Honor Killings

Category: Americas Topics: Crime And Justice, Family, Honor Killing Views: 8176

For that reason, we ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul for other than murder or spreading corruption in the land, it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity... Qur'an 5:35 

One of the gravest charges levied against Islam, in terms of its alleged antipathy towards women, is the claim that it encourages a phenomenon known as honor killings. This un-Islamic practice consists of the murder of female family members who are seen as dishonoring their families through real or perceived acts of indiscretion, such as premarital sexual relations or unapproved dating. 

The practice of honor killings has absolutely no sanction in the Qur'an, the Prophetic practice, or in the evolved systems of Islamic law. In the case of fornication or adultery, the only way a charge can be levied against an individual, male or female, is through confession, which is discouraged, or by four people actually witnessing the male organ penetrating the female. Even if four people witnessed a naked man engaged with a naked woman, but could not actually testify that they witnessed penetration, their testimony would be rejected. 

In a somewhat related issue, it should be noted that in three of the four Sunni schools of law, as is the case with all of the major Shiite schools, pregnancy is not a proof of fornication, as the possibility of rape exists in such a case. Therefore, if a single woman were to become pregnant, according to the overwhelming majority of Islamic jurists, there is no basis for punishing her. In the few well-publicized instances where a pregnant woman has been threatened with death, the minority opinion of the Maliki School of law was unjustly evoked, as occurred in Nigeria, or criminal malfeasance occurred as is the case in Pakistan. 

In the case of dating, there is no Islamically-mandated punishment for a male or a female seeing a member of the opposite sex against the wishes of their families. Such situations should be handled with counseling, compassion and a healthy dose of common sense. Muslim immigrants who have migrated to the West should realize that they have placed their children in an environment where there is a tremendous amount of anti-Islamic peer pressure. This is especially true if they have placed their children, as was the case of the young lady who was recently murdered in Canada, in public schools. Children who succumb to that pressure should not be seen as "bad" kids, for by the standards of the society that has shaped them, no matter how strong their home environment is, they are normal. To kill a female guilty of an offense such as dating or dressing like her peers under such circumstances is nothing short of cold-blooded murder, and no Islamic authority can argue otherwise. 

The overwhelming majority of Muslim societies are free from the practice of honor killing, although it does endure in some parts of the Middle East and South Asia. According to statistics released by the United Nations in 2000 there are approximately 5,000 deaths annually from "honor" killings. Even if one killing occurred due to such barbarity, it would be one too many, as the Qur'an emphasizes. 

However, to use the existence of such killings to smear Islam shows the desperation and misplaced priorities of many of those levying such attacks. Most of those deaths are the pathetic acts of sick individuals, who are far removed from the letter, as we have shown above, and the spirit of Islam. An example of such an individual is Muhammad Riaz, a British Muslim of South Asian descent who died as a result of a fire he set to burn to death his wife and four daughters, allegedly because his wife resisted his attempt to arrange marriages for his daughters. His wife and daughters did perish in that fire. To present Riaz, whose daughters had neither fornicated nor dated, as anything other than a sick individual is a sad attempt to defame Islam. 

To attack Islam from this angle is a case of misplaced priorities because it can distract attention from far graver abuses of women that demand immediate redress. For example, the State Department estimates that approximately 800,000 women and girls are trafficked as sexual slaves annually. The overwhelming majority of these females are taken from and sent to nominally Christian countries. 

Over the last five years well over one thousand women have been kidnapped and then gruesomely murdered in Guatemala. Their bodies usually turn up after a few days, mutilated and in some instances with messages such as "death to bitches" written on them. To date only three men have been incarcerated in connection with those attacks. Would it proper for us to infer from that situation the conclusion that the "Christians" of Guatemala, an overwhelmingly Christian nation, have no regard for the suffering of their women? Of course it would not. 

At the end of the day, attacks such as the one that resulted in the death of Aqsa Parvez are acts of domestic violence resulting from rage that emanates from a total neglect of Islamic teachings. Ms. Parvez lost her life due to such violence and perhaps there are a few other instances where Muslims women in Canada or here in the United States, have been similarly victimized. However, these instances should be kept in perspective. In the United States there are approximately 1,200 women killed every year by their husbands or intimate partners. There are other "Christian" nations where murders of this type are even higher. 

