Okay, so I think he’s joking…but not really. In any case, it’s an opinion piece and I think there are some important points.
DECLARATION: I don’t think he likes Jonathan Brown. Or Salafis. Or Salafis who like Jonathan Brown.
No real Jonathan Browns were harmed during the writing of this article. I think.
Recently on this site, ‘The Sultans Jester’ posted an article about most ‘public’ Muslims’ ambiguity and ambivalence towards ISIS and its violence. He posited that this may be due to the fact that they – the Salafi speakers and ISIS – both in fact venerate the same authorities, with ISIS practicing what Salafis in fact only preach. You can see if his argument was convincing here: https://asharisassemble.com/2015/07/05/many-muslim-leaders-denounce-isis-out-of-convenience-not-conviction/
I was expecting a robust discussion on the issue of whether Salafis and ISIS do indeed use the same narrations, but to my surprise, no one was able to respond to serious claims such as that venerable Imams of the Muslims sanctioned non-punishment for murdering non-Muslims.
So it was with even greater alarm that I visited Paul Williams’s excellent site (http://bloggingtheology.net/) and saw this from Jonathan AC Brown and Hina Azem:
I would encourage you to read through this long winded piece. It seems he is, er, ‘responding’ to allegations that the type of systematic rape that ISIS has set up are ‘Islamic’. I became alarmed as it made the Jester’s article ring true for me. On the issue of rape, as well as violence, the response was double-speak and underhanded – not to mention wholly inadequate.
A summary of this excerpt:
1) There is no specific punishment for rape in Islam (according to these people), it just comes under ‘Zina’ (= extramarital sex, whether adultery or fornication).
So the punishment for rape in Islam is the same as fornication or adultery.
And this helps our image how…?
2) You can get punished for rape by the death penalty though…but only if you are a non-Muslim raping a Muslim woman.
[LAME EXCUSE TRIGGER WARNING]
It’s because it’s treason. Like apostasy. And all the other reasons we want to kill people for, which also come under treason. BTW, Muslims can’t commit treason by raping someone though ‘cos…ummmmm…uhhhh…
Oh joy! Islamophobes debunked!
3) Raping slave girls is fine according to the ‘classical’ sources (as edited by Salafis like Brown and Co. of course), but you have to pay a fine…to their owner.
This makes Muslim look SOOOOOOOOO good!
4) If you are the person who got raped, rest assured, you won’t be punished for fornication or adultery.
Wow! Such a merciful religion!
OR AN EVEN MORE SIMPLIFIED SUMMARY OF THIS POST:
‘There is no such thing as rape in Islamic law, it comes under fornication and adultery. You know, since there is absolutely no difference between rape and fornication’.
And then Muslims wonder why people hate them. With friends like these…
I don’t know to which allegations, or as he calls it ‘misinformation and ignorance being batted around over the issue of rape in Islamic Law’ he was responding to. I don’t really know what Brown thinks he is doing here – if he is trying to ‘help’ Muslims or just state the positions of previous jurists for academic purposes without commenting on them or giving his own opinion (and thereby providing more ammunition for Islamophobes in all of these scenarios).
If this is how the new generation of ‘white Salafis’ such as Jonathan AC Brown er…’addresses’ misinformation and ‘ignorance’ then God us.
All these people seem to have done is to confirm the worst accusations of Islamophobes and punish us additionally with an exercise in excessive verbiage.
Assuming, despite the total lack of referencing, that these two individuals have the authority or knowledge to narrate the positions of the different madhabs as well as Shi’ites – which would kind of make them Mujtahids (as their besotted fan boys no doubt already believe), since it is very hard and requires a lot of study to elucidate the ‘mutamad’ or ‘authoritative’ position of even one school (and even then it is often not even the strongest position after all anyway. For example, Abu Hanifa has Sunni, Mutazzila and Murji students relating contradictory opinions from him. Same goes for Malik and others). Brown has shown his inability to engage in this depth of unbiased analysis multiple times before – for example on the issue of wife beating and apostasy killing, where he attributed it to Abu Hanifa despite narrations to the contrary from Mutazzili Hanafis. Of course, Brown and people like him don’t like to dwell on people they (and other Salafis) do not like, so…
Brown seems to have confirmed the dumbness with these facile comments on Facebook;
Now, I avoid going on Facebook precisely because it is infested with unrestricted stupidity like the above. But the guy is basically saying, like a politician that there is no ‘rape’ in Islam…but slave girls don’t have a choice.
