The dozens of young Muslim girls who are running off to Syria to become jihadi brides – wives of potential martyrs – are obsessed about a death cult far more sinister than any vampire or zombie fiction has to offer…writes Ustadah Khola Hasan 


Despite the age of strident feminism and self-assertiveness, teenage girls are still clearly enjoying fictional fantasies and romantic escapades as we see from the popularity of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and any number of Disney films.

There is something alluring about helpless yet beautiful heroines who need to be saved by dashingly good-looking and terribly chivalrous young men.

The dozens of young Muslim girls who are running off to Syria to become jihadi brides – wives of potential martyrs – are obsessed about a death cult far more sinister than any vampire or zombie fiction has to offer.

This obsession is motive enough to abandon their parents, friends, education, security and a future for the unknown world of ISIS held Raqqa. Are these young girls expecting handsome young men to sweep them off their feet? Are they mesmerised by the images of men who train with rifles, march to the beat of soulful Arabic nasheeds, and protect their dew-eyed maidens from the evil infidels?

ISIS clearly targets this thirst for romance and adventure in the minds of young men and women. Are the girls running away to Syria looking for fairy-tale romances; is their quest one for love, drama and excitement and to hell with the consequences?

ISIS do not just entice the young and easily led with visions of camouflage-wearing, gun-toting, young men with a mission. The death-cult is adept at producing a constant flow of radical messages; a regular diet, nay orgy, of malicious and vicious hate for others. It teaches a contempt for western policy-makers, for Jews and Christians, and for ordinary Muslims who do not stand up to the west. It is a narrative of obscene hate.

The narrative of ISIS dehumanises its opponents, it teaches that the enemy is not human, is not a man or a woman: it is a dirty enemy who must be annihilated. There is no remorse or shame in killing humans; it is a cannibalistic cult of death and evil that gorges on blood and suffering. There is no romance to be found in the sordid world ISIS wants to force upon others.

When James Foley was publicly beheaded last year, Khadijah Dare from London used Twitter to celebrate the murder. She announced she wished to become the first female to behead a prisoner in Syria. Sally Jones from Kent who has also travelled to Syria announced on Twitter: “You Christians all need beheading with a nice blunt knife and stuck on the railings at Raqqa…Come here; I’ll do it for you!” One assumes that as a convert, Sally has Christian family and friends, but it is clear she feels no humanity for anyone.

So how do parents in England fight the propaganda of ISIS and protect their children? The most precious gift we can give to our children is our time. Too many people spend their evenings hunched over their laptops in silence, while only a few feet away sit their spouses and children, also hunched over their laptops and also in silence. This is not communication.

We need to sit together as families and talk openly, analysing the propaganda of ISIS, explaining why it is so clearly un-Islamic and remote from any faith on this planet, and showing the cruelty of the doctrine of hate. Just as we educate our children regarding stranger-danger, pornography, drugs, internet safety, alcohol, so do we need to discuss the jihadi threat with utmost clarity.

ISIS have begun targeting young Muslim women as never before, especially since launching Al-Khanssaa Brigade. This is an all-women’s militia that operates in the Syrian city of Raqqa and seems to be run by British female jihadis.

Usthada Khola Hasan
Ustada Khola Hasan

A ‘Manifesto on women’ launched by Al-Khanssaa insists that under the so-called Islamic State, young girls will receive an education from the ages of five to 15, but this will be only in religious subjects.

Secular, ‘ungodly’ subjects will be denied to them for the rest of their lives. Education will stop at 15 as the girls will be expected to get married at 16. The rest of their lives will be spent breeding children for the cause. The men will be away fighting while the women will stay at home.

Al-Khanssaa attempts to sound rather grand, but the reality is that it operates under a police state that rules through fear. The women of the brigade perk up their dull existences by policing what women wear, how they wear it, who they speak to and where they go. Many of these women are so bored they asked permission from their men to join the battlefield; presumably death is better than their current existence.

There is nothing remotely Islamic or liberated in this message. This is the reality the young girls who travel are signing up to.

When the Quran tells the pagan Arabs they will have to explain why they buried their baby girls alive, it is asking two important questions: one, that God alone gives life, and we do not have the authority to take anyone’s life away. Life is sacred and murder is a cardinal sin. Second, girls are not sub-human beings who can be sacrificed to suit the whims of pagan men. ISIS is precisely the kind of paganism that Islam came to destroy and which the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) spent twenty-three years of his life fighting.

This is the story any young girl contemplating travel should study instead of consuming a fantasy utopia cooked up by the ISIS propaganda machine.  It is the job of all Muslim parents to make sure our children are aware of the reality before they sign up to a gruesome horror story that is all too real.

(Ustadah Khola Hasan – author and contributing editor at Imams Online, an online resource which offers advice and education about the Islamic faith. Bringing together more than 700 Imams and Mosques from across the UK. Ustadah Khola Hasan is an author, broadcaster and public speaker. She regularly contributes to Radio 4’s ‘Beyond Belief’ series and sits on the UK Islamic Shariah Council.)




