Islamic Sex Slavery: Islamism or Islam?
Photo by Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
In a significant report for the NYT, Rukmini Callimachi announces that "ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape: Claiming the Quran's support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool" (August 13, 2015). Whether Islam or Islamism, here's an example of this theology in practice:
In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old [Yazidi] 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.Some apologists for Islam argue that this is not condoned by Islam. Several, such as Kecia Ali, of Boston University, claim "that slavery figures in Islamic scripture in much the same way that it figures in the Bible - as a reflection of the period . . . in which the religion was born . . . . [during which] there was a widespread practice of men having sexual relationships with unfree women . . . . It wasn't a particular religious institution. It was just how people did things." But at least one expert insists that such rape is condoned:
He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.
When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.
Cole Bunzel, a scholar of Islamic theology at Princeton University, disagrees, pointing to the numerous references to the phrase "Those your right hand possesses" in the Quran, which for centuries has been interpreted to mean female slaves. He also points to the corpus of Islamic jurisprudence, which continues into the modern era and which he says includes detailed rules for the treatment of slaves.We see that we are now getting to the heart of the matter, namely, that not just Islamism but Islam itself apparently does condone slavery - extending to sex slavery - as witnessed to, for example, by Quran, Hadith, and Sunna and as found even in modern Islamic jurisprudence.
"There is a great deal of scripture that sanctions slavery," said Mr. Bunzel, the author of a research paper published by the Brookings Institution on the ideology of the Islamic State. "You can argue that it is no longer relevant and has fallen into abeyance. ISIS would argue that these institutions need to be revived, because that is what the Prophet and his companions did."
Those who argue that there is no sex slavery in Islam thus have their work cut out for them . . .