Muslims accuse the Holy Bible of containing vulgar language and pornographic content which disqualifies it from being the pure Word of God. These charges have been answered over and over again:
9. PORNOGRAPHY IN THE BIBLE?
Does the Bible use language not fitting for God?
In the spirit of fairness and of insuring that Muslims use their criteria consistently by applying their own standards to the Quran and Islamic traditions, we will begin looking at certain verses and narratives to see whether the prophet of Islam and the Muslim scripture contain any unbefitting and vulgar language.
We start with a specific Islamic report which is found in al-Bukhari. Imam Bukhari collected a hadith where a man came to Muhammad confessing that he had committed adultery. Muhammad asked him what did he exactly do with the woman. Muhammad finally asked the man whether he انكتها (aniktuha), which literally translated means, “did you f-k her?”
Interestingly, the report that mentions this episode even admits that Muhammad asked him this quite frankly, without using a euphemism to refer to the sexual act. Here is the hadith in question:
XIII. Can a ruler say to someone who confesses, "Perhaps you have only touched or winked?"
6438. 'Ikrima related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "When Ma'iz ibn Malik came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, he said to him, "Perhaps you kissed or winked or looked?" "No, Messenger of Allah," he answered. He said, "Did you have intercourse with her?" USING NO EUPHEMISM. He said, "Then he ordered that he be stoned." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, 90. Book of those of the People of Unbelief and Apostasy who wage war: source; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
When Ma'iz bin Malik came to the Prophet (in order to confess), the Prophet said to him, "Probably you have only kissed (the lady), or winked, or looked at her?" He said, "No, O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet said, using no euphemism, "Did you have sexual intercourse with her?" The narrator added: At that, (i.e. after his confession) the Prophet ordered that he be stoned (to death). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 813)
Notice that even though the hadith expressly admits that Muhammad didn’t use any euphemism to ask the man whether he had sex with the woman the translators still decided to render the Arabic word as sexual intercourse as opposed to giving a more accurate and literal meaning. They were obviously too embarrassed to provide a literal translation since they were aware that such language is too vulgar for the ears of any sensible and decent person. Only the uncivilized and street thugs would dare to use such language.
nakaha vb. (1)
perf. act. 4:22, 33:49
impf. act. 2:221, 2:230, 2:232, 4:22, 4:25, 4:127, 24:3, 24:3, 33:53, 60:10
impv. 4:3, 4:25
n.vb. 2:235, 2:237, 4:6, 24:33, 24:60
ankaha vb. (4)
impf. act. 2:221, 28:27
istankaha vb. (10) impf. act. 33:50
And lest a Muslim tries to deny that the word nikah has this precise meaning here is what one Arabic speaking Christian says in reference to the habit of certain translators to deliberately hide the real meaning of specific Arabic words, specifically in regards to this rather vulgar term:
Another word in the list of serious intentional mistranslation is the Arabic word “Nikah.” The word has been translated as “marriage.” But those who understand Arabic know that this is not the exact meaning of the word. There is another word that is normally translated as marriage, and correctly so. It is the Arabic word “Zawag.” …
The meaning of “Nikah”
What exactly does “Nikah” mean? The word Nikah doesn’t exactly mean “Marriage.” Let’s explore what the word means from the classical Islamic reference books according to the opinion of recognized Islamic scholars.
From: Dictionary of the Quranic phrases and its meaning; Sheik Mousa Ben Mohammed Al Kaleeby, Cairo, Maktabat Al Adab, 2002
The definition of “Nikah” is the penetration of one thing by another. Examples would be as in saying the seed (N) the soil or sleep (N) the eye. It also can mean the entwining of two objects one with the other. An example would be saying the trees (N) each other, meaning they entwined with one another.
From: Kitab (Book of) Al Nikah. Commentary of Imam Ahmed Ben Ali Ben Hagar Al Askalani, Beirut, Dar Al Balagha, 1986
Linguistically, “Nikah” means embracing or penetrating. When it is pronounced “Nokh” it refers to a woman’s vagina. It is mainly used in the context of “sexual intercourse.” When it was used in reference to marriage it is because sex is a necessity in marriage. Al Fassi said, “If someone says a certain man (N) a certain woman, it means he married her, and if he says a man (N) his wife, it means he has sexual intercourse with her.” The word can also be used metaphorically as with expressions: the rain (N) the ground, or, the sleep (N) the eyes, or, the seed (N) the soil, or, the pebble (N) the camel’s hoof. When it was used in the context of marriage it is because sexual intercourse is the purpose of marriage. It is necessary in marriage to “taste the honey” (an Islamic expression meaning literal intercourse). This is the how the word has generally been used in the Quran except in the verse that says, “Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of (N)” Sura 4: 6. In that instance it pertains to the age of puberty. The Shafia and Hanafi schools of jurisprudence assert that the word nikah when used as a fact conveys that sexual intercourse has occurred. And when used as a figure of speech it denotes marriage. The reason for this variance is because it is offensive to mention the word “intercourse,” so a metonymic word is used to substitute it.
