What is marital rape? What does Islam say about this? These are important questions which have been the cause of confusion for many people. But let me tell you that Islam is not silent on any Legal issue and so is in the case of ‘Marital Rape’.
Marital rape is Forced sexual intercourse within marriage. A Forced sexual intercourse falls under another prohibited legal category in Islamic law that is ‘harming the wife’.
Islam is the only religion that paid attention to female rights categorically and upheld the fundamental right of a wife to be free from ‘harm’. If a husband forces his wife into sexual intercourse, he can only do so by harming and since this is prohibited in Islam so his action is clearly ‘Unlawful’ hence an offence.
Marital rape, then, more properly be classified as an issue of ‘domestic violence’ and hence shall be dealt under that ambit. There are many precedents since the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regarding ‘Forced sexual intercourse with wife’ and these incidences were dealt right away by punishing the wrongdoer.
Unfortunately, many Muslims as usual on hands of stereotype clerics are under the impression that forced sexual intercourse with wives, is religiously allowed. This is clearly wrong; here are some important points to take into consideration when learning about this issue:
It is absolutely haram (unlawful) for a man to harm his wife. The Prophet SAW prohibited harming others in general, who is ones “garment” , and who lives under one’s ri’aaya, care and shepherdship, as mentioned in a prophetic tradition, and commands men to deal with their wives in an honorable way . Rape, abuse, ill-treatment, and inflicting harm, be it physical, verbal or psychological are completely unacceptable in such a relationship.
There is no doubt that a marital tie grants both partners the right to intimacy, but at the same time, this doesn’t imply to get or practice this right forcibly and with violence. If such situation arises when one has been deprived of his/her rights, they must go through proper channel to resolve the matter, and certainly this is the most honorable way.
Under no circumstances, it is allowed for someone to harm the other party to take ‘their rights’ as this is a type of vigilantism or some sort of personal vengeance that certainly has no place in Our Islam. Islam, on the other hand, has thought us to defer such disputes to those with religious and legal authority.
This is clearly indicated in the words of the great scholar Taqi al-Din al-Subki, in his commentary on some verses of the Qur’an related to marriage:
“At the time when it becomes obligatory for a husband to provide financial support, clothing, (and other such provisions) for his wife, he should exert himself in doing so, and not be negligent in this duty such that his wife would have to file a complaint of his negligence with the judge [haakim], and in so doing spend from her own expenditures. Similarly, a wife should be responsive to her husband’s request for intimacy, such that he would not need to bring a complaint (against her) to the judge, and in so doing spend from his own expenditures.”
From above discussion, we can see that when a couple confronted with a marital issue which they are unable to resolve, is to take to the proper authority for guidance and direction. Violence or Force is certainly not an option.
Most of the time people defend such acts by quoting prophetic traditions about discouraging a woman from refusing their husbands when they approach for intimacy. One of such traditions describes; a husband, after being refused, ‘goes to bed angry’. Now if this forcible intercourse was truly acceptable for a man then why wasn’t such act mentioned here as an alternative to his wife refusal?? The text people refer, that underscore a wife should give importance to her husband’s sexual needs does not justify or encourage the use of force.
Many people use to confuse the matter by citing the verses of Quran. Most quoted and cited verse is the one that outlines the disciplinary method of dealing with wife who is ‘Nashiz’. These verses are most probably are most misused and misunderstood and specially misapplied in our times. Since a detail explanation of these verses is beyond scope of this article so I’ll rather explain the use of ‘Darb’ which is translated as ‘to strike lightly or tap’ by our some learned scholars and subject to many restriction and conditions and clearly doesn’t apply to this specific issue of ‘marital rape’. To be disloyal is something else and not ready for intimacy is a entirely different thing. It is impossible for such verses to be used to excuse violent or forced sexual relations with one’s wife. Unfortunately, many so called clerics have intoxicated minds of Brothers in Islam with this vague idea which is wrong.
I’ll be quoting Dr. Jamal Badawi who succinctly rejects these types of false claims by stating,
“Any excess, cruelty, family violence, or abuse committed by any Muslim can never be traced, honestly, to any revelatory text (Qur’an or hadith). Such excesses and violations are to be blamed on the person(s) himself, as it shows that they are paying lip service to Islamic teachings and injunctions and failing to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet.”
Marital Rape & Hadd Punishment
Although the ‘Marital Rape’ doesn’t fall under hudood offences hence not liable to had punishment but this doesn’t mean such offence is acceptable in Islam or it would go unpunished.
People are under the impression that if ‘hadd punishments’ are the only ones in Islam but this is not right. Even if this offence doesn’t fall in hadd offences, still a Judge has right to punish the person with imprisonment, lashing or anything else that he deems right and suitable.
Many Scholars even have stated that a wife has the right to ‘Jirah/civil redress’ for her injuries under Shariah ,if she is assaulted in such manner by her spouse.
I hope the points discussed above have made very much clear the stance of Islam over ‘marital rape’ and have also once again made clear that Islam is a complete code of Life and covers every issue legal or general, whatsoever. This is now clear that marital rape is not allowed or condoned by our ‘Deen e Mukammal’ the Islam, and is, in fact a sinful act that a person can be held accountable for in this life, before the hereafter,
Last but not least Allah (ST) mentions in Quran;
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul and created from its mate, and dispersed from both of them, countless men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you demand your mutual rights, and (reverence) the wombs that bore you: Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” (Qur’an, 4:1)
In conclusion, the Prophet SAW taught;
“Only a noble man treats women in an honorable manner and only an ignoble man of low character treats women disgracefully.”