• Our Blogger

    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Rose Da Corta on Ask a Priest
    Vedran Jalsovec on Ask a Priest
    Alana on Ask a Priest
    Frances on Ask a Priest
    Maggie on Ask a Priest

Muslim Cleric Says Rape Impossible in Marriage

Muslim cleric  Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed tells a reporter on THE SAMOSA website:

“It is not an aggression, it is not an assault, it is not some kind of jumping on somebody’s individual right. Because when they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage. Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable. But that man can be disciplined and can be reprimanded.”

We as Christians often speak about our beliefs and our witness as signs of contradiction on behalf of the Gospel. Where the Judeo-Christian faith once heavily informed Western culture, there is today increasing tension and conflict. Scandal has made the situation even more critical, not only the past presence of predators among certain clergy but the passivity of many of the laity toward deviant lifestyles and the mass destruction of the unborn. However, although individual Catholics fail to be everything they are supposed to be, the Church stands for the dignity of the person and for justice. More aberrational and sometimes in conflict with our views from another angle is the rise of Islam in our society. The tendency toward religious relativism is hard-pressed to sustain itself in light of a religion where many still espouse forced conversions and the subjugation of women. As one secular critic remarked, “In light of Muslim rigidity, maybe we did not have it so bad under the Church and the Pope?” I would contend that the best of our values and the most objective truths about things are gifts from the Church and developments from the Good News of Christ. We should be careful not to stereotype religions and their adherents, but there should also be a critical honesty in reference to them.

This morning there was a MSNBC headline which brought this point home: “U.K. cleric: Rape is impossible within marriage.” I can imagine some readers looking at this and immediately asserting about the danger of Islam, “I told you so!” The topic itself is a difficult one to discuss. Over the years I have had to counsel women who were assaulted. Many think it is all about sex. Actually, it is more about violence and wrongfully asserting power over another. Such crimes are extremely serious and should not be taken lightly. Many women take years to heal and some scars may well be permanent. It is a sin that might leave bruises, but more than this, it wounds a person’s soul and destroys trust. It is also a very prevalent crime, often unreported.

Given the many sexually laden influences around us and massive promiscuity, it is often hard or impossible to prove that such encounters were not consensual. When purity was more of a premium, the righteous anger and justice of society against the violation of a virgin and another’s wife was swift and severe. Today, it is suggested that a third of teenage girls under 18 have endured attempted date rapes. Forgive me for a moment more, as my mind frequently wanders, but I also recall a situation where a diminutive young man was ridiculed for bringing up charges against a woman for raping him. He became the butt for all sorts of jokes. As one sick person remarked, “Men might be rapists, but outside of gay sex, men cannot be raped.” I would categorize such a critic as “sick” because he can envision a man as an abuser but not as a victim. Such a person is very dangerous.

Looking at the news article today, I suspect there are many other “dangerous’ people as well.

The Imam in question is not a wildcard or a rare fanatic. Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed is the president of the Islamic Sharia Council. He is a leading Muslim cleric in London. We are often told that we have nothing to fear from the “real” Islam, well the rape of human beings is pretty serious and word games make it no less so. The controversy is simple. Speaking as a teacher of his faith, he argues that it is impossible for a husband to rape his wife. Consequently, he says that the husband should never be prosecuted by law for raping his wife. The most we can request, he continues, is that the husband ask her forgiveness for any roughness. He concludes that should be enough. He is right that “sex is part of marriage,” but as I said earlier, this is a crime of violence. He explains on the Samosa website, “Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity… Because when they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage. Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable.” He qualifies his remarks, but take note of the use of “maybe.” There is NO MAYBE about it. He does not believe a husband can rape his wife— period. He would have it that women should have no recourse to the authorities for justice and protection!