The United States, Guatemala, and other countries we could mention where similar abuses occur are Christian nations. However, it would be disingenuous to use such statistics as an indictment against Christianity. These issues are an affront to humanity and require our collective attention. Until we all view the problem this way, we are in jeopardizing the health and integrity of our society. 

Saying this is not to minimize the gravity of so-called honor killings to the extent that they do occur in Muslim societies. As Muslims, we are commanded to be committed to justice. That commitment entails that as a community we oppose in the strongest terms "honor" killings and take immediate action to end such a practice in our communities. 

Practical steps include the following: 

1. Emphasize that such killings have no sanction in the Qur'an, the Prophetic practice, or in Islamic law. 

2. Declare anyone guilty of involvement in honor killings to be a cold-blooded murderer. 

3. Encourage judicial authorities to enact the harshest penalties possible for anyone accused of involvement in such killings. 

4. Educate our Muslim communities, especially in the West, about the un-Islamic nature of honor killings, and the pressures, nuances, challenges and complications facing young Muslims, male and female in the West. 

5. Work to eliminate the double standards, and to expose the hypocrisy that exist in our communities, generally, concerning attitudes and standards relating to the indiscretions of males as opposed to females. 

In conclusion, Islam honors the female, and values femininity. It is up to every Muslim to translate teachings in that regard into a beautiful reality that helps to elevate the status of women in all societies. Honor killings, domestic violence in general, murders of the type terrorizing women in Guatemala, female sexual slavery and trafficking, pornography, especially its more violent manifestations, are all crimes against humanity that we should oppose in the strongest terms and work strenuously to eliminate. If our women are not safe, psychically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically we are all at risk, for without women men are incomplete, and without men women are incomplete. Our Prophet, peace and blessings of God upon him alluded to this complementariness when he said, peace upon him, "Women are the complimenting halves of men." Let us all work harder to make our societies whole.


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  24 Comments   Comment

  1. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K

    The recent gruesome unfortunate killing of Aasiya Hassan allegedly by her husband in Buffalo Upstate of New York has raised so many questions about these so called honor killings associated mainly with our brothers in the Section of the Ummah.It is very sad the non-Muslims would think this has some religious connotation which is very unfortunate.The problem is if people have no Deen they ended up in such situation and simply because the person has an Islamic name this type of crime could easily be misconstrued as religious in nature. As Mulims We must do our utmost best to stop these kind of evils. As the best Ummah commanding people to do good and forbidding them from evil it is our collective responsibility to educate our brothers and sisters on these sorts of unfortunate things.We have left Deen and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet that is why such things are happening.May Allah guide all of us on the right path but we need to do something seriously to dispel these evil misconception rumours and mudslinging all associated in the name of our Deen.At the same time Our sisters should equally protect both their honor ie she and her husband so as to avoid any mischief that could raise unnecessary evil suspicion and doubts prompted by Shaitan our open enemy who is always there to destroy the Muslims and the Ummah in general. May Allah give us the taufiq to realise truth as truth and the ability to follow it and the taufiq to shun evil and accept it as evil and shun it.

  2. mike from Lebyia

    I think the issue of sexual behavior of a family member is a family affair that no authority should interfer with not even governments. Also the standard to promote or to discourage these behaiors should not be but the affairs of the particular family. So if a family wants to allow their sons and daughers in the the west or elsewhere to have lovers and engage in sex, that should be their choice and that choice should be respected. Similarly if a family sets its standard as "death to those sons and daughetrs who only flirt on the phone" no matter how exteme this sounds to me, that choice should also be respected.

  3. Abdul Jaleel from US

    As-salaamu alaikum. First of all, we need to stop letting the media and a few, I mean a few people, dictate to us what Islam is. We know that there is honor killing in Islam and so do they. That's something the non-believers like to do. They(non-muslims) know more about Islam than you do. They know Islam is nice, clean, and wholesome. This should not have even been an issue. We don't have to defend Islam, therefore there is no need to comment on it.

