Qasim Rashid debunks an allegation by anti-Islam extremist Geert Wilder, and invites readers to join the fight for tolerance for all religions.
Editor’s Note: Below is an excerpt from Qasim Rashid’s new book, EXTREMIST.
EXTREMIST’s back cover blurb reads:
Terrorists and anti-Islam extremists are both wrong about Islam. Qasim Rashid proves just that in EXTREMIST: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere. Rashid debunks extremists head-on, clarifying important issues like Islam’s view on free speech, women’s rights, and Jihad — among many more. He writes for non-Muslims and Muslims alike, asking you to stand for a narrative of moderation, civility, and compassion — and against the extremist narratives of Geert Wilders and all terrorists. Rashid empowers you with a tool extremists don’t have — knowledge of Islam, and invites you to join the fight for tolerance.
Allegation 34: Islam Requires a Female Rape Victim to Produce Four Witnesses
Wilders rightly laments that, “some Islamic states consider female rape victims to be adulterers liable to be stoned to death.” However, he explains this by misrepresenting a verse of the Qur’an: “This stems from the Koran’s injunction that a female rape victim has to present four male witnesses to support her claim that she has been raped.” In reality, nothing in Islamic jurisprudence supports Wilders’s (or the so-called Muslim government’s) belief.
Reference: Qur’an 24:14.
Response: Before even delving into this response, let me make one thing clear at the onset. In Islam, rape is a crime and one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. Thus, those who commit rape are criminals and Islam demands the state or governing authority hold them criminally liable. Moreover, rape is never the fault of anyone but the rapist. That clarified, let’s move on to repudiate Wilders’s baseless allegation.
The verse in question actually reads:“Why did not those, who gave currency to this charge, bring four witnesses to prove it? Since they have not brought the required witnesses, they are indeed liars in the sight of Allah.” As the reader will soon see, this verse has nothing to do with rape — which is a criminal act. Instead, this verses addresses adultery — which is not a criminal act — and the Islamic teaching to not expose people’s private lives.First, Islam is a religion of modesty. Sexual behavior is considered a private matter, not for public display. Accordingly, this verse calling for four witnesses protects women and upholds Islamic ideals of modesty and chastity. Of note, Islamic modesty derives its core principles from the example set forth by the woman that the Qur’an recognizes as the greatest woman of all time — Maryra Mother of Jesussa. Islam teaches that God chose Maryra to be the mother of the Messiah due to her unmatched piety, righteousness, and chastity. When Maryra conceived Jesussa, she was unjustly accused of unchaste behavior though no person had a shred of evidence to prove such an accusation. Accordingly, the Qur’an forbids that any woman should face accusations of unchaste behavior without a minimum of four witnesses. But this is just one part of the equation.
Next, as mentioned this verse does not address rape; it addresses those who accuse women of unchaste behavior. If, for example, someone accuses a woman of adultery, then he or she must produce four truthful witnesses to corroborate the accusation. Failing that, meaning if the accuser only produces one, two, or three witnesses, then the minimum threshold of proof is unfulfilled, and the accuser is deemed a liar. The Qur’an prescribes harsh punishments for those who make such false allegations against women.
It is worth noting that the same rules apply when someone accuses a man of adultery — i.e. four witnesses must substantiate the claim. Wilders ignores this altogether. Thus, I am focusing on accusations against women because it more directly addresses Wilders’s allegation.
But why four witnesses? For context, consider that for crimes of murder or rape, Islam teaches that even one witness or the rape victim’s testimony alone can suffice. Why then, would Islam suddenly require four witnesses for accusations of adultery? It is crucial to understand the overall Islamic philosophy behind requiring an astounding four witnesses. The fact is that Islam does not allow just anyone impose him or herself into another person’s private life. While Islam considers adultery a sin, it does not permit individuals from invading another person’s privacy rights and exposing their private behavior. Indeed, the reader should recall the earlier discussion on Islam’s immense emphasis on privacy rights.
On the other hand, however, if a woman (or man) becomes so open about their sexual promiscuity that they display it openly, Islam sets a limit because now that once private behavior has a public impact. That limit is described as “Why did not those, who gave currency to this charge, bring four witnesses to prove it?” That is, if someone’s private behavior is exposed due to his or her own display (as evidenced by four truthful witnesses), rather than through anyone invading that person’s privacy, only then does it become a public matter liable to public response. On the contrary, whatever a person’s private behavior, though Islam may frown upon it, it is a private matter between that person and God, and therefore must be kept private.