  1. I accept the argument that Young Girls should reject dangerous attractions.
    But it is reasonable to counter argue That Young people on whole remain Vulnerable and their human rights are often overlooked by their parents who stick rigidly to tradition and so their children have little or no say in what religion they chose in life?
    I mean if the parents of the girls in question didn’t have any say in which religion they would follow when they were young and impressionable
    then when they grew up and started a family the chances are they would automatically follow the tradition their parents followed.
    and it becomes like a cycle of tradition in which adults appear to not even question whether the religion they follow and teach their children to follow is actually sound and trustworthy?
    Just because a certain amount of Muslims “go off track” and resort to murdering non believers in the name of Islam
    Doesn’t necessarily mean that Islam as a religious organization is sound?
    for example Asians in general are known to be “family orientated” and zealous with regards to their religious faith.
    but does that mean Asians suddenly become incapable of doing something wrong?
    the recent rotherham abuse scandal highlighted an important factor
    in that strict adherence to cultural and religious Traditions
    doesn’t mean the people within the Asian community are unable to go off track.
    and the reason for that fact is because they have free will
    whether they submit to tradition or not.
    and the ones that “chose to make bad choices” tend to end up doing all kinds of bad things
    which then rubs off on their community who may be trying very hard to make good choices day after day.
    these young girls in question
    made a collective decision to go to Syria
    despite being raised to follow the traditional non violent path of Islam.
    and again I will mention that even though Islam has been hijacked by Jihadists,
    that doesn’t mean Islam as a religion Is sound?
    the fact that despite being raised as a Muslim
    these young girls have gone off track
    should act as a wake up call in the sense that no amount of following traditions etc can guarantee that people cannot suddenly go off track.
    and even If a person strictly adheres to Islamic doctrines
    does not mean Islam as a religion Is sound?
    I mean if the faithful Living Muslim is no longer conscious once They Die,
    who can say for certainty that the promises made by the founder of Islam will come true?
    therefore it is reasonable to say that to a great extent
    the Muslim faith is built on hope.
    hope that what its founder wrote in the quran proves to be true.
    but no one can be absolutely certain that it will prove to be true simply cause the Living are no longer conscious once they die.
    in fact attempting to communicate with the dead is futile
    because once the living die
    all the functions cease to work.
    and if a person decides to believe that the dead carry on living in spirit form
    that is likely cause he or she cannot yet accept that when a person dies they are no longer able to function like the living.
    and yet for a very long time the belief that the dead carry on living in spirit form is something which is held onto tightly within the Asian community.
    simply cause again they may not want to accept the harsh fact of life in that the living eventually dies regardless of religion race gender status etc etc.
    and so they become targets of those that see an open opportunity to convince them that their deceased loved ones are still alive in spirit form.
    and if for some reason they are able to back it up by other means
    that then strengthens and convinces the vulnerable that their loved ones are still alive.
    that then leads to an organization built out of the distress of the living
    which then promises them that they will be reunited with their deceased loved ones once they die.
    and if a person misses their deceased immensely
    then it is safe to say that they will be willing to Join a religious organization that is built around the distress the living experience.
    and because we all suffer the pain and distress of death eventually
    it is inevitable that religious of all kinds will grow out of the one common source which is life and death.
    in general Muslims may not follow Islam simply cause they cannot come to terms with losing loved ones to death.
    but it is reasonable to say that it may be because human society on whole has failed to create a society in which wars and hunger racism etc etc aren’t the norm.
    and because we all enter into life in the same way
    we are not aware of the world we are coming into.
    we are not aware that if we happen to be born Asian
    the chances are we will experience racism at some point in our lives.
    and of course time has shown that racism tends to erode and stifle confidence and advancement in life.
    and it tends to leaves its victims feeling insecure and that can lead to depression and strong emotions like anger
    and anger tends to lead to action and that action can lead to war and wars lead to retaliation and ultimately loss of lives
    which leads to grief
    which opens a door through which religion enters
    and if that religion says all the things we want to hear that we don’t see in our lives at present
    then the chances are we will walk through that door simply cause it offers people the things they cannot find in life.
    and yet religion can be false
    and religion can be misused as we can see with regards to the Islamic state organization
    as well as the misuse of religion within other faiths such as the roman catholic church etc in which priests are jailed for abusing children.
    my point is everyone is Vulnerable whether we practice religion or not.
    and therefore it is sensible to check and check and check again before we hand ourselves over to a religious organization
    because we will always remain imperfect even if we discipline ourselves to stick to a certain code of conduct within a religion.
    and when people are inherently prone to error we can never be too confident or sure of ourselves.
    and ultimately we can never truly be sure that the religion we adhere to is sound?
    and wherever there is a difference of opinion
    there will also be conflict
    until the day of reckoning when the gods of each religion come to reward their faithful and subdue their opponents.
    we live in a world in which societies are divided by religion, race, gender, and the list goes on and on.
    the religion that is able to bring everyone together and inspire them to treat each other with respect and consideration and offer a solution to the problems we are unable to solve such as disease and death
    That is the religion that is worth investing in.


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