The news outlet Reuters has been a running a series of pieces on Islamic State documents and files obtained by U.S. special forces during the Abu Sayyaf raid earlier this year. A recent article by the outlet mentions a pamphlet on slavery that Reuters was able to view. It so happens I was able to obtain this pamphlet from a contact in northern Syria earlier this year, and I produce the text and my translation of this pamphlet for the first time in the public domain below. The pamphlet, issued by the Diwan al-‘Iftaa wa al-Buhuth (Fatwa Issuing and Research Department), outlines basic justifications for the practice of slavery, particularly as regards concubines.
Buhuth and ‘Iftaa Committee
From the religion’s maxims on captivity and enslavement.
Prepared by the Buhuth and ‘Iftaa Committee
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, and all his family and companions. As for what follows:
Indeed it is well-known that God the Exalted has not mandated anything except for great wisdom and exalted purpose, so the Exalted has not ordered anything unless there is also in it the great good, and there is no prohibition on anything except there is also in it harm that God is aware of.
Therefore, the one who looks at the secrets of the Shari’a, and the one who ponders on the elevated divine maxims, let him stand in awe before the greatness of God Almighty’s wisdom in His power, and the greatness of God Almighty’s blessing in His law.
The let him be even more certain in his witnessing the perfection of this Shari’a and what has emerged from wisdom, mercy, honour, power and perfection. Thus is the Shari’a of the Wise, the Merciful, the Great, the Powerful- for the qualities of God are exalted in His law.
And among the matters that has been legislated in the Shari’a is the captivity of the women of the disbelievers at war and their enslavement.
For the disbelievers who have no pact of the dhimmi, ceasefire or security between them and the Muslims, the principle regarding them is that their blood and property are free for pillage if they do not convert to Islam or pay the jizya and enter under the rule of Shari’a.
In this regard their women and offspring may be taken captive and it is not allowed to murder the women in principle if they provided no assistance in the war against the Muslims. And this Shari’i ruling is established in the Book [Qur’an], the Sunna and Ijmaa’ [scholarly consensus].
And this requires the stipulation of a number of points, including:
1. It is not allowed to take captives of the Muslim woman or enslave the Muslim man from first principles, since the reason for enslavement is disbelief.
2. It is not allowed to take captives of the women of the disbelievers not waging war from the people of the Dhimma [i.e. Jews and Christians] and the like.
3. The captivity of the women of the disbelievers waging war and their enslavement must be through jihad in that they are sabaya (female prisoners of war).
4. It is not allowed to take the sabaya as slaves before the ruling of the Imam [i.e. the Caliph] upon them because he may rule to be benevolent towards them or ransom for them. Therefore it is not allowed to lie carnally with them or enjoy them simply for being sabi (captive), but also the Imam must make divisions among them [and thus] if they are allowed to be taken as slave girls, the possessions of one’s right hand, then one can lie carnally with them according to Shari’i conditions.
5. The Imam may be benevolent towards them by letting them go and not enslaving them etc.
From maxims of the captivity and enslavement of the women of the disbelievers waging war
Indeed the objectives and benefits that are realized in the captivity and enslavement of the women of the disbelievers waging war are numerous and great, dazzling the human mind that is incapable of finding solution to the problems of human societies. For captivity and enslavement are a guarantor to solve many of the problems and impediments, in addition to its great fruits and benefits that include:
1. Captivity and enslavement are a means of spreading Tawheed [Islamic monotheism]
Indeed Tawheed is the greatest objective for whose sake we have been created, and it is the objective of the sending of the Messengers and the revelation of the Books, just as jihad in principle has been mandated for the sake of Tawheed as God Almighty said: “And fight them until there is no more fitna and religion belongs entirely to God”- Sura al-Anfal 39 [Qur’a 8:39].
Similarly Tawheed is the principle of man’s happiness and thus the extent of his true, everlasting life, for if man loses Tawheed, he loses everything. If he attains success in Tawheed, he attains success in eternal blessing and happiness.
Therefore Tawheed has been the greatest blessing by which God has blessed His servants.
So when the Muslims make captives of the women of the disbelievers at war and enslave them, we have therefore brought these women out from their environment tainted with shirk [idolatry] to a new authentic environment far removed from all the influences of shirk and decadence- as what that encompasses from life for them is totally different from what came before- and a psychological breakdown that is inevitable. And with what they see from the glory of Islam, they will eventually have recourse to Islam voluntarily or out of obligation. And thus one of them becomes closer to Islam than disbelief, and so it will be gradually, until they enter into Islam.
And with the passing of days and months, Islam becomes firmly established in the heart, so their Islam is sound. And this is something the Ummah has witnessed through history.
Thus captivity and enslavement becomes for these women among the greatest blessings of God upon them, as on account of it they escape eternity in the Hellfire.
