Islamic State theologians have issued an extremely detailed ruling on when “owners” of women enslaved by the extremist group can have sex with them, in an apparent bid to curb what they called violations in the treatment of captured females.
The ruling or fatwa has the force of law and appears to go beyond the Islamic State’s previous known utterances on slavery, said Cole Bunzel, a leading IS expert at Princeton University.
It sheds new light on how the group is trying to reinterpret centuries-old teachings to justify the rape of women in the swaths of Syria and Iraq it controls.
For a US government translation of the fatwa click http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/doc/slaves_fatwa.pdf.
The fatwa was among a huge trove of documents captured by US Special Operations Forces during a raid targeting a top Islamic State official in Syria in May.
The news agency Reuters has reviewed the document, which has not been previously published, but couldn’t independently confirm its authenticity.
Among the fatwa’s injunctions are bans on a father and son having sex with the same female slave; and the owner of a mother and daughter having sex with both.
Joint owners of a female captive are similarly enjoined from intercourse because she is viewed as “part of a joint ownership.”
The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the Islamic State of the systematic abduction and rape of thousands of women and girls as young as 12, especially members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq.
Many have been given to fighters as a reward or sold as sex slaves. Far from trying to conceal the practice, Islamic State has boasted about it and established a department of “war spoils” to manage slavery.
Fatwa No. 64, dated Jan. 29, 2015, and issued by Islamic State’s Committee of Research and Fatwas, appears to codify sexual relations between IS fighters and their female captives for the first time, going further than a pamphlet issued by the group in 2014 on how to treat slaves.
Professor Abdel Fattah Alawari, dean of Islamic Theology at Al-Azhar University, a 1000-year-old Egyptian centre for Islamic learning, said Islamic State “has nothing to do with Islam” and was deliberately misreading centuries-old verses and sayings that were originally designed to end, rather than encourage, slavery.