A considerable amount of literature already exists on the roles women played inside the Islamic State (IS) during the peak of its power, such as being mothers of the households, serving as cooks for the fighters on the frontlines and working in women's Hisba teams for enforcement of 'commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong' (al-amr bil-ma'arouf wa al-nahi 'an al-munkar). Arguably a less discussed aspect has been the role of women in IS da'wa (religious outreach).
The channel of al-Nadhir al-Uryan on Telegram (known for its criticisms of IS from the more 'extreme' persepctive. has posted a couple of interesting internal files on women's da'wa. The channel writes in commenting on the files:
"In the name of God,
Even the portfolio of women's da'wa was not safe from corruption. How could it be otherwise? After all, those responsible for it- except those on whom my Lord had mercy- were of the people of the deviant creed, and of those known for irja' and softness in the religion, and they are all recent converted to Islam and even among them are those who have not yet converted, and God is the One whose help is to be sought.
How could it be otherwise? After all, most of them received their suspect manhaj from their spouses, like the wife of Bilal al-Shawasi and the wife of Abu Anas al-Asadi and the wife of al-Bin'ali, and the daughter of Mustafa al-Bagha, and even the one to whom their testing was handed: Umm al-Hassan al-Jazrawiya the wife of Abu al-Hassan al-Jazrawi the amir of the da'wa was like her husband of those who excuse in ignorance in greater shirk. Indeed later she was removed, because of her crime against those she tested and her false attribution of words to them out of envy. In short, all of them strove for personal renown at the expense of the religion of God, and being personally victorious and not victorious for the religion of God. Their state is the state of their spouses and God is the One whose help is to be sought against the likes of these teachers, who understand nothing about the religion of God.
It will be revealed with the days that the fault is not with the Caliphate or the Dawla [IS] but rather those who lead it from the top of the pyramid to the bottom.
We ask God for there to be a Caliphate on the Prophetic Methodology soon. If God wills, the monotheists will take delight in it and their affairs will be put right."
The files are interesting in showing some controversies that occurred in the field of women's da'wa. Apparently Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha, a female Syrian Islamic scholar who became well-known for joining IS, fell into controversy over an institute she was running, resulting in the closing of her institute and all women's Shari'i institutes* and limitation of women's da'wa matters to women's da'wa courses within the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid (Da'wa and Mosques Department). This internal file is to be contrasted with a document issued under the label of that Diwan which was obtained by me in 2016. The document praises Dr. Iman for her supposed contributions to enhancing Islamic knowledge ('Ilm) and services to jihad.
The files also discuss some other women of foreign origin who were involved in the realm of women's da'wa, including three of North African origin (Egypt, Libya and Tunisia) who were implicated in violations and controversies regarding their work. It would also appear that the town of al-Tabqa in western al-Raqqa countryside (which I have visited) was an epicentre for the concentration of foreign women within IS territories.
Below are the files fully translated. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
[Update 18 April 2020: al-Nadhir al-Uryan clarified to me that the women's Shari'i institutes that were closed were in the towns of al-Raqqa and al-Tabqa. These institutes in al-Raqqa and al-Tabqa were the foundational institutes, whereas "the rest of the wilayas in al-Sham were limited to daw'a lessons in the mosques"].
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Tracking the portfolio of women's da'wa
Praise be to God and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of God (God's blessings be upon him), his family, his companions and whoso is loyal to him. As for what follows:
The portfolio of the women's da'wa was a closed door, with nothing known about it, except from some of the complaints that reached us, which may well be for the most part personal quarrels between the women or women's envies, except for what was of the case of Umm al-Mudhaffar al-Dimashqiya (Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha) the director of the institute 'Dhat al-Nataqain' as her matter was raised among the sectors (Diwan al-Ta'aleem [education department] to the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid to the office of the wali [provincial governor] of al-Raqqa) and the issue became a kind of 'public controversy' if the expression is right, so she was summoned and there was a meeting with her for a period of more than five hours approximately, and it was attended by Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi- may God have mercy on him- and Abu Khabab al-Masri (Sh'uba) and Abu Suleiman al-Shami (Abu Maysara). And after the writing of the report and the referral of it with recommendations to the Delegated Committee, the outcome was in the closing of the institute, along with all the women's institutes in existence, and the confinement to women's courses of Da'wa and Masajid. And the state of affairs remained as it was after that from complete closure of this door, and there multiplied at the same time the complaints and reports from this angle, so e decided to open this door and take it by storm on account of the danger of abandoning it during this time without our knowing anything about it.