For on the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him): from the Prophet (SAWS): he said: “God wondered at people entering Paradise in chains” (narrated by Bukhari).
And on the authority of Abu Umamah: he said: “The Messenger of God (SAWS) laughed, so we said: ‘What makes you laugh oh Messenger of God?’ He said: ‘I wondered at people being led in chains to Paradise'” (narrated by Ahmad).
Ibn al-Jawzi said: “Its meaning is that they were taken prisoner and put in bonds but when they got to know the truth of Islam they entered into it voluntarily so they entered Paradise, so the compulsion to imprisonment and bondage was the first cause” (Fath al-Bari 6/145).
And Bukhari produced in his authentic collection on the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him) regarding the Almighty’s words: “You were the best Ummah brought out for the people”- he said: “The best people for the people, bringing them in chains on their necks, until they should enter into Islam.”
2. In captivity and enslavement is a demonstration of the honour of Islam and its people.
There is no doubt that the captivity and enslavement of the women of the disbelievers at war and their offspring are among the greatest forms of the honour of Islam and its Shari’a, as it is a clear affirmation showing the supremacy of the people of Shari’a, and the greatness of their affairs, and the dominance of their state, and the power of their might.
If offensive jihad is limited to killing the disbelievers at war and the apostates and fighting them, as well as inflicting harm and damage to them, and plundering what we can from their property and wealth, then jihad of realization gathers with all that captivity and enslavement of the women of the disbelievers at war and dividing them up among the mujahideen, and sanctioning their genitals [i.e. carnal relations with them]. And that is the sign of realization and dominance by the sword. And it has been said:
“And the girl of spouse whom our arrows have given in marriage [i.e. for sex], it is permissible to consummate the marriage with her [i.e. lie carnally with her] even if she has not been divorced.”
And all this is in accordance with God Almighty’s words: “And to God, His Messenger, and the believers belong honour, but the hypocrites don’t know it” (Sura al-Munafiqun: 8) [Qur’an 63:8].
3. In captivity and enslavement is the lowering of disbelief and its people.
Imam Ahmad brought out in his chain of transmission from Ibn Omar (may God be pleased with him) from the Prophet (SAWS): he said: “I was sent before the Hour with the sword, until God alone should be worshipped with no partner for Him, and my livelihood has been placed under the shade of my spear, and lowering and humiliation have been placed for whosoever violates my order, and whosoever imitates a people is of them.”
For God has struck the disbelievers who have violated the command of God and the command of His Messenger (SAWS) with lowering and humiliation, and among the sins of this humiliation imposed on them is the captivity and enslavement of their women and the permissibility of their genitals.
And this is an objective in angering and psychologically vanquishing the disbelievers when they see their honour as captives among the people of Islam, and it is of disgrace for them. So Ibn Abi Hatem narrated in his transmission from Qatada regarding the Almighty’s words about the Jews: “For them is disgrace in this world.” He said: “This means: what God brought on the Qurayza people from captivity and killing, and the Nadhir people from their expulsion.”
And likewise captivity and enslavement for the disbelievers have been a source of sorrow and exasperation for them, as well as a penalty for their disbelief in God because the penalty is from the type of deed, for when they have deviated from God the Exalted’s religion, have been haughty about Tawheed of God and have refused to worship God alone, God has allowed for us to take them captive and enslave them, for they have become slaves and servants among the monotheist servants of God: God Almighty has said: “And the one whom God humiliates, there is no one to ennoble him” (al-Hajj 18) [Qur’an 22:18].
4. Captivity and enslavement are of the Sunnah of the Prophet.
Indeed making captives of and enslaving the women of the disbelievers at war are a revival of prophetic Sunnah, for the Prophet (SAWS) used to enslave the women and offspring of the disbelievers at war and that occurs in many well-known incidents, including:
The Prophet (SAWS) took the women and offspring of the Banu al-Mustaliq captive, just as Bukhari narrated in his authentic collection: that the Prophet (SAWS) launched a raid on the Banu al-Mustaliq while they were off-guard and their cattle were drawing water. So he killed the fighting men and took their offspring captive…
And similarly the Prophet (SAWS) took the offspring and women of the Banu Qurayza as captives when the Banu Qurayza annulled their pact, and he killed their men while seizing their wealth.
Likewise the Prophet (SAWS) took captives from Hawazin [an Arab tribe] in the Hanin raid until the captives reached 6000 maidens in number….
And also the Ahl al-Seer mentioned that the Prophet (SAWS) had four slave girls (concubines) , and they were: Maria, and she was the mother of his son Ibrahim, Rayhana, a girl he acquired among some of the captives, and Jariya given to him as a gift by Zaynab bint Jahash.
