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Honour Killing Entrenched in Islam

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If honour killing is alien to Islam, then why are the penalties, if any, for men who kill women in honour-killings, so lenient in Muslim countries? And why are honour killings more prevalent in the Muslim world and amongst Muslim communities than in the West? According to Phyllis Chesler’s “Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings” in Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2010), 91 percent of honour killings are committed by Muslims worldwide.

Against the backdrop of the Shafia honour-killing trial in Kingston, Montreal’s Concordia University graduate Sikander Ziad Hashmi, an imam with the Islamic Society of Kingston, tells us “there is no such thing as ‘honour killing’ in Islam.” Last week, Hashmi challenged readers of Canada’s National Post Full Commentonline to find one classical Islamic religious text that endorses the murder of a family member to preserve honour. PointdeBascule in Montreal answers the imam’s request by producing not one, but TWO Islamic texts stating that a father who kills his child must NOT be subject to punishment (“retaliation”).

The first text is “Umdat al-Saliq” or “Reliance of the Traveller”, a manual of Islamic law certified in 1991 as a reliable guide to Sunni Islam by Cairo’s renowned al-Azhar University, the most prestigious and authoritative institute of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence in the world. This manual, composed in the 14th century,states that punishment or “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right” EXCEPT when “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers)” kills their “offspring, or offspring’s offspring” (section o1.1-2). In other words, a parent who murders his/her child for the sake of honour, is not penalized under Islamic law or Shariah.

The Umdat al-Saliq was also endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood-linked International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in the United States. In the opening pages, the IIIT writes “there is no doubt that this translation is a valuable and important work, whether as a textbook for teaching Islamic jurisprudence to English speakers, or as a legal reference for use by scholars, educated laymen, and students in this language.” The Umdat al-Saliq is by no means an irrelevant or outdated document, and its rulings, including those on the subject of retaliation for murder, are legally binding and not subject for debate.

Another text that supports the immunity for parents who kill their children was written by the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), an authority of Shiite Islam who led the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979. In his book “Resaleh Towzih Al-Massael” or “A Clarification of Questions” published in 1961, Khomeini specifies under “conditions of retaliation” (section 2.3 of Appendix II) that there is no penalty for a father who kills his child, the father will simply not be punished under Islamic law. A killer is punished if: “The slayer is not the father of the slain, nor the parental grandfather (apparently)”.

Both aforementioned Sunni and Shiite texts support the practice of honour killing in Islam, contrary to Hashmi’s claim, and serve as authentic and authoritative sources of Islamic law to this day. The Shafia killings did not occur in a vacuum, despite Hashmi’s attempts to convince us otherwise. Furthermore, Hashmi is not alone in his attempt to assure us that honour killings have nothing to do with Islam. Another imam, Samy Metwally of the Ottawa Mosque and a graduate of al-Azhar University, also attempts to distance Islam from the horror of the Shafia honour killings. He says “what’s called honour killing is not part of Islamic teaching or tradition, and in fact there is no honour in this killing at all.”

If honour killing is alien to Islam, then why are the penalties, if any, for men who kill women in honour-killings, so lenient in Muslim countries? And why are honour killings more prevalent in the Muslim world and amongst Muslim communities than in the West? According to Phyllis Chesler’s “Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings” in Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2010), 91 percent of honour killings are committed by Muslims worldwide. Nothing to do with Islam? Why was Dutch filmmaker and journalist Theo Van Gogh stabbed to death in broad daylight? Why did Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris have to change her identity and go into hiding in her own country at the FBI’s recommendation? Why do Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and Swedish artist Lars Vilks live under constant police protection? I suppose none of this has anything to do with Islam as well.

