Many critics accuse Muhammad of being a rapist by citing certain sex incidents of his from the hadiths and Sira, but Muslims reject such accusations by claiming that those incidents do not qualify to be rape. In this article, I discuss the issue of Prophet Muhammad being a rapist. To keep the article brief, I will cite the cases of three women whom Muhammad had captured and used for sex.
I do invite the reader to look objectively at the evidence before calling me a “bigot”, “Islamophobe”, or any other imagined attributes that Muslims give to anyone who criticizes Islam or show Muhammad in a bad light.
This work is divided into the following sections:
1. Definition of a rapist
2. Existing evidence about Muhammad’s rapes
3. Bani Al Mustaliq raid and Juwairiyyah – Who was Juwairiyyah?
4. Safiyah of Khayber
5. Rayhana of Bani Qurayza
7. Supplementary Hadiths
1. Definition of a Rapist
Varieties of dictionary definitions of rape make one theme obvious: A rapist is someone who forces another person to have sexual intercourse. Rape is the crime of forcing another person to submit to sexual intercourse. To force (another person) to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse, amounts to committing rape.
I would also add that rape includes having sex with minors or mentally disabled persons. For instance, Muhammad had married Ayesha when she was six years old and had sex with her when she was nine years old. The linguistic definition of a rape does not include such a situation to call rape, even though, in my view, it is. An adult having sex with a nine year old is a rape, children at such tender age are not emotionally and psychologically mature enough to have sex. So, Muhammad’s having sex with young Ayesha qualifies as rape. However, I am not going to defend this position here. I will deal only with Muhammad’s sex act with adults that clearly qualify as rape.
2. Evidence about Muhammad’s rapes
We do have enough information from authentic Islamic sources about Muhammad and his life’s events that is considered by Muslims as truthful – namely the Qur’an, the six Sahih Hadeeths, and the Sirat. I will be using those resources to investigate whether or not Muhammad was a Rapist.
3. Bani al-Mutaliq Raid and Juwairiyya
In his 6th hijri year in Medina (627 A.D) and during the 8th month of Sha’ban, Muhammad attacked Bani Al-Mustaliq unprovoked:
- Narrated Ibn Aun: I wrote a letter to Nafi and Nafi wrote in reply to my letter that the Prophet had suddenly attacked Bani mustaliq without warning while they were heedless and their cattle were being watered at the places of water. Their fighting men were killed and their women and children were taken as captives; the Prophet got Juwairiya on that day. Nafi said that Ibn 'Umar had told him the above narration and that Ibn 'Umar was in that army. (Book #46, Hadith #717)
- Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I saw Abu Said and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Said said, "We went with Allah's Apostle, in the Ghazwa of Barli Al-mustaliq and we captured some of the 'Arabs as captives, and the long separation from our wives was pressing us hard and we wanted to practice coitus interruptus. We asked Allah's Apostle (whether it was permissible). He said, "It is better for you not to do so. No soul, (that which Allah has) destined to exist, up to the Day of Resurrection, but will definitely come, into existence." (Book#46, Hadith #718)
The above Hadiths show that Muhammad and the Muslims attacked Bani Al-Mustaliq suddenly and unprovoked. After the attack, Muhammad got Juwairiya; one of the female captives (I assume he did not get her so she can teach him how to play Chess!). The second Hadith shows that the Muslim men captured female captives too and had sex with them. But since they wanted to sell such women, and a pregnant woman sells cheaper than a non-pregnant one, they practiced coitus interruptus (pulling out the male part before ejaculation). The Muslim warriors wondered if this practice was good or not. So, who is better than prophet Muhammad to ask him about such a delicate issue. Muhammad gives an ignorant answer, and the idea that those men were raping the women does not come to his mind.
Be it Muhammad or any of his warriors, Rape was not on their mind when they had sex with those women. But the fact is this is still rape. I do not know of any woman who will have sex with you willingly if you had just killed her husband and almost all the adult male relatives she had. The women may not fight you because you are in a power position. This is still rape.
