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The Fate of Prostitutes

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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.

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].

78 Comments

78 Comments

  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

  3. Avatar

    Nuraini

    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.

    • Avatar

      Nazihah

      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.

    • Avatar

      Grandparent

      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.

    • Avatar

      Ali

      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:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SlSBqgW5xx0

  4. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      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

      • Avatar

        AishahMN

        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.

    • Avatar

      AishahMN

      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.

  5. Avatar

    Farhan

    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.

  6. Avatar

    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 muslimmatters.org 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

    • Avatar

      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.
      Hypocrisy.

  7. Avatar

    ahmad

    November 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    perceptive and well argued. Congrats to the writer.

  8. Avatar

    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:
    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article504375.ece

    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.

    Yasir

    • Avatar

      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?

    • Avatar

      Ali

      November 14, 2011 at 6:00 PM

  9. Avatar

    Yasmin

    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!

  10. Avatar

    Siraaj

    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?

    Siraaj

    • Avatar

      AishahMN

      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.

  11. Avatar

    Asifa

    November 14, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Great article! :-) Thanks for writing it.

  12. Avatar

    shiney

    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.

  13. Avatar

    Abdul

    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.

    • Avatar

      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.

      http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/slaverya21stcenturyevil/2011/10/20111010134454998749.html

      • Avatar

        AishahMN

        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.

    • Avatar

      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.

      • Avatar

        Mik

        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.

  14. Avatar

    Veiled

    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.

  15. Avatar

    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.

  16. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

      AishahMN

      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)

  17. Avatar

    Hamza21

    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.

    • Avatar

      AishahMN

      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.

  18. Avatar

    Carlos

    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.

    • Avatar

      Carlos

      November 14, 2011 at 10:54 PM

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

  19. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

      ivoryTower

      November 16, 2011 at 12:48 PM

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

    • Avatar

      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.

      • Avatar

        Nuraini

        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.

        • Avatar

          Mustafa

          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.

      • Avatar

        Nuraini

        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’.

  20. Avatar

    Saher

    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

    • Avatar

      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.*

  22. Avatar

    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

  23. Avatar

    farwin

    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

      Mustafa

      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

    RCHOUDH

    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

      AishahMN

      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

        RCHOUDH

        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

    AishahMN

    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.

    Wallahua’lam.

  26. Avatar

    Bushra

    November 15, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Assalamualaikum

    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

      AishahMN

      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.

    MAJORITY?

    • Avatar

      AishahMN

      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

        Apricot

        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

    Jihad

    November 16, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    Assalamu alaikkum,

    thers a great lady called Sunita Krishnan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunitha_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.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeOumyTMCI8

    • Abez

      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

    Sara

    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

      Abdul

      November 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

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

    • Avatar

      AishahMN

      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

    Faatimah

    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

    barbara

    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

    Ren

    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

    Lin

    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.

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/sexual-healing-20111125-1nxkc.html

    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

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/10/20111010125026811763.html

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

  39. Avatar

    LiveIslam

    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

    Sam

    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

      Sahar

      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

    usman

    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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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Life

How Do Muslims Plan for Disability

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Families with children with disability have an extraordinary set of challenges and blessings.  Disability (or special needs) is a broad term.

Many disabilities will prevent what we often think of as “normal.”  It may hinder or prevent educational opportunities, and employment. Many people with “special needs” can get educated, get married and live long and productive lives.  The problem for many parents of younger children with special needs is that they typically have no certainty about their children’s future needs. Even if the situation looks dire, it may not stay that way.  

How do parents plan for a world where they may not be around to see how things will end up for their special needs children?  What can they do to help their children in a way that does not violate Islamic Inheritance rules?

Certain types of disability, especially the loss of executive decision-making ability, could also happen well into adulthood.  This can be a threat to a family’s wealth and be the cause of internal conflicts. This is the kind of thing every adult needs to think about before it happens.  

The Problem

The issues are not just that parents believe their special needs child will need more inheritance than other children. Muslim parents usually don’t think that. Some parents don’t want their special needs child to get any inheritance at all.  Not because of any ill-will against their special needs child; just the opposite, but because they are afraid inheritance will result in sabotaging their child’s needs-based government benefits.    

Many, perhaps most special needs children do not have any use for needs-based benefits (benefits for the poor).  But many do, or many parents might figure that it is a distinct possibility. This article is a brief explanation of some of the options available for parents of special needs children.  It won’t go over every option, but rather those that are usually incorporated as part of any Islamic Estate Planning.

