By Ali Sina
My co-worker and I are hoping that you can clarify for us exactly where in
Islam honor killings fit in. Is this an Arab cultural thing, or is it
covered by wife beating etc. ?
killing is neither in the Quran nor is it specified in any hadith. It is
however the natural outcome of the Islamic ethos of misogyny.
in Islam are regarded as sources of shame. Muhammad said they are awrah
which can be translated as object of shame.
"Ali reported the
Prophet saying: 'Women have ten ('awrah). When she gets married, the
husband covers one, and when she dies the grave covers the ten."
is awrah? The Encyclopedia of Islam defines 'awrah as pudendum, that is
the external genitals, especially of the female. So awrah signify an object of shame that needs to be
According to the following Hadith, women not only have ten 'awrah, but
the woman herself is perceived as 'awrah:
"The woman is 'awrah. When she goes outside
(the house), the devil welcomes her."
a woman loses her awrah by e.g. through rape, she becomes the object of
shame for her family and the only way to remove that shame and restore the
honor is to remove that defiled woman.
you can say honor killing is cultural, but it is a culture that is deeply
rooted in Islamic mindset and derives from it. It is practiced in all
Islamic countries. The more religious is a country, the more is widespread
the honor killing.
are asked to; ďstay quietly in your houses, and
make not a dazzling displayĒ
woman who transgresses these orders becomes the source of shame to her
family. She will not be marriageable, she and her family become the object
of gossip of everyone. The entire family can lose prestige. No one would
give a daughter to the brothers of that girl in marriage and no one would
marry her sisters. The family and even the extended family are maligned
and become outcasts. This can only stop if the family cleanses that stain
with blood. The woman thus defiled must be sacrificed even if she is a
victim of rape.
you donít have to be raped to become an exposed awrah and bring shame to
your family. If you disobey your father who has consented that you marry a
certain person you dishonor him. If you escape from your home for
any reason including abuse, you have brought shame to your family and you
could be haunted by your own brothers or even your mother and killed.
If you reject a suitor, his pride can be injured and he may feel the urge
to throw acid at your face to avenge and restore his honor.
you are a female you have to remember that you have brought shame and
disgrace to your father and everyone else in your family the day you were
born and you must cover this shame, You are awrah, a pudendum, something
to be ashamed of, something to hide. When you go to your husbandís house,
your parents can breathe a sigh of relief. But from there on you become
the awrah of your husband. Only the grave will cover all the shame that
you have brought to this world. But as long as you are alive, it is your
religious duty to be modest and cover this shame and not disgrace your
qayyuums (male guardians). Your male kin, (father, brothers, husband, sons
and even uncles) are your qayyuums and you are their awrah. If you make a
dazzling display of yourself, the honor of all these "honorable"
male relatives is injured and all of them have a right to burry you to
restore their honor.
Muslim men have very low self esteem but they compensate the
smallness of their selfhood by inflating their ego. If you are a women
related to them, they feel as if they own you. Whatever you do affects
their gigantic ego. They are possessive and feel dishonored if you make a
"dazzling display" of yourself. And of course if you are
deflowered, this is an affront to their humongous pride. The damage is
irreparable and the only way to restore that pride is to get rid of
killing is theoretically against the law in all Islamic countries, but
generally the sentences are light. Often they are a year of jail or only a
few months. The judges are very "understanding" and sympathize
with the killers who are also grieving for the loss of their loved one.
Most likely the Judges would do the same in similar situations. Everyone
agrees that this is a very unfortunate situation that has no other
solution but taking the life of the poor girl. Often the brothers and the
parents hug the lifeless cadaver of their victim and cry bitterly after
stabbing her to death or strangulating her. They don't listen to her
pleading and begging to spare her life, but sure they cry profusely for
her after they kill her.
the bright side, if you survive all this, manage to go to your husbandís
house and bear him sons, you are set. From there on, and proportionate to
the number of sons that you have brought to this world, you gain prestige
and respect. Maybe by the time you are a middle aged woman, your sons are
strong and your husband is a crippling old man, you can even bang on his
head and insult him to the delight of your heart. But you must have your
sons on your side to stand behind you at all times. This is a delicate
political maneuver that you have to plan for from early on. Then you can
be the despot and your aging hubby becomes your vassal. Alas
only a few women can savor this sweet taste of success. But those who do
it, do it very well.
well, Allah's "Grace is (entirely) in His Hand,
to bestow it on whomsoever He wills". Quran 57:29
you for explaining this point in such great detail. There is, however, one
point I am still not clear on ;can you please explain to me the dementia
which would permit a BROTHER TO RAPE HIS SISTER and then lead the mother
to kill her own daughter to regain honor. Silly me ,I thought the dishonor
was on the brother's head.
are many things in Islam that you, I or no one else understands. In such
cases we have to say, "Allah knows best" and stop thinking. If
you follow this advice, Islam will make perfect sense to
Kanz-el-'Ummal, Vol. 22, Hadith No. 858. See also Ihy'a
Latin pudendum (literally) a thing to be ashamed of
Ihy'a 'Uloum ed-Din by Ghazali, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah,
, Vol II, Kitab Adab al-Nikah, p. 65. Reported by Tirmizi as a true
and good Ahadith.