A chilling New York Times article, titled “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape”, explains how “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.” The article is more than a year old, but it seems that the illicit slave markets are not yet dead, and will likely continue to operate until the group is completely eliminated. The stories of the victims portray a depressing picture of how ISIS fighters rape their so-called “slaves,” justifying their actions using the scripture. Regardless of slavery, no words of the scripture can be twisted to justify rape.
More than a hundred Muslim scholars wrote a letter in 2014 to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which they refuted ISIS’ theology. “No scholar of Islam disputes that one of Islam’s aims is to abolish slavery,” the letter states, adding, “You have resuscitated something that the Shari’ah has worked tirelessly to undo.”
ISIS quotes the verses of the Quran to point out its apparent support for slavery. On the other hand, the Quran contains directives both at the individual level and at the state level that set the stage for the eradication of slavery. In the initial days of Mecca, these directives included the freeing of slaves as acts of piety, and expiation of sins. During the later Medinan period, the directives required a slave’s owner to sign a contract to free the slave if the slave had requested so. In the state that was setup, a central fund was allocated for the emancipation of slaves. Directives were also issued that war captives, who would ordinarily be enslaved, instead be let go whether for ransom or for free. Continue reading →