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He argued that, when it comes to marriage, “we Muslims have overly complicated things,” so that men are often forced to be single throughout their prime, finally getting married between the ages of 30-40 (when they might be expected to have a sufficient income to open a household). Similarly, many Egyptian women do not want to wear the hijab in public.
The solution, according to Awn, is to reinstitute sex-slavery—allowing men to marry and copulate much earlier in life, and women who want to dress freely to do so, as technically they are sex-slaves and mandated to go about loosely attired, anyway.
The other guest on the show, Dr. Abdullah al-Naggar, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al Azhar, fiercely attacked Awn for reviving this practice, calling on him and his slave-wife to “repent” and stop dishonoring Islam, arguing that “there is no longer sex-slavery”—to which Awn responded by sarcastically asking, “Who said sex-slavery is over? What—because the UN said so?”
In many ways, this exchange between Awn, who advocates sex-slave marriage, and the Al Azhar professor symbolizes the clash between today’s “Islamists” and “moderate Muslims.” For long, Al Azhar has been primarily engaged in the delicate balancing act of affirming Islam while still advocating modernity according to Western standards, whereas the Islamists—from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Salafis—bred with contempt and disrespect for the West, are only too eager to revive distinctly Islamic practices that defy Western sensibilities.
While this may be the first sex-slave marriage to take place in Egypt’s recent history, it is certainly not the first call to revive the practice. Earlier, Egyptian Sheikh Huwaini, lamenting that the “good old days” of Islam are over, declared that, in an ideal Muslim society, “when I want a sex-slave [I should be able to go] to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.” Likewise, a Kuwaiti female politician advocated for reviving the institute of sex-slavery, suggesting that Muslims should bring female captives of war—specifically Russian women from the Chechnya war—and sell them to Muslim men in the markets of Kuwait.
And so the “Arab Spring” continues to blossom.
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