Please Stand By

Example:  Salma has three daughters and two sons.  One of her children, Khalida, 3, has Down Syndrome.  At this point, Salma knows that raising Khalida is going to be an immense challenge for herself, her husband Rashid and all the older siblings.  What she does not know, however, is what specific care Khalida is going to need through her life or how her disability will continue to be relevant. She does not know a lot about Khalida’s future marriage prospects, ability to be employed and be independent, though obviously like any parent she has nothing but positive hopes for her child’s life.   

In the event of her death, Salma wants to make sure her daughter gets her Islamic right to inheritance.  However, if Khalida needs public benefits, Salma does not want her daughter disqualified because she has her own money.

Her solution is something called a “stand-by special needs trust.” This type of trust is done in conjunction with an Islamic Inheritance Plan and is typically part of a living trust, though it could also be a trust drafted into the last will.  I will describe more about what a special needs trust is below. For Salma, she is the Trustee of her trust. After she dies, she names her husband (or someone else) the successor Trustee. The trust is drafted to prevent it from becoming an “available resource” used to determine eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits that go with that.

If it turns out that Salma passes away when Khalida is 5, and her assets are held in trust for her until she is 18 and her Trustee determines she does not need a special needs trust, she will get her inheritance precisely like everyone else based on their Islamic right.  If she does need benefits, the Trustee will only make distributions to Khalida that would not harm her eligibility.

This way, there is no need to deny Khalida her inheritance because of her disability, and she is also making sure giving her daughter inheritance would not harm her daughter’s healthcare or other necessary support.  

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

A stand-alone Special needs trusts, which is sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” the kind without the “stand-by” variation I described above, are a standard device for families that have children with special needs. A trust is a property ownership device. A Grantor gives the property to a Trustee, who manages the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In a revocable living trust, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are typically the same person.  

When the trust is irrevocable, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary may all be different people. In a special needs trust, the person with a disability is the beneficiary. Sometimes, the person with a disability is also the Grantor, the person who created the trust.  This might happen if there is a settlement from a lawsuit for example and the person with special needs wants it to be paid to the trust.  

In many if not most cases, the goal may not be to protect the beneficiary’s ability to get public benefits at all. Many people with a disability don’t get special government benefits.  But they do want to protect the beneficiaries from having to manage the assets. Some people are just more susceptible to abuse.

The structure of the arrangement typically reflects the complexity of the family, the desire of siblings and extended family to continue to be involved in the care and attending to the needs of the person with a disability, even if they are not the person directly writing checks.   

Example: Care for Zayna

Example: Zayna is a 24-year-old woman with limited ability to communicate, take care of her needs and requires 24-hour care.  Zayna has three healthy siblings, many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her father, Elias, earns about $70,000 per year and is divorced. Zayna’s mother Sameena cannot contribute, as she is on social security disability. However, Zayna’s adult brother and sisters, brother in laws, sister in law and several aunts, uncles want to help Zayna meet her needs E.lyas creates a third party special needs trust that would ensure Zayna has what she needs in the years to come.

Zayna receives need-based public benefits that are vital to her in living with her various disabilities and her struggle to gain increasing independence, knowledge and dignity.  So the trust needs to be set up and professionally administered to make sure that when Zayna gets any benefit from her trust, it does not end up disqualifying her ability to get any needs-based benefit.  

Contributions to the special needs trust will not go against Islamic Inheritance rules unless made after the death of the donor.

If Zayna dies, her assets from the special needs trust will be distributed based on the Islamic rules of inheritance as it applies to her.

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

Perhaps most families with special needs children do not use any needs-based public assistance.  They are still concerned about special needs and planning for it.

Example:  Khadija, 16, is on the autism spectrum. For those familiar with the autism spectrum, that could mean a lot of things.  For her parents, Sarah and Yacoob, other than certain habits that are harmless and easy to get used to, it means Khadija is very trusting of people. Otherwise, she does well in school, and her parents don’t think she needs way more help than her siblings and she has just as good a chance of leading a healthy and productive life as any 16-year-old girl.  

The downside of being too trusting is that the outside world can exploit her.  If she ends up getting inheritance or gifts, she may lose it. The parents decide that when she gets her inheritance, it will be in a trust that would continue through her life.  There will be a trustee who will make sure she has what she needs from her trust, but that nobody can exploit her.

