Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

Salwa al Mutairi: A Gift to Muslim-Haters

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Muslim women rarely talk about sex in public. To do so is considered by the cultures they inhabit – not by Islam – as one of the great taboos. So what on earth possessed Salwa al Mutairi, a failed politician from Kuwait, to declare that female “sex-slaves” were a solution to meet the needs of lusty Kuwaiti husbands?

According to Al Mutairi, Kuwait is jam-packed with men whose excessive virility means they are aroused to a frenzy by the sight of female domestic help wielding a vacuum cleaner or stacking a dishwasher. Her solution to their uncontrollable libidos: buy women from war-stricken countries to be their sex-slaves. She suggests Chechnya, where female prisoners of war are in plentiful supply, and who will be grateful for being saved from starvation.

Predictably her comments have been seized upon by Islamophobes. And no wonder. She’s managed to wrap up every possible stereotype of Muslims into one mind-boggling story: men who treat women as possessions; oppressed wives; women who buy into the worldview that men are there to be satisfied at all costs and that the Arab desire for conquest is still rampant. And she’s quoted some “specialists of the faith” to make it look as though this is a religious position that all Muslims hold.

Here’s what I think of Al Mutairi’s views: bonkers.

Her opinion is about as representative of Muslim thinking as the Pope is a Muslim. That is to say, not at all. Yet because she feeds into existing prejudices, she has received wide coverage. It’s a bit Sarah Palin: all hype and no sense.

Just to be clear, Muslims don’t condone the buying and selling of women, or any human beings. We’re opposed to it. Islam doesn’t see men as ravaging sex-beasts, rather men should treat their wives with compassion and respect. Muslims are not out to conquer the world, or take prisoners of war. Instead, Islam counsels peace and harmony with its neighbours, and that Muslims should act as a refuge for those who have been afflicted by war.

Of all the craziness that props up Al-Mutairi’s strange notions, the one that really bothers me is that men are beholden to uncontrollable lust. And that’s a notion that pervades both eastern and western cultures. Let’s get rid of the idea that men are hostages to their libido once and for all.

I’m fed up with excuses rolled out for men that they are so feeble and lacking in self-discipline that they are incapable of controlling their sexual desire. But, strangely they are not incapable of being the head of a household or running a country. My view: if men can’t control what’s in their pants, then their argument that they should control society is on pretty shaky ground.

Men who have power and wealth believe that they can treat women as possessions; that “manly’ men who are overloaded with testosterone must inevitably engage in affairs. Al-Mutairi’s views fit into this same power and lust paradigm as the Dominique Strauss-Khans of this world, or the Arnold Schwarzeneggers. It’s the same wrong-headed thinking that sees women in war as legitimate targets for abuse through the wielding of power and sex, as we’ve seen in the recent allegations that Qaddafi used rape as a weapon of war.

Let’s get away from this sleazy, skin-crawling, dirty tone that sees women as sex objects. It’s a pernicious paradigm that men as well as women must challenge. And no taboo should hold us back from saying so.

11 Responses to Salwa al Mutairi: A Gift to Muslim-Haters

  1. Anthony Coolen 16/08/2013 at 12:06 AM

    If slavery is not accepted by Islam, why are there still almost a million slaves in the Sahel region? Why is there no outrage for that?

    (Just curious, not an accusation)

  2. markjuliansmith 28/03/2012 at 6:06 AM

    Salwa al Mutairi: A Mirror Mirror on the Wall for so called Moderate/Liberal Muslims who hate what they see and seek to blame Other for reflections of reality from their own Islamic Text.

    Embarrassed, horrified change it.

  3. Julia Simpson-Urrutia 26/02/2012 at 11:07 PM

    Hello. I am as white as you are and have read better book than you have. You are wrong, in general. Knowing you will not believe me, I am copying and pasting this from Wikipedia:

    The golden age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.

    This tolerance was spread throughout the Muslim empire. Stop reading tea party books.

    • markjuliansmith 28/03/2012 at 6:12 AM

      “This tolerance was spread throughout the Muslim empire.”

      How long did it last – where are all those religions now in predominately religious countries? How many religions are you allowed to belong to in Indonesia & Saudi Arabia, infinity……..

