Maintaining Muslim Family Honor with Murder

by Al Skudsi bin Hookah, roving reporter and foreign correspondent for The Gaza Gajeera.
Jan 20, 2003

I am very unhappy. Our way of life is under attack. And we are not fighting back. Deep down, we know that when a woman has disgraced her family, nothing will restore honor except by killing her. This is understood in Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, the Gaza strip and the West Bank.

So why are we Arabs telling the Western press that honor killing is cultural, that it is not really part of Islam? Our way of life is based on maintaining our honor. And make no mistake about it: a woman does tarnish her family's honor by engaging in pre-marital sex, or by getting herself raped, when she seeks divorce and when she marries against her family's wishes.

Why are we pussyfooting? Are we ashamed of what we do? Why are some of us trying to play it down? Like the people who say it's the same as battering women in America. Come on, now. Sometimes, when we correct a wife's behavior by a well-deserved beating, we can maybe go a little too far.

But that's different. Or there's this guy, Mohammed Haz Yahya at the Hebrew University (wouldn't you know it), who makes believe killing to protect our honor is like the western world's crime of passion. Come on now.


It's not just religious leaders who know it's the right thing to do. Many of the most progressive political leaders are the ones who defend the practice. To maintain the integrity of our society and our traditions, we must maintain our honor by any and every means. And keeping our women pure is a big part of our honor.

So there's no point saying honor killing isn't really part of our religion. Our religion isn't just what's in the Koran. Honor killings fit into the cultural context of today's Islamic teachings. Honor and Islam are inextricably bound; they are what give our life meaning. A strong religion demands we choose to maintain our honor.

I am also annoyed that news reports focus on gory details instead of showing compassionate understanding of what motivated the men who act vigorously to maintain honor. They are the real victims. Their honor was violated, so killing the offending woman is self-defense. Instead, like in this story, reporters graphically describe the damage done by the ax -- of course an ax is going to do damage. Listen to this:

"Two months ago, when she tried to run away yet again, Kina grabbed a kitchen knife and an ax and stabbed and beat the girl [his daughter] until she lay dead in the blood-smeared bathroom of the family's Istanbul apartment. He then commanded one of his daughters-in-law to clean up the mess.

When his two sons came home from work 14 hours later, he ordered them to dispose of the 5-foot-3 corpse, which had been wrapped in a carpet and a blanket. The girl's head had been so mutilated, police said, it was held together by a knotted cloth."

And this:

Kifaya Husayn, a 16-year-old Jordanian girl, was lashed to a chair by her 32-year-old brother. He gave her a drink of water and told her to recite an Islamic prayer. Then he slashed her throat.

Immediately afterward, he ran out into the street, waving the bloody knife and crying, 'I have killed my sister to cleanse my honor.' Kifaya's crime? She was raped by another brother, a 21-year-old man.

Her judge and jury? Her own uncles, who convinced her eldest brother that Kifaya was too much of a disgrace to the family's honor to be allowed to live.

The murderer was sentenced to fifteen years, but the sentence was subsequently reduced to seven and a half years, an extremely severe penalty by Jordanian standards."

This one is better. At least the reporter focused on why the brother had to kill his sister.

A 25-year-old Palestinian who hanged his sister with a rope: "I did not kill her, but rather helped her to commit suicide and to carry out the death penalty she sentenced herself to.

I did it to wash with her blood the family honor that was violated because of her and in response to the will of society that would not have had any mercy on me if I didn't . . . Society taught us from childhood that blood is the only solution to wash the honor."
And here, at least, we can see it isn't just some ignorant slobs who live in the boonies.
"I would do what I have to do,' said Bassam al-Hadid, a Jordanian with an American doctorate who spent 12 years as a hospital administrator in the United States, when asked whether he would kill a daughter who had sex outside marriage."

I have to say that I'm heartened to see that in families that respect themselves, women are as dedicated as men.

"Samia Sarwar, 29, mother of two boys aged 4 and 8, was shot dead today in lawyer Hina Jillani's office by a bearded man accompanying her mother and uncle. 'He's my helper, I can't walk,' said the mother, when Hina told the two men to get out.

As the mother went to sit down in front of Hina's desk, and Saima stood up from her chair, the bearded man whipped out a pistol from his waistcoat and shot Saima in the head, killing her instantly."

A European I know said he doesn't understand why a girl who is raped has to die to protect her family's honor. "After all," he said, "it isn't her fault".

Is it so hard to understand that when an unmarried woman is no longer sexually pure, the family is humiliated? Her lack of chastity brings shame to everyone in her family. How else can her family's honor be cleansed except by her blood? What's to understand?

Actually, it's important that you understand that her impure state can destabilize morality in our whole society. If you don't understand that, you won't understand that our honor demands that we must tolerate no impertinence.

Everyone must know their place. Men must be in control of their families. Women and children must obey. Women must devote themselves to the care of their husband and children. Or things will spiral out of control.

We could end up with a big bunch of Kola Boofs. And you know what a headache she is. She was born respectable but she was brought up in America. Maybe that has something to do with it. She poses bare-breasted on the cover of that disgusting book she wrote and she no longer considers herself a Muslim.

It's too bad her publisher had to be threatened before he stopped publishing her latest book. But he should have known better than to try to publish a book that is so disrespectful to the Arab Islamic communities in Europe and in Africa.

Boof has made terrible accusations. Listen to this one:

"As a black African woman, I cannot and will not be silent as black men in Arab nations are chained up like dogs to the back doors of Muslim households and fed, literally, from doggie bowls.

I will not be silent as African women are raped, mutilated and mentally demeaned by sadistic human beings calling themselves children of Allah. I will not be silent as the number of little black boys who are sodomized by their Arab masters continues to soar, while even worse atrocities attend the lives of little black girls."
So maybe her disobedience started small. But, now, like the Shariah court in London's Islamic community said: she is guilty of "deliberately and maliciously bearing false witness against religious sentiment and of willing treason against her Arab Muslim father's people and against her nation, the Sudan."

And that's why Sudan has a fatwa out on her.

Related:

Imam [Khomenei] said: '...Islam is not just worship, not just study, not just following [edicts]. Islam is politics; it is not distant from politics. Islam is great government; it is one great kingdom. Islam is a regime [and] a political regime.'"