Honour Killings–Are they rooted in Islam?


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Paper Title: The Voice

My major paper for the Subject Women and the Family in Islam, at Fuller Theological Seminary, Fall 2013. Professor: Evelyne Reisacher

The thesis of this paper is to examine the claim that the gender issue of Honour Killings is rooted in Islam. It will propose a definition and look at the extent of honour killings, with specific stories from various countries. This paper will specifically hone in on the question, is there a basis for honour killings in the writings of the Qu’ran, Hadith or other Islamic writings? Additionally the general treatment of women by Islam will be discussed, looking to see if the teachings of Islam toward women set an atmosphere that is conducive to the flourishing of the killing of female family members. Prior to drawing the paper together in an action orientated conclusion, the paper will look at the missiological response of Christians to Honour Killings.

What is honour killing?

Honour killings are murders that take place generally by family members and perpetrated on, in the main, females. Fadia Faqir in his article Intrafamily Femicide:- in Defence of Honour, defines them as “the killing of women for suspected deviation from sexual norms imposed by society” (Faqir 2001:66). But it is more than the deviation from sexual norms – honour killings happen when these deviations are thought to bring shame upon a family. But it doesn’t even have to have occurred. Veena Meetoo and Heidi Mirza writing for the Social Policy Research centre at Middlesex University, says “Being suspected of sexual deviancy such as pregnancy outside of marriage or adulterous behaviour is also seen as enough to justify punishing a women” (Meeton V. Mirza H. 2007:187). Honour killings are specific to honour/shame based cultures or religions: Manar Hason writing in the Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture in an article titled The Politics of Honour, identifies the fact that when we speak of honour in an honour killing context it is referring to the honour of the family as a patriarchal unit. Honour he says “refers chiefly to the honour of males in the family: The maintenance of honour is the perpetuation of male control: an assault on honour undermines that system of domination” (Manar Hasan 2002:3). Although the focus of this paper is honour killings, there is a term Honour Crimes, that is closely related but broader than just killings. Ferri K Nesheiwat writing in the Penn State International Law Review says that the “condoned violence that exists under the Honour Crime umbrella includes murder, attempted murder, acid attacks and female infanticides” (Nesheiwat F. 2004:54). In 2000, the United Nations estimated that there were 5000 honour killings a year (United Nations Population Fund, 2000: 56), but Phyllis Chesler writing in the Middle East Quarterly, estimates that there would be that many women killed in Pakistan each year alone. (Chesler 2010:3). The number is hard to ascertain as one of the characteristics of Honour Killings, is that they often go unreported.

Honour Killings are on the increase and “have accelerated significantly in a 20 year period between 1989 and 2009.” (Chesler 2010:4) The world wide average age of victims of Honour Killings is 23 leading to the conclusion that this is a crime against young women. “Just over half of these victims were daughters or sisters and a about a quarter were wives or girlfriends, of the perpetrators.” (Chesler 2010:4) Here are some very sad statistics:-

· 72% of victims were killed by members of their family of origin

· 42% of victims were killed by multiple perpetrators.

· Worldwide, more than 50% were tortured, which includes being raped or gang-raped before being killed, being strangled or bludgeoned to death, being stabbed multiple times, being burned, stoned to death or beheaded (Chesler 2010:5)

Whilst Honour Killings are generally around immorality, adultery or rumoured immorality, there are stories of girls being killed for simply walking towards a house where single men lived, going for a walk without a father’s permission or dressing in jeans.

Honour Killing Stories

Pakistan: Two teenage girls aged 15 and 16 were shot dead by their step brother after a video of them dancing in the rain was circulated. The step brother, Khutore, during the investigation said he “considered the video an assault on the honour of his family” (Ron Crilly, The Telegraph 1st July 2013

Yemen: According to the Examiner.com website:- A father has just been arrested for burning his 15 year old daughter to death for speaking to her fiancé before their wedding day. He was quoted as saying that his daughter “had shamed the family with un-islamic behaviour.”

Iraq: Shyamalie Satkunanandan writing about honour killings in Iraq reports on the Wadi Online website: In February of this year, Sakas Hamadamin, a 28 year old school teacher, was shot and killed by her father for wanting to marry a man deemed unsuitable.

