Jihad for Sex

by Yaghoub Yadali    /  May 22, 2014  / 1 Comment

Reports of religious prostitution in the Syrian Conflict.

Sexual Jihad

News outlet Syrian Perspective interviews Syrian teenager about her family's insistence that sexual jihad would result in a spiritual reward. Credit: Syrian Perspective

Last month, news was published that Interpol is searching for two Austrian girls, aged fifteen and sixteen years old, who had run away from home to take part in the Syrian jihad.

  1. Under Eastern Eyes, a column by Yaghoub Yadali
  2. “Enemy…terrorism…nuclear bomb…war.” These words are often used by American media to describe Iran. The image the media presents is often hazy, incomplete, and distorted. The political and military aspects of my country are covered mainly in a negative light.
  3. In Under Eastern Eyes (I have adopted the name from the novel Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad), I will write about those topics which American media either cannot or does not want to talk about. The emphasis will be on social and cultural aspects of Iran although, out of necessity, I will talk about politics, despite my despair.
  4. Under Eastern Eyes, a column by Yaghoub Yadali
  5. Yaghoub Yadali, born in 1970, is a writer and television director. His first work of fiction, the short-story collection Sketches in the Garden, was published in 1997. It was followed in 2001 by Probability of Merriment and Mooning, which was named book of the year by the Writers and Critics Award. His first novel, The Rituals of Restlessness, won the 2004 Golshiri Foundation Award for the best novel of the year and was named as one of the ten best novels of the decade by the Press Critics Award. He has also published many articles and reviews of literature and cinema in newspapers and magazines in Iran.

Official radio and television outlets in Iran also reported that they had gone to Syria to take part in “coupling jihad,” or “sexual jihad.”

In Islamic religious instruction Jihad can be interpreted as the necessity to combat enemies of Islam for all Muslims; “sexual jihad” apparently refers to the act of Muslim women providing sexual favors to Muslim men who are in jihad. There’s room for debate about how a fifteen-year-old girl could participate in jihad, but in the past two years there have been many reports published on the participation of women in sexual jihad and there are videos on YouTube that are supposedly about the women who’ve come back from Syria, explaining their wretched situation.

The expression “sexual Jihad” does not exist in the religious and theological literature of all sects of Islam and, as far as I know, it does not exist in the Iranian Shia sect. I personally read this expression for the first time in Middle Eastern publications a little after the Arab Spring. Apparently some extremist clergy in Tunis or Saudi Arabia have declared a religious order about this, so that, based on it, Muslim women can serve men sexually without religious restrictions.

This religious order is so unconventional that the persons who issued it aren’t willing to accept responsibility for it. In fact, confirming the existence of such an order confirms a kind of religious prostitution. A prostitute sells her body for money and women who participate in sexual jihad sell their body for the promise of heaven. (Of course it’s said that besides the promise of heaven some of them also receive money.)

Contradictory stories about this aside, it seems that some Muslim women, for some reason, do give in to sexual slavery under the guise of religion; the point that grabs my attention is the presence of Western Muslim girls among them. It’s possible to understand the actions of a poor woman from the global South who’s forced to give in to this kind of prostitution, but the actions of these two Austrian girls—whose origins are Bosnian—are questionable. One of them, in a message sent after she ran away, supposedly said: “We will meet in heaven.” If their escape has no financial reason and they are under the influence of an extremist Muslim group—who are very good at using social inequalities and prejudices against immigrants in the West to attract young people—this process could accelerate and have terrible repercussions. Cases of using immigrants to conduct terroristic attacks are increasing (like the Boston Marathon bombing). This trend is alarming for the West. Finding an answer to the question of why some young Western Muslims are interested in becoming terrorists is very important.

About the Author

Yaghoub Yadali, born in 1970, is a writer and television director. His first work of fiction, the short-story collection Sketches in the Garden, was published in 1997. It was followed in 2001 by Probability of Merriment and Mooning, which was named book of the year by the Writers and Critics Award. His first novel, The Rituals of Restlessness, won the 2004 Golshiri Foundation Award for the best novel of the year and was named as one of the ten best novels of the decade by the Press Critics Award. He has also published many articles and reviews of literature and cinema in newspapers and magazines in Iran.

View all articles by Yaghoub Yadali

One Comment on "Jihad for Sex"

  1. Bina Shah May 22, 2014 at 11:13 am ·

    It’s good you’ve pointed out the fact that “sexual jihad” does not exist in Islam – I think the reports of this have been discredited and it was only those two girls who had been reported as having run away to Syria to do this. I believe mainstream clerics in Saudi Arabia came out and said it was ridiculous and completely against Islam. Which brings up another very interesting topic – how people like to argue that in Islam, you are “allowed” to keep slaves and allowed, more than that, to have “sex slaves” – which is also completely against Islam. Wish someone would write about that nonsense too!

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm

Fearless, Ink.