Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reflections on the murder of Aqsa Parvez

In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

The following is taken from my khutbah at Masjid Toronto on December 14, 2007

The murder of Aqsa Parvez, allegedly of strangulation by her father is a tragic event that has consumed me for the past few days. I have had conversations about the tragedy with my family, especially with my two teenage daughters. We have come to the conclusion that this tragedy is not about religion per se, not about the hijaab as is so widely referenced in the media, but about a cultural gulf that exists among families whose misreading of Islamic values coupled with horrendous parenting skills create a deadly combination of ignorance and anger that more often than not result in the kind of crime we have seen in Aqsa'a case.

Three issues can be identified and addressed just by a cursory glance at the facts of the case:

1. Religion and Identity
2. Parenting
3. Immigration

Religion and Identity:

All religions, and even civilized nations, have some limits to the extent of one's actions. Every civilized nation has certain values that it promotes and that defines it. So too with Islam. These values are universal across the Muslim faith, established by either Qur'anic revelation or prophetic example and expounded by authentic scholars over the centuries. Over time they become manifestations of the faith itself, and no serious believer will doubt their veracity or usefulness. Over time, sometimes these values become misunderstood, both in their intent and application and become subsumed, or even distorted by cultural norms and practices that have evolved in particular places and times.

The enforcement of these values and prescriptions in Islam like prayer, charity, modest attire etc. is largely dependent on a disposition to accept them, nurtured and developed by example, education, training and spirituality. When an individual reaches the stage where he/she accepts these values wholeheartedly and without coercion, he/she becomes a symbol of the Islamic identity. A rejection of one or all of these values, barring a rejection of God's Oneness, is not apostasy, and therefore must be understood as a phase in life that one may eventually conquer.

to be continued....


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