The reason that Boko Haram believes its kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian girls is justified is because of Islamist teachings that the taking of female slaves is justified during jihad. And this jihad is not limited Nigeria. In a recent video, its leader said it is at war with Christianity and democracy.
There are efforts to gloss over the fact that Boko Haram is inspired by Islamist doctrine. Comedian Dean Obeidallah writes that Boko Haram is not “Islamic” and the media shouldn’t describe it as “Islamist,” “Islamic terrorists” or anything of the sort.
Ahmed Bedier, former executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and current leader of United Voices for America, speaking at a press conference organized by Muslim advocacy groups to distance Islam from Boko Haram, said he was “tired of people coming on television asking, ‘Where does this ideology come from?’ ” His answer was that it “comes from nowhere.”
Yet, the leader of the same press conference, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the spokesman for the Dar Al Hijra mosque in Falls Church Va., said in reference to formally excommunicating Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau, “There is a great reluctance to excommunicate someone by extension. … It would be like convicting someone in absentia.”
Two days later, in a telephone interview, when asked to give sources from Islamic texts that contradict Boko Haram’s Islamist ideology, the interviewer reported that Abdul-Malik “quickly ended the call.”
CAIR and its allies work hard to cleanse the semantics of the media so the Islamist ideology isn't a topic of scrutiny, but Boko Haram leader Abubaker Shekau wants the world to know that he is motivated by Islamic sources. For example, he said:
“If we meet infidels, if we meet those that become infidels, according to Allah, there is not any talk except hitting of the neck. I hope you, chosen people of Allah, are hearing. This is an instruction from Allah. It is not a distorted interpretation. It is from Allah himself.”
He also cites Islamic sources when justifying Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the Nigerian girls. Slavery of one’s adversaries, he says, is permissible during a jihad. The captives are the booty of war. Shekau explains, “There are slaves in Islam, you should know this, Prophet Muhammed took slaves himself during [the] Badr war.”
Shekau isn’t saying that it is permissible to take just anyone as a slave, but only those that belonged to the enemy. So how do these innocent girls qualify as seized enemy property? Because Shekau believes the jihad is not against an army, government or ethnic group but against Christianity, Western influence, democracy and Muslims that Boko Haram sees as impure.
“We know what is happening in this world, it is a jihad war against Christians and Christianity. It is a war against Western education, democracy and constitution… This is what I know in Quran. This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution, Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”
Contrary to Bedier’s assertion that Boko Haram’s ideology “comes from nowhere,” it does come from well-established Islamic interpretations, even if most Muslims disagree with those interpretations (a mere 2% of Nigerian Muslims view Boko Haram favorably).
Shekau’s view is substantiated by IslamWeb, a popular website that endorses Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. In a 2002 fatwa (authoritative Islamic ruling), IslamWeb concludes:
“Islam left only one source for slavery that is enslavement in war and only legal war (i.e. against the non-Muslims). Indeed, the enslavement of prisoners of war was a part of warfare. So, Islam did not free the slaves of its enemies while its own followers are enslaved by those enemies and given the worst possible treatment.”
In another 2002 fatwa, IslamWeb specifies that females from the enemy camp can be taken as booty. It says:
“’the slaves that your right hand possesses’…includes the slave girls and slaves in general those who are under the control of a free Muslim. As a rule, the only channel of producing this segment of society is Jihad in the cause of Allah.”
“At last, a Muslim has the right to have sex with a slave girl since she is "in the possession of his right hand.”
Islam Q & A is a website by Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid. He is an Islamic scholar that preaches in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and has two television shows.
In fatwa 10382, Islam Q & A states, “It is permissible for you to take concubines from among those whom you seized as war booty,” regardless of if one has a spouse. It says, “Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman, whether he has a wife or wives or he is not married.”
“The scholars are unanimously agreed on that and it is not permissible for anyone to regard it as haraam [prohibited] or to forbid it. Whoever regards that as haraam is a sinner who is going against the consensus of the scholars,” it rules.
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi is another supporting source. He is the Islamist scholar that founded the Jamaat-e-Islami group in Pakistan and is continues to be referenced by Islamists around the world. The New York-based Islamic Circle of North America, one of the largest Muslim-American groups, continually cites him as a top authority on Sharia.
Maududi wrote, “And forbidden to you are the wedded wives of other people, except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war): This is the Law of Allah.”
“God miraculously laid down a system by which all the tributaries feeding into the river of slavery would be cut off except for the captives of war,” AMJA’s fatwa rules (emphasis mine).
The fatwa’s author, Al-Haj, is also the Dean of the College of Islamic Studies of the Mishkah Islamic University of North America that is headquartered in Minnesota. Mishkau University also has branches in Detroit, Houston and Montreal and on-site activities in Tampa and Rutgers University in New Jersey.
All of these Islamic sources are in agreement. That doesn’t just “come out of nowhere,” as former CAIR official Ahmed Bedier insists.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.