“On September 20, a man in Peshawar killed his two daughters because he thought they had boyfriends and felt ashamed,” this new was found on social media.
“A man lashed a young married girl in front of hundreds of people as she was seen with her father in law outside the home,” was the headline of a local newspaper.
“On 27 May 2014, a pregnant woman was stoned to death by her own family in front of a Pakistani High Court for marrying the man she loved. The police investigator quoted the father as saying: “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of my family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it. “The woman’s husband had strangled to death his first wife in order to marry another woman, and police said he had been released after that murder when a “compromise” was reached with his family.”
With the light of education, the darkness of ignorance is also coming to the surface. “The more I study the more I discover my ignorance, ”Someone said, but what about those who neither study nor they discover anything about themselves?
Among many other ills, Honor killing is one of the ills of our society. Let me highlight this ill in the light of culture and Islam. Literature defines honor killing as, “the homicide of a member of a family by other members due to the perpetrator’s belief that the victim has brought shame and dishonor to the family or has violated the principles of the community or religion, usually for reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by the family, having sex outside marriage, becoming a victim of rape, dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate or engaging in homosexual relations”.
Although rarely men can also be victims of honor killing by members of the family of the woman with whom they are perceived to have inappropriate relationships. The loose term applies to both men and women in cultures that practice it.
Roots of honor killing are found in the past. History reveals that it was in the past that Arabs used to feel proud in killing their women in the name of honor. In medieval Europe Jewish law mandated death by stoning for an adulterous wife and his partner. It is most common in North Africa and Middle East. However, honor killing is unknown in Indonesia, West Africa and Bangladesh though these are Muslim countries (seems good and amazing!).
It is not necessary that the victim actually transgress any behavioral norms, as an Amnesty International statement notes:
The mere perception that a woman has contravened the code of sexual behavior damages honor. The regime of honor is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honor by attacking the woman.
Exploring history unfolds us that these “crimes of passion” are not limited to Muslims only. As an example, in the United States there are approximately 1, 200 women killed every year by their husbands or intimate partners. This demonstrates that these crimes occur in every nation and in every society, regardless of religion, race or language. These crimes must be condemned and punished by every society, and especially by Muslim societies, as one of the main aims of Islamic law is the protection of the sanctity of life.
In Pakistan, honor killings are known locally as karo-kari (Sindhi: ڪارو ڪاري, Urdu: کاروکاری).
Karo-kari is a compound word literally meaning “black male” (Karo) and “black female (Kari). Originally, Karo and Kari were metaphoric terms for adulterer and adulteress, but it has come to be used with regards to multiple forms of perceived immoral behavior. Once a woman is labeled as a Kari, family members consider themselves to be authorized to kill her and the co-accused Karo in order to restore family honor. In the majority of cases, the victim of the attacks is female with her attackers being male members of her own family or community.
Different names of honor killing in Pakistan:
- Kala – Kali (Punjab)
- Karo – Kari (Sindh)
- Tor – Tora (KPK)
- Siyakari (Balochistan)
Statistics about honor killing:
- These figures are considered estimates and are widely believed to be severe underestimates. Due to lack of focused reporting and recording of Honor Killings internationally very little is known about the true extent of HBV worldwide.
- 5000 honor killings internationally per year.
- 1000 honor killings occur in India
- 1000 honor killings occur in Pakistan
- 12 honor killings per year in UK
Now let’s see what Islam says about killing and honor killing:
The following statements from the Holy Quran demonstrate how strongly Islam prohibits murder:
“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. ” (Holy Quran, Chapter 4, Verse 93)
“We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if they killed all people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if they saved the life of all people. ” (Holy Quran, Chapter 5, Verse 32).
