Take Back Islam: “Honor” Killing is Murder Part I

Take Back Islam: “Honor” Killing is Murder Part I

honor-crime

 Treat women well and be kind to them

-Muhammad’s last advice to his nation

Written by Theresa Corbin

As I became an adult, I started to see that porn, strip clubs and hook-ups are the norm for most men. I came to understand that many men see women’s bodies only as tools to obtain pleasure (not true of all men of course).

So it was not much of a surprise to me in my pre-Islam days when many of my male “Muslim” acquaintances would engage in much of the same behavior. I learned about how sons are patted on the back for promiscuity when one  such “Muslim” acquaintance was paid a visit from his family. Upon being discovered sneaking into his home at a late hour, he was greeted with an attaboy from his father when it became clear that he (the son) had been out “hooking-up”.

Months after this interaction with his father, my “Muslim” friend was praising his sister back home. He spoke about how she had married young and was such a good girl and so on. Thinking back to his attaboy for being a womanizer, I asked if his family would be ok with her even if she had behaved in the same manner as he did.

The hypocrite in question flew into a rage, without any amount of exaggeration said he would kill her himself if she ever acted like that, and warned me never to talk about her like that again.

This was my first heart breaking introduction into the injustice of honor crimes.

At the time not knowing much about any culture or religion other than my own (American, former Catholic, agnostic at the time), I had to begin the difficult process of unpacking the cultural practice of honor killing from Islam.

Allow me, if you will, to explain in the most honest terms what an honor killing is. It is a heinous practice that predates Islam and is inherited from Hinduism, Roman Law, and other archaic systems that postulate that a woman’s worth lies in her sexuality and its usefulness to male family members. In honor killings male family members claim ownership over female bodies and take it upon themselves to murder them over matters of chastity and “inappropriate” relationships all to spare the family the “shame” of gossip.

Anne Boleyn lost her head because of rumors
Anne Boleyn lost her head because of rumors

The practice of honor killing is a long and dishonorable tradition around the world.

Perhaps the most memorable case of an honor killing was when Henry the VIII beheaded his wife, Anne Boleyn, for suspicion and rumors of adultery. He also murdered another of his wives, Catherine Howard, for the same suspicion. But this is lesser know.

But honor killings are most often associated with Islam for two reasons

1.) Because the media and leading Islamophobes have inaccurately painted a picture about how these crimes are always committed by Muslims, ignoring the fact that victims come from many different cultures and religions.

2.) Because, yet again, some Muslims prove Islamophobes and the media’s narrative correct. They mistake their archaic, brutal and backward cultural practices as Islam, when they in fact have nothing to do with Islam.

I feel like I have said this a million times, but the fact is that cultural, tribal, and local traditions often conflict with Islamic teachings. And people, in their ignorance, arrogance or whatever, cling to their traditions and wrongly call it Islam. Just because a Muslim does it, does not make it Islamic!

A major hindrance in understanding the horror of honor killings is the misunderstanding of the punishment for zina (adultery)

The capital punishment of adultery (sex with someone you are not married to while you are married or divorced) is not due to any “honor.” In fact, it is applicable to both men and women and only intended to establish social justice; to prevent disease, broke baby mommas, starving and fatherless children, and all the emotional turmoil that comes along with adultery.  

A case of adultery must be proven with strict eye-witness evidence in a court of law and left up to the judge to forgive or punish. It is SO hard to prove adultery that the capital punishment has only ever legitimately been implemented in cases where the adulterer repeatedly confessed (without coercion). Therefore it is considered a deterrent rather than a harsh penalty.

It is also important to understand that in the Muslim World today, shar’ia (Islamic law) is practiced crudely, and far away from the objectives and intentions of shari’a as it was practiced by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and many generations after him. “Muslim” countries today see it only as a series punishments to keep those without money or power “in line”. They do not see it for what it is: a comprehensive system that first teaches its citizens, deters them from corrupt behavior, upholds social justice and forgives and offers excuses before it ever punishes. 

Under no circumstances can a family carry out capital punishment. In the event such a killing happens, it is a considered murder and the murderer needs to be punished by the judge. From Muslim Matters

Gossip, slander and small mindedness. Oh MY!

gossip is an activity of  small minded people
small minds discuss people

Honor killing has very little to do with societal justice and balance or even adultery.  Honor killing has to do with the family unit fearing gossip.

In honor killings the family is on a witch hunt and acts as judge, jury, and executioner that does not admit evidence, only regards appearances in their community, tribe, or sewing circle.

What did the Prophet (PBUH) do when the chastity of his wife, Aisha, was brought into question? He did not accuse her, he did not fear people talking about him, he waited for proof to be established.

