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Faith, LIFE

The Pregnant Victims Of Boko Haram (1)

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 at 12:38 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

I will share with my readers, starting from today, a paper ‘developed by Da’wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN) of the Islamic Education Trust (IET) Minna, and Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA) in May, 2015’, on The Pregnant Victims of Boko Haram….. Enjoy:


Following the good news of the rescue of some of the women who were abducted by Boko Haram members, it soon became known that many of them had been raped and are currently in different stages of pregnancy. Varying opinions have been expressed regarding what the women should do about their situation i.e. whether or not to terminate the pregnancies; whether or not to raise the children themselves if they carry the pregnancies to term.

While these women have been victims of Boko Haram, they are really ‘survivors’ and that is how they will be referred to in this paper.

The paper was written with two objectives in mind.

To discuss the alternatives available to the women who have gotten pregnant as a result of being raped by Boko Haram members

Using the principles and objectives of Islamic jurisprudence as guidelines, make some suggestions on how the government, Muslim community and the society in general should respond to the situation

This focus is in no way intended to belittle the suffering of those others who have been killed, injured, violated or displaced by the Boko Haram.

We pray for Allah’s guidance, mercy and forgiveness where we might be wrong.

Handling The Situation Faced By Survivors Of Boko Haram Activities

Many people within and outside Nigeria have been direct or indirect victims of the atrocities committed by Boko Haram. The focus of this paper is the women who became pregnant after having been raped by Boko Haram members during their period of captivity. The conditions of these women should call for our compassion and empathy. Their situation should not be turned into an opportunity for politicizing ethnic, political or religious alliances. It should not be converted into an arena for fault-finding and playing a blame game. Rather, the effort of all interested parties should be concentrated on articulating creative ways of bringing relief to them and facilitating more effective ways of providing genuine support.

Our Guiding Values And Principles

The divine guidance for the conduct of Muslims is derived from the Qur’an and tradition (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh).

The distinguished jurist, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, summarized the major values of the Qur’an and Sunnah that guide Islamic jurisprudence when he said:

The foundation of the Shari’ah is wisdom and the safeguarding of people’s welfare in this life and the next. In its entirety it is about justice, mercy, wisdom, andgood. Every rule which replaces justice with injustice, mercy with its opposite, the common good with mischief, and wisdom with folly, is a ruling that does not belong to the Shari’ah, even though it might have been claimed to be according to some interpretation…” (See Muhammad bin Abubakr Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah,I’lam al-Muwaqi’in, Dar al-fikr, Beirut, 1977, Vol.3, p.14)

In addressing the dilemma presented by the plight of the women raped by Boko Haram members, we should bear in mind the saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):  “None of you is (true) believer unless he loves for his brother (or sister) what he loves for himself”. Consequently, we should dislike for others any proposition, or policy that we would dislike for ourselves if we were in their situation.

It is in such times of trial where honour and emotional wellbeing are at stake that divine values of godliness, selflessness, love and sacrifice are needed the most. All forms of intervention should try and achieve the twin objectives (maqasid) of bringing relief and removing suffering, of promoting the common good (jalb al-masalih) and removing harm and vice (dar’ al-mafasid).

The tragedy faced by our pregnant sisters should be handled with the utmost level of compassion, fairness, wisdom and sensitivity irrespective of their faith or ethnicity. Our primary concern should be their emotional and mental wellbeing.

The Prohibition Of Stigmatisation

Allah says in the Qur’an:

“No person with a burden shall bear the burden of another” (Qur’an 53:38)

“A person can have nothing but what he does (of good or bad)” (Qur’an 53:39)

“…They were people who have gone before. They shall have the fruits of what they earned and you shall have the fruits of what you earn, and you will not be asked about what they did.” (Qur’an 2:134 and 141)

Consequently the person who does wrong, not the victim, bears the blame of the wrong action. In the case of the raped women, the blame lies upon the rapist, not on the victim of rape and certainly not on the child who is conceived thereby. The women should not be mocked, stigmatized or given any label which would further increase their difficulty.

“O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that they (the latter) are better than them (the former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that they (the latter) are better than them (the former): nor defame, nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.” (Qur’an 49:11)

Regarding the innocence of a child born out of wedlock or in circumstances such as the ones under consideration, Aisha the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

“He shares in nothing of the sin of his parents, for Allah says ‘No soul shall bear the burden of another’ ” (Ahmad bin Husain Al-Baihaqi, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra, Maktabat Dar al-Baz, 1994, hadith number: 19777, Vol.10, p.58).

The great scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, said:

“If an illegitimate child believes and does righteous deeds, he will enter Paradise; otherwise he will be punished for his deeds just like anyone else. The punishment is for the deeds, not for the lineage”. (Ahmad bin Abd al-Halim bin Taimiyyah, al-Fataawa al-Kubra, Dar al-Marifa, Beirut, Lebanon, 1386 AH, 5/83).

Muslims should therefore also beware of fabricated hadith on this subject, such as the one which states that, “The child of illicit sexual intercourse shall not enter Paradise”. Scholars of hadith such as Ibn Jawzi, Imam Dhahabi, Imam Suyuti and Ibn Arraq, all said that the above hadith is fabricated and hence carries no legal weight. (See Abu al-Faraj ibn Jawzi, Al-Maudu’at, 1386 AH, Vol.3, p.110; Shamsudeen Al-Dhahabi, Talkhis al-Maudu’at, Maktabat al-Rushdi, p.291; Abdul-Rahman Suyuti, Alail al-Masnua fi al-Ahadith al-Maudu’a, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Vol.3, p.163,  Abu al-Hasan bin Arraq, Tanzih al-Shari’ah al-Marfu’a, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1981AH, Vol.2, p.228)

The fact that Islam does not recognize any inherited sin or virtue should make it clear that it is unacceptable to blame a child or anyone else for the crimes of their parents or forefathers. Consequently, the child of a rapist does not in any way share in the blame of his or her father. Each individual human being is independently responsible for his or her own beliefs and deeds.

We should also beware of backbiting, slander and creating suspicion. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed suspicion in some cases is a sin. And neither spy on, nor backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is The One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful” (Qur’an 49: 12)

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands all people are safe; and the believer is the one who is trusted with the lives and wealth of people.” (Sunan Al-Nasa’i, no. 4998; Musnad Imam Ahmad, no. 8931)

In another hadith narrated in Tirmidhi, Abu Huraiarah relates that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him say what is good, or keep silent”.w