Wednesday, December 07, 2011

No Place for Honor Killing in Islam

No place for honor killing in Islam
There is nothing honorable in any killing, period.
That should be the message of religious leaders and educators as the trial for the so called 'honor killings' continue in Kingston, and as Canadians remember the victims of a brutal massacre in Montreal on December 6, 1989.
A key pillar upon which our society is built is to recognize the presumed innocence of those who have been arraigned for trial.

Yet, regardless of the outcome of the current trial, refusing to acknowledge that a social problem exists within our societies is a disservice of past and future victims of these heinous crimes.
It is also a disservice to a faith that has honored women, and has restored their sense of dignity as human beings long before the modern understanding of universal human rights.
Too many lives have been brutally snuffed out on the pretext of "honor killing" for it to be ignored.
It is time that community leaders set the record straight. No faith, from the strictly monotheistic to the most liberal, has endorsed killing as a way to restore a family's honor.
It is a brutal practice, steeped in the cultural backwaters of highly patriarchal societies, where men arrogate unto themselves the protection of a family's honor, often times their women being the victims of their delusional acts of murder.
As the prosecution rests its case this week in a Kingston Courtroom, many will unfortunately link the suspects' religion with the act of murder. Journalists such as the Toronto Star's Rosie di Manno, have sadly used the case as a de-facto indictment of Islam itself, ignoring the fact that one of the highest ideals of the Islamic faith is the sanctity and preservation of life.
Islam has categorically prohibited the taking of life, and is unequivocal about the sanctity of life in both of its primary sources of legislation – the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.
Although this fact has been repeated ad infinitum by Muslim scholars and preachers, it is necessary to continue sending this message, as the Qur'an declares "remind them, for verily a reminder benefits the community of believers".
The Prophet's own example is one of compassion, patience and forbearance when events did not unfold as he wished. The constant persecution by his own people for thirteen long years in Makkah did not elicit from him even the slightest hint of retribution. The Qur'anic directive is clear: "do not take the life that God has sanctified, except in the due course of justice".
"Honor" Killings is a misnomer, and sadly a burden thrust upon an entire faith community because of the ignorance of a few.
We must combat it with the most effective means possible, first by refusing to ignore that it exists and then through an integrated curriculum in our schools, mosques and institutions that is based on exploring the higher objectives of Islam (maqaasid), the primary one being the preservation of life.
By doing so we will be following the Qur'anic methodology of dispelling myths, correcting cultural practices that are inconsistent with the Islamic worldview and ushering in revolutionary social constructs that challenge the 7th century's skewed vision of social hierarchy, where women were considered disposable assets.
One of the most compelling verses of the Qur'an is found in one of the short chapters towards the end of the Qur'an. The verse challenges Arab society to look at the cultural practice of the infanticide of girls, a practice based on the pre-Islamic Arabs' erroneous view that the birth of a girl-child was a sign of disgrace
"…and when the girl-child will be asked (on the day of Reckoning)…for what crime

was she killed?"
Muslim leaders today must muster the courage to repeat this verse in the context of today's "honor" killings, challenging the perpetrators to concede that such an act is neither human nor religious, and stands against everything that Islam and indeed any other faith advocates.

We must not allow those like DiManno to perpetuate the hate we see around us, nor allow ourselves to feel victimized by the constant negative outbursts of people who will not stop at using every opportunity to demonize Islam. To become obsessed by their agendas will detract from the urgent work we have to ensure that we rise to the challenges facing us in this 21st century.


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