This is astounding. The excellent blog The Samosa have done an interview with the head of the UK’s Islamic Sharia Council, Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed. Note – this isn’t an official body, they just call themselves that. Nevertheless, they do handle case where both parties have agreed to have their civil dispute dealt with by a Shariah court in the UK.
I asked Sheikh Sayeed whether he considered non-consensual marital sex to be rape. “No,” he replied. “Clearly there cannot be any ‘rape’ within the marriage. Maybe ‘aggression’, maybe ‘indecent activity’.”
He said it was “not Islamic” to classify non-consensual marital sex as rape and prosecute offenders, adding that “to make it exactly as the Western culture demands is as if we are compromising Islamic religion with secular non-Islamic values.”
The Islamic Sharia Council handles very few cases of alleged marital rape – Sheikh Sayeed said there had only been two or three such cases since the Council was founded in 1982. It is therefore unlikely that the Council’s views on this issue, or those of Sheikh Sayeed himself, directly impact upon a significant number of marital rape victims.
He claims there have only been two or three cases, but there may have been more, which are quietly buried. And this is the problem I have with Shariah courts: unless they at least mirror national criminal and civil law on the important issues, there will be abuses like this.
A Muslim woman raped within marriage, especially one afraid to go to the police or to courts, could be pressured to just go to a Sharia court where the offence may be buried. And who would know or do anything about it?
Sayeed goes on to say:
Because within the marriage contract it is inherent there that man will have sexual intercourse with his wife. Of course, if he does something against her wish or in a bad time etc, then he is not fulfilling the etiquettes, not that he is breaching any code of sharia – he is not coming to that point. He may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough.
I’m sorry but regardless of his interpretation of Islamic law – British law is clear that even within marriage, a man does not have automatic right to have non-consensual sex with his wife. Such a stance is in blatant contradiction of British law. The head of the Sharia Council needs to resign.
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