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The Fate of Prostitutes


By Aishah Mohd. Nasarruddin, trainee lecturer in women’s health development unit, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Drifted and Forgotten

The flourishing of prostitution in Muslim countries is a paradox that we often overlook as a problem of our ummah. As prostitution is condemned and forbidden in Islam, and these women, to an extent, are marginalized and invisible in our community, many of us are not aware of the magnitude and realities of this problem. We do not consider them as a cause worth fighting for as we do for the betterment of the poor, abused, homeless, oppressed and ailing. To make matters worse, misinformation is widespread and the voices of former prostitution victims are systematically silenced.

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Among the factors contributing to the widespread practice of prostitution among Muslim countries include:

  • The denial of the existence of such problems in our community
  • Spreading of the truth impedes men’s comfort and pleasure in using women
  • Hindrance of profitability of the industry, especially for those players who are politically connected
  • Prostitution is too horrible of a practice, a highly stigmatized taboo subject, that people would rather not hear details about

Majority of us may have the idea that prostitution is a choice and the women enjoy what they do. The reality is quite the contrary for many of them. On many occasions, deprivations, conflicts, and difficult circumstances often lead to desperation, and desperation forces these women into the practice of prostitution. Many are uneducated women who live in poverty and possess few marketable skills. My research finds that prostitutes are many times:

  • single mothers making ends meet for their children.
  • victims of incest and sexual abuse.
  • manipulated homeless teenagers.
  • displaced sufferers of human trafficking.
  • They are distraught girls with failed early marriages.
  • They are refugees who fled from their war-torn countries.

While we criminalize them for living in adultery, spreading diseases, disrupting family institutions, and giving birth to innocent, illegitimate children who suffer for having dishonorable mothers, we fail to see the other spectrum of the consequences of prostitution. The consequences are not only devastating to the society, but also to the prostitute herself as a person. It completely destroys her already shattered life, being reduced down to a depersonalized, sexual object.  She develops a personality where she is unable to develop trust in relationships and slowly numbs herself, to the point where she loses the ability to feign attachments to anyone or anything.  In order to survive this overwhelming, daily ordeal, she dissociates from her real self, originally as a defense mechanism; sadly, it reaches to the point of complete shut down, where she is stripped of her identity, and over time, she disappears.

In addition, where violence against women is considered, prostitution is usually exempted from this category. However, the health effects of prostitution are similar; injuries, infections, and psychological stress are suffered by women subjected to prostitution as well as other forms of violence against women. Apart from sexual violence, prostitutes experience physical violence by their pimps, brothel owners, and clients as a means to keep them under control. Homicide is a frequent cause of death for women in prostitution. They are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical cancer, not to mention their risk of unwanted pregnancies, which often lead to a lack of prenatal care or unsafe abortions. Moreover, they may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and, eventually, may resort to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. The vicious cycle then continues.

I believe that no woman in her right mind would want to be a sex slave.  In  prostitution, research involving nine countries revealed that when the prostitutes were asked, ‘What do you need?’, 89% responded that they desired to ‘leave prostitution’ (Farley, 2003). This was followed by ‘job training’, ‘home or safe place’, ‘health care’, ‘individual counseling’ and other supportive measures.

But what about those women who openly confess they enjoy being prostitutes? Let it be known, few prostitutes who have come to profit from advocating the legalization of prostitution, writing columns in porn magazines and websites, and scheduling appearances on talk shows should not hold water to the overwhelming number of prostitutes who silently suffer from prostitution. Some leading pro-sex work advocates of legalized prostitution have been convicted on pimping charges although they themselves claim that they are common prostitutes and are not involved in organizing crimes against prostituted women. Even sex worker rights leader, Carol Leigh, has said herself in a 2004 debate, “95% of my friends want out of prostitution.”


Recently we interviewed a prostitute new to the ‘job’, joining this year. She is a 29-year old single mother, divorced, with three children, and with no financial support. During the day she takes care of her children, and at night she leaves them with her sister and goes to ‘work’. Every night she goes to her pimp’s house which serves as a prostitution site and meets her clients there. On average she has three clients per night, majority of whom are married men. When we asked her why she chose this job, she replied that it’s the only suitable job for her that pays enough to support her children. When we asked her whether she wants to get out from it, she answered “if it’s possible I want to stop doing this right this moment. I live in constant fear and worry that I might be caught by authorities”.

Fortunately, prostitution is illegal in most Muslim countries, the exceptions being Turkey and Indonesia.  However, despite its illegality, there are hubs in our own soil making millions out of the industry. Inadequate law enforcement, economic instability, poor planning to improve standards of living, and the community turning a blind eye to prostitution make this problem difficult to control. Moreover the pimps and traffickers bribe authorities to sustain the illegal operations, and there are even authorities who take advantage of the prostitutes. The woman I mentioned earlier told us that there were police and even religious officers who come to them as clients.

What can we do to help?

In regions where prostitution remains legal, it may be easier to reach out to them because they are registered under the profession and therefore can be identified. For example, in Turkey, sociologists and psychologists interviewed 3,000 registered prostitutes working at brothels to determine whether they had been forced into the job and if they would prefer another line of employment.

On the other hand, where prostitution is generally illegal, it is difficult and rather unsafe to reach them. Many things can happen if you are at the wrong place at the wrong time. They fear that ‘outsiders’ would turn them in to the authorities to be penalized, especially the prostitutes who are linked to pimps, traffickers, and corrupt officials.  There was a case in Iraq in 2008, where Soran Hama, a journalist of the Kurdish Lvin magazine, was shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his house weeks after he had written a detailed report on police involvement in a major Kirkuk prostitution ring.

What we can do to reach out is put them in contact with experienced volunteers from reputable organizations such as NGOs working on reproductive and health education, or NGOs that conduct programs to keep children from red-light districts in school. By slowly reaching out and engaging with them, it is hoped that mutual trust can be built and they can be convinced that a way out is possible, that there are people who would support them and give them protection, that there are people who will not judge and stigmatize them.

We should include them in income-generating programs so that they can have a regular income, which hopefully would decrease the chance of them resorting back to prostitution. Sponsorship should be raised to enable their children to attend and stay in school, as education plays a vital role to break them free from the poverty trap and further prevent them from entering prostitution.

