an adulterous man and his lover butted by a ram

Islam prohibits sex outside of marriage. Premarital and extramarital sex are sternly frowned upon. On the subject of adultery Muhammad said: "The adultery of the eye is to look with an eye of desire on the wife of another; and the adultery of the tongue is to utter what is forbidden.”

According to Muslim law men committing adultery are supposed to be publicly flogged and women who commit adultery are supposed to be stoned to death. In accordance with the law for a person to be convicted of adultery four male witnesses have to have observed the adulterous act.

In some places a husband has the right to injure or even kill his wife if she commits adultery. A wife can not do the same thing to her husband if he commits adultery. In other places — namely Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan — women accused of adultery have been stoned to death or buried up to their waists and pelted with shoes or stones.

The 1986 book “Anomilies and Curiosities” described an Arab family in which all members had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. The family, the al-Foldis, intermarried to keep the characteristic. If a child was born with 10 fingers and toes it was regarded a product of adultery and killed.

Websites and Resources: Islam ; Islamic City ; Islam 101 ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance ; BBC article ; Patheos Library – Islam ; University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts ; Encyclopædia Britannica article on Islam ; Islam at Project Gutenberg ; Islam from UCB Libraries GovPubs ; Muslims: PBS Frontline documentary frontline ; Discover Islam;

Arabs: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Who Is an Arab? ; Encyclopædia Britannica article ; Arab Cultural Awareness ; Arab Cultural Center ; 'Face' Among the Arabs, CIA ; Arab American Institute ; Introduction to the Arabic Language ; Wikipedia article on the Arabic language Wikipedia ;

Sharia (Islamic Law): Oxford Dictionary of Islam ; Encyclopædia Britannica ; Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Sharia by Knut S. Vikør, Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics ; Law by Norman Calder, Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World ; Sharia Law in the International Legal Sphere – Yale University ; 'Recognizing Sharia' in Britain, anthropologist John R. Bowen discusses Britain's sharia courts ; "The Reward of the Omnipotent" late 19th Arabic manuscript about Sharia;

Arabs: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Who Is an Arab? ; Encyclopædia Britannica article ; Arab Cultural Awareness ; Arab Cultural Center ; 'Face' Among the Arabs, CIA ; Arab American Institute ; Introduction to the Arabic Language ; Wikipedia article on the Arabic language Wikipedia

Prostitution in the Middle East

Many Middle Eastern cities have exclusive brothels, often featuring young foreign girls and local university students, that are patronized by members of the elite and government officials. They usually receive a degree of high level government protection. Prostitution rings in India and Latin America provide children for clients abroad, particularly in the Middle East.

Most of the prostitutes in the United Arab Emirates are from Russia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. Every year large numbers of men from the rich Persian Gulf states come to Egypt, marry a young village girl, have sex with her, sometimes get her pregnant, and then abandon her. A member of an Egyptian women’s group told the New York Times, “There are brokers who the Saudi men go to and say, I want a girl, I want her fat, I want her blonde, I want her young.”

In Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, there were reports of public killings of prostitutes to earn brownie points with Islamists. Destitute women there have turned to prostitution. In some places, teenage girls in red turbans and black dresses gather on the highways and twirl around and ask passing male driver to “Come buy our fish,” a reference to buying sex. Many of their customers are truck drivers. Temporary marriages are seen as a kind of prostitution.

Prostitutes in Turkey

Brothels are legal in Turkey. The prostitutes are examined regularly by doctors who certify that they are healthy. Most of Istanbul's brothels are located off of a cobblestone street near Galata Tower. At the entrance gate there is a small police station, and among the maze of alleys there are perhaps a hundred brothels. I visited the area on a Friday night with a friend just to see what it like, and I must say I never saw anything quite like it before. Most of the prostitutes were topless and in pretty sad shape. Nonetheless, hundreds of men leered over them.

When writer Paul Theroux visited Istanbul in the 1970s he was warned that most of the prostitutes on Iştiklâl Caddesi were transvestites who worked during the day as crew members on the Bosporus ferries. He met one Turkish man who slept with one of these prostitutes and made love to "her" four times before he woke up the next morning to find her "wig" had fallen off, exposing an enormous penis.