I don’t know if I am weird or something but I thought sex without a choice = rape. But of course, that is why he is playing politics – he has an idiosyncratic definition of rape. Or more likely, like others lately, he just wants to keep his Salafi/Deobandi etc fan base happy. Never mind the abhorrence or disgust felt by non-Muslims or others.
The funny thing is Brown and Co are avoiding what ISIS and their ‘scholars’ (basically Haddad types not restricted by UK laws) actually use to justify their rape antics theologically:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-of-rape.html?_r=0
Basically, this is precisely their idea, found in many scholars’ fatwas (and from the hadith literature which takes the Prophet himself attempting a rape as ‘canonical’ – in ‘Sahih al Bukhari’ no less), that:
1) You take over a place, the soldiers wives and or perhaps even the civilian girls are now automatically ‘divorced’ and can be made into slaves.
2) Your slaves are like your wives (except they aren’t really as they had no choice. Not that Salafis give free women a choice either)
3) There is no such thing as marital rape
4) Therefore you ‘can’t’ rape your slave as she is your property
Basically, ISIS can prove all of this from hadith and the opinions of the same scholars that Salafis and many others hold dear (again, see Jester’s previous articles for an in depth analysis of this in the case of violence).
Have you noticed how none of Muslims’ interlocutors have addressed what ISIS have actually said and done and are instead resorting to a series of fudges to try and doublespeak their way out of it? Like, how does Brown’s contribution help at all? He’s basically admitting that the classical ‘authorities’ allowed you to rape your slaves. At least he should say ‘but Muslims think these guys messed up, don’t worry’. But his Facebook comments appear to be compound dumbness.
Muslim speakers often say you are not allowed to hit a slave and thus you wouldn’t rape her (standard Salafi argument to prove that slaves are not to be raped). They bring some narrations to show that this is a case, basically hadith which show that people who hit their slaves were compelled to set them free. But this is contradicted by the fact that these same people say that say you can beat your wife according to the Quran  and that, according to Brown, ‘slave women do not have agency over their sexual access, so their owner can have sex with them’.
Isn’t this just confusing, politician style jabberwocky gobbledegook double talk crap-ism?
Also, since they are spamming us with the opinions of ‘classical jurists’, from which classical jurist did they get this opinion that hitting precludes forced sex/rape of slaves? Or did they just make it up?
It’s also funny how the ‘jurists’ and hadiths talk about not hitting your slave but this is extended to rape – well, it’s just like the thing about fornication and adultery including rape!
You see, rape is such a minor thing that there is no need to address it specifically! I guess it is the same with murder and mutilation – there’s just no need to address it as it comes under ‘hitting’! I wonder what else comes under ‘hitting’ if rape does. War? Manslaughter? Drone strikes? Nuclear Holocaust? Why, who knew that Sharia was so simple – everything comes under ‘hitting’!
But then, strangely, when it came to non-Muslims, there WAS, all of a sudden, a death penalty for rape…curious!
This is why such ‘defences’ by people like Brown are frankly a bit rubbish and make no sense at all.
I mean come on, their way of making Islam ‘look good’ is to say that you can take women as slaves and rape them, but don’t leave a mark or it will come under hitting. And then you might get told off. Or get a small fine. Or nothing.
I get what they are trying to do. But it is dumb. And does not help at all. What would be more useful is if Brown used his history skills to say that ‘well, you know the Quran never says the majority is right, quite the opposite. Even if most or all Muslims scholars said this, it does not mean that Muslims or the Quran agree with this anymore than a Christian or a Hindu today would be beholden to the politicised and contextual fatwas of their scholars from the past which show a similar degree of indifference to coercive sex and slavery. Here’s my actual opinion…’ (something, which if you have read his latest book, he never actually gives, except in a rather underhand way).
It would be better to quote something like this, which actually makes it clear that you can’t have sex with slaves [as does the Quran according to many commentators – see later]:
”If the man has had intercourse with the female slave forcibly then the slave is free…but if the slave had agreed to the act then she belongs to him’
Related By Salamah Ibn Muhabbaq.
[Of course, muhaditheen think this is ‘weak’. Big surprise]
Now I know it has become fashionable for Muslims to be ‘agnostic’ about what is going on with ISIS due to the alleged bias of the ‘Western Media’ (and the not so Western media like RT. And CCTV. And Press TV…so Muslims would have to actually hold the same ‘agnostic’ stance about every news issue including Gaza until they had their own ‘proper’ news outlets i.e never) apart from the fact that ISIS is a Western/Saudi/Israeli induced hydra, ISIS are admitting to all of the stuff that people are saying about them: they are all over Facebook, Instagram and Youtube proudly saying exactly what the press says about them. It’s fine to be agnostic about it if they were not but they are publishing fatwas and admitting to rape as recreation on their official page! Anyone who wants to get put on a watch-list can follow the links and see for themselves.
