While this topic requires a much more detailed post—one I look forward to writing in the future—I am going to leave some past Twitter conversations and textual analysis here for you the reader to evaluate. I’m also going to use this post as a bookmark, since Twitter search is horrendously painful.
Here’s one such conversation.
To recap, these are taken from the book, Seal of the Prophets Volume 2, available at: http://alislam.org/holyprophet/Seal-of-Prophets-Vol-2.pdf (well, at least until the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at decides to pull it down to “fix” the translation).
The book was written by Mirza Bashir Ahmad, M.A.—the son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the younger brother of the 2nd Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
In case those images from Twitter are too small, I’ve embedded full size versions below.
I encourage readers of this post to read the full chapter on female prisoners of war in the book Seal of the Prophets Volume 2. You should be able to get the full context starting with the section Specific Issue Relating to Bond-Women on page 227 and continue until page 233, the end of the section entitled, A Question of Female Prisoners.
Female Captive a Consenting Party to Islam and Sex?
Now let’s consider some objections. You’ll notice that in the original dialog I had with an Ahmadi Muslim on December 18th, 2016, he was nuanced, calm and polite.
We worked together as we read each other’s points, clarifications and objections. When I posted my objections with screenshots of marked up pages, he didn’t object. Perhaps he was too busy and it would understandably, have taken an essay to respond.
The point that I had made in those specific tweets is that the wartime passage on page 231 (“bring them to their senses”) makes no sense as a reluctant, last resort form of retaliation against the enemy.
If the enemy doesn’t stop raping Muslim women, the Muslims are going to marry their female captives of war—women who are ready to embrace Islam and have consensual sex with their Muslim captors. Just think about how ludicrous this scenario is.
- You’ve just gone to war with Muslims.
- You’re a non-Muslim woman who’s apparently fair game for being captured as a slave because you actively participated in a war against Muslims.
- Your brothers, fathers, uncles etc. have likely been hurt or killed by the Muslim army.
- Along with you, your mother, aunts, sisters, daughters, etc. may also be female captives of the Muslims.
- You are now seeking to have regulated sexual relations with your Muslim captor (say what!?). Perhaps he initiated interest, but you have no real objection to getting it on. You know, Islamic calligraphy is so beautiful. Qur’anic recitation is so mesmerizing.
- You’ve been overcome with a spiritual urgency to accept Islam and marry your captor. Disrobing just goes with the territory.
I know. It’s quite simply ridiculous. Let’s see if we can find any Yazidi girls who wanted to stay and marry their ISIS captors.
The psychology of warfare and the personal reflection that goes into a sincere religious conversion exposes Islamic apologetics for the straight up absurdity that they are.
But let us set aside these objections for the moment. If such non-Muslim women voluntarily embrace Islam and consensually marry their captors to sanctify having sexual relations with them, how does this “bring them [the enemy] to their senses”, as the book Seal of the Prophets Volume 2 relays?
Recall, the passage is referring to non-Muslim armies raping Muslim female captives of war—and what Muslims are permitted to do in retaliation.
To any grade-school equipped reader of the English language, the Ahmadi Muslim publication is suggesting that while not encouraged, the practice of retaliating in kind is sometimes necessary to “bring the enemy to their senses”. Here’s that passage from page 231 (emphasis added is mine):
If a woman may be imprisoned in criminal cases and this practically occurs in every country and nation, why then should a combatant woman not be taken captive in the eld of battle? In addition to this, during that era, the disbelieving people would take Muslim women as captives; as a matter of fact, they would even keep them as bond-woman. Moreover, in these early wars, a general ultimatum given by these wicked souls was that they would take the Muslim women as captives, make them bond-women, and would have intimate relations with them as if they were slaves. For this reason, the God of Islām, Who is forbearing on the one hand, but possesses great indignation on the other, permitted the Muslims that if needed, they may treat the disbelievers in a similar manner, if not exactly the same, in order to bring them to their senses and so that they do not grow bolder and more daring in their persecution. Those who are aware of the requirements of war can understand that every so often it becomes necessary to employ a retributive strategy in wars, and this is why the law of warfare is always different from civil law. Hence, this was a necessity of unavoidable circumstances, without which there was no other option.
I’m going to include some tweets from an Ahmadi Muslim student with a self-professed temporary account that he plans to delete (not sure who or why he’s hiding his identity—my reasons should be a little more obvious and even then, I plan to go public in the future, contingent on some key writing for background).