In the 1990s, Mathilde Manukyan, a 76 year-old Armenian madam with four grandchildren, earned about $4 million a year from her chain of brothels in Istanbul, and was said to be Turkey's largest taxpayer (over $1.2 million a year). Her career began as fashion designer and her first brothel was given to her by a client who couldn't pay her bill. The prostitutes pay Manukyan $14 for every trick and everything over that they get to keep. In 1993, Manukyan employed about 1,000 people, owned 70 properties and had a Rolls Royce, several Mercedes and a Cadillac. [Simon Sebag Montefiore, New Republic, July 1993 ¤]

Manukyan said she never the visited the brothels herself; she has managers who run them. She claims her business has a therapeutic role in society. "Visiting my houses save marriages," she told journalist Simon Sebag Montefiore. "When husbands visit them their morale is boosted: sometimes a marriage gets caught in a rut and this improves it. Brothels are necessary and healthy. I believe that for a young man they are requirement of nature and of God."¤

Russian and Eastern European Prostitutes in Turkey

Laleli is the street walking prostitute district of Istanbul. Most of the prostitutes here in the 1990s were Romanian women who have come to Turkey to earn hard currency. After the collpase of the Soviet Union, Russian women started intruding on their territory. Many of these women were professionals in other fields back home. One prostitute women arrested in Antalya, was an economics professor with a Ph.D.

presumed portrait of Hurrem Kadinefendi, forth wife of Sultan Ahmed III

The prostitutes from Russia and the other Soviet Republics were called "Natashas." They entered Turkey with month-long tourist visas and, like the Romanian women, many came to Turkey to earn money to take care of their children back home. Some Natashas had steady clients who put them up in hotels. Some were street walkers. Others cruised the highways near Turkish military compounds.

A pair of twin Bulgarian prostitutes seduced and stole the truck of Turkish driver who was carrying a shipment of lingerie at a flea market in Romania. The police easily found the women after they had been told to look for two identical woman having difficulty driving a truck.

Prostitution in Iran

In the Shah era prostitution was tolerated. Brothels were often established in groups in separate neighborhoods. Under the ayatollahs, prostitution became a crime punishable by lashing and brothels were destroyed. Even so, Iran has a surprising number of prostitutes and the government has raised the idea of legalizing prostitution, under the name of “chastity houses,” as a means of controlling prostitution.

In the early 2000s, there were around 300,000 prostitutes in Tehran alone. Many of them were young girls escaping abusive families, drug addicts who turned to prostitution as a way of supporting their habit, or were the wives of drug addicts who were forced by their husbands to take up prostitution to support their husband’s habit. [Source: Nazila Faithi, New York Times, August 28, 2002]

One 26-year-old prostitute, who been in the streets since she was 16, told the New York Times, “This is the only job I know.” She said she was forced into prostitution by her brutal, drug-addicted husband but continued to with it after she left her husband to pay for the private school fees for her 10-year-old son. “I’ll do anything to give him a different life.” she said.

In the early 2000s, a serial killer or killers, dubbed the Spider by the press, killed 21 prostitutes mostly in the city of Mashhad. The victims were strangled with a scarf and were found along roadsides or in open sewers wrapped in their chadors that had been knotted to serve as body bags. The murder was called the Spider because the victims looked like they were wrapped in a web ready to be devoured. Religious conservatives called the Spider a hero and praised him for carrying out a moral cleansing campaign. All the victims had police records for drug use or prostitution. This raised suspicion that the killer may have been getting support from authorities.

A construction workers named Saeed Hanaei confessed to 16 of the murders. He said he began the campaign after a bus driver mistook his wife for a prostitute and carried out the murders at his house while his wife and children were doing their prayers. He was caught after one prostitute escaped after scratching him with here long naisl and punching him in the stomach and then led police to his house. Hanaei said he had no regrets. He also had sex with them and boasted that killing them was as easy as “breaking open a melon.” He was executed in April 2002.

Prostitution laws of the world : 1) Decriminalization - No criminal penalties for prostitution (light blue); 2) Legalization -prostitution legal and regulated (green); 3) Abolitionism - prostitution is legal, but organized activities such as brothels and pimping are illegal; prostitution is not regulated (blue); 4) Neo-abolitionism illegal to buy sex and for 3rd party involvement, legal to sell sex (orange); 5) Prohibitionism - prostitution illegal (red); 6) Legality varies with local laws (gray)

Temporary Marriage, a Shia Practice

Temporary marriage, “mutah”, is distinctive and frequently misunderstood custom found in Shia Islam. Mutah is a fixed-term contract that is subject to renewal. It was practiced by the first community of Muslims at Medina but was banned by the second caliph. Mutah differs from permanent marriage in that it does not require divorce to terminate it. It can be for a period as short as an evening or as long as a lifetime. The offspring of such an arrangement are the legitimate heirs of the man. [Source: Helen Chapin Metz, Library of Congress, 1988 *]

Temporary marriages can last for a few minutes or 99 years and are sanctified with an oral or written contract and by reciting some verses from the Qur’an. Women usually receive money for entering into such a union The contract states the agreed-upon period of time of the marriage and the amount of money paid.