It’s also rampantly hypocritical for Muslims to spam non-Muslims about issues such as Palestine using sources such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty…but when these same sources lay the smack down on ISIS or Saudi, Muslims are like ‘you can’t trust the Western media!’.
Most Muslims are SELECTIVELY AGNOSTIC.
It also makes me laugh that the same groups of Muslims (Salafis and Co.) who insist that you can take ahad or single chain testimony into creed and belief, to the extent that they accept the single chain reports which say the Prophet tried to kill himself, was driven out of his mind by magic and even tried to rape people, now turn around and say you can’t accept what is basically mass testimony about what ISIS are doing. And on top of that, ISIS said themselves ‘yes, we are doing it!’
Total nonsense. Salafis and others selectively ostracise, marginalise and even anathematise people for rejecting ahad reports written down hundreds of years after the Prophet like those that accuse him of compromising on monotheism (as per the ‘Satanic Verses’ incident = nonsense)…and then refuse to accept contemporary testimony that is from multiple chains and people and sources that ISIS are mentalists [in his defence, I don’t think Brown accepts the Satanic Verses incident because he found some weakness in its chain…unlike other Muhaditheen].
On another note, although this is not directly related, don’t you think that it is TOTALLY MENTAL that the same group of people who argue that ‘free mixing’ and a woman showing her face to men is HARAAM (forbidden) think it is fine to RAPE RANDOM WOMEN YOU JUST MET and not only look at them but actually have sex with them (but its actually rape).
Could it be that these people studied Fiqh (jurisprudence or legal theory) while HIGH ON CRACK?
Yes boys, according to some Salafis, you can rape girls. But not look at them. Because rape isn’t really rape. But looking REALLY is looking!
The proof of the banality of Browns’ response and its unhelpfulness is obvious:
Let’s say that all Islamic scholars, ever from the most famous to your local imam said that raping slaves was fine and was not in fact rape. So there was a super ijma on it .
Would you agree with it?
*(unless you are mental).
So in the end, you decided whether it made (moral) sense to YOU or not – exactly as the Quran told you to. You are willing to ignore the opinions of every single scholar on this matter.
You know the funny thing? Even if (God forbid) the Quran itself told you rape was fine you still wouldn’t follow it and would decide that Islam was not the religion for you. You would probably then proceed to kill the crap out of those who did follow such a book before they raped you or your family.
It’s precisely because the Quran does NOT say dumb stuff like that that diverse people have accepted and followed Islam for as long and as widely as they have. The Quran tells you to contemplate and think and reason over matters of faith and morality and to resist oppression, blind following and argument from authority.
When the angels questioned God about how come he was putting something on Earth which would result bloodshed (and the angels were right, mankind did indeed shed blood, even in Gods’ name), he didn’t give them a narration or a quote or a fatwa or say ‘shut up, I’m God, how dare you test me?!’
Instead he said okay, let’s talk about this, I’ll show you – I’ll show you a rational proof that this creature is better than you. Let’s check him out. QED if you will .
The logical consequence of demanding a hadith or a fatwa to tell you everything that is right or wrong is that Muslims are worse than non-Muslims, since they managed to work out that stuff like rape is wrong without a narration.
So Islam doesn’t work like that. Not real Islam anyway.
Islam is not really for people who refuse to use their brain. The Quran is quite explicit about that. If anyone bothered to read it instead of crap posts from Brown etc.
Also, don’t you think that the Quran seems to assume that people are not TOTAL AMORAL PLONKERS and have a brain and some moral sense? Since the Quran tries to appeal to peoples’ existing morality and intellect, perhaps the fact that some Muslims need a narration or a fatwas to tell them that rape is wrong or that you don’t need four witnesses for rape tells us more about these people than Islam?
If you need someone to give you a narration or a fatwa explaining that raping people is wrong then providing this will probably not help you as you are WRONG IN THE HEAD and should probably be sent to PRISON (which you would presumably enjoy due to all of the rape that goes on there).
What’s also funny is that if non-Muslims started practising this fatwa in all the Muslim countries they are messing up i.e saying that the women were deprived of sexual rights as they are slaves and started having sex with everyone’s mum, sister, wife and neighbour by force, do you think Brown or Muslims would be saying; ‘Hmm, curious, this reminds me of the fatwa of the classical scholars that says this is fine…’.
Muslims subjected to such vile treatment by non-Muslims would be the first to say that this was a grave injustice. They sure as hell would not be posting dumb stuff about how slave women don’t have agency over their vagina and other hogwash like that .
