Malay Muslim Leader: No Such Thing as Marital Rape

Islamic scholar rules women have 'no right' to refuse sex from their husbands, 'even when riding on the back of a camel.'

Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar ,

Muslim woman (illustration)
Muslim woman (illustration)

Malaysian Islamic scholar Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has issued a somewhat surprising ruling that Muslim women have "no right" to refuse sexual relations with their husband, asserting that forced sexual intercourse in such cases doesn't constitute marital rape.

Speaking to the Malay Mail Online on Sunday in an interview published the following day, Harussani said "even the Prophet (Mohammed, founder of Islam - ed.) says even when they’re riding on the back of the camel, when the husband asks her, she must give."

"So there’s no such thing as rape in marriage. This is made by European people, why should we follow?," he said.

The Muslim authority cited a hadith, teachings ascribed to Mohammed, reading: "if a husband calls his wife to his bed (to have sexual relations - ed.) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning" (Bukhari 4.54.460).

He also quoted the ruling of Muslim scholar Ibn Majah back in 1854, who wrote that if a husband asks his wife "to surrender herself (to him for sexual relations - ed.) she should not refuse him even if she is on a camel’s saddle."

"Once she got married, the dowry is paid, she can’t refuse unless when she’s (on her) period," ruled Harussani.

The Malaysian paper also spoke to Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, who said that the term marital rape "is not accurate in the practice of Islam because rape in Islam is defined as forced sexual intercourse outside of marriage," meaning a husband forcing his wife to have sex is not considered rape by the religion.

"That means if the husband does not seek consent, it cannot be considered rape, but that action is considered not polite in Islam,” he explained, commenting that such non-consensual relations are not sinful but rather are "frowned upon."

Both Harussani and Wan Ji evidently were prepared to draw the line at using violence to force one's wife to have sexual intercourse, which they said would be criminal.