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Honor Killings and The Bridges TV Tragedy

Nashid Abdul-Khaaliq

The alleged confession by Muzzammil Hassan, co-founder of Bridges TV, for the tragic killing of his wife Aasiya, is indeed a monstrous and deplorable act that Muslims, Christians and all human beings should strongly condemn. If true, the choice made by Mr. Muzzammil to kill his wife -- and in such a brutal fashion -- is something he will be judged and punished for by the Creator of the heavens and the earth. There are some people who will judge Al-Islam and all Muslims for the actions of this one man, but ALLAH will not. Simply because the Creator is Just and will not allow any individual to bear the burdens of another.  All Muslims are not guilty of this act (although the silence of many can contribute to it) and the religion of Al-Islam does not endorse this behavior.  Instead, Al-Islam strongly condemns it.

Horrendous killings of spouses have been done by people of all religions, races, cultures and nationalities. It is curious to note, that the media in the US singles out individual actions done by so-called Muslims who disobey their religion and blames all Muslims and the religion of Al-Islam for their heinous actions.  Recently, we were inundated with news about other Americans who killed their families, themselves, and their children. But in none of those cases was the religion or all its followers blamed or castigated for their actions. Recently in Florida, a Christian Professor who taught music and sang soloist at the United Methodist Church, killed his wife, children and himself.  Nothing was made about him being Christian with some hidden justification in his religion causing his actions nor was the entire Methodist Church castigated. Why the double standards when it comes to Al-Islam?

According to many news paper reports, Muzzammil had a history of domestic violence.  He was a very secular person who “rarely showed up at the mosque and was obsessed with financial matters.” The Die Burger, a South African paper, reports the following from Aasiya’s sister Asma Firirey about her domestic abuse, "Firfirey, as well as a Pakistani woman identifying herself as another of Aasiya Hassan's sisters, characterized her as living in fear.

“Firfirey said the last time she saw her sister was in May 2008, when she visited South Africa. When she arrived, she was badly injured, and Firfirey's family paid the equivalent of about $3,000 for her to be treated.”

“Aasiya Hassan returned to America, because she wanted to complete her MBA degree and "didn't want to leave her children with that monster." She said she calls Muzzammil Hassan "the fat man with evil eyes."

The Buffalo News also reports the following, “The Hassans were well-known to local police, both in Orchard Park and Texas, where Muzzammil has family. Police were called to their Orchard Park home more than a dozen times for domestic issues…”

This event, which exposes a well-respected, prominent Muslim as a domestic abuser, who allegedly decapitated his wife, is an Islamophobic scaremonger’s dream. It gives these biased opportunists a platform to continue demonizing Al-Islam and Muslims by equating this awful act to Al-Islam. One of the things they claim is that this act is an example of honor killing endorsed by Al-Islam. This false notion is what I will address in the rest of my essay.

Honor killings are a Middle Eastern cultural phenomenon that is practiced by ignorant Muslims, Christians and others from that region. It pre-dates Islam and is an ugly manifestation that many Islamic, Christian and other organizations are working hard to eradicate. Honor killings are murders by families on family members who are believed to have brought "shame" on the family name. It is usually done by a male member of the family who kills a female relative for “tarnishing” the family image.
Many books have been written about honor killings. Two famous books, Norma Khouri’s “Forbidden Love” and Souad’s “Burned Alive” turned out to be total fabricated stories deliberately written to demonize Palestinian and Arab people. Dr. Therese Taylor wrote an excellent article which exposes Burned Alive as a fraudulent account of a supposed attempted Palestinian honor killing. Dr. Taylor shows, with expert clarity, how ridiculous the claims in the book are regarding honor killings. You can read her excellent article at this link
According to Wikipedia and other sources, in Indonesia -- generally believed to be the country with the largest Muslim population -- honor killings are unknown, as well as in parts of West Africa with majority-Muslim populations and many other Islamic countries like Bangladesh. Although honor killings are not an Islamic phenomenon, somehow there is a major effort to associate honor killings with Al-Islam.  
There is nothing in the Quran, or the examples of Prophet Muhammad (saaw), that endorses honor killings. Yet it is prevalent in many so-called Muslim cultures and even amongst some Muslims in European and western culture. So how is the innocent mind supposed to understand this seeming contradiction?

Sometimes when we look at other cultures and religions we blindly associate practices to foreign religions forgetting that the same thing can be done out of ignorance by other cultures and religions within the West as well. Take the Mafia and contract killings for example. The Italian origin of the Mafia is cradled in the same country where the highest authority in Catholicism resides. It comes from the country that is the seat of Catholicism. Contract killings by the Mafia are a mainstay of Christian societies and can be found in just about any Christian country in the West. We could ignorantly associate the Mafia and contract killings using examples of how Mafia men were seen going to Mass and even make bogus claims about verses in the Bible supporting this Christian cultural manifestation known as the Mafia. We could even write articles about it ignorantly stating “Yes, it is Christian. Don’t Apologize for It!” and show how violent and cruel contract killings are and associate that and the Mafia with Christianity.  We could also deride Christianity for being a backwards, evil religion with ugly inhuman and uncivilized practices that cannot be excused and must be stamped out as a result of it. But would we be correct in doing so?

