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society and sex analysis of Amjad in Indian muslim observer

May 24, 2013


ANALYSIS: Society, Media, Sex and Rape
By Dr. Amjad M. Husaini

‘Sex’ is a multifaceted phenomenon and I have been contemplating on its origin and objectives since the day the news of a heinous rape of a young woman in a Delhi bus, named in media as “Nirbhaya” was put in limelight by the national media.
In my opinion it is important to discuss various aspects of sex and try to place rape in the right context. These aspects are:
1. Spiritual aspect of sex- Sex is a medium of ‘expression of love’, and a mode of closest possible ‘union on the physical plane’ between two individuals whose hearts long for each other. It is a union between a lover (Aashiq) and his/her beloved (Mashooq), which brings a sense of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and respect for each other.
2. Biological aspect of sex – Sex is the only natural mode of procreation (reproduction) in higher animals, amongst which human beings are at the top of the evolutionary ladder. Being at the top and living in a social setup the facilitation, formalization and legalization of such a courtship and sexual union has culminated in the ‘institution of marriage’. Marriage has added cultural, social and economic aspects to this otherwise a purely biological phenomenon, due to the evolved state of human beings as social animals.
3. Carnal aspect of sex – On a psychological level it is the stretching of animal-like desire for passion and excitement which is able to express itself easily in the absence of a strong moral character in a human being. Generally, ‘rape and/or sexual assault’ is the manifestation of a complex phenomenon involving lack of moral ethics, poor self control and will power, improper upbringing, emotional instability and deprivation, or hostility towards victim which get a chance to express when the victim (almost always a woman) happens to come in contact with such an individual in a lonely place or situation where she is not able to defend herself, and most often has decorated herself beautifully and looks too attractive. This is generally accompanied by use of force and by overpowering the victim owing to superior muscular strength of man.
To a biologist, however, it is a complex interplay of some chemical substances (hormones) which get induced upon exposure to sensual, sensuous and indecent exposure/display of primary or secondary sexual characters by either of the two genders. If a woman happens to be the perpetrator of such an act, she generally does not use force and uses the tactics of placating a man by inviting verbal comments, physically beautifying herself beyond descent public limits, display of private parts, etc.
4. Economic and social aspect of sex- The lavish lifestyle adopted by the young generation due to advent of multinational culture, and measurement of success in terms of economic fortune, wealth and position has lead to the use of ‘sex’ as a means of acquiring these with minimum possible input and without much hard work. Why to toil so hard, when the same can be attained by being a little smart, is the slogan of this generation. After all this is my body and I have every right to use it as I may wish, is the new thought! Hence ‘looking attractive’, giving sexual favours, or even resorting to sex is the new ‘mantra’ and the easiest possible way of rising up the ladder for the over-ambitious. This applies equally to both the genders, be they men/women subordinates corrupting their men/ women bosses or vice versa.
If it happens to be a man who gets morally corrupt by such practice, one day comes when he tries to impose his will / sexual desire even on a person who is not willing to compromise on her dignity resulting either into a rape or loss of her job. Incidentally if it happens to be a woman boss, then it may result in loss of job for such a male subordinate.


The big multinational houses who invest in fashion, clothing, and cosmetics promote their economic interests in the name of ‘modern’ culture. They make use of print and electronic media to exploit the underlying desire of every individual (especially the youth) to look beautiful and attractive. Looking beautiful is not bad, but this competition between the peers in looking ‘more attractive’ than others has a reduced a human being only to a ‘physical body’, and has promoted sensual indulgence in society (as discussed in 3). Does that mean that in the modern times ALL women and men are bad? No, not at all! However, even a handful of bad people can turn the whole society filthy- a single dirty fish pollutes the whole pond. But we ALL are responsible for this state of the society, to varying degrees. We watch such TV channels that pollute the young immature minds of our children; we aspire to be rich, powerful and famous by corrupt means and set a bad example for our young kids to follow; we teach lessons of morality in our text books but ask them to be ‘practical’ in life by hook or crook.