And Bukhari headed a section in his authentic collection: Section of Taking Concubines.
5. Captivity and enslavement are a mercy from God for the women and offspring of the disbelievers.
Indeed God’s mercy is applicable for all created, even the disbeliever, for indeed God’s mercy encompasses him in this world, for he is given sustenance, food, dwelling and settlement, and all this is from God’s mercy on him. God Almighty has said: “Our Lord, You have encompassed everything with Your mercy and knowledge” (Ghafir 7) [Qu’an 40:7].
Therefore making captive of the women and offspring is a mercy from God for them, because this captivity and enslavement are the practical and realistic means to save these women from waste and desolation, and it is the most useful way of protecting them from atrocities and find protectors for them and their offspring.
For whenever the disbelievers refuse to enter into Islam or give the jizya or enter under the rule of Shari’a, there remains no other option at that point except for us to attack them, fight them, kill them, take prisoners from them, lie in wait for them, surround them and catch them…so they become either killed, taken prisoner or driven out.
So the problem stands out of the women and offspring of those who did not aid them in the war against the Muslims, for it is not allowed to murder them in principle and this is from God’s mercy on them, but despite what happened to their disbelieving society from expulsion, fragmentation and collapse, we find that these women are now without a carer, provider or breadwinner..
And thus they have entered into a new societal framework. If all human minds were to come together for solutions relevant to this new situation to be found, they would be utterly incapable.
Therefore we find that the most useful means to protect these women from waste, desolation and poverty, and the way to guarantee a stable life for them: making captives of them and enslaving them..
Because the master and possessor of one of them is entrusted by law to raise her prestige, spend money on her and provide her with food, drink and residence, while keeping her from the forbidden practices. But also with the need of the one made captive and enslaved for social relations and sexual intercourse, we find that there has come in the Shari’a allowance to enjoy sabaya (slave girls) and lie carnally with them.
So therefore this person made captive and enslaved should be provided with residence, security, stability, food and drink. And thus she should be able to escape from atrocities and vices, and living in the ways and canals of garbage.
And this is from the mercy of this Shari’a as well as its justice, glory and wisdom.
6. Showing the mercy of Shari’a and its justice in dealing with slave girls and slaves.
Captivity and slavery have been present throughout history, even such that some of the Arab tribes used to bury their daughters alive fearing captivity and poverty. And the sources of enslavement among the disbelieving nations were numerous, not limited to one path.
And the dealing of the disbelieving nations with slave girls and slaves was only for the sake of oppression, humiliation contempt for them. And the slave girls and slaves were entrusted with tasks that that they could not tolerate or manage, so their life amounted to one of bodily torture and being psychologically vanquished.
As for the Shari’a of Islam, the situation is completely different, for it has come ordering for mercy and gentleness towards them, and justice with them, being good to them.
For God the Exalted has ordered us to be good towards slaves and slave girls. God Almighty has said: “And worship God and do not associate any partners with Him. And be good to parents, relatives, orphans, the wayfarers, the near neighbour, the far neighbour, the companion beside you, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, God dislikes those who are self-delusional and arrogant” (Nisa’ 36) [Qur’an 4:36].
And there has come encouragement to educate them, call them to Islam, and discipline them. For Bukhari narrated on the authority of Abu Mousa (may God be pleased with him): he said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: “Whoever has a girl and teaches her, is good to her, and then emancipates and marries her, he has double the remuneration.”
Also there has come the prohibition on calling them (my slave and slave girl) as Bukhari on the authority of the Prophet (SAWS): that he said: “Not one of you should say: ‘Feed your lord, place a light for your lord, but rather he should say: ‘Sayyidi, Mawlaya.’ And not one of you should say, ‘My slave, my slave girl.’ But he should say: ‘My boy, my girl, my servant.’
And Bukhari translated this hadith by these words of his: “Section on dislike of insolence towards the companion.”
And the Shari’a has stipulated the principle of brothers in religion between the free and enslaved Muslims. For the Prophet of Mercy (SAWS) said as Bukhari narrated in his authentic collection: “The slaves are your brothers, so feed them from what you eat.”
And SAWS said: “Indeed your brothers are your chattel, whom God has placed under your hands, so whoever has his brother under his hand, let him feed him from what he eats, and dress him with what he wears, and do not entrust them with what overcomes them, so if you entrust them with what overcomes them, assist them.”
Observe the sublime gentleness as Bukhari narrated in his authentic collection on the authority of the Prophet (SAWS): he said: “When the servant of one of you brings his food, and if he does not sit with you, then let him eat at least a morsel or two or a dish or two, for he is the guarantor of his treatment.”