[24:5] And those who calumniate chaste women but bring not four witnesses — flog them with eighty stripes, and never admit their evidence thereafter, and it is they that are the transgressors,
[24:5] وہ لوگ جو پاک دامن عورتوں پر تہمت لگاتے ہیں پھر چار گواہ پیش نہیں کرتے تو انہیں اَسّی کوڑے لگاؤ اور آئندہ کبھی ان کی گواہی قبول نہ کرو اور یہی لوگ ہیں جو بدکردار ہیں۔
[24:6] Except those who repent thereafter and make amends, for truly Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.
[24:6] مگر وہ لوگ جنہوں نے اس کے بعد توبہ کرلی اور اپنی اصلاح کر لی تو یقیناً اللہ بہت بخشنے والا (اور) بار بار رحم کرنے والا ہے۔
Therefore, although Islam does prescribe 80 lashes for fornication (sexual relations between unmarried people), and death by stoning for adultery (married people who have sexual relations outside of marriage), these punishments are not really meant to be performed as much as they are meant to make these crimes hated in the eyes of the society in order to minimize their occurrence. The only practical way for these punishments to be performed in Islam is by confession of the guilty person. In these cases, Islam teaches that those who receive these punishments during their life will have their sins wiped away and will not have to face punishment for these crimes in the afterlife. However, Islam strongly recommends that Muslims, who commit crimes repent, regret their mistakes and not to tell others about what they have done. Those who truly and sincerely repent to God, regret their sins and commit themselves to never repeating them again, God will forgive their sins and wipe them away. This is demonstrated by the following verses:
“Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor kill lives which Allah has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication, and any person that does this meets punishment, and their penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled, and they will dwell therein in ignominy unless they repent, believe and perform righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. ” (Holy Quran, Chapter 25, Verse 68)
Islam doesn’t allow the killing of a mother, sister, daughter, or any other woman in the name of honor. Remember, there is no honor in killing. Neither Islam allows any Muslim to transgress from rules and norms. When it comes to killing in the name of honor victims are mostly innocent and mere perception compels the perpetrator to kill the victims. The way women and young girls are killed is in stark contrast with the teachings of Islam. Let me say that Innocence is getting murdered by the mere perception of the wild beasts in the name of honor. Keeping in mind different cultures, it seems that honor is a personally defined construct. A lady going outside the home is bringing disgust to her family, a girl not covering her face when the outside home is causing dishonor to the family, also a woman giving birth to a baby girl is a source of dishonor to one tribe. Girl going to college is causing shame to the other tribe. Getting married against one’s family’s choice is considered dishonor in one society, and in another society, a woman doing a job is taken as a shameful act. These examples tell that every family, tribe, and society is having its own definitions and criteria of honor and dishonor, which are inconsistent with the religion. Who is transgressing? A big question mark for all such tribes and societies!!! I am not talking about the Stone Age, all these examples I quoted are from the present era. Islam disciplines life. It is knowledge, reason, and wisdom that distinguish human beings from animals. Who is transgressing? The victim? The culprit? or The bystander? Again a big question!
Perception is nothing but a projection, what you see in others is you. What if I say: Its sexual jealousy that comes into play in the form of honor killing (killing without proof of guilty) (I won’t let him have my daughter/sister, how dare she breeds someone else’s children?), and is primarily an animal instinct! If awareness is not instilled then I fear that society would keep reading news about females being killed in the name of so-called honor.
The woman is not a commodity. How could two wrong deeds germinate one right action? Honor killing has cultural roots, Islam never allows the killing of anyone in the name of the so-called honor, and when the sin or guilty is proved then it needs to be dealt according to Islamic law/court system, instead of acting upon personal impulses. I would say killing in the name of honor (when there is no proof of the sin) is a learned impulsive act, handed down from one generation to another. The prevalence of honor violence/honor killings and killing oneself will only increase unless we act now. State law and order need to be passed and implemented to stop these overlooked crimes and the culprits need to be sentenced according to the state law. we resort to fight or flight when discussing such sensitive issues. We don’t communicate, and if we do communicate, we clam up. Let’s not clam up and let’s discuss the undiscussable to save a life.