America. Reporting on the CBSnews.com, Lisa Freed and Jonathan Leach report: 20 year old College Student, Noor Almaleki was run over and killed by her father because he disapproved of her lifestyle.

Is there a basis for honour killings in the writings of the Qu’ran, Hadith?

First as a Westerner, we must understand that we see the world very differently to people who have been raised in a traditional Islamic culture. Our framework is very individualistic, where we see ourselves as being the complete controllers of our lives. We don’t grasp the reality of what it means to live in community and the breakdown of the family means that we no longer even really grasp what it means to be part of a functioning, healthy family. We like the idea that we are accountable to no one and the increasingly secularisation of western neo liberal democracies means that we have tricked ourselves into believing we are not even accountable to a higher authority such as God. Christine Mallouhi in her book Miniskirts, Mothers and Muslims says “Much of the failure of Westerners to grasp the underlying premises of Muslim culture results from our failure to understand and appreciate Muslim self perception” (Mallouhi 2004:21). Mallouhi identifies in her exposition of Islamic culture that unlike the West, “Islamic culture is deeply based on honour and shame” (Mallouhi 2004:23). Nesheiwat in the Penn State International Law Review says ‘In Islamic and Middle Eastern societies a distinct honor-shame culture exists wherein individuals derive their identity from their social group, especially their family and kinship network. The individual’s success is gauged by fulfillment of that social group’s expectations” (Nesheiwat F. 2004:55). Mallouhi makes the observation that “the central premises of the Muslim world is one of right conduct quoting from the Qu’ran “You are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and ye believe in Allah 3:110” (Mallouhi 2004: 22). She concludes by saying that ”a good image is very important in Muslim culture” (Mallouhi 2004:35).

To not conform to the norms of Muslim society is to be ostracized: which has tremendous economic and social implications. These economic and social implications add to the religious and cultural pressures already in the honour/shame mix, leading to honour killings not just being made in the name of Allah, but also in the name of Mammon. “Dishonour can so totally undermine a family’s economic status by ruining a husband’s reputation or the marital prospects of sons, that mothers sometimes do not interfere with the abuse or murder of their daughters” (Meeton V. Mirza H. 2007:191). Redjeb Tutku in a Dissertation, Violence Against Women: Turkey and the Economics of Honour Killings says that “virginity has become a valuable commodity that can be transferred from father to husband for a price” (Tutku 2013:47). Obviously then the pressure to guard this economic asset is significant and so fathers guard and brood over their daughters to ensure no flirting, no dressing inappropriately, no being soiled by westernisation and absolutely no falling in love and marrying the “wrong man”

One only has to take a casual look at the locations of Honour Killings to quickly jump to the conclusion that they are obviously deeply rooted in the Islamic world. In fact WikiIslam, The Online Resource for Muslims says that 91% of honour killings around the entire world are carried out by Muslims. Why are honour killings so prevalent in the Islamic world when the Qu’ran doesn’t specifically condone them? I will point out here that stoning of adulterers has been part of Sharia law every since the wife of the Prophet Muhammad, Aisha, claimed that a goat inadvertently ate up the Qur’anic verse sanctioning the stoning to death of a woman. It is worth noting here however, that there were no cases or honour killings in the early period of Islam according to the website Questions about Islam. There are however a number of verses that are used to provide Qu’ranic or Hadithic license for honour killings. These were all taken off the Answering Islam Website.

Surah 18, Al-Kahf (The Cave), verses 66 – 84, mentions that a boy was killed because he was about to bring his parents grief and dishonour through his unbelief. Muslim commentators are not in agreement whether the servant of Allah who murdered the boy was an angel or a prophet. The important fact is that Allah wanted him to be dead because the boy would bring future dishonour to them.

Surah 24, An-Nur, verse 2, the punishment for adultery is 100 stripes, but this is actually contrary to hadiths found in Sahih Bukhari, 2.413, 8.805, 814, and 819, where it is stoning to death.

Surah 4, An-Nisā’ (The Women), verses 34-35 state that men are in charge of women, being their protectors and maintainers. This sense of ownership and the pressure from Islamic culture to conform to social norms means that when a women steps out of line, there must be the resulting punishment.

Surah 4, An Nisa Verse 15 “If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four (reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them. Or God ordain for them some (other) way.”

Surah 17, Al-Isra (The Night Journey) Verse 32 “ Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).

