November 5th, 2014
05:19 PM ET

ISIS says Islam justifies slavery - what does Islamic law say?

Professor Bernard Freamon teaches courses on modern-day slavery and human trafficking at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey and also specializes in Islamic Legal History. He is currently writing a book, “Islam, Slavery and Empire in the Indian Ocean World.” The views in this article are his alone.

By Professor Bernard Freamon

In the past few months, the world has witnessed horrific accounts of the enslavement of thousands of innocent Yazidis and other religious minorities by ISIS partisans in Iraq and Syria.

In a recent article in its online English-language magazine, ISIS ideologues offered legal justifications for the enslavement of these non-Muslim non-combatants, stating that “enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah or Islamic law.”

The article argues, based on a variety of Shariah sources, that ISIS partisans have a religious duty to kill or enslave members of the Yazidi community as part of their struggle [jihad] against their enemies.

This argument is plainly wrong, hypocritical and astonishingly ahistorical, relying on male fantasies inspired by stories from the days of imperial Islam.

It is also an affront to right-thinking Muslims everywhere and a criminal perversion of Islamic law, particularly its primary source, the Glorious Quran.

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