Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Muhammad’s Sex Slaves

”How happy must it be to kill all your male relatives (father, husband, brothers and uncles), to enslave all your female relatives (mother and sisters and aunts), and to enjoy a wedding on the same day”

By Edmund Pickett

Muhammad was the kindest man who ever lived, according to Muslims. He was filled with love and compassion for all living things. In fact, he was the only perfect human being who ever lived, according to Muslims. If you want to lead a perfect life, you just have to look at Muhammad and do what he did.

I’m no Muslim, but I’ve always yearned to be perfect, so I decided to get myself some sex slaves. Muhammad had several, in addition to ten or a dozen wives. This is all legal according to God’s laws, given in the Qur’an, and God’s laws don’t change. What was legal 1400 years ago is legal today.

There has been a polite tradition in English of referring to these sex workers by the old-fashioned euphemism “concubines,” but we’re not living in the Victorian era, so let’s use plain English. They were slaves and their job was to provide sex. By the way, those dark-eyed virgins waiting for Muslim martyrs in paradise are also sex slaves. If they were only there to serve heavenly tea and cookies they wouldn’t have to be virgins, right?

I’m still wondering about certain practical problems of acquiring my slaves, since Islamic law is not recognized in the United States, but I decided to start researching Islamic sources on the subject, so I’ll know how to handle my women when I do get them. In particular I want to know the kind way to deal with sex slaves. The Qur’an doesn’t have a lot of detailed slave management advice, but that’s not really a problem. There are thousands of traditional stories about the prophet’s daily life and sayings known as hadith, collected after his death by people who knew him. There are six main collections of hadith considered reliable by Muslims and these books have authority equal to the Qur’an. I found just what I needed in the collection known as Sahih Bukhari, in volumes I, IV and V.

After the Battle of Khaybar one of Muhammad’s soldiers named Dihya asked the Prophet if he could choose one of the captive women. Muhammad told him to take his pick, but not long afterwards some other soldiers told Muhammad that Dihya had snagged the hottest babe they had ever seen. The Messenger of Allah immediately ordered the couple to be brought to him. After one look at the slave, named Safiyya, Muhammed told Dihya to choose someone else. Safiyyah was not only gorgeous, she was high-class, the daughter of the chief of the tribe that had just been defeated. Bukhari adds that Safiyyah’s father and all the other men of her tribe had been killed. This means that those who didn’t die in battle were murdered as prisoners. Bukhari also notes that Safiyyah’s husband, Kinana, had just been tortured before being killed. You might be wondering at this point, as I was, how Muhammad (a.k.a. The Soul of Kindness & Compassion) would treat this unfortunate woman.

Wasting few words, Bukhari continues, “Muhammad immediately freed her and married her himself—since she agreed to convert to Islam, she was able to be elevated beyond the portion of a slave. That night Safiyyah was dressed as a bride and a wedding feast was hastily arranged. On the way out of Khaybar that night, Muhammad halted his caravan as soon as they were outside the oasis, pitched a tent and consummated the marriage.”

At this point I began to wonder if I have what it takes to own slaves in the authentically kind Islamic manner. The first un-Islamic thought that occurred to me is that Safiyyah might have preferred a longer engagement. Maybe she would have preferred a little time to mourn her father and her husband, a day or two to adjust to the fact that every adult man in her tribe had just been butchered. The dead would have included her brothers, cousins, nephews, every male above the age of say, fifteen. And perhaps Safiyyah could have used a little time to mourn for her mother, her sisters and all the children of the tribe, who were headed to the nearest slave market. I wondered also if the women and children were forced to watch the murder of their menfolk, but due to his extraordinary kindness I’m sure that Muhammad would have allowed them to look in the other direction. But then, screams carry a long way. When I think about that wedding feast, which Bukhari tells us was “hastily arranged,” I figure that Safiyyah probably noticed that all the guests were from the groom’s side.

But Muhammad’s unbelievable kindness really shines out in this story. After all, he freed her, gave her one thousand gold pieces and an escort of soldiers to take her wherever she wanted to go. She moved to Cairo, well outside Muslim control, and observed the one year period of mourning required by Jewish law. Then Muhammad sent her so many beautiful letters describing his great love for her that she returned to Mecca and married him.

