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A Part of Me Refused to Die: A Review

Last week we posted a podcast (listen here) about our experiences in abusive relationships and why sabr, or patience, does not mean that anyone has to put up with abuse as it is a type of oppression. 

This week, we are taking a glimpse into a marriage that is abusive in  A Part of Me Refused to Die, and discover that some abuse victims are caught between the oppression of culture the liberation of Islam. 

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Review by Janet Kozak

The autobiographical, A Part of Me Refused to Die, is a harrowing story of redemption in which the heroine ultimately decides to stay in an abusive marriage.

Penned by author Nisha Sulthana and published by the small but growing independent Islamic publisher, Niyah Press, it’s a real-life tale of love, devotion, and patience – all in the face of unrelenting physical and emotional abuse. However, more than a collection of moments, it’s a story of increased connection to Allah and a deepening of religious experience.

When we throw ourselves into Nisha’s tale, and into her shoes, we learn that her decision to stay is due in part to cultural restrictions and taboos surrounding divorce. Her decisions are a by-product of un-relenting South Indian 1960s and 70s social pressure to put on a happy face and push her sons to succeed in studies and other projects – even though Nisha and her three boys were suffering every day behind closed doors.

Read more

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Just a Peek, Please?

Written by Janet Kozak

In January 2015, Artist Ameena Khan put a call out to some Muslim women. She asked for art contributions to her newest series of paintings entitled “Just a Peek, Please?” Those who replied to her inquiry were asked to give a personal statement they wanted to share with a stranger.

Khan did not give any guidance other than asking them to be honest. What the women sent back were stories, memories, poems, and confessions.

Khan also asked those who wore hijab to donate a scarf that she could use in the work. It was bold choice that makes the art all the more powerful. Knowing that the included scarves belonged to (and were worn by) real women, helps us connect more to both the art and story. The series of 26 mixed media paintings on 12″x12″ canvases was started and completed in 2015 – though Khan began brainstorming the concept about two years prior.

One of the 26 paintings and poems in the series, Stages of Live, depicts the poignant narrative life story of a woman who is proud to both wear hijab in life and be buried in it as well.

Stages of Life, 2015. Image copyright Ameena Khan
Stages of Life, 2015. Image copyright Ameena Khan

When I donned the hijab in 1980, covering was like a carefully placed bandage over a deep wound. Since then I have covered at work, at school, while nursing my babies, through chemotherapy and radiation, and past hostile stares. In the end, when I return to Allah (SWT) my sisters in Islam will cover me in finality and with love. I live, and die, under this cover of honor.”

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Feminism: Hijacked by White, Middle-Class Women

Feminism: Hijacked by White, Middle-Class Women

What follows is a speech given by Myriam Francois-Cerrah on the problems with feminism as it is viewed from the lense of white middle-class women. Being a white, middle-class woman, a feminist, and a Muslim it feels strange to reblog this. But as Francois-Cerrah says, “If it takes my white privilege to amplify this message, at least it will have served one positive purpose in the broader struggle for human equality”.

myriamfrancoiscerrah

This is the transcript of a speech given by Myriam Francois-Cerrah in an Oxford Union debate on 12 Feburary. She was speaking in favour of the successful motion “This House believes that feminism has been hijacked by white middle class women”, alongside Ava Vidal and  Linda Bellos OBE. In opposition: Inna Schevchenko from FEMEN, Michael Kaufman and Natalie Bennett (Green Party).

Ladies and Gentleman, it is a pleasure to be here with you this evening.

I know, I know – the apparent irony of my being a white middle class woman who believes feminism has been hijacked by white middle class women will, I’m certain, not be lost on you.

But – it is in many ways a vindication of my case.

After all, I am a minority within my own community – unrepresentative of Muslim women either here or in the global south, in terms of my either socio-economic profile…

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The Muslim Woman’s Struggle: Diversity in Feminism Part II

The Muslim Woman’s Struggle: Diversity in Feminism Part II

Part I here

Written by Theresa Corbin, co-authored by Saadia Haq

A Voice from the West

Recently I have gotten a lot of heat for identifying as feminist and a Muslim. I did it very publicly so I am not surprised at the response. I am however, surprised that purported feminists had such a problem with my identity they have gone so low as to call me- a fellow woman they have never met or spoken to- a stupid cow (because having and exercising my basic human right to choose my religion makes me a farm animal), a moron, an attention seeking … fill in the blank …

Aaaand these “feminists” have even perpetuated a harmful female stereotype, by saying that my identity is the result of daddy issues, as if everything a woman does must have something to do with a male relationship- there is no emoji that exists that can express how massively I would like to roll my eyes at this.