Aisha was innocent of the rumor and because of the emotional turmoil she suffered from the slander, the following verse was revealed in the Quran “Verily, those who accuse chaste women […] are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment” [al-Noor 24:23].

Honor? Really!?

Anatomy of "Honor"
Anatomy of “Honor”

Islamically speaking we are all responsible for our own honor. If honor was a family enterprise, Abraham- God’s Khalil (dear friend)-would have been dishonored by his father’s idol worship- a sin that is far worse than adultery. But we know that this is not true. And even still if “honor” killing was truly about the honor of the family, why do we not see male victims? Does it not take two?

Is it that men have no honor to begin with? Is it that men are so weak and slutty that we cannot even bother with keeping them morally in line? Of course not, as we see in Islam men are told to be modest, not to ogle, or have inappropriate relationships just as much as women are told these things.  But culture so rarely holds men to the same standard that they hold women to.

Ownership

In combination with the fear of gossip, honor crimes are a function of some men’s deluded feeling that they have ownership over female bodies. I hate to break this news to the head of the tribe–Islam freed women from being thought of as property over 1400 years ago. I guess the news is slow to get to them in their caves. Furthermore, men do not even own their own bodies (if we had ownership over our bodies, would we allow them to age or get sick?). We belong to Allah not to each other. Quran 2:156 […]”say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.'”

And are we supposed to believe that being a murderer is more honorable that being related to someone who may or may not have had an inappropriate relationship with a man?

When women are murdered for seeking a divorce (divorce is completely acceptable in Islam); being raped (the rapist is the one who should be put down); for refusing an arranged marriage (forced marriages are not allowed in Islam); and even sitting next to a man (not a sin in the least!!), how can anyone claim this has anything to do with Islam? How can we sit by and not tell the truth that these women were terrorized and murdered for nothing more than ego?

I recognize that violence, murder and abuse are perpetrated within non-Muslim families in the West. It happens A LOT, unfortunately. My writing about the topic is not to say that the Western world is free from hate crimes committed against women. Not by a long shot. The Western world has its own glaring issues when it comes to the proper treatment of women and prosecuting crimes against them.

But this is not a game of pointing fingers. Get over yourself if that is your first reaction. My writing on this topic is to take the legitimacy of Islam away from those who commit these crimes against my sisters and point out blatant ignorance and backward cultural malarky that MUST be stopped.

Check out Part II where I destroy reasons people claim committing murder in the name of “honor” is Islamic.

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30 thoughts on “Take Back Islam: “Honor” Killing is Murder Part I

    1. Yes same here but that would actually leave nothing to fight about and human beings are probably the most un- peaceful living beings.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Anne Boyeln committed treachery against The King, which in The English Law had the punishment was execution by beheading, nothing to do with honor.

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    1. There was no evidence to prove that Anne Boyeln was actually committing adultery. There were only rumors, probably started by Henry himself. Is that enough to punish someone?

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      1. So we are going to reverse all of history to vindicate one women, who was malicious, vindicate and well aware of the stratagem she was involved and played by ? Sure Henry was a egoistical but Anne Boleyn was no angel. She played with fire and she got burned.

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      2. Good God, Hyde. I never thought you would be one to follow the narrative set forth by Hollywood or historical fiction authors. I wonder if you have studied this region of history as I have? If you had, you would know that most of what is popularly know about these historical figures is false. Marie Antoinette did not say let them eat cake. Napoleon was average height for a man of his time. Honest Abe told a lie every now and again. AND Anne Boleyn was not flagrantly open about love affairs and nor was there evidence to support any affair. Modern historians find the charges against her unconvincing, unfounded and fictional. I don’t really care if she is vindicated or not, all I am saying is she was killed for nothing more that rumor. Where was the evidence of her charges? Do you have it?

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      3. I beg your pardon ? I have only been interested in history since I was 12. Your right, there may or may not be cumbersome proof, but to think you use Anne Boylen as an example of “honor”…seriously ? It’s like when a mulsima “shiekha” used Akbar as example to discuss interfaith marriages. Seriously ?

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      4. The fact remains she was killed for rumors of infidelity, as social evil that still lives today. I never claimed she had any honor, but can her death be considered an “honor” killing? I think it can. Akbar? I don’t follow Bollywood or Indian culture. But there is a parallel in these cases. Both men of power, both used religious rules too loosely and as it suited them.

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      5. How many times in history have we noted that men were killed by women for committing adultery, cheating, soliciting or harming their relationships? There’s a very little % otherwise no men would be alive today!

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      6. See there’s my point. in some cases of honor crimes in Pakistan tribal areas when the local council declares both a man and a woman guilty, many a times the man gets away because he can pay the financial compensation to the local council (religious jirgas as they call them) and the woman is killed or abused.
        Falm-palming!!!