On a larger scale, there should be a focus shift to criminalize the buying rather than the selling of sex. The burden of punishment should be on the clients who perpetuate the sex trade rather than the women who are trapped in the situation. For example, in Sweden, prostitution is officially acknowledged as a form of male sexual violence against women and children. Swedish policy addresses the issue of prostitution and trafficking by focusing on the root cause, and recognizing that without male demand and use of women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global prostitution industry would not be able flourish and expand. As a result, street prostitution has diminished. Granted, critiques have been directed to the government for making prostitution go underground and sex being sold over the internet is a growing problem; at least sources of evil cannot be accessed easily.

Rather than consistently playing the blaming game and condemning them to hell, as a community we should take whatever measures necessary to assist them to escape prostitution. These desperate individuals need our help and understanding in order to believe they can lead better lives.  They need to be pulled out from the pit so that they can regain their dignity, integrate back into society, and return to their senses, rest assured that Allah and their Muslim brothers and sisters have not neglected them.

Allah says in Sūrat’l-Nūr :

Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know [24:19].

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  1. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    November 14, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    Sad article but true. Reminds me of Umar (radiaAllahu anh)’s child support grants via Zakat.

  2. Pingback: The Fate of Prostitutes | Technology News

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    November 14, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    I think this is a good article. I would like to point out that had all wali of the women sheltered her and protected her and did not oppress her either by direct abuse or by neglect and poor upbringing making her incapable of making good decisions in the real world, the vast majority of these women would not be in such a desperate situation. after all, a woman technically has her husband, failing which her father, failing which her brothers, grandfather, etc. etc. and failing all of these her neighbours and community to help a single woman without means of support or single mother. if there are women in a muslim country who are in prostitution from desperation, then not only does the community contain evil men who prey on them, but the entire family and community structure has failed them.

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      November 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      I couldn’t agree more. As a culture and society, we have forgotten the vital role and responsibility that lies with the Wali. We don’t give it the weight it deserves.

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      November 14, 2011 at 1:23 PM

      Assalaamu alaikum,
      Jazakumu Allahu khair. This, in my opinion, is an important article, honest and correct. The comment made by Nuraini: “…then not only does the community contain evil men who prey on them, but the entire family and community structure has failed them” is also a brilliant statement because of the added light it sheds. I’ve seen/heard of examples of women in need turned away by the Muslim community in America, where few have an extended family living near them.

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      November 14, 2011 at 6:00 PM

      Dear Nuraini

      Many of the girls are orphans who dont have a wali or family.

      Many of the girls are being abused by their wali and other family members….so they escape their family only to be lured by strangers into the industry

      and then you have families who out of poverty send their daughters out to bring some money fro the family

      Look at this:

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    Umm Sulaim

    November 14, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    ‘We’ did not criminalize prostitution.

    Who wants to have ‘registered prostitutes’ for Allah’s sake?

    Both buying and selling of sex IS illegal.

    They need to be pulled out all right, but like women who remain in abusive nuptial relationships, once they are adults, they cannot really be pulled any where, as much as I may wish to, WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.

    Umm Sulaim

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      Umm Sulaim

      November 15, 2011 at 12:05 AM

      And as members of the ‘police’ and ‘religious officials’ are her clientele, what precisely is her source of fear? Her well-connected clientele should ordinarily serve to protect her.

      And the last time I checked, accusing someone of buying sex required FOUR WITNESSES (or some other viable proof). If women were accused of such illicit activities we would all be up in arms.

      Umm Sulaim

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        November 15, 2011 at 9:36 PM

        Not all police and religious officials are corrupt.

        Of course there are ways to do it, not just run to anyone and accuse them of selling/buying sex.

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      November 15, 2011 at 9:31 PM

      I’m talking about prostitution policies practised by countries, not Islamic laws.

      Yes, the idea is to understand their situations and help them to escape, with their consent of course.

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    November 14, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Great article. A weak economy results in these things. I loved the suggestion of job training, that’s very good ma sha Allah.

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    Ahsan Arshad

    November 14, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    The basic problem I believe here is that we muslims are not willing to talk about this “problem” openly – the solution lies ahead of this initial step.
    When I opened this article, my sister caught a glimpse of the title and not knowing that I am a regular reader of questioned me “what are you reading” in a shock. Even after explaining a bit about the website, she left…
    From our islamic sources we know that the Prophet is reported to have said about a prostitute going a jannah for feeding a thirsty dog with water by making a significant effort – I often thought about it and concluded that the women mentioned in the hadith would have been forced into this “profession”. And Allah know best

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      Maurizio Pescatori

      July 29, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      I would like to congratulate you for the wise words you just said.
      May I add this anecdote: you are all surely familiar with Prophet Issa.
      In his own words, through Luke 7, 44-47: (Issa enters the house of a reputed prostitute to rest after a long day’s journey, and the woman has such an emotional experience she weeps and literally washes Issa’s feet with her own tears; Simon, Issa’s Follower, is scandalized that Issa should enter such a house, but is rebuked by Issa himself)
      “7:44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 7:45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 7:46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 7:47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
      The woman’s “love” is not physical, much less sexual love,but love meant as repentance.
      To condemn a prostitute because she is such is like condemning a drowning man because he cannot swim.

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    November 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    perceptive and well argued. Congrats to the writer.

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    Yasir Qadhi

    November 14, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    Thank you for the article sister.

    Prostitution is a sad reality in all lands – there were even prostitutes in the city of Madinah in the Prophetic era, and there continue to be operating prostitutes in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah:

    So if even the holy cities are not protected, what will be the case elsewhere?

    And yes, most of the time these women are forced into such circumstances because of dire need. Its a taboo topic to talk about, and I’m happy (as usual!) that MM has contributed to some public awareness about it.


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      Mehzabeen (iMuslim)

      November 14, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      I remember reading of a case during the caliphate of Umar, radiallahu ‘anhu. A poor women was coerced into sleeping with a shepherd in exchange for some food or water. Ali radiallahu ‘anhu said she should be freed, as she was forced into the act. I don’t have reference for this narration unfortunately… do you?

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      November 14, 2011 at 6:00 PM

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    November 14, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Jazakallah khair for shedding light on this very sensitive and often overlooked subject! I think that you did so in a very powerful and informative manner!

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    November 14, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Salaam alaykum Aishah,

    Jazakallah khayr for this piece, very eye-opening. What are your thoughts on criminalizing both sides, both the prostitute and the john?


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      November 15, 2011 at 7:48 AM

      Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah Siraaj.