But the lack of support-and virulent abuse-I received from my fellow “feminist” was so hideous that it made me wonder what exactly they think feminism is. I know for sure they had no idea what being a Muslim meant outside of what they hear about Muslims and Islam on the news, stereotypes, or from Islamophobic talking heads and reductionists (terrible sources, y’all!).

Then I realized that these ladies (and some men) were only upset because I challenged their misconceptions about what it means to be a Muslim woman, what is means to be a feminist, and by doing so I challenged their very identity (we often define ourselves by negation and not being validated pisses insecure people off). I realized this because I understand the rhetoric in American society and Western culture at large that Islam = bad for women.

The reason I realized this was because I too had many of the same misconceptions about Islam that these people have. That was before I knew what Islam is. You see, it is hard not to carry around these misconceptions when on a daily basis you are receiving messages from everywhere that hijab is a tool of oppression, that Muslim men are somehow more violent and domineering than their Western counterparts and that Islam is just more oppression of women under the guise of religion.

While there are problems that women face in terms of dress, male dominance and religion being used as a tool for oppression (that Muslim feminists are addressing), it is a fallacy to think that these things are only Eastern or Muslim problems as we see them play out daily among non-Muslims in the West. But the stereotypes persists and are amplified of late.

The roots of these stereotypes come from Orientalists’ intentionally mutilated understanding of Islam. And its feminist roots were planted by women like Carrie Chapman Catt and Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs, who travelled the world to unite women in the cause of equality and they should be celebrated for their efforts. But these ladies and many women like them couldn’t get over their own superficiality and arrogance. When they saw Muslim women dressing modestly in hijab, they took it as proof that men were using all they could including clothing to control women.

These feminists clung to their Orientalist understanding of Islam (some say it was only propagated to create reasons to colonize Muslim countries. i.e. Christianity good/Islam bad therefore, the more “advanced” Western Christians must “rescue” people from their “backwardness”) and they never once thought to ask the Muslim women why they cover their bodies the way that they do. Or even if it was something that Muslim women wished to do of their own accord. No, they just assumed it was because Muslim women were too weak or feeble-minded to even see how they were being oppressed. (See Unveiling Scheherazade)

These early feminists completely ignored the fact that these Muslim women used the public space and political forum to fight for their causes. These efforts were ignored because Muslim women weren’t fighting for the causes Western women thought they should be fighting for (removal of the veil). So they took it upon themselves to free these “poor” women from the things they didn’t need saving from and ignored the real struggles they faced. This was par for the course in Western colonial dealings with indigenous peoples.

and some are still at it.

I have felt this attitude and its far reaching effects through time and place in my own life. When I compare how I was treated as an identifiably white women to how I am treated now that I wear hijab, the difference is striking. I was, previous to my Islamic identity, treated like a competent, actualized, thinking human being. I was listened to and even sought out for my opinion. The story is totally opposite now that I am recognizably Muslim. Now I am often treated like a child, talked down to and even flat out ignored. So much so that I often wonder if I am invisible or on mute. I suffer from the legacy these first feminist left to future generations as to how to treat the “other”.

Sure, I know what you are thinking, feminists have moved past this type of thinking and acting. And I would have to agree with you that many modern, Western feminists have gotten past this. Some of my best friends are third-wave feminists. These ladies understand that each women’s struggle is her own and should be heard and dealt with in the way she wishes for her life.

And third-wave feminism arose partly-or largely, depending on whom you speak with- because of the failure of former feminists to understand that women are diversified and that women of all ethnicities, nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds are also entitled to equality and agency in the ways they see fit for their lives.

So why are so many feminist still stuck in first and second wave feminist thinking? It all goes back to what the media is selling and what the masses are buying. Stereotypes that is (definition- where a few cases are taken as representative of the whole. Thought it would be better to clear that up now instead of in the comments.)! They are sold fresh and hot off the presses daily. And this creates a weirdness where feminism is growing and supporting women in their choices, but many still cling to colonial mindsets that says to be actualized you must first be Western, White, and Christian (today that translates to: If not Western then at least westernized. If not white then at least whitewashed. And if not Christian then at least not Muslim). And if you “fall short” in any of those categories, you will be dismissed. It will be assumed that you are not capable.