In some ways, what Khadija’s parents Sarah and Yacoob are doing is not so different from what parents might do if they have a child with a substance abuse problem.  They want to give their child her rights, but they don’t want to allow for exploitation and abuse.

Considering your own needs

There are many people who are easy marks for scammers, yet you would be unlikely to know this unless you are either a close friend or family member, or a scammer yourself.  While this often happens to the elderly, it can happen at just about any age. Everyone should consider developing an “incapacity plan” to preserve their wealth even if they lose their executive decision-making ability.   

There is this process in state courts known as “conservatorship.” Indeed, entire courtrooms dedicate themselves to conservatorships and other mental health-related issues.  It is a legal process that causes an individual to lose their financial or personal freedom because a court has essentially declared them not competent to handle their affairs. Conservatorships are a public process.  They can cause a lot of pain embarrassment and internal family strife.

One of the benefits of a well-drafted living trust is to protect privacy and dignity during difficult times.

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

Haris, 63, was eating lunch at a diner.  In the waiting area, he became fast friends with Mellissa; a thirty-something woman who was interested in talking about Haris’s grandchildren.  The conversation then turned Melissa and her desire to start a business selling long distance calling cards. Haris was fascinated by this and thought it made good business sense. Haris gave Mellissa $20,000.00. The two exchanged numbers. The next day, Mellissa’s number was disconnected.

Haris’s wife, Julie became alarmed by this.  It was out of character for her husband to just fork over $20,000 to anyone on the spur of the moment.  What was worse is that the business failed immediately.  

Three months later,  Haris meets Mellissa at the diner again.  She then convinces Haris to invest $50,000 in a Cambodian rice farm, which he does right away.   His wife Julie was pretty upset.

How living trusts helps

As it happened though, Haris, a few years before, created a living trust.  It has a provision that includes incapacity planning. There are two essential parts to this:  The first is a system to decide if someone has lost their executive decision-making ability. The second is to have a successor Trustee to look over the estate when the individual has lost this capacity.  This question is about Haris’s fundamental freedom: his ability to spend his own money.

If you asked Haris, he would say nothing is wrong with him.  He looks and sounds excellent. Tells the best dad jokes. He goes to the gym five times a week and can probably beat you at arm wrestling. Haris made some financial mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Julie, and his adult children Haroon, Kulsum, Abdullah, and Rasheeda are not so sure it’s just a mistake.  The living trust created a “disability panel.” This panel gets to vote, privately, in if Haris should continue to act as Trustee of his own money.  If they vote that he should not manage his own money, his wife does it for him.

The family has a way to decide an important and sensitive issue while maintaining Haris’ dignity, privacy and wealth.   Haris’s friends don’t know anything about long distance calling cards or a Cambodian rice farm; they don’t know he lost his ability to act as Trustee of his trust.  Indeed the rest of the world is oblivious to all of this.

Planning for everyone

Islamic inheritance is fard and every Muslim should endeavor to incorporate it into their lives.  As it happens it is an obligation Muslims, at least those in the United States, routinely ignore or deal with inadequately.  However, there is more to planning than just what shares go to whom after death. Every family needs to create a system. There may or may not be problems with children or even with yourself (other than death, which will happen), but you should do whatever you can to protect your family’s wealth and dignity while also fulfilling your obligations to both yourself and your family.

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#Life

Should Spiritual Leaders Who Violate Our Trust Be Forgiven?

Some people want to move past the indiscretions of community leaders quickly as though they never occurred while others wish to permanently blacklist them. This article examines a third option between the two that can be a win-win for the fallen leader, the victims, and the community.

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In the past couple of years, a number of simmering scandals among spiritual leaders became public knowledge and the subject of vigorous and often painful public debate.  As someone who has worked in the community dawah space the past 15 years, often acting as a bridge between past and present microcelebrity as well as non-celeb teachers to the community at large, one question I’ve been asked repeatedly – should community leaders who violate our trust be forgiven?  I’m often asked by people who aren’t fanboys / fangirls taken by microcelebrity dawah culture or wearing spiritual blinders for non-celebs, and often don’t even understand what has occurred.  Below I share answers I have heard as well as what I believe is fair and pragmatic in many (not all) situations.