In earlier times, prostitutes used to be restricted to some areas (brothels and red-light areas) and were looked down upon, although they were the victims of social deprivation and ‘needed’ to resort to prostitution for feeding themselves and their children. However in present times the same class of women are being glorified and commoditised to meet the demands of an open market economy. Women are objectified as a commodity and are served ‘hot’ on television channels and internet sites. They have even entered our kitchen, living and dining rooms through soap operas, reality shows etc., and have further polluted our minds. These have torn away the veil of respect and dignity between the brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, etc., promoting the carnal desires (as discussed in 3), and the week in mind easily fall prey to such desires! How many amongst our young generation see a role model in Lord Rama or Guru Nanak or for that matter follow the example of Holy Prophet? In this land of Mahatma Ghandi, almost all our young try to imitate actors (their heroes), actresses (their heroines), models, business tycoons, etc. and want to be like them. They say that this is to be ‘modern’, because by dubbing ‘immodesty’ as ‘modernism’ they can easily rubbish the traditional ideals of human behaviour and label the right thinking older generation as ‘old fashioned’ and obsolete.

5. Subjugative and authoritative aspect of sex – It is generally performed by the winner of a war / battle, heads of a clan against those who rebel (like in case of Late Phoolan Devi) or self-proclaimed village authorities (like upper castes) against weaker classes and tribes. The aim is to subjugate and oppress the opponent by giving tremendous mental agony to them, by way of asserting their authority on their most honoured and precious thing i.e., chastity of their women. In extreme cases men are beheaded or killed while women are used as sex objects, on the one hand to fulfil their carnal desires (as discussed in 3) and on the other to inflict deep wounds on the psyche of the oppressed women (representing the defeated class). This is also to show authority, as well as serve a befitting punishment and warning against raising their voice again in future.

Do these pictures fall within the ambit of decency of a common man’s level of perception?? Would you like to see your wife or mother or sister to be dressed like this?? Then why do you like to see others dressed like this?? Why not to turn your face away and save yourself from unhealthy influences….

Islamic Views On Clothing

An important aspect of Islam that must be observed is the code of dress for both men and women. The appearance is a sign of what one has in the heart. Allah mentions in the Holy Quran: “O Children of Adam! We have sent down upon you a dress which may conceal your shameful parts and sent down feathers (or splendid garments) and the dress of piety (Taqwa) that is the best of all.” (Surah A’araf, Verse 26).

In another verse Allah says: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say that the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. ” (Surah An-Nur), Verse 30-31).

This code of behaviour and dressing sets moral standards in this world where morality is lacking greatly nowadays. Islam has got no fixed standards of dress as dress is regulated by necessities according to geographical conditions of countries. In cold conditions, warm clothes are necessary for the protection of the body. Similarly, in hot countries, thin clothes are mostly the norm. The Holy Prophet others, as it covers the major portion of the body.

For women Allah mention’s in the Qur’an: “O Prophet (daughters and the women of the believers to draw over them their cloaks (veils). That in the least so that they be recognised and not be molested.” (Surah Ahzaab, Verse 59)

“And remain within your homes and do not make an exhibition (of yourselves) like the displays (of the immoral women) of former times of ignorance.” (Surah Ahzaab).

Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) quotes that the Holy Prophet of you shoould meet a woman in privacy unless she is accompanied by a Mahram (i.e., a relative witin the prohibited degrees)” [Bukhari, Muslim]

The Holy Prophet said don’t make your body visible or wear light clothing which emphasizes or highlights the figure of the body.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) quotes that the Messenger of Allah said: “Women who are nude in spite of having garments on them; who allure others and are allured by others shall be consigned to Hell. Their heads are awry like the humps of the used a single long robe and recommended it for)!

Tell thy wives and thy said “No one gave warning against wearing transparent clothing which makes the said Bactrian camels because of their coquettish posture. These women shall not enter Paradise, nor shall enjoy the sweet fragrance of Paradise, although the sweet fragrance of Paradise can be savoured from a long distance off” [Muslim] (Chapter 292, Riyad al Salihin).

Islamic Views On Rape

Islam views human life as a sacred gift from Allah and repeatedly stresses the sanctity of life. The life of every single individual regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion is worthy of respect. According to Islam, a woman has to be respected and protected under all circumstances, whether she belongs to your own nation or to the nation of an enemy, whether she follows your religion or belongs to some other religion or has no religion at all. A Muslim cannot outrage her under any circumstances. Even some Islamic legal scholars classify rape under the category of ‘hiraba’, rather than the subcategory of ‘zina’ (consensual adultery). In the Hanafi school of law, the term zina is taken to refer to illegal sexual intercourse where rape is distinguished as zina bil jabr to indicate its forced and non-consensual nature whereas fornication and adultery fit zina bil ridha which indicates consent. Though the terminology uses the term zina, nonetheless, they are two categorically different crimes as rape is treated as a tazir crime by the judge and prosecuted based on circumstantial evidence (medical evidence, any number of witnesses, and other forensic evidence), very similar to how it is treated in contemporary Western law. Fornication and adultery by mutual consent (zina bil ridha) meets the classical hadd punishments from the Qur’an and sunnah provided there are four witnesses (if absent then they too default to tazir).