In the Western culture, we have done little to address this arrogance in our thinking and we see it acted out by groups like FEMEN who wish to “save” and instruct the Muslim woman on what feminism really is. It is this idea that somehow someone else (here: FEMEN-style feminists) has a better understanding of what is best for you (here: Muslim women) than you do, that has a distinct smack of patriarchy by way of feminism.

Muslims women are not now and have never been interested in being told what our struggle is. We are not interested in being spoken for. We are not interested in being rescued.

Because the thing is that Muslim feminists have been doing a lot in terms of bettering our sisters’ lives, the lives of oppressed minorities and humanity at large, from within the framework of our faith. The thing is Muslim feminists have a lot more work to do in terms of being heard, gaining rights and ridding our lives of barbaric cultural practices. We just choose to do so in a way that WE see best.

Our struggle is real. And we understand it better than anyone else. We don’t need anyone adding to our struggle by judging us incapable based on the religion we choose, the hijab we wear or don’t wear, or the color of our skin. We don’t need to be reduced to nothing more than our scarves or dress code (a form of objectification and a huge obstacle within feminism). It makes our efforts ten times harder.  How can we engage at all if you treat us as lesser beings? Respect is critical and for all.

So if you are interested in supporting us in our struggle ask us how (see part I). If you are a non-Muslim who wishes to “enlighten” us as to what our religion is, we are not interested in your superficial reading of Islam or your condescension. If you are interested in telling Muslim women we cannot be feminists, understand that you have no right. If you are interested in telling Muslim women how to be feminist, know that you missed the point of feminism.

The Muslim Woman’s Struggle: Diversity in Feminism Part I

The Muslim Woman’s Struggle: Diversity in Feminism Part I

Part II here

Written by Saadia Haq, a Pakistani Human Rights worker, author at The Human Lens, and Muslim Feminist. Co-authored by Theresa Corbin

I find it very enlightening when Non-Muslims are frequently shocked at my ability to laugh loud, shout in public protests and say outlandish things, and be who I really am – Pakistani feminist Saadia Haq

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A Voice from the East:

Women across the world are still fighting for rights, as basic as the acceptance that women too are human beings. Be it American women, Ethiopian, Pakistani, and Cambodian and so on. Yes, white women are fighting for equal rights, likewise Muslim women are fighting for equal rights; but why can’t we work together?

We haven’t been able to work together because of the corrosive history within feminism itself. A big issue is mainstream feminism enforcing the one-size-fitsall feminist narrative on us all. (See part II for more on this history)

Now most dominant mainstream feminists enjoy a luxurious position that makes them feel a responsibility and in some cases-gulp- the right to speak for the silenced and oppressed women where a lot of focus is placed on “Muslim women.” The saving of Muslim Women syndrome is very much alive. And policing bodies of the “OTHER” that is “Muslim Women” is not new.

This I tell you from my own experiences of being a woman of color (brown), Pakistani, Muslim woman and feminist. To begin, with women of color feminists are quite rightly exhausted with the mainstream feminism’s tactics of controlling our bodies and life choices. Given the reality of this dismissive behaviour of leading mainstream feminists towards what we have made in bringing positive emancipatory changes in Muslim communities is a sign of arrogance that we can do without. We have been vocal with withering criticism for this “deliberate silencing” of our voices.

Secondly, it would not be wrong to tell you that many women of color and Muslim feminists are aware that love and respect is for white women only. We aren’t white and therefore we aren’t meant to be worthy of love and respect. We are relegated to fetishes and see all sorts of stereotypical imagery and media portrayal telling us so.

As a feminist that has been associated and struggled with several initiatives, I realized the nuances of religion, race, color and citizenship within feminism. There have been times when my Western feminist colleagues totally disregarded my opinions as if I had no mind of my own. And the icing on the cake has been the repeated dismissal and disbelief in my gender based research work, just because I am not white and I don’t have a fancy degree from Harvard.

Let me narrate an incident from 2008 while in Jordan where I represented Pakistan on a global assembly of ending violence against women. My paper focused on how cultural and socio-economic issues work behind honor related crimes in my country. Now this was an event where extremely distinguished and visionary academics were also a part of the panel.