Answer #1:  Yes, We Must Forgive Them

One group of people argue we should completely forgive them. No one is perfect, everyone is human and makes mistakes.  If we assume the mistake was truly made, then we should also forgive them and move on. Our faith is replete with statements about Allah’s Mercy, and if we want His Mercy, surely we should also give it to others. Oftentimes, members who fall into this group don’t actually believe the person in question is at fault and are trying to convince others either on the fence or against the individual to let it go. Of course, there are some who believe the violation occurred and not think it a big deal, while others may think the violation indeed was a big deal, and should still be forgiven. I can agree with some aspects of this, but not completely.

Answer #2:  No, They Should Never Be Forgiven

Another group believes that once a person commits a violation of trust, they are no longer to be trusted again. They should leave their positions and be ostracized from the community permanently. They are to be tarred and feathered and made an example of for life.  Members within this group oftentimes don’t need to wait for evidence to arrive at any conclusion – they were judge, jury, and executioner well before there was a trial.  Not all members are like this, of course – some waited for evidence and then reached their conclusions that the gravity of the charges was too much and therefore the person should never be forgiven.

Answer #3:  It Depends – Forgive Them If They Take Ownership and Make Amends

In my view, the problem with the first group is they don’t often see that the person did anything wrong, or if they did, it’s trivial relative to the khayr, the good and benefit they bring to the community. They keep citing that Allah is forgiving, so we should forgive automatically, but in their haste, they forget that part of the process of making restitution is first sincerely regretting what one has done.

To sincerely regret, one must also move out of denial and into acceptance that they made a mistake. Once one admits failure, they can then ask to be forgiven, and then the aggrieved party is in a position to grant it. The community forgiving and re-integrating a person who refuses to take responsibility for their wrongdoing does neither them, their victims, nor the community any good. We continue to distrust the person and they continue to believe they can get away with whatever they wish because they are “special”. Victims fear community integration, everyone becomes cynical about religion, and the cause of calling people to become better worshippers of Allah is harmed.

On the flip side, the second group is far too extreme in their view of justice. To ostracize that person and leave them no path of return means they have no means to redeem themselves, and de facto their families are casualties who must deal with the fallout of being pushed out of the community. I agree that none of us are perfect, and we all often make egregious mistakes. In my own experience, there are many instances where activists who advocate publicly for better are often involved privately in worse than those they go after.

That being the case, there is no person that can’t be forgiven, and I would say we shouldn’t leave aside this possibility in our dealings with those who fail us just as we expect it when we ourselves fall short, sometimes seriously so. I would add that we would lose the skills and talent of that person – if we believe in allowing people with criminal histories back into the general population and providing them with opportunities to become productive, reformed citizens, I don’t see why we wouldn’t offer the same to our community and religious leaders.

The key I believe is in following a process which includes the following for the individual:

  1. Taking ResponsibilityThey own responsibility for the mistake and acknowledge it was made.  No amount of denial, minimization, and spin will suffice.
  2. Make Restitution:  First and foremost, they apologize and make amends as best they can with the victims.  If the issue went public, then they should apologize to those they were serving as a leader for their mistake as well. This includes handling financial compensation.
  3. Remediating Oneself:  Enroll in counseling, therapy, mentorship, and / or group support programs to help them overcome their issues.
  4. Being Held Accountable:  Work with others on concrete milestones of both behavior and programs that demonstrate their commitment to change.  Be able to show the community that they take reformation seriously and are committed to coming out of their mistake a better person, one who can even advise others of the mistake and how not to repeat it.

As someone who has worked in dawah and supported the ascension of numerous modern-day microcelebrity spiritual scholars and teachers, I and others like me act as a bridge between them and the community.  I do not speak for all of them, certainly, but I know that any leader who tries to re-integrate into the community without taking responsibility will continue to find that many will not support them. Most, in this case, feel a sacred duty to oppose their elephant-in-the-room integration to protect the community at large.

Likewise, I know that many like myself would be willing to overlook and forgive such individuals if they took responsibility for their behavior and demonstrated they were taking concrete steps to make amends for their mistakes.  The month of Ramadan is upon us, and sometimes one just has to rip the band-aid off, go through the process of feeling the pain of scrutiny for owning up, and then moving forward to forgiveness.  I won’t promise it’s easy or that everyone will change, but I can at least say many of us would have an easier time accepting individuals back into the community.

What’s your view on these situations?

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