— True Islam (@motivatingpal)
— True Islam (@motivatingpal)
— True Islam (@motivatingpal)
— True Islam (@motivatingpal)
What this Ahmadi Muslim on Twitter fails to realize is that:
- My analysis does not suggest that Ahmadiyya Islam promotes the rape of non-Muslim female captives of war, merely that it allows for it, if it deems the enemy needs some persuasion to de-escalate its evil war-time tactics vis-a-vis female captives.
- If every female captive could earn her freedom through ransom or a contractual arrangement of mukatabah, then there is no leverage for the Muslim army to bring the enemy to their senses. Remember, this is an enemy who is raping Muslim female captives in their custody as the passage in Seal of the Prophets Volume 2 is explaining.
- I believe that almost all Ahmadi Muslims would find any excuse for a female captive of war to be raped by a Muslim solider, to be something that is reprehensible.
- I believe that with most religions, the vast majority of adherents to Ahmadiyya Islam have not studied the contentious topics in their religion to any real depth and internal reflection.
Interestingly, with “what your right hands possess”, silence is deemed consent. The Ahmadiyya Muslim English commentary of Qur’an 4:4 touches on this point. Most of that exegesis can be traced back to the book under discussion—Seal of the Prophets Volume 2.
The Retaliation Explanation
I suspect this agitated Ahmadi Muslim hasn’t carefully read the passage from page 231. While the earlier parts of the book Seal of the Prophets Volume 2 do indeed talk about slaves earning their freedom in a contract or being ransomed, that is not the subject of this post.
So let me paraphrase what is so delicately conveyed by the excerpt on page 231:
- The wicked enemy of non-Muslims, having captured female prisoners (i.e. Muslim women) had resorted to raping them.
- The only way for Muslims to get the non-Muslims to stop this practice, was to treat the female captives of war in their own possession, in a similar manner—if not exactly the same.
- The Muslim men would thus be justified in raping the non-Muslim female captives of war, so long as the enemy had not ceased this behavior themselves.
Can any Ahmadi Muslim honestly extract this contrived set of conditions from the Qur’anic text itself?
Remember that if you have to go to the ~200 year old compilation of ahadith, then you cannot toss out other more inconvenient sahih hadith because they are “too long after the fact”. Even if we grant ahadith to explain this context, then ahadith of an equivalent grading and isnad which purport to explain the Qur’an, would have to also be accepted on other topics. That’s a can of worms Ahmadi Muslims have so far, been unwilling to open up. They barely cite hadith specifics as it is.
Why would Ahmadi Muslim apologists even bother constructing an elaborate scenario for why a female slave (prisoner of war) could be used for sex?
If as suggested earlier in the cited book, all slave women had to be properly married first and full consent given, how could such an arrangement ever fit into the meaning of this passage cited earlier from page 231:
For this reason, the God of Islām, Who is forbearing on the one hand, but possesses great indignation on the other, permitted the Muslims that if needed, they may treat the disbelievers in a similar manner, if not exactly the same, in order to bring them to their senses and so that they do not grow bolder and more daring in their persecution.
Mainstream Islam has been mostly unapologetic about the meaning and scope of the Qur’anic phrase “what your right hands possess”. Mainstream Islam generally owns the fact that there is a complete lack of directive in the Qur’an about obtaining consent. Conversely, Ahmadiyya Islam desperately tries to distance itself from these allowances in the theology. The best that they can attempt is to narrowly box-in the permitted scenario to one of temporal and practical insignificance. Such a defense goes like this:
- The scenario where this was allowed was so rare, and so unlikely.
- In modern times, this kind of distribution of female captives isn’t handled by distributing them to the soldiers, so it’s no longer relevant.
- Consequently, there’s nothing to see here, people. Move along.
My advice to you the reader, is to encourage you to reflect. Where is there justification for this narrow contextualization, from the earliest and most authentic Islamic sources?
Further, does raping your female captives really seem like a demonstration of the moral high ground or even an effective deterrent to your enemy? Consider modern debates about the efficacy of torture. There are some parallels.
Is it really an effective tactic to stop the enemy from raping your captured women? Can a religion still claim the moral high ground today if it allowed something morally objectionable in the past? How can such a religion still claim to be the “one true religion of God”?
This entire post gives the Ahmadi Muslim author of Seal of the Prophets Volume 2, the benefit of the doubt. That is to say, for the sake of argument, I have taken the author’s explanations at face value.
In this post, I haven’t even begun to challenge where the author is getting such detailed rules of engagement (e.g. Qur’an verses, specific hadith) to paint this fantastically precise set of circumstantial apologetics. It seems more like post-hoc rationalization and story telling than anything derived from the Qur’an itself or from uncontested early Islamic history.