Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center
The Muslim penchant to target “white” women for sexual exploitation—an epidemic currently plaguing Europe, especially Britain and Scandinavia—is as old as Islam itself, and even traces back to Muhammad.
Much literary evidence attests to this in the context of Islam’s early predations on Byzantium (for centuries, Christendom’s easternmost bulwark against the jihad). According to Ahmad M. H. Shboul (author of “Byzantium and the Arabs: The Image of the Byzantines as Mirrored in Arabic Literature”) Christian Byzantium was the “classic example of the house of war,” or Dar al-Harb—that is, the quintessential realm that needs to be conquered by jihad. Moreover, Byzantium was seen “as a symbol of military and political power and as a society of great abundance.”
The similarities between pre-modern Islamic views of Byzantium and modern Islamic views of the West—powerful, affluent, desirable, and the greatest of all infidels—should be evident. But they do not end here. To the medieval Muslim mind, Byzantium was further representative of “white people”—fair haired/eyed Christians, or, as they were known in Arabic, Banu al-Asfar, “children of yellow” (reference to blonde hair).
The Byzantines as a people were considered as fine examples of physical beauty, and youthful slaves and slave-girls of Byzantine origin were highly valued…. The Arab’s appreciation of the Byzantine female has a long history indeed. For the Islamic period, the earliest literary evidence we have is a hadith (saying of the Prophet). Muhammad is said to have addressed a newly converted [to Islam] Arab: “Would you like the girls of Banu al-Asfar?” Not only were Byzantine slave girls sought after for caliphal and other palaces (where some became mothers of future caliphs), but they also became the epitome of physical beauty, home economy, and refined accomplishments. The typical Byzantine maiden who captures the imagination of litterateurs and poets, had blond hair, blue or green eyes, a pure and healthy visage, lovely breasts, a delicate waist, and a body that is like camphor or a flood of dazzling light.
While the essence of the above excerpt is true, the reader should not be duped by its overly “romantic” tone. Written for a Western academic publication by an academic of Muslim background, the essay is naturally euphemistic to the point of implying that being a sex slave was desirable—as if her Arab owners were enamored devotees who merely doted over and admired her beauty from afar.
Indeed, Muhammad asked a new convert “Would you like the girls of Banu al-Asfar?” as a way to entice him to join the jihad and reap its rewards—which, in this case, included the possibility of enslaving and raping blonde Byzantine women—not as some idealistic discussion on beauty.
This enticement seems to have backfired with another Muslim who refused Muhammad’s call to invade Byzantine territory (the Tabuk campaign). “O Abu Wahb,” cajoled Muhammad, “would you not like to have scores of Byzantine women and men as concubines and servants?” Wahb responded: “O Messenger of Allah, my people know that I am very fond of women and, if I see the women of the Byzantines, I fear I will not be able to hold back. So do not tempt me by them, and allow me not to join and, instead, I will assist you with my wealth.” The prophet agreed but was apparently unimpressed—after all, Wahb could have all the Byzantine women he desired if the jihad succeeded—and a new Sura for the Koran (9:49) was promptly delivered condemning the man to hell for his reported hypocrisy and failure to join the jihad.
Thus a more critical reading of Shboul’s aforementioned excerpt finds that European slave girls were not “highly valued” or “appreciated” as if they were precious statues—they were held out as sexual trophies to entice Muslims to the jihad.
Moreover, the idea that some sex slaves became mothers to future caliphs is meaningless since in Islam’s patriarchal culture, mothers—Muslim or non-Muslim—were irrelevant in lineage and had no political status. And talk of “litterateurs and poets” and “a body that is like camphor or a flood of dazzling light” is further anachronistic and does a great disservice to reality: These women were—as they still are—sex slaves, treated no differently than the many slaves of the Islamic State today.
For example, during a recent sex slave auction held by the Islamic State, blue and green eyed Yazidi girls were much coveted and fetched the highest price. Even so, these concubines are being cruelly tortured. In one instance, a Muslim savagely beat his Yazidi slave’s one year old child until she agreed to meet all his sexual demands.
Another relevant parallel between medieval and modern Islamic views exists: white women were and continue to be seen as sexually promiscuous by nature—essentially “provoking” Muslim men into lusting after them.
Much of this is discussed in Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs by Nadia Maria El Cheikh. She writes:
Fitna, [an Islamic term] meaning disorder and chaos, refers also to the beautiful femme fatale who makes men lose their self-control. Fitna is a key concept in defining the dangers that women, more particularly their bodies, were capable of provoking in the mental universe of the Arab Muslims.
After explaining how the fair haired/eyed Byzantine woman exemplified Islam’s femme fatale of fitna, Cheikh writes:
In our [Muslim] texts, Byzantine women are strongly associated with sexual immorality…
Our sources show not Byzantine women but [Muslim] writers’ images of these women, who served as symbols of the eternal female—constantly a potential threat, particularly due to blatant exaggerations of their sexual promiscuity….