{Hadd: A punishment fixed in the Quran and hadith for crimes considered to be against the rights of God. The six crimes for which punishments are fixed are theft (amputation of the hand), illicit sexual relations (death by stoning or one hundred lashes), making unproven accusations of illicit sex (eighty lashes), drinking intoxicants (eighty lashes), apostasy (death or banishment), and highway robbery (death). Strict requirements for evidence (including eyewitnesses) have severely limited the application of hudud penalties. Punishment for all other crimes is left to the discretion of the court; these punishments are called tazir. With the exception of Saudi Arabia, hudud punishments are rarely applied, although recently fundamentalist ideologies have demanded the reintroduction of hudud, especially in Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Tazir: Punishment for crime not measuring up to the strict requirements of hadd punishments, although they are of the same nature, or those for which specific punishments have not been fixed by the Quran. Punishments range from the death penalty for espionage and heresy to flagellation, imprisonment, local banishment, and a variety of fines. Determination of punishment is left to the judge or chief executive, who can vary the punishment according to a number of criteria including who has inflicted the crime and upon whom.} (Source:


Gang-rape or public rape is considered hiraba as that is more in line with its classical definition as a war crime or crime against civilization and society. In the author’s opinion this applies to the rape victim ‘Nirbhaya’ who was raped in a running bus and thrown away to die, and unfortunately later succumbed to her wounds in a Singapore hospital. This can be supported by the opinion of the famous jurist, Ibn Hazm, who gave the widest definition of hiraba, defining a hiraba offender as: ‘One who puts people in fear on the road, whether or not with a weapon, at night or day, in urban areas or in open spaces, in the palace of a caliph or a mosque, with or without accomplices, in the desert or in the village, in a large or small city, with one or more people… making people fear that they’ll be killed, or have money taken, or be raped (hatk al ‘arad)… whether the attackers are one or many.”

Therefore the classification of rape in ‘Hiraba’ is logical, as the “taking” is of the victim’s property (the rape victim’s sexual autonomy) by force. Maliki judge Ibn ‘Arabi, relates a story in which a group was attacked and a woman in their party was raped. Responding to the argument that the crime did not constitute hiraba because no money was taken and no weapons used, Ibn ‘Arabi replied indignantly that “hiraba with the private parts” is much worse than hiraba involving the taking of money. The Maaliki Jurist, Ibn Abdul-Barr has stated regarding rape “The scholars are unanimously agreed that the rapist is to be subjected to the hadd (i.e. the punishment of death) if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves the hadd punishment, or if he admits to that. Otherwise, he is to be punished [with tazir].

The focus in a hiraba prosecution is the accused rapist and his intent and physical actions, and not second-guessing the consent of the rape victim. Hiraba does not require four witnesses to prove the offense; it requires circumstantial evidence, medical data and expert testimony to prosecute such crimes. During the time of the Holy Prophet was inflicted on a rapist on the solitary evidence of the woman who was raped by him. Wa’il ibn Hujr reports of an incident when a woman intending to go for Prayer [in the mosque] was raped. Later, when some people came by, she identified and accused the man of raping her. They seized him and brought him to Allah’s messenger, where the rapist admitted his crime. Allah’s messenger said to the woman, “Go away, for Allah has forgiven you,” but of the man who had raped her, he said, “Stone him to death.” (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud).

In Holy Quran Allah says: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” [Surah al-Nisa: Verse 135]

So what is our duty as members of this society, and Allah’s vicegerent on earth? To stand by justice in whatever possible capacity we can… that as a witness, as a police man, as a medical expert, as a judge or simply as a common man!!

A Dialogue With A Friend

All the above analysis on the reasons and genesis of ‘rape’, the most deplorable and heinous crime against women reminds me of a discussion with a female friend few years back on a similar theme. I would like to share the dialogue that happened between me and my dear friend Aayisha with readers:

Amjad: Aashu have you ever seen your parents making love or for that matter kissing or hugging in your presence?

Aayisha: No, not at all. Ours is a very dignified family.