And what was raised in this time was a complaint that reached us from Umm Anas al-Hashimiya al-Masriya (official of the women's da'wa in al-Raqqa), that there were among the non-Arab sisters those who were declaring takfir on her, and making her blood permissible to shed, so we discussed this matter with Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi (may God accept him), and it was agreed to choose one of the sisters whose religion and manhaj we trusted to work on this portfolio with our tracking, and its beginning should be from the complaint of Umm Anas al-Hashimiya. And the agreement was on the sister Umm al-Hassan al-Jazrawiya (the wife of the brother Abu al-Hassan al-Jazrawi, the amir of the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid) and the referral of a detailed report regarding the issue, and this is what actually happened and the report was raised to us, and it was shown to Sheikh Abu Muhammad- may God accept him- and it was decided at the time (and that was only one day before his martyrdom) that the sister Umm Anas al-Hashimiya should be removed, and the sister's work should be broadened and supported by one of the sisters with her at the nearest opportunity, to track the rest of the cases according to priority and importance.
The most important cases raised now in the portfolio of women's da'wa:
1. The case of Umm Himam al-Tunisiya (the spouse of Abu Himam al-Tunisi: Bilal al-Shawashi) as she established a comprehensive institute in the town of al-Tabqa, without official permission- despite the fact that it was forbidden- and with the help of some of the workers in the Diwan in the western sector. And there were stirred up in the institute issues of fitna among the Shari'i officials in the Dawla regarding the corrupt manhaj of her husband, from the lack of declaring takfir on the Jabha [Jabhat al-Nusra] and considering erroneous the statement issued by the central office for tracking the Shari'i Diwans, and concerning issues of takfir in general. And many of the sisters as a result of this began to declare takfir on her, and the first signs of fitna arose, and more important than that is the fact that the Committee of Prisoners and Martyrs began compelling the widows to attend courses established by Umm Himam al-Tunisiya, which increased the fitna and strife, and made it obligatory to hurry to action.
2. The case of Umm Amara al-Libiya, and she is the spouse of the brother Abu Dujana al-Maghrebi, who was imprisoned with the amnis for a period of four months approximately for issues of embezzlement against him and his wife. And things of that were proven, and at the time many things were not proven that were proven after that, and there are stirred up around them many amni suspicions. And the sister took it upon herself to teach the non-Arab sisters in secret, considering that the permission granted by the Dawla for female preachers is an innovation in the religion of God and is not permitted, despite her lack of knowledge and its shallowness as well as her lack of grasp of the issue of doctrinal belief (between extremism and irja'), and many of the condemned issues, and she has a complete portfolio previously from the Diwan al-Da'wa and the Diwan al-Ta'aleem.
3. The case of Umm Dujana al-Masriya (the women's da'wa caravan in the western sector), as she teaches and publishes the books of Muhammad Hassan, Mahmoud al-Masri and Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini, and thinks that God loves the ethical disbeliever more than the believer of bad ethics, and she affirms that in the da'wa caravans, along with other violations.
4. The portfolio of the women's da'wa in the town of al-Tabqa in general, as there is the greatest proportion of muhajir women present there, and the abundance of initiatives and women's courses, and da'wa caravans and other things.
And the work has stopped after the killing of Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi- may God accept him- while awaiting for renewed permission, or an indication to complete the course on the same state of affairs.
And God is the One whose help is to be sought.
14 Dhu al-Hijja 1437 AH [c. 16 September 2016 CE]