Janet Bagnall, an editorial writer and columnist with The Montreal Gazette, also treats honour killings as if they were unique and isolated events. In her recent article “Waking up to honour-based violence right here in Canada”, Bagnall is extremely careful not to mention the word Islam. She refers to honour-based violence as “a relatively new addition to Canada’s deadly toll of family violence” or as “differing from other kinds of family violence in that it is planned and carried out collectively by the family” or as “a complex, difficult-to-eradicate phenomenon”. Yet nowhere in her article does she mention how widespread honour-violence or honour-killing is throughout the Muslim world. 
Nor does she acknowledge that honour-killing is on the rise in Canada due to immigration from Islamic countries, along with an upsurge in the terrifying and barbaric act of female circumcision or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Both practices are severe human rights violations foreign to our Constitution. And both practices are rising at alarming levels not only in the Muslim world, but amongst Muslim communities in the West as well. Last year alone, nearly 3 000 honour attacks were carried out in Britain (UK’s Telegraph), a country with large-scale immigration from Islamic countries.

Unless we recognize the problem for what it really is and change the Criminal Code to specifically address honour killings in Canada, they will continue to exist merely as “a complex, difficult-to-eradicate phenomenon” and increase at rates similar to those of the UK. Moreover, Islamic authorities of the highest levels, namely those who issue religious edicts or fatwas (clerics, scholars and judges) must work together and unequivocally condemn the practice of honour killings once and for all.

Comments (19)Add Comment
away from work-station
written by Editor, M. A. Khan , December 20, 2011
Folks, I will be away with very limited access to internet until the first week of 2012. Until then, I won't be able to upload contents and moderate comments properly.
written by Chris LA , December 20, 2011
There is a grim report from Pakistan that 675 women and girls were murdered there to protect their families' honor during the past nine months alone. See: http://www.theaustralian.com.a...6227064723
To Editor M.A.Khan and others
written by lw1 , December 20, 2011
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
@ Cynthia Yacowar-Sweeney
written by Cererum123 , December 20, 2011
Thanks for this very informative article. I'm glad that someone has found a legitimate link to this horrible crime ,and it's source. I have been hearing for along time that "honor killing" isn't something connected to Islam ,and that it is a cultural ,and not religious thing. The same claim is made about female circumcision. If you can find a legitimate link to it like the one above,then 2 of these disgusting acts will have an authoritative link to their original source. Just like any other problem the only real way to deal with it is to "nip it in the bud". Since "honor killing" is now shown to have it's source in Islamic Sharia we need to educate as many people as possible that the source of the problem is what really needs to go. Of course many Muslims are still going to deny any connection between "honor killing" and Islam ,but now at least the people on this site can point out to them that it does have it's roots in Islam. Again thank you this was an excellent article.
written by Lilly , December 21, 2011

The Quran contains no reference to FGM/ circumcision at all.
There is no mandate at all for female circumcision, neither in the Quran, the hadith, nor medical theory.
FGM predates Islam but has been adopted by some muslims where it acquired a religious dimension. Where it is practised by Muslims, religion is cited as the reason for the procedure.

According to the WHO, it is practised in ;Yemen, Saudi Arabia,Jordan,Libya,Palestine,Syria,Iran,Afghanistan,Pa
kistan,Tajikistan,Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria,Mali,Indonesia,India,Jakarta,Bahrain,Dubai,Thai
land, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Mozambique, Sudan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Dijibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania,Togo,UAE,Zimbabwe,Zaire and Oman.

The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation. Estimates based on the most recent prevalence data indicate that 91.5 million girls and women above 9 years old in Africa are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation. There are an estimated 3 million girls in Africa at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

An average of four girls a minute continue to be mutilated.

FGM is more common amongst educated women than the illiterate, though most girls were subjected to FGM during infancy. Only 9 % of those who had been operated upon had the procedure performed by a doctor.

written by Lilly , December 21, 2011

Type Ia is the removal of the clitoral hood (prepuce).

Type Ib is the partial or total removal of the clitoris.

Type II, called excision, is partial or total removal of the clitoris and the inner labia or outer labia.

Type IIa is removal of the inner labia only.

Type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and the inner labia.

Type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, and the inner and outer labia.

Type III, called infibulation or pharaonic circumcision, is the removal of all external genitalia. The inner and outer labia are cut away, with or without excision of the clitoris.

