Islamic State crudely interpret the Quran to allow rape

Islamic State’s crude interpretation of the Quran has seen it try to justify the actions of followers who have raped young girls and sold them into sex. Ken Phelan looks at the mindset that allows it

Islamic State crudely interpret the Quran to allow rape

Q: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

A; It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.’

Excerpt from a pamphlet of ‘rules’ governing the treatment of slaves, published by Isis in December 2014.

THE Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) first originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad in 1999, pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004, from which time it became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Isis (also Isil, Islamic State, Daesh) is a self-proclaimed Islamic state and caliphate, consisting mainly of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria.

The group participated in the Iraqi insurgency which followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In January 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006. In April 2013, ISI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the merger of ISI with al-Nusra Front, with the group to be renamed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), also Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

The leaders of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda, however, rejected the merger, and after eight months, al- Qaeda cut all ties with Isil, criticizing some of their actions as being “too extreme”. In June 2014, Isil proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, and renamed itself Islamic State. In March 2015, Boko Haram swore allegiance, giving Isis a presence in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. As of June 2015, Isis had official branches in Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the North Caucasus.

The United Nations has held Isis responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, while the group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the European Union, as well as the United States, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other governments.

Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a “historic scale”, while there has been widespread destruction of religious monuments and artefacts. Isis is believed to make more than $10m (€9.3m) a month through extortion, “taxes”, oil, and looting.

Muslims worldwide have rejected the authority of Isis, and of its claim to have established a worldwide caliphate. They claim that Isis favours selective reading of the Quran in order to pursue its own agenda. Further, they claim that Islam is a peaceful religion, and reject the wanton violence favoured by Isis.

Then there is the attack on Mount Sinjar in August 2014, when Isis fighters invaded villages on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, home to the Yazidis, a tiny religious minority. At first the advance appeared to be an attempt to extend the territory controlled by Isis, but the truth was far more sinister.

According to witness accounts, men and women were separated almost immediately. The women, girls and children were taken away in trucks, while the men and older boys were brought to nearby fields and executed. In addition to the city of Mosul, women were transported to the Iraqi towns of Tal Afar, Solah, Ba’aj and Sinjar City, where they were held in a prison compound, schools, and municipal buildings. There, they were held for days or months until being transported to Syria or other locations in Iraq, where they were bought and sold for sex. Others were given as “spoils of war” to Isis members.

What Isis was effectively carrying out was the systematic rape of the Yazidi female population.

They even composed a price list for the sale of women and girls at market. Prices ranged from $75 for 30 to 40-year-olds to $172 for one to nine-year olds. In August 2015, 19 women were executed for refusing to engage in “sexual jihad” with Isis fighters.

According to Zainab Bangura, the UN’s special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, “the girls get peddled like barrels of petrol... One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men... Isis have a machinery... They have a manual on how you treat these women. They have a marriage bureau which organises all of these ‘marriages’ (to Isis soldiers), and the sale of women... they have a price list”.

Isis claims that the rape of slaves is justified and indeed is to be encouraged. Survivors have told how soldiers pray before and after rape, seeing it as bringing them closer to Allah. The following is an extract from an article published in the New York Times in August 2015: “In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the pre-teen 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 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.”

The Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State published a pamphlet online in December 2014 detailing best practices on the treatment of slaves.

The following are exerpts from that pamphlet, which takes a question and answer format:

Question 1: What is al-sabi?

A: Al-sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.

Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?

A: It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: “[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame” [Quran 23:5-6]

Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?

A: If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first].

Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?

A: It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage.

Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

A: It is permissible to have intercourse with the slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.

Accounts from victims have been harrowing. Rape has been used not simply as sexual gratification, but as a weapon of war.

In raping the Yazidi women, Isis has sought to divide the once close-knit community. Rape has also been used as an effective recruiting tool for Muslim men, who in their own deeply conservative societies, cannot date or partake in casual sex.

What follows are victims’ quotes from the aforementioned New York Times, from an article published in the Daily Mail and from a report from Human Rights Watch: “They laughed and jeered at us, saying ‘You are our sabaya’. I didn’t know what that word meant”, she said. Later on, the local Islamic State leader explained it meant slave. “He told us that Taus Malik” — one of seven angels to whom the Yazidis pray — “is not God. He said that Taus Malik is the devil and that because you worship the devil, you belong to us. We can sell you and use you as we see fit”.

Bushra, who tried to kill herself when she was sold to an Isis extremist, said: “The man who had bought me took me to hospital. He told me he was going to rape me that same day, however ill I made myself. He took me home, tied up my hands and feet, and raped me. He raped me about five times a day. My sister was barely 14 when they raped her... I could hear her screaming but couldn’t do anything”.

Jalila, age 12, spoke of the Isis fighter who “selected” her, then slapped her and dragged her out of the house in which she had been held when she resisted: “I told him not to touch me and begged him to let me go. I told him to take me to my mother. I was a young girl and I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?’. He spent three days having sex with me.”

The wholly inadequate response from the international community has not just failed the Iraqi and Syrian people, but has arguably exacerbated the situation and bolstered Isis’ domination of those peoples. From mass rape, public beheadings, decapitations of women and children, burning alive of victims, summary executions, and gay men thrown from buildings, Isis seems intent on its march towards ever increasing decadence and barbarism.

From a western standpoint, it is difficult to understand the mindset of Isis, much less their tactics. One thing seems sure — Isis will not desist until it has created a Sunni-dominated Islamic state and has conquered not just Iraq and Syria, but also surrounding countries in the Middle East. The only solution would appear to be military intervention on a massive scale, and to eliminate Isis entirely.

In the meantime, hundreds, perhaps thousands of Iraqi and Syrian women and girls continue to be degraded and raped, with many seeing suicide as the only escape. As thousands of refugees swarm Europe’s shores, it is sooner, rather than later we may realise the true significance of what is happening.

Sources: The New York Times, ‘Isis Enshrines a Theology of Rape’, Aug 13 2015; Daily Mail, ‘Isis executes 19 girls for refusing to have sex with fighters’, Aug 6 2015; Vox, ‘Isis’s Ideology of Rape’, Aug 13, 2015, Human Rights Watch, ‘IRAQ: Isis Escapees Describe Systematic Rape, Apr 14 2015, Human Rights Watch, ‘Slavery: The Isis rules’, Sept 5 2015, Amnesty International, The Guardian, ‘How Isis has established a Bureaucracy of Rape’, Aug 15 2015

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