After my successful presentation, which was applauded by dignitaries and acedemics and followed by an equally interesting Q/A round, things went down hill for me personally. I was questioned and interrogated on my research paper by several Western feminist participants. It was as if I was in a court hearing for some unknown crime that I had committed. At the end, I was made to understand that if this work had been presented by a white, Western feminist, it would have been acceptable.

This was not the first time this sort of thing happened to me and it wasn’t the last. But I did start thinking about the mainstream processes through which white women are created as social actors primed to reproduce racism within the feminist movement.

Another issue that comes across very strongly is the sleeping elephant known as “Third World Women” syndrome that systematically makes feminism bound within class and privileged. How so? The feministic theory all women are equal and all women deserve equal rights and benefits only works well for equality amongst white feminism.

I know for a fact that in all my time within the movement, I’ve worked with a variety of white-dominated feminist organizations where most white feminists held power and decision making positions. That also meant following without questions the campaigns decided by those in power, again a brutal reminder that we as Muslim feminists co-workers weren’t supposed to think and voice suggestions. I can safely say that the days of meekly following a dictator have long gone.

Then there are those who want my “token presence” in campaigns designed by them, and all I am supposed to do is fit in where they tell me. The fact that I don’t wear the hijab is another gleeful moment for my Western comrades. But after calling out FEMEN’s topless hijab “solidarity” controversy, I was dished out toxicity for months and remained a target of hate messages. But, you know I do have a mind of my own.

Honestly, I have sidelined myself from such “solidarity” because it doesn’t treat me equal and a lot of it does happen because of the color of my skin, even if people want to negate that. Mind it, Muslim women have a history of our own and this is ignored by many Western eyes.

Within the whole debate of “Leaning In” towards the mainstream feminism doesn’t settle well with Muslim feminism because despite being the same gender, there are other diversities at work. And how can we engage if we are treated as lesser beings? Respect is a two-way street.

I no longer feel comfortable to work with people who view me and other Muslim women as backward, helpless, and useless. It’s time we become more sensitive and inclusive of women to continue this battle for equal rights.

If Islamic Feminism and Muslim feminists are lagging behind and have short comings, this void is NOT going to be filled by mainstream feminism. One has to take into account that Islamic feminism is certainly reacting and broadening its horizons with critiques and the needs of Muslim women across the globe. It’s within itself too diverse to be lumped into one frame work.

Muslim feminism is continuing to react towards the traditional, non-historical understanding of Islam, which is refusing to recognize the more diverse, progressive and alternative understanding of Islam on women issues. And that is not all; Islamic feminism is also reacting to popular dominant Western feminist trends, according to which to be a feminist you have to be secular.

While we are battling on all turfs, home and globally we also acknowledge that there is a long history and current exclusion of the Muslim woman in feminist spaces.

Being a Pakistani feminist and outspoken critique on issues related to women and religion, I can give you what I think means to be an ally to us.

  1. Number One: Do not pity me or construct me as a victim and refrain from doing this to other Muslim women too. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s early portrayal was made to look like she was a victim of the bad religion Islam, and that she was provided “wings of freedom” in the West.

  1. Number Two: Let us, Muslim women define what liberation means to us, instead of coming down with the usual heavy whitesplaining and condescending. You see us walking away from FEMEN’s topless jihad for those very reasons.

  1. Number Three: Don’t at any stage of time assume that you have the right to speak out on some one else’s behalf. Yes, if I and others asked you to speak, please do it keeping in mind what we feel is best for us, instead of what you feel is best and right for us. Recall the problematic “the First World’s Third World Mona Lisa” – Afghani Sharbat Gula’s photograph.

  1. Number Four: And I cannot stress enough on this. Accept me as an equal despite the differences in our colors, religion and citizenships. Think again, authors Patricia Reott and Martin Reott’s book; Sharia Law: How to Control Women is quite an eye opener.

  1. Number Five: Again there is no compromise on this one. Please don’t force me to accept your arrogance and objectification of my body because it suits your purpose and because you have the power to get away with doing so. Shuddering at Lady Gaga’s “solidarity” in the form of “Do you wanna see me naked, lover? Do you wanna peek underneath the cover?”

  1. Number Six: Finally, don’t take away my agency and presume to dismiss my credentials because I am not into mainstream power positions. Recently, atheist academic Richard Dawkins spent devotional feminist energy in his white knight crusade against Islam and not allowing a Muslim feminist to be equal to him. After all, he belongs to a world, where Muslim women “need” Richard Dawkins to “rescue” the damsels in distress.

