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.
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.)