By Brigitte L. Nacos
Following terrorist attacks in the French capital last week the news media reported extensively that ISIS’s latest issue of its online magazine Dabiq depicted a scene of the Paris massacre on its cover and on an inside page a soda can allegedly containing a bomb like the one planted to blow up the Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula.
Nobody paid attention to a revealing four-page article in the same issue with the headline “To Our Sisters: Two, Three or Four.” Here, the female author, Umm Sumayyah Al-Muhajirah, spells out ISIS women’s obligation to accept their husbands' entitlement to take two, three, or four wives according to Sharia law. In her praise of polygyny (or polygamy) the author tells her sisters,
Pay no attention to the statements of unprincipled women
whose sources of reference are vile plays and soap operas.
Rather, let your example be the women of the prophetic Household.
And every sister should know that when her
husband wants to marry another woman, it’s not obligatory
for him to consult her, nor to seek her permission, nor to try
and appease her. If he does that, it is an act of generosity on
his part and a means of preserving the companionship between
the two of them. So be content, my sister, submit to
Allah with obedience, and yield to His law. And if a woman
does this, then it is fitting for the Most Generous to increase
her rewards in the Dunyā and the Hereafter.
The article praises the “many wisdoms” behind the polygyny law,
“Amongst them is that women are greater in number than
men, who face many dangers and hardships in their lives,
such as war, hazardous work, and disasters. Likewise, young
men tend to prefer virgins and abstain from marrying widows
and divorcees, so who then would look after this group
ISIS men are also entitled to marry children according to a manifesto publicized earlier this year by the all-female al-Khanssaa Brigade, a religious police making sure that women embrace morality according to Sharia. The manifesto states,
“It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of nine.
Most pure girls will be married by sixteen or seventeen,
while they are still young and active.”
I have no idea whether the teenage girls and young women, who left their families and friends in the West to join ISIS, knew the whole truth about the role of women in the Islamic State before they traveled to Syria. The social media sites by ISIS women for potential female recruits that I followed for a while did not mention polygamy nor jihadi's entitlement to take child brides.
Perhaps this could be the stuff for an effective counter-narrative challenging ISIS’s propaganda and recruitment machine.