Cheikh documents how Muslims claimed that Byzantine (or “white Christian”) females were the “most shameless women in the whole world”; that, “because they find sex more enjoyable, they are prone to adultery”; that “adultery is commonplace in the cities and markets of Byzantium”—so much so that “the nuns from the convents went out to the fortresses to offer themselves to monks.”
While the one quality that our [Muslim] sources never deny is the beauty of Byzantine women, the image that they create in describing these women is anything but beautiful. Their depictions are, occasionally, excessive, virtually caricatures, overwhelmingly negative….
Such anecdotes [of sexual promiscuity] are clearly far from Byzantine reality and must be recognized for what they are: attempts to denigrate and defame a rival culture through their exaggeration of the laxity with which Byzantine culture dealt with its women….
In fact, in Byzantium, women were expected to be retiring, shy, modest, and devoted to their families and religious observances…. [T]he behavior of most women in Byzantium was a far cry from the depictions that appear in Arabic sources.”
Based on all the above, some historic facts emerge: Byzantium was long viewed by early Muslims as the most powerful, advanced, and wealthy “infidel” empire, one highly desired—not unlike modern Islamic views of the West today. And Byzantine women, or “white women,” were long viewed as the “femme fatale” of Islam—from a carnal perspective, the most desired, from a pious perspective, the most despised of women.
Turning to today, we find all these same patterns at work—including the idea that “white women” are naturally promiscuous and provoke pious Muslim men into raping them. Thus last December in the UK, while a Muslim man raped a British woman, he told her that “you white women are good at it”—thereby echoing that ancient Islamic motif concerning the alleged promiscuity of white women.
The UK is also home to one of the most notorious Muslim-led sex ring scandals: in Rotherham and elsewhere, thousands of young native British girls have been systematically groomed, trafficked, beaten and sexually abused by Muslims—even as the “multiculturalist” authorities and police stood by and watched. (For more on the UK scandal and Islamic law on sex slavery click here).
In fact, all throughout Europe—particularly in the Nordic nations—thousands of “Byzantine-type” women have been violently raped and egregiously beaten by Muslims. In Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—where fair hair and eyes predominate—rape has astronomically risen since those nations embraced the doctrine of multiculturalism and opened their doors to tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants.
According to Gatestone Institute, “Forty years after the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1,472%.” The overwhelming majority of rapists are Muslim immigrants. The epidemic is so bad that some blonde haired Scandinavian women are dying their hair black in the hopes of warding off potential Muslim predators.
Nor is this phenomenon a product of chance; some modern day Muslims actually advocate for it. Back in 2011, a female politician and activist trying to combat sexual immorality in Kuwait suggested that Muslims import white sex slaves. After explaining how she once asked Islamic clerics living in the city of Mecca concerning the legality of sex slavery and how they all confirmed it to be perfectly legitimate, she explained:
A Muslim state must [first] attack a Christian state—sorry, I mean any non-Muslim state—and they [the women, the future sex slaves] must be captives of the raid. Is this forbidden? Not at all; according to Islam, sex slaves are not at all forbidden. [See here, here, and here for more on Islamic law and sex slavery.]
As for what sort of “infidel” women are ideal, the Kuwaiti activist suggested Russian women (most of whom are fair haired and eyed; ironically, Russia is often seen as Byzantium’s successor):
In the Chechnya war, surely there are female Russian captives. So go and buy those and sell them here in Kuwait; better that than have our men engage in forbidden sexual relations. I don’t see any problem in this, no problem at all.
In short, the ongoing epidemic in the UK, Scandinavia and elsewhere—whereby Muslim men sexually target white women—is as old as Islam, has precedents with the prophet and his companions, and, till this day, is being recommended as a legitimate practice by some in the Muslim world.
1. Shboul’s essay is found in Arab-Byzantine Relations in Early Islamic Times (ed. Michael Bonner, Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 240, 248.
2. This apologetic approach is also found in modern academic works discussing the janissaries—European Christian boys who were seized by the Ottoman Empire, converted to and indoctrinated in Islam, trained to be jihadis extraordinaire, and then unleashed on their former Christian families. Although young, terrified boys were seized from the clutches of their devastated parents, modern academics claim that Christian families actually hoped their boys would be taken and trained as janissaries, as this would ensure that they have a “bright future” in the Ottoman hierarchy.
3. Arabic tafsir here: http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=5&tSoraNo=9&tAyahNo=49&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 A shorter version of the narrative also appears in Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad (trans. A. Guillaume, NY: Oxford University Press, 1997), 602-603.
4. Nadia Maria el Cheikh, Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 123-129.