A MUSLIM American of Pakistani descent recently betrayed the entire American dakwah (Islamic outreach) movement by beheading his wife to punish her for asking for a divorce. He beheaded his wife — they were not yet divorced — in the very television studio they were using to portray the “beauties of Islam” to the American people.
The Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) may not support the recent Musawah conference on equality and justice and its findings to a great extent. It is, however, interesting to note that one of the conference speakers, a sister from Gambia, accused the ulama of her country of betraying the women there by lying about female circumcision. Female circumcision is widely practised in African cultures, and also here in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Those sisters had been assured some years ago by their local ulama that female circumcision — known in the West as “female genital mutilation” (FGM) — was an injunction in Islam. These sisters trusted them since they spoke as religious scholars. Now, through the sisters’ own research, they discovered that there is not a single word in either the Quran or hadith (the recorded traditions of prophet Muhammad) on the subject.
The killing in the US and FGM are linked because of a tragic confusion that exists among many Muslims, even well-educated ones. We are confused between our din (faith) of Islam, and cultural practices and traditions that exist entirely outside of the Quran or sunnah (traditions of the prophet Muhammad).
“Honour killing“, practised in some villages in Turkey, Pakistan, and even lately among some Muslim Americans, is also not part of the Quran or hadith.
A convert informant to Abim feels completely betrayed in his ongoing dakwah efforts among Westerners by this wife-killer in Buffalo, New York. He reports surveying Muslims here in Malaysia on this matter.
Some agree with his position, that so-called honour killing is a dark reversion to un-Islamic tribal practices. Others waffle and hem-and-haw on the subject, saying we have to study the total picture that the Quran presents before condemning this cold-blooded murderer.
But make no mistake — the man will be judged as a murderer by Western courts. An Egyptian Muslim mentioned, however, that if we are lucky, the Western judge will refer the man to psychiatric evaluation. Legal powers under the Western system will then be used to lock this man up in a mental institution for enforced psychiatric treatment.
At least we might then agree with non-Muslims that he is a madman, having murdered his own wife in a moment of uncontrollable insanity. And yet, we have received here in Malaysia inquiries from Muslim converts living in America, asking, “What should I tell my non-Muslim friends?”
Muslims praying in the middle of Madison Avenue in New York (© steffiekeith; source: Flickr)
These American informants have reported something we might call a “stubborn ignorance” among non-Muslim Americans who insist that this is what Muslims are like. They insist that such things are in the Quran, and that Muslims can never be trusted in a civilised community.
They make this declaration as if they know exactly what is really in the Quran. They then refuse to listen to their Muslim American neighbours who try to tell them that “honour killing”, like FGM, is totally absent from any scriptural treatment. It is absent from historical records of early Muslim life as reported in the sirah (the biography of prophet Muhammad).
So we can only feel betrayed by this supposedly well-educated, successful Muslim American businessman, who even bought a TV station for dakwah purposes. We are betrayed because he reverted to such colossally barbaric behaviour — behaviour that discredits everything he stood and worked for.
In our moments alone, we too may ask, “How can any Muslim really be trusted, if, living in a so-called civilised country like the US, he remains capable of murdering his own wife?”
A prominent Malaysian remarked that in the US these days, it seems that killing people has become almost as casual as having a cup of coffee. And so perhaps Muslims in these Western countries become corrupted by Western values and behaviour, rather than the other way around.
And Allah knows best.
Azril Mohd Amin
Siew Eng says
While I’m relieved Abim is as dismayed over this crime, I am puzzled as to where the last line came from. What “Western values” corrupted this sick man? Did I miss the supporting arguments?
And actually, thanks to Sisters in Islam’s workshops and study sessions, including the recent Musawah global meeting in KL, I found out that Islam doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it gets from the actions and interpretations of some followers. This video documents how Islam introduced the most progressive laws for women’s rights and how defenders of the religion are still working toward their true manifestation – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6J6k6k4pSY (by Sisters in Islam, on behalf of Musawah).
Nadia Ali says
“A prominent Malaysian remarked that in the US these days, it seems that killing people has become almost as casual as having a cup of coffee. And so perhaps Muslims in these Western countries become corrupted by Western values and behaviour, rather than the other way around.”
What exactly is he trying to say?
The same as killing an apostate is justified? A person who is trying to exercise their rights to their choice of belief, but when you intimidate and force them, it amounts to slavery. It’s cruel and unjust, a crime against humanity. Please do not try to recite verses from the Quran because there is nothing in the Quran about killing of the apostate. As you have said it: “Their local ulama said that female circumcision â€” known in the West as ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM) â€” was an injunction in Islam. These sisters trusted them since they spoke as religious scholars. Now, through the sisters’ own research, they discovered that there is not a single word in either the Quran or hadith (the recorded traditions of prophet Muhammad) on the subject.”
There’s a lot of betrayal going on and not just on female genital mutilation.
Abim is right. It is the “Western values” that are corrupting us. I will from now on blame those “western values” for all my “sins” so help me God!
It matters not what is written or not written for they can always be disputed. There is however no escape from the FACT that many Muslims claim FGM to be an Islamic must. Like it or not the practitioners of a religion are the ones who define the nature of the religion. Action always speak louder than words. Therefore if the practitioners of Islam carry out barbaric acts in the name of Islam then Islam becomes barbaric.
