I’ve devised this simple test to help people determine whether or not a given atrocity committed by Islamists has anything to do with the religion of Islam. You needn’t satisfy each and every limb of this test to rationally associate an atrocity with Islam, but the more limbs you satisfy, the more justified the association will be. Also, given the theological structure of the Islamic religion, satisfying the first limb will carry more weight than satisfying the second or third limbs.
The Nothing-To-Do-With-Islam Test:
- Can you locate justification for the atrocity in the Qur’an (central pillar of the religion)?
- Can you locate justification for the atrocity in the Sunnah (deeds and sayings of Muhammad) or Sira (biography of Muhammad) and/or the hadith?
- Can you locate justification for the atrocity in Islamic history and/or Islamic Jurisprudence (common and codified practice/tradition)?
Testing the Test – Female Captives and Rape
When the Islamic leader of ISIS was reported to have raped Syrian captives, members of the Regressive Left took to Twitter to distance the religion of Islam from this heinous atrocity.
Here is what the exposed plagiarist C.J. Werleman had to say:
Okay, so let’s test his claim by applying the test.
First Limb: The Qur’an (Primary Pillar of Islam)
From the Qur’an (Yusuf Ali Trans.) we read:
Qur’an 23:1-6—The Believers must (eventually) win through—those who……abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess—for (in their case) they are free from blame.
These verses (ayah) clearly relieve Muslim men of blame for raping captives of war, and sex slaves (those whom their right hands possess) purchased or acquired by other means. This teaching is reiterated:
Qur’an 33:50: O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee…
Qur’an 70:22-30—Not so those devoted to Prayer—those who remain steadfast to their prayer…..and those who guard their chastity, except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess—for (then) they are not to be blamed.
This first limb has certainly been satisfied. Remember, the claim being tested is that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s rape of Syrian captives has nothing to do with Islam. We could rest the test here, but before moving on to examine this claim under the remaining two limbs of the test, I’ll pre-emptively refute an anticipated apology.
The Historical Context Apology
In his dramatic failure of a book Koran Curious, C.J. Werleman lays the following charge against Sam Harris:
‘‘He [Sam Harris] quotes numerous verses including: “Never think that those who were slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, and well provided for by their Lord; pleased with his gifts and rejoicing that those they left behind, who have not yet joined them, have nothing to fear or to regret. God will not deny the faithful their reward.” [3:169] Now, in isolation we can use this against Islam, as Muhammad appears to be pronouncing an endorsement for martyrdom, carte blanche. What Harris doesn’t say, however, is that Muhammad recited this particular verse in the days prior to facing annihilation, because he had learned the Meccans were planning on laying siege on Medina with the purpose of finishing off the Muslims once and for all. Essentially, Muhammad had to raise the will of his men to defend the city at all costs, for the Quraysh of Mecca intended to execute every Muslim man, woman, and child should the city’s defenses fall. Moreover, he would never have envisaged that 1,500 years later, men would read this verse and use it for justification to hijack a jetliner and fly it into a building filled with innocent people.’
The historical context apology is a frequently employed piece of apologia that attempts to shield the religion of Islam from justified criticism, yet it fails on two substantial and related grounds:
- The Qur’an is neither Diodorus Siculus’ Library of History nor Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – that is to say, it is not a history book. It may contain some historical data but its purpose and function is to serve as a set of religious laws applicable to all Muslims until “Judgment Day”. This brings us to the second ground upon which the historical context apology fails.
- The rules and precedents established in the Qur’an are not confined to a specific period in history in terms of their application. If you don’t believe me, read the Qur’an!
The Qur’an is perfectly clear and completely applicable:
‘Alif lām rā’: God knows best what He means by these [letters]; this is, a Book whose verses have been set clear, through marvellous arrangement and wonderful meanings, and then detailed, expounded, through rulings, stories and admonitions, from One Wise, Informed, that is, [from] God’. ~Qur’an 11:1 (Tafsīr Jalālayn)
‘These are the symbols [or Verses] of the perspicuous (clear and precise) Book’. ~Qur’an 12:1 (Yusuf Ali)
‘For We had certainly sent unto them a Book [the Qur’an], based on knowledge, which We explained in detail – a guide and a mercy to all who believe’. ~Qur’an 7:52 (Yusuf Ali)
[NOTE: Allah is alleged to have orally transmitted the Qur’an to Muhammad, yet the verse above seems like a strange thing to orally dictate to Muhammad partway through transmitting the Qur’an. Firstly, it wasn’t a book at the time, and secondly, it hadn’t yet been “explained in detail”, as the Qur’an has 114 chapters and this is only chapter 7.]
