One of the practices for which the Islamic State became most notorious was the enslavement of thousands of women at the height of its power. The firmly documented cases of this enslavement almost entirely come from the Yezidi minority, which the Islamic State attempted to wipe out in a genocide. The enslaved women could be kept for purposes of domestic servitude and satiating carnal lust, with or without their consent (effectively sanctioning rape).
The Islamic State also produced a considerable body of literature on enslavement. More than five ago I leaked online and translated a small book on the subject that was produced by the Research and Fatwa-Issuing Commission (later the Office of Research and Studies). The book's primary focus was arguing for the supposed benefits and permissibility of these practices of enslavement. The book was also included in a later compilation of the works of the Office of Research and Studies published by the Knowledge Heritage Foundation.
In this post I provide a translation of an Islamic State pamphlet that was made publicly available by the al-Himma Library a long time ago and serves as a brief question and answer pamphlet dealing with issues related to slavery, particularly questions of carnal relations with slave-women. I provide this material in full translation primarily so that people can get a better grasp of the Islamic State's stipulations on this matter.
For example, some have been confused as to whether the Islamic State permitted enslavement of women of Christians. The answer to this question is yes, because as the pamphlet makes clear, the two criteria that allow for enslavement of the women of a group of people is that (i) the group of people should be disbelievers (i.e. non-Muslim) and (ii) deemed 'at war' (i.e. having no pact/treaty with the Islamic State like a dhimmi pact). The only exception the pamphlet allows here is the case of apostasy (i.e. those originally Muslim who then supposedly left Islam). The pamphlet notes the disagreement on the enslaving the apostate women but decides to take the majority view that it is not permitted to enslave the apostate women. This should technically make enslavement of women belonging to religious groups like the Alawites and Shi'a impermissible because the Islamic State officially deems them apostates, though it seems many Islamic State members became confused about the matter (cf. here) and thought they are 'original disbelievers' like Christians and Yezidis.
Other than the criteria of enslavement, the pamphlet also deals with the specific conditions in which lying carnally with the slave-woman is permitted. Most notably, it is not permitted when the slave-woman is the property of more than one person, and if the slave-woman is married to someone besides her master, then the master cannot lie carnally with her. Further, the pamphlet deals with questions of freeing slaves and acts of atonement for which one should free one's slave if possible.
Below is the pamphlet fully translated with original text. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Question and Answer on Sabi and Slaves
Muharram 1436 AH [October-November 2014 CE]
Praise be to God and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of God, his family, companions and whoso is loyal to him. As for what follows:
This is an aspect of knowledge that is quasi-hidden in the contemporary doors of jurisprudence. The need has required it after it found for itself a practical implementation in the abode of the Islamic Caliphate (may God prolong its shadow).
Q1: What is sabi?
A1: Sabi is what the Muslims take from the women of the people of war.
Q2: What makes sabi permissible?
A2: What makes sabi permissible is disbelief. So the disbelieving women are permitted to us through the Imam's division of them after placing the hand on them and bringing them to the abode of Islam.
Q3: Is sabi of all the disbelieving women permitted?
A3: There is no disagreement among the 'ulama on the permissibility of sabi of the disbelieving women of original disbelief like the women of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] and the idolatrous women, but they have disagreed on sabi of the apostate woman, for the majority have taken the view it is not permitted and some of the Ahl al-'Ilm [scholars] have taken the view that sabi of the apostate woman is permitted. And the view with more weight in our opinion is the pronouncement of the majority, and God knows best.
Q4: It is permitted to lie carnally with the sabiya [female captive/slave]?
A4: It is permitted to lie carnally with the sabiya. God Almighty has said: 'And those who keep their private parts private, except for their wives or what their right hands possess, they are not to be reprimanded. So whoso desires what is beyond that, those people are transgressors' (al-Mu'minun 5-7). And 'what their right hands have possessed' is of the sabaya.
Q5: Can one lie carnally with the sabiya immediately after taking possession?
A5: If she is a virgin, one can lie carnally with her immediately after taking possession. As for if she is a widow [/divorcee], one must make sure her womb is empty. That is for what has come in the hadith that Abu Dawud brought out on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (may God be pleased with him): that the Prophet (SAWS) said regarding the sabaya [plural of sabaya] of Awtas: 'One must not lie carnally with a pregnant woman until she gives birth, nor with the one who is not pregnant until she has a period'- (authentic hadith narrated by Ahmad and others besides him).
Q6: Is it allowed to sell the sabiya?
A6: It is permitted to sell, buy and bestow as gifts the sabaya and slave-women, as they are tantamount to wealth which can be dealt with without an act of corruption or causing harm.