Amjad: Have you ever kissed or hugged your boyfriend in presence of your or his parents?

Aayisha: How is it possible yaar?,,,,, to indulge in such acts in presence of our elderly and respectable ones. No, not at all.

Amjad: Oh ! I suppose you don’t feel to get intimate with him??

Aayisha: Of course I do have such feelings yaar. After all I too am human.

Amjad: Where do you meet then?

Aayisha: We generally meet in a park under open sky, or in a coffee shop, or in a cinema hall if he has money for tickets. The cheapest is to sit under a tree in a public park!

Amjad: Don’t people see you there??

Aayisha: So what!! They don’t know us. Who cares! We are open minded and free to enjoy anywhere.

Amjad: But,,,,I once went into such a park along with my parents when I was a kid myself. I saw a couple in an intimate position, who were kissing, rubbing and hugging under a shady tree. It surprised me and I asked my parents that what are they doing?? They blushed and asked me to shut up and not pay attention to them. However the scene and the thoughts reverberated in my mind for several days!!! Don’t you feel that kids and teenagers get unduly influenced and readily carried away by your this act, and their immature minds get polluted?

Aayisha: May be! But what do I do? I am young and independent. I too have a right to enjoy my life! I cannot take responsibility of the whole society!!

Amjad: Yes you are young, so why don’t you get married?

Aayisha: Are you nuts? I am too young, just eighteen and my boy friend is nineteen. He has a long way to go for a proper professional settlement and I too am not yet prepared for the responsibilities of marriage.

Amjad: Why so?

Aayisha: I am as ambitious as you are. I have been brought up by my parents as an equal to my brother, and want to be financially independent before getting married.

Amjad: Why do you wear such clothes in which you look half naked?

Aayisha: Mind you!! I am an independent citizen of an independent country and want to look beautiful and attractive. I am comfortable in such clothes. What is your problem?

Amjad: Aashu, I don’t have any problem. However, I feel these attract the attention of undesirable and criminal elements towards you because they see you as an object. A genuine man shall get attracted to you and will appreciate your beauty as a person, not as a body. So whom do you want to attract?

Aayisha: But I don’t mind as long as they behave properly.

Amjad: God forbid, if they start misbehaving then what will you do? You know your whole honour as well as peaceful life of your family shall be at stake!

Aayisha: What nonsense? I will be the victim and despite that you are trying to frighten me??? You male chauvinist!

Amjad: No dear, I am only worried, and am cautioning you because I am your well wisher. Trust me!

Aayisha: But my feminist friends and women activists say that, being a patriarchal society women are oppressed and objectified as machines for producing children. Further sons are given undue importance, which bolsters them to look down upon women. This promotes them to carryout crimes against women, like rape!

Amjad: But to my knowledge, women are enjoying equal rights vis a vis men under our constitutional setup. Even some special provisions are also there, which are meant for women welfare only. Further I have never seen a family which would encourage their children to molest or rape a woman, in fact the head of the family often sets an example by discharging his responsibility of ‘protecting’ the members of his family, be that his wife or his daughters or sons. However, in families were fathers have a drinking habit and either of the parents is morally bad; children may get adversely affected and develop either 11 oversensitivity or insensitivity towards such crimes against women. But, alas! Government gets excise duty and other taxes from liquor sale and it is therefore in their interest to protect this industry. This is a paradox!

Aayisha: Mind your own business and just leave me alone Amjad. I am yet to meet a fool who is ready to take a risk of going to jail for a life-term or at least 7 years, just for fulfilling his lust of 30 minutes! Besides, laws of our country and the police are there for my safety!

Amjad: Oh sorry! I hope the poor policeman reaches to your rescue, if he is not busy protecting the so called VIPs. You and I are LIPs (Less Important People), and therefore for us I think “Prevention is always better than cure!” Bye. Take care!

Aayisha: You too. Bye

I am missing my cute innocent friend Aayesha these days more than earlier, as she is no more now. She killed herself after facing defeat at the hands of this cruel society which bolstered her into being bold and (so called) modern, but did not support her after she met with more than an accident….Rape by her boy-friend’s friend !


[Dr. Amjad Masood Hussaini is an Environmental and Plant Biotechnologist of International repute currently working as Assistant Professor (Senior Scale) in Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology of Kashmir, J&K (India). Dr. A. M. Hussaini is also associated with as Environment Editor. He can be contacted at]
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