NASHVILLE (BP) — Revelation that the ISIS caliph repeatedly raped American hostage Kayla Mueller before her murder has brought to light the terrorists’ revival of an ancient practice of raping women captives as a form of religious “worship,” experts say.
Ayman S. Ibrahim, senior fellow for the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said the gruesome practice dates to a biographical text about Muslim prophet Muhammad, who is recorded to have taken a captive as his wife after killing her husband during a seventh century conflict with the Jewish tribe of Bani Qurayza. The practice was supposedly continued after Muhammad’s death by Muslim leader Khalid ibn al-Walid, who beheaded a notable man, named Malik, and fornicated with his widow, Ibrahim said.
“The evil deeds of ISIS and its commanders will continue, supported by what they claim to be sacred — ancient holy texts. The voice of these texts is louder than contemporary reasoning,” Ibrahim blogged on the First Things journal of religion and public life. “If the Muslim community itself does not counter the claims offered by militant Muslim groups, there can be no hope in overcoming the use of violence under the banner of religion.”
The rape of Mueller, a 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker whom ISIS captured in August 2013 in Turkey along with her Syrian boyfriend, was revealed months after her February murder. U.S. intelligence officials confirmed in June Mueller’s sexual enslavement by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, her parents told the Associated Press.
“They told us that he married her, and we all understand what that means,” the Associated Press quoted her father Carl Mueller. “Kayla did not marry this man,” her mother Marsha Mueller added. “He took her to his room and he abused her and she came back crying.”
Mueller was among perhaps thousands of women and girls captured and systematically tortured and repeatedly raped by ISIS, according to numbers released in March by Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) based its report in part on the interviews with 11 women and nine girls who managed to escape ISIS in northern Iraq between September 2014 and January 2015, as well as medical service providers, community leaders and activists serving victims.
“The women and girls who spoke to Human Rights Watch described repeated rape, sexual violence, and other abuse in ISIS captivity,” HRW reported. “Jalila (all survivors’ names have been changed for their security), age 12, said that Arab men whom she recognized from her village north of Sinjar accosted her and seven family members on August 3, 2014, as they were trying to flee ISIS. … Jalila said that during her captivity, seven ISIS fighters ‘owned’ her, and four raped her on multiple occasions: ‘Sometimes I was sold. Sometimes I was given as a gift.”
Joe Carter, a communications specialist with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, writes that ISIS “considers rape of sex slaves to be a form of worship,” referencing a New York Times article in which a 15-year-old Yazidi girl describes the actions of a 20-year-old ISIS soldier who raped her.
“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said the girl identified only as F, the first letter of her name. “He kept telling me this is ibadah (an Islamic term meaning worship).”
Carter also referenced the October 2014 issue of the ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq, which included an article on the “revival of slavery before the (judgment) hour,” which stated a religious justification for sex slavery; and an ISIS pamphlet which promoted the rape of even prepubescent girls.
ISIS currently has an estimated 3,000 girls and women enslaved, most of them Yazidi, HRW reported. Amnesty International has also chronicled the abuse.
Freedom for those enslaved lies in the hands of Muslims themselves, Ibrahim blogged.
“The solution is not to keep debating whether ISIS is or is not Islamic, as the driving texts are clear and loud,” Ibrahim wrote. “An end to rape cannot be obtained by downplaying any Islamic-related role in such terror. Neither can the solution stem from a politically-correct discourse out to avoid causing offense. … Non-Muslims cannot refute evidence offered by Muslims and embedded in Muslim sacred texts.”