      I understand that there is a concern regarding voluntary prostitution but in muslim countries I don’t think that is the main reason why this industry sustains. In my opinion the johns should definitely be penalized but for the prostitutes it should be determined on a case-by-case basis. They should be interviewed and their backgrounds should be investigated to determine whether they are forced into prostitution or not. Take victims of human trafficking for example, I can’t imagine how can we criminalize them when they were actually kidnapped and abused in the first place.

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    November 14, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Great article! :-) Thanks for writing it.

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    November 14, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    May Allah Reward all those involved in the writing, editing, approving, and publishing of this article. This is one subject that if someone had not shed light on, I would have probably forever remained ignorant/careless about. We always hear about Muslims starving and dying because of war and famine but seldom do we hear of our Muslim sisters who are forced to do this heinous crime. May Allah help these sisters find a halal living and May Allah Protect them and forgive them. Ameen.

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    November 14, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    When ever a Human being deviates from the Path of Allah, he or she is in trouble in this world and hearafter, Poverty cannot be an excuse to defend prostitution. Allah is the sole Provider ( la ilaha illa allah), The Prophet ( peace be Upon him ) went through many hardships,

    Females who are forced into prostitution should be rescued, but there are many prostitues who give thousand silly reasons to defend prsotitution. the most silly reason is poverty, I donot sympathise with the females who make different excuses. we all struggle hard to meet our need, What important is are you using HARAM or HALAL ways to meet your needs( You wont get more or less then what Allah has provided), I wont be going to a pimp to council a prostitue, I might get into the sinful act myself by doing this, I would rather try to spread the Message and the laws which Allah made to make ones life easy, I would work on building the Imaan of the community, once they get the Imman they will understand the meaning of PARDA and the woint even get cose to Zina,

    Those females who are already into prostitution willingly/unwillingly should be counselled, showing sympathy would only make them feel that whatever they are doing might be right.

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      Ahmed Brown

      November 14, 2011 at 8:29 PM

      Females who are forced into prostitution should be rescued, but there are many prostitues [sic] who give thousand silly reasons to defend prsotitution. [sic]

      Someone else can quote the statistics, but I think the vast majority of prostitutes are either a) forced into it and/or b) enter it due to poverty. It seems the ones defending prostitution represent a very small minority. Don’t let a few individuals color your perception of an entire population.

      …showing sympathy would only make them feel that whatever they are doing might be right.

      Sympathizing with a person is not the same as condoning their actions. Showing sympathy means you show you care for your Muslim brother/sister and want to help them get out of their situation.

      I know the idea of a woman prostituting oneself can seem very odd but then again we’ve probably never been in the prostitute’s situation. Imagine a divorced/widowed woman who is stricken with absolute poverty. She has kids to feed but cannot afford food. They are starving. If she doesn’t get them food soon, they will die. It’s easy for us to say “she should trust in Allah” while we sit behind monitors and internet connections. A mother will do anything for her children and for some that includes becoming a prostitute. Do you think she wants to do this? No. Listen to interviews with prostitutes; I think you will find the vast majority do not wish to be in this line of work.

      Do we support what they do? No. Can we understand why they do it? Yes. Understanding the reasons behind their situation is the first step to bringing a solution.

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        November 15, 2011 at 7:56 AM

        Well said Ahmed. Yes we are trying to find solutions and adressing the root cause based on realities, not condoning their actions. Two different things.

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      Gibran Mahmud

      November 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      We must show simpathy but we must also be strong in enforcing Allah’s law. In many cases, women aren’t actually FORCED. This behavior is not acceptable at all.

      We cannot put all the blame on the women because of their situation and the fact that others are responsible. But bearing that in mind, we cannot excuse this act. They do share in the blame except as Allah wills and Allah knows best each situation.

      Christians talk in this type of manner. “Blame the sin not the sinner”. This is not correct. The sin needs to be condemned, and the sinner held responsible.

      We should obey Allah and follow His command to enjoin on right and forbid wrong. But we should not transgress the limits like our predecessors and follow their ways.

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        July 19, 2013 at 10:40 PM

        Something about the way you say this just sounds barbaric, and not merciful at all. It is no wonder people view Muslims the way they do.

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    November 14, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    The need to raise awareness on this matter is so vital in this day and age, when it’s so prevalent in many Muslim countries and in the homes of many Muslim families. JazaakAllah khayr for the article, as it’s a certain step in that direction.

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    Marcello Fernandes

    November 14, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Many prostitutes in wealthy countries are imported from poorer countries. They are often brought in by professional smugglers — the same people who bring in drugs, weapons, and other illicit contraband. In these cases, the most effective means of restraining the spread of prostitution is to stop these smugglers at the border. In the United States, Detroit was considered the easiest entry point along the northern border for smugglers. Asian and Eastern European prostitutes were common in the area. The authorities have since strengthened border security in the region (much to the annoyance of travelers), and the problem has noticeably diminished in the last few years. Domestic prostitution, run by domestic criminal organizations, is still a significant problem. But at least we’ve disrupted the supply chain and made sex trafficking a less profitable business. And perhaps saved a few lives in the process.

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    abu takfir

    November 14, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    While I do agree that some women are forced into prostitution because of circumstances, but we cannot say that all women are prostitutes because of circumstances. Some women do really enjoy prostitution and making money off it.

    Most importantly, how do you define prostitution?

    In college, when I go to the gym, I see many women who come there to work out in revealing clothes. Just because they are not sleeping with men for money, we do not call it prostitution? What is the difference between sleeping with a lover and sleeping with a random man for money? In the former you get “love” back, in the later you get money back.

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      November 15, 2011 at 8:00 AM

      Sex workers are defined as “female, male and transgender adults and young people who receives money or goods in exchange for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally and who may or may not consciously define those activities as income-generating” (UNAIDS, 2002)

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    November 14, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Fortunately, prostitution is illegal in most Muslim countries, the exceptions being Turkey and Indonesia.

    You forgot it’s legal in Senegal but only because the dangers of HIV infection that is rampant in Africa. Without the epidemic rise of HIV infections in Africa prostitution would have never became legal in Senegal.

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      November 15, 2011 at 8:19 AM

      Thank you for pointing that out Hamza. It slipped my mind that Senegal is a muslim country.

      There are pro and cons when it comes to HIV and legalization of prostitution. I think legalizing prostitution will only sustain the industry. HIV spread is the by-product of prostitution, to reduce HIV we have to reduce or abolish prostitution, not legalizing it. To mandate health checks and certification only to women and not for their clients is ineffective and discriminatory.

