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What To Do After Your Husband's Martyrdom

Two British women who have gone to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group have used their social media accounts to offer thoughts and advice about marriage.

The advice offered by the women ranges from warnings that marriage to a militant is hard work and not a Disney fairytale, to the more practical matter of what to do after your Islamic State husband is killed in battle.

One of the women goes by the name Umm Layth and has been identified as Aqsa Mahmood, a 20-year-old woman from Glasgow who reportedly traveled to Syria last year and married an Islamic State militant. Umm Layth is also thought to be a member of the Al-Khanssaa brigade, an all-women's militia group established by IS in Raqqa.

In a blog post earlier this month, Umm Layth addresses the issue of what Islamic State wives should do when their husbands are "martyred" -- in other words, when they die in battle.

Umm Layth praises women who are already married to a "mujahid" (jihadi fighter) or those who are "firm that if you will marry it will only be to the one who gets his feet dusty."

However, Umm Layth goes on to say that the decision to marry an Islamic State militant comes with the "great acceptance and hefty reality" of knowing that "we will most probably have to sooner or later hear the news of our husbands [sic] success, which is his shahahda [martyrdom]."

While Umm Layth says that many Islamic State wives (or wannabe wives) will have spent time preparing for this moment emotionally, she admonishes her fellow militant women for not teaching themselves about life after spousal martyrdom.

"You already know you wanted to marry a mujahid so why did you not read up on what will be the rulings for you after his departure?" she asks.

Umm Layth instructs her fellow Islamic State wives to read up on iddah, the Islamic term for the waiting period that women must observe before remarrying after the death of her spouse or after divorce.

"Don't live in ignorance, ukhti [my sisters]," Umm Layth instructs.

As well as addressing her "sisters," Umm Layth also has a few words to say to Islamic State husbands.

"You are responsible for your wife," Umm Layth writes, noting that "one of the most important duties" of a militant is to "educate your wife" including about her period of mourning after he is killed in battle.

Another British woman, who is thought to be linked to Umm Layth, tweets under the name of Umm Waqqas. Via her Twitter account, Umm Waqqas has expressed her thoughts on marriage within the Islamic State group.

While Umm Layth focused on the issue of what happens after an Islamic State wife's husband is killed, Umm Waqqas concentrated on the romantic ideals that precede marriage.

"To all those sisters who like to make Marriage into a Fairytale I have a message for you... OH SHUT UP," Umm Waqqas tweeted on January 29.

"Many sisters are in love with the idea of marriage & half of them don't actually know what it takes to maintain a successful marriage... Half of these marriage crazy Shabaabs [youth] probably don't even know their rights as a spouse, yet they tweet like they're some Love Guru," she tweeted.

Umm Waqqas went on to tweet that, "Marriage isn't like Disney, not everything ends with a "Happy Ending"... In actuality it takes hard work + LOADS of compromises to make things work out."

According to Umm Waqqas, a happy marriage requires "patience to deal with everyday struggles."

And for those women who fantasize about marrying their ideal militant, Umm Waqqas had this message: "There's no such thing as Prince Charming. It's actually fictional, but u can mold ur spouse into becoming ur 'everything I've ever wanted'," she tweeted.

There have been a number of reports of women leaving their families to travel to Syria and marry militants.

In February 2014, Dutch teenager and Islamic convert Aicha Petalo ran away to Syria to marry Yilmaz, a Dutch-Turkish militant who had previously fought in the Dutch and Turkish militaries. Petalo saw Yilmaz as a "sort of Robin Hood," her mother said, and spent hours chatting to him online before leaving for Syria. The marriage did not work out, however.

In 2013, Seda Dudurkaeva the 20-year-old daughter of Chechnya's Federal Migration Service director caused a scandal that led to her father being fired from his post when she ran away to Syria to marry a Chechen militant. In the ensuing fuss, Islamic State's military commander in northern Syria, Umar Shishani, was criticized by Sunni scholar Sheikh al-Suhaibani in Medina for refusing to allow Seda's parents to take their daughter home to Chechnya after her husband was killed in Aleppo province.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world.


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