Another form of Type III is called matwasat, where the stitching of the vulva is less extreme and the hole left is bigger.

Type IV

A variety of other procedures are collectively known as Type IV, which the WHO defines as "all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.For example; pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization." This ranges from ritual nicking of the clitoris,to stretching the clitoris or labia, burning or scarring the genitals, or introducing harmful substances into the vagina to tighten it.It also includes hymenotomy-the removal of a hymen regarded as too thick- and gishiri cutting, a practice in which the vagina's anterior wall is cut with a knife to enlarge it.

Reinfibulation and defibulation

In Sudan, RI is known as El-Adel (re-circumcision or, literally, "putting right" or "improving"). Two cuts are made around the vagina, then sutures are put in place to tighten it to the size of a pinhole.This in effect mimics virginity. RI may be carried out before marriage, after divorce, or in elderly women to prepare them for death.

Defibulation, or deinfibulation, is a surgical technique to reverse the closure of the vaginal opening after a Type III infibulation, and consists of a vertical cut opening up normal access to the vagina.This may be accompanied by removal of scar tissue and labial repair.
notes on type III
written by Lilly , December 21, 2011
Elderly women, relatives and friends secure the girl in the lithotomy position. A deep incision is made rapidly on either side from the root of the clitoris to the fourchette, and a single cut of the razor excises the clitoris and both the labia majora and labia minora.
Bleeding is profuse but is controlled by the application of poultices, the threading of the edges of the skin with thorns, or clasping them between the edges of a split cane.
The girl's legs are then tied together from hip to ankle for up to 40 days to allow the wound to heal. The immobility causes the labial tissue to bond, forming a wall of flesh and skin across the entire vulva, apart from a hole the size of a matchstick for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, which is created by inserting a twig or rock salt into the wound.
Vegetable thorns are often used to sew the opening shut because they are very strong.The stitches stay in until marriage.
Then three days before the wedding the groom is asked," Do you want to open her or do you want us to open her?" A kind man will say, "You go ahead and do it." Others want to rip,cut or tear the woman open themselves.

Then the vulva is cut open for sexual intercourse and childbirth or the husband penetrates the bride's infibulation taking anywhere from 3 days to several months to fully penetrate.
Some men are unable to penetrate their wives at all (15%), and the task is accomplished by a midwife under conditions of secrecy, since this reflects negatively on the man's potency. Some who are unable to penetrate their wives manage to get them pregnant in spite of the infibulation, and the woman's vaginal passage is then cut open to allow birth to take place or a c- section is performed.Marital anal intercourse replaces vaginal intercourse in cases where the wife can not be penetrated.
Those men who do manage to penetrate their wives do so with the help of a "little knife." This creates a tear which they gradually rip more and more until the opening is sufficient to admit the penis. In some women, the scar tissue is so hardened and overgrown with keloidal scar formations that it can only be cut with very strong surgical scissors, as is reported by doctors who relate cases where they broke scalpels in the attempt.

When a pregnant woman who has not experienced FGM goes into labour, the procedure is performed before she gives birth, because it is believed the baby may be stillborn or die if it touches her clitoris. The risk of hemorrhage and death from FGM during labour is high.

FGM has no health benefits and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.
written by C.Y-Sweeney , December 22, 2011
Responding to Cererum123 and Lily, FGM (yes, which predates Islam) is ALSO entrenched in Islam and is encouraged in hadiths. The 4 schools of Sunni Islamic law ALL accept FGM. One school teaches it is obligatory, while the other schools teach it is simply recommended. The Umdat al-Salik (of the Shafi'i school) once again says it all here:

e4.3 Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)

One hadith talks about Muhammad passing by a woman who performs circumcision on a young girl in Medina. First he asks her if she kept practicing her profession since they left Mecca (for Medina). She answered yes, adding: "unless it is forbidden, and you order me to stop doing it." He says it is allowed, then instructs her: "Cut off only the foreskin but do not cut off deeply, for this is brighter for the face and more favorable with the husband."

