Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Sex with Slave Girls and POWs in the Hadis Literature

A response to Mr. Hashmi’s dissertation
Belief, more often than we can imagine, turns not only ordinary folks into blind and deaf beings, it also turns learned and scholars into zealots; this transformation taking place in them without their knowledge. There is another class of zealot scholars, most of whom, if not all of them, do not personally take any religious belief seriously, yet they always stand up to defend it with all their might and main, perhaps, in order to preserve their own personal interests that are associated with their action.

A Professor of Islamic History or something closer to the subject, Dr. Taj Hashmi falls in the latter class of scholars I have mentioned briefly in the foregoing paragraph. Putting his learnedness aside, he deigned it fit to begin his above titled treatise with a word that, in my opinion, is often understood to carry a defamatory as well as inflammatory incantation. He stated:

“It is an irony that both Islam bashers and defenders of the faith cite the Hadis Literature (my favourite expression) in support of their assertions.”

The word “basher” of Islam is much stronger than is the word “defender.” It will become evident to Mr. Hashmi, if he cares to consider the fact, that the so-called Islam bashers “bash” Islam, mostly, on the basis of the information they have been given by the defenders of Islam themselves.

It needs to be noted here that there was a time when most, if not all, modern and ancient so-called Islam bashers had no knowledge of what the Prophet of Islam had done during his 23-year long prophetic career. Nor were they aware of what he had said to his followers until the Muslim scholars, such as Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, al-Bukhari and al-Muslim et al came up with his biographies and hadiths. The so-called Islam bashers have been relying on those materials, while attempting to understand the character Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, is believed to have possessed as well as the impact and consequences of the lessons he is said to have imparted to his followers.

In a nutshell, it can be strongly argued that Muslims themselves are solely responsible for providing what Mr. Hashmi has alleged are false and spurious information to the so-called bashers of Islam. If the Islam bashers have been using the same information to bash his faith and its founder, would it not have been appropriate, I ask, for him to condemn his co-religionists in a strongest possible language, instead of calling the critics of Islam and of its founders as being Islam bashers?

Had Mr. Hashmi taken the above fact into consideration, in that event, I am sure, he would have termed the disseminators of fabricated and spurious information on Islam as being “blasphemers,” instead of calling them the ‘defenders’ of Islam. But it appears that he is not prepared to designate them as ‘blasphemers,’ as it is likely to boomerang and make him, as well, a victim of his own pronouncement!

Mr. Hashmi also wrote: “Mr. Hannan is right that the Prophet never approved of the custom of copulating with slave girls and POWs and in the modern period, when slavery is no longer permissible, the question of having sex with slaves is totally irrelevant.”

Response: It must be known to Mr. Hashmi that Islam was founded on the basis of what the Quran contains, and not on what Muhammad had or had not approved. The Quran says that it is permissible for the Muslims to sleep with their slaves and POWs. Depending on this permission, Muslims slept with their slaves in the past, and they are expected to do the same in future as well.

Muslims are not impacted by the civilized world’s ability to abolish slavery or by the prohibition on having sex with POWs the civilized nations have imposed on their soldiers. Islam is not bound by this civilized prohibition, for it follows it own civilized behavior, which is stated clearly in their Holy Quran.

Muslims can have sex with their POWs even now, provided they are able to conquer a foreign land, and take its inhabitants into their slavery.

Avoiding any stipulation of the Quran, be it on moral or any other ground, is a sin. What Allah has made halal (permissible) for the Muslims was halal at the time of Muhammad; it will remain halal for them until the end of the world. The Prophet of Islam had once tried to go against Allah’s wish, and note how He reprimanded him for his audacity.

Every verse of the Quran has an ‘occasion of revelation.’ Explaining the cause that had prompted Allah to reveal Sura Tahrim (chapter 66) to Muhammad, Marmaduke Pickthall, one of the reputed scholars of Islam, stated:

The Prophet of Islam was very fond of honey. One day he stayed for an extended period of time with one of his wives, eating honey. His younger and beloved wife, Aisha, decided to humiliate the Prophet of Islam, alleging that he ate Maghafir, and not honey, due to which he emitted foul smell from this mouth.

The Prophet of Islam tried to defend himself by insisting that it was honey that he ate, and not Maghafir. His wives did not buy his claim, and continued to ridicule him. Frustrated, he vowed to eat no more honey.

Maghafir is a highly intoxicating drink, which the Arabs prepared by fermenting the juice of date-palm trees. In the Indian sub-continent, it is called ‘Tari.’ Its smell is stinking, and its intoxicating affect very violent due to which reasons, respectable and well-to-do people avoid it at any cost.

Now, imagine the braveness and ingenuity of a couple of women, who are reported to have taken the Prophet of Islam for a ride on a ‘fabricated’ charge, despite the fact that his presence in large gatherings of ‘men’ made many of them to tremble and, who sought “a place to flee to, or caves, or a place of concealment {so that they could} turn straightway thereto with an obstinate rush” {in order to save their lives from his wrath} (9:57).