  4. Martin Cone from New Zealand

    Yes. In western eyes, Islam is often perceived as a 'backward' culture. So when they hear of things that might happen in the middle east, they think everyone within the culture is like that.

  5. Usman Ali from Pakistan

    Asalamoelikum brother!

    i ready your whole article, very well and nicely

    written but i have a query brother and i will be

    very thankful to you if you can solve it.

    A Hadith of Nabi Kareem (SAW):

    "Don't take Quran in Mushrikeen's land otherwise

    Me(Nabi kareem S.A.W) and My Allah are free from

    him/her "

    Meaning of this hadith in Tasfeers book by Ulimah

    is that "Don't settle in Mushriken's land"

    When you have settled in Mushriken Land and Allah

    and His Profet is free from you then why to make

    a such long debate.

  6. sam from usa

    For those who do not know, proving adultery is very difficult Islamically as it needs 4 witnesses who actually witnessed the act. Moreover, a person who falsely accuses a woman has to be punished with 80 lashes. This itself makes sure that false accusations are stiffled. Having said all that, which country actually follows Islamic laws strictly?

    Remember, Islam is what the religion teaches, not what 'muslims' practise unfortunately!

  7. Faisal from Pakistan

    Honor killings are usually associated with

    Pakistan and perhaps Afghanistan. The problem

    goes much farther, however, and seems to be a

    serious issue in India as well.

    In India, for example, more than 5,000 brides die

    annually because their dowries are considered

    insufficient, according to the United Nations

    Children's Fund (UNICEF).

    The Telegraph of India reports:

    Not just in Punjab and Haryana, but in western

    Uttar Pradesh as well, women are being put to

    death if they "violate" the honour of their

    family and community by marrying a person outside

    her own caste, community or religion. ...

    According to Aidwa, 10 per cent of murders in

    Punjab and Haryana are honour killings. ... Aidwa

    points out that in cases involving couples from

    upper castes, there is always an effort to save

    the young man. "The woman from the same caste,

    however, will be killed for destroying the honour

    of the family and community," the report says.

    The girl's death is never reported. "It is as if

    she never existed," it adds.

    Honor Killing is not related to religion but it

    is a cultural issue and missing of tolerance

    which is taught by religion.

  8. nizam from India

    TO RAMESH: you seemed to have left everything behind when you left the country! How come you forgot so quickly,how many of hindu widows you have burnt throughout the ages?Its just a few years since you stopped this barbaric act to some extent (still we read this thing going on in various parts of India) and when it comes to killing little babies (after identifying that that its a baby-girl in the womb)indian hindus surpass any other people in world.There are few barbaric act such as honor killing (although, ramesh should know, there is no such practice amongst indian muslims)in many parts of muslim world, it is not part of muslim religion, whereas hindus killed their daughter, sister in the name of religion! But this guy seemed to have forgot all of that and throwing muds to other just for the sake of throwing! No logic, no reason!

    ...

  9. Sagar from Bangladesh

    To Romesh Chander,

    Although a character like you doesn't merit a response, this will probably my first and last response to you.

    Before you comment on my intellectual level, go to kindergarten to learn basic reading first. Perhaps your brain didn't enable you to read my argument that those who do honor killing are not Muslims at all. They may have Muslim names are or citizens of so-called Muslim countries. So I need no defend them. Secondly, how many non-Muslims are involved in honor-killing? Didn't it register in your head the mention of the fact in my comments that in India, mostly Hindus and a small number of other non-Muslims in Punjab, kill / abort their female fetuses in the number of approximately 2 million every year. Isn't it worse than honor killing? In honor killing, although it can't be supported, someone is killed to defend a family's honor. But, what honor do you defend by killing innocent unborn female children? And, the number is obviously 100 times more than honor killing

    Romesh, as more and more of your deviant mind is coming to light, people are simply ignoring you. People are also laughing about your comments on the New York subway incident. That's why my note was to Kris of Malaysia. I would often wonder why IslamiCity continues to post your articles. Now I understand your nuisance value. You continue to amuse many of us and make us understand the evil better.