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    November 14, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Excellent article, Aishah. Such frank and mature conversation can only lead to good.

    Sexual slavery is a reality, even here in America. It primarily effects immigrant communities, a byproduct of the marginalization of illegal immigrants. Immigrants without papers are vulnerable because they are totally dependent upon others, and fear reporting crimes to authorities.

    There is an organization called Transitions Global, which works to provide alternatives for prostitutes. It seems like they do good work, and deserve our support.

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      November 14, 2011 at 10:54 PM

      Correction: I meant to write, “It primarily affects immigrant communities.” Please excuse the spelling error.

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    Ani Alaf

    November 15, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Prostitution and human trafficking is big business, very lucrative — but not for the women. If there wasn’t a demand by men for sex services, there would no prostitution. Women may do it for money–no one gets pleasure from being used like an object. Men use women for their own sexual vices and illicit desires, then turn around and treat the women as outcasts. When will men learn to control their sexual urges outside of marriage and take responsibility in creating the market for prostitution?
    That is the bigger question- not some silly notion that women choose prostitution because they love having sex with men and being made an outcast, while men go unpunished. Get real.

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      November 16, 2011 at 12:48 PM

      There is a reason why its called the world’s oldest profession

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      Gibran Mahmud

      November 18, 2011 at 1:02 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Women still provide the service. Men may be more blameworthy, but women still share in the blame.

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        November 20, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        I don’t think that is necessarily fair, considering that for a lot of the women (the ones trafficked) they really have not the choice. If you’ve been trafficked, there is nowhere to go, nowhere to run, you are beaten and raped until submission, and making them believe there is no way for them to ever return to their former, virtuous life. this is how they break trafficked prostitutes. after a while, some of these who say they are ok with it is doing it as a coping mechanism – pretending they chose the situation they were forced into provides some illusion of autonomy. facing the fact that they couldn’t escape if they wanted to drives many mad, and that’s why the drug abuse rate is so high among prostitutes. it numbs them from realising what they are doing and that they are powerless to leave. i’m sure the article had made the point that the proportion of women who want to be in prostitution is dwarfed by the proportion who want to leave if there is a way out. why don’t we help the 95% who want to leave, and then we can criticise the last 5%.

        also i think extreme poverty is indeed an understandable reason. just as a thief in dire need of food does not get his hand cut off for stealing bread, a woman who accepts prostitution to avert starvation is a qualitatively similar case. if you say that the woman does not have to prostitute if she is but strong enough, similarly the thief did not have to steal if she were strong enough to persevere to find other means and risk dying. i mean, if you could even be forgiven for pretending to leave islam when your life is being threatened, then i rather think things people do to save their lives or lives of people under their care should consider that context as well.

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          November 22, 2011 at 3:28 PM

          Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

          Being forced into the practice and wanting to leave it are not the same. We cannot go the way of Christians and excessively blame the sin without holding the sinner responsible. Blame and punishment need to be apportioned correctly and executed. We cannot transgress the balance of the law.

          Muhsin Khan 24:2
          (This is) a Surah (chapter of the Quran) which We have sent down and which We have enjoined, (ordained its legal laws) and in it We have revealed manifest Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations lawful and unlawful things, and set boundries of Islamic Religion), that you may remember.
          The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. (This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime but if married persons commit it, the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s Law).

          Differen’t things need to be taken into account. But the important thing to do is to work one a way to solve the problem without falling short of Allah’s commandments.

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        November 20, 2011 at 9:41 AM

        also, a large proportion of those ‘women’ prostitutes, have actually been prostituted since they were children, which was when they were trafficked. they were broken the same way as adult trafficked persons are broken. so i’m not sure exactly how one might have chosen a different way if one had been in that life since childhood – i’m talking, say, even younger than 10. or how they can be said to be responsible for ‘providing the service’.

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    November 15, 2011 at 2:21 AM

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    Umm Sulaim

    November 15, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    Good to see so many sympathetic responses from men.

    Now here is a sweet question:

    How many men will offer assistance to needy women WITHOUT preconditions?

    Such preconditions include:

    1) She has to be your family member.

    2) She has to be your spouse.

    3) She has to be from your tribe/ race.

    Failing to fulfill any of these, … (clears throat) …,
    4) She has to be a ‘sweetheart’ or should I say ‘sweetbed’.

    Umm Sulaim

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      abu takfir

      November 15, 2011 at 5:32 PM

      *Note from the Comment Moderation Team: this comment has been deleted due to non-compliance with our Comments Policy of using a real name / Kunyah.*

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    Nasser Kat

    November 15, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    Assalamu alaikum, and thank you for posting this most valuable and insightful article.

    For those of us living in Muslim countries (I was for a few years) we do hear and sometimes even see prostitutes in some parts of the city. There is however such a powerful social taboo about having anything to do with them. So even if people wanted to rectify this situation. They would do so very carefully because if those wanting to help were men, they would be looked at as perverts, and if they were women, they would be thought of prostitutes themselves. Unfortunately (and this is especially true in other countries) the oppressive governance models have ensured such a environment of fear and paranoia that any form of good will or charity is considered a thousand times before engagement. If and when a just free government is in power. Many of these problems will be much easier to tackle, and maybe even solve inshallah.

    Thank you

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    November 15, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    assalamu aliakum,

    May allah reward you for your efforts.

    you’ve hit the nail on it’s head – the onus must be placed on the community to reintegrate such vulnerbale women and not on the women. This is the way forward for the ummah, we are way behind in this struggle – international NGOS’s are way ahead integrating issues like reproductive health and HIV into their solutions. interestingly INGO lingo no longer accomadates the derogatory term ‘prostitutes’ ‘sex-workers’ is the favored term. We need to move forward with a ‘love the sinner and not the sin’ attitude. In muslim minority countries muslim sex workers are faced with a triple edged sword – they’re stigmatized for being a minority + women + sex workers, and rarely come out of it.

    I’m waiting to see how masajid in the west will take this issue up – another ground breaking ‘purple hiajb day’ or a ‘purify your gaze movement’? Insha allah.

    • Avatar


      November 22, 2011 at 3:31 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      “I’m waiting to see how masajid in the west will take this issue up – another ground breaking ‘purple hiajb day’ or a ‘purify your gaze movement’? Insha allah.”

      I think actually finding and punishing brothel owners, brothel customers, and prostitutes who weren’t physically forced into the situation is more effective than a nice “raise awareness” day.