Why do you think FGM is practiced in Islamic countries, spreading to western countries via immigration? Because Mohammed encouraged the practice of FGM (as you can see above), and his followers emulate him. Another Hadith says "Circumcision is a commedable act for men (Sunnah) and is an honorable thing for women."

Unfortunately, it is simply not true that there is no mandate for FGM in the hadith. I think the 4 schools of Sunni Islamic law would agree, they teach it, and Muslims follow it.

@ C. Y-Sweeney
written by Cererum123 , December 22, 2011
Thanks for your response. I had thought I had seen that hadith before ,but I wasn't entirely sure.

@ Lilly

Most Islamic practices originated before the advent of Islam. Including things like circumambulation(not sure how to spell that one) of the Kaaba. Running between the hills of Marwa and Safwa (again not sure if I'm spelling that right). Even the male circumcision is something from before Islam ,and dates back to Abraham ,and his covenant with God. (this covenant was specifically mentioned in the Bible to only apply to Abraham's son Isaac ,and not Ishmael.) Islam is as far as I can tell ,is just a combination of practices from earlier religions. If I am mistaken on any of these things tell me ,because I do not want to be spreading any false information.
It's what Islam
written by Tanstaafl jw , December 22, 2011
permits, not what is "written" in or "unwritten".
response to Cererum123 , December 22, 2011
written by Yibel , December 25, 2011
The covenant with Abraham, represented by circumcision as recorded in Genesis chapter 17, states that it is to be with Isaac only. However, Abraham also circumcised Ishmael, along with all the males that were born in his household, and all that were bought with his money.

Circumcision was also performed on Egyptian males when they entered the priesthood of various Egyptian gods. This has been recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphs. As the temple of the Ka'aba was similar to the temple of Ah, an Egyptian moon/lunar calendar god (both had 360 idols to represent days of the year - an imperfect solar calendar) the practice of circumcision may have come from an Egyptian source.

Also, the Jewish Maccabees forced this practice on various conquered people such as the Idumeans (King Herod was one of these). These were the descendants of Esau, a grandson of Abraham's, who was not part of the covenant.

You are right about the circling of the Ka'aba being pre-Islamic, and the running up and down on the two sacred hills (which had statues on their tops prior to Islam).

In addition, the stoning of the pillar was also pre-Islamic. Pagan Arabs practiced driving away jinn/geniis (beings created from smokeless fire). That is why Muhammad made Shaytan/Satan a jinn, instead of a fallen angel, in his Qur'an.

BTW, prior to Islam, the circumambulating was led by scantily clad priestesses of the three sacred goddesses, al-Uzza (goddess of human sacrifice), Manat (Egyptian Ma’at, goddess of fate), and al-Alat (a fertility goddess and consort of the Babylonian/Assyrian moon god Sin). The name Makkah means Great House in Babylonian, and Pharaoh means Great House in Hebrew.

Islam is mostly pagan Arabic practices adapted to Muhammad's stories as told in the Qur'an. Some of the stories came from Arabic poetry, the Jewish Talmud, Gnostic tales and heretic sources, as well as Buddhist and Zorastrian sources.

The beheading stuff is from the Assyrians who believed that chopping off of a person's head caused the soul/spirit to wander forever in limbo/between the worlds. They even dug up the bodies to their conquered enemies in order to beheaded them.
written by Brown Superman , January 05, 2012
I'm tired:
of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace,"
when every day I can read dozens of stories of
Muslim men killing their sisters, wives
and daughters for their family "honor";

of Muslims rioting over some slight offense;

of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews
because they aren't "believers";

of Muslims burning schools for girls;

of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims
to death for "adultery";

of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls;

all in the name of Allah,
because the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to.

I'm tired
of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures"
we must let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries
use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa
Islamic schools to preach hate in Australia, New Zealand,
UK, America and Canada,

while no one from these countries are allowed to fund
a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia
or any other Arab country to teach love and tolerance.

