nothing about this issue. These are serious crimes that corrode the fabric of family and society and cannot go un-addressed, since these problems do exist in Muslim families it is about time that we address it openly and take action to put an end to it.

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Published by: Abhishek Jaguessar on Apr 06, 2012
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Rape In IslamBy Abhishek Jaguessar
Incest and rape are not new in this day and age; these problems have always existed and willcontinue to exist if not confronted face on. If you have ever worked with an incest, sexual abuse or rape survivor you will never be able to forget the devastating impact it has on all aspects of their life, nor will you be able to sit back and do nothing about this issue. These are serious crimes thatcorrode the fabric of family and society and cannot go un-addressed, since these problems do existin Muslim families it is about time that we address it openly and take action to put an end to it.To fully understand this issue we need to examine what Islâm teaches us about the value of humanlife.Islâm views human life as a sacred gift from God. The Qur’ân repeatedly stresses the sanctity of life (hurmat al hayat). The life of every single individual regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion is worthy of respect. In verses referring to the sanctity of life, the term used is ‘nafs’ (soul,
 
life); and there is no distinction made in that soul being young or old, male or female, Muslim or non-muslim.Sûrah al An'am 6.151:"Do not take any human being's life, (the life) which God has declared to be sacred - otherwisethan in (the pursuit of) justice: this has He enjoined upon you so that you might use your reason."(Also check: Sûrah al Isra 17.33 & Sûrah al Ma'idah 5.32)Qur’ânic teachings encompass every aspect of life; hence it does not limit the definition of life tothe physical body only, but includes the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as well. There areabout 150 verses that define the term ‘nafs’ in various ways making it clear that the concept of ‘life’ is not limited to mere physical existence.Historically, Islam has addressed serious issues openly and sought to correct actions that constituteharm or ‘zulm’ (ie: cruelty and abuse) to the dignity of humankind. Human life and respect for ithas been stressed unstintingly, regardless of age or gender. As a general rule, Islâm forbids all‘zulm’, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual:Sûrah al An'am 6.120”Abandon all harm (ithm), whether committed openly or in secret.”(Check Sûrah al A`raf 7:33)Sûrah al 49:11-12 points out categorically that emotionally abusive language and behavior is notacceptable."You who believe do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set. Do not defame oneanother. Do not insult by using nicknames. And do not backbite or speak ill of one another."In the last address to his community, the Prophet (saw) said: "Your lives and properties areforbidden to one another till you meet your Lord on the Day of Resurrection… Regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust… Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you... You willneither inflict nor suffer any inequity." The Prophet (saw) did not prohibit only the unlawfulencroachment of one another’s life and property, but also honor and respect.Considering that human life is to be valued and cruelty is forbidden, what is the Islamic perspectiveon incest and rape?According to Islâm, a woman has to be respected and protected under all circumstances, whether she belongs to your own nation or to the nation of an enemy, whether she follows your religion or  belongs to some other religion or has no religion at all. A Muslim cannot outrage her under anycircumstances. All promiscuous relationships have been forbidden to him, irrespective of the statusor position of the woman, whether the woman is a willing or an unwilling partner to the act. Thewords of the Holy Qur’ân in this respect are: "Do not approach (the bounds of) adultery" (17:32).Heavy punishment has been prescribed for this crime, and the order has not been qualified by anyconditions. Since the violation of chastity of a woman is forbidden in Islam, a Muslim who perpetrates this crime cannot escape punishment. (Maudoodi)The Quran has, in various ways and in different contexts; impressed on men that they must observethe limits set by God (Hudûd Allah) in respect to women and must not encroach upon their rightsin either marriage or divorce. In all situations it is the men who are reminded, corrected and
 
reprimanded, over and over again, to be generous to women and to be kind, compassionate, fair and just in their dealings with women. Even in divorce, when the chances of anger andvindictiveness are high, it is stressed that men are to separate with grace, equity and generosity.Forbidding cruelty against children and women is apparent from rulings against female infanticideand rights of inheritance given even to an unborn child; and the kindness mandated even whendivorcing your wife. There are numerous ahâdîth about the rights of children to respect and dignity.The same holds true for respect and the unprecedented rights given to women.Relevant verses from the Quran:Sûrah an Nâs 4.119'O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will...'Sûrah an Nûr 24.33'... And do not, in order to gain some of the fleeting pleasures of this worldly life, coerce your slavewomen into whoredom if they are desirous of marriage, and if anyone should coerce them, then,verily, after they have been compelled (to submit in their helplessness), God will be muchforgiving, a dispenser of grace (to them).During the time of the Prophet (saw) punishment was inflicted on the rapist on the solitaryevidence of the woman who was raped by him. Wa'il ibn Hujr reports of an incident when awoman was raped. Later, when some people came by, she identified and accused the man of rapingher. They seized him and brought him to Allah's messenger, who said to the woman, "Go away, for Allâh has forgiven you," but of the man who had raped her, he said, "Stone him to death."(Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)During the time when Umar (raa) was the Khalifah, a woman accused his son Abu Shahmah of raping her; she brought the infant borne of this incident with her to the mosque and publicly spokeabout what had happened. Umar (raa) asked his son who acknowledged committing the crime andwas duly punished right there and then. There was no punishment given to the woman. (Rauf)Islamic legal scholars interpret rape as a crime in the category of Hiraba. In ‘Fiqh-us-Sunnah’,hiraba is described as: ‘a single person or group of people causing public disruption, killing,forcibly taking property or money, attacking or raping women (hatk al ‘arad), killing cattle, or disrupting agriculture.’The famous jurist, Ibn Hazm, had the widest definition of hiraba, defining a hiraba offender as:‘One who puts people in fear on the road, whether or not with a weapon, at night or day, in urbanareas or in open spaces, in the palace of a caliph or a mosque, with or without accomplices, in thedesert or in the village, in a large or small city, with one or more people… making people fear thatthey’ll be killed, or have money taken, or be raped (hatk al ‘arad)… whether the attackers are oneor many."Al-Dasuqi held that if a person forced a woman to have sex, his actions would be deemed ascommitting hiraba. In addition, the Maliki judge Ibn ‘Arabi, relates a story in which a group wasattacked and a woman in their party was raped. Responding to the argument that the crime did notconstitute hiraba because no money was taken and no weapons used, Ibn ‘Arabi replied indignantlythat "hiraba with the private parts" is much worse than hiraba involving the taking of money, andthat anyone would rather be subjected to the latter than the former.

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