      Raising awareness isn’t difficult in this day and age. It’s actually going ahead and acting under Allah’s law that matters.

  24. Avatar


    November 15, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    Mash’Allah excellent article sister. Jazakillah for shedding light upon such an important but oft-neglected topic. This evil is so widespread that it even victimizes little children (both boys and girls) who are below the age of puberty. Some men are also its victims too. I believe that besides counseling the prostitutes we should call for not only punishing the pimps, brothel owners, smugglers, distributors and johns but also bring about the awareness that fornication/adultery is haraam for men just as much as it is for women. Unfortunately this stupid double standard exists within various Muslim communities where men/boys are allowed to get away with things women can’t do (eg. your brother’s dating habits are grudgingly accepted by the family with a “boys will be boys” attitude while your sister is threatened for wanting to commit haraam too). And many Muslims unfortunately harbor ill feelings towards “bad girls” where they cut off all contact with them and pretend like they don’t exist. I’ve seen this happen in my own family with one of my cousins, so right now only my sister and I keep in contact with her so as to help her change her life around (May Allah help us in this endeavor).

    • Avatar


      November 15, 2011 at 10:12 PM

      May Allah bless your effort sister.

      Yes there are also men afflicted by this problem, but their percentage is smaller compared to women.

      Child prostitution is another issue. Worldwide, an estimated 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year and most of these children are exploited by local men, although some are also prostituted by paedophiles and foreign tourists ( B M Willis, 2002). And it is more devastating for them because they are more likely than adults to lack accurate information about transmission and prevention of STIs, lack skills, power and ability to negotiate condom use and they are vulnerable to STIs due to immature reproductive tracts.

      You are right, these are what we can do to tackle the problem at hand, but inculcating iman is always no 1.

      • Avatar


        November 16, 2011 at 5:41 AM

        Jazakillah for that info on child prostitution sister. And I agree inculcating Iman is always the priority for all of us.

  25. Avatar


    November 15, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Thank you for all the generous comments. It’s a complex and sad reality that we have to reflect upon, hopefully each of us can do whatever we can in whatever ways.

    And I sincerely call upon you, brothers, to be responsible protectors of women. I am not solely put the blame on men, but as I look further into many of our social issues, I figured out that you can be the problem, and you can also be the solution.


  26. Avatar


    November 15, 2011 at 3:18 PM


    Can anyone please shed some light on “The Fate of Eunuchs”? Even they are equally misinterpreted and misrepresented in the Muslim Ummah.

  27. Avatar

    Abu Khalid

    November 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Would polygamy help in this issue? You didnt mention any thing of this institution in you excellent essay.

    • Avatar


      November 15, 2011 at 10:21 PM

      I believe responsible polygamy will help as part of prevention, not as solution. Islam forbids marrying adulterers unless it is clear that they already repented and left prostitution.

  28. Avatar

    Mohammad Yusha

    November 15, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    >The denial of the existence of such problems in our community

    Who denies it?

    >Majority of us may have the idea that prostitution is a choice and the women enjoy what they do.


    • Avatar


      November 15, 2011 at 10:39 PM

      Well, in the city I’m currently staying, which was declared as Islamic City, there are people who frown in disbelief when I told them that among my research subjects are prostitutes. It’s also among the state in Malaysia which has the highest rate of HIV, and the highest rate of women infected with HIV.

      And actually, I didn’t put ‘majority’ in my original article. But I guess the editor understands society’s perception better.

      • Avatar


        November 17, 2011 at 6:01 AM

        Well, no offense to the editor, but words like “majority” should not be used like this unless they can be substantiated with studies or statistics. Besides that, the sentence is written incorrectly as the word “The” should precede “majority” as follows:

        “The majority of us may have the idea that prostitution is a choice and the women enjoy what they do.”

        Like the other commenter, I doubt most people believe that prostitutes enjoy what they do. I am glad to know that you (the author) are not the one who used this off-putting and inappropriate word.

  29. Avatar


    November 16, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    Assalamu alaikkum,

    thers a great lady called Sunita Krishnan ( ), in India, who dedicated her life to rescue prostitutes from red streets and making them independent in life with solid jobs. So if somebody came in to contact with this kind of ppl who want to get out of this trouble you can contact her organisation. Muslim men and women who wants to do social service can contact her asking advice on how she rehabilitating this kind of people and what are the struggles she has to confront while doing this. Wallah I read on her , and watched her documentary , its not an easy job unlike writing this . Who is here to act(including myself)? . We are running away from religion for our own coziness.
    Anyways congrats MM .Now we have to find answer ,among loads of others, on the day of judgement for neglecting this ppl.
    As Umar (r.a) said. Wallah , If there is a camel lying dead on the shore of tigris I have to answer Allah for that. He said these when he was ruler. But to act on these there is no need of kingship. May Allah help us.

    • Abez


      November 18, 2011 at 8:48 PM

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more disturbing, more moving, and more eye-opening than this on TED, ever. As a mother, it makes my heart break. I don’t know what to do except beg Allah to help, and Glorify Him for His promise of complete justice on Qiyyama.

  30. Avatar

    Mohammad Yusha

    November 16, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    >Well, in the city I’m currently staying, which was declared as Islamic City, there are people who frown in disbelief when I told them that among my research subjects are prostitutes. It’s also among the state in Malaysia which has the highest rate of HIV, and the highest rate of women infected with HIV.

    That does not tell me about the denial of the problems of prostitution. :)

  31. Avatar


    November 17, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    I think the article is nicely written….however I felt that it is actually advocating prostitution in dire situations. I live in a Muslim country, which is a third world country. I know that there are many jobs like working as cleaning ladies these women dont opt to take up. I dont know what woman in her right mind would actually prefer to sell herself rather than take up some halal option which wont earn as much. The cleaning ladies in our homes are also poor with many children sometimes with husbands who dont do anything and are drug addicts, but they dont get involved in prostitution. Plus, besides their pay they get charities frequently alhamdoLillah. I can understand the problems of those who are kidnapped and forced into it but I strongly feel that combating poverty has several options available EXCEPT prostitution.

    • Avatar


      November 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      Super Like Sara, Its a persons choice at the end of the day, Halal Or Haram

    • Avatar


      November 18, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      If I am advocating prostitution in dire situations I would have just told people to leave them alone and legalize the industry, not about finding ways to escape, sister.

