Trigger Warning: Stories of kidnapping and sexual assault
My Islam isn’t ISIS’ Islam, and I’m pretty sure yours isn’t, either.
A 2016 video is recirculating of an “Islamic” scholar who recklessly claimed that rape with non-Muslims is Islamically appropriate, and it continues to shake the Islamic community who has quickly acted to denounce it.
Despite the collective reactions of Muslims to denounce the proclamation, the damage is done; we cannot change how the world views Islam because of her unfortunate — and untrue — words.
Professor Saud Saleh of the esteemed Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt said, “In order to humiliate them, they become the property of the army commander, or of a Muslim, and he can have sex with them just like he has sex with his wives.” Her proclamation publicly showcased an alliance with ISIS, citing an ISIS online publication to justify treating Yazidi and non-Muslim Arab and Middle Eastern women and girls as young as six as sexual slaves.
Arabs and Middle Easterners refer to ISIS with contempt as “Daesh.” Daesh translates to “one who crushes something under him – a destroyer.” ISIS does not represent any Islamic State; they are religious extremists using a text of peace and love to rape, pillage, and destroy nations. Extremist Islam is not Islam. Islam is a religion of love.
ISIS does not represent any Islamic State; they are religious extremists using a text of peace and love to rape, pillage, and destroy nations. Extremist Islam is not Islam. Islam is a religion of love.
On Aug 3, 2014, Yazidi settlements in Sinjar, Iraq experienced a massive genocide; 3,100 were killed and 6,800 have been kidnapped. These statements justify the efforts of Daesh to exterminate these Middle Eastern members of the world.
“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage,” is another proclamation Daesh makes.
Why would an “Islamic” scholar of a well respected Islamic University with 1,000 years of history make a statement that furthers Islamophobia around the world? Why use her esteemed platform to encourage rape and align with ISIS?
Rape is an act of war. When Daesh serially rapes the women, they know they will be cut off from their community, unable to remarry, and sometimes unable to conceive children. Why would an “Islamic” scholar of a well respected Islamic University with 1,000 years of history make a statement that furthers Islamophobia around the world? Why use her esteemed platform to encourage rape and align with ISIS?
I thought I had seen every form of trauma that someone had experienced until I listened to the levels of trauma that the ISIS survivors shared with me with such numbness. There were no tears. They were so detached, as if they had to share this story so many times before. Every detail, from the stench, the words the first buyer said, the shimmers of light they saw in the cracks of the basement where ISIS chained together and raped them by groups.
“This was a genocide…we aren’t Sunni so they wanted to exterminate us out of Iraq like bugs,” said a 13 year old who was held in captivity with her two sisters. After two months of being sold into trafficking to an older 45 year old ISIS member, they were all sold separately. She hasn’t seen her family to this day. I sat with her and other Yazidi girls in this community center in Serbia shocked at how much pain they had been through and how resilient they were.
I saw this again in Germany when I led a therapy session with a Christian Arab father, who fell into tears when I asked him about his family. He was there when they raped his wife and three daughters. “They kept beating me, I kept trying to fight back, I am not a man. I couldn’t save them. They killed them in front of me to shatter me. This isn’t Islam. I had Muslim brothers as neighbors. This isn’t Islam.” This Baba suffers from trauma relapses where he has flashbacks and five of us had to help him to keep him from hurting himself as I led grounding exercises to bring him back into his body. This is just one of the millions of body counts on ISIS’s agenda, living or dead, their lives will never be the same.
“They kept beating me, I kept trying to fight back, I am not a man. I couldn’t save them. They [ISIS] killed them in front of me to shatter me. This isn’t Islam. I had Muslim brothers as neighbors. This isn’t Islam.”
As a Muslim woman working in Iraq with the women and girls rescued from sexual slavery, and depressed fathers victimized by Daesh, I am angry that anyone could use our religion of love and compassion to destroy hundreds of thousands of families. As Muslims, we may find ourselves burdened with representing Islam to others. It is really exhausting! May Allah (SWT) grant us sabr to use conversations with non-Muslims as a blessing for us to shift how someone sees and interact with others like us.