  10. ace from canada

    Romesh buddy,take a chill pill will you.You seem to have a serious disdain for Muslims and Islam and that's cool,to each his own.I am not saying that the Islamic world doesn't have problems,it does.But the situation is being presented as only the Islamic world and not the West, have all the problems.I mean a muslim can't sneeze without it getting blown up (pardoned the pun) 100 folds.In Canada, the same day the Muslim guy hurt his daughter, a Canadian guy and his two sons tried to drown their wife/mother.Take a guess which story got played over and over.Very frequently on CNN and MSNBC I see American mothers and fathers drowning,strangling and shooting their kids and I don't see anybody getting up in arms about it like when a Muslim hurt his kid.Ask a Canadian soldiers what he is doing in Afganistan and he will most likely tell you he is there so that the girl child can go back to school and women rights.Although some of it is genuine most of it is just a smoke screen to back American foreign policy.Half of all inner city kid in the US can't read or write.They drop out of school and end up in gangs and kill more Americans on a yearly basis than Muslims do.I don't see any army over there making sure they go to school.Be careful you don't become one of the brainwashed.Through out history the Islamic world and the West have always had a tug of war going.This is just the West turn to rail against the Muslims. The Muslims of the future will have their turn and I pray that the future Muslims will be more merciful to the West than the West and Romesh have been to them.

  11. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    Romesh, you mention to Brother Sagar, how many Hindus are killing their own daughters and sisters ? Well, he had already mentioned it in his post. And I meant no disrespect for the Hindus but your insistence on that question then I'll just ask you this ? What about the " sathee " practice of killing wives in India but this was banned by the British ? You can't fool people on past practices, can you ?

    So while not replying on all the 5 questions and points that I raised earlier, as usual you leapfrogged to other issues.

  12. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    And to Brother Sagar from Bangladesh, Thank you for you inputs. I appreciate the approach that you had taken.

    Yaa, Brother Sagar. It's so surprising isn't it. Romesh, a renowned atheist or probably a no. 1 devout of Godless belief continues his obsession, I did remember him mentioning wanting to visit a Pagan website. It reminds me of the story of the fox and the grapes.

    I'll writ more later. Wassalam Brother Sagar.

  13. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    To Romesh,

    I am asking you to state the source of the Islamic text which sanction honour killings. Look, the burden is on you, and I am not amused at all when you mention that honour killings is practice in Malaysia. Where did you get this nonsense ? Okay, quote me proof then. If the statistics from the Malaysian police or reports are not convincing to you, then get the source from Amnesty International Malaysia. That is a very independent body and they will tell you THERE IS NO HONOUR KILLING IN MALAYSIA. And I am not flinching from my demand, I insist that you quote the source of Islamic law that sanctions honour killing.

    Yaa, fine you admitted that you are not an Islamic scholar thus by your admission, do not have any audacity of claiming that it is an Islamic practice. And your background are unmeritous at all to mmention that my arguments are not convincing. Since you are not an Islamic scholar, you are not in a position to give judgments on my line of arguments.

    It is you rather, Dear Romesh, that has always blowing your top, trying to seize the slightest opportunity to smear Islam. Did the atheist dictators killed their own relatives ? Why don't you do a little research on how Hitler's niece actually died. And there are dictators who ordered the entire family of own relatives to be killed. And that speaks for all atheist dictators past and present, their brutality konws no limits.

  14. Romesh Chander from USA

    Note to Sagar from Bangladesh:

    You write "If you read Quran, there is mention of such characters - whose main job is to create Fitnah (trouble-shooting and causing strife). Actually, the brutal practice of honor killing may have crept into some tribes with Muslim names from atheistic and idol-worshipping religion such as Hinduism.".

    Fantastic. If you cannot defend any of your misdeeds, then just blame everything on the Hindus, athiests, and even Crusaders, Jews & Zionists. I wonder if 'Honour Killings' is the only thing they learned from Hindus?. Could they not learn something better? How many athiests & Hindus are killing their daugthers and sisters? I am quite impressed by your intellectual level.

