The Independent: Rape in marriage: Islam doesn’t tolerate rape
Letter published in The Independent, 15 Oct 2010, here
Islam doesn’t tolerate rape
I was appalled by the assertion by Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, that rape within marriage is “impossible” and that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because “sex is part of marriage”. Sex is indeed a part of marriage, but rape is not. Rape is a type of violence expressed through sexual assault; it has nothing to do with sex, love or intimacy.
Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “The best amongst you are those who are best to their wives.” How this cleric believes his assertions fit with the preceding statement is unfathomable. Rape within marriage constitutes domestic violence and should be treated with the same severity.
Allegations that many rape victims are lying betray a most cavalier attitude to this serious and heinous crime.
His statement that “in Islamic Sharia, rape is adultery by force” is misleading. The Sharia is a body of law which can be interpreted in differing ways, much like any other body of law. This is not the “Sharia” position on this issue, but Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed’s. This not an issue of Sharia law being in contradiction with British law, but rather of the Sheikh’s interpretation of Sharia being in contradiction with universal principles of justice and fairness.
Until Muslim scholars wake up to the reality that rape is not and never will be adultery (which is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse), we will continue to let women down and betray the fundamental ideals of our noble faith.
Myriam Francois-Cerrah, Oxford University Islamic Society