As for barbaric acts of killings ask those who are fighting due to the Sunni-Shiite split. No Westerner needs to teach any Muslim how to be barbaric. Muslims were/are pretty good killing people. Define Islam through acts of compassion rather than dogmatic adherence to a records from a time and place totally irrelevant to most people in the world and Islam will have a civilized face. Use barbaric methods and Muslims WILL define Islam as barbaric. There are no two ways about it.
Are you implying in the last few sentences, right after an entire essay about how misinformed the West is on blaming a pre-Islamic tradition on Islam, that the man beheaded his wife because of America?
Guess the gajah depan mata landed on a blind spot.
Why not find out more about the case instead of worrying about all the consequences to the ummah? I happen to know someone, by several degrees, who was a friend of the family. There was a seriously hushed up, repressed and silenced problem of domestic abuse going on. Those who knew of it came from all walks of faiths, and all of them did not say a word until it was too late. Up close, it seems that the family’s problems were only lightly linked to Islamic theologies and interpretations, and had more to do with the very real problem of domestic violence that haunts every society: West or East, secular or Islamic.
The only way to get rid of this HORRIBLE TRADITION is to de-link this brutal tradition from Islam. And Muslims must be in the forefront of fighting against such horrible acts in Islam.
sambal muncha says
Honour killing should be renamed “can’t stand my ego being deflated” killing.
Instead of getting petty about what’s written/how to interpret what’s in the Quran, what’s in the hadith (???) or what constitutes the prophet’s life, isn’t it more important for the Muslims to value and espouse the basic and beautiful ethics of Islam?
Compassion, brotherhood/sisterhood, tolerance, charity, forbearance, patience, calmness, forgiveness, generosity, kindness, love for all beings and the environment, even respect for lifeless minerals! The real pillars that all else should be built on.
Rather than teaching students how to build bridges with the wider community, and applying the ethics of Islam in our every worldly and spiritual activity, the madrasahs are too busy politicising religion. The politicians are too busy politicising religion. The religious schools preach blind faith with a no nonsense, no questions attitude. Faith externalised is commended, thus practised to lift the ego, faith is not taught for internal consumption. Interpretation is done in isolation, not within the spirit of the ethics in Islam. Dogmatism and fervent self-righteousness is tolerated, even encouraged. Mosques are used for political lectures. Our education policies are formulated by morally bankrupt politicians who have a lot to answer for. I would personally disallow my children to be educated in a typical public school ugama class. No apologies.
And Abim did not want anything to do with the Musawah conference on equality and justice, which by no coincidence, are so very part of the Islamic ethic. Why, why, why? And what message are you, Mr Abim vice president, conveying when you defend the brutal killer by blaming “Western” attitudes?
I guess Allah knows best.
Feldwebel Wolfenstool says
Time to declare a fatwa against allowing your brothers to reside in dhimmi lands. All Muslims should leave these lands of dar al-harb, lest they be corrupted by living in the kafir Western countries?
I am an atheist myself, loud and proud!
I think (personal take) religions are written by men to suppress others … equal rights for women (please note, I am male) and other minorities!
There’s no justification for killing, not even capital punishment for murderers … we should rehabilitate people, not taking lives… it is too precious…
I believe everyone should live in a safe, secure and equal world (sadly we are far beyond hope) as I believe we only live one life, just one time …
“A prominent Malaysian remarked that in the US these days, it seems that killing people has become almost as casual as having a cup of coffee. And so perhaps Muslims in these Western countries become corrupted by Western values and behavior, rather than the other way around.”
Does this prominent Malaysian have any idea what it is really like in the USA? 99% of US citizens are good, law-abiding people who are as appalled by this crime as any one would be. The crimes in this country are committed by less than 5% of the population. Is that not the same as the proportion excused to be terrorists among Muslims?
I suppose all of the 911 mass murderers were also hypnotised and programmed by Western civilisation to slaughter thousands of innocent people. I guess it wasn’t their fault then. Perhaps they were actually the victims, along with this dude that beheaded his wife.
Only Allah knows, right?
Suresh Kumar says
Problem with Western values? Are you out of your mind?
I am from Asia and I see beheadings by Muslims all the time. Whose fault is that?
Not all religions and cultures are equal. If something is dangerous, you have to treat it accordingly …
“And so perhaps Muslims in these Western countries become corrupted by Western values and behaviour, rather than the other way around.”
Nice taqqiyya, Azril. It’s funny how Muslims are never at fault for anything, ever. It’s always somebody else’s fault.
Nurulhuda wrote: “Please do not try to recite verses from the Quran because there is nothing in the Quran about killing of the apostate.”
Ok, there’s nothing in the Quran, but in the Sunnah it is clear: “The Prophet said ‘if somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'” (Sahih Bukhari 4.260)
Gee, ya think that is where the “death for aposty” laws in syariah are from?
1. In any Western nation, a divorce is easily obtained on request from either party to a marriage. In Islamic nations, only a man (and I hesitate to use the term) may apply for divorces.
2. In Western nations, a man who strikes his wife is nothing but a common criminal. In Islamic countries, he is engaging in normal disciplinary practice.
3. In Western nations, murdering someone who believes differently to you is still murder, and punished accordingly. In Islamic countries, murdering a non co-religionist is state-sponsored practice.
4. In Western countries, killing people for being gay/lesbian is hate crime (and rightly so), and punished worse than ‘garden-variety’ murder. In Islamic countries, it’s mandated.
So tell me – which culture takes murder more lightly?
The callous murder of a woman by her ‘husband’ was bad enough. Then, for the murderer’s co-religionists to attempt justifying it on the basis that the murderer was a cultural victim is infinitely worse.