Another ‘occasion of revelation’ of Surah Tahrim was, in Pickthall’s words: “Hafsah {one of Muhammad’s many wives} found the Prophet in her room with Marya -- the Coptic girl – presented to him by the ruler of Egypt, who became the mother of his only male child, Ibrahim – on a day which custom had assigned to Ayesha. Moved by Hafsah’s distress, the Prophet vowed that he would have no more to do with Marya, and asked her not to tell Ayesha. But Hafsah’s distress had been largely feigned. No sooner had the Prophet gone than she told Ayesha with glee how easily she had got rid of Marya” (The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, p. 405).

The vigorous defense of Muhammad, mounted by Pickthall, is enough to disprove Mr. Hashmi’s statement in which he has claimed that “the Prophet never approved of the custom of copulating with slave girls …” According to Pickthall and other renowned scholars of Islam, Muhammad himself not only slept with his slave-girls, he also fathered a son with one of them. This practice of his is one of the Sunnahs, which all Muslim men are encouraged to emulate in their own lives in order to make their entry into heaven easier on the Day of Resurrection. I am sure Mr. Hashmi will agree with me on this point.

Piqued by the clamoring of his wives, Muhammad vowed not to eat honey or to sleep with his slave-girl any more. I doubt if Muhammad had vowed not to eat honey, because it was not the smell of honey that, his wives alleged, was causing his bad breath (honey does not cause any bad smell), but the smell of Maghafir. Therefore, it would be logical for me to conclude that Muhammad had vowed either not to sleep with his slave-girls or not to drink Maghafir in order to pacify his agitated wives.

Since Allah has made both sleeping with slave-girls (see 33: 50, et al) and drinking of Maghafir halal (permissible) for the Muslims, Allah challenged Muhammad, saying:

“O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, and Most Merciful” (66:1).

In the light of what I have stated above, is Mr. Hashmi still going to say that the Prophet of Islam did not approve of sex with slave-girls or POWs, or that the so-called Islam bashers have been bashing Islam on the basis of no solid ground but due to their dislike of his faith?


Taj Hashmi, Canada (NFB, May 6, 2005)


The former, to demolish Islam by projecting the religion and its followers, including the Holy Prophet, as demonic, satanic and obsolete; and the latter to defend the faith, its adherents and the Prophet rely heavily on the hundreds of obnoxious Hadises, considered as Sahih or authentic by most Ulama for the last millennium.

I am a bit puzzled at a recent posting by Mr Shah Abdul Hannan in the NABIC web page where he has been both equivocal and ambiguous with regard to two controversial and oft-cited Hadises on sex with slave girls and POWs during the time of the Holy Prophet. I think this sort of explanation, which is very defensive, I am afraid, inadvertently strengthens the Islam bashers’ propaganda.

The two Hadises I am referring to are about the practice of Azl or withdrawal of the male genital before ejaculation to prevent undesirable pregnancies. According to the text of the two Hadises, the Prophet seemed to be a bit surprised, inquisitive and sceptical about the foolproof of the practice, but not at all critical of the evil practices which amount to rape and abuse of POWS, a la Abu Ghraib.

Mr Hannan is right that the Prophet never approved of the custom of copulating with slave girls and POWs and in the modern period, when slavery is no longer permissible, the question of having sex with slaves is totally irrelevant. So far so good. However, the Islam bashers are not going to let you leave you in peace as they have a solid argument to lynch you and your faith for justifying what early Muslims did, presumably with the knowledge and approval of the Prophet (as he is not recorded to have opposed the age-old, pre-Islamic custom of copulating with slaves and POWs).

Even if we accept these Hadises to be Sahih (as all that glitters is not gold, so all that goes in the name of Sahih is not so), we need to explain certain facts in the light of history. Although the Holy Prophet headed a nascent Arab state at Medina, while the bulk of the Ummah were non-Muslims, mainly Jews, he had no police and judiciary, let alone a regular army, to enforce his will in accordance with the teaching of the Quran. We know how the Prophet’s desire to free the female POWs after the Battle of Hunayen remained unfulfilled.

Several Sahabas grabbed his robe telling him in very stern voice: “You cannot stop us from grabbing these women ¬this is our age-old custom”. And the Prophet remained a helpless spectator. Otherwise, one assumes, there would have been a rebellion in Medina against the Prophet. The cool diplomat, and the patient statesman, which the Prophet was, permitted scores of pre-Islamic customs to continue, including slavery and most of its associated vices, drinking for quite sometime and among others, the pre-Islamic custom of blood-money as a mode of punishment for murder, in Islam.

This, however, does not mean that whatever goes in the name of Islam has to perpetuate in the changed circumstances of place and time. Since there is no rigidity in Islam, there is hardly any last word with regard to the Shariah law. Allah does not do anything in haste; He loves to go slow through evolutions and transformation of things and ideas. As the Shariah went through so many changes, so it will in the future as per our needs and requirements in the changed circumstances of time and place, albeit in the spirit of the Holy Quran, not in accordance with the medieval jurists’ Usul-ul-Fiqh but the Usul-ul-Fiqh of the modern scholars.