Over at Catholic.com I discuss the frequently-repeated claims that Boko Haram is violating Islamic law:
One thing we know about Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group that has appalled the world by abducting and enslaving 300 schoolgirls, is that what it has done is completely contrary to the tenets of Islam.
Or at least that’s what everyone is saying.
“The Nigerian terrorist group that kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls has nothing to do with Islam, and it’s grotesquely irresponsible of the media to suggest it does.” So wrote Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah in the Daily Beast. Ahmadi Muslim spokesman Qasim Rashid wrote at FoxNews.com that “Boko Haram’s claim that Islam motivates their kidnappings is no different than Adolf Hitler’s claim that Christianity motivated his genocide. This terrorist organization acts in direct violation of every Islamic teaching regarding women.” The nation’s two Muslim Congressmen, Keith Ellison (D-MN) and André Carson (D-IN), wrote, along with a host of U.S. Muslim leaders, a scolding open letter to Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, telling him: “Your actions have shocked Muslims across the world and have disrespected Islam and the teachings of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).”
The only problem with these and all other Islamic disavowals and condemnations of Boko Haram’s actions is that none of them have addressed the Islamic justifications for them. For Boko Haram itself has expressly and avowedly said that its actions are based on Islamic teaching.
Shekau said in a video in February that his group was “fighting Christians wherever we meet them,” following the Qu’ran’s command to wage war against “the People of the Book” (its term for Jews, Christians, and some others) “until they pay the jiza [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9:29).
And as for the abduction of the schoolgirls, the Qur’an tells Muslims to take captives when they meet unbelievers (90 percent of the girls are Christian) in battle: “Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens” (47:4). It also refers to slave women belonging to the Islamic prophet Muhammad as spoils of war: “O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war” (33:50).
What can be done with such captives? Islamic law has elaborated from these passages four options:
As for the captives, the amir [ruler] has the choice of taking the most beneficial action of four possibilities: the first, to put them to death by cutting their necks; the second, to enslave them and apply the laws of slavery regarding their sale and manumission; the third, to ransom them in exchange for goods or prisoners; and fourth, to show favor to them and pardon them. Allah, may he be exalted, says, ‘When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [Islam] then strike [their] necks’ (Qur’an sura 47, verse 4) (Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance).
The first of these options, putting captives to death, is such a live possibility that it is stymieing a rescue operation. As for exchanging them, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to exchange the girls who have refused to convert to Islam in return for Boko Haram prisoners held by the Nigerian government. As for the third option, enslavement, Shekau has gloated in a video: “I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah…There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.” That is in line with the option of enslaving captives. The girls may be sold—if they haven’t been already—and then forcibly married to their new owners, all in accord with the Qur’an’s direction on the sexual enslavement of those taken as spoils of war:
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).
The twentieth-century Qur’an commentator Maulana Bulandshahri explains that such “enslavement is the penalty of disbelief,” and expresses a longing for the good old days:
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!
Read the rest here.