Islam is not the Cause of Honor Killings. It’s Part of the Solution

honorkilling

By Dr. Jonathan Brown

This part of the history of honor killings you’re unlikely to read or hear about. In 1947 in the British colony of Nigeria, English judges had to overturn what they viewed as the backwards ruling of a local Shariah court. A man had been sentenced to death for murder, but the British superior court pointed out that it had been a crime of passion. The man had killed his wife’s lover. The Shariah court had been unimpressed by this excuse, but the British court decided that the murderer did not deserve to die. Yes, you read that correctly. A Shariah court, applying Shariah law, did not buy the ‘crime of passion’ argument that has long served as a justification for honor killings. The British court did.

Honor killings are never far from the headlines. The Islamophobic Clarion Fund even released a documentary called Honor Diaries, which repeats the accusation that Islam supports honor killings and that these acts of violence are endemic to Muslim societies.

But the truth of the matter is that honor killings are not caused or encouraged by Islam. Honor killing, despite the popular rhetoric around it, is not even a problem specific to Muslims. Its most concentrated and serious occurrences don’t involve Muslims at all. This ignorance about Islam’s teachings and the realities of violence against women has serious costs. First, blaming honor crimes on Islam antagonizes Muslims unnecessarily. It feeds the narrative, prevalent in many Muslim countries, that dismisses human rights as a proxy for Westernization and cultural imperialism. Second, sensationalism over Islam deflects from a reality that many men are loath to admit: that violence against women is a global problem with roots much deeper than the doctrines of one religion or the features of one culture. It needs to be addressed as such. Finally, obsessing over Islam’s alleged acceptance of honor crimes blinds Muslims and non-Muslims to the condemnation of these crimes in Muhammad’s teachings and the Shariah.

The tragedy of violence directed at women because they are women is far too widespread and long-lived to be the product of any one religion or even one culture. Though it takes different shapes and appears with varied frequency from region to region, it afflicts all societies. Patriarchal societies (i.e., all societies to one degree or another) sometimes ‘justify’ some of this violence as the consequence of rage triggered in ‘crimes of passion.’ Other forms of violence against women, such as honor killings, can involve premeditation and even the coordination of several people, including women related to the victim. In those parts of the world plagued worst by violence against women, legal systems tend to offer official or unofficial leniency for the men who commit it.

Honor crimes are only part of the larger phenomenon of femicide, or the murder of a woman for some reason associated with her gender. The women and girls who are the victims of such violence are attacked because they are perceived to have violated some profound expectation of how women are supposed to act in their society. In the Mediterranean region, especially the Middle East and North Africa, as well as South Asia, affronts are to the ‘honor’ of the woman or her family. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has conservatively estimated that at least 5,000 women a year globally are victims of honor killings. In India and Pakistan, this often entails a daughter or sister being killed for falling in love with a man without parental approval and occurs amongst Hindu and Muslim populations alike. Femicide takes other forms elsewhere. A 2012 UN report details how in parts of southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia hundreds of women are killed each year after being accused of witchcraft. Their killers receive lighter sentences with alarming regularity.

Despite the media attention they receive, honor killings are not the most prevalent type of femicide. The number of honor killings, whether in Muslim countries or elsewhere, pales in comparison with the most serious form of violence against women, namely dowry killings among India’s Hindu population. Dowry killings, the murder of a wife by her husband or his family, often by burning, for her failure to provide a large enough dowry payment to her husband’s family, ceasing dowry gifts or merely for falling short of expectations in her wifely duties, have occurred in shocking numbers. A 2012 UN report observed that 8,383 known dowry murders occurred in India in 2009, up from 4,836 in 1990. Though the Indian government outlawed dowry giving decades ago and identified dowry murders as a criminal problem, dowry giving remains an important custom and the suspicious death of wives is rarely investigated. The police often dismiss these deaths as kitchen accidents.

Islamophobic organizations point out that Islam and the laws of Muslim countries excuse honor killings or treat them lightly. On the second point they are correct. Such laws are a problem, and one that seems to have proliferated in the Middle East. In Egyptian law, a man who kills his wife and/or her lover after catching them ‘in the act’ (in flagrante delicto) is only punished with prison as opposed to the death penalty. Morocco, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Oman, the UAE, and Jordan’s laws extend drastically reduced penalties for the murder of any female relative (and their lover) that a man finds in such a situation (though the UAE and a 2001 update to Jordan’s laws allows the same excuse for a woman who finds her husband in bed with another woman).

But none of these laws has any basis in the Shariah or Islamic teachings. In fact, they were originally imported from the West. Criminal law in the Middle East today was shaped by the Ottoman Criminal Code of 1858, which was issued as part of the failing Ottoman Empire’s efforts to imitate its European rivals. The Code was little more than a translation of the French Criminal Code of 1832, copying word for word its lax punishment for honor crimes. This is still evident today in the laws of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and to a lesser extent Morocco (never part of the Ottoman Empire), which read like literal translations from the French. The French and Ottoman law codes also served as the major inspiration for Egypt’s law as well.