Q7: Is it permitted to distinguish between the slave-woman and her children in selling and buying?
A7: It is not permitted to distinguish between the slave-woman and her young children who have not reached puberty in selling, buying and bestowing as gifts. And it is permitted to distinguish between them if the children are old and mature.
Q8: If two or more share in the buying a sabiya, is she permitted to each one of them?
A8: It is not permitted to lie carnally with the sabiya except for the one who possesses her in a complete sense. As for the one whose possession of her is diminished by participation, it is not permitted for him to lie carnally with her until he buys the share of the others in her or they waiver her to him as a gift bestowal.
Q9: If the sabiya becomes pregnant from her owner, is it permitted for him to sell her?
A9: It is not permitted for him to sell her, as she becomes a 'mother of a child,' and when her owner passes away from her, she becomes free.
Q10: If the man dies and leaves sabaya in his possession, what is their ruling?
A10: The sabaya are to be divided within his legacy like the division of inheritance, but they are in service only without carnal relations if a father or son lay carnally with her, or if a number of heirs share in ownership of her.
Q11: Is it permitted for the man to lie carnally with the slave-woman of his wife?
A11: It is not permitted for the man to lie carnally with the slave-woman of his wife because she is a possession of one besides him.
Q12: Is it permitted for the man to kiss the slave-woman of one besides him if her owner is fine with it?
A12: It is not permitted for the man to kiss the slave-woman of one besides her, because kissing is of carnal enjoyment, and it is not permitted to take carnal enjoyment except in that which is completely owned.
Q13: What constitutes the private parts of the slave-woman in prayer?
A13: Her private parts in prayer are as her private parts outside it. And they are what is besides the head, neck, hands and feet.
Q14: Is it permitted for the slave-woman to come out to foreign men without a hijab?
A14: It is permitted for the slave woman to reveal her head, neck, hands and feet in front of foreign men if there is no risk of fitna [temptation]. As for when there is fitna or fear of its occurrence, that is forbidden.
Q15: Is it permitted to combine two sisters in the possession of the right hand?
A15: It is permitted to combine the two sisters, the slave-woman and her paternal aunt, and the slave-woman and her maternal aunt in possession of the right hand. But it is not permitted to combine the two in lying carnally. The one who lies carnally with one of them, it is not permitted for him to lie carnally with the other, on account of the general prohibition against that.
Q16: What is 'azl [coitus interruptus]?
A16: 'Azl is not discharging semen into the vagina of the woman.
Q17: Is it permitted for the man to perform 'azl with his slave-woman?
A17: The man can perform 'azl in intercourse with his slave-woman with or without her permission.
Q18: Is it permitted to hit the slave-woman?
A18: It is permitted to hit the slave-woman in reprimand, and it is forbidden to hit so as to cause fracture, gratification or torture. It is also forbidden to hit the face.
Q19: What is the ruling on the slave-woman who flees from her master?
A19: The fleeing of the slave or slave-woman is among the great sins. On the authority of Mansur bin Abd al-Rahman, on the authority of al-Sha'abi, on the authority of Jarir: that he heard him saying: 'Any slave who flees from his masters has committed kufr until he should return to them.' Mansur said: 'By God it was narrated from the Prophet (SAWS) but I dislike that it should be narrated on my authority here in al-Basra'- (narrated by Muslim).
Q20: What is the worldly punishment for the slave-woman who flees from her master?
A20: There is no hadd punishment for her in the law of God, but she is to be subject to discretionary punishment that deters the likes of her from fleeing.
Q21: Is it permitted to marry a slave-woman who is a Muslim or of the People of the Book?
A21: It is not permitted for the free man to marry the slave-women who are Muslims or People of the Book, except for the one who fears 'anat for himself, and 'anat is fornication. God Almighty has said: 'And whoso of you cannot afford to marry the free believing women, he can do so from what your right hands have possessed from your believing slave-women' etc. until the Almighty's words: 'That is for the one of you who fears 'anat, but that you should be patient is better for you, and God is forgiving, merciful'- (al-Nisa' 25).
Q22: If the slave-woman gets married, does she have upon her master right of alternation in sharing the bed?
A22: Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi said: 'And there is no sharing of the bed obligatory upon the man for what his right hand possesses...but if she needs nikah [marriage/carnal conjugal rights], he must render 'ifaf [chastity/fulfilment of carnal needs] to her, whether in lying carnally with her or marrying her off or selling her'- (al-Mughanni).
