Taking Schoolgirls into Slavery, Sign of Boko Haram’s Profound Ignorance of Islam

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Gholamali Khoshroo
Senior Editor of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam

The news was very scary. The kidnapping of 275 high school girls in Nigeria by Takfiri and terrorist members of Boko Haram group and their later announcement about their intention to sell the girls as slaves was shocking enough to heavily weigh down on the conscience of every human being. However, this has not apparently taken place in reality. It seems that the world has become callous and indifferent as a result of high frequency of violent crimes and extremism. Another aspect of this incident, which is also more catastrophic, is the announcement by the group that their irreligious and inhuman measure has been taken in order to uplift the name of Islam and in line with the implementation of the legal rules of sharia!

They have combined the darkest and the most radical interpretations of Islam with ignorance, superstitions and authoritarianism while targeting people’s lives, property and honor with such ideological weapons as excommunication and terrorism. The members of this extremist Takfiri group believe that any kind of interaction with the Western countries should be forbidden. At the same time, they consider their main duties to be confrontation with and rejection of traditional religious institutions, fighting the incumbent government and struggling against the establishment of democracy in the Nigerian society. By adhering to the most narrow-minded and limited interpretation of the obsolete viewpoints of Ibn Taymiyyah, they consider themselves authorized to embark on all kinds of inhuman acts such as mass killing of people, stealing people’s property, and kidnapping. At the same time, they consider their deeds to be exactly in line with the rules of the Islamic sharia.

The recent horrendous measure by Boko Haram has created such a serious atmosphere of Islamophobia across the world that its effects cannot be remedied in any way. They have abducted the most vulnerable social group, that is, innocent high school girls, by resorting to the most violent means. Following the abduction, they have charged the girls with having acted against the Islamic law by going to school, thus, announcing that they would be sold on the market as slaves.

Nigeria is a country with a population of close to 180 million people, which accounts for almost 18 percent of the total population of Africa. The population of Muslims and Christians in this West African country is roughly the same. As a result, such a combination of the population has, per se, provided fertile grounds for a major religious conflict in the country.

Islam arrived in Africa with the call for equality and nondiscrimination while its main motto was promotion of freedom and liberty in Africa. Now, Boko Haram terrorists are once again burying girls alive under the apparent cover of Islam, but in fact, according to a tradition that was rife among ignorant Arabs before the advent of Islam. During early years of Islam, Prophet [Mohammad (PBUH)] had declared that every slave (taken into captivity during war with Muslims), who would be able to teach reading and writing to 10 Muslims, would be set free. Now, we are witnessing that a radical terrorist group, is taking young girls into slavery in the name of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) only because those girls have been going to school.

It is, therefore, incumbent on the world Muslims to prevent further strengthening of such Takfiri and radical groups through their unity and self-awareness. Such groups follow more petrified ideas than their ancestors and those ideas are more lethal than any kind of weapons of mass destruction. They are outrageously dealing irreversible blows to the prestige of Islam and Muslims across the world.

Many analysts believe that Boko Haram is only part of the global project of Al-Qaeda in the West. Of course, this global network of terrorism has many forms and types, but all of them have their roots in a common ground which can be best described as excommunication and terrorism.

As a result, those countries, which have played a part in the creation of terrorist groups in Afghanistan followed by Iraq and Syria, and have been supporting them ideologically, economically and militarily, are now a partner to their crimes. Rigidity of ideas, excommunication, and terrorism will generally bear no other fruit but instability, insecurity and division. At present, thousands of European citizens are members of these terrorist groups in Syria, which can face the entire world with a major security challenge. Such violent measures will invariably lead to a new process of opposition to Islam and Islamophobia in the entire world, especially in the Western countries. Such measures, especially when taken in a country half of whose population is made up of Christians, will certainly have many negative and damaging effects on relations among various Muslim sects as well as relations between Muslims and Christians.

It is, therefore, a duty for all Muslim countries to join hands and take a unified stance against such terrorist and Takfiri groups in order to finally identify and block the sources which provide them with money and weapons. As a result, people in Islamic countries expect Muslim clerics, especially in Sunni countries, to clearly and without any ambiguity refute the claims of such groups to being Muslims by issuing firm, clear and unambiguous fatwas (religious edicts). By doing this, they would not allow such groups to cover their heinous acts of crime, theft, and homicide under the false cover of Islam. If religious clerics had not remained silent in the face of sectarian massacres, or had not endorsed them even in an indirect manner, we would not have been witness to such spine-chilling acts of barbarism in the name of Islam.

The proposal offered [to the UN General Assembly meeting] for a [global] struggle to be launched against violence and extremism was a telltale sign of how serious is Iran's attention to the grave risk of these phenomena and the threat that they pose to the entire Islamic world. It is now clear that sectarian massacres do not simply target innocent Shia Muslims in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, because the chariot of terrorism and massacre will not stop on its own, but will claim the lives of more and more victims on a daily basis.

Therefore, it is necessary for a collective and human movement to be launched against extremism and violence in Iran. It would be a very beautiful scene to see that our high school girls would show their solidarity with their sisters in Nigeria by letting out the cries of innocence and call for speedy release of their captive sisters. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, girls can continue their studies to the highest possible levels. Therefore, as a sign of thanksgiving for the blessing of education and security, we must answer the innocent calls of all victims of superstitions and violence.

We must release Islam from the ignorance of Boko Haram while also releasing the captive girls from the clutches of these cruel bandits!

*Gholamali Khoshroo is the Senior Editor of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam and Former Deputy Foreign Minister for legal and International Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran (2002-2005). Khoshroo is assistant of President Khatami on “Alliance of civilizations” and Dialogue among Civilizations”. He has served as the Dean of the School for International Relations (1983-89); Ambassador to the United Nations (19890-95); Deputy Foreign Minister for Research and Education,  Member of OIC Commission of Eminent Persons on “Enlightened Moderation”. In recent years, he has extensively worked on the development of contemporary political Islam and its implication for western societies. As a sociologist he studied at Tehran University and New School for Social Research, New York, He has published several articles and books on political and cultural affairs.

Key Words: Nigeria, Schoolgirls, Slavery, Boko Haram, Profound Ignorance of Islam, Violent Crimes, Extremism, Takfiri Group, Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, Islamophobia, Khoshroo

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*Photo Credit: USA Today

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