It is easy for the uninformed, insincere and deliberately demonizing minds to make those unfair assessments about other people’s religion. But a child with just a little inkling of common sense and the desire to know the truth can easily take an approach that would dispel all the hyperbole by simply going to the religion to see what it really teaches. A sincere mind studying the noble teachings of Christ (pbuh) would know right away that contract killings and the Mafia has nothing to do with the beautiful revelations from G-d to Christ (pbuh). So too would a sincere mind studying the gracious teachings in the Quran and Al-Islam know that those teachings do not endorse honor killings, terrorism and a whole host of other lies being told by fiendish people in an attempt to deliberately demonize Al-Islam.

Try as they may, the accusers who blame Al-Islam for honor killings could never produce a verse from the Qur’an or anything in Al-Islam to prove their wrong assertions.  The most they claim is that the Qur’an approves wife beating and point to verse 4:34, taking it completely out of context to prove their claim. But let’s look at what verse 4:34 actually says. One of the most popular translations of the Qur’an by Yusuf Ali states the following:

 “As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).”

There is nothing in this verse that states a man should kill his wife for honor. If you know Arabic the word used for beat by the Qur’an is not the same Arabic word that is used for beat as when you beat someone to inflict pain. The word used is the Arabic word “edrobhohunna”. That word does not mean beat in a violent way to incur physical damage. The Arabic word that means beat to incur physical damage is “hatumhoo”. The Quran did not use the word “hatumhoo”; it used “edrobhohunna”, which is a word meaning an action that shows displeasure without causing physical harm. It is striking such that even a baby won’t be harmed. It is hard to translate because in English when we use the word strike it implies harm, but in Arabic this word does not imply physical damage or harm. Some translators in an attempt to get close to the meaning in Arabic translate “edrobhohunna” as a tongue lashing or "...then punish her mildly", or "...then go away from them" because the reference is to not do any physical harm but only as a means of having the husband after doing other things show -- as a last resort -- his displeasure with his wife.

The root of "edrobhohunna" is "daraba", "beat". There are many words in Arabic derived from this root. Other examples include "dharabtum", which is used in Verse 4:94, and is usually translated in English, "go forth/go out/go abroad". Whilst it is possible to translate "edrobhohunna" as “beat/strike", just as in English it is equally possible to translate "beat it" as “leave”, "separate", "part". The verse that follows verse 4:34 goes on to talk about appointing arbitrators from each side and the need to strive for reconciliation. In this context, it is more likely that the correct meaning of the word " edrobhohunna " is "leave/separate/part".

At the same time there is a wealth of teachings in Al-Islam about the marital relationship. Numerous verses in the Quran extol the beautiful relationship between men and women. One of them is as follows:

 “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” 30:21

The Prophet (saaw) being the best example for Muslims never beat any of his wives. When approached by a man about how he should treat his wife, the Prophet (saaw) told him to feed her as you would feed yourself, provide for her clothes as you would for yourself, do not beat her and do not revile her. Remarking upon those men who beat their wives, he said they are not good Muslims. He said “The best among you is he who is best in his treatment of his wife!” According to the Prophet’s wife 'Aishah (ra), the Prophet (saaw) never once raised his hand to her, in fact the only time he ever raised a hand against anyone, was when he was fighting in battle.

I could go on and on with more examples from Al-Islam and you would never find where the Quran or anything in the teachings of Al-Islam endorses honor killings. But the Quran is very precise and very clear regarding what the conditions are for when a life should be taken. Needless to say, honor killings are not among the reasons. The Quran treats human life as sacred. It is given by ALLAH and it is only ALLAH who has the authority to take life or provide the means by which that life can be taken. One specific verse in the Quran dealing with the taking of life is as follows:

 “5:32 …if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people…”
The Quran equates the seriousness of taking the innocent life of one person to killing a whole people. It is a very serious matter when someone is killed.

Honor killings, death for adultery, death for apostates and other things practiced in so-called Islamic countries are corruptions and not true Islam. You will find nothing in the Qur’an endorsing any of those practices, yet it is perplexing to know that they are practiced within some Muslim societies by some confused Muslims. Colonialism had a big hand to play in this, as admitted to by several documentaries, books and other literature, under colonialism, the British and other western powers encouraged extremism in Al-Islam. They killed out and stifled the voices of true Islam and encouraged cultural and barbaric practices to thrive and be supported. This was a tactic used to destroy Muslim societies and today we see the ugly remnants of that in many Muslim countries.

Please read “Confessions of a British Spy” to learn more about how thoroughly such work was done within  the Islamic world to encourage extremism, bad cultural habits and un-Islamic behavior, being portrayed under the banner of  Al-Islam in order to weaken the people and make them better subjects of the colonialists.

Any so-called Muslim who practices honor killings should be given the full punishment of the law. They ignored the clear teachings in their religion to follow a barbaric practice. They deserve the full implementation of justice against them for going against the true teachings of Al-Islam by taking innocent lives to satisfy their ego and feed their false sense of honor.
When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.

Quran: 2:186
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