Honor Killing Is Not "Domestic Violence"
Phyllis Chesler points out:
Because this foul murder is very probably an honor killing, a crime which has little to do with western-style domestic violence. Erie County District Attorney Frank A Sedita III has it all wrong. He commented: “Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible.”
Yes, domestic violence exists in all countries. Femicide, like homicide, also exists everywhere. But honor killings follow another, and quite distinct profile. I am about to publish an academic paper in Middle East Quarterly on this very subject. Although I do not, as yet, know all the details of this Buffalo case, let me say that one feature of at least half of all the honor killings that I have studied, involved the kind of barbaric cruelty that we associate either with western serial killers, Muslim terrorists, or with relatively ordinary Muslim families vis a vis their daughters and their wives.
According to my preliminary study, the majority of honor killings in the West are committed by Muslims. Hindus and Sikhs, who also come from shame and honor societies, do commit honor murders but they seem to do so far less frequently. Daniel Pipes and MEQ might decide to publish my article online sooner rather than later, (or so he told me yesterday), but until that time, I am reluctant to pre-empt its publication or to share its findings.
In the Mumbai massacre, Muslim terrorists tortured and mutilated living beings and perhaps corpses as well. Perhaps they wanted to render their hated victims “deader than dead” as has been suggested in a recent Symposium in Frontpage in which I participated. Simple death was not enough to render their victims powerless. A beheading suggests that the murderer wants to separate his victim’s mind from her body, he does not want to hear what she has to say, he wants her mute, beyond what duct tape can do and he wants her completely severed, disassociated from her ability to flee.
But this honor killing in Buffalo is very important for another reason.
Often, it is argued that such barbarous acts are due to poverty, lack of education, lack of prospects, or to a history of being persecuted either by other Muslims or by “Islamophobic” infidels. Muslim-American groups and Muslim-Canadian groups strongly protest the idea that honor killings have anything to do with “Islam,” or with being a “Muslim.” Some Muslim activists have attributed the crime to “teenager problems ” or to “immigration” problems. Others have insisted that the practice is a pre-Islamic “cultural holdover.”
Muzammil Hassan was an educated, powerful, creative, and living in freedom in the United States. In fact, he may have viewed himself as a spokesman or even role model for other healthy, assimilated, Muslims who also live here.
As of this morning, by the way, Google news has 29 reports on this hideous crime. Amazing how the drive-by media are ignoring it. But as Robert Spencer notes:
The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over ninety percent of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sexually — for offenses on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal. Others were punished for failing to give birth to a male child. Dominating their women by violence is a prerogative Muslim men cling to tenaciously. In Spring 2005, when the East African nation of Chad tried to institute a new family law that would outlaw wife beating, Muslim clerics led resistance to the measure as un-Islamic.
Why do things like this happen?
Because Islamic clerics worldwide have spoken approvingly of wife-beating.
In 2004, an imam in Spain, Mohammed Kamal Mustafa, was found guilty of “inciting violence on the basis of gender” for his book Women in Islam, which discussed the methods and limits of administering “physical punishment” of women.
Muslim men bring this religiously sanctioned violence with them when they immigrate to the West, even to the United States. The prominent American Muslim leader Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), has said that “in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife…The Koran is very clear on this issue.”
In 1984, Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi, who is one of the most respected and influential Islamic clerics in the world, wrote: “If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts.”
Why do they say such things?
Because the permission to beat one’s wife is rooted in the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, and Islamic tradition.
The Qur'an says: “Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has [ordained to be] guarded. And as for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them…” (4:34)
The Islamic prophet Muhammad was once told that “women have become emboldened towards their husbands,” whereupon he “gave permission to beat them” (Sunan Abu Dawud, book 11, no. 2141). He was unhappy with the women who complained, not with their husbands who beat them.
Muhammad even struck his favorite wife, Aisha. One night, thinking she was asleep, he went out. Aisha surreptitiously followed him. When he found out what she had done, he hit her: “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?” (Sahih Muslim, book 4, no. 2127).
Nothing in there about beheading, no. But the man was talking about domestic violence.
Why does this matter? Because as long as no one has the courage to call Muslim leaders like Qazi to account for statements like this, and ask them about the clear justifications for domestic violence that do appear in Islamic tradition, what can possibly be done to combat the prevalence of domestic violence in Islamic communities? Ignoring the Islamic justifications for domestic violence harms Muslim women.