A Backwards View of Honor

In the Name of the Beautiful, Most Gracious, and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

All around the world, people - many of them women, and sadly, many of them Muslim women - are murdered for the sake of "honor." Although some claim that this is a specifically "Muslim" problem, the crime of "honor killings" cuts across religious and ethnic lines. Still, as a devout Muslim and father of four daughters, that someone would murder his own child to "defend his honor" is wholly unbelievable to me. Yet that case in Morocco, where a young girl committed suicide because a court forced her to marry her rapist, was particularly shocking.

In conservative Islamic religious practice, chastity before marriage is expected. But this expectation is for both genders:

Do not commit either fornication or adultery for behold, it is an abomination and an evil way. (17:32)

It does not say: "Women! No adultery/fornication for you...but guys...wink, wink...we don't mean you!" The same goes for "the Servants of the Most Gracious," who are described by the Quran as those who, among many other things, "do not commit either fornication or adultery." (25:68) The Quran also tells both men and women to "lower their gaze and be mindful of their chastity":

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: will be most con­ducive to their purity – [and,] verily, God is aware of all that they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity...(24:30-31)

So, this expectation of a woman to be chase in order to "uphold the family honor," but a man is free to "sow his wild oats" is wholly foreign to principles of Islam. Furthermore, killing a woman or girl (or anyone, really) in "defense of honor" is odious, plain and simple:

And do not take any human being's life - [the life] which God has willed to be sacred - otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice. (17:33)

Not even by a thinly stretched imagination can the killing of a woman for "honor" be considered in the pursuit of justice. Never.

This is centuries-old barbarism against women that is cloaked in the garbs of religious piety and purity. The Quran condemned this practice and attitude centuries ago:

for, whenever any of them is given the glad tiding of [the birth of] a girl, his face darkens, and he is filled with suppressed anger, avoiding all people because of the [alleged] evil of the glad tiding which he has received, [and debating within himself]: Shall he keep this [child] despite the contempt [which he feels for it] - or shall he bury it in the dust? Oh, evil indeed is whatever they decide!" (16:58-59)

The problem is, old habits die hard. Like I said, it was heartening to see the outpouring of outrage at this Moroccan law. And it needs to continue unabated until the scourge of "honor killing" is effaced once and for all.

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