Were the Shafia women victims of Islam?

Is religion to blame for the deaths of the Shafia girls? If society was to get rid of Islam, would there be an end to honour crimes?

In the wake of the guilty verdict in the Shafia trial, there has been no shortage of condemnation. Child support services, teachers, and the police have all come in for criticism. But a chorus of journalists have rushed to cast judgment not only on the murderers, but on the Muslim religion the family professes.

Sweeping blame on Muslims

Take National Post columnist Christie Blatchford, who writes:

If it's a fair generalisation that some Afghans have learned to say whatever they think their listener wants to hear, if it's true that there is what's called ‘permissible lying' in Islam (it's called al-Taqiyya, and means the concealing or disguising of one's beliefs, feelings or opinions to save oneself from injury), none of it quite explains the Shafias.”

She neatly attributes the murderous duplicity of the convicted Shafias to their ethnicity and religion, en route to saying that they seem to have surpassed the typical stereotypes.

Perhaps we should conclude that they are simply more Afghan and more Muslim than most? Blatchford’s swipe at “al-Taqiyya”, as a refuge for liars, is simply fatuous: the concept is about holding on to one’s faith in the face of persecution, by overtly denying it if necessary (rather like Galileo “admitting” the world is flat).

Then there's Ezra Levant in the right-wing Toronto Sun, claiming the Shafia family murders are indicative of a “war on Muslim women”. He blames 90 per cent of honour killing on the bullying “extremist Muslim” male. While Levant qualifies the word “Muslim” with “extremist”, many Canadians may wonder if there is any other kind, given the negative media coverage.

Honour killings” are merely the most extreme form of the drive to control women and ensure they remain the subservient property of men. This drive manifests itself in a range of practices from female genital mutilation and wife-beating, to social customs that ensure women are unable to support themselves economically. Those who benefit from a social order in which they have absolute primacy, will attempt to maintain the status quo through fear and violence. As a result, violence against women, including honour killing, is found in many different communities.

Violence against women around the world

It was only weeks ago that headlines were filled with the sad case of Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, a Canadian Sikh girl whose family is suspected of having her murdered for marrying a rickshaw driver.

And before we start condemning people with more melanin in their skin as inherently more patriarchal, we should recall that the linking of female sexual behaviour with family honour has a long pedigree in “western” societies as well.

More in Commentary

BC has cut fossil fuel use and maintained a strong economy

Canadians are ready for carbon pricing, politicians not so much: experts

Politicians remember all too well the lambasting Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion took in 2008 when he proposed a carbon price. But evidence shows that times have changed, and so has Canada.
Why I left my dream job to work at NationBuilder

Why I left my dream job to work at NationBuilder

It is an audacious experiment focused on providing the infrastructure for a world where people can step up, connect, create, and lead.
Polar Bear Swim. Photo courtesy of Manda Aufochs Gillespie

Plunging in to the New Year

We ran across a frozen field of grass that felt like broken glass on our feet and stumbled into the sauna. Within 10 minutes, I was convinced that a new tradition had been created.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.

"Female infanticide was among

"Female infanticide was among the first targets of Islam in the seventh century"

Care to give any historical evidence in support of this blanket assertion which Islam apologists are so fond of making?

If anything the fact that Khadija (Muhammed's first wife) was a successful business woman and was 15 years older than him shows the higher status of women in pre-islamic arabic society. Post Islam, Muhammed acquired 9 wives including the controversial child bride Aisha (all according to Islamic sources). There is undeniable Quranic verses of misogyny. Do your own research instead of relying upon the Islam apologists.

Killing your children or children's children is within the right

Killing your children or Childrens children is within your right in Sharia, this definitely doesn't help when people come from Sharia countries and don't assimulate. I am an ex-muslim born in Saudi Arabia, though Honour killings happen all over the world there is no punishment for it in Islam, it is a right, apologist articles like this don't help assimulation only support the murderers, rather depressing really.

It is certainly islam. In the

It is certainly islam. In the rest of world , crimes happen , but people don't consult religious doctrines to do that.In islam there is official religious permission to do all these heinous crimes. This article is supportive of murders which is so shameful.

Islam is not the scapegoat

As a Muslim woman, I am just as apalled by Shafia case as any other person is. It is only human to feel disgusted. Having said that, many are under the impression that honour-killing is sanctioned in Islam. If that is true, then grass is not green but purple. 

The article says "Female infanticide was among the first targets of Islam" which is in fact what happened. Prior to Islam, many Arabs used to bury their daughters alive for the simple fact that they were girls and not boys (similar to what is being done in China). However, when the word of Islam spread, the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said that "Verily Allah has prohibited for you to be disobedient and ungrateful to your mothers or to bury your daughters alive." [Bukhari #1407 & Muslim #593]

Another authentic narration calls for men to take great care of their daughters: "Whoever is tested by trials in caring for these daughters, they will be a cover for him from Hellfire." [Bukhari #1352 & Muslim #2629 ]

As for a woman's marraige in Islam, it is her choice whom she marries and no one can force that: "Do not force the [hand of] daughters and girls for they are precious and delightful companions." [Ahmad #17411]. 

It is outrageous that people commit honour killings and call themselves Muslim. But to be a Muslim, one has to actively follow the teachings of Islam, which unfortunately is not the case among many Muslim people. 

To label a whole religion and way of life with the acts of a handful of people is unfair. Catholic priests rape young boys. Are all Catholics rapists? No, that is quite far from the truth and the whole world knows it. So why is it that when a so-called Muslim commits an unspeakable act, the whole Muslim population gets fingers pointed at it? 

If anything, you have to look at the situation and the family background this has happened in. The sad truth is that honour-killings are often tied to societal and cultural pressures. It is unfortunate that people in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan are killing their daughters because of who they want to marry but any inntelequal would know not to over-generalize. I am a Pakistani girl and my practicing-Muslim father has never laid a finger on me. 

Please do not use Islam as the scapegoat for every crime a so-called Muslim commits. 

Were the Shafia women victims of Islam?

The concept “al-Taqiyya" is about holding on to one’s faith in the face of persecution, by overtly denying it if necessary (rather like Galileo “admitting” the world is flat).

The major difference between al-Taqiyya and Galileo's admission is this: the first one is enshrined in Islamic teaching, the second is not enshrined in Christian thinking. Christians may deny their faith - and have at various times throughout history - but such actions are not part of the Christian way - far from it. In fact, Christian history has countless examples of men and women boldly dying at the hands of persecutors rather than denying their faith in Christ.

Over the centuries, Christians under persecution have demonstrated that they would rather forfeit their own life than turn their back on the One who gives life.