A woman cannot terminate a temporary marriage before it expires unless the man agrees. Once the marriage is over, she has to wait at least two menstrual cycles before she can have another relationship so that paternity can be easily determined if she becomes pregnant. Unlike permanent marriages, which require consent of the parents, a temporary marriage can often be worked out secretly by the couple. The customs vary from place to place but in most cases witnesses need not be present and the marriages doesn’t have to be registered.

In many cases, though, a woman must let a significant amount of time pass after a temporary marriage ends before she can enter a permanent marriage. She is also required to abstain from sex for a period of time so that if she get pregnant she can identify who the father is. The father is required by law to support children resulting from a temporary marriage. If he denies his child’s legitimacy he is not required to be responsible for the child as he would be in a permanent marriage

Nancy Trejos wrote in the Washington Post, “Shia clerics and others who practice mutaa say such marriages are keeping young women from having unwed sex and widowed or divorced women from resorting to prostitution to make money. They say a mutaa marriage is not much different from a traditional marriage in which the husband pays the wife's family a dowry and provides for her financially. "It was designed as a humanitarian help for women," said Mahdi al-Shog, a Shia cleric. According to Shia religious law, a mutaa relationship can last for a few minutes or several years. A man can have an unlimited number of mutaa wives and a permanent wife at the same time. A woman can have only one husband at a time, permanent or temporary. No written contract or official ceremony is required in a mutaa. When the time limit ends, the man and woman go their separate ways with none of the messiness of a regular divorce. [Source: Nancy Trejos, Washington Post, January 20, 2007]


Temporary 'Enjoyment Marriages' in Iraq

Lehnert and Landrock photo: Rudolf Lehnert (1878-1948) and Ernst Landrock (1878-1966) were famous producers of early 20th century European photographs of the Near East

Reporting from Baghdad,Nancy Trejos wrote in the Washington Post, “Fatima Ali was a 24-year-old divorcee with no high school diploma and no job. Shawket al-Rubae was a 34-year-old Shia sheik with a pregnant wife who, he said, could not have sex with him. Ali wanted someone to take care of her. Rubae wanted a companion. [Source: Nancy Trejos, Washington Post, January 20, 2007]

“They met one afternoon in May at the house he shares with his wife, in the room where he accepts visitors seeking his religious counsel. He had a proposal. Would Ali be his temporary wife? He would pay her 5,000 Iraqi dinars upfront -- about $4 -- in addition to her monthly expenses. About twice a week over the next eight months, he would summon her to a house he would rent. The negotiations took an hour and ended with an unwritten agreement, the couple recalled. Thus began their "mutaa," or enjoyment marriage, a temporary union believed by Shia Muslims to be sanctioned by Islamic law

The Shia practice began 1,400 years ago, in what is now Iraq and other parts of the region, as a way to provide for war widows. Banned by President Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led government, it has regained popularity since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq brought the majority Shia to power, said clerics, women's rights activists and mutaa spouses. "During Saddam's time, there was no religious freedom," said Faris al-Shareef, a sheik who lives in the mainly Shia city of Hilla.

“Many Sunnis believe that the practice is outdated and ripe for abuse. They also see it as more evidence of Iranian influence on Iraqi life. Mutaa is widespread in Iran's Shia theocratic state. "It is a big insult to women," said Ibtsam Z. Alsha, a Sunni lawyer and the head of the organization Women for the Common Good of Women. Women's rights activists also bemoan what they say is an increase in mutaa on college campuses. Some female students do it for money. Others do it for love when their parents forbid them to marry a man from another sect.

“Amani, a 22-year-old Baghdad University engineering student, said she is a Sunni but agreed to enter into a mutaa relationship with her Shia boyfriend because her parents disapproved of him. "I hated my family because they did not allow this marriage," she said. "I did this to spite my family." Still, she has not told them about the relationship. "If they find out, it will be my end," she said. A woman cannot terminate a temporary marriage before it expires unless the man agrees, said four sheiks interviewed for this article. Once the marriage is over, she has to wait at least two menstrual cycles before she can have another relationship so that paternity can be easily determined if she becomes pregnant, they said.