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      7. See, but most women do it because that is what the societal structure teaches me even without teaching/forcing/ implying but this is the subtlety of patriarchy. The glorification of the subjugation of women over centuries is celebrated, promoted and accepted.

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      8. @Sister East Go blame God which really is the ultimate enemy for feminists. And so you want to go on cheat, go on… don’t try to twenty years to change 50, 000 years of human history. Please start reading some anti-feminist critiques instead of throwing these immature lines 🙂
        @Sister Corbin IT WAS THE LAW OF THE LAND just as seti was in India for Hindos.

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      9. so being the law of the land to behead your wife base on rumors is right? So what is if was the law of the land?! Wrong is wrong. Jsut like the law of the land in India was seti, still Flippin WRONG! And if the Muslims decide to adopt seti and pretend it is also an Islamic practice, I will write an article to shut that argument down too. And no God is not the ultimate enemy of feminists. I agree that women need men and men need women, and saying let men figure it out is just that- a saying. This is not about man hating it is about pushing back and regaining our God given rights to have agency and to live in peace and safety. It is clear to me now that you misunderstand what is meant by feminism. You take it as a Western idea that dictates women leave the family unit and behave immorally. This is not what it means to most women, at all. You think in black and white in a world that is made up of many shades of grey. Don’t be so polarized.

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      10. subtlety of patriarchy only exists in your mind. You have an agenda as everybody else does, henceforth you will find any farthing in history to justify your argument.
        “glorification of the subjugation of women over centuries is celebrated, promoted and accepted”…. are you a 21 year old liberal zealot ? Because your comments are that immature wrapped up in a gift.

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      11. “so being the law of the land “…
        Seti was a Hindu religious rite; who are we to say what others are allowed to practice or not. For my knowledge, the Muslims in India never disallowed this practice they did not interfere in other people’s religious beliefs. Not to say that the practice was generally for the upper classes and women were often for it as well. (See The Far Pavilions).
        Very patronizing and presumptuous of you to think I do not know what feminism is? Feminism is defined differently by different people. So can zina, shirk, abuse, violence and dare I say honor. We can all live in 50 shades of gray, but then what is the truth? What are the standards? And if I am accused of thinking feminism in its most extreme “Western” form, then so are these “Muslim idiots”, who also think of “patriarchy” and traditions in its most vitriolic and debased forms. If a man smacks a woman, that does not mean he is doing so of “patriarchy”, “male dominance”, “religion”, etc. etc…he just might be mad.

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      12. Ooookkkkk. Did I say that I was going to make Hindus stop practicing their evil practice? No, I said that if Muslims start to claim it is Islamic I would call them out for their wrongness. Can I not call King Henry out for his evil? Why not? I also get the feeling that you think my argument over Anne Boleyn was pro-cheating, no, a million times no. The only argument I had was, were was the proof? If rumors are enough to get someone killed over then we would all be dead.
        If you only talk about feminism in terms of extremes, I am going to assume that is what you think. The standard is Islam. Let’s refer to the manual-quran and sunnah– from the creator–Allah. everyone else can argue over their own standards if they like.
        Yes, the man committing violence against a women might just be mad, doesn’t make it any less evil. And it is an even bigger problem when he feels he is justified for his violence because somehow he has ownership over her. You cannot deny that there is this standard in society.
        Men and women both commit evil and create social injustice. This is a fact and if we landed on our beachy Island planet far from men, I am sure the evil would begin when the first female foot was set on the sand. But the problem we are talking about here and now in this post is when men twist religion to claim rights they do not have over women. This is serious and needs to stop in a BIG, BIG way. If you have anything to say about that, feel free. Otherwise, your anger and inferences are making me tired so adios.

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      13. I shall wait for a more appropriate post to engage in on this particular topic again, but in conclusion, I am certainly no fan of King Henry, the infidel of ruining the Catholic Church to say the least, but at the same time, this purposed fanfare for Anne Boleyn is ignominious. If she was guilty or not, I hardly think she was this innocent woman portrayed by the modern feminists.
        Evil is strong for word, and this exactly what I mean, by using this pompous language… but I digress for now. In addition, let’s not go by standards in society, where the nanny state often acts as the surrogate father/husband for the woman (i.e. Ray Rice sandal), but again I digress.
        As far religion being manipulated, yes, it is and it must certainly be spoken about and acted on! I concurred wholeheartedly.

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  2. It a wonderful piece for Muslim in respective of ethnic background or position held in society.Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or say it-Malcolm X .

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    1. Exactly, wrong is wrong. God grant Malcolm X Jennah. Please feel free to share this piece if you think others could benefit from it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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