Whom can you enslave? What can you do with female slaves? Can you beat them and have sex with them? The militants of the self-styled Islamic State, never shy to parade their gruesome, atavistic interpretation of the Quran and its place as they see it in the modern world, have now answered those questions.
In a long list of the dos and don’ts governing the enslavement and treatment of women and girls captured by jihadi warriors, ISIS includes details of “permissible” sexual practices with female slaves. The new rules follow widespread reports this summer of the jihadis enslaving women from the Yazidi religious minority seized during the militants’ lightning offensive in northern Iraq.
Issued Dec. 3 by ISIS’s “Research and Fatwa Department,” the rules are laid out in question-and-answer format—a kind of “Slavery for Dummies.” It is permissible to beat slaves, trade them, and offer them as gifts, to take virgins immediately and to have sex with a pre-pubescent girl, “if she is fit for intercourse,” whatever that means.
According to Nazand Begikhani, an adviser to the Kurdistan regional government and researcher at the University of Bristol Gender and Violence Research Center, ISIS has kidnapped more than 2,500 Yazidi women. Yazidi activists, meanwhile, say they have compiled a list of at least 4,600 missing Yazidi women, seized after they were separated from male relatives, who were shot.
The women were bussed, according to firsthand accounts of women who have managed to flee, to the ISIS-controlled cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and chosen and traded like cattle. Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq say they have freed about 100 Yazidi women. In October, ISIS justified its enslavement of the women—and of any non-believing females captured in battle—in its English-language digital magazine Dabiq. Islamic theology, ISIS propagandists argued, gives the jihadis the right, much in the same way that the Bible’s Ephesians 6:5 tells “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling.”
The difference, of course, is that there is no rampaging Christian terror army enslaving women and waving the Bible around now to justify such abuse, although there have been individual Western cultists widely dismissed as cranks or madmen who have sought biblical justification for abuse of women.
In September, 120 senior Muslim scholars, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine, issued a lengthy letter condemning ISIS as un-Islamic. “It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings,” they argued. And they condemned the mistreatment of the Yazidi and the denial of women’s rights.
Below—courtesy of the Washington, D.C.-based the Middle East Media Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that monitors extremism—are some highlights of the ISIS rules governing the enslavement of women and how slaves should be treated.
Question 1: What is al-sabi?
Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.
Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?
There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans toward forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean toward accepting the consensus…
Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?
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]?
If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, is she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]…
Question 7: Is it permissible to separate a mother from her children through [the act of] buying and selling?
It is not permissible to separate a mother from her prepubescent children through buying, selling, or giving away [a captive or slave]. [But] it is permissible to separate them if the children are grown and mature.
Question 9: If the female captive was impregnated by her owner, can he then sell her?
He can’t sell her if she becomes the mother of a child…
Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?
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.
Question 16: Can two sisters be taken together while taking slaves?
It is permissible to have two sisters, a female slave and her aunt [her father’s sister], or a female slave and her aunt [from her mother’s side]. But they cannot be together during intercourse, [and] whoever has intercourse with one of them cannot have intercourse with the other, due to the general [consensus] over the prohibition of this.
Question 19: Is it permissible to beat a female slave?
It is permissible to beat the female slave as a [form of] darb ta’deeb [disciplinary beating], [but] it is forbidden to [use] darb al-takseer [literally, breaking beating], [darb] al-tashaffi [beating for the purpose of achieving gratification], or [darb] al-ta’dheeb [torture beating]. Further, it is forbidden to hit the face.