But Islam’s requirement of proving adultery with four witnesses has another important application. In the West, a common insult to demean and demonize women is “slut-shaming.” This derogatory term describes an attempt to make a woman feel guilty about her private life or personal choices. The Islamic practice of requiring four truthful witnesses to levy an accusation of unchaste behavior not only prevents this demonization from occurring, it also better ensures that the only time a woman’s private life is exposed is when she chooses to do so of her own accord. Otherwise, Islam categorically forbids any person from invading or commenting on a woman’s private life. No other scripture affords women this level of protection. Indeed, nothing in the Qur’an or ahadith validate Wilders’s highly offensive allegation that a woman must provide four witnesses to prove she was raped. Extremists ascribing to Islam who hold this belief commit a grave injustice against women.
It is the height of absurdity to suggest that a rape victim should face punishment. On the contrary, numerous ahadith related to rape prove that the woman is not to be punished under any circumstance. Abdul Jabbar ibn Wa’il ibn Hujr reported on the authority of his father that a woman was raped in the time of Prophet Muhammadsa. Prophet Muhammad punished the rapist but prescribed no punishment for the victim. In another hadith, Alqamah ibn Wa’il Kindi reports that Prophet Muhammadsa punished a rapist but not the victim. I challenge Wilders to cite any hadith in which Prophet Muhammadsa punished the victim, or a Qur’anic verse that prescribes such injustice.
Wilders also makes a side allegation that “Mohammad so hated his daughters that even after their deaths he called them ‘filth and whores’ and ranted that someone should defecate ‘on their graves.’” This shameless lie reflects only Wilders’s ignoble imagination, nothing more. True to his calling, Wilders makes this outlandish claim without citing any Islamic source. No Qur’an, no hadith, no Islamic historian. Instead, Wilders cites a Wall Street Journal news article, which itself provides no references.
Contrary to Wilders’s pathetic claim, Prophet Muhammadsa loved his daughters immensely and implored the same of his companions. When one of his daughters died, he directed Muslim women to wash her body thoroughly to give her a clean, dignified, and proper burial. Whenever his daughter, Hadhrat Fatima, entered the room, he would stand in her honor, offer her his seat, and then sit next to her. He gave her the most honorable rank as “chief of the believing women in Paradise,” demonstrating both his love for her and that women would certainly attain paradise. He gave the glad tidings of paradise to his companions who raised their daughters virtuously and with honor. This is the man Wilders claims loathed his daughters? Wilders’s claim is nothing more than a lie.
In short, it is worth repeating that Wilders sadly judges Islam by the actions of a small group of Muslims who have twisted the religion to suit their own ends. Yes, there exist misguided and barbaric clerics who believe that a woman who is raped must produce four witnesses. As mentioned earlier, Prophet Muhammadsa preemptively dissociated himself from such clerics and called them the “worst creatures on Earth.” I condemn their false interpretations and condemn their barbaric actions, and appeal to them and their followers to resort to reason. It is unfortunate that Wilders continues to look to these worst creatures in promoting his false narrative.
. Wilders, Marked for Death, 49.
. bid., 59.
. Qur’an 24:14.
. Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Isa Tirmidhi, “Chapter 22, #1458” in Jami‘ Tirmidhi vol. 1, ( Karachi: Darul Ishaat Urdu Bazar, 2007), 620.
. Ibid., #1459, 621.
. Wilders, Marked for Death, 51–52.
. Sahih Jami’ Bukhari 2.347, narrated Um ‘Atiyya: “When we washed the deceased daughter of the Prophet, he said to us, while we were washing her, ‘Start the bath from the right side and from the parts which are washed in ablution.’” Sahih Jami’ Bukhari 2.348, narrated Um ‘Atiyya: “The daughter of the Prophet expired, and he said to us, ‘Wash her three or five times, or more if you see it necessary, and when you finish, notify me.’ So, (when we finished) we informed him and he unfastened his waist-sheet and told us to shroud her in it.”
 Sahih Jami’ Bukhari Hadith 8.301, narrated by Aisha, Mother of the Believers.
 Sahih Jami’ Muslim 2631
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