January 7, 2008

Rob Wagner on "The Myth of Muslim Honor Killings"

Rob Wagner at 13 Martyrs has come out with another solid post, this time about The Myth of Muslim Honor Killings. If you're not reading Rob's blog on a daily basis (or haven't put him on your RSS reader, as I have), you're missing out on some good writing. Some excerpts from his post:

It's impossible to simplify the complex nature of honor killings by labeling it a religious or cultural disease. No one can make a case that honor killing is a religious issue because there is no justification for it in the Qur'an or Sharia and it occurs in all religions.

If honor killings were strictly a Muslim issue, how can it be explained that such murders are virtually unheard of in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, and in Saudi Arabia, the land of the two holy mosques and the most conservative Muslim country? In fact, the evidence is overwhelming that not only are Muslims responsible for only a portion of honor killings but the killings are committed on a global scale that includes Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and people of no faith.

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It's also impossible to argue that it's a geographical or cultural phenomenon because these murders transcend all cultures. And it's not even a gender issue since many women are complicit in the planning and execution of the murders and that many victims are men. Amnesty International says that that "females in the family - mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters, and cousins - frequently support the attacks. It's a community mentality."

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Given that honor killings are a global phenomenon and not isolated to Muslims, how do critics justify their anger toward only one group? They can't, but it won't stop them from letting the facts get in the way of their agenda.

We live in a society that labels and demonizes certain groups to justify their hatred. Americans, in particular, have a nasty habit throughout history of targeting specific groups – from the American Indian to Japanese-Americans to communists and now Muslims – to justify their fear and anger. There is no logic to it. It makes no sense. But it makes people feel as if they are helping their country by attacking perceived enemies.

4 comments:

Engr. Dr. said...

I don't know about honor killings committed on a global scale that includes Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and people of no faith. Many news networks, especially Muslim news networks, would have covered them.
Yet even if such honor killings are done by non-Muslims, it doesn't change the fact that Muslims have and are doing them. Why point at others' perceived mistakes when that hand has already been caught red-handed?
Shouldn't the proper response be admission, and then work to stop such a practice from happening again?
Such arguments may work the first time around, but it ceases to be believable when so much of it is happening in the news. Would it be better if the energy for such rhetoric be used to punish perpetrators and educate societies affected by these murders.

JDsg said...

I don't know about honor killings committed on a global scale that includes Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and people of no faith. Many news networks, especially Muslim news networks, would have covered them.

First, I think the only media who pick up on these stories are local media. I think these murders are much more common than what the national and international media report, but that most of these stories are too small to be more than local news. In Rob's article (and I've seen this statistic elsewhere), he wrote, "UNICEF reports that more than 5,000 non-Muslim women are killed in so-called dowry deaths each year in India because their in-laws consider their dowries inadequate." The vast majority of these 5,000 deaths are almost certainly of Hindu women. In Islam, men pay the women a dowry; in Hinduism, the women pay the man a dowry. So none of these deaths could be of Muslim women because they would be receiving the dowry in the first place. And Rob's article also points out a number of examples of Christian/Catholic honor killings.

Yet even if such honor killings are done by non-Muslims, it doesn't change the fact that Muslims have and are doing them. Why point at others' perceived mistakes when that hand has already been caught red-handed?

Most Muslims (especially in the blogosphere) acknowledge that there is a problem with honor killings. The problem we have is that there's one standard when there's a perceived case of honor killings committed by Muslims (big noise), and another standard when honor killings are done by non-Muslims (silence). The same situation applies with regard to terrorism committed by Muslims vs. terrorism committed by non-Muslims.

Shouldn't the proper response be admission, and then work to stop such a practice from happening again?

Absolutely, which is why I'd suggest the following blog posts: No Such Thing as Honor Killing in Islam, Tragic Murder of Two Muslim Girls..., Where's the Compassion?; likewise, on domestic violence, see: Pro-Active Against Domestic Violence, Helping Battered Muslim Women, and Muslims Working Against Domestic Violence. Note: 1) These are just blog posts that were written in the past week; 2) all of the authors are Muslim men.

Such arguments may work the first time around, but it ceases to be believable when so much of it is happening in the news. Would it be better if the energy for such rhetoric be used to punish perpetrators and educate societies affected by these murders.

You'll get no argument from me here.

Thanks for stopping by my blog; come again.

Anonymous said...

What makes this a problem with Islam is no one is punished for an honor killing.

If Islam is so opposed to the taking of a human life, why are the abusers not imprisoned for such barbaric acts?

That is the point engr.dr. is making about so much noise coming out of the Muslim community about how honor killings are really unIslamic. Instead of crying about being a victim of the media you should be charging the perpetrators with a crime and educating Muslim's to value life.

JDsg said...

What makes this a problem with Islam is no one is punished for an honor killing.

This is only a partial truth. See below.

If Islam is so opposed to the taking of a human life, why are the abusers not imprisoned for such barbaric acts?

In a lot of countries, these people are imprisoned for honor killings, and a lot of American and Canadian Muslims do call for their imprisonment. The problem is that the imprisonment is not universally applied. But that's what happens when people confuse culture with religion.


That is the point engr.dr. is making about so much noise coming out of the Muslim community about how honor killings are really unIslamic. Instead of crying about being a victim of the media you should be charging the perpetrators with a crime and educating Muslim's to value life.

Honor killings are unIslamic; we're not denying that. Per Rob's article, only about 10% of Muslims asked said that honor killings were acceptable. That means, of course, that 90% of all Muslims don't think that it's acceptable. Most Muslims do value life, and do want to see the perps sent to jail. We don't have a problem with that. We have a problem with double standards. Of course, this is not the only issue where Muslims are unfairly accused of "silence."