Q23: If the man marries a slave-woman owned by another, who is permitted to lie carnally with her?
A23: It is not permitted for the master to lie carnally with his slave-woman who is married to another besides him. Rather the master has the right to make use of her as a servant while the husband has the right to enjoy her carnally.
Q24: Are the hudud punishments established on the slave-women?
A24: If the slave-woman commits what necessitates the hadd punishment, the hadd punishment is established on her, but there is to be reduction by half on her in hudud punishments that accept reduction by half. God Almighty has said: 'So if they are married commit a grossly immoral deed, upon them is half of what is upon the free from torment. That is for the one of you who fears 'anat and that you should be patient is better for you, and God is forgiving, merciful'- (al-Nisa' 25).
Q25: Is it permitted for the slave-woman to buy herself from her owner?
A25: Yes that is permitted, and this transaction is called mukataba [manumission contract].
Q26: What is the reward for freeing the slave-woman?
A26: God Almighty has said: 'And what has made you realise what is aqaba? Freeing a slave'- (al-Balad 12-13). And he (SAWS) said: 'Whoso frees a believing slave, God will free a limb for every limb of the slave's body from the Hellfire'- (narrated by Muslim). Al-Nawawi said in explaining it: 'And this hadith is clear statement of the virtue of manumission and it is among the best deeds and of what by which being freed from the Hellfire and entry into Paradise arise'- (al-Manhaj).
Q27: What is the atonement for killing by mistake?
A27: Its atonement is freeing a believing slave, but the one who cannot do so [e.g. because one does not have a slave] should fast for two consecutive months. God Almighty has said: 'And it is not for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake and whoso kills a believer by mistake should free a slave and hand over blood money to his family, unless they waive it by charity. But if he is from a people hostile to you and he is a believer, then free a believing slave, and if he is of a people and between you and them is a covenant, then ransom sum is to be handed to his people and a believing slave is to be freed. And whoso cannot do that, he is to fast for two consecutive months in repentance towards God, and God is knowing and wise'- (al-Nisa' 92).
Q28: What is the atonement for perjury?
A28: Its atonement is feeding or clothing ten maskeens [poor persons] or freeing a believing slave- as in the view of the majority- and that is all on the basis of making a choice. So whoso does not have the means to do that should fast for three days. God Almighty has said: 'God will not hold you to account for carelessness in oaths, but He will hold you to account for what you contracted in oaths, so its atonement is feeding ten maskeens from that by which you feed your families or you clothe them, or free a slave. But the one who does not find the means to do that is to fast for three days. That is atonement for your oaths when you swear. And keep to your oaths. Likewise God makes clear to you His signs so that you may be thankful'- (al-Ma'ida 89).
Q29: What is the atonement for zihar [a condemned form of divorce in which the husband says his wife is like his mother's back to him]?
A29: Its atonement is freeing a believing slave- as in the view of the majority- so whoso cannot do that is to fast for two consecutive months. And whoso cannot do that is to feed 60 maskeens- in that order. God Almighty has said: 'And those who perform zihar to their women then return to what they have said, they are to free a slave before the pair come together. That is a means for you to be admonished and God is well-aware of what you do. So whoso cannot find the means to do that is to fast for two consecutive months before the pair come together. So whoso cannot do that, is to feed 60 maskeens. That is so that you may believe in God and His Messenger, and those are the hudud of God and for the disbelievers is a painful torment'- (al-Mujadila 3-4).
Q30: What is the atonement for lying carnally with the wife or slave-woman in the daylight of Ramadan?
A30: Its atonement is freeing a slave. So whoso cannot find the means to do that is to fast for two consecutive months. So whoso cannot find the means to do that is to feed 60 maskeens- in that order. On the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him) that a man lay carnally with his wife in Ramadan so he asked for the view of the Messenger of God (SAWS) about that, so he said to him: 'Do you have a slave?' He said: No. He said: 'And can you fast for two months?' He said: No. He said: So feed 60 maskeens'- (agreed upon).
Q31: Is it conditional in the freeing done as an act of atonement that the slave should be a believer?
A31: The jurists have agreed by consensus that in freeing as an act of atonement for killing the condition is for the slave to be a believer. And they have differed on atonement for perjury and zihar and lying carnally in the daylight of Ramadan. For the majority have taken the view that it is not allowed to free unless the slave is a believer. And the Hanafis have taken the view that it is permitted even if the slave is not a believer unless in atonement for killing. And the more apparent in the two pronouncements is the pronouncement of the majority.
And praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds
Oh God, grant blessings and peace on our Prophet Muhammad and on all his family and companions.