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How the Islamist Mindset Rationalizes — and Promotes — ‘Sex Sins’

Almost anything is permissible if it can help advance the jihad.

by
Raymond Ibrahim

Bio

March 1, 2010 - 12:00 am
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In light of this, how “un-Islamic” can it be for Islamists to gawk at nude, gyrating, infidel women — especially prior to “martyring” themselves in the jihad, which, as Muhammad said, blots out all their sins? This rationalization has precedents going back to the Middle Ages: Muslim groups like the Isma‘ilis created hidden “gardens of delight” swarming with voluptuous women, and, prior to sending their assassins on missions, would immerse them in these gardens, thereby giving these prototypical “suicide attackers” a foretaste of the sexual delights awaiting them in the afterlife. After this experience, the assassins would eagerly undertake any assignment simply to be “martyred” and return to the gardens of delight, which were based on “the description Muhammad gave of his paradise” (see Marco Polo’s 13th-century account).

Nor has this intersection between sex and violence subsided in the modern era. The Arabic satellite program Daring Question recently aired various clips of young jihadists giddily singing about their forthcoming deaths and subsequent sexual escapades in heaven. After documenting various anecdotes indicative of Islamist obsession with sex, human rights activist Magdi Khalil concluded that “absolutely everything [jihad, suicide operations, etc.] revolves around sex in heaven,” adding, “if you look at the whole of Islamic history, you come up with two words: sex and violence.”

Deceit, rationalizations, and a paradise that forgives the would-be martyr’s every sin — indeed, that satiates his hedonistic urges with 72 voluptuous women (which may only be raisins) — all help demonstrate how Muslims can be observant and simultaneously frequent strip clubs.

Yet there is one final explanation that requires an epistemic shift to appreciate fully: in Islam, legalism trumps morality, resulting in what Westerners may deem irreconcilable behavior among Muslims, that is, “hypocrisy.” As Daniel Pipes observed some three decades ago in his In the Path of God:

[There is] a basic contrast between the Christian and Islamic religions: the stress on ethics versus the stress on laws. Controls on sexual activity directly reflect this difference. The West restricts sex primarily by imbuing men and women with standards of morality. … Muslims, in contrast, depend on “external precautionary safeguards” [e.g., segregation, veiling] to restrain the sexes. … Rather than instill internalized ethical principles, Islam establishes physical boundaries to keep the sexes apart.

In this context, the problem is not Muslims frequenting strip clubs, but misplaced Western projections that assume religious piety is always synonymous with personal morality — a notion especially alien to legalistic Islamists whose entire epistemology begins and ends with the literal words of seventh-century Muhammad and his Koran.

And it is this slavishness that best explains Islamist behavior. For the same blind devotion to the literal mandates of Islam which encourages Islamists to lead lives of deceit also explains why Islamists are callous to human suffering, why they are desensitized to notions of human dignity and the cries of their raped victims, and, yes, why they cheerily forfeit their lives in exchange for a fleshy paradise. In all cases, Muhammad and his Allah said so — and that’s all that matters.

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Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum; and a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, 2013. Ibrahim’s dual-background -- born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East -- has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.
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