Islamic ‘Death-Sex’ in Context

An Egyptian cartoon pokes fun at the proposed "farewell intercourse" law. As the spirit of the deceased woman ascends, and as her husband sexually eyes her corpse, she remarks: "O please, man—where were you when I was alive!"

by Raymond Ibrahim:

Aside from provoking shock, disgust, and denial, last week’s news of Egyptian parliamentarians trying to pass a “farewell intercourse” law legalizing sex with one’s wife up to six hours after she dies has yet to be fully appreciated.

To start, consider the ultimate source of this practice: it’s neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the Salafis; rather, as with most of Islam’s perversities—from adult breastfeeding to pedophilia marriage—Islamic necrophilia is traced to the fount of Islam, its prophet Muhammad, as found in a hadith (or tradition) that exists in no less than six of Islam’s classical reference texts (including Kanz al-‘Umal by Mutaqi al-Hindi and Al-Hujja fi Biyan al-Mahujja, an authoritative text on Sunni Doctrine, by Abu Qassim al-Asbahani).

According to this hadith, Muhammad took off his shirt and placed it on a dead woman and “lay with her” in her grave. The gravediggers proceeded to hurl dirt atop the corpse and the prophet, exclaiming, “O Prophet, we see you doing a thing you never did with anyone else,” to which Muhammad responded: “I have dressed her in my shirt so that she may be dressed in heavenly robes, and I have laid with her in her grave so that the pressures of the grave [also known as Islam's "torments of the grave"] may be alleviated from her.”

What was Muhammad saying and doing? Perhaps his magical shirt would transport the dead woman to heaven, and his blessed body would protect her from the “pressures of the grave”? A more cynical—a more human—reading is that he stripped his shirt as a natural step before copulating; that he precisely, if not sardonically, meant the act of sex would “alleviate” the pressures of death from the corpse; and that the observers covered them with dirt for privacy and/or for shame.

This interpretation is given much more weight when one considers that the secondary meaning for the word I translated above as “lay with” is “intercourse,” further demonstrating that the proposed Egyptian law is, in fact, based on this hadith: after all, the Arabic root-word used for “intercourse” in the phrase “farewell intercourse” is derived from the same root-word that Muhammad used to explain what he did with the dead woman (d-j-‘). As if this was not enough, necrophilia finds more validation in Islam’s legal texts. For example, according to al-Sharwani’s Hawashi, “there is no punishment for having intercourse with a dead woman” and “it is not necessary to rewash the dead after penetration.”

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