As news of the sex jihad continues to proliferate in Mideast media, and as the West continues to bury its head in the sand—here for example is Der Spiegel’s attempt to portray as “false” the “tales of rebels engaging in ‘sex jihad’ and massacring Christians”—it is instructive to note that even the practice of sex jihad has specific doctrinal validation in Islam (which should not be surprising, considering that so too do things like “adult breastfeeding”).
First there is the general justification for sex jihad, namely that, because Muslim men waging jihad have become sexually frustrated in their camps, losing morale and quitting the theatre of war, it is permissible, indeed laudable, for Muslim women to volunteer to give up their bodies to these men so that they can continue the jihad to empower Islam, in accordance with the Koran: “Allah has purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain” (Yusuf Ali trans. 9:111).
While this verse has traditionally been understood as Muslim men selling “their persons,” that is, their bodies, in the jihad in exchange for paradise, in the context of sex jihad, Muslim women are also selling “their persons” (their bodies to be used for sex) to help empower the jihad, in exchange for paradise.
Aside from this logic which involves intention (niyya) and the idea that the ends justify the means—this is the same rationale, for example, used to justify Islamic suicide attacks (“martyrdom operations”)—in the hadith and teachings of early Islam, precedents exist that Islam’s ulema use to justify the sex jihad.
Recorded in Sahih Bukhari—for most Sunni Muslims, the second textual authority after the Koran itself—is an anecdote of one Muslim giving another Muslim one of his wives for sexual purposes. The story is as follows: When some of Muhammad’s followers from Mecca migrated to Medina, a complaint was raised that the people of Medina had better profited from following Muhammad than his original Meccan followers who had suffered more deprivations. In this context, Muhammad paired up the Meccan Abdul Rahman bin Awf with Sa‘ad bin Rabi‘a of Medina, for the latter to share some of his possessions with the former. So Rabi‘a offered to Rahman half of all his possessions, adding, “Look at my two wives, and whichever of them you desire, I will divorce her so you can have her” (Sahih Bukhari: 118, 1943)
Based on this, divorcing one’s wife for the use of another Muslim became acceptable—indeed, laudable and generous behavior. Indeed, Sahih Bukhari has an entire chapter (bab) on the jurisprudence of this practice. Nor should it be forgotten that, recorded in the Koran itself, one man divorced his wife and gave her to Muhammad simply because the prophet desired her.
In several of the videos that interview people involved with the Syrian sex jihad, this very same logic plays out. In this video for instance, one Muslim man explains how he was told that, since he had three wives, he should divorce one of them so she can wage sex jihad with the “freedom fighters” in Syria. This, both he and his wives were told, was laudable, and so they complied.
Then there is the whole idea of mut‘a marriage. Often translated as “temporary” marriage, the word mut‘a simply means “pleasure”—i.e., a marriage for the sole purpose of “pleasure.” These “marriage” contracts are made between a Muslim man and woman for a temporary duration and often for the sole purpose of legitimizing otherwise banned sexual relations—basically a legalized form of prostitution. Koran 4:24 exonerates pleasure marriage, as many Muslim doctrinaires hold:
And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess [sex slaves]. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So whatever you enjoy of them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
Although the practice of mut‘a marriage is often pinned on the Shias, it—as with taqiyya, which is also often treated as a Shia phenomenon—often manifests itself among Sunnis, especially in the context of sexually-deprived men waging jihad. Moreover, it is well known that Muhammad and his followers used to have sex with the women of conquered tribes, hence the recent rape fatwa in Syria.
In light of all this, it is amazing that some in the West are still trying to exonerate the jihadis in Syria from the practice of sex jihad, since, apparently, those “noble freedom fighters” would never stoop to such a level (the rampant beheadings, church bombings, and Christian persecution is all a “myth,” too, according to Der Spiegel).
Finally, below is a 15-minute video of several people, men and women from various nations, discussing their experiences with the sex jihad in Syria, translated from Arabic to English by some of my colleagues (you may need to click on “CC” (closed caption) for the English subtitles to appear).
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