Opinion by Arsalan Iftikhar, originally posted as a special to CNN
Hey Boko Haram, have you read the Quran lately?
Most of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world have, and we’re utterly certain that it condemns kidnapping young girls and selling them into slavery – no matter what you say “Allah” tells you.
According to Amnesty International, several hundred schoolgirls – both Christian and Muslim – between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted at gunpoint on April 14 from their rooms at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, where they had been sleeping.
The armed extremist group Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western Education is Sin,” claimed responsibility for these mass kidnappings and threatened to sell these young girls for as little as $12 into sex slavery or forced “marriages” to members of their group.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.
“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.
As a Muslim human rights lawyer, it is obscene and absolutely un-Islamic for these lunatic human traffickers to invoke the name of God while kidnapping young girls and threatening to sell them into sexual slavery.
The leaders of Boko Haram have clearly never read the Holy Quran, which states quite clearly that “oppression is worse than murder” (2:191) and that nobody “shall force girls to commit prostitution” (24:33).
They must have also missed the numerous times that the Prophet Muhammad categorically stated during his life that women or children were never to be harmed under any situation.
“These abducted schoolgirls are my sisters,” said 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai recently in a New York Times interview on the Boko Haram kidnappings.
“The international community and the government of Nigeria (must) take action and save my sisters. … It should be our duty to speak up for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria who are in a very difficult situation.”
The real heroes are young Muslim women like Malala Yousafzai and these latest Nigerian schoolgirls who continue to assert their basic human rights to education in the face of danger every day.
These amazing young women will help to empower and motivate our young Muslim girls to become their countries’ next generations of scientists, technologists, engineers and doctors.
In the meantime, the rest of the world’s Muslim population will continue to denounce extremists like Boko Haram.
And we will proudly stand in solidarity with these missing young schoolgirls in Nigeria, and every other woman around the world who continues to fight for her basic human rights.
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and adjunct professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.