Stories Behind the Temporary 'Enjoyment Marriages' in Iraq

Lehnert and Landrock photo

Nancy Trejos wrote in the Washington Post, Although the temporary arrangements are becoming more common, they are still controversial, and people usually conduct them secretly. Ali had a normal marriage once. It lasted only three months because the couple did not get along. Her chances for another permanent marriage, she said, were slim. Men often prefer virgins over widows and divorced women, she said. She welcomed Rubae's proposal because he was a well-known sheik in her neighborhood. Her family was fond of him. "He was a good guy, and he was a religious man," she said. [Source: Nancy Trejos, Washington Post, January 20, 2007]

“Rubae had been in 15 mutaa marriages before. A year ago he entered into a permanent marriage with a woman who had been his mutaa wife for a day. When she became pregnant eight months ago, she suggested he take a temporary wife but asked him not to tell her if he did. She does not know about his involvement with Ali. "As a pregnant woman, she cannot give me my needs," Rubae said. "She treats me real good and she wants me to be happy."

“He chose Ali partly because her blond hair, light brown eyes and petite figure had always attracted him. "When she puts makeup on, it destroys her beauty," he said. He also liked that she was religiously devout, and he said he wanted to keep her from a relationship outside of marriage. Ali didn't think of him in a romantic way at first. "After we got married, I started loving him," she said. The money he gave her helped. Her father owns a bakery but money has always been tight, so much so that she had to end her education after elementary school. But money wasn't her only reason for entering the enjoyment marriage. "I have needs just like any other woman," she said.

“Um Ahmed, a 28-year-old woman from Najaf, lost her husband in 2005 when he was caught in the crossfire of a fight between two Shia militias. Soon after his death, she had her first mutaa relationship, with a man who was in a permanent marriage. He paid her 50,000 Iraqi dinars upfront -- or $38 -- and gave her money whenever she needed it during their six-month relationship. She said she needed it often. She is a tailor and the only one in her family of 10 who works. "When a human being needs money, the need will make a person do anything," she said. "It's better than doing the wrong things. This is religiously accepted."

Muslim Porn Star Nadia Ali

Nadia Ali is Muslim porn actress who performs in traditional Islamic dress. William Watkinson wrote in International Business Times, “A practicing Muslim porn star who performs in traditional dress says she has no plans to quit her controversial profession despite being "banned" from Pakistan, where many of her family live. Nadia Ali is an American adult film actress who says she was brought up in "a very strict Islamic community" by Pakistani parents and prays regularly whilst acknowledging her religion is in conflict with her job. Her adult performances have been viewed by millions and she says she has been "officially banned from Pakistan" for her videos in traditional Islamic dress, with a veil or hijab. According to the 25-year-old, traditional dresses are in demand by porn producers. [Source: William Watkinson, International Business Times, August 2, 2016]

New-Jersey Muslim porn star Nadia Ali

The former eyebrow technician has been in the porn industry for two-and-a-half years after working as an erotic dancer then escort. The Los Angeles resident says that the porn industry is just a temporary move and she plans to move back into the beauty industry. In an interview with Refinery29, Ali said she was "officially banned from Pakistan" adding that "it's been on all the news...they banned me because I wore the scarf and the traditional dress in the adult scenes and performed in Islamic wear."

Hijab porn is an emerging genre in the industry. Ali said she has been attacked and subjected to death threats. Mia Khalifa, another adult film star, has also received death threats for also wearing a hijab in some of her movies. Ali's projects included a controversial adult film called Women of the Middle East. She said in the video interview: "I'm a practicing Muslim. Sure I have conflicts between my faith and day-to-day life, but doesn't everybody? I practice Islam, for the sake of peace and guidelines of life – not to steal, be humble, be happy, be thankful. "One of the biggest main sins is adultery and doing it multiple times a day as an escort you will not be forgiven and I am fully aware of that but yet I still pray. But I don't escort anymore."

Ali said "ideally" her parents would prefer her not to work in the porn industry – but they do understand her choice. And she said that the only time she walked out of a movie was when he co-star was portrayed as Donald Trump. "After doing 20 scenes, I quit, because I realised that in some of the scenes, they were trying to make Middle Eastern people look bad," she said. "They offered me to do a scene where an all-American white guy dressed like Donald Trump is f****** a Muslim girl. I felt disrespected. That wasn't going to be my 21st scene."

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: "Encyclopedia of the World Cultures" edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994). Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The Guardian, BBC, Al Jazeera, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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