Why Hamas Likens Captive Israeli Women to ‘Horses’

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The Hamas terrorists behind the Oct. 7, 2023  jihadist raid literally view their female Israeli captives as horses and other animals—to be “ridden.”

During a recent press conference, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari stressed that Hamas members could be heard in their own (now captured) recordings referring to their female captives as sabi (or sabiya), an Arabic word that in Islamic jurisprudence refers to non-Muslim female slaves, whom Muslim men could freely copulate with—in a word, concubines (see here for more on sabis).

Sex-slavery is not only an ironclad aspect of Islam; it is a reflection of “piety,” as well captured by a 2015 report:

In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old [non-Muslim] girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

“He said that by raping me,” recalled the 12-year-old, “he is drawing closer to God.”

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” explained another girl, aged 15. “He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal.’”

Seeing rape as a pious gesture is only one of the “oddities” of Islamic sex-slavery. In the same press conference, Hagari said that “Hamas treated young women … like animals,” and that one terrorist could be heard describing “a woman as a noble mare” (that is, a female horse).

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No doubt, to most (non-Muslim) readers, references to Israelis as animals is a mere reflection of Hamas’s contempt for its “infidel” victims, nothing more.

In reality, referring to captured sex-slaves as animals also has a doctrinal aspect, and, as with all things Islamic, traces back to the prophet Muhammad, who regularly presented women as on a par with animals—as in the famous hadith, where he said “Women, dogs, and donkeys annul a man’s prayer” (Musnad Ibn Hanbal, vol. 2, p. 2992).

If all women—Muslim and non-Muslim—are akin to animals when it comes to distracting a man from his prayers, it should come as no surprise that infidel women are akin to animals in all ways.  This is made clear by the language employed by the Koran to refer to non-Muslim female captives of war, whom Muslim men are permitted to have sex with.  Koran 4:3 reads:

Marry [or “copulate with”] such women as seem good to you, two, three, and four; but if you fear that you will not do [them] justice, then only one, or what your right hands possess [captive women taken in war].

Curiously, the Arabic relative pronoun used to indicate these captive women is “ma”: ma [whatever] malakat [possess] aymanukum [your right hands]—literally, “whatever your right hands possess” (see Shakir’s acclaimed English translation which most literally translates this).

In Arabic, when one refers to a rational being (i.e., a human), the word used is man, which means “whomever.”  Ma, on the other hand, refers only to things or animals—trees, rocks, dogs and cats—very much similar to the English “it.” Thus, in proper Arabic the phrase might have been man malakat aymanukum: “whomever your right hands possess.”

Nor is this a stylistic matter. The revered Islamic scholar al-Qurtubi (d.1273) also makes this observation in vol. 5, p.12 of his authoritative 20-volume Tafsir al-Koran (“Exegesis of the Koran”). He points out that members of the human race should be referred to with man (whomever), whereas only “inanimate objects” or “brute beasts” should be referred to with ma (whatever).

To emphasize the point, after considering other hadiths where Muhammad likened women to animals, Qurtubi concludes that “A woman may, therefore, be likened to a cow, horse, or camel—for all are ridden” (Tafsir, vol.15, p.172).

Such views are not obsolete.  In 2013, for example, during an episode of “With Dr. Islam Buhira” on al-Qahira wa’l-Nass television station, Buhira explained how he had attended “a conference in Morocco on the status of women in society post Arab Spring,” and how at the conference, the exegesis in question— “Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden”—was read aloud and presented as legitimate.  Somewhat besides himself and disappointed, Buhira added,

This is how al-Qurtubi speaks about women, who include his mother, his daughters—basically all Muslim women.  He says they are ‘all ridden.’  This is what makes them similar to animals.

In short, when Hamas, ISIS, and other Islamic terrorists treat captive women as “animals”—referring to them as “mares,” etc.—their behavior and perspective is being informed by Islamic teachings that trace back to Muhammad and the most authoritative sheikhs.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Raymond Ibrahim
RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007). Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times Syndicate, CNN, LA Times, Fox News, Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hoover Institution’s Strategika, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, including American Thinker, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Christian Post, Daily Caller, FrontPage Magazine, NewsMax, National Review Online, PJ Media, and World Magazine. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies and has been translated into dozens of languages.