And so we find that the Prophet (SAWS) forbade hitting the slave’s face as disciplinary action, just as Bukhari narrated in his authentic collection. He said: “Section: if hehits the slave, let him avoid his face.” And he drew out a hadith of the Prophet (SAWS): “If one of you fights, let him avoid the face.”
And likewise there has come encouragement to emancipate the believing necks as per God Almighty’s words: “Loosening a neck [i.e. freeing a slave], or feeding on a day of severe hunger, a closely related orphan” (al-Balad 13-15) [Qur’an 90:13-15].
And the Prophet (SAWS) said: “Whichever man emancipates a Muslim man, God has saved him in every part of him from the Hellfire” (narrated by Bukhari).
7. In captivity and enslavement is generosity on men who are incapable of marrying.
And this is from God’s mercy on men who cannot find marriage or for whom the matter of marriage is difficult from expenditures and the like, so God has allowed them to have concubines in the possession of the right hand (slave girls). God Almighty has said: “And those who guard their genitals except from their wives or what their right hands possess, for they are not blamed” (al-Mu’minun 5-6) [Qur’an 23:5-6].
And this generosity is something by which the mujahideen benefit most, and perhaps this is of the kind of reward for the type of work, for the mujahideen are the ones who have excelled in their times with their spouses to God- Almighty and Exalted is He- until one of them whose separation from his spouse lasts for a long time because of ribat [frontline duty] and expeditions, or he may be a muhajir who has left a spouse and children behind him, so there is long-lasting exile upon them, and the exile upon them intensifies, so this divine grace and wondrous generosity brings captivity and enslavement.
Likewise it is from generosity upon men to be allowed to take women captive and purchase them, and this is something by which unmarried men benefit most or the one who desires multiple [spouses] but cannot be just, so for him is the possession of the right hand as wealth.
God Almighty has said: “If you fear that you cannot deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry whosoever pleases you from the women: two, three or four. But if you fear that you cannot be just, then only one or what your right hands possess. That is more suitable, lest you be inclined to be unjust” (Nisa’ 3) [Qur’an 4:3].
8. Captivity and enslavement are a means of increasing the offspring of the Muslims.
There is no doubt that increasing numbers is strength for the Muslims, and the fact that the concubine slave girls may give birth is not an ugly or condemnable matter. For Ibrahim- peace be upon him- took Hajer (may God be pleased with her) as a concubine and from her was born Ismail, peace be upon him.
And the Prophet of God Suleiman (peace be upon him) had many concubines.
And as mentioned before the Prophet (SAWS) took Maria (may God be pleased with her) as a concubine and she was the mother of his son Ibrahim.
And Ali ibn Abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) took a concubine from the captives of the Bani Hanifa, and she bore for him Muhammad who became known as Ibn al-Nafia, and likewise a number of the Companions (may God be pleased with them) took concubines.
And throughout history there have stood out great men from the leaders of the Muslims who were sons of concubines (slave girls) like Sayf al-Din Qutuz who led the battle of Ayn Jalut against the Tatars [Mongols]. And similarly al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun at whose hand many of the Crusaders’ fortresses collapsed.
This is an exposition on some of the maxims on captivity and enslavement, and we do not claim its confinement and restriction to what we have mentioned, for God has ruled on many of His rulings, giving us an insight into His blessing and grace on some of them, while He conceals others: “Above every possessor of knowledge is One who knows more” (Yusuf 76) [Qur’an 12:76].
And indeed it is from the blessings of God Almighty on the Muslims in this age in which the tribulations and afflicitons have been many that He has established for them the Islamic State, which has revived the glories of the Ummah, and has strived to renew what has been wiped out from the path.
For it has arisen as the statement of Tawheed, the best statement, and it has wafed war on shirk and its people by the pen and the sword, and it has established judiciaries and muftis, and has opened institutions and schools, and has imposed the jizya on the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], and has enslaved the women and offspring of the disbelievers.
Al-Buhuth & Al-‘Iftaa Committee
[Notes from the original text]
- See: al-Tabaqat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa’ad (2/116), ‘Alam al-Nabwa by Al-Mawardi (6/268), al-Muntadhim fi Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk by Ibn al-Jawzi (3/239) and Zada al-Mu’ad by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzia (3/415).
- Sabaya cannot be made slave girls simply as sabi (prisoner) but when the Imam imposes slavery upon them and distributes them among the mujahideen thus they become slave girls as those possessed by the right hand, and thus they are called al-Jarari, and if this Ummah takes them up for sexual intercourse, so they are also called: “Surayya”…and its plural: “Sarari.” The Hafidh Ibn Hajar said: “I called it thus because it is derived from tasarrur and its origin is from al-sirr and it is among the nouns of sexual intercourse, and also there is said for it istisrar, or it may also be that it is called thus in the main part the issue of her is concealed from the wife” (Fath al-Bari: 9/126).