‘Wife rape’ fatwa sparks row in Egypt

Sheikh Yassir Burhami says a man can let his wife be raped if he is afraid for his life

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Egyptian preacher and Vice President of the Salafist Call Yasser Burhami has stirred controversy with a new religious edict, or fatwa, allowing men to let their wives be raped if they fear for their lives.

In another fatwa, he graphically described how a man must actually see his wife being penetrated by another man in order for him to claim an adultery case and therefore the right to kill his wife.


Burhami published his fatwas on the website Anasalafy.com, which is associated with his Salafist Call movement, the spiritual arm of the political al-Nour Party. He added that allowing one’s wife to be raped is like getting mugged for money.

“In this case he is forced [to surrender her] and not obliged [to defend her],” he said.

The fatwas were met with condemnation within Egypt and prompted an outcry on social media.

Assaeed Mohammad Ali, an official at the religious endowments ministry, told the daily al-Masry al-Youm newspaper that Burhami’s fatwa “has no basis in either Sharia or common law.”

“Every Muslim has to protect his honor even if that leads him to jail or death. The sacrifice to protect a wife’s honor is a religious obligation,” Ali added.

Burhami’s controversial fatwa also sparked criticism by scholars of al-Azhar University, considered to be the highest seat of Sunni learning.

Sheikh Ali Abu al-Hasan, the previous head of al-Azhar’s fatwa committee, was quoted by the daily Elaph website as saying that Burhami’s edict was “baseless in the Islamic Sharia” and that protecting a woman’s honor is an obligation for her husbands and relatives.

Mohammad al-Shahat al-Jundi, a member of the Islamic Research Council, also criticized the fatwa, saying it was not based on any “reliable precedent.”

But Sheikh Ali Hatem, a spokesman for the Governing Council of the Salafist Call party, defended his colleague Burhami, accusing an unnamed “infiltrator of seeking to create a crisis and stir problem.”

He said the question that prompted the fatwa was a “trap.”

“Sheikh Yasser stressed the obligation of defending the honor. But if the husband is certain that he is not capable of defending himself, that he will die and that the honor of his wife will be jeopardized, what can he do? He is allowed to choose between sacrificing the honor or protecting his life,” Sheikh Yasser said, in statement carried by al-Masry al-Youm.

Bizarre fatwa

The other bizarre fatwa - that said a Muslim man could on religious grounds kill his wife if he caught her in the act of sexual intercourse with another man -also subjected Burhami to another wave of criticism.

Member of Egypt’s Islamic Research Council al-Jundi also denounced this, saying all claims of adultery must be taken to court and that killing is not a form of punishment in proven adultery cases.

“In cases of adultery, husbands cannot breach the law and clinch their rights by the force of their arm,” al-Jundi told the daily Youm7 website.

Burhami, who is a hardline preacher, made the remarks in response to a question posed on his website.

Many took to social media to contest both of Burhami’s statements.

“If am married to Burhami, it’s haram to save him whether I live or die,” said one Twitter user, in reference to his fatwa on rape.

“May God avenge you, #Burhami you and those like you,” said another.

“They say the only animal who does not protect his females … is Yasser Burhami,” another Twitter user said.

On Thursday, Egypt’s religious endowments ministry banned the Salafist sheikh from preaching in any of the country’s mosques, citing the fact that Burhami is not an al-Azhar graduate as a reason.

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