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

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

Honor does not include murder
graphic by Nicole Elmasry

Written by Theresa Corbin

In my previous post I wrote about how ridiculous is it to claim that “honor” killings are Islamic (Part I here) when they are in fact murder. The whole time I was writing I kept thinking: talk about the victims, tell their stories and speak out for their justice. I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t challenge the perpetrators of their murders. I wonder if the lives of these women could have been saved if their families really knew what Islam dictated, instead of their culture.

Would they be alive and happy today if only their families knew?

Forced into marriage

Would Shafilea Ahmed’s  parents still have murdered her  “because she failed to conform to their wishes for an arranged marriage and she allegedly ‘brought shame’ on the family” if they had known that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “A woman without a husband (or divorced or a widow) must not be married until she is consulted”?  (Sahih Muslim)

Would she be alive today if her parents had only read the Quran 4:19 “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will […]”

Or would it not have made any difference to their egos?

Choosing her own husband

Would Saba Maqsood still have been shot for marrying a man she loved if her family had been reminded that a woman has the right to choose her husband, as Khadija choose Muhammad (pbuh) and as many other female companions of the Prophet (pbuh) chose their husband?

Would the family of Saba still feel justified in their crimes against her if they had heard the hadith about a woman who  “came to the Prophet, (pbuh), and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet, (pbuh), allowed her to exercise her choice.” ? (Abu Dawud)

Or would they have still allowed cultural dictates to cloud their judgement?

Accused without evidence

"Honor" Killing

graphic by Nicole Elmasry

Would Ayah Ibrahim, still be with us if her uncle who imagined an inappropriate relationship between her and her fiance would have known that accusing women without evidence is a huge sin?

Would Ayah be married to her betrothed today if her suspicious uncle had read this verse of the Quran: “Indeed, those who [falsely] accuse chaste, unaware and believing women are cursed in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have a great punishment” 24:23?

Would her uncle have even cared?

Getting a divorce

Would Mona Mahajneh‘s brother still have shot her if he had known divorce is perfectly acceptable, if he had read one word about divorce in the Quran, if he had known the Prophet himself legitimized divorces between couples and even married a woman name Zaynab bint Jahsh who was divorced?

Would Mona still have been shot in front of her son if her brother wasn’t only concerned about cultural mores that only value a woman based on her virginity?

Being raped

Would the unnamed 10 year old Afghani rape victim still have to fear being killed by her family if they weren’t so horrifyingly ignorant, if they knew that it is the rapist that should suffer the death penalty and not the victim?

Would she have had a chance to heal from her attack if her culture was able to see her as a whole human being and not just a hymen?

I wonder if her father had been the one raped, would he find himself guilty of being impure and call for his own murder?

Having an inappropriate relationship

And would all the women who have been murdered for having a relationship with a man before marriage (real or imagined by family members), would they still be alive if their families had known that flirting, kissing, and even fornicating are not actions punishable by death? Would these women still be alive if their fathers, brothers, uncles were educated even a little bit in Islam and not so much in culture?

Would knowing the following hadith have changed their minds?: When a man approached the Prophet after having kissed a woman, seeking forgiveness and guidance.  God revealed to the Prophet the following  verse: “‘And perform the prayers, between the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds efface the evil deeds,’ (11:114). The man asked the Messenger of God ﷺ if the revelation of this verse applied only to his situation. The Messenger of God responded, ‘It applies to all my ummah [nation of Muslims around the world, male and female].’” (Bukhari)

Or would they still have clung to a false and paranoid idea of “honor”?

No honor in Murder
graphic by Nicole Elmasry

Would any of these women be victims today had their  family members truly known what Islam dictates? Or would cruel and irrational cultural practices have won out in the end anyway? Islam came to free us from these backwards, ignorant and evil practices, but still we find that many cling to culture over Islam, and still more claim their culture is Islam. In this willful ignorance women suffer, are murdered and are living in fear for no reason other than power plays, appearances, and egotism.

No more! It is time we educate ourselves and our families. It is time we pry culture away from Islam and know the difference, and know those who wish to abuse power falsely in it’s name. It is time we stop hiding behind culture and admit when wrong is wrong. It is time to expose the truth, save lives, and end these ignorant and detrimental practices. It is well past time to #TakeBackIslam

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Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.

 

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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