Not Bill Cosby, but Robert A. Hall, a USMC vet and former MA state senator, said this (Cosby strongly opposed those views in "I'm Tired")
written by C.Y-Sweeney , January 05, 2012
Bill Cosby did not write the above "I'm Tired" - he actually opposes those views which he calls "ugly" on his website at: http://billcosby.com/site/2011...elete.html
He writes on September 9, 2011: If you got the BOGUS email, it's time to hit DELETE! There's an email floating around - entitled "I'm 76 and tired" - purportedly sent by me. I did not write the email, I did not send the email, I'm not 76, and I don't subscribe to the ugly views expressed in the email. We are coming up to an important anniversary on Sunday, which is a day when we should all come together. Whoever wrote this email is not thinking about our country, or what is important. If you get the email, it's time to hit DELETE.

The author is Robert A. Hall, a USMC vet (marine Vietnam vet) and former MA state senator. His blog is called "The Old Jarhead" at http://tartanmarine.blogspot.com/ and you can find his "I'm Tired" at: http://tartanmarine.blogspot.c...obert.html , and more. Robert A. Hall sadly has pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal illness.

Male circumcision....
written by Brown Superman , January 05, 2012
is a barbaric assault on the genital as Nature has its reason for every existence.

Eyes have eyelids, nostrils have hair filters, ears have stinking wax secretion, anus is deeply hidden, labia majora covers all and sometimes with more than a fold, and the foreskin is for protecting a delicate and sensitive part of the male organ.

The nomadic desert dwellers of West Asia and North Africa have no water for daily bath (very often bathe once a week) and the smegma collected under the foreskin may collect undesirable microbes, causing itch and infections. It is passed to women and sometimes to other men. Thus removal of the foreskin was practiced as it was easier to dry clean the glans. Today, even the educated (or is it just literate?) people circumcise their children as old habits die hard. It has become the culture and even religious expectations.

The Jews, all muslims, some christians and others (atheists included) do it. Some say it is for cleanliness' sake. Some for phimosis's permanent remedy. Ask yourselves if washing the dick twice or thrice a day while bathing or after sex is not good enough hygiene that circumcision is necessary? But if you get to bathe only once a week, go ahead and remove the foreskin. Probably you can get a both once a month. Also get some stinking arab non-alcohol based perfume to beat the body odour too.

But otherwise, keep whatever nature has intended for your protection. It is not like hair and nails which continously grow despite being cut off. Do not practice the crap some religions preach. Religions without scientific backing must be avoided in total.
@ Brown Superman
written by Cerebrum123 , January 05, 2012
Actually in the NT male circumcision is now considered no longer necessary. Also early circumcision was different in the time of Abraham. It was later due to the influence of the Talmud that it changed to be the entire removal of the foreskin when it was originally only part of it. The earlier version was much less likely to damage that very sensitive part of the male body.

@ Yibel

If the Egyptians did this then they likely did it soon after Joseph was made a government official there. The Hebrews and Egyptians were living together for a long time (around 400 years I believe). It is much more likely that Egyptians borrowed from the newly immigrated Hebrews. I'm not sure on this one ,but I think that Joseph might have married the daughter of an Egyptian priest (maybe even a high priest ,but I'm not 100% on this). When cultures mingle like this they can very easily borrow certain traditions ,and other activities from each other.(the Israelites borrowed idolatry numerous times from the Canaanites that weren't kicked out of the promised land).
Honor killing prohibited in Koran
written by Malem , January 10, 2012
The holy Koran prohibits such killing so it is not Islamic, rather some garbage made up by someone outside of the Koran.
@ Malem
written by Brown Superman , January 11, 2012
Which verse Malem?

How about telling your Mohamedan bethren in Pakistan just that!
@ Cerebrum123
written by Brown Superman , January 11, 2012
1) What is the main purpose of male circumcision, whoever had influenced the foreskin removal and whatever Testaments say?

2) It is not about damage but the desensitising which you should talk about.
written by Malem , January 19, 2012
"..Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that ye may learn wisdom." (al-An'am 6:151)
"Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law)" (al-Isra' 17:33)
There are many more but you have to read the Koran (you can read correct? if not ask Duh to borrow his dog)

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