There is a word in Arabic that correctly translates “marriage.” It is “zawag.” However, “Nikah, the (N) word,” which is more commonly used in translations of the Quran to mean marriage, carries entirely different implications. “Nikah” implies that the emphasis in the relationship between a man and his wife solely sexual. This degrades marriage. It is another proof about how Islam looks down on marriage and the role women play in it. It enforces the Islamic concept that a wife's primary role in Islam is that of a sex object, created to satisfy the husband’s sexual appetites. On the other hand, marriage in the Christian tradition is a union between a husband and his wife based on mutual love, respect and equality. It is two people of the opposite sex becoming one, not just for sex, but to be the nucleus for a family that shares ALL of life’s challenges. While sex is an important part of marriage, it is tragic to consider it primary. Marriage is a life-long relationship that supposed to lovingly endure beyond the perimeters of sex. (Abdullah Al Araby, “Nikah” - The Islamic “N” Word; What Does It Exactly Mean?: source)
One lexical source adds:
من لسان العرب:
النَّيْكُ: معروف، والفاعل: نائِكٌ، والمفعول به مَنِيكٌ ومَنْيُوكٌ، والأَنثى مَنْيُوكة، وقد ناكَها يَنيكها نَيْكاً. والنَّيّاك: الكثير النَّيْك؛ شدد للكثرة؛ وفي المثل قال: من يَنِكِ العَيْرَ يَنِكْ نَيّاكا
Literal translation from Lisan Al-Arab:
F-king: is known [act], and the subject: F-ker, and the object F-ked, “maneek - and – manyook”; the female f-ked “manyooka”, [as in] f-ked her, f-king her, f-king. And “an-nayyak”: [exaggeration form] the one who f-ks a lot; adding the “shaddah” to denote abundance, as in the following proverb: He who f-ks a jackass would be f-king a real f-ker (or abundant f-ker).
Lest these references be accused of bias against Islam note what the following Islamic authorities say regarding the precise meaning of the word:
a. Nikah linguistically means (to unite and to bring together). The REAL LITERAL meaning of Nikah is ‘to have sexual intercourse’; and the METAPHORICAL meaning of Nikah is ‘the bond of marriage’. (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah - Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, From Hadith No. 1783 to 2718, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 3, Chapter 9. Chapters On Marriage, p. 57; capital emphasis ours)
One renowned Muslim commentator noted that:
“Yas-tan-kih” comes from the word “Yan’kah.” For it is said in different forms “Nakaha” and “Istan-kaha” just as it is said “Ajab” and “Ista-jab”… It is permissible to use the word, “Istan-kaha,” to mean one whom requests marriage or one who requests sexual intercourse. (Al-Qurtubi on Q. 33:50, translated from the Arabic by Dimitrius: source; bold and italic emphasis ours)
Interestingly, the verb “naka” does not exist in modern Arabic dictionaries.
If Muhammad used this word then Muslims shouldn't be ashamed of using it now altogether with the word “nakaha” (a word which is not accepted amongst mannered and polite Middle Easterners).
Here is a question for the Muslims: Would you allow your son or daughter to use this word in front of you or in the presence of other people? If you don't, doesn't mean that you are ashamed of using a word that the prophet himself has used?
Now a Muslim may further contend that nikah didn’t have this negative or vulgar connotation during Muhammad’s time. It is only in modern times, more recently, that this word took on a vulgar twist.
There are two main problems with this view. First, this flies in the face of the evidence presented by Muslim authorities, one modern and another ancient, both of which admit that this term literally means to have sexual intercourse (i.e. to f-k). It also goes against the candid admission of al-Bukhari who stated that Muhammad was being very direct, and wasn’t using a euphemism, when he asked the man point black whether he had sexual relations with the woman in question.
Secondly, how is it possible that an established Quranic word such as nikah could take on a vulgar tone among the Arabs when the majority of them have always been Muslims who believe that the Muslim scripture is the very speech of Allah? If anything, wouldn’t we expect the reverse to be true, e.g. a very vulgar and offensive term all of a sudden becomes an acceptable word due to its use and appearance in the Quran?
For those interested in reading this hadith in Arabic they can check the following sources:
Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith Number 6913
Sunan Abu Dawûd, Hadith Number 4430
Musnad Ahmad, Hadith Number 2477
Musnad Al-Daraqutni, Hadith Number 3491
And for some additional examples of vulgarities and obscenities within the Islamic corpus we recommend the following articles:
To see some of the Muslim responses defending Muhammad’s use of nikah we recommend the following articles: