By Farzana Hassan
May 29, 2014
Terror, violence, honour killings and other forms of misogyny continue to afflict the Islamic world.
On May 27, the world witnessed a brutal honour killing in my home city of Lahore, Pakistan — ironically right before the Lahore High Court, an institution that should bestow justice.
Farzana Praveen, 25, was stoned to death by people who should have bestowed love: 20 members of her own family. The crowd merely watched in silence as the poor woman and her husband were brutalized. Their crime? Marrying for love.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram still holds hostage the more than 200 Christian girls abducted in April. Rescuing them will be a tough task.
In Sudan, a Christian woman who recently gave birth to a baby girl in her prison cell awaits execution for apostasy and adultery. Meriam Ibrahim, 27, will be allowed to nurse her child for two years before her murder. Magnanimously, authorities have extended her the option of “reverting” to Islam and staying alive. Ibrahim chooses to cling determinedly to her Christian faith and may die for her beliefs.
These are only a few compelling cases that seize the media’s attention.
However, women and minorities continue to suffer unreported barbarities across the Islamic world with barely a word from much of the Muslim leadership.
Its token condemnation only confirms that many Muslims do little to eradicate the ills that plague their own community.
Many Muslim leaders make no effort to tackle the issues at their source: doctrinal interpretation.
And why would they?
The Hadith, or reports of the utterances of the prophet Mohammad, is often shamefully misogynistic.
It asserts that headstrong women who follow their hearts ought to be stoned to death, and that heretics must be killed for apostasy.
The Hadith lends validity to such atrocities.
Granted, Islam contains parallel narratives that do not support such acts, and moderate Islamic scholars cite Qur’anic verses that guarantee freedom of religion.
However, kind people have kind gods and cruel people have cruel gods. Those who carry out brutal acts seek justification in the more bellicose verses, which exist side by side with verses that counter these messages.
Apostasy is considered a crime in Islam. It should not be. People have the right to make that choice, however unpalatable it might be for their families.
Instead of condemning these Sharia provisions as contextual relics of a barbarous era, many Islamist organizations continue to promote the cruel and vindictive code.
And such atrocities do not happen only in far flung Islamic lands.
Honour killings have taken place in our midst, and Muslims like myself and my fellow Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah who denounce them, are continually harassed for our alleged hypocrisy and heresies.
Now we learn the Muslim Brotherhood, known for its jihadist agenda, has a strong presence in Canada. The government would be well-advised to investigate this organization.
One prominent Islamic institution in the UK allegedly espouses stoning to death for women, bizarrely, as a temporary and comforting penance which is meant to be good for the soul, since it averts more enduring punishment in the hereafter.
All these attitudes are part of the Islamist ethos that enables misogyny and violence.
Its source is the morally ambivalent record of many of Islam’s canonical texts
Only when Muslims address these issues honestly can they hope to eradicate the evils that plague the Muslim world.
Empty condemnations and platitudes are not the answer.