Why it matters that honor killing has Islamic sanction

“While the practice is not confined to a specific cultural group and has no links to Islam, there is ‘no question,’ Mr. Oppal said, the numbers of honour killings are higher in certain communities.”

No links to Islam? Really?

Consider these:

A manual of Islamic law certified by Al-Azhar as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (‘Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2).

In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. In accord with this, in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”

And related to the practice is this:

“The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the children, so thou shouldst not kill them unless you could know what Khadir had known about the child he killed, or you could distinguish between a child who would grow up to he a believer (and a child who would grow up to be a non-believer), so that you killed the (prospective) non-believer and left the (prospective) believer aside.” — Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4457

Khadir, or Khidr, figures in sura 18 of the Qur’an. He is traveling with Moses, and: “Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he [Khadir] slew him. Moses said: “Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard of) thing hast thou done!” Khadir replies: “As for the youth, his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man). So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection….” (18:74, 18:80-81).

Why does it matter that the practice of honor killing has Islamic sanction? Because if the roots of honor killing are never discussed and always ignored, the practice will never stop. Until the Islamic roots of the practice are discussed openly and human rights groups begin calling for reform, honor killings will continue in the Islamic world — and in Muslim communities in the West.

And the idea that this is a racial issue or racial term is absurd. Islam is not a race, and the victims of honor killing are Muslim women. It is racist now to want to protect Muslim women from being murdered?

“Confront “˜diabolical” practice: Oppal,” by Megan O”Toole for the National Post, July 24:

The term “honour killing” is not inherently racist and must be used to identify a “diabolical” practice that all Canadians should band together to oppose, says B.C.’s former attorney-general.

Wally Oppal, a former judge who has spoken out prominently against the practice of honour killing, was responding to criticism that the term unfairly points a finger at particular cultures, such as Islam.

“I don’t think it’s racist at all,” Mr. Oppal said. “This [practice] is absolutely disgusting. It’s abhorrent to our standards of decency and I think that we need to speak out about it. I don’t think we have to worry about cultural sensitivity when we discuss these things.”

Honour killing refers to a crime in which a male family member murders a female relative because he believes she has brought dishonour onto the family, often by dating someone of whom the patriarch disapproves.

While the practice is not confined to a specific cultural group and has no links to Islam, there is “no question,” Mr. Oppal said, the numbers of honour killings are higher in certain communities.

British Columbia’s Indo-Canadian community, for example, experienced a string of vicious attacks. In a matter of months, four women were killed by their husbands, another shot in the face and permanently blinded – all, many believed, simply because they were female and independent-minded.

“The fact is that we need to face these issues head-on and we need to deal with them,” Mr. Oppal said. “[The issue here is] violence against women, and all right-thinking Canadians should speak out against that.”

Indeed. But some would prefer to obfuscate:

Farhat Haq, an expert on honour killing at Monmouth College in Illinois, says there is a valid concern the term can demonize Islam. But provided religion can be recognized as wholly separate, the label is useful in underscoring the twisted values at the heart of such crimes, she said….

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