Author: Zohra Sarwari
“And whosoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein; and the Wrath and the Curse of Allaah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him” [The Qur’aan Chapter -al-Nisa’ 4:93]
SubhanAllaah I cannot tell you how many times as a speaker do I hear this question from Muslims and Non-Muslims, “Why does Islaam allow honor killing?” Amazed that people still think this and I just sit for a moment as I gather my thoughts together. I realize that we are all in different places in our lives and that even I once too thought this, “Is Honor Killing allowed in Islaam?”. How beautiful is knowledge and how beautiful it is that it illuminates our hearts from ignorance as we keep learning. Contrary to the saying in the west “Ignorance is Bliss.” For Muslims it is “Knowledge that is Bliss, and Ignorance that ruins lives.” I will be covering what is honor killing, why does it occur, and where does it occur most. I will end with a short true story of honor killing, and how it could have all been prevented, inshAllaah.
What is honor killing? Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:
“Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.”
In Wikipedia at the entry of Honor Killings I found this “According to Dr. Shahrzad Mojab, a University of Toronto professor of women’s studies, followers of Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity have used their religions as a rationale to commit honour killings. However, Mojab stated that honor killings don’t have “any definite connection with religion at all.” She also pointed out that honor killings have been practised before any major religion came into existence. Also according to Widney Brown, the advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said that the practice “goes across cultures and across religions.” Human rights advocates have compared “honor killing” to “crimes of passion” in Latin America (which are sometimes treated extremely leniently) and also to the killing of women for lack of dowry in India.”
When did honor killings begin?
Christian Arab writer, Norma Khouri, said “honor killings originate from the belief that a woman’s chastity is the property of her families, a cultural norm that dates back to 1200 B.C., under the rule of Hammarabi and other Assyrian tribes. She says this predates Islaam and Christianity. (author of Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan)
According to Matthew Goldstein he mentions that the Codes of Hammurabi and Assura, which were written in 1780 BC and 1075 BC respectively, are some of the earliest times where laws prescribed that a woman’s virginity belonged to her family. In the code of Assura it says:
“If a virgin of her own accord give herself to a man, the man shall take oath, against his wife they shall not draw nigh. Threefold the price of a virgin the ravisher shall pay. The father shall do with his daughter what he pleases.”
Goldstein also notes that honor killings were permitted in ancient Rome. He writes that female adultery was a felony and that the state “actively prosecuted” male family members who did not “take action” against the women in their family. Shockingly, the Roman statesman Cato said:
“If you catch your wife in adultery, you can kill her with impunity…”
Let’s look at what people call great literature today, did you know that “Lavinia, in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, is killed by her father after having been raped and mutilated. Also how about in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel Spartacus the Romans are described as killing their women who had been raped by the rebel slaves. In ancient Rome, being raped was seen as dishonorable to the point of destroying a woman’s life and reputation, and honor killing was supposed to be a “merciful” act. The origin of honor killings and the control of women is evidenced throughout history in the culture and tradition of many regions. Roman law Pater familias gave complete control to the men of the family for both their children and wives. Under these laws, the lives of children and wives were at the sole discretion of the men in their family. Ancient Roman Law also established historical roots of honor killings through his law stating that women found guilty of adultery could be killed by their husband in whatever manner the husband desired. In Greece, the lives of women were too dictated by their husbands as women were considered socially below males. It has been noted how in ancient Babylonian, Egypt, Chinese, North American Native American tribes and Persian cultures, women convicted of adultery were subjected to extreme punishments. In Babylonian societies, women suspected of adultery were forced to throw themselves into a river to prove they were innocent. In Egyptian culture, imprisonment, flogging, or mutilation were common punishments for women who had been convicted of adultery. Chinese culture suggested that husbands cut off the hair of adulterous women and then lead them to their death by an elephant trained to kill. Some Native American tribes punished adulterous women by cutting off their limbs and mutilating their bodies. In Persia, adulterous women were left to die after being placed into a well. (http://www.islamicawakening.com/viewarticle.php?articleID=1330)
There is much more information that can be said about the history of Honor Killing, but as for this article I feel that you have gotten the message that honor killing did not begin with Islaam. It was there prior to Islaam and it still is done to woman, men and children around the world, only different titles are used. They all fall into one category, which is wrongful death. As for those who say Islaam allows it, let’s see if what they say is true.