      One raisin does not make a raisin cake.

      Explain the religious enclaves in Damascus, …, Coptic Egypt, …

  4. Andrea 25/12/2011 at 11:16 AM

    Decent idea for an article (and well designed blog I just discovered..thanks!) but making excuses for men (as a woman) isn’t. The whole idea of the enforced “modesty” of women hinges on men not being obligated to control themselves. Men gang rape a young was her fault. Men harass a woman at the mall…it was her fault, he could see her neck/hair. Men behave like misogynist animals…it’s the womans fault. Men can’t control their actions/behavior in public…it’s the woman’s fault and therefore she shouldn’t drive. Men can’t follow basic rules of road safety and create one of the worst driving safety records in the world…but if we drove it would be worse. Ridiculous. Women should do whatever they WANT to do, and men who behave badly should accept THEIR punishment..not ours.

  5. grace 07/07/2011 at 10:02 AM

    What a lie! Salwa is telling it as it is in the Quran. This is allowed in Islam. If the writer of this article wants to lie to the west, she/he can’t lie to people like us, who lived among the muslims, whose women were kidnapped by muslims during the war times and forced to convert to islam and married off to a muslim. Your prophet had “Jawary” plus many wives, and he allowed the men to have whatever their right hand could capture during the war, (waa maa malaket aymanikum) so who are you trying to fool? I guess yourself.

    • Julia Simpson-Urrutia 26/02/2012 at 11:00 PM

      Boy do you know how to misinterpret the Qur’an. You are the Muslim hater who sees Salwa as a gift. The author of this article had that spot on.

  6. Zebadu 27/06/2011 at 5:56 PM

    The koran is the best argument against islam

  7. Vonbrucken 23/06/2011 at 4:42 PM

    The author is a total liar trying to deceive people quotes from the Quran itself :
    Qur’an (33:50) – “O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee” This is a special command that Muhammad handed down to himself, allowing himself virtually unlimited sex. Others are limited to four wives, but may also have sex with an unlimited number of slaves, as the following verse make clear:

    Qur’an (23:5-6) – “..who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess…” This verse allows the slave-owner to have sex with his slaves. See also Qur’an (70:29-30).

    Qur’an (4:24) – “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” Even sex with married slaves is permissible.

    Qur’an (8:69) – “But (now) enjoy what ye took in war, lawful and good” A reference to war booty, of which slaves were a part. The Muslim slave master may enjoy his “catch” because (according to verse 71) “Allah gave you mastery over them.”

    Qur’an (24:32) – “And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves…” Breeding slaves based on fitness.

    Qur’an (2:178) – “O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.” The message of this verse, which prescribes the rules of retaliation for murder, is that all humans are not created equal. The human value of a slave is less than that of a free person (and a woman’s worth is also distinguished from that of a man’s).

    Qur’an (16:75) – “Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; He has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favours from Ourselves, and he spends thereof (freely), privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means;) praise be to Allah.” Yet another confirmation that the slave is is not equal to the master. In this case it is plain that the slave owes his status to Allah’s will. (According to 16:71, the owner should be careful about insulting Allah by bestowing Allah’s gifts on slaves – those whom the god of Islam has not favored).
    More on the subject :

  8. MadPriest 21/06/2011 at 7:53 PM

    Muslims are not out to conquer the world

    Yes they are. What is more the historical record shows that they have been far more successful in achieving this than any other religious group. And we are not just talking about ancient history here. Islam was most aggressive towards other religions in the twentieth century.

    Islam literally wiped out most of the native Christian and Jewish communities in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Byzantium and the Indian sub-continent as it expanded. The Crusades were a reaction to Islamic expansionism not the cause of it. Constantinople was taken by force and the oldest Christian cathedral was turned into a mosque. The only Islamic buildings to have suffered a similar fate were in countries, such as Spain, when they were liberated from their Islamic conquerors.

    The rest of what you say is spot on. But Muslims will not be believed about such things until they stop pretending to be the victims of history and accept the militant aspect of their faith, that has been there since its beginning when Mohammed conquered Jewish and Christian cities and sold the citizens that were not massacred into slavery.

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