Prominent Egyptian Cleric Issues Fatwa Saying Men Aren’t Obligated To Defend Wives From Being Raped

A major religious figure in Egypt is being absolutely hammered by his fellow Muslims after he recently gave an edict on how men should handle their wives being raped.

A summary of the comments:

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.

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The reaction:

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.”

One of Burhami’s colleagues tried to add context to what was said:

“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.”

Interestingly, I think Yasser is trying to be more moderate — if killing one’s wife over adultery can be considered “moderate” — in his adultery fatwa. It seems like he’s trying to say that a man has to have absolute proof of infidelity, which is a step up from some other prominent Muslims.


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