Concubines, Islam and Marriage: Introduction

Figure 1A: One of the many grotesque illustrations of "harem line" and concubinage from a male Italian painter in the 19th century.  A careful reader should immediately wonder how someone living thousands of miles away and away from Mediterranean culture would know what, how and in what way to paint the lives of a people he had never met.

Figure 1A: One of the many grotesque illustrations of “harem line” and concubinage from a male Italian painter in the 19th century. A careful reader should immediately wonder how someone living thousands of miles away and away from Mediterranean culture would know what, how and in what way to paint the lives of a people he had never met.

The year 1435 AH came to me very quickly and one of the same issues resurfaced due to war that is an ongoing fixture in the Muslim heartlands. These wars have produced refugees, warring factions, battles of attrition, dead reporters, witnesses, non-combatants of every stripe, as well as prisoners (P.O.W.s) that have either been carried away to foreign lands or taken away to detention camps as treasures and spoils of perceived victories.

I read articles in Arabic daily newspapers such Al-Quds, Al-`Arab and Ash-Sharq ul-Awsat about Jihad ul-Nikah or Al-Jihad ul-Munakih. The only accurate word for this is “sex jihad.”

Once translated into English, the images of Christian paintings of the Muslim world showing harems of women and dark, swarthy Arabs lording over them resurfaced. This sexual depravity, Anglophone Wisdom pontificates, is legitimised and institutionalised in Islam.

Part suppressed fantasy (especially among certain men in these Anglophone countries that are hyper-sexualised), part hype and part fear, discussions started again this year about the place of women in the Muslim world and what part Islam may have influenced the current condition of the “fairer sex.”

The primary culprit, as theorised by think tanks and woolly haired midgets in their professorships, is that Islam and marriage have the woman as little more than chattel. Along with the proscription and regulation of “unlimited concubines,” women in war and poverty are the first casualties to the lascivious nature of Muslim men that are carrying out the Qur’an to the letter.

As Islam is the main driver for concubines, women in bondage and the low social status of x chromosome bearers in the Muslim countries, it is therefore necessary that these doctrines should be clearly on display in the chief texts of the Muslims, namely the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Critics, skeptics, Muslims that are either confused, agnostic or searching for details, have to some extent yanked passages from the aforementioned texts, believing that this was the case and citing examples as their evidence.

This has in turn led to a more confused generation of Muslims coming after who truly do not know what the truth is in the matter. Universities, colleges, community colleges, ph.D programmes and other higher learning institutions or programmes, have droned the concubines, Islam and marriage tagline to such an extent, some Muslims now hum along.

Just like that favourite song from your youth, the one that played on the radio that you hated at first listen but after the 11th time hearing it on the same day, it grows on you. You seem to know all of the words, tap your feet in keeping time and sometimes mime the chorus.

But how many people have stopped to listen to the words, rather than saying, “I just think it has a nice beat.” We have to examine these matters in detail in order to definitely know what the bottom line.

It is therefore my ardent desire to discuss over the next weeks this topic of concubines. The first thing that we will need to do is to define terms, the history of the term and proper usage in context.

After this, we have to define marriage according to the Revealed Law. Then we can examine what place this (concubinage) may or may not have in Islam. After that, discussion around these topics can continue and presentation of more detailed arguments can follow.

This introduction is a message from myself to inform the reader regarding the layout of the discussion in front of us. At the end of this series, perhaps readers may offer further questions, comments or ever dispute much of what I have said.

In either case, this matter should be treated in detail and readers deserve no less than the best sources, presentation of evidence and historical and linguistic analysis that I am able to muster.

Until next time,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

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