Except I guess I made most of that up. In my version, though, she would have been really free, as in free to leave the man who had erased her tribe, free to accept or reject his proposal of marriage, free to decide if she wanted to bow down to him as the Anointed of God. In Bukhari’s version though, which is unimpeachable truth for Muslims, Safiyyah had a choice of (A.) remaining Jewish, in which case she would still be a sex slave, with the same status as Mary, another sex slave who was Christian, or choice (B.) she could convert and become a “wife” of Muhammad. Saying that Muhammad had set her free is absurd. She was a woman with nothing but the clothes she was wearing, she had no money, no food, no family, no one to protect her and she was surrounded by ten thousand soldiers who knew that God wanted them to kill Jews like her. If Muhammad had truly freed her, in the sense of cutting her loose and then forgetting about her, she would have starved to death or become the slave of some other soldier.

She was never offered freedom and she knew it, from the moment she and Dihya were ushered into the Prophet’s presence. When Muhammad looked her up and down and told Dihya to go pick himself another slave, Safiyyah knew that her future would be providing sexual services to Muhammad. She knew she was going to spend the rest of her life being raped by a man more than thirty years older than she was and that she would have to pretend to enjoy it. She could submit to him as a slave or as a quote, wife, unquote. I imagine that she chose “wife” in the hope that her higher status would allow her to help some of her people, who now had the status of livestock. Perhaps she thought she could convince Allah’s Messenger to choose her mother for a slave also, allowing them to remain together. However, if the Kindest Man Who Ever Lived showed any compassion to his new wife’s family, none of the books of canonical hadith mention it.

Bukhari does however conclude his tale with the truly romantic story of Muhammad pitching a fast tent on the edge of the oasis to sample the charms of his new bride A.S.A.P. Some people might find this a bit abrupt, but Muhammad had needs. Powerful needs. As he explained himself, in another hadith (Ibn Ishaq, 459) “(The Angel) Gabriel brought a kettle from which I ate and I was given the power of sexual intercourse equal to forty men.” In other words, it is Allah’s fault that The Soul Of Compassion was so horny he couldn’t wait to get Safiyyah into the tent.

From our wimpy 21st century viewpoint it might not be pleasant to contemplate that particular sex act, but I think we should try to imagine Safiyyah’s options when she found herself alone in that tent with the butcher of her people, who for some twisted hypocritical reason wanted to think of himself as her “husband.” Resistance would have meant death. She could have merely submitted. She could have let Allah’s Anointed do what he had come to do and hope it was quick…

But she was a woman of high status. Bukhari says that she was “the chief-mistress of the ladies of the tribes of Qurayzah and An-Nadir.” At that point she was the only high-ranking member of her tribe left and it was therefore her duty to do what she could to help her enslaved relatives. But she was now the newest wife of four, and she would be competing with those other three wives and several sex slaves in trying to gain influence with Muhammad. If she were to have any chance of helping what was left of her people, she would have to do more than submit to Muhammad, she would have to thrill him.

Her duty, and I imagine that she understood it, was to make the old murderer fall in love with her.

Robert Spencer: The Truth About Muhammad
Sahih Bukhari, vol. I (book 8, #371)
Sahih Bukhari, vol. IV (book 53, #3169) cf. Ibn Sa’d vol.II, 144
Sahih Bukhari, vol. V (book 64, #4242)
See also the Wikipedia entry for Muhammad’s Wives, Safiyyah
Muhammad also had another sex slave named Rihana (or Rihayna), whose story is very similar to that of Safiyyah.




  1. Interesting and funny write-up. I was almost fooled by the part where she "moved to Cairo!"

    - Blog co-author of Sweetness and Sufferings

  2. Btw, please add a "Labels" gadget on your sidebar. That will give a list of all the labels you use in your blog, enabling readers to search posts with a specific label. You don't need to publish this comment. You may reject it, coz I just want to let you know.

    - Blog co-author of Sweetness and Sufferings

  3. Well, it seems like you did it, despite calling yourself low-tech. =) Now I can search for posts on your blog by labels, like 'Women', 'Islamic Science' and so on. That's what I wanted =D

    And I love your "Blog List". I put one of my own, replacing my old 'Further Reading' section. Thanks!

    - Blog co-author of Sweetness and Sufferings