Pregnant Muslim Mother's brutal murder
I remembering going to the masjid one Friday afternoon on December 17th, 2004. I sat in the musalla while the imam gave his khutbah. As usual, he ended his sermon and the congregation prayed the Jumah prayer. We sat restlessly, talking and catching up with friends, as we waited for the imam to give the Friday afternoon announcements. But on this seemingly typical day, the Muslim community of New Orleans and the attendants of the Abu Bakr al-Siddique Masjid would receive the most horrible and heartbreaking news. One of our beloved sisters, Iman Muhanna Mohamed, was brutally murdered. She was stabbed 33 times; fatal wounds that ended her life and the life of her unborn baby girl. I remember hearing the imam, shock and grief laden upon his voice, as he announced this tragedy to our congregation. I remember the sisters who were crying and the silence of those so appalled that they didn't know what to say or how to react. There are many things I remember about that day and such things continue to stay with me.
I rushed home to watch the news to see what the reporters would say. What did the police know? Was it a hate crime or a robbery? Were there any possible leads? With much sadness I must report that since that day, we do not know who has committed this crime. Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of knowing Iman Muhanna Mohamed. Our paths never crossed and the sadness of our community is a reflection of what we have lost with her death. Through reports on the news, internet searches, and warm stories told by friends, I began to develop a portrait of a faithful servant of our community. She and her unborn daughter were survived by her husband and two children. She received her education from the Islamic University of Gaza and served as a teacher at the Muslim Academy of New Orleans. She taught the Qur'an, the word of Allah subhana wa ta'ala, to our youth. She was loved by many and she will not be forgotten.
Since the day of her murder, however, many of us have noticed the silence. It is the silence of the mainstream media. While her murder was covered by the local news, a local Islamic newspaper entitled "Iqra!" and various newspapers in the Middle East, the major television networks have said nothing. Even more troubling is the lack of coverage from Muslim publications and media networks. One would think that such a brutal murder would garner attention from Muslim and non-Muslim media outlets all over the United States. After all, the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn child captivated the American audience for months. Perhaps it is because her husband is not a suspect and our anti-Islamic culture is used to hearing stories about the brutality of Muslim men towards their women. I suspect that if he stood accused, her story would have been plastered on every newspaper, television show and website across America.
Mahdi Bray and the Muslim American Society has made it their personal duty to make sure that her story is not laid to rest. He also noticed the lack of attention regarding Sister Iman's death, stating, "Frankly, I'm amazed at how little media attention this case has received. The murder of a pregnant women normally receives big nationwide attention by all major media outlets."
With the controversial woman-led prayer of Dr. Amina Wadud, there has been much talk about women's rights in Islam. There has been much debate and argumentation over hijab, female imams, and a new feminist discourse in Islam. Asma Nomani, author of "Standing Alone in Mecca," who is leading a Women's Freedom Tour throughout America, has not made any mention of Iman Muhanna Mohamed and others like her. Amongst all the bickering, one of our rights as women that is undoubtedly confirmed by the Qur'an, took a backseat to the media spectacle of Dr. Amina Wadud's prayer service. The right that I am speaking of is a woman's right to live. It is the right of every woman to live a life of safety, protection and honor. Our holy book says, "He who kills a human being is like killing the whole world." It was a right and liberty that was robbed from Iman Muhanna Mohamed and her unborn child on that December morning. It is a right that is violated continuously against women inside and outside of the Muslim community. And while debating these trendy, hot-bottom issues seem important, let us not forget what really matters-the health, happiness, and peace for all men and women.
For more information about this case you can contact the Crimestoppers and the West Bank Muslim Association that have raised a reward worth $45,000 dollars for tips leading to an arrest and conviction. If you have any information about her death, please call (504) 822-111 or 1-877-903-7867.
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