Surah AL –Ahzab (The Combined Forces) Verse 33 “stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display.”

Hadith – Sahi Bukhari: 8:6814:

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari: “A man from the tribe of Bani Aslam came to Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] and informed him that he had committed illegal sexual intercourse; and he bore witness four times against himself. Allah’s Messenger ordered him to be stoned to death as he was a married person.”

Sahi Muslim No. 4206:

A woman came to the prophet and asked for purification by seeking punishment. He told her to go away and seek God’s forgiveness. She persisted four times and admitted she was pregnant. He told her to wait until she had given birth. Then he said that the Muslim community should wait until she had weaned her child. When the day arrived for the child to take solid food, Muhammad handed the child over to the community. And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al-Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on her face he cursed her.

Al-Bayhaqi:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O mankind! Beware of fornication/adultery for it entails six dire consequences: three of them relating to this world and three to the next world. As for the three that are related to this world, they are the following: it removes the glow of one’s face, brings poverty, and reduces the life-span. As for its dire consequences in the next world they are: it brings down the wrath of Allah upon the person, subjects him to terrible reckoning, and finally casts him in hell-fire.

Women and Islam – Negative

There are additional factors that have led to honour killings being an increasing part of Islam. Phyllis Chesler writing in the Middle East Quarterly in an article titled World Wide Trends in Honour Killings, identifies a number of these factors: “normalised child abuse including arranged marriages, sexual repression, gender separatism and the demands made by an increase in the violent theology of jihad” (Chesler 2010:7). The general way women are seen by Islam, I believe also contributes to the ease in which they are disposed of when they wander outside of the very strict sexual norms of Islamic society. Chesler called this “the devaluation of women and girls” (Chesler 2010:7). In Khaled Hosseini’s soul-piercing novel about life in Islamic Afghanistan, A Thousand Splendid Suns, the character Nana, a poor unwed mother, tells her five-year-old daughter, Mariam: “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam” (Hosseini 2007:7). Whether this negative view of women was the intention or not of the Prophet Mohammed the Hadiths that have arisen around Islam certainly interpret his writing that way. Before that issue is dealt with, I will suggest some Qu’ranic verses that do lean toward the conclusion that women are inferior, owned by men or need to be controlled. I will provide counter arguments though to bring a balanced analysis to this.

The Qur’an’s account of creation indicate that women are inferior to men as they were taken out of men – so males are the fullness of the creation and women are like a second generation photocopy of the original: Not quite the same quality. (Surah 7:189, 39:6). Melanie Adrian writing in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs has a counter opinion “Though Qur’anic verse 4:1 (Surah An-Nisa-Women) and Qur’anic verse 7:20–22 (Surah Al-A’raf -The Heights) are explicit about how human beings were created and how the first sin was committed, the story has often been used wrongly to portray women as inferior to men, a second sex and also sinners from birth” (Adrian Vol. 31, No. 3, September 2011:16).

Professor Evelyne Reisacher, the Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, in discussing Amina Wadud’s position on this issue in her Book Qur’an and Women, says “Wadud contends that Sura 4:1 and other similar verses (Sura 7:189) show that men and women were created from the same soul (nafs wahidan), same essence and therefore they are equal in the eyes of God. Other scholars like Rifat Hassan, Namet Hafez Barazangi or Nurjannah Ismail make the same claim. They believe that male and female were created from the same soul in pairs. This interpretation opposes female subordination.” (Week 2 Posting for MR557).

The Qur’an uses a possessive construct when talking about women – meaning they are possessions of men (Wadud 1999:32) and always when speaking of a woman – links her to a man (Wadud 1999:33). In Qur’anic verse 4:5 (Surah An-Nisa-Women), it says “Do not give the feeble-minded the property with which God has entrusted you for their support; but maintain and clothe them with its proceeds, and speak kind words to them.”

Voula Papas writing an Article titled Islam and Women’s Rights for the Atheist Foundation of Australia’s website, sums up her assessment of how women are treated by Islam by saying:-

Under the Shari’a, compensation for the murder of a woman is half the amount of that of a man. A woman’s testimony in court is worth only half of a man’s. Women are entitled to only half the inheritance of males; the reason given for these is that males have families to provide for. In sura 4:34 men are granted superiority and authority over women because they spend their wealth to maintain them, this implies that women are a burden on society and that their work in caring for children, household and livestock is insignificant and trivial.

In the Islamic world, scholars come out very strong in support of honour killings. Syed Kamran Mirza writing in a blog article titled Honor Killing is Absolutely Islamic, quotes the following Scholars:-

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “Adultery in Islam is one of the most heinous and deadliest of sins. Its enormity can be gauged from the fact that it has often been conjoined in the Qur’an with the gravest of all sins: shirk or associating partners with Allah.”

The Saudi Ambassador to London, Ghazi al-Qusaibi, says that stoning may seem irrational to the western mind, but it is “at the core of the Islamic faith.” An intellectual, the Saudi ambassador to London asserted that stoning adulterers to death is a legitimate punishment for society. He also says that Westerners should respect Muslim culture on this matter.

Women and Islam – Positive

Further to Islam’s treatment of women, Muhammad is reputed to have said that he had had a glimpse of Hell and that most of its occupants were women. Tradition in Islam also holds that women have 9 times the sex drive of men, which means they need to be controlled. This is one of mentalities that have seen Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is basically the removal of the clitoris as it is seen as the centre of a women’s sex drive, having such a strong hold in Islamic countries. FGM pre dates Islam but Islam now has adopted it as “the right Islamic thing to do”. I would transition this paper at this juncture by saying what Islam has done to FGM, it has also done to Honour Killings. The website All About Muhammad: Women Under Islam makes the following observation about Muhammad,

In his day, Muhammad would have been considered as one of the foremost advocates of women’s rights. In the 7th Century, before he gained control of the Arabian Peninsula, women of the region had even fewer rights than Muslim women today. Female babies were often buried alive, spousal abuse was the norm and women had no rights of inheritance. After revelations from Allah (Muhammad), infanticide was prohibited, spousal abuse was codified, and a female inheritor could obtain half that of a male beneficiary.”

Christianity and Honour Killings

To assist in the journey of discovery as to whether Honour Killings were rooted in Islam or more in Arabic Culture, I remembered some uncomfortable biblical scriptures that seemingly encourage honour killings.

Death for Adultery: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.(Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

Death for Fornication A priest’s daughter who loses her honour by committing fornication and thereby dishonours her father also, shall be burned to death.(Leviticus 21:9 NAB)..

We could also conclude that the very first example of an honour killing, although not involving the death of a human, was when Adam and Eve found themselves shamed and naked because of their sin and God killed an animal in order to restore their honour by taking away their shame. Genesis 3:21 21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Was there a precedent set right there in the Garden, that the shedding of blood restores honour? Was this precedent followed when Jesus died on the cross? In other words, is Jesus’ death an honour killing.

Reality is, Christian’s aren’t killing their wives when they commit adultery!

Honour Killings rooted in Culture

A.J. Almaney writing in the Management International Review in an article tilted Cultural Traits of the Arabs, cites a myth about Arab culture that “there are no common cultural traits among the Arabs and that there is no such thing as an “Arab Personality”” He goes on to say that from Baghdad to Marrakesh, “there is a common language, common faith, and a common historical and cultural tradition” (Alamney. 1981:13)

Taj Hargey, Director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in England says “There is nothing in the Quran that justifies honour killings. There is nothing that says you should kill for the honour of the family. This idea that ‘somehow a girl has besmirched our honour and therefore the thing to do is kill her’ is bizarre, and Muslims should stop using this defence,” He then continued in the article on the MECO website to defend Islam and say that Islam does not approve of honour killings but rather Arabic culture does. Hargey says “the practice is cultural, not religious in origin.”

The root of honour killings is centuries old and dates back to the Pre-Islamic era called Jahiliyah (Time of Ignorance before Mohammed). There is a crude old Arab Proverb that says “A man’s honour is found between the legs of a women” Originally honour killings were part of the Baluch and Pashtun tribal custom and were founded on the twin concepts of honour and commodification of women. Neshay Najam writing on Honour Killings in Pakistan on the Islamic Awareness Website “The Pashtoon have codified the honour system in the Pashtoonwali, it revolves around four concepts: ‘malmastya’, the obligation to show hospitality; ‘badal’, revenge; ‘nanawaty’, asylum; and ‘nang’, honour.  A man’s property, wealth and all that is linked with these is a sum total of his honour value.” This linkage is the point that gives birth to honour killings. If a man’s honour is believed to be found between the legs of a woman, it is up to the man to protect his honour by controlling his women. Due to the fact that women were commodified, ie, a daughter’s virginity was transferred to a future husband through the payment of a bride price – the spoiling of a woman’s purity, through adultery, fornication, rape, or anyone of these rumoured, “a woman loses her inherent value as an object worthy of possession and therefore her right to life.  In most tribes, there is no other punishment for a woman accused of ‘illicit’ sex but death.” (Gill 2006: Vol 1 Issue 1 Jan P68)

Irshad Manji, the author of Allah, Liberty and Love: Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom, said there was another conflict at work in honour killings. It is “a tribal tradition that emphasizes the family or the tribe or the community over the individual” (Manji 2011:63). We in the West just don’t have this worldview. Manji being interviewed on CNN went on to say “Although the practice (Honour Killings) may not be Islamic, not all Muslims understand the distinction. It is a problem within Islam because of how Muslims often confuse culture and religion.” This seems to be the crux of the problem. Muslims have interpreted Arabic cultural traditions as Islamic when in essence these cultural traditions should be separated out. Manji’s final comment to CNN on their Belief Blog Website was “It’s Muslims who have to learn to separate culture and religion. If we don’t, Islam will continue to get the bad name that it gets”

Indonesia is the world’s most populated Muslim nation with 250 million people. Interestingly, Indonesia experiences very little honour killings. Interesting because Indonesia is a non Arabic Muslim nation, thereby adding weight to the argument that honour killings, originating in Arabic tribal culture have found a resting place in skewed Islamic teachings that have become almost a non sanctioned but popularly held Islamic tradition or Hadith. The Australian Refugee Review Tribunal writing on the UNHCR website “Information was found to indicate that honour killings, those that are commonly associated with tribal cultures of the Middle East, rarely occur in Indonesia.” This thought was further backed up by Azyumardi Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta, Indonesia, quoted on the CNN’s Belief Blog website: “No such a practice (Honour Killings) can be found among Indonesian Muslims.

Honour Killings in Europe

A strong case can be made that the concept of honour killings are in fact based in the birth place of European law – Rome. IJaz Ahmad on the website Muslim Debate Initiative, introduces this concept by stating that “Roman society at one point in time functioned on the socio-cultural institution known as pater familias, commonly translated as “father of the family“. In this tradition, the father is seen as the head of the household, the person with the most authority.” With this patriarchal concept in mind we find the first justification for an honor killing in Roman Legalistic Tradition, some 300-400 years before the Prophet Muhammad. Bruce Frier and Thomas McGinn in a Casebook on Roman Family Law put this quote forward as they build a case for Honour Killings in Roman Law. “The Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus (coreign: A.D. 175–180) sent this rescript: “If a husband, borne on a flood of anger, kills his wife whom he catches in adultery, he will at least not receive the penalty of the lex Cornelia on murderers” (Frier and McGinn 2004:114). The basis for this thought is found in a quote further along that says “When a man does not deny that he killed his wife whom he caught in adultery, capital punishment can be remitted, since it is very hard to restrain legitimate anger” (Frier and McGinn 2004:114.) Very hard to restrain legitimate anger? Men making laws for men who have been cheated on. Making legal opportunity for these cheated men to bring down brutal and swift punishment on the woman who has rejected him. Is this a case of brutal Rome, protecting the bruised egos of their men?

Tom Holmberg, writing on The Napoleon Series website, says that the Roman thought was carried over into French Civil Code, “A man who, in a fit of passion, murdered his spouse in flagrante delicto was guilty of no crime. A woman in the same situation was subject to the rigors of the law.” Interestingly in the Journal of Transitional Law and Policy, Dan Stigall says that the Ottoman Empire tended to blend French and Islamic law, but Egypt, who are very influential across the Islamic world, totally embraced French Law. (Fall Vol 16:1 2006 P9)

Drawing this section to some kind of conclusion, the evidence points to honour killings being centred in Islamic countries based in the Arabic Middle East. These countries not only had honour killings in the culture of their tribal birth place, but they seemingly have skewed Qu’ranic and Hadithic teachings to fit these residual tribal leanings. Additionally, Roman law, passed down through the French conquest of Egypt, provided historical legislation that enshrined in law the killing of adulterous women. To get your head around this: a women caught in adultery has tribal cultural reasons why she should be killed, religious writings why she should be killed, religious traditions on why she should be killed, and 1000 year old legislation enshrining in law why she should be killed.

A Christian’s Missilogical Response

How should Christian’s respond to this issue of honour killings? First there needs to be an awareness of the extent of the issue and a broad understanding of the roots of honour killings. For a Christian to humbly understand that seemingly in the Old Testament honour killings were part of the Sinatic Legislation given to the Children of Israel is also a good starting point. Additionally there needs to be a wide disconnect away from making inflammatory and ignorant comments that stereotype Muslim people as “wife killers” and the like. During the many hours or research and reading that I undertook for this paper, I read some shockingly offensive articles and comments about Muslims and Islam in general, from apparent Christians. In my experience no positive influence happens through causing offense, however the more I understand about Muslim culture, the more pathways are opened up for me to be able to connect and development relationships with my fellow human beings: who are right now, believers in Islam.

Christians can also respond through the petition of Governments and/or involvement in political advocacy groups, to bring about a change in laws that go soft on the perpetrators of family murders. If these murders are part of the cultural context in which a Christian is living, the establishment of shelters for Muslim women and girls, can give a safe place for these women and girls to flee to. Of course if this is not the context that a Christian is living in, such as I find myself in Australia, then the donation of finances to such shelters in Muslim countries is equally effective.

Finally, as Jesus placed great value on women as He walked the earth, we too as Christians can mirror that in a number of ways: How we treat Muslim women when we meet them, the respect we show for them and their culture, being an advocate for women’s rights, championing the education of women, particularly Muslim school girls and of course, we can pray for them.

Conclusion

Honour Killings are a tragic response by a family member when another family member strays or apparently strays from the Arabic Islamic cultural norms. With official figures at 5000 women a year being killed and unconfirmed suggestions that the figure is 4 times that, a voice must be given to those who have no voice. This paper is part of that voice. It has traced the roots of honour killings not only back to Pre-Islamic Arabic Culture, but also back through French influenced Egyptian Law, where the French ultimately were influenced by Rome, who legislated that it was ok to kill your adulterous wife. Additionally the fusing together of cultural influences into what is deemed “Islamic” as well as some common interpretations of Islam that devalues and commodifies women mixed into a culture that is Shame/Honour based, has cemented honour killings into Arabic Muslim Culture. Indonesia stands as an example to the rest of the Islamic world, that you can be strictly Muslim and not be involved in honour killings. The key thing here is that Indonesia is not an Arabic nation. So to answer the thesis of this paper:- Are Honour Killings rooted in Islam? The answer is both yes and no. I started this paper with a tale of two wives. But it’s also a tale of two religions. It could also be a tale of two testaments – the Old Testament and the New Testament. It’s a tale of law and grace. My prayer for Islam is that it will know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

You may also be interested in my other papers:

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Papas, Voula. Islam and Women’s Rights. Atheist Foundation <http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/islam-and-womens-rights/> Last Viewed 11th November 2013

Petersen, Freya 2012. Taliban Publicly Execute Woman Accused of Adultery. Global Post Afghanistan. <(http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/120708/taliban-afghanistan-public-execution-adultery)> Last viewed 19th November 2013.

Satkunanandan, Shyamalie. The Stories Behind Rania’s Honour Killings. Wadi Online

<http://en.wadi-online.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1039:the-stories-behind-ranias-honor-killings&catid=11:analyse&Itemid=108> Last viewed 15th November 2013

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

Tutku, Redjeb 2013. Violence against women: Turkey and the economics of honor killings

NY: ST Johns University

Wadud, Amina. 1999 Qu’ran and Women. Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective. NY:Oxford University Press



Categories: Political Commentary or Thoughts, Theology, Topics to wrestle with

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. very interesting… it makes me wonder how God will judge it all. Clear & well written.

  2. Peter. I enjoyed reading that paper. You dismiss many fallacies spread about muslims without denying the facts. Well done mate.

  3. Christianity went through a similarly barbaric phase in the Middle Ages, a millennium after Christ had put to us the New Covenant. We, inappropriately, shroud that period of history with the inappropriate epithet, “The Age of Chivalry”. Under that cloak of tacit sanction we saw several Holy Crusades that destroyed the Arabic Muslim culture of refined science, poetry, astronomy, medicine and law. I would like know whether you felt the intervention of the Crusades has, of itself, caused the peculiar interpretation of the Koran seen in the Middle East?