      Yes they should have looked hard enough for other options, but the reality is some women still fell into it. People have different levels of iman, and I believe, for some, their iman needs to be helped. That’s the reason why ‘those whose hearts are inclined to Islam’ are eligible for zakat.

  32. Avatar


    November 17, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    “On a larger scale, there should be a focus shift to criminalize the buying rather than the selling of sex. The burden of punishment should be on the clients who perpetuate the sex trade rather than the women who are trapped in the situation.”

    JazakAllah khayr for such an eye opening article, sister.

  33. Avatar


    November 20, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know [24:19].
    Assalaam o ‘alaikum, I agree with the Holy Quran and the Swedish policy; the focus must be shifted to the demand and appetite for prostitution. In most countries where prostitution is legal, pockets of sanctioned government involvement are present; the paybacks and assured service to high-ranking reprobate clientel is thus assured to be protected too. It also serves to keep former victims under control via attacking their reputation and or children with premeditated rape and slander to use the very system to oppress. I dare to go as far as to say, a child might be selected in first grade to settle a vendetta against women who may have had the courage to stand up and or just allow people with power/and or/ to control classrooms, because the child may have already been victimized as an infant and therefore is not to be allowed to prosper healthy development. Bias, false leaks, malicious whisper-campaigns are, and where common in the rural European environment I grew up in. We were targets as dirty Polacks and I received savage beatings in school as a child to where as a result one of my eight year old kidneys bled and we had to move away at my Grandmothers urgent promptings. I was just a child then, but today I know I was a target because my Mother had been wronged. My Mother had been a German athlete in the WW2 era and we were an political embarrassment to the German government because they needed to silence the fact’ they had send 50% polish children into the Hitler arena and then just reintegrated us as Germans [falsifying our family name thus cursing us] and we the children were to made suffer oppression and abuse to keep us on the low social roster as well. Children and the young and inexperienced are easy targets. I used to feel so humiliated for my Mother and to this day one of my half- brothers hates my poor Mother as a result of this. Stigmatizing victims is evil and cruel. I thank God I know this too, and I thank God for allowing me to love and worship Him and be forgiving and understanding toward my poor shunned and wounded Mother. I glorify Him for this gift of truth! In West Germany in certain now heavy right wing areas again, doing the 1970 in home molested by their fathers children, where rhetorically raped as teenagers and then arrested by the very rapists sporting ranks and badges for prostitution and processed into the system, to be humiliated into wounded stupor and then premeditatedly socially misplaced with this kind of stigmatizing and branding, while sanctioned drug-peddlers and crooks are standing in the wings awaiting the new arrivals. This is so that the very government institutions serving as a public front to then politically and socially murder any uprising victim and or prevent libels against those high-ranking criminals who deserve to be exposed. That is to say that the prostitutes themselves are not to be allowed back to an integrated life no matter how they ended up in that arena in the first place, until social stigmata has been assured and therefore must be physiologically branded and socially stigmatized in order to destroy their credibility’s. God indeed knows this to be true and my words are a meager account of the greater reality of this! The public has been kept uninformed and or misinformed for too long about the deeper involvement of government in most instances. This form of slavery has simply NEVER in human history been properly addressed and redressed to stamp out the misery and stigmata resulting in the lives of these poor exploited individuals. And I say here, that Individuals; for depraved appetites do not just pray on women, but males and children as well. My Allah grand these victims a voice and a much needed reprieve from these sorrowful conditions prevailing to date worldwide. Oh Allaahumma innaa nata’ee nuka for these poor exploited ones and BE their Al Walee innaka kunta binaa Baseeraa ameen .Waaikumsallam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu. Barbara .

  34. Avatar


    November 20, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    NPR RECENTLY had a show on the sex slave trade in Turkey, a muslim country. It was incredibly sad to learn that these girls are kidnapped from other countries and then have their passports taken away so they cannot excape. I can imagine no worse hell then being raped/beaten by a gang of turks who feel that they can do whatever they wish as their Allah gives them permission to treat women like dirt. How sad that any religion could agree that this is how g d views women, those he made the creators of all life..the nurturers. Imagine having to service 15 men a day, be beaten and if needing an abortion, a butcher abortionist handles it and puts you back ‘to work’ within a few hours as you still bleed…how evil, how sick, how mentally disturbed is this?

  35. Avatar

    Umm Sulaim

    November 21, 2011 at 3:57 AM

    If they truly said ‘their Allah’ gives them the right to treat women like dirt, are there no women in Turkey for them to practice that on? Why is the ‘sex slave trade’ imposed on kidnapped foreign women and not on Turkish women?

    I expect if you really wished to understand the position of women in Islam as revealed by OUR ALLAH and practiced by OUR PROPHET and his Companions, you would dedicated as many minutes or hours studying the pristine sources of Islam: the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

    Umm Sulaim

  36. Avatar


    November 28, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    This is a very interesting take on prostitution, which talks about the important role prostitutes (or at least one prostitute) have in helping those disabled (e.g. cerebral palsy, MS) have fulfilling lives. Disabled and confined people have the same needs and desires as us, yet are very much excluded from all normal avenues of coupling up, marriage and expressing their sexuality within a marriage. They are in effect ‘desexed’ and ‘dehumanised’ from society, which doesn’t recognise that they too deserve to have fulfilling sex lives and/or relationships like other adults. So I think what the prostitute in the article is doing is very much deserving of praise and respect.

    If prostitution were to be outlawed, where would that leave the physically disabled, the mentally different, people with deformities and people who don’t adhere to societies standards of beauty/success/religiosity. What would society do about these ‘undesirable’ people who also deserve to live full lives just like any other human being?

  37. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    November 29, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    Feature on trafficking by AlJazeera:

    A mental and physical hell

  38. Pingback: Time to End Prostitution in the Muslim World « The Islamic Workplace

  39. Avatar


    July 7, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    ‘If prostitution were to be outlawed, where would that leave the physically disabled, the mentally different, people with deformities and people who don’t adhere to societies standards of beauty/success/religiosity. What would society do about these ‘undesirable’ people who also deserve to live full lives just like any other human being?’ REALLY?!! How filthy. I’m sure a large number of disabled people will disagree with you. I’ve done numerous papers on disabled people and I can tell you prostitution is not something ‘undesirable disabled people’ will agree to. I really don’t know what to say about such a disgusting assumption. Disabled people are people, they deserve to be integrated into society and efforts to eliminate the limitations imposed on them by disability and stereotyping need to be made. They should be supported to lead a normal as possible life and that doesn’t include prostitution. There are many cases where disabled people whether physically or mentally have managed to get married to those without disability and in some cases two disabled individuals have managed to find love and build a family. Instead of advocating prostitution for such disadvantaged people you should advocate elimination of stereotypes which excludes such people, equality and human rights. Aghhhhh.

