The lead story in Canada for the last couple of days has been about the guilty verdicts for four first-degree murders that the jury brought down on Mohammad Shafia, his polygamous second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and his oldest son, 21-year-old Hamed Mohammad Shafia.
They murdered Mohammad’s barren number one wife Rona, and Mohammad and Tooba’s three daughters. From the perspective of the heartless Shafia family killers, the four family members they slew, (Zainab 19, Sahar 17, and Geeti 13 and step-mom Rona 50) deserved what they got because they had “betrayed Islam”, and sullied the family’s honour. Mohammad Shafia, who was in his own eyes a devout Muslim man devoid of those weak infidel Christian virtues like mercy, kindness, patience, and forgiveness was dishonoured by the “perverse” behaviour of those he killed.
Self-righteous man that he was, Mohammad Shafia was even caught on a police wiretap after the four murders wishing out loud that the devil would crap on his reviled daughters’ graves.
But more specifically, how had Shafia’s daughters offended him? It seems Zainab offended by marrying in the family’s mosque (but the Imam Ali Falih Altaie never registered the marriage) a young Muslim man from a family who did not meet with the Shafia’s approval. Sahar deserved death because she had a Christian boyfriend and had some pictures taken of her wearing short skirts. Geeti, apparently, was murdered because she was rebellious, skipped some classes at school, and was breaking the family’s code of silence by asking school authorities to be taken into the foster child care system.
As for the spurned wife, Rona, maybe Mohammad Shafia just got tired of using her for a punching bag? Maybe he thought she was too old or too expensive or taking up too much room in the family’s Montreal house? It’s hard to tell because I haven’t read anything in the various news stories that satisfactorily explains to me just what was Mohammad’s evil motive in her case.
Maybe it was just like a farmer knocking off the heads of a few annoying chickens in the coop. If you’re going to kill three birds what’s the big deal about doing a fourth? After all, a lot of Muslim men just think of their women as chattel. Do with them what you will, as Islam plainly teaches that women are inferior to men. However, thank God, we don’t have Islamic Sharia law in Canada. So at this new year’s opening session in parliament, Canada’s justice minister, Rob Nicholson, during question period, called the Shafia murders “barbaric” and “unacceptable,” and pledged to protect women and other vulnerable people from such violence.
The Shafia family Imam, Ali Falih Altaie, in an effort to deflect any impression that he, his congregation, or Islam in general would support the practice of honour killing as carried out by the bloody Shafias said:
It’s unforgivable, actually, and unacceptable by any religion.
Only people who have lost their brain do that… It’s unbelievable.
I don’t want to put down the Imam, Altaie, as his on-the-record comments about the murders are to his credit, but I must contradict him. Why? Because in reality, honour killing though perhaps unacceptable in Western Islam, is indeed widely practiced in the rest of the Muslim world.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that perhaps as many as 5,000 women and girls a year are killed by members of their own families. But according to the journalist Robert Fisk, numerous women’s groups in the Middle East and Southwest Asia suspect the number of victims is about 20,000 women and girls annually. See Robert Fisk: The crime wave that shames the world,” London: The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
Fisk notes the gruesome nature of these murders in Muslim-dominated areas:
It is difficult to remain unemotional at the vast and detailed catalogue of these crimes. How should one react to a man – this has happened in both Jordan and Egypt – who rapes his own daughter and then, when she becomes pregnant, kills her to save the “honour” of his family? Or the Turkish father and grandfather of a 16-year-old girl, Medine Mehmi, in the province of Adiyaman, who was buried alive beneath a chicken coop in February for “befriending boys”? Her body was found 40 days later, in a sitting position and with her hands tied…
Or the young woman found in a drainage ditch near Daharki in Pakistan, “honour” killed by her family as she gave birth to her second child, her nose, ears and lips chopped off before being axed to death, her first infant lying dead among her clothes, her newborn’s torso still in her womb, its head already emerging from her body? She was badly decomposed; the local police were asked to bury her. Women carried the three to a grave, but a Muslim cleric refused to say prayers for her because it was “irreligious” to participate in the namaz-e-janaza prayers for “a cursed woman and her illegitimate children.”
