Thursday, August 20, 2015

Islam and Sex Slavery in the Islamic State: A Memri Report

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Writing for Memri, Y. Yehoshua, R. Green, and A. Agron report on "Sex Slavery in the Islamic State – Practices, Social Media Discourse, and Justifications" (Memri, Inquiry and Analysis Series, Report No. 1181, August 17, 2015). These three well-informed analysts illustrate how seriously the Islamic State's scholars take this issue of sex slavery by the rigor those scholars observed in determining whether the Yazidi women could be legitimately used as sex slaves according to Islamic law:
An article titled "The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour [of Judgment Day]," in . . . [the fourth] issue of [the Islamic State's magazine] Dabiq, explains that ISIS has extensively explored the religious justification regarding the policy towards Yazidis.
[According to the article, n]umerous scholars and sources were consulted . . . [before applying shariah, i.e., Islamic law]:
"Prior to the taking of [the] Sinjar [region, where Yazidis live], Shariah students in the Islamic State were tasked to research the Yazidis to determine if they should be treated as an originally mushrik [polytheists] group or one that originated as Muslims and then apostatized, due to many of the related Islamic rulings that would apply to the group, its individuals, and their families. Because of the Arabic terminologies used by this group to describe themselves or their beliefs, some contemporary Muslim scholars have classified them as possibly an apostate sect, not an originally mushrik religion, but upon further research it was determined that this group is one that [has] existed since the pre-Islamic Jahilyyah [ignorance], but became 'islamisized' by the surrounding Muslim population, language, and culture, although they never accepted Islam nor claimed to have adopted it. The apparent origin of the religion is found in the Magianism of Ancient Persia, but reinterpreted with elements of Sabianism, Judaism, and Christianity, and ultimately expressed in the heretical vocabulary of extreme Sufism. Accordingly, the Islamic state dealt with this group as the majority of fuqaha [scholars] have indicated how mushrikin should be dealt with. Unlike the Jews and Christians, there was no room for jizyah payment. Also, their women could be enslaved[,] unlike female apostates[,] who the majority of the fuqaha say cannot be enslaved and can only be given an ultimatum to repent, or face the sword."
In short, the Islamic State made certain that its enslavement of Yazidi women for sexual purposes was legitimate under Islamic law. Interestingly, the Muslim critics of the Islamic State don't deny the legality of forcing infidel women into sexual slavery, but merely argue that the conditions are not right:
Prominent Al-Qaeda ideologue and leader Attyat Allah Al-Libi (d. 2011) acknowledged that enslavement is permissible, but disapproved of the practice, based upon the fact that, "it would be impossible to regulate in the current situation [of the mujahideen] who are fighting a guerilla hit-and-run war [and it] would lead to actual abuses if it is allowed in the aforementioned situation."
Abu Basir - a member of Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) - agrees:
"Dawla [the Islamic State] will say that taking slaves is a sunnah [a tradition]. No doubt it is a sunnah, but it's not as simple as that . . . . Dawlah takes slaves. But once they withdraw from areas, the kuffar (may Allah destroy them ameen) come back and take our precious . . . women as sex slaves in revenge. So therefore I am concerned, as it directly impacts our Muslim women. You see how Dawlah pursued sexual intercourse (desires) and in return because of them, our women are now being humiliated (tortured and raped)."
Abu Basir accuses the 'infidels' (kuffar) of enslaving Sunni women in areas retaken from the Islamic State. While I don't think that such rape is happening systematically, this objection is the only argument made by Abu Basir against the sexual enslavement of infidel women, for he otherwise accepts that it is an authentic Muslim tradition (sunnah) practiced by the Muslim prophet Muhammad (the meaning of sunnah) and thus in principle legal according to Islamic law.

To understand the depth of depravity plumbed by the Islamic State's practice of sexual slavery, read the entire lengthy article.

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