According to the fatwa website it says: http://islamqa.info/en/ref/101972
‘Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“The believer will continue to be encompassed by the mercy of Allaah so long as he does not shed blood that it is forbidden to shed.”
So you see the killing of a Muslim unlawfully is a serious matter and a grave crime.
Shaykh Muhammad S. Al-Munajjid says:
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has explained to us the reasons for which it becomes permissible to shed this blood. He said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god but Allaah and that I am the Messenger of Allaah except in three cases: a life for a life (murder), zina of one of who is previously-married (adultery), and the one who changes his religion and forsakes the jamaa’ah.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6370) and Muslim (3175). From this it is clear that zina on the part of one who is married is one of the reasons that make it permissible to kill a person, but the zaani (adulterer) cannot be killed unless two conditions are met:
1. He should be previously-married. The scholars have explained what is meant by previously-married in this case. Zakariya al-Ansaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Asna’l-Mataalib (4/128): The previously-married person, whether male or female, is any adult of sound mind who has previously had intercourse within a valid marriage. End quote. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Sharh al-Zaad (6/120): There are five conditions for (being described as) previously-married:
- Within a valid marriage
- Being an adult
- Being of sound reason
- Being free (i.e., not a slave).
2. The second condition is that it should be proven that the hadd punishment is deserved, by the testimony of four male witnesses who saw the private parts meet, or the person should freely admit to having committed zina, without being forced to do so.
If it is proven that he deserves the hadd punishment, it is not permissible for individuals to carry out this punishment themselves. Rather the matter must be referred to the ruler or his deputy to prove the crime and carry out the punishment, because if individuals carry out hadd punishments, that will lead to a great deal of corruption and evil.
Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in “al-Furoo’ (6/53): It is haraam for anyone to carry out a hadd punishment except the ruler or his deputy. This is something on which the fuqaha’ of Islam are unanimously agreed, as was stated in al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (5/280): The fuqaha’ are unanimously agreed that the one who should carry out hadd punishments is the ruler or his deputy, whether the punishment is transgressing one of the limits of Allaah, may He be exalted, such as zina, or a transgression against another person, such as slander.”
You see for one to concealing this evil deed which has taken place so that he may repent and set his affairs straight before he dies is better than exposing him, let alone killing him.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned away from Maa’iz (may Allaah be pleased with him) after he admitted committing zina, and he ignored him until he had repeated his confession several times, then he carried out the hadd punishment on him.
Based on all of the information that I have given you, I pray now that you can understand that honor killing has no place in Islaam.
“And those who invoke not any other ilaah (god) along with Allaah, nor kill such person as Allaah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse ___ and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace.”[al-Furqaan 25:68-69]
Again regardless the person who has committed a major crime of zinna, while being married, will be punished weather in this life or the hereafter should they not repent and Allaah subhana wa Tala not forgive him/her. And if what they did is true then it is up to that government their living in to take charge of the situation not individuals, and the government needs proof of 4 witnesses- who saw this evil deed occur. Most of the time honor killings are done with mere suspicion, speculation, and accusation.’
So you see honor killings do not exist in Islaam. Whoever began this and continues doing this is on the wrong path. We must all as Muslims adhere to the Qur’aan and Sunnah and not our desires.
Story of the Most Recent Honor Killing- January 30th, 2012.
“An Afghan father, his wife and their son have been jailed for life after a jury found them guilty of killing three teenage sisters and a co-wife in what the judge described as a ‘despicable’ and ‘heinous’ crime.
The jury had taken 15 hours to find Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.
The four bodies were found in June 2009 in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston, Ontario, where the family had stopped for the night on their way home from Niagara Falls.
Prosecutors said the daughters were killed because they dishonored the family by defying rules on dress, dating, socializing, having boy-friends, and going online.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093513/Afghan-family-guilty-honour-killing-Canada.html#ixzz1oGVGUJi8
While this story is definitely a true one. It is a sad one. How can a Muslim family avoid this type of situation in the future?
1. The parents need to educate themselves on the deen of Islaam.
2. The parents need to be the example of honorable people first.
3. The parents need to educate and raise their children about Islaam and the importance about being righteous.
4. They need to talk to the Imams, and Sheikhs on how to properly deal with their situations. What is the proper way in Islaam to talk to their kids about right and wrong.
5. Be patient and asking Allaah (subhana wa Tala) for help through this difficult time by prayers and supplications.
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