Illegal in Britain since 1991, this basic protection for married women would probably be stripped away by Islam. Proof of such an eventuality is in how Islamic countries so often treat their women. We have read the stories. Apologists would say that we do not understand and that they are isolated incidents. But the fact is that the problem is systemic and that even one such tragedy is too many. Women, married are not, are not property but persons with a sacred dignity, worth and calling. Husbands and wives are helpmates and companions. While they have different roles in the home, there is never an excuse for brutality or for oppression. Christians may view the husband and father as the head of the home but the wife is the loving heart. That heart must always be treated with respect and gentleness. They give each other to one another. They belong together. They are as the Scriptures remind us, one flesh. One commentor observed, “A religion which permits multiple wives and utterly subjugates them under the husband’s authority is jarring to our culture but also to the sensibilities of Christians.”

The cleric continued, that if the husband “does something against her wish or in a bad time,” he “may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough.” Again, look at how carefully he couches his language. The conditional “may” is used again and again. These are hesitant allowances, but really he is giving up nothing about his view.

He is really saying that husbands have a right to rape their wives, but afterwards, if they feel like it, they can say they are sorry. Maybe they can give them flowers? Of course, they can rape them again tomorrow, and do so with impunity. But you wait and see, there will soon be people defending the cleric and brow-beating “intolerant” secularists and infidel Christians for criticizing him, the Koran and Islam.

Islam is a religion of the LAW. What the cleric is giving us is a legal definition and interpretation of rape under Muslim law. He told The Independent, “In Islamic sharia, rape is adultery by force. So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape. It is reprehensible, but we do not call it rape.” At least he calls it “reprehensible,” but still it is regarded as not something that can be prosecuted.

Although I am increasingly tempted toward cynicism, I am still hopeful that we will hear sane voices from Islam, Christianity and the secular world about this question.

Out of curiosity, I went to DICTIONARY.COM and looked up the definition of rape. The first entry reads: “the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.” A secondary entry omitted the reference to gender. I would elaborate that it also refers to a lack of consent. Husbands and wives should want to share the marital act, but sometimes because of the spacing of children, fatigue and illness, there should be a measure of restraint and understanding. The marital act is a duty of their state and hopefully a joy open to the generation of new human life. Respecting human dignity, consent needs to be present.

Apart from the question of married couples, it should be added that some like children and those mentally challenged need to be protected because they cannot lawfully give consent and get married.

12 Responses

  1. This isn’t unique to Islam. Here in Ireland rapes in marriage simply were not prosecuted until the 60s.

    FATHER JOE: But could you imagine a Catholic priest today making the argument that the Islamic Imam did? Very doubtful!

  2. You Christians really do not get it. A man cannot be accused of rape for sleeping with (having sex) with his wife. She belongs to him and sexual relations is his due. Once a woman is married, she no longer has a right to refuse her husband. If a man has a car and a driver’s license, he has a right to drive it! The situation with a wife is the very same!

  3. Irshad Manji rocks. Another brave woman who speaks the truth is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. These people are especially brave because the penalty for apostasy under Sharia Law is DEATH.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali fled her native Somalia and eventually ended up in Holland. She worked with Theo Van Gough to produce a film about the treatment of women under Sharia to try to educate people. Both she and Van Gough were threatened if they continued to speak out. Van Gough was killed in the streets by an Islamist. Ayaan Hirsi Ali now lives in the U.S.

    On a personal note, I have a very good friend whose family was forced to flee Iraq some years ago. They are Chaldean Catholic (I believe it’s an Eastern rite), and I have learned quite a bit from them as well as from family living overseas. That’s why I am so adamant about keeping religion and government separate. But with Sharia, there is no such separation. It is scary stuff.

    Here’s the thing: Muslims are to emulate Mohammed, while Christians are to try to become Christ-like. Mohammed was a lot different than Jesus Christ.

  4. The Sheikh isn’t alone in his views. Phyllis Schlafly says the same thing:

    “I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That’s what marriage is all about, I don’t know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn’t mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn’t rape, it’s a he said-she said where it’s just too easy to lie about it. ”

    Isn’t she Christian — Catholic, in fact? I know she’s not Muslim.