What’s more useful is these guys saying that ‘what your right hand posses’ doesn’t even refer to slaves – at least in the ayats about conjugal relations. Here is Asad, who is also quite Salafi, but obviously not as mental as Brown:
[SALAFI TRANSLATION: ‘And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess’]
And [forbidden to you are] all married women other than those whom you rightfully possess [through wedlock]
The term muhsanah signifies literally “a woman who is fortified [against unchastity]”, and carries three senses: (1) “a married woman”, (2) “a chaste woman”, and (3) “a free woman”. According to almost all the authorities, al-muhsanat denotes in the above context “married women”. As for the expression ma malakat aymanukum (“those whom your right hands possess”, i.e., “those whom you rightfully possess”), it is often taken to mean female slaves captured
in a war in God’s cause (see in this connection 8:67, and the corresponding note). The commentators who choose this meaning hold that such slave-girls can be taken in marriage irrespective of whether they have husbands in the country of their origin or not.
However, quite apart from the fundamental differences of opinion, even among the Companions of the Prophet, regarding the legality of such a marriage, some of the most outstanding commentators hold the view that ma malakat aymanukum denotes here “women whom you rightfully possess through wedlock”; thus Razi in his commentary on this verse, and Tabari in one of his alternative explanations (going back to ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, and others). Razi, in particular, points out that the reference to “all married women” (al-muhsanat min an-nisa’), coming as it does after the enumeration of prohibited degrees of relationship, is meant to stress the prohibition of sexual relations with any woman other than one’s lawful wife.
[I won’t give you the Salafi or other translation this time. Because you see what they are doing right?]
TRULY, to a happy state shall attain the believers: (23:2) those who humble themselves in their prayer, (23:3) and who turn away from all that is frivolous, (23:4) and who are intent on inner purity; (23:5) and who are mindful of their chastity, (23:6) [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses – that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]
Lit., “or those whom their right hands possess” (aw ma malakat aymanuhum). Most of the commentators assume unquestioningly that this relates to female slaves, and that the particle aw (“or”) denotes a permissible alternative. This conventional interpretation is, in my opinion, inadmissible inasmuch as it is based on the assumption that sexual intercourse with one’s female slave is permitted without marriage: an assumption which is contradicted by the Qur’an itself (see 4:3, 24, 25 and 24:32, with the corresponding notes). Nor is this the only objection to the above-mentioned interpretation. Since the Qur’an applies the term “believers” to men and women alike, and since the term azwaj (“spouses”), too, denotes both the male and the female partners in marriage, there is no reason for attributing to the phrase ma malakat aymanuhum the meaning of “their female slaves”; and since, on the other hand, it is out of the question that female and male slaves could have been referred to here, it is obvious that this phrase does not relate to slaves at all, but has the same meaning as in 4:24 – namely, “those whom they rightfully possess through wedlock” (see note 26 on 4:24) – with the significant difference that in the present context this expression relates to both husbands and wives, who “rightfully possess” one another by virtue of marriage. On the basis of this interpretation, the particle aw which precedes this clause does not denote an alternative (“or”) but is, rather, in the nature of an explanatory amplification, more or less analogous to the phrase “in other words” or “that is”, thus giving to the whole sentence the meaning,….. save with their spouses – that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock)..”, etc. (Cf. a similar construction 25:62 – “for him who has the will to take thought – that is [lit., “or”], has the will to be grateful”.)
Oh wait, I forgot, Razi and Tabari are not Imams of the Salafis/Muhaditheen and they tried to kill/actually killed them both (as well as Asad BTW, who lived out his later years in unwilling ‘exile’ in Spain). So I guess Brown ‘forgot’ about them, the same way he ‘forgot’ about Zamakhshiri and Qushayris’ opinion on wife beating in the Quran (Imam Qushayri, surprise, surprise, is another guy the Muhaditheen/Salafis tried to kill…)
And while I am on the subject, as far as I am concerned, the actions of ISIS do not come under rape law and they most certainly don’t come under fornication or adultery. These guys are not dirty old men hiding in parks but are systematically and ‘scientifically’ raping captives. Rather this kind of behaviour comes under ‘fasad fil ard’ or ‘spreading corruption in the land’ .
It is one of only two things that the Quran specifies the death penalty for – the other is a subset of this one, which is murder. So you could say it is the only thing the Quran specifies the death penalty for. (An interesting aside here is that according to people other than Salafi brain-cases, the death penalty has to have a Quranic or Muttawatir hadith proof = mass transmitted like the Quran, of which there are none agreed upon pertaining to the death penalty anyway. It cannot be applied based on Ahad (‘single chain’) Hadith, Mashoor (multiple or famous) Hadith, Ijma (consensus), Qiyaas (analogy) etc. People who actually study the diversity of Islamic law instead of navel gazing their favourite (Salafi) scholars would know that).
