Imams plead for action amid trial of father accused of murdering his three daughters
Canadian imams condemned the "misguided notion" of
so-called honour killings in their Friday sermons this week, responding to the
high-profile trial of a father accused of murdering his three teenage
daughters, allegedly because they shamed his Afghan family.
The two dozen imams, backed by 60 Canadian Muslim groups, pleaded
for action to fight domestic violence, following comments from the Prophet
Mohammad (PBUH) that "the best amongst you is he who treats women the
"We felt very strongly that we had a responsibility to
make it very, very clear that honour killings - so-called honour killings; we
don't want to consider them anything honorable - have absolutely nothing to do
with Islam," said Sikander Hashmi, an imam in the Ontario city of Kingston
where the trial is taking place.
Canadian-born Hashmi said he addressed the issue in a sermon
to the 150 to 200 people in his mosque last month and plans to do so again.
The issue hit the headlines as an Afghan immigrant
businessman, his wife and his son face trial for the 2009 drowning deaths of
the three teenagers, and of a fourth woman, said by the prosecution to have
been the businessman's first wife. The young women allegedly shamed the clan
with dating and other practices.
The three defendants deny the charges, and say it was all an
unfortunate accident that they had nothing to do with.
But in the murder trial the prosecution played a secretly
recorded tape of remarks the father, Mohammad Shafia, made to his son Hamed in
the weeks after the deaths: "Even if they hoist me up onto a gallows,
nothing is more dear to me than my honour."
The prosecution said Shafia had displayed unhappiness with
how his girls had been dressing and who they had been seeing. One of them had a
Spanish-speaking Christian boyfriend, who testified at the trial.
The UN Population Fund estimates that "honour
killings" claim the lives of 5,000 people a year.
The signatories to the Canadian call for action declared
their moral opposition to using the word "honour" to describe such
killings and decried "abhorrent and yet persistent pre-Islamic practices
routed in the misguided notion of restoring family honour."
"Islam is very strongly against these types of acts,
including domestic violence," Hashmi said.
But Muslim maverick Tarek Fatah, a frequent critic of
Islamic organisations, said it was dishonest to deny the Islamic roots of
He said he did not endorse the November 15 statement because
it did not address gender inequality.
"Unless they [the imams] come out distancing themselves
from the punishment of adultery by death, no progress can be made," he
The deaths these young women and their mother has been devastating on our community brutal act of premeditated murder has sent cold chills threw our Canadian sensibilities we look for love and caring in our families not false pride and the horror of evil vengeance of a father and son.