They are perhaps the two words we most dread to read in the Western mainstream media: "honor killings". Yet despite our protests of this most recent Western obsession with a practice that is often --and erroneously--described as "Islamic", these stories continue to be reported.
The most recent case is one of the most painful to read about, perhaps because it hits much closer to home.
In the sleepy town of St. Clairsville, Ohio, a Pakistani immigrant is currently on trial for the brutal slaying of his wife, father-in-law, sister-in-law and her two-year old daughter. The prosecution, along with a forensic psychologist, believe that Nawaz Ahmed was motivated by "his delusion that his marriage was being brought to a close in violation of his Islamic religion." The prosecutor maintains that he killed his wife because she filed for a divorce and because he believed she was having an affair with a colleague at the hospital where she worked.
Ahmed was apprehended just 30 minutes before he was to board a plane to Pakistan with his two sons, and authorities have lined up experts who say they believe he would not have been brought to justice had he been able to reach his native homeland. However, the victim's older sister testified that Ahmed was motivated by greed, rather than honor.
Regardless of his motivation or whether in fact this man did kill his wife and three of her family members, the case once again sheds light on a horrible cultural practice that must be abolished.
The harsh reality we must face is that violence against women is sanctioned in some parts of the world and is falsely justified under the banner of Islam. But many, if not most, of these cases of "honor killings" have no basis in Islamic Sharia.
In fact, the practice of accusing a woman of adultery based on rumor or suspicion is prohibited, and those found guilty of false accusations are themselves subject to severe punishment. Even in its infancy, Islam and its last messenger, Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), sought to end the barbaric pre-Islamic practices of violence against women and girls.
But to this day, more than 1,000 so-called "honor killings" take place each year in Pakistan, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Unfortunately, this widespread practice has also been reported in other countries, such as occupied Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.
The fact that the campaign to end "honor killings" has almost exclusively been adopted by Western human rights and feminist groups should be a cause for concern to the Muslim community. We should not depend upon Westerners to hypocritically preach women's rights to us, when Islam has already legislated it long ago.
So the next time we become enraged over a newspaper headline about another "honor killing", instead of sending another letter to the editor, perhaps our energy would be better spent educating those in our community who need it.