Read the rest of the article from Yaqeen Institute

Some Intresting Facts About Islam in the United States

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Following are details about Islam in America which I found very interesting in the Wikipedia article Islam in the United States. The sources for the facts are given in the original article on Wikipedia. I’ve only hand picked certain facts which I found intriguing. Some of the facts are from other articles linked from this original piece. I haven’t really found anything which seems way too out there but if someone does, then please let me know in the comments section below and I will be more than happy to remove it. Please let me know the source as well.

  • It is the third largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism.
  • According to a new estimate in 2016, there are 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States, about 1% of the total U.S. population
  • Muslims are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the United States.
  • Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who make up about a quarter of the total Muslim population.
  • One of the earliest accounts of Islam’s presence in North America dates to 1528, when a Moroccan slave, called Estevanico by his Spanish masters, was shipwrecked near present-day Galveston, Texas. He and four survivors subsequently traveled through much of the American southwest and the Mexican interior before reaching Mexico City.
  • One of the first documented Muslims in North America was Anthony Janszoon van Salee (1607–1676), a landholder and merchant of mixed Dutch-Moor descent who settled in New Netherlands (modern New York) in the 17th century. His father, Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, was a convert to Islam and tried very hard to convert his fellow Europeans who were Christian to become Muslim and was a very passionate Muslim missionary. Anthony had four daughters and one of them was named Sara, who married John Emans. They are fifth great-grandparents of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1921, until his death. Anthony’s notable descendants include the Vanderbilt dynasty as well, who were once the wealthiest family in America. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest American in history until his death in 1877. After that, his son William acquired his father’s fortune, and was the richest American until his death in 1885. The Vanderbilts’ prominence lasted until the mid-20th century. Branches of the family are found on the United States East Coast. Contemporary descendants include fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, her youngest son, journalist Anderson Cooper, musician John P. Hammond, screenwriter James Vanderbilt and actor Timothy Olyphant.
  • Records from the American Revolutionary War indicate that at least a few Muslims fought on the American side. Among the recorded names of American soldiers are “Yusuf ben Ali” and “Bampett Muhamed”.
  • Historians estimate that between 15 and 30 percent of all enslaved African men and less than 15 percent of the enslaved African women were Muslims. These enslaved Muslims stood out from their compatriots because of their “resistance, determination and education”. Some newly arrived Muslim slaves assembled for communal salat (prayers). Some were provided a private praying area by their owner.
  • The two best documented Muslim slaves were Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Omar Ibn Said. Suleiman was brought to America in 1731 and returned to Africa in 1734. Like many Muslim slaves, he often encountered impediments when attempting to perform religious rituals and was eventually allotted a private location for prayer by his master. Omar Ibn Said (ca. 1770–1864) is among the best documented examples of a practicing-Muslim slave. He lived on a colonial North Carolina plantation and wrote many Arabic texts while enslaved. Born in the kingdom of Futa Tooro (modern Senegal), he arrived in America in 1807, one month before the U.S. abolished importation of slaves. Some of his works include the Lords Prayer, the Bismillah, this is How You Pray, Quranic phases, the 23rd Psalm, and an autobiography. In 1857, he produced his last known writing on Surah 110 of the Quran. In 1819, Omar received an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible from his master, James Owen. Omar converted to Christianity in 1820, an episode widely used throughout the South to “prove” the benevolence of slavery. However, some scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible.
  • Prior to the late 19th century, most documented non-enslaved Muslims in North America were merchants, travelers, and sailors.
  • In 1785, George Washington stated a willingness to hire “Mahometans,” as well as people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were “good workmen”.
  • In 1776, John Adams published “Thoughts on Government,” in which he mentions the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a “sober inquirer after truth” alongside Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and other thinkers.
  • In 1797, President John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, declaring the United States had no “character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen.”
  • In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he “did not disapprove” of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”
  • On December 9, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson hosted an Iftar dinner at the White House for his guest Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from Tunis.
  • Thomas Jefferson defended religious freedom in America including those of Muslims. Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia.
  • The first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation was the Sultanate of Morocco, under its ruler Mohammed ben Abdallah, in the year 1777. He maintained several correspondences with President George Washington. In December 1777, Moroccan sultan Muhammad ben Abdallah included the United States of America in a list of countries to which Morocco’s ports were open. Morocco thus became the first country whose head of state publicly recognized the new United States. Relations were formalized with the Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship negotiated by Thomas Barclay, and signed by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Muhammad ben Abdallah in 1786.
  • Among South Asians in the country, the large Pakistani American community stands out as particularly well educated and prosperous, with education and income levels exceeding those of U.S.-born whites. Many are professionals, especially in medicine (they account for 2.7-5% of America’s physicians), scientists, engineers, and financial analysts, and there are also a large number of entrepreneurs.
  • The number of mosques in the United States in 2011 was 2,106. The six states with the greatest number of mosques were: New York 257, California 246, Texas 166, Florida 118, Illinois 109, and New Jersey 109.
  • Muslims in the United States have increasingly made their own culture; there are various Muslim comedy groups, rap groups, Scout troops and magazines, and Muslims have been vocal in other forms of media as well.
  • America’s Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington, DC opened on April 30, 2011 dedicated to the history of Islamic culture in the U.S.
  • After the September 11 attacks, America saw an increase in the number of hate crimes committed against people who were perceived to be Muslim, particularly those of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. A publication in Journal of Applied Social Psychology found evidence that the number of anti-Muslim attacks in America in 2001 increased from 354 to 1,501 following 9/11. Arab American Institute reported an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes ranging from discrimination and destruction of private property to violent threats and assaults, some of which resulted in deaths.
  • 51% of American Muslims express worries that women wearing hijab will be treated poorly, 44% of American Muslim women who always wear hijab express a similar concern
  • In a 2007 survey, 53% of American Muslims reported that it was more difficult to be a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. Asked to name the most important problem facing them, the options named by more than ten percent of American Muslims were discrimination (19%), being viewed as a terrorist (15%), public’s ignorance about Islam (13%), and stereotyping (12%).
  • 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating.
  • 54% of Muslims in America believe that the U.S. government’s anti-terrorism activities single out Muslims.
  • 76% of surveyed Muslim Americans stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, while 61% express a similar concern about the possibility of Islamic extremism in the United States.
  • Overall, from restaurants to supermarkets, halal meat sales are projected at $20 billion in 2016, up by one-third since 2010, according to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, which certifies halal food and promotes education on the topic.

