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Charbonnier
"I’d rather die standing up
than live on my knees."
Stephane Charbonnier
(1967-2015)


What Does Islam Teach About...

Rape and Adultery

Why are rape victims often punished by Islamic courts as adulterers? 

Under Islamic law, rape can only be proven if the rapist confesses or if there are four male witnesses.  Women who allege rape without the benefit of the act having been witnessed by four men (who presumably develop a conscience afterwards) are actually confessing to having sex.  If they or the accused happens to be married, then it is considered to be adultery.

Quran

Quran (2:282) - Establishes that a woman's testimony is worth only half that of a man's in court (there is no "he said/she said" gridlock in Islam).

Quran (24:4) - "And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses (to adultery), flog them..."  Strictly speaking, this verse addresses adultery (revealed at the very time that Muhammad's favorite wife was being accused of adultery on the basis of only three witnesses coincidentally enough).  However it is a part of the theological underpinning of the Sharia rule on rape, since if there are not four male witnesses, the rape "did not occur".

Quran (24:13) - "Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah."

Quran (2:223) - "Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will..."  There is no such thing as rape in marriage, as a man is permitted unrestricted sexual access to his wives.

Hadith and Sira

Bukhari (5:59:462) - The background for the Quranic requirement of four witnesses to adultery.  Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of cheating [on her polygamous husband].  Three witnesses corroborated the event, but Muhammad apparently did not want to believe it, and so established the arbitrary rule that four witnesses are required.

Notes

Rape of Muslim women is against Islamic law - although the rape of non-Muslim women is not, if they are 'captured in battle' or bought as slaves.  Even the rape of a Muslim woman is almost impossible to prove under strict Islamic law (Sharia).  If the man claims that the act was consensual sex, there is very little that the woman can do to refute this.  Islam places the burden of avoiding sexual encounters of any sort on the woman.
 
A recent fatwa from a mainstream Islamic site echoes this rule and even chides a victim of incest for complaining when she has no "evidence":

However, it is not permissible to accuse the father of rape without evidence. Indeed, the Sharee’ah put some special conditions for proving Zina (fornication or adultery) that are not required in case of other crimes. The crime of Zina is not confirmed except if the fornicator admits it, or with the testimony of four trustworthy men, while the testimony of women is not accepted.

Hence, the statement of this girl or the statement of her mother in itself does not Islamically prove anything against the father, especially that the latter denies it.

Therefore, if this daughter has no evidence to prove that her accusations are true, she should not have claimed that she was raped by her father and she should not have taken him to the court. (IslamWeb.net, Image)

Since it is incredibly unlikely that a child molester will violate his victim in front of "four trustworthy men", Islamic law amounts to a free pass for sexual predators.
 
Islamic law rejects forensic evidence (such as DNA) in favor of testimony.  An interesting situation thus sometimes develops in cases where a victim alleges rape and the man denies that sex even took place.  In the absence of four male witnesses, rape cannot be proven.  The woman's testimony then becomes a "confession" of adultery.  She can be stoned, even though the male is unpunished, since he never admitted to a sexual act.
 
Some clerics blame rape on the woman.  Australian Sheik Feiz recently said a rape victim "has no one to blame but herself.  She displayed her beauty to the entire world... to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."  Even his successor, who was brought in to mitigate the backlash, compared unveiled women to "sweet pastries" tempting hungry men.
 
One of the world's most respected Sunni scholars, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, recently told an audience on his al-Jazeera television show that "To be absolved from guilt, the raped woman must have shown some sort of good conduct."

Dr. Abd al-Aziz Fawazan al-Fawzan, a professor of Islamic law said that "If a woman gets raped walking in public alone, then she, herself is at fault. She is only seducing men by her presence. She should have stayed at home like a Muslim woman." 

This was echoed by the imam of a Salafist mosque in Cologne, Germany in the wake of the shocking sex abuse rampage by recently arrived Muslims on New Year's Eve in 2015.  He explained that "the events" (which included rape) "were the girls' own fault because they were half-naked and wearing perfume."

When it came to light in 2016 that a 13-year-old British girl had been abused by a dozen Pakistani rapists, certain members of the Muslim community said they believed the victim "played her part."

In 2013, Syria's chief Mufti, Sheikh Abd al-Rahman Ali al-Dala, issued a statement that gives soldiers religious permission to rape the women they capture.
 
There can be also no such thing as rape in a Muslim marriage, even if the husband has to hit the wife in order to bring about her submission.  Another recent fatwa reminds a woman, she "does not have the right to refuse her husband, rather she must respond to his request every time he calls her." (Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 33597).
 
Keep in mind that most Muslim countries do not operate under strict Islamic law, but rather under legal codes copied from the West.  Therefore rape victims in these countries can - and often do - receive justice under more reasonable standards of proof.
 
(See also Did Muhammad Approve of Rape?)

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