There is no honour in killing

The definition of an honour killing in the Oxford Dictionary is the
‘killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonour on the family.’

Today’s society and culture has seemingly come a long way. If women are now being seen as equal to men as opposed to how it was seen years ago, why are we still seeing cases of honour killings? Why are we still living in uneducated societies that consider it wrong to have an opinion that could result in family taking a life?

So why do honour killings occur? Most honour killings usually occur due to girls either choosing who they would like to marry, refusing an arranged marriage, being in a relationship outside of marriage or committing adultery.

Today, honour killings are often associated with Islam whereas it’s actually a cultural vice. People are unaware that this practice actually links back to the Roman period where the father had the right to kill a daughter or wife if it was believed that she was bringing dishonour to the family. Honour killings were also present in medieval Europe amongst the Jewish community, who would stone to death a wife and her partner in cases where adultery had been committed. [1] It’s also surprising to think that it was only in 1980 that Italy repealed legislation which permitted the murder of a female relative to preserve family honour. [2]

So it’s important to understand that honour killings are not exclusive to people belonging to a specific religion or culture but it’s a practice that has been and still is present in many different societies around the world today.

This horrid crime was also present in pre-Islamic Arabia where female infanticide was the norm. Fathers considered daughters to be burdens and so buried them alive at birth. They thought this to be them preserving the honour of their family by killing their daughters which could affect their status in society.

But, with the spread of Islam across the region, the widespread practice of honour killings was brought to a halt. The Prophet Muhammad (pubh) taught the world, that the birth of a daughter was not shameful for a father. Rather, it was a big blessing not only for the father but also the mother of the child. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated,

‘The one who brought up two girls till they attained their maturity, will appear along with me on the day of resurrection’ (Muslim)

We shouldn’t forget that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself was the father of four daughters and although he had sons, they passed away when they were very young. It should be every Muslim father and mother’s duty to love their daughters and treat them kindly as the Prophet (pbuh) did. It’s also their duty to ensure that they teach their children to behave in accordance with Islam along with setting the best example for them to follow.

Parents who kill their daughters in the name of honour have no place in Islam. There is no reference in the Qur’an or Ahadith to support this heinous crime. Islam considers honour killings as nothing other than cold blooded murder. Allah states in the Qur’an,

“Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.” (4:94)

From the reference of the Qur’an it is clear that parents who kill their daughters in the name of honour have committed murder which can never be justified and as Allah confirms, a harsh punishment awaits them.

If this is what Islam says about killing whether it be in the name of honour, why is it then constantly accused of supporting honour killings? One explanation for this may be, due to the punishments in place for sins such as adultery. It’s worth pointing out that even many Muslims today are confused about what the actual punishment for adultery is. It’s not, as many believe, stoning to death in any instance. This is the punishment under the law of Moses (as) and although it was enforced by the Holy a Prophet (pbuh), this was only before Allah revealed to him the reformed punishment under Islamic Law (shariah). This punishment being flogging.

Although these punishments may seem harsh to many, it should be understood that there is no distinction between the punishment for a man or a woman. In fact, for a slave girl the punishment is halved. We also need to understand that the sin of adultery is extremely difficult to prove and there is a heavy burden of proof on the accuser. So unless the sin is evidenced or both parties confess to the sin, the punishment cannot be enforced.

Taking all of this into consideration it makes you think what pushes these parents to murder in the name of honour and forget that they gave birth to this child, a blessing bestowed to them by Allah. Do they think that because they brought this child into the world they have a right to take it’s life? Absolutely not! They belong to Allah and it is up to Him whom He grants life to and from whom He takes it away. Have these people failed as parents by giving up on their children that instead of trying to guide them, they resort to violence and murder? Not only have these people failed their children, they have also failed mankind. May Allah help guide these people to the true teachings of Islam and protect vulnerable young girls from these malicious attacks. Ameen.

Contributed by:

@sarabi_v   @burfiiiii
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References
[1]   http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/hk-ch/p3.html
[2]   http://hbv-awareness.com/history/