Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Was Rand Abdel-Qader's Murder Permissible Under Islamic Law?

That is a question I would like very much to know the answer to, because if the answer is a clear no, then it provides a strong moral case to encourage the Iraqi government to have Rand's father and two brothers prosecuted for her murder.

I have admittedly not dug that deep, but this is what I have found thus far.

Since many Muslims reject the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights because a number of its provisions run counter to Islamic law, an Islamic version was promulgated in response: The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.

I read through the declaration to see what it had to say that might be relevant to "honor" killings.

For me, the most pertinent section was Article 2. Paragraph (a) of Article 2 reads "Life is a God-given gift and the right to life is guaranteed to every human being. It is the duty of individuals, societies and states to safeguard this right against any violation, and it is prohibited to take away life except for a shari'ah prescribed reason." Paragraph (d) reads "Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It is the duty of the state to safeguard it, and it is prohibited to breach it without a Shari'ah-prescribed reason."

So, was Rand Abdel-Qader's murder permissible under "a shari'ah prescribed reason"?

In my quick Google search, I came across this article from the Kuwaiti Times, which quotes a "Qais Al-Ameri, a member of the United Iraqi Alliance, [who] argues that honor killings are permitted under sharia law. "Illicit sex is the most dangerous thing in a society, and there should be severe punishments against those who practice it," he said."

Note that Qais Al-Ameri specified illicit sex. Rand Abdel-Qader was a virgin and did not engage in any sexual activity with the British soldier with whom she was infatuated. Unless speaking in public with a man falls under the umbrella of illicit sex in Islam, I would have to say that Abdel-Qader Ali's murder of his daughter was not permissible under Sharia law.

Granted, no woman or man deserves to die for engaging in sexual activity, but if any of us want to make any headway in convincing the Iraqi government to bring Rand's father and brothers to justice, then you have to play ball by their rules. And if a convincing case can be made that Rand's murder was contrary to Islamic law, then that might provide an avenue for prodding the Iraqi government to do the right thing in this case.

4 comments:

tina FCD said...

"you have to play ball by their rules"

Exactly. Makes sense.

heather said...

I am pretty certain that it is not permissible under Shari-a law. However, even if it were, I don't think shari'a law applies in Iraq. And requires some sort of formal hearing.
(This is just ill-informed guesswork)
Total respect for your serious efforts in this.

karat said...

NO. As far as I know honor killings are for Muslims who committed fornication, and it's very hard to prove a crime under Sharia law because each has certain strict requirements that have to be fulfilled before punishment can be granted. One of the requirements for zina to be proved is that the sexual intercourse has to be witnessed by four adult males who are just, religious, and trustworthy. Now, do such people even exist? And wouldn't that be considered peeping?

Talking to a guy doesn't even come close to zina. You're right, the murder was not permissible. The father was a paranoid sexist who killed his daughter for self-fulfillment.

Tommy said...

Thank for your comments Heather and welcome back Karat.

Heather, from the article in the Kuwait Times that I linked to, some Iraqis do believe that honor killings are permitted under sharia law. At most, the sentence is very lenient and is usually commuted. However, it seems clear that Rand's father had no shari'ah prescribed reason for killing her.

One of the requirements for zina to be proved is that the sexual intercourse has to be witnessed by four adult males who are just, religious, and trustworthy. Now, do such people even exist? And wouldn't that be considered peeping?

Guess it all depends on convenient timing, eh? ;-)

Incidentally Karat, I was sad to read about this lady's death.