By Azril Mohd Amin
A MUSLIM American of Pakistani descent recently betrayed the entire American dakwah (Islamic outreach) movement by beheading his wife to punish her for asking for a divorce. He beheaded his wife — they were not yet divorced — in the very television studio they were using to portray the “beauties of Islam” to the American people.
The Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) may not support the recent Musawah conference on equality and justice and its findings to a great extent. It is, however, interesting to note that one of the conference speakers, a sister from Gambia, accused the ulama of her country of betraying the women there by lying about female circumcision. Female circumcision is widely practised in African cultures, and also here in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Those sisters had been assured some years ago by their local ulama that female circumcision — known in the West as “female genital mutilation” (FGM) — was an injunction in Islam. These sisters trusted them since they spoke as religious scholars. Now, through the sisters’ own research, they discovered that there is not a single word in either the Quran or hadith (the recorded traditions of prophet Muhammad) on the subject.
The killing in the US and FGM are linked because of a tragic confusion that exists among many Muslims, even well-educated ones. We are confused between our din (faith) of Islam, and cultural practices and traditions that exist entirely outside of the Quran or sunnah (traditions of the prophet Muhammad).
“Honour killing”, practised in some villages in Turkey, Pakistan, and even lately among some Muslim Americans, is also not part of the Quran or hadith.
A convert informant to Abim feels completely betrayed in his ongoing dakwah efforts among Westerners by this wife-killer in Buffalo, New York. He reports surveying Muslims here in Malaysia on this matter.
Some agree with his position, that so-called honour killing is a dark reversion to un-Islamic tribal practices. Others waffle and hem-and-haw on the subject, saying we have to study the total picture that the Quran presents before condemning this cold-blooded murderer.
But make no mistake — the man will be judged as a murderer by Western courts. An Egyptian Muslim mentioned, however, that if we are lucky, the Western judge will refer the man to psychiatric evaluation. Legal powers under the Western system will then be used to lock this man up in a mental institution for enforced psychiatric treatment.
At least we might then agree with non-Muslims that he is a madman, having murdered his own wife in a moment of uncontrollable insanity. And yet, we have received here in Malaysia inquiries from Muslim converts living in America, asking, “What should I tell my non-Muslim friends?”
Muslims praying in the middle of Madison Avenue in New York (© steffiekeith; source: Flickr)
These American informants have reported something we might call a “stubborn ignorance” among non-Muslim Americans who insist that this is what Muslims are like. They insist that such things are in the Quran, and that Muslims can never be trusted in a civilised community.
They make this declaration as if they know exactly what is really in the Quran. They then refuse to listen to their Muslim American neighbours who try to tell them that “honour killing”, like FGM, is totally absent from any scriptural treatment. It is absent from historical records of early Muslim life as reported in the sirah (the biography of prophet Muhammad).
So we can only feel betrayed by this supposedly well-educated, successful Muslim American businessman, who even bought a TV station for dakwah purposes. We are betrayed because he reverted to such colossally barbaric behaviour — behaviour that discredits everything he stood and worked for.
In our moments alone, we too may ask, “How can any Muslim really be trusted, if, living in a so-called civilised country like the US, he remains capable of murdering his own wife?”
A prominent Malaysian remarked that in the US these days, it seems that killing people has become almost as casual as having a cup of coffee. And so perhaps Muslims in these Western countries become corrupted by Western values and behaviour, rather than the other way around.
And Allah knows best.
Azril Mohd Amin