Covering the Head for Women in Traditions Other Than Islam

Following is an excerpt from our much larger essay entitled: Evidences for the Obligation of a Muslim Woman’s Headscarf (Khimar) & Outer Garment (Jilbaab).


Today, the idea of covering the head for women has become associated exclusively with Islam. It is seen as something which is derogatory and only practiced within Islam. However, throughout history many other civilizations also practiced this concept in one form or another. It is only post-Renaissance that this action has gradually become abandoned among women.

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A headdress in 15th century Europe

In France, from 1485-1510, covering the head was a show of virtue and honor. In fact, “married women’s headdresses completely concealed their hair through most of the second half of the 15th century” (Leventon 2008, 102). In England, the practice of “completely covering the woman’s head was wholeheartedly adopted” (Leventon 2008, 316). Up until the late 13th century, it was considered immoral and shocking to wear a hairnet alone without some sort of ribbon or barbette around the head to go along with it, in addition, some women also wore veils (Cosgrave 2000, 113). In Italy, “women often wore turbans” throughout the 15th and 16th centuries (Cosgrave 2000, 140). In some orders, during this period, female widows wore “head-rail covering the hair, ears and neck” in addition to a veil during daytime (Boucher 1966, 187). The only thing changed this was the Renaissance in northern Europe when women started to show “occasional glimpse of hair” (Leventon 2008, 102). Hence, some form of covering the head for women was seen as appropriate for most European cultures until the Renaissance. This was especially true for married women.
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A Muslim and Four Atheists: A Brief Discussion on God

atheist

So I happened to come across a video which was kind of degrading theism  and how it doesn’t really make sense. This video’s main argument was the archaic squabble: “If there is a God, then why is there is so much evil in the world?” So I commented on the video expressing my disagreement with that line of argument and it happened to attract a few atheists on that page to engage in a discussion with me over the concept of God. Following is a copied and pasted discussion which took place between four atheists and myself.

I usually avoid getting into debates over social media via the comments section because it is usually useless and wastes time. However, once in a while I do it as a social experiment for myself just to see what’s going on in other people’s heads.

Anyway, here is that discussion. Please note that this took place over a period of multiple days.

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Controversy Over Maria the Copt, the Concubine of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

In this video, Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi covers the 8-10th year of Hijrah and the death of his son Ibrahim. Also covered are the topics of:

-Maria the Coptic (Maria al-Qibtiyya) who was gifted to the Prophet (pbuh) by Juraih ibn Meena (Cyrus of Alexandria), the Patriarch from Egypt, as a custom of that time

-Death of Ibrahim, the son of Prophet (pbuh)

-Traditions and customs of previous generations such as slavery and multiple wives (ie, Multiple wives of Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon in the bible)

-Concept of prisoners of war (POW) in Islam

It is imperative and necessary to discuss these topics in today’s information age and the Internet era within an Islamic framework.