Murder is off-limits in Islam

The Montreal Gazette 6 January 2012
By Sikander Ziad Hashmi

Kingston, Ont. – The Shafia family murder trial, which resumes here on Monday, has caused anger, disbelief and sadness in those following it – Canadian Muslims along with everyone else. But among Muslims there is also a deep sense of frustration, especially over a conversation that was presented as evidence by the prosecution:

"They betrayed humankind; they betrayed Islam; they betrayed our religion and creed; they betrayed our tradition; they betrayed everything,” Mohammad Shafia is heard saying, allegedly referring to his dead daughters, in a conversation recorded by police.

Shafia, his wife, Tooba Yahya, and their eldest son, Hamed, have been charged with four counts each of first-degree murder. All three have pleaded not guilty.

The mere mention of Islam in this context – regardless of whether it was the motivation behind the tragic deaths of four members of the Shafia family – reinforces the stereotype that killing in the name of honour is an Islamic practice.

Killing a family member who is thought to have tarnished the family’s honour is in no way sanctioned or promoted by Islamic teachings.

For starters, murder is totally off-limits in Islam. Having an affair, a relationship or a boyfriend, not wearing the hijab, and so on – as dishonourable as these may be considered – are not cause for murder. Murder is prohibited to the severest degree and cannot be justified in any way, especially for girls who are under the care of their parents.

The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), who is regarded as a role model by Muslims, repeatedly emphasized kind treatment of women.

He is reported to have said: "The best of you is the one who is best to his women.”

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