Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Is the sexual enslavement of non-Muslim women an Islamic State idea or merely an Islamic idea?
First, lest there is any doubt that ISIS members were not only convinced that it was their Islamic right to sexually enslave “infidels,” but that doing so was pious, consider this account from 2015: “In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old [non-Muslim] 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.” “He said that by raping me,” recalled the 12-year-old, “he is drawing closer to God.”
“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” explained another girl, aged 15. “He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal.’”
Such claims are of course consistent with a Q&A pamphlet on the topic published by the Islamic State in 2015:
Question 1: What is al-sabi?
Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the “people of war,” meaning un-subjugated non-Muslims] who has been captured by Muslims.
Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?
What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us].
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 [Koran 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, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]….
An important question arises at this juncture: Are these beliefs based on ISIS’s own interpretation of Islam—as we are repeatedly told by the “experts”—or are they based on standard Islamic teachings?
Evidence clearly indicates the latter. Most recently, for instance, on February 2, 2020, Reuters reported that “The man shot dead by police after wounding two people in a stabbing spree on a busy London street… described Yazidi women as slaves and said the Koran made it permissible to rape them.” A few weeks earlier, in late December, African migrants in Paris “repeatedly cited Allah, the Koran, and Mecca,” while raping a minor girl in Paris (original). One can go on and on; consider just the following quotes limited to the ongoing sex grooming scandals in the UK:
- “Muslim abusers quoted Qur’an as they beat me,” said one of countless rape victims.
- “The men who did this to me have no remorse,” said another victim of her Muslim rapists. “They would tell me that what they were doing was OK in their culture.”
- A Muslim convicted of rape confessed that sharing non-Muslim girls for sex was “a religious requirement.”
None of these men were ISIS members; they were just Muslims. If they shared the same outlook concerning the sexual bondage of non-Muslim women, that is because Islam—not the Islamic State, a byproduct—promotes it.
Here, for example, is how the late American professor Majid Khadduri (1909-2007), “internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and jurisprudence,” politely touched on the topic—and only in the past tense, as if to say this is how Muslims once behaved but no longer. From his War and Peace in the Law of Islam:
The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children). … If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.
“Spoils of war” is certainly correct. As one human rights activist said while discussing a Muslim man’s rape of a 9-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan: “Such incidents occur frequently. Christian girls are considered goods to be damaged at leisure. Abusing them is a right. According to the community’s mentality it is not even a crime. Muslims regard them as spoils of war.”
Moreover, seeing and treating non-Muslim women as “spoils of war” is not just limited to the words of old religious texts or “extremist” groups. It was a primary feature of—and often motivation for—over a millennium of war on the non-Muslim world (15 million Europeans alone were enslaved, many—including men and boys—for sexual purposes).
All this is also a reminder that ISIS should not be instantly rejected—as it always is by the Western establishment—as an authority on Islamic topics. Indeed, and as the rest of its Q&A pamphlet on sex slavery makes clear, ISIS so meticulously follows the arcane minutia of sharia as to maintain an odd veneer of “morality”—there are a number of restrictions—and even goes so far as to indicate that freeing slaves is a virtuous act (Q&A 27).
The real difference between ISIS and other Muslims is that the former is, refreshingly, very forthright concerning the teachings of Islam (as when they made clear that their hate for the Western world is based on sharia, not grievances, even though the latter paradigm has long worked as a cover for Islamic terror groups, as al-Qaeda well knew).
I am reminded of an old Arabic language program, where the hostess asked two prominent Muslim clerics: “According to sharia, is slave-sex still applicable?” The two ulema refused to give a clear answer — dissembling here, going off on tangents there. When she pressed the issue, one of the clerics stormed off the set. He eventually returned, and the hostess politely explained her incessant questioning: “Ninety percent of Muslims, including myself, do not understand the issue of sex slavery in Islam and are having a hard time swallowing it,” she implored, to which the sheikh closed the matter by replying, “You don’t need to understand!”
At any rate, from here it becomes clear why so many Muslim men—above and beyond ISIS card-carrying members—see and treat “infidel” women in Europe and elsewhere as “pieces of meat”. As the all-important answer to the third question in the ISIS pamphlet correctly states: “There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli, meaning they were born as non-Muslims], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians] and polytheists.”
Such is the impact of the Islamic “sacrament” captured in Koran (4:3; 23: 5-6, etc.): all non-Muslim women—be they atheists, Christians, Jews, polytheists, wiccans et al—are free game for abducting and enslaving. They exist, quite simply, for the “pleasure of Muslim men,” as a would-be rapist once told a reluctant Christian girl before murdering her.