  15. ace from canada

    It is as the name suggest "Honor Killing".Killing

    to protect the family honor and I guessed it would be practiced by families who feel very strongly about their moral reputation and respect in the community.When the morality and reputation of a family is threatened by the acts of one of its member some family member will react with anger and in most cases this will end in murder. It is not practiced only among Muslims in fact recently in Canada there have been two cases of Sikh families murdering their daughters.One family even tracked their daughter to India and had her murdered.

  16. Sagar from Bangladesh

    To Kris of Malaysia:

    Don't waste your time on a pathologically deranged character such as Ramesh Chander. I advised earlier to ignore such a mentally corrupt individual. Don't you realize that if he didn't like this website he would stop visiting IslamiCity. Yet he does and makes provocative remarks. If you read Quran, there is mention of such characters - whose main job is to create Fitnah (trouble-shooting and causing strife). Actually, the brutal practice of honor killing may have crept into some tribes with Muslim names from atheistic and idol-worshipping religion such as Hinduism. This Ramesh character pretends not to know that just having a Muslim name doesn't make one Muslim. One who practices non-Islamic cults may have a Muslim name or live in so-called Muslim countries, but actually isn't a Muslim by faith. In India, even today, 2 million foetuses are aborted every year when they are diagnosed female. This was also the practice in pre-Islamic Arab tribes where young female children (often infants) were buried alive. Isn't it worse than honor killing? Tactfully, Ramesh Chander doesn't mention this as if this didn't / doesn't happen anywhere.

  17. Romesh Chander from USA

    Note to Kris from Malyasia:

    We are talking about Honour Killing which is done by close relatives of the victim. I don't think Hitler killed any of his relatives and neither did Stalin killed any of his relatives (sorry, communist party members were not his relatives). So, stop comparing apples with oranges.

    If Honour Killing is a tribal custom, then why it has come to UK/Canada/Holland; no entire tribes move to the western countries. So, the source must be elsewhere.

    Is Honour Killing an Islamic practice? I don't know, I am not an islamic scholar. But it is practised by Muslims, the followers of Islam. What is the source of the knowledge for Honour Killings. Moreover, it is practised in about all the muslim countries (including advanced countries like Malyasia). But I doubt that it is practised by Muslims in China and Russia (they have very tough laws against murder).

    Frankly, Kris, you have never been convincing in your arguments; you always try to defend an indefensible position.

  18. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    And to Romesh and Kam, again

    In your earlier post ( Romesh ) you wrote " How and where did Muslims picked this concept when the rest of the world missed it "

    Killings and barbaric murders happens everywhere. Did Hitler picked up the ideas of the " final solutions to the Jewish question " from the bible ? Surely he did not. Yaa, what about Stalin, Romesh atheist comrades. He's an atheist, I suppose he picked up the idea of obliterating his own people from his Godless beliefs. And on the same account, Mao Tze Tung also did just that, he picked up the idea of brutally eliminating his own people who were oppossed to his destructive cultural revolution from his Godless beliefs too, atheists like him are just like that. Infact they killed more people than anyone else.

    As part of the freedom of the press, Romesh and Kam have no right to dictate to IslamiCity on what they should or should not publish. Freedom of the media means the Editorial decides what to publish and I suppose they have their own sets of considerations. For instances, after doing my Masters in law, I applied to my previous university in the U.K for permission to send a supplementary of my masters thesis to a known global media corporation ( I won't mention identity out of respect for their media independence ) for purpose of publishing it as an article. The Editors decided to publish it and I respect their decision. I don't sulked and yelled a cry baby, by accusing them of anything. That's part of press freedom.

    My message to you Romesh is that you can't force any website to publish any article and condemns it for not doing so. Is that not part of the press freedom ? In regards to " honour killings " again I am challenging Kam and Romesh to reply to the five questions that I put forth before them. If you can't, then please don't have any audacity to say any further.

  19. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    Honour killing is not an Islamic practice, it's a tribal one. Of course anybody so obsessed to smear Islam, will be quick to claim that it derived from Islam.

    If that is so, then I wish to challenge those claimants that honour killings are Islamic practices, I pose them these few questions :

    (1) On which particular source of the Islamic texts has it ever sanction " honour killings " ?