  40. Avatar


    December 14, 2015 at 3:18 PM

    An absolute disgusting outlook on the sex industry. This article if anything condones the acts of prostitution. Very few Muslim prostitutes are violently forced into the sex trade, if any. Having 50 kids and no food to feed them is NOT a “force” that pushes you to prostitution, it’s not an excuse. It’s lacking trust in Allah..

    The man is also to blame, but keep in mind; the prostitute builds and opens the door, the man just walks through it..

    A thief under Islamic law gets his hand chopped off, if he unlawfully takes something substantial – he loses a hand and a leg at opposite ends. There’s no “reform”, there’s something better – consequences. The kuffar blame the game and not the player, in islam , the player is targetted..

    For all your information, there’s no “Islamic country”, even the Ottoman Empire was questionable..

    • Avatar


      May 31, 2016 at 10:32 PM

      What a sick unempathatic comment by Sam. Completely zero understanding of unequal societal privledge and how society has mandated no wholesome alternatives for them. Did their families choose to be broken by war and poverty? Does a teenage female understand she is entering the evil sex trade when someone she trusts lures her?

      I am a Muslim prostitute who is trying hard to get out of the profession and please Allah. Unfortunately, I never had a choice in becoming involved in the sex trade. How dare anyone say that I am to blame when numerous societal forces want to women to be sex objects! Fight the problem, not the person!

  41. Avatar


    June 28, 2016 at 5:33 PM

    may Allah guide us right.

  42. Avatar

    Saima Iram

    September 23, 2016 at 2:48 AM

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

    One definite solution for the problem of prostitution (or even fornication) in our Ummah (bi idhni-llah) is reviving the practice (rather Sunnah) of polygyny amongst us. I am a woman too and I understand how helpless a woman becomes when she has no one to take care of her or her children. Even if a woman does not have the responsibilities of children, she cannot hold herself for too long in protecting her chastity as women also have desires, that must be fulfilled. No woman can stay a virgin for her life. If only our happily married sisters come out of their selfishness and empathize with the other sisters who have grown to 30 + of age but yet not married. Hasn’t Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) told us to love for our brother (or sister) what we love for our own selves and that we do not believe until we do so? What is then upon the women who are living happily with their husbands, who can well afford two or three wives at same time, that they do not think about other women suffering as widows or from delayed marriages? Everything each one of us does has a consequence that the Ummah together has to face.
    It is because of this selfish attitude of so many married sisters today that many other sisters worldwide are suffering, and because of it, our Ummah as a whole is also suffering, simply because men married to these women are “taken” and the women will not allow their husbands too marry multiple wives.

    Shame on such women.

  43. Avatar

    lamisa choudhury

    November 22, 2018 at 4:10 PM

    shame on u

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Shaykh Seraj Hendricks: An Obituary

This article was originally published at Al-Madinah Institute.


An internationally recognised Islamic scholar, who saw spirituality, justice, and knowledge as integral to an authentic religious existence.

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Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, who passed away on the 9th of July 2020 at the age of 64, was a scholar of international repute, able to communicate and engage on the level of state leaders, religious scholars and the broader public. As a scion of one of the most prominent Islamic institutions in South Africa and internationally, who also spent a decade studying at the hands of the most prominent of Makkan scholars, he not only inherited a grand bequest, but expanded that legacy’s impact worldwide. In particular, he upheld a normative understanding of Islam, embedded in a tradition stretching back more than a millennium – but deeply cognisant of the needs of the age, including the need to strive to make the world a better place.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was a high school English teacher between 1980 and 1982 in Cape Town before leaving for Saudi Arabia in 1983 to study at the Umm al-Qura University in Makka. Before this, he spent many years studying particularly at the feet of his illustrious uncle, the late Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks – erstwhile Life President of the Muslim Judicial Council and widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars of Islam in southern Africa – as well as his father, Imam Hassan Hendricks.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks studied the Islamic sciences for more than a decade in the holy city of Makka, spending three years at the Arabic Language Institute in Makka studying Arabic and related subjects, before being accepted for the BA (Hons) Islamic Law degree. He specialised in fiqh and usul al-fiqh in the Faculty of Shariʿa of Umm al-Qura University and graduated in 1992. Shaykh Seraj took ijazat from both the late Sayyid Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad and Sayyid ʿAbd al-Qadir b. Ahmad al-Saqqaf, as well as his extensive time spent with the likes of Shaykh Hasan Mashhat and others. These scholars are all known as some of the pre-eminent ‘ulama of the ummah in the 20th century, worldwide.

Additionally, he obtained a full ijaza in the religious sciences from his primary teacher, the muḥaddith of the Hijaz, the distinguished al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawi al-Maliki, master of the Ṭarīqa ʿUlamaʿ Makka – the (sufi) path of the Makkan scholars. Together with his brother, the esteemed Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, Shaykh Seraj and I wrote a book on this approach to Sufism entitled, “A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Sages of Makka”. Alongside his brother, he became the representative (khalifa) of the aforementioned muhaddith of the Hijaz.

Further to his religious education, Shaykh Seraj was also actively engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa during the 80’s and early 90’s, alongside the likes of figures like Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, comrade of Nelson Mandela, and the renowned journalist, Shafiq Morton. His commitments to furthering justice meant insistence on expressing constant opposition to injustice, while fiercely maintaining the independence of the institution and community he pledged himself to his entire life. At a time when different forces in Muslim communities worldwide try to instrumentalise religious figures for partisan political gain, Shaykh Seraj showed another, arguably far more Prophetic, model.

The shaykh also was keenly supportive of the rights of women, whom he saw as important to empower and cultivate as religious figures themselves. His students, of which there were many thousands over the years, included many women at various levels of expertise. I know it was his wish that they would rise to higher and higher levels, and he took a great deal of interest in trying to train them accordingly, aware that many unnecessary obstacles stood in their way.

After his return to Cape Town he received an MA (Cum Laude) for his dissertation: “Tasawwuf (Sufism) – Its Role and Impact on the Culture of Cape Islam” from the University of South Africa (UNISA), which is currently being prepared for publication as a book. He translated works of Imam al-Ghazali, and summarised parts of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihyaʾ ʿUlum al-Din), most notably in the Travelling Light series, together with Shaykhs ʿAbdal Hakim Murad and Yahya Rhodus.

