Killing for Honor

2016 Ramadan GraphicThe U.S. Department of Justice says honor killing is a growing problem that is hidden in statistics. According to a Fox News report honor killing and violence are among the most secretive crimes in society. “Cases of honor killings and/or violence in the U.S. are often unreported because of the shame it can cause to the victim and the victim’s family,” reports Farhana Qazi, a former U.S. government analyst and senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism.

Honor Violence Measurement Methods is a study released in 2015 commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice. The study identified four types of honor violence: forced marriage, honor-based domestic violence, honor killing and female genital mutilation.

The report estimates that 23 to 27 honor killing occur each year in the United States. In comparison, the report estimates 13 honor killings each year in the Netherlands and 10 to 12 honor killings in the United Kingdom. The number of honor killing worldwide is estimated to be approximately 5,000 per year.

The concept of executing someone because they have dishonored their family is difficult for Westerners to understand. In his book Honor and Shame, Roland Muller discusses three basic emotional responses to Adam and Eve’s original sin in the Garden of Eden: guilt, shame, and fear.

After they had sinned, they felt guilt, because they had broken God’s command. They felt shame – they knew they were naked, and so they covered themselves. And they felt fear – they hid themselves from God.

Cultures and worldviews have been shaped by one or more of these emotional responses. Some cultures primarily operate with one clear worldview; others may be a mixture of all three. Most Western culture is primarily based on a guilt/innocence – we clearly understand the concepts of right and wrong. Guilt/innocence based cultures are typically individualistic. We believe individuals are responsible for themselves and their behavior.

Islam was based on a honor/shame basis. In fact, the honor/shame basis of Islam originated with Bedouin honor codes. Unlike the individual responsibility of those from a Western mindset, shame/honor based cultures are attached to groups – families, tribes, nations, etc. Shameful deeds affect the entire group and as such they are hidden, and if they cannot be hidden, then the shameful deed demands revenge. In this culture the importance of the group outweighs the importance of an individual. If a person shames the family, and the family is unable to hide the shameful deed, the mindset says that the family must avenge. Islam is conformity to the point of submission.

Understanding this difference in worldview certainly does not excuse honor killings, but it does help Westerners to understand why a Muslim family will often protect the murderer. Because Islam is rooted in this shame based paradigm, actions such as lying to protect the honor of the family or tribe is considered permissible. Few things are actually considered right or wrong; rather they are acceptable or unacceptable based on the family honor.

Understanding the basis of the shame/honor worldview helps us as Christians to share the gospel and pray for them. As Western Christians pray for the salvation of the Muslim people, we can rejoice in the fullness of the Gospel of the Kingdom which reconciles us to God – no more guilt; no more fear; and no more shame!

Prayer Point:

Pray that Christians will understand how to share their faith with people from different worldviews and cultures in a way that does not compromise the truth of the gospel, but yet still communicates the finished work of the cross.

Stoning to Protect Honor

2014 Ramadan Prayer Day 17In May, Farzana Parveen and her husband, Mohammad Iqbal walked toward the court in Lahore, Pakistan to contest a court case filed by her family against her husband. As she and her husband walked up to the court, they were met by nearly twenty of her family members including her father and brothers. The family fired shots into the air and tried to snatch her away from her husband, but when she resisted her father, brothers and other relatives began beating her. Eventually they used bricks from a nearby construction site to stone her to death.

Her father confessed to the murder, telling a police investigator, “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it.” Her father, two brothers, a cousin, and a man who claimed he had been married to Parveen were indicted on charges of murder and torture.

The public nature and the brutality of the stoning in front of the court was shocking even to Pakistanis, although honor killings are not rare in the nation. The Human Right Commission of Pakistan said that 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.

There is not a present day Qur’anic verse that advocates stoning, however there are multiple passages in the hadith that advocate the practice especially as a punishment for committing adultery. “The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death)” (Bukhari 2:23:413).

Stoning is a penalty that some modern nations practicing sharia law do enforce. It has been written into the penal code of Iran since the Islamic Preparation for Stoning in IranRevolution in 1979. According to Amnesty International the Iranian penal code states that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts to execute them by stoning. The practice of burying someone up to their chest when stoning them is also found in the hadith. “We took him out, dug a pit for him and put him in it. We then threw stones at him until he died” (Abu Dawud 38:4421) and “The Prophet (peace be upon him) had a woman stoned and a pit was dug up to her breasts” Abu Dawud 38:4426).

The Iranian penal code also dictates that the stones used in a stoning should, “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes – nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.”

Stoning has been used as punishment under sharia law in predominantly Muslim nations including Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan. It has also been practiced in some states of Nigeria and in Aceh in Indonesia. The Sultan of Brunei’s recent decision to implement sharia law may also include stoning as a punishment unless protests against the implementation of the strict code are successful.

Prayer and international pressure does make a difference. For instance, in 2012, Layla Ibrahim Issa, a 23-year-old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by stoning. After international pressure, the Court of Appeals in Khartoum dropped the stoning sentence and changed the charge against her from adultery to “egregious acts.” They also determined that she had already spent enough time in prison so she was released.