Funny how Salafists, who demand the death penalty for apostasy, adultery and a whole heap of other things such as homosexuality (and anathematise anyone who disagrees), NONE of which are mentioned in the Quran AT ALL, then curiously forget to mandate the death penalty for the one thing for which it is mentioned in the Quran, namely fasad.
So the opinion of ‘classical scholars’ on rape is hardly pertinent to the actions of ISIS since rape fans would already receive the death penalty for spreading fasad through coercive sex and the other dumb stuff they do.
Of course, stupid people will nevertheless choose their (Salafi) sources and claim that rape on an industrial scale as practised by ISIS doesn’t come under ‘Fasad’, but we know otherwise don’t we?
Or do you still need a narration to tell you?
I get that Muslims are groping in the dark and desperate. They feel under siege, they are disempowered and with their scholarly institutions largely destroyed in the post-colonial period, they need someone who they think can help them. So they fall for people like Brown. It’s understandable.
But my question: ask yourself honestly – did his post really help? Or would it have been better if he answered the questions and challenges of the Islamophobes properly instead of playing to the gallery and spamming you with scholars?
**** Join us on next week’s instalment of ‘Let’s Annoy Jonathan Brown and His Cult-ish Fans’ where we will send him and his Salafi fan club into conniptions by denying apostasy killing and stoning of adulterers. But before they can say ‘modernists’, we will show it to them from the classical sources – but the ones they don’t like and don’t want you to know about!
With special guest stars Hanafis, Mutazila (Booooooooo! Hisssssssssss! Takfiiiiiiirrrrr!) and the pride of London, Benedict Cumerbatch – for the ladies! Swoon!
Yes boys and girls! Live in Technicolour! ****
 It doesn’t say that – refer to Laleh Bakhtiar or Khaled Abou El Fadl (in his ‘Reasoning With God’) in today’s translations or Zamakhshiri or Imam Qushayri in the more classical period. Or Hisham Kabbani (=Satan according to Salafis) and ‘Domestic Violence in Islam’
 BTW, that’s kind-of what he is saying you know. But God is adamant in the Quran that the majority is usually wrong – not the non-Muslim majority but the majority period.
 Quran 2:30 onwards. Not the Salafi translation please.
 BTW, Brown also made some above his pay grade comments about slavery and again tries to fudge it in the Facebook posts above. I don’t have time to get into slavery here but just because the Quran talks about something does not make it a moral good or an article of faith – for example, the Quran talks about magic but doesn’t say whether it actually exists or not. So he is saying that the Quran allows slavery. All I can see is that the Quran mentions slavery. Where is it allowed though or approved so that we can’t say it is bad as Brown is claiming? And is everything ‘allowed’ a good thing? Even some harmful things are allowed: the Quran says alcohol is harmful and do not be intoxicated – but it stops short of banning it, at least according to Abu Hanifas’ reading. Being a stingy bastard is ‘allowed’ as long as you pay the minimum charity. Maybe slavery is allowed, but do you trust these inconsistent and waffler politico guys to tell you the truth?
 The Ottomans BTW would sometimes castrate rapists and in other instances execute them – it would depend on the harm caused by the rapist. For example, if you steal there is the possibility of losing one of your hands. But if you steal like bandits, causing havoc and fear amongst the people, then not only the hand but a foot can be amputated in addition. And this is from Quran. Now whether we agree with the Ottoman reasoning or not, it is more helpful than to spam narrations. But that is all historians and Muhaditheen types (Brown) know how to do. They have no ability to apply usool (epistemic principles) or reason out whether legal judgements are consistent. This kind of ‘dumb robot’ behaviours results in the sort of posts Brown is making.
Brown did this before when he spoke about apostasy killing and attributed it to Abu Hanifa. But not understanding usool, he failed to see that Abu Hanifa’s own principles conflicted with his purported judgement. Not only did he fail to highlight this but he also failed to mention that Abu Hanifa said that if my judgements clash with juristic principles (his own), then don’t follow them. Slaves to narrations, as historians and Muhaditheen are wont to be, are unable to fathom this though. There was also the interesting point that Abu Hanifas’ Mutazilite students narrate a different opinion from him on apostasy killing. But Brown would never throw this into the mix and like all from his camp he avoids certain heretical sects (mutazilites) but not others (kharijites, many of whom are narrators of Bukhari and other hadith collections).