ISIS: Sexual Enslavement of Yazidi Women Helps Muslims Avoid Sin

By Patrick Goodenough | October 13, 2014 | 4:23 AM EDT

A 15-year-old Yazidi girl captured by ISIS in Sinjar and forcibly married to a militant in Syria sits on the floor of a one-room house she now shares with her family after escaping in early August, during an interview with The Associated Press near the Kurdish city of Dahuk. (AP Photo/Dalton Bennett)

(CNSNews.com) – The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria says that shari’a law allows the enslavement of women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority because they are pagans, a religious class deemed even worse than “apostates” like Christians and Jews who may be given the convert-or-die option.

An article in the latest edition of the terrorist group’s propaganda publication, Dabiq, also attempts to justify its widespread enslavement of Yazidi women by saying it was needed to prevent Muslim men from being tempted into sinful sexual conduct.

Keeping a slave woman is “the shari’a alternative to marriage,” and when slavery is not available, then “a man who cannot afford marriage to a free woman finds himself surrounded by temptation towards sin,” it says.

Further, a Muslim man who employs a maid at home may be tempted to have sex with her, “whereas if she were his concubine, this relationship would be legal.”

The article concludes that the abandonment of sexual slavery gave rise to an increase in fornication and adultery, as Muslims pursued worldly pleasures rather than jihad. It praises “the Islamic State” for restoring this and all aspects of the correct Islamic order.

One of the five main thrusts of the anti-ISIS campaign spearheaded by the Obama administration is the attempt to “delegitimize” its ideology, and senior Islamic scholars have been encouraged to speak out against the group’s claim to be acting in accordance with Islam.

ISIS is fighting back, however, and the new edition of Dabiq, like the previous three released since early July, is crammed with references from the Qur’an and other texts, rulings by revered scholars, and attempts to link its conduct with those of devout Muslims through the ages.

The cover of the latest edition of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria propaganda publication, Dabiq.

One article is especially disparaging of Muslim religious leaders who have spoken out against ISIS’ ideology, suggesting that any Muslim who does not view ISIS’ struggle as legitimate should “review his faith before death suddenly takes him while he stands with one foot in the trench of the crusaders and the other in the trench of the hypocrites.”

Entitled “The failed crusade,” the fourth edition’s cover features a photo of the Vatican, with ISIS’ black banner photoshopped over the cross atop the obelisk that stands in the center of St. Peter’s Square.

‘Women and children divided according to shari’a

Yazidis are ethnic Kurdish adherents of a religion that predates Islam and Christianity and has links to Zoroastrianism. Historically based around Sinjar in northern Iraq, the community was an early target of ISIS, along with minority Christians, as the al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists swept across the Ninawa province over the summer.

U.N. officials say more than 500,000 Yazidis and members of other religious minorities fled ISIS attacks since June, with most seeking shelter in the Kurdish autonomous region.

The Dabiq article says Yazidis’ beliefs put them in a category known as mushrikin (polytheists). As such, their continued existence is something Muslims will have to answer for on judgment day, since the Qur’an had instructed them to kill or enslave all polytheists. (Qur’an 9:5 says, “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them …”)

Since Yazidis are polytheists, the ISIS article says, they cannot be treated like female apostate captives – Christians and Jews – who most Islamic scholars “say cannot be enslaved and can only be given an ultimatum to repent or face the sword.”

(The writer notes that some scholars differ over the treatment of apostate women, pointing out that jihadists in Nigeria and the Philippines have enslaved Christian women.)

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the shari’a amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one  fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums [Islamic war booty].”

It adds that many of the enslaved Yazidi women and children had “willingly accepted Islam and now race to practice it with evident sincerity after their exit from the darkness of shirk [idolatry].”

According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, ISIS in northern Iraq “has systematically separated young [Yazidi] women and teenage girls from their families and has forced some of them to marry its fighters.”

The report is based on interviews with relatives, with some Yazidis who managed to escape ISIS captivity and with two captured women interviewed by phone. There were reports of multiple rapes, and of terrified girls and women being sold as slaves in markets.

Yazidi boys were also taken away, forced to convert and told they will be trained to join the jihad.

“The Islamic State’s litany of horrific crimes against the Yazidis in Iraq only keeps growing,” said HRW special advisor Fred Abrahams. “We heard shocking stories of forced religious conversions, forced marriage, and even sexual assault and slavery – and some of the victims were children.”

-- The ISIS publication is named for Dabiq, a small town in northern Syria which was the site of a 16th century battle, and features prominently in Islamic end-times beliefs.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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