Perfected is the word of your Lord, in the way of rulings and appointed terms, in truthfulness and justice (sidqan wa-‘adlan is for specification); none can change His words, either by contravening [His rulings] or evading [His appointed terms]. He is the Hearing, of what is said, the Knowing, of what is done. ~Qur’an 6:115 (Tafsīr Jalālayn)
I could labour the point by offering various commentaries on the issue of the Qur’an’s all-inclusive and ever-applicable status, but I think it is fair to say that most Muslims believe that the “all-knowing” and “wise creator of the universe” wouldn’t waste a drop of ink in a book that is intended to be a complete manual for life on earth.
Second Limb – The Sunnah of Muhammad & Hadith (Secondary Pillar of Islam)
The reason I’ve made this the second limb is because a fundamental doctrine of Islam pertains to the perfection of Muhammad. He was the perfect Muslim, who is to be admired and emulated.
‘Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern [of conduct] for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah’. ~Qur’an 33:21 (Yusuf Ali)
The Sahih (reliable) al-Bukhari recounts a story of Muhammad raping a 17-year-old Jewish girl on the very night that his Muslim mercenaries slaughtered her fiancé and her family. From the Bukhari we read:
‘‘When he entered the town, he said, ‘Allahu Akbar! Khaibar is ruined…We conquered Khaibar, took the captives, and the booty was collected. Dihya came and said, ‘O Allah’s Prophet! Give me a slave girl from the captives.’ The Prophet said, ‘Go and take any slave girl.’ He took Safiya bint Huyai. A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostles! You gave Safiya bint Huyai to Dihya and she is the chief mistress of the tribes of Quraidha and An−Nadir and she befits none but you.’ So the Prophet said, ‘Bring him along with her.’ So Dihya came with her and when the Prophet saw her, he said to Dihya, ‘Take any slave girl other than her from the captives.’ Anas added: The Prophet then manumitted her and married her.”’ ~Sahih al-Bukhari 1:367
There are numerous other examples from the Sunnah and various hadith that highlight the flippant manner in which Muslim men would rape female captives of war and slave girls, however, given that this example contains within it not only an example of the perfect Muslim raping a 17-year-old girl but also the wonton passing around of slave girls, I think this one will suffice.
Third Limb – Islamic History and/or Islamic Jurisprudence
For the majority of Islamic history, rape has been a neglected aspect of Islamic jurisprudence. Regarding marital rape, Kecia Ali of Harvard University says:
‘For all, marital rape is an oxymoron; rape (ightisab) is a property crime that by definition cannot be committed by the husband’. 
Given both the Quranic justification for rape and Muhammad’s reported conduct in this regard, it isn’t surprising that there were many instances throughout Islamic history in which female captives were raped and forced into prostitution.
Refuting Henry Bayman’s attempt to assert that Muhammad never raped slave girls, religious scholar Bernadette Brooten remarks:
‘Nonetheless, to accept his characterization – as with the narrator Hassan’s comments on the Sahih Muslim – requires one to either ignore the Islamic legal tradition’s permission for slave-concubinage and the hadith evidence showing that the Prophet…had sex with female captives and slaves…’
Once again, there are a plethora of examples one could cite from throughout the history of the Muslim conquests to the tomes of Islamic jurisprudence written along the way, but given that much of this is near-common knowledge, I’ll leave it here.
If we apply this test to the claim that al-Baghdadi’s rape of Syrian female captives has nothing to do with Islam, we see that such a claim falls flat on each and every limb of this test. Thus, it is clear from the evidence that when ISIS rapes female captives, they do so with the express consent of the doctrines and traditional practices of their religion.
Try applying this test to other crimes committed by ISIS.
- Severing the hands of thieves
- Driving non-Muslims out of Muslim lands
- Killing apostates
- Murdering Homosexuals
- Murdering infidels and Muslims believed to be ‘hypocrites’ (not “real” Muslims/Shiite Muslims)
- Destroying non-Muslim monuments and other valuable historical artefacts
For a more detailed comparison between ISIS’ behaviour and some of the core doctrines of Islam, read this piece – ISIS Is Islam
*Qualification: This test in no way impeaches the character of the majority of Muslims who do not draw inspiration from the more insidious doctrines of Islam. It merely establishes the erroneous nature of the claim that certain Islamic atrocities are not the result of a legitimate application of the doctrines and practices of Islam.
- J. Werleman, ‘Koran Curious: A Guide for Infidels & Believers’,Dangerous Little Books, 2011, (Kindle Location) KL #293.
- Bernadette J. Brooten, Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010, p. 120.
- Kecia Ali, Beyond Slavery: Overcoming its Religious and Sexual Legacies, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010, pp. 111-112.