Arsalan Iftikhar is “an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and adjunct professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago.” He is also the former National Legal Director of the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Here he offers a reassuring piece claiming that Boko Haram, that is, the Congregation of the People of the Sunnah for Dawah and Jihad, are misunderstanding Islam and misinterpreting the Qur’an, which, he says, categorically rejects “kidnapping young girls and threatening to sell them into sexual slavery.” He offers two verses to support this idea: one that says that “oppression is worse than murder” (2:191) and another declaring that nobody “shall force girls to commit prostitution” (24:33).
Neither of these, unfortunately, are precisely on point. “Oppression” is in the eye of the beholder; Abubakar Shekau thinks he is following the Qur’an’s dictates, and that that couldn’t possibly constitute oppression, no matter what. And these girls aren’t being forced into prostitution; they’re being sold off, as Iftikhar himself says in this very piece, into forced marriages with Boko Haram members.
Iftikhar doesn’t even mention the verses that Muslims like Abubakar Shekau point to in order to justify kidnapping young girls and selling them into sexual slavery:
If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial. (Qur’an 4:3)
And also prohibited to you are all married women except those your right hands possess. (Qur’an 4:24)
The mainstream Muslim commentary Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains that 4:3 tells Muslims to “marry only one, or, restrict yourself to what your right hands own, of slavegirls, since these do not have the same rights as wives.” The twentieth-century Qur’an commentator Maulana Bulandshahri explains the wisdom of this practice, and longs for the good old days:
During Jihad (religion war), many men and women become war captives. The Amirul Mu’minin [leader of the believers, or caliph — an office now vacant] has the choice of distributing them amongst the Mujahidin [warriors of jihad], in which event they will become the property of these Mujahidin. This enslavement is the penalty for disbelief (kufr).
He goes on to explain that this is not ancient history:
None of the injunctions pertaining to slavery have been abrogated in the Shari’ah. The reason that the Muslims of today do not have slaves is because they do not engage in Jihad (religion war). Their wars are fought by the instruction of the disbelievers (kuffar) and are halted by the same felons. The Muslim [sic] have been shackled by such treaties of the disbelievers (kuffar) whereby they cannot enslave anyone in the event of a war. Muslims have been denied a great boon whereby every home could have had a slave. May Allah grant the Muslims the ability to escape the tentacles of the enemy, remain steadfast upon the Din (religion) and engage in Jihad (religion war) according to the injunctions of Shari’ah. Amen!
This is by no means an eccentric or unorthodox view in Islam. The Egyptian Sheikh Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni declared in May 2011 that “we are in the era of jihad,” and that as they waged jihad warfare against infidels, Muslims would take slaves. He clarified what he meant in a subsequent interview:
…Jihad is only between Muslims and infidels. Spoils, slaves, and prisoners are only to be taken in war between Muslims and infidels. Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars–there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.
When a slave market is erected, which is a market in which are sold slaves and sex-slaves, which are called in the Qur’an by the name milk al-yamin, “that which your right hands possess” [Qur’an 4:24]. This is a verse from the Qur’an which is still in force, and has not been abrogated. The milk al-yamin are the sex-slaves. You go to the market, look at the sex-slave, and buy her. She becomes like your wife, (but) she doesn’t need a (marriage) contract or a divorce like a free woman, nor does she need a wali. All scholars agree on this point–there is no disagreement from any of them. […] When I want a sex slave, I just go to the market and choose the woman I like and purchase her.
Right around the same time, on May 25, 2011, a female Kuwaiti activist and politician, Salwa al-Mutairi, also spoke out in favor of the Islamic practice of sexual slavery of non-Muslim women, emphasizing that the practice accorded with Islamic law and the parameters of Islamic morality.
…A merchant told me that he would like to have a sex slave. He said he would not be negligent with her, and that Islam permitted this sort of thing. He was speaking the truth. I brought up (this man’s) situation to the muftis in Mecca. I told them that I had a question, since they were men who specialized in what was halal, and what was good, and who loved women. I said, “What is the law of sex slaves?”
The mufti said, “With the law of sex slaves, there must be a Muslim nation at war with a Christian nation, or a nation which is not of the religion, not of the religion of Islam. And there must be prisoners of war.”
“Is this forbidden by Islam?,” I asked.
“Absolutely not. Sex slaves are not forbidden by Islam. On the contrary, sex slaves are under a different law than the free woman. The free woman must be completely covered except for her face and hands. But the sex slave can be naked from the waist up. She differs a lot from the free woman. While the free woman requires a marriage contract, the sex slave does not–she only needs to be purchased by her husband, and that’s it. Therefore the sex slave is different than the free woman.”
Arsalan Iftikhar doesn’t mention the Qur’an verses used to justify this practice, even to offer an alternative understanding of them. He doesn’t acknowledge of the existence of Muslims like these authorities who believe that sex slavery is justified, even to explain how they’re wrong. Consequently, it must be concluded that, like so many other Muslim spokesman, he wants to give the appearance of moderation without the substance of reform. If Abubakar Shekau read his piece, he would immediately see the glaring omission, and realize that Ifitkhar is writing not to offer a genuine Islamic alternative to Shekau’s view, much less to refute that view, but to lull Infidels into continuing complacency regarding jihad and Sharia.
“Hey Boko Haram, pick up a Quran and bring back our girls,” by Arsalan Iftikhar, CNN, May 6, 2014 (thanks to Sonny):
(CNN) – Hey Boko Haram, have you read the Quran lately?
Most of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world have, and we’re utterly certain that it condemns kidnapping young girls and selling them into slavery – no matter what you say “Allah” tells you.
According to Amnesty International, several hundred schoolgirls – both Christian and Muslim – between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted at gunpoint on April 14 from their rooms at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, where they had been sleeping.
The armed extremist group Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western Education is Sin,” claimed responsibility for these mass kidnappings and threatened to sell these young girls for as little as $12 into sex slavery or forced “marriages” to members of their group.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.
“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.
‘I will sell them,’ Boko Haram leader says of kidnapped Nigerian girl
As a Muslim human rights lawyer, it is obscene and absolutely un-Islamic for these lunatic human traffickers to invoke the name of God while kidnapping young girls and threatening to sell them into sexual slavery.
The leaders of Boko Haram have clearly never read the Holy Quran, which states quite clearly that “oppression is worse than murder” (2:191) and that nobody “shall force girls to commit prostitution” (24:33).
They must have also missed the numerous times that the Prophet Muhammad categorically stated during his life that women or children were never to be harmed under any situation….