Prayer Points:

According to Amnesty International, women are more likely to be punished by stoning than men. Stoning is more predominant in nations where the majority of the population of women is illiterate, and therefore they are vulnerable to signing confessions of crimes they did not commit. Ask God to provide advocates for them who are literate and have the legal knowledge to advise women accused of crimes – so they do not confess to something out of fear or misunderstanding.

The manner of stoning today is a barbaric practice. Pray for a worldwide public outcry against this kind of punishment.

Families in honor-based societies are taught to believe that the only way their honor can be restored is by murder. Pray that God will change their hearts and that they can begin to understand that there is no such thing as honor in murder of the individual; rather there is honor in forgiveness.

Ramadan Prayer Day 4 – Family: The Real War on Women

Earlier this year, media networks began to report about “the war on women” as part of their coverage of the presidential primaries. Some described the war in economic terms as they reported on equal pay legislation. Others tend to have a definition of the war on women like the ACLU’s who defined the “War on Women” as the “legislative and rhetorical attacks on women and women’s rights taking place across the nation.” The ACLU’s examples of these attacks on women include waiting periods before abortion and ending Planned Parenthood funding.

The real war on women in the U.S. however is being waged by Shariah proponent groups who are attempting to hide behind the concept of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. One such group known as the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has launched a $3 million campaign to “help the public understand Shariah and counter the rise of Islamophobia in America.”

On the ICNA website Naeem Baig, Executive Director of the ICNA Council for Social Justice states, “[Because of the freedoms granted under the First Amendment] Jewish family law is acceptable in civil courts today…Muslims are as American as any other faith group, and are deserving of these rights as well.”

Shariah law however differs greatly from Judeo-Christian law. Under shariah law women are considered inferior to men. The Qur’an says, “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other…”(Q 4:34) Inheritance laws within Islam further reflect this attitude with a woman inheriting half of what a man inherits (Q 4:11). Her testimony in a court of law is also only worth half of the testimony of a man’s (Q 2:282). Under shariah a husband is allowed to beat (Q4:34) and rape (Q2:223) his wife.

Arguments are made that these types of laws would not apply to women living in the United States, however a report issued by the Center for Security Policy examined 50 Appellate Court decisions from 23 states where shariah law had been considered in the case. Out of these 50 cases, the majority affected women and children with shariah being considered in marriage law and child custody cases. You may download a copy of the comprehensive report here.

Although often blamed on cultural traditions rather than shariah law by Islamic apologists, women around the world and in recent years in the United States have been the victims of forced marriages, honor killings and female genital mutilation. The Tahirih Justice Center conducted a survey on forced marriage in immigrant communities in 2011. Based upon the survey, there were as many as 3,000 cases of forced marriage in the past two years in the U.S. although the survey did not reveal how many of the marriages were Islamic.

A study of worldwide trends in honor killings revealed 91% of honor killings in North America were due to unacceptable “westernization”. Examples in our nation include Noor Almaleki. An article in Marie Clare describes the vision Noor had for herself, “Having lived in the U.S. for 16 years, she held dreams of becoming a teacher, or marrying a man she loved, and most importantly of making her own choices.” Her Iraqi father felt his daughter was dishonoring his family by desiring to choose her own mate and dress in a western fashion. So in October of 2009 as Noor and a friend walked across a parking lot her father driving close to 30 miles an hour hit Noor and her friend. The impact knocked Noor onto a median so her father swerved his SUV onto the median and ran over his daughter fracturing her face and spine. He was eventually apprehended in England. From jail her father defended himself, “I’m not a criminal. I didn’t kill someone randomly…For an Iraqi, honor is the most valuable thing.”

Eighteen year old Amina Said and her seventeen year old sister, Sarah were shot in 2008 by their father also for being typical teenage girls. Amina and Sarah had a cell phones and dated American boys. Their father, an Egyptian Muslim wanted his daughters to be Muslims and to marry husbands that he would choose. He had threatened the girls and finally on New Years Day of 2008, he shot them. A 911 call by Sarah as she was dying identified her father as her killer. Yaser Abdel Said is still at large. Even if the girls’ father is apprehended under shariah law a Muslim father is not subject to retaliation for killing his own children according to The Reliance of the Traveller, a manual of Islamic Sacred Law (approved by al-Azhar University and the International Institute of Islamic Thought).

Although our series deals with Islam in the United States, a quick look at the rights of women in any Muslim majority country clearly shows how shariah laws subjugate women discriminating against them through laws that give men control in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. For more information and personal stories of women affected in our nation by shariah law, visit End the Shariah War on Women.


  • Pray for the truth about shariah to be revealed in all aspects of our society.
  • Pray that news outlets and law enforcement agencies will report truthfully when crimes against women are the result of religious law and not bow to political correctness.
  • Pray that state legislatures across the nation will begin to understand shariah law is being used in our nation and to pass legislation to stop any foreign laws from being considered in American Courts.
  • Pray for Muslim women and children in our nation who are most often the victims of the implementation of shariah law.