Little Mosque On The Prairie

Playing With Fire

The Sin of Khalwat and Who Gets Your Women

And the insanity spreads. One of the sins on display in this episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie is the sin of khalwat, the sin of "close proximity.” This sin made the news last week with the Malaysian state of Terengganu’s plans to hire spies to catch couples guilty of khalwat.

Under the Sharia (Islamic law) you are guilty of khalwat, not only if you are too close to a person of the opposite sex, but also if you are discovered to be naked or near-naked with a member of the same sex for “no good reason” e.g. sleeping naked in the same bed.

Khalwat is not a trivial sin. In Iran the punishment for members of the same sex found naked together for no good reason is up to 99 lashes.

The Islamic prohibition against what most non-Muslims would consider normal getting-to-know-you relationships or innocent flirting can have extremely violent consequences for young women and girls.

The danger in prohibitions like the khalwat, which goes against human nature, was evident in the gang-rapes of innocent Muslim girls in such a civilised city as Paris where gangs of young Muslim men, whose religion has denied them the opportunity to get to know the opposite sex as human beings, thought nothing of brutalizing girls who “get too close.”

Samira Bellil, the young woman who exposed what was happening to young Muslim girls in the primarily Muslim suburbs of Paris in her biography “Dans l’enfer des tournantes”, (In the hell of the tournantes, my translation) was eulogized by the President of the French Republic when she died at the young age of 34 in 2004.

Her publisher Gallimard Editions tried to explained what happened to her and other young Muslim girls who wanted nothing more than to live like normal, well-adjusted French girls. The khalwat is much to blame.

… [young Muslim men] are caught in a contradiction between the inflexible demands  of their cultural origins (religious fundamentalism, seclusion of women, polygamy …) and a cultural environment filled with erotic images. Flirting is not allowed, nor is friendship between boys and girls thereby heightening the sexual tension. The only sexual education available to these young people is from pornographic films, they have no other representation of what constitute a romantic relationship. These young people have no barometer and no appreciation of the gravity of their actions. For them “la tournante” is just a game and the girls the objects [of that game].

The sin committed by Rayyan was getting close to a man to whom she is not related nor married, and that of the daughter of Baber who is shown studying with a classmate of the opposite sex after experiencing her first menstrual cycle.

To avoid his daughter getting too close to a boy again Baber is prepared to send her to a madrassa, an Islamic school. His daughter gets the best line of the night, accusing her father of wanting to make her into an “Islamobot”.

The sin of Yasir Hamoudi, on the other hand, is a sin in the making, which may explain his almost hysterical reaction to the idea of his daughter dating a non-Muslim. The Koran is clear, fathers are not allowed to give their daughters to non-Muslims in marriage.

2:221 Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe. A believing slave-girl is certainly better than an unbelieving woman, even if the latter pleases you. And do not give your women in marriage to polytheists until they believe. A believing slave is certainly better than a polytheist even if the latter pleases you. Those (the polytheists) call to the Fire and Allah calls to Paradise and Forgiveness by His Leave; and He makes clear His Revelations to mankind so that they may be mindful.

Fakhry’s translation of verse 2:221 is the only translation consulted that uses the term polytheists i.e. idol worshippers instead of unbelievers. In his translation “marrying your women” to Christians and Jews would appear to be permitted. Since this seldom happens in practice, I side with what appears to be a  majority of translators that a believing woman can not be given in marriage to a non-Muslim.

Bernard Payeur, March 12, 2007