The Bani Mustaliq information we have about the attack shows that Muhammad was a rapist. He also gave the stamp of approval to the Muslim warriors to rape the women.
Who was Juwairiyah?
A hadith in Sunan Abu Dawud explains to us why Muhammad desired her:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith ibn al-mustaliq, fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, or to her cousin. She entered into an agreement to purchase her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman, most attractive to the eye. Aisha said: She then came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) asking him for the purchase of her freedom. When she was standing at the door, I looked at her with disapproval. I realised that the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) would look at her in the same way that I had looked. She said: Apostle of Allah, I am Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith, and something has happened to me, which is not hidden from you. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, and I have entered into an agreement to purchase of my freedom. I have come to you to seek assistance for the purchase of my freedom. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Are you inclined to that which is better? She asked: What is that, Apostle of Allah? He replied: I shall pay the price of your freedom on your behalf, and I shall marry you. She said: I shall do this. She (Aisha) said: The people then heard that the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) had married Juwayriyyah. They released the captives in their possession and set them free, and said: They are the relatives of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) by marriage. We did not see any woman greater than Juwayriyyah who brought blessings to her people. One hundred families of Banu al-mustaliq were set free on account of her. (Book #29, Hadith #3920)
Juwayriyyah was the daughter of the chief of Bani Al Mustaliq. Her husband, Mustafa Bin Safwan, has just been killed during the battle with the Muslims. She was twenty years old at the time. Muhammad was fifty eight years old at the time. Juwayriyyah was, also, a very beautiful young woman. Muhammad had an eye for good looking young ones. So, he offered to marry her and did.The fact is this is rape. What choices did this young lady have? Or did she have any choices when she accepted Muhammad’s offer of marriage? He had just killed her husband and most of her adult male relatives. Her bad fortunes came through Muhammad’s attack against her tribe. She was in no position to negotiate any matter except trying to free herself of her predicament, on being a slave, in the best way she knows how. Opportunity came to her through her looks, and she tried to make the best of it. She had no other options really. What else can she do, and where will she go? Her tribe had been destroyed by the evil attack of the Muslims. This is rape, plain and simple.
Muslims who will deny this fact will need to show that a woman will willingly have sex with you after you had just killed her husband and most of her family’s adult males.
4. Safiyya of Khayber
Safiyya is another fine looking woman whose bad fortunes delivered her to Muhammad when he attacked and took over Khayber (628 A. D).
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said to Abu Talha, "Choose one of your boy servants to serve me in my expedition to Khaibar." So, Abu Talha took me letting me ride behind him while I was a boy nearing the age of puberty. I used to serve Allah's Apostle when he stopped to rest. I heard him saying repeatedly, "O Allah! I seek refuge with You from distress and sorrow, from helplessness and laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from being heavily in debt and from being overcome by men." Then we reached Khaibar; and when Allah enabled him to conquer the Fort (of Khaibar), the beauty of safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtab was described to him. Her husband had been killed while she was a bride. So Allah's Apostle selected her for himself and took her along with him till we reached a place called Sad-AsSahba,' where her menses were over and he took her for his wife. Haris (a kind of dish) was served on a small leather sheet. Then Allah's Apostle told me to call those who were around me. So, that was the marriage banquet of Allah's Apostle and safiya. Then we left for Medina. I saw Allah's Apostle folding a cloak round the hump of the camel so as to make a wide space for safiya (to sit on behind him) He sat beside his camel letting his knees for Safiya to put her feet on so as to mount the camel. Then, we proceeded till we approached Medina; he looked at Uhud (mountain) and said, "This is a mountain which loves us and is loved by us." Then he looked at Medina and said, "O Allah! I make the area between its (i.e. Medina's) two mountains a sanctuary as Abraham made Mecca a sanctuary. O Allah! Bless them (i.e. the people of Medina) in their Mudd and Sa (i.e. measures)." (Book #52, Hadith #143)
Safiyya was a daughter of the Khaybar Jewish leader Huyay Bin Al Akhtab. She was very pretty seventeen year old lady. So, Muhammad with an eye that appreciated pretty young ones desired her and married her. Muhammad was about fifty eight years old at the time. Safiyyah’s husband, Kinana Ibn Al-Rabi’ has just been killed by the Muslims, and her bad fortune delivered her to Muhammad who appreciated beauty and had to have her. History tells us she married Muhammad and stayed with him until his death.
