Honour Killings


Sami Zaatari



One common accusation that Islamophobes like to throw against the religion of Islam is that it allows the act of Honour Killings. What makes this accusation quite interesting is that Islamophobes never actually produce the Islamic texts which call for such an act, rather they base their judgement and argument on what they see around them, basically they read and watch the news and see some Muslims committing this act and they conclude that this must be part of Islam.


Let me state it clearly, Islam does not condone, nor does it call for any such act as an Honour Killing. The act of Honour killings is a cultural-tribal practice followed by backward criminals, these people's acts and own rules have nothing to do with the Islamic rules; in point of fact Islam came to eradicate such backward cultural trends!


When Islam was revealed it explicitly forbade such an act, primarily the act of burying daughters alive. The pagans used to practice this barbaric and heinous act, whenever they had a female daughter, they would be shamed, sad, disappointed, and so they would go and bury their daughters alive in the sand itself. Islam came and eradicated this act:

When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on (16:58-59)

So the Quran BANNED the act of honour killing that was being done amongst the pagans. How can Islam be a religion that calls for honour killings when it came and condemned the acts of honour killings?!

Not only did Islam ban this heinous act, it also made it clear that the birth of a female was not something bad, nor something to be ashamed of, rather this was the will of God as the Quran teaches:

"To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills" (42:49)

So God bestows both female and male children to whomever he wills, the verse does not state that Allah only bestows female children to parents as an act of punishment, or an act of shame.

The prophet Muhammad also taught the following:

Mughira b. Shu'ba reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verity Allah, the Glorious and Majestic, has forbidden for you: disobedience to mothers, and burying alive daughters, withholding the right of others in spite of having the power to return that to them and demanding that (which is not one's legitimate right). And He disapproved three things for you; irrelevant talk, persistent questioning and wasting of wealth. (Muslim)

"He who is involved in bringing up daughters, and accords benevolent treatment towards them, they will be protection for him against Hell-Fire" (Bukhari and Muslim) and:

 "Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Resurrection Day like this; and he joined his fingers" (Muslim)

So the prophet Muhammad taught the people to raise their daughters, treat them kindly, he did not say go and kill them because you have been shamed. The prophet even went as far as to say that he will be beside the people who take care of their daughters on the day of resurrection. 

 Here you had a backward people who would not even fathom to raise their female daughters; rather they would simply kill them off. Yet Islam came to these people, told them to stop burying their daughters alive, and told them to raise and take care of their daughters! Islam practically saved the lives of millions upon millions of woman by banning this act of honor killing.

Now What about a raped female? Is her punishment to be death? Islamophobes claim that Islam teaches that the raped lady must be punished, they say this due to what they have seen on the news, yet once again this is not the case.

There is not a SINGLE Islamic text that calls for the raped lady to be punished, rather Islam teaches the opposite, the victim will have no punishment, and the rapist will receive the full punishment that is due. I guarantee you that most Islamophobes do not even know about this passage:

And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;- (24:4)

If a man simply makes a false accusation against a woman then he is to be lashed 80 times, this is only because of a mere accusation, now imagine if he rapes her?!

Accordingly the punishment for a rapist in Islam could be lashing, stoning, or any of the below:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; (5:33)


There is nothing Islamic about punishing the rape victim herself, here is the voices of the Islamic scholars themselves:

Imam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

In our view the man who rapes a woman, whether she is a virgin or not, if she is a free woman he must pay a "dowry" like that of her peers, and if she is a slave he must pay whatever has been detracted from her value. The punishment is to be carried out on the rapist and there is no punishment for the woman who has been raped, whatever the case.

Ibn ?Abd al-Barr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

The scholars are unanimously agreed that the rapist is to be subjected to the hadd punishment if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves the hadd punishment, or if he admits to that. Otherwise, he is to be punished (i.e., if there is no proof that the hadd punishment for zina may be carried out against him because he does not confess, and there are not four witnesses, then the judge may punish him and stipulate a punishment that will deter him and others like him). There is no punishment for the woman if it is true that he forced her and overpowered her, which may be proven by her screaming and shouting for help.

Dr. Zahid Aziz says: "Since to falsely accuse a woman of illicit sex (fornication or adultery) is such a serious crime and grave sin in Islam, as indicated in the above verses, it is quite clear that to force a woman to commit such an act must be a much more heinous crime, deserving of a much greater penalty. If to tarnish a woman's honour and character by word of mouth is regarded so seriously by the Quran then obviously it is much more serious to assault her bodily and coerce her by physical force to commit that very same act a mere accusation of which destroys her honour.

Exactly what the punishment for it should be, would be determined by the law of a Muslim country (assuming that it is a law sanely derived from the Quran and true Sunna), and then applied in different cases according to the seriousness of the offence.

There are two Hadith reports in Tirmidhi (under Abwab-ul-hudood) regarding incidents of rape. In these reports the woman was exonerated and the man was punished.
According to the second of these reports, a woman was on her way to prayer when a man came upon her and raped her and went away. Some people passed by her and she reported it to them. They went and caught a man and she identified him. They took him to the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet sentenced him to stoning, another man confessed to the crime. So the first man was let go, the woman was told that she was forgiven by Allah (i.e. there was no blame attaching to her) and the one who confessed was ordered to be stoned.

So no where does Islam call for the rape victim to be killed off due to some issue of honour! The rape victim should be consoled, and the criminal rapist must be dealt with.


Now what about the act of fornication? Is the woman to be killed off due to honour? The answer is NO, Islam has clear rules on fornication which apply to both men and women, if found guilty the women is be lashed just as the man is:


 (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement. (24:2)


So even if a lady does fornicate, she isn't supposed to be killed, rather according to Islam she is to be lashed, AND SO IS THE MAN.

So the clear evidence has been shown, truth stands out from falsehood, and indeed the falsehood is to claim that Islam calls for honour killings. Islam came to end honour killings; it came to protect the women from honour killings, and to make sure they were raised properly by their fathers.


And Allah Knows Best!