This horrific practice of “honour killing,” according to some sources is increasing in those parts of the world heavily influenced by Islamic-Arabic-South Asian cultures.
The founder of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth made a point of strongly teaching against “honour killings.” By deed as well as by words he made the point in John 8:1-12 (New Living Translation):
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
For any Muslims reading this, here is the truth about “honour killings” in Arabic:
Arabic Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV-AR)
المَرْأةُ الَّتِي أُمْسِكَتْ فِي الزِّنا
1 أمّا يَسُوعُ فَذَهَبَ إلَى جَبَلِ الزَّيْتُونِ. 2 وَفِي الصَّباحِ الباكِرِ ذَهَبَ إلَى ساحَةِ الهَيْكَلِ ثانِيَةً حَيْثُ جاءَ إلَيْهِ الجَمِيعُ، فَجَلَسَ وَبَدَأ يُعَلِّمُهُمْ. 3 وَأحضَرَ مُعَلِّمُو الشَّرِيْعَةِ وَالفِرِّيْسِيُّونَ امْرأةً أُمْسِكَتْ وَهِيَ تَزْنِي. وَجَعَلُوها تَقِفُ وَسَطَ النّاسِ. 4 ثُمَّ قالُوا لِيَسُوعَ: «يا مُعَلِّمُ، أُمْسِكَتْ هَذِهِ المَرْأةُ مُتَلَبِّسَةً بِجَرِيْمَةِ الزِّنا.» 5 وَقَدْ أوْصانا مُوسَى فِي الشَّرِيْعَةِ بِأنْ نَرْجُمَ مِثلَ هَذِهِ المَرْأةِ، فَماذا تَقُولُ أنتَ؟» 6 قالُوا هَذا لِيَمْتَحِنُوهُ، فَيَكُونَ لَهُمْ ما يَتَّهِمُونَهُ بِهِ.
لَكِنَّ يَسُوعَ انْحَنَى وَبَدَأ يَكْتُبُ عَلَى الأرْضِ بِإصْبِعِهِ. 7 وَلَمّا ألَحُّوا فِي السُّؤالِ، وَقَفَ وَقالَ لَهُمْ: «حَسَناً! مَنْ كانَ مِنْكُمْ بِلا خَطِيَّةٍ، فَلْيَكُنِ البادِئَ بِرَمْيِها بِحَجَرٍ.» 8 وَانحَنَى مَرَّةً أُخْرَى وَأخَذَ يَكْتُبُ عَلَى الأرْضِ.
9 فَلَمّا سَمِعُوا هَذا، بَدَأُوا يُغادِرُونَ المَكانَ واحِداً بَعْدَ الآخَرِ بَدْءاً بِالأكْبَرِ سِنّاً. وَبَقِيَ يَسُوعُ وَحْدَهُ مَعَ المَرْأةِ الواقِفَةِ أمامَهُ. 10 فَوَقَفَ يَسُوعُ وَقالَ لَها: «أيْنَ هُمْ؟ ألَمْ يَحكُمْ عَلَيْكِ أحَدٌ؟» 11 قالَتْ: «لا أحَدَ يا سَيِّدُ.» فَقالَ لَها يَسُوعُ: «وَلا أنا أحكُمُ عَلَيْكِ. فَاذْهَبِي وَلا تَعُودِي إلَى الخَطِيَّةِ فِيما بَعْدُ.»
يَسُوعُ هُوَ النُّور
12 ثُمَّ وَاصَلَ يَسُوعُ كَلامَهُ لِلنّاسِ فَقالَ: «أنا هُوَ النُّورُ لِلعالَمِ. مَنْ يَتْبَعُنِي لا يَمْشِي أبَداً فِي الظُّلْمَةِ، بَلْ يَكُونُ مَعَهُ النُّورُ الَّذِي يَقُودُ إلَى الحَياةِ.»