  4. Hi Pete,
    I appreciate your critical approach and balanced representation. I did want to ask about one portion of the article, referring to the influential nature of Egypt over other Arab nations. My understanding is that Pan-Arab nationalism can primarily be credited to Gamal Abdul Nasser in the period of 1940s and 50s, particularly following the Suez Crisis and the partition of Palestine. He became the figurehead for a Pan-Arab nationalism and it was the first time that there was an official Arab league, despite the fact that there had been a call for unity for several decades before this. What interests me about your analysis regards the statement about Egypt’s influence over other Arab nations and their embrace of French law, which included an unequal distribution of legal rights between men and women around murder and adultery. If Egypt’s main period of Pan-Arab influence lasted for around two decades, is this when you see this cultural influence around honour killings as primarily taking place? Was there a sharp increase in honour killings after Nasser’s establishment of a Pan-Arab mentality or is there an older history and another, earlier period of Egyptian influence within a united Arab nation collective? I find it really insightful to make the distinction between a distinctly Arab culture and the religion of Islam in examining honour killings.

    Molly Moyes

    • Hi Molly. Thanks for your comments. Wow you are really across the Egyptian influence in the Middle East. I must confess, that one line comment in my paper is more anecdotal. I know a number of church leaders in Egypt who speak of the Egyptians influence in the Middle East:- something that I saw verified through the Arab Spring.

  5. Sadly, I think in any home where honour killings occur I believe abuse has already been occurring. It seems there is no fair trial before the killings either since a woman testimony is only half that of a mans. You’d think that by now they’d see the fallacy in believing woman have a stronger sex drive then men. I mean look at the world men by the billions going to prostitutes not the other way around. And are there woman with multiple husbands. Like there are in some countries, no. Sign a petition sure,
    are there any?

  6. Ow & by the way aboriginal culture for adultery the husband has the right to kill the adulterer. At last somebody is dealing with the man.

  7. Hi Peter. I have just read your paper on Honour killings. Whereas the tradition may be based more strongly in The Arabic cultural roots of Islam as opposed to its’ outworking in Indonesian society, the fact remains that the basis of Islam itself is Arabic. Even most Egyptians are Arabs and their scholars are the most highly venerated throughout the Muslim world
    Portions of the Quran I have read, plus a few commentaries, certainly give the impression of a religion which is highly misogynist and O.T. in style. It has not had a revelation of grace but is totally works based and fear driven.
    Life for all religious minorities living in majority Muslim nations is a nightmare. One of my College students is Pakistani Christian with many a horrific tale to tell.
    Another of your observations I would agree with is the difference in mindset between Muslim and Western Christian. The open door policy of Europe, led by Angela Merkel, is an insanity of misunderstanding, which will eventually lead to the Islamization of that continent (or civil war), including honour killings, which occur there already.
    The liberal progressive mind, while perhaps altruistic, is nevertheless quite foolhardy. In the West we judge by our own standards, particularly the concept of tolerance. This in turn is translated into licence on every level.

  8. Pete,

    The definition I found for honour killing was “the killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonour on the family”.

    If it’s the death of one “perceived to have brought dishonour on the family”, then as Jesus didn’t bring dishonour to the family, rather dying for His family who brought Him dishonour, that wouldn’t be seen as an honour killing would it?

    Also God is Holy, and Israel was to be holy (morally and spiritually excellent). So as I see it the reason given for the death penalty supports this as the reason, when it is given, is to “purge the evil” from within Israel (https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/phrases/Purge-The-Evil). Similarly the Church is to be Holy but as the death penalty is a civil responsibility our requirement (as Paul said to the Corinthians) is “not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person”.

    Unfortunately, though they may not be in the Church, this still leaves the evil in our society and we’re seeing the results of that it seems. Or maybe we’re just seeing the results of what happens when the Church doesn’t resist evil?

    As for the death of animals restoring honour, didn’t the blood of the animal sacrifices just cover sin till the Lamb of God was sacrificed, Jesus, whose blood washed away our sin?

    Anyway enough ramblings,
    Blessings.

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