The consensus of the scholars

A charming item from Deutsche Welle:

Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid is not really that old. Nevertheless, despite being born to Palestinian refugees living in Syria in 1960, and having lived in Saudi Arabia since he was a child, the opinions issued by this religious scholar read like documents from a time long, long ago.

He publishes his opinions on “,” the most popular Salafist website in the Arab speaking world. There, for instance, a young man asks him for the answer to a seemingly difficult question: What is the status of the many “slaves” that live in his home of Saudi Arabia? Can one have sexual intercourse with them? Even if one is married? The questioner himself does not define a “slave” – he assumes that this is common knowledge. In Saudi Arabia the term refers to the many Southeast Asian housemaids that work in the country.

Isn’t that pretty? All by itself, before we get to the “scholar”‘s answer? Isn’t it pretty that women from Southeast Asia who work in Saudi Arabia are called “slaves”? And that men are asking if they have religious permission to rape them?

No, it’s not, it’s disgusting enough to make me want to wash my eyes after reading it.

The religious expert knows the answer: “Islam allows a man to have sexual intercourse with a slave, no matter whether the man is married or single.” As justification, the scholar recites Koran passages, the biography of the prophet Mohammed and the opinions of leading sheikhs. “The scholars,” he summarizes, “are unanimous in this assessment, and no one is permitted to view this act as forbidden, or to forbid it. Whoever does so, is a sinner, and is acting against the consensus of the scholars.”

Not only is it permitted to rape women “slaves,” it’s forbidden and a sin to say it’s not permittedĀ to rape women “slaves.” It’s just the most hateful, callous, contemptuous view of what’s good and what isn’t, and of human rights, and of women, and of foreign women, and of domestic servants, I can barely stand it. What a shit-colored awful loathsome place Saudi Arabia must be, steeped in that way of thinking.

The fatwa on the sexual availability of Asians, who have in fact only come to Saudi Arabia to carry out home cleaning duties, is just one of a universe full of fatwas that Saudi religious scholars publish on the role of women day after day.

Because that’s what religion is for – working out the details of how to provide men with as much fucking as possible.

The Tunisian feminist and historian Sophie Bessis says that Islamic theologians are trying harder than ever to force a religious identity on Middle Eastern countries.

She says that identity is based on signs and symbols reflected in traditionally dressed Muslim women. “Identity = religion = veiled women, is a triptych that Islamist movements propagate to Arabs,” writes Bessis in her book, “The Arabs, Women, Freedom.”

For years, the veil has been the sign that Muslims and non-Muslims alike have most strongly identified with Islam. But signs can have many meanings. What could the veil mean? Over the last several years many Western feminists have wanted to see it as a symbol of female emancipation.

But Ibtissam Bouachrine, who was born in Morocco and is now an associate professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, disagrees. In her book, “Women in Islam. Myths, Apologies and the Limits of Feminist Critique,” she writes that, “As a ‘mobile home’ the veil is always a reminder that the natural place for the woman in Islam is at home.”

At home, being raped, while elsewhere in the house “the slave” is scrubbing toilets and wondering when it will be her turn to be raped.

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