Some of his previous positions included being the head of the Muslim Judicial Council’s Fatwa Committee (which often led to him being described as the ‘Mufti of Cape Town’), lecturer in fiqh at the Islamic College of Southern Africa (ICOSA), and lecturer in the Study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He was a member of the Stanlib Shariʿa Board, chief arbitrator (Hakim) of the Crescent Observer’s Society, and was listed consecutively in the Muslim500 from 2009 to 2020. He was also appointed Dean of the Madina Institute in South Africa, a recognised institution of higher learning in South Africa and part of the world Madina Institute seminaries led by Shaykh Dr Muhammad Ninowy. Shaykh Seraj was also appointed as professor at the International Peace University of South Africa, holding the Maqasid Chair for Graduate Studies.

Apart from fiqh and usul al-fiqh, some of Shaykh Seraj’s primary interests are in Sufism, Islamic civilisation studies, interfaith matters, gender studies, socio-political issues and related ideas of pluralism and identity. He lectured and presented papers in many countries, sharing platforms with his contemporaries. Shaykh Seraj taught a variety of Islamic-related subjects at Azzawia Institute in Cape Town, where he was its resident Shaykh, together with his brother Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks. His classes showed an encyclopaedic knowledge that was rooted in the tradition, while completely conversant with the modern age.

But beyond his classes, he was a pastoral figure to many – a community made of thousands – whom he gave himself completely to, in service of the religion, and counselling them as a khidma (service), with mahabba (love), in accordance with the Prophetic model. Many urged him to restrain himself in this way, fearing for his health, which suffered a great deal in his final years as a result – but he saw it as his duty.

The Shaykh was an international figure, a teacher to thousands, and an adviser to multitudes. Many today ask the question as to why ‘ulama truly matter, seeing as it seems so many of them can be compromised by different forces in pursuit of injustice, rigidness and petty partisanship. Such a question will not be asked by those who knew Shaykh Seraj, for in him they saw a concern for spirituality, not paltry political gain, and a commitment to justice and wisdom, not oppression or slogans. In him, many saw, and will continue to see hope for an Islamic commitment to scholarship that seeks to make the world a better place, rising to the challenge of maintaining their values of mercy and compassion, and exiting the world in dignity.

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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A Festival Amidst a Pandemic: How to Give Your Kids an Eid ul-Adha to Remember

Eid ul-Adha is less than 3 weeks away!  This year, more than ever, we want to welcome Eid ul-Adha with a full heart and spirit, insha’Allah, despite the circumstances we are in with the global pandemic.

If you follow me on social media, you probably know that my husband and I host an open house brunch for Eid ul-Adha, welcoming over 125 guests into our home. It’s a party our Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors, friends, and family look forward to being invited to each year. It’s a time to come together as a community, share heart-felt conversations, have laughs, chow down lots of delicious food, and exchange gifts. Kids participate in fun crafts, decorate cookies, and receive eidi. The reality is that we cannot keep up with the tradition this year.

Despite social distancing, we have decided that we will continue to lift our spirits and switch our summer décor to Eid décor, and make it the best Eid for our family and our child. We want to instill the love of Islam in my daughter and make the Islamic festivals a real part of her life. We want to create warm Eid memories, and COVID-19 isn’t going to stop us from doing that. I really hope you plan to do the same.

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Here are 4 ideas to inspire you to bring that festive spirit alive for your family this Eid ul-Adha:

Hajj and Eid ul-Adha themed activities and crafts

There are so many activities to keep the little ones engaged, but having a plan for Eid-ul-Adha with some key activities that your child will enjoy, makes the task so much easier.

Kids love stories, and for us parents this is a great way to get a point across. Read to them about hajj in an age appropriate way. If you don’t have Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha related books, you can get started with this Hajj book list. Read together about the significance and the Islamic traditions of hajj, and the story of how zamzam was discovered. While you teach them the story of the divine sacrifice of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), ask relatable questions. As a lesson from the story, give your child examples of how they can sacrifice their anger, bad behavior, etc. during this season of sacrifice for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ask your children how they would feel if they had to give away their favorite toys, so that they can comprehend the feeling.

Counting down the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah to Eid ul-Adha is another fun activity to encourage kids to do a good deed every day. Have different fun and education activities planned for these 10 days.

Family memories are made through baking together. In our household, Eid cannot pass without baking cookies together and sharing with friends and family. Bake and decorate Eid ul-Adha themed cookies in the shape of a masjid, camel, or even lamb, and share with the neighbors one day, and color in Islamic wooden crafts the next. This DIY Ka’bah craft is a must for us to make every year while learning about the Ka’bah, and it’s an easy craft you can try with your family. Have the kids save their change in this cute masjid money box that they can donate on the day of Eid.

Decorate the main family areas

We are all going to be missing visiting friends and relatives for Eid breakfast, lunch, and dinner this year, so why not jazz things up a bit more at home than usual?

Start decorating the areas of your home that you frequently occupy.  Brighten up the living area, and/or main hallway with a variety of star and masjid-shaped lights, festive lanterns, and Eid garlands, to emphasize that Eid has indeed arrived. Perhaps, decorate a tent while you tell your children about the tent city of Mina.

Prep the dining room as if you are having Guests Over

Set up the breakfast table as if you are having family and friends over for Eid breakfast.

These times will be the special moments you spend together eating as a family. Now, with all hands on deck, plan to get everyone involved to make it a full-on affair. What specific tasks can the little ones take on to feel included as part of the Eid prep and get excited?

While the Eid table set-up itself can be simple, the moments spent around the table sharing in new traditions and engaging in prayer will insha’Allah be even more meaningful and memorable.

 An afternoon picnic

Family picnics are a perfect way for family members to relax and connect. If Texas weather permits, we may take advantage of a cool sunny day with a picnic at a nearby, shady park. With the heat wave we are experiencing, it may either not happen or will be an impromptu one.

Out of all the picnics, it’s the impromptu family meals on the lawn or at a park that I love the most. The ones where we grab an old quilt, basket, light meals, fresh fruits and venture out into the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll be a perfect socially distanced Eid picnic.

Eid ul-Adha comes around just once a year, so let’s strive to make the best of it for our children, even amidst this global pandemic.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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