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'Honor Killings' not part of Islamic teachings

By: Shirien Elmasraya

Posted: 4/18/08

Asqa Parvez was an average 16-year-old girl living in Mississauga, Canada when she was killed by her father Dec. 10, 2007, for refusing to wear the hijab, or head scarf.

And her death was extremely unfortunate and inexcusable.

Many of the reports that came out the days after her murder made the dangerous mistake of associating honor killings with Islam.

While it is true that "honor killings" are most prevalent in the Middle East and in places like India and Pakistan, this is the fault of people who are extreme in their culture - and ignorant of their religion.

"Hundreds, if not thousands, of women are murdered by their families each year in the name of family 'honor,'" according to

What happened to Parvez, and other women around the world, has nothing to do with Islam and is actually condemned by Islam. And for those who say differently, bring forth your evidence from the Quran or Hadith that this is supported in Islamic teachings.

If a woman refuses to wear the hijab, she is sinful. But this is something she will have to be held accountable for before God. And it may be that God will choose to forgive her of that sin on the Day of Judgment, but nowhere does it say in the Quran to kill a woman if she refuses to wear it.

Honor killings are also common for reasons of the "honor" of the family being lost because of immoral sexual behavior on the part of the woman.

Islam has set rules when it comes to sexual intercourse: No sex before marriage. But Islam has even stricter rules when it comes to protecting the honor and respect of a woman, which is something very precious in all societies.

Since pre-marital sex is a big sin in Islam, and the punishment for it is also big. But, Allah wants to protect the honor of the woman and has made it extremely difficult for someone to accuse a woman of immoral behavior.

In the Quran, Allah tells those who want to accuse a woman of illegal sexual intercourse to produce four witnesses to the crime - something almost impossible.

Therefore, honor killings clearly contradict Islamic teachings.

Let's focus now on the fact that so-called "honor killings" don't only happen to Muslims.

Five thousand brides are killed a year in India because "their dowries are considered insufficient," according to the United Nation's Children's Fund.

Now look at this double-standard: "In countries where Islam is practiced, they're called honor killings, but dowry deaths and so-called crimes of passion have a similar dynamic in that the women are killed by male family members, and the crimes are perceived as excusable or understandable," said Widney Brown, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

I'm sorry, what was that? They are perceived as excusable or understandable? When did burning brides alive become humane?

The truth is, violence happens in every religion, race and culture in the world. Let's look at some statistics that hit close to home.

In the United States, 1,400 women are murdered each year because of domestic violence by husbands and boyfriends, according to the National Organization for Women.

"Two to four million women of all races and classes are battered each year. At least 170,000 of those violent incidents are serious enough to require hospitalization, emergency room care or a doctor's attention," NOW reported.

"Every year 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by their current or former male partners, some more than once," NOW also reported.

A woman's honor should be respected in every place in the world. It is unjust for people to associate honor killings with Islam when, in fact, killings and unjust treatment of women happen by abusers all over the world.

Whether these men are abusers of their culture, religion or, more importantly, their physical strength, any abuse is condemned by Islam and should be condemned by the world.

I plan to show other women the honor of women in Islam. So as a reminder, I'm challenging women on this campus to wear hijab for a day on April 25 and to discuss it later that night.

If you would like to take on my challenge and be enlightened, please drop me an e-mail between now and then.

Contact Shirien Elmasraya at 

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