    (2) when did these practices began, isn't it not a pre Islamic belief ?

    (3) Didn't Islam value life, the duties of a Muslim to his own brother Muslims, his neighbours, relatives, have these not been explicitly mentioned in the Quran,

    (4) the articles by Farukkh Salem in Pakistan Times, whatever it is, Farukkh Salem's opinion is not a source of Islamic law, yes, these " honour killings " happened but just because one sorry and pathetic looking atheist read it, such opinion doesn't become part of Islamic law,

    (5) And to Kam and Romesh, the fact that IslamiCity doesn't or hasn't publish Farukkh Salem's article, that is within their right. What can't you understand what happens in the Editorial Boardrooom, before publishing anything, the editors will have to consider whether or not they have the permission of the writer or whoever is holding copyright to do so. Otherwise publishing the whole article might contravene the legal provisions on copyright, why can't Kam and Romesh understand that ?! Since law is my discipline, and my line of work, I understand the consequences better than any layman. It's that simple.

    Don't just jump mad as usual Romesh, or Kam and started pointing accusations at IslamiCity.

  20. Kam from Canada

    Salaam Romesh Chander: You say, "..It seems to me that, IslamiCity wants no criticism of muslim society ..... If that is true, then what is the purpose of this website?.....

    Why should it take such a long time to understand such a simple truth?

    Wa Salaam!

    Kam

  21. Romesh Chander from USA

    Note to Kam:

    I read that article by Farrukh Saleem in the DailyTimes of Pakistan. That is exactly what I talked about in my first postings without giving any statistics (as given by Saleem). Yes, Denial is not Option. Time for Denial is long gone.

    What bothers me is that if IslamCity is really interested in discussing the issues, then why it does not publish that article by Farrukh Saleem? But it won't publish it; rather it publishes an apologia by Zaid Shakur. It seems to me that, IslamCity wants no criticism of muslim society (probably that is what the benefactors of this website want). If that is true, then what is the purpose of this website?.

    Yes, Denial is an option of IslamCity. It has been practising it for years.

    Sorry being tough. But, hey, it is time to call a spade a spade, only if IslamCity will publish this note from me; they have so far not published another one I sent on this subject. And I have serious doubts that it will publish.

  22. Kam from Canada

    A suggestion to Charles Jacks:

    I you want to know a bit about 'Honour Killings" in Islamic world, read the column by Farukh Saleem a highly reputed Economist and Columnist from Pakistan. here are the links:

    -------------- LINK-------------------------

    Truth and denial --Farrukh Saleem

    Dec19, 2007 Dailytimes

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20071219story_19-12-2007_pg3_4

    There are laways apologists for any kinfd of crime in every society and religion!

    Kam

  23. Charles Jacks from USA

    I have never understood "honor" killings. It seems to me that to kill one's own family members because someone starts a rumor is to DISHONOR one's own family as a tacit admission of guilt. Without any proof it is worse, a damed admission that the family member is such a person that the rumor is likely true. To harm one's own family that way is to dishonor one's own family.

    Any society that allows a families enemy to put a knife to the throats of the women folk with nothing more than a rumor is a society that deserves to die out. Where I grew up, if someone started a rumor like that we tracked them down and dealt with them. This is something I once reminded one of my sisters boy friends of with an ax. (before they went on a date)

    In a Muslim country I would expect the family to track the accuser down and force them to either produce their proof or take their 100 lases. It shouldn't take too many people receiving 100 lases before the rumor mill dried up. And I don't mean just the originator of the rumor, I mean all who repeat the rumor.

  24. Romesh Chander from USA

    One cannot deny that Honour killings happen among muslims of a variety of educations, backgrounds, cultures; whether they are in Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, UK, Canada, Holland, etc.

    Now just ask why they happen among muslims of very different backgrounds and countries? There must be some common link which makes people commit honour killings when they have so divergent backgrounds. Could somebody tell me that common link? Why it does not happen among Jews, Christians, Buddhists, natives of South America and even in non-muslim Africa? How and Where did muslims pick this concept but was missed by the rest of the world?