Again, this is rape. Muhammad raped this woman time and again. No woman would willingly marry the killer of her husband, and most of her adult male relatives.
5. Rayhana of Bani Qurayza
Another of Muhammad’s rapes is that of Rayhana
Rayhana was of Bani Nadir and was married to a man of Bani Qurayza. When Muhammad commited his genocide of Bani Qurayza, Rayhana was amongst the captive women and children left.
The Sirat narrates the following about her:
The apostle had chosen one of their women for himself, Rayhana b. ‘Amr b. Khunafa, one of the women of B. ‘Amr b. Qurayza and she remained with him until she died, in his power. He apostle had proposed to marry her and put the veil on her, but she said:’Nay, leave me in your power, for that will be easier for me and for you.’ So he left her. She had shown repugnance towards Islam when she was captured and clung to Judaism.
[Source: W. Muir, The Life of Muhammad, (Edinburg 1923, Page466].
Rayhana was a pretty fifteen years old girl when prophet Muhammad wanted to marry her. He had just beheaded around 800 adult men of her tribe. Now it was time for him to have some fun!
The evidence is very strong that Muhammad was a certified and licensed rapist. He did not feel the pains that those women were going through. He could not process the grieve they had to endure. In the peak of those women’s grief, Muhammad wanted to solace himself with sexual favors with those poor women. If this is not Rape, I do not know what is.
7. Supplementary Hadiths
- Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I entered the Mosque and saw Abu Said Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus). Abu Said said, "We went out with Allah's Apostle for the Ghazwa of Banu Al-mustaliq and we received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So when we intended to do coitus interrupt us, we said, 'How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah's Apostle who is present among us?" We asked (him) about it and he said, 'It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist." (Book #59, Hadith #459)
- Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: That during the battle with Bani Al-mustaliq they (Muslims) captured some females and intended to have sexual relation with them without impregnating them. So they asked the Prophet about coitus interrupt us. The Prophet said, "It is better that you should not do it, for Allah has written whom He is going to create till the Day of Resurrection." Qaza'a said, "I heard Abu Sa'id saying that the Prophet said, 'No soul is ordained to be created but Allah will create it." (Book #93, Hadith #506)
- Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) offered the Fajr prayer when it was still dark, then he rode and said, 'Allah Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. When we approach near to a nation, the most unfortunate is the morning of those who have been warned." The people came out into the streets saying, "Muhammad and his army." Allah's Apostle vanquished them by force and their warriors were killed; the children and women were taken as captives. safiyawas taken by Dihya Al-Kalbi and later she belonged to Allah's Apostle go who married her and her Mahr was her manumission. (Book #14, Hadith #68)
- Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): 0 Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid-conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Mes- senger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Book #008, Hadith#3371)
- Ibn 'Aun reported: I wrote to Nafi' inquiring from him whether it was necessary to extend (to the disbelievers) an invitation to accept (Islam) before m". ing them in fight. He wrote (in reply) to me that it was necessary in the early days of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Nafi' said that this tradition was related to him by Abdullah b. Umar who (himself) was among the raiding troops. (Book #019, Hadith #4292)
- Yahya related to me from Malik from Rabia ibn Abi Abd ar-Rahman from Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Habban that Ibn Muhayriz said, "I went into the mosque and saw Abu Said al-Khudri and so I sat by him and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Said al-Khudri said, 'We went out with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on the expedition to the Banu al-mustaliq. We took some Arabs prisoner, and we desired the women as celibacy was hard for us. We wanted the ransom, so we wanted to practise coitus interruptus. We said, 'Shall we practise coitus interruptus while the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is among us before we ask him?' We asked him about that and he said, 'You don't have to not do it. There is no self which is to come into existence up to the Day of Rising but that it will come into existence.'" (Book #29, Hadith #29.32.95)