    FATHER JOE: Certainly marriage constitutes a general consent for an exclusive sexual life between a husband and wife. The Church would be critical of genital-sexual activity outside of the marital bond. It is also true, that given this general approbation, proving rape within marriage would be much more problematical. However, despite popular conservative stereotypes and even the mutterings of right-wing polemicists, Christian or not, each instance of the marital act must be a mutual and free expression of self-surrender to the beloved. Violence is a sin. And, as the late Pope John Paul II taught, lust, even in marriage, is a sin. This is different than a shared passion and longing for union. Lust is defined as an objectification of the other, instead of treating the beloved as a subject or person with dignity and value. If Schlafly is quoted correctly by Roger Ailes, there is a bit of confusion in the logic: she acknowledges that “violence” can be prosecuted but insists this cannot be called rape in marriage. But, as I argued in my post, rape is more about violence and the wrongful use of power than it is about sex. I suspect that she is arguing semantics and would still expect criminal prosecution of men who force themselves upon their wives and who abuse them. She is also not a cleric of the Church. The Imam, on the other hand, distances himself from such prosecution and says that the most we can do is suggest he say that he is sorry. I seriously doubt you would read about a credible and trusted Catholic priest today arguing that husbands should not be held accountable for raping their wives.

  5. Speaking truth to power, no matter who is offended. Wow!

  6. Since people are posting videos, I found this one (related to the topic at hand) from a CNN report.

  7. Here is a brave woman who speaks the truth. I pray she does not get punished for it!

  8. You do not know what you are talking about. Yours is the religion and culture of hate. What are Christians? They believe in nothing. They commit all sorts of sins and then make excuses. Christian and secular Americans and Europeans have lost their soul. Do they even pray? No, they have forgotten how and do not know the true way. Jihad will come and one day there will be true peace. What many of us know now, you will know or perish. Look at the pictures of Islamic worshippers! You have nothing like it in your churches of falsehood. Women have forgotten their place. Even some Muslims have compromised and put aside that which cannot be put aside.

  9. The Islamic cleric is an expert on Shariah Islamic Law, which they hope to impose upon the rest of the world. It is already the only law for Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Hamas.

    This law includes the following:

    DEATH TO INFIDELS WHO REFUSE TO CONVERT TO ISLAM

    EXECUTION OF MUSLIMS WHO REFUSE TO LIVE UNDER SHARIAH LAW

    WOMEN CONSIDERED THE PROPERTY OF MEN (Shariah Law allows husbands to beat their wives!)

    FORCED CHILD MARRIAGE

    EXECUTION OF HOMOSEXUALS

  10. HERE IS MORE OF THE SAME…

    On July 6, Salma (25), an unlettered mother of two kids, returned to her parental home in Islamnagar, Muzaffarnagar, after she was allegedly raped by her father-in-law over a period of six months. Salma’s father, Raisuddin, filed a criminal complaint with the police under section 376-506 IPC in Ghaziabad, and the accused, Salma’s father-in-law Akbar, has been jailed.

    But in the process her four-year-old marriage to Azad has virtually ended after clerics ruled their reunion as ‘haraam’.

    “A woman who has had a sexual liaison with her husband’s father cannot be his consort anymore. A divorce is a must,” Mufti Maulana Imran, senior cleric from Darul Uloom Deoband, said on Monday after his view was sought. The prescribed punishment in the case, he maintained, was ‘sangsar’ or public stoning of the victim and the culprit until death.

    Read more at syedmdasadullah.wordpress.com

  11. I know Muslim men who have shown themselves to be good and kind husbands and fathers. My concern about the cleric’s remarks is that it might excuse those who are not so noble.

  12. The problem with Islam if read in the Arabic and that’s what the average Iman reads it in not in English – Islam itself is more about violence and wrongfully asserting power over another than about worshipping God. Those that leave the Islam are often killed, beheadings are regular events in Saudia Arabia – every Tuesday night for simple infactions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s