Posted by Rizwan Rabbani
Source: The Whig Standard -
With the topic still very fresh in the minds of Kingstonians, one organization felt it was the ideal time to travel here to deliver a message: the Islamic faith does not condone the concept of so-called honour killings.
That is why volunteers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association came to Kingston over the past weekend and set up open houses in four of the city’s public libraries.
In fact, volunteers from the organization had also been here the week before, going door-to-door throughout Kingston denouncing honour killings as the jury delivered a guilty verdict in the Kingston Mills murder trial.
That day, jurors found Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Yahya Mohammad, and their son, Hamed, each guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of four family members, found dead in a car submerged outside the locks at Kingston Mills June 30, 2009.
The open houses, called “Tribute to Mother Mary (An Islamic Perspective),” aimed to promote religious harmony and dispel myths and misconceptions about Islam. Most of all, however, the goal was educate the public about the status given in Islam to Mother Mary and women in general, and explain what Islam has to say about honour killing.
Rizwan Rabbani explained further why the religious organization felt the need to host the open houses, which are being held in cities across Canada. Rabbani is the national executive director of the department of faith outreach for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.
“What the Qur’an has to say mater of fact in regards to honour killing? Simple: If you kill one person, it’s like you’ve killed all mankind,” Rabbani said.
“You have no right to kill any human being, you cannot kill anybody.”
Rabbani explained that, furthermore, in Islam there is no compulsion in religion. This means that Muslims are not supposed to force their views on anyone, let alone their family members. As parents, Rabbani said, the role is to educate your children.
For example, when it comes to a man’s daughter taking the hijab, the traditional hair and neck covering worn by Muslim women: the father’s role is to educate his daughter as to why it is a good idea to take the hijab. The father is not supposed to force his daughter to take the hijab, but rather explain why Muslim women have done so historically. Alternatively, Rabbani said, a father can encourage his daughter to dress modestly instead.
The association decided on the Mother Mary in Islam theme for this particular open house for a reason, Rabbani said.
“You know, there’s a big fuss that women get discriminated in Islam, women get suppressed in Islam, women don’t get their rights,” Rabbani explained.
“(As a) matter of fact, the right to vote, the right to choose (a) husband, the right to divorce —these rights were given to woman 1,400 years ago by Holy Qur’an. I mean, we have looked into these things.”
Rabbani did not deny that there are places in the world where women are oppressed, nor that some of those places are predominantly Muslim in faith. However, he said, there is a difference between religion and culture.
“You can’t really blame it on the Holy Qur’an or the religion itself,” Rabbani said of countries where the rights of women are not respected the way the Qur’an directs.
“Maybe it’s a cultural or a traditional thing,” he said.
Rabbani’s colleague, Imtiaz Ahmed, also shed some light on women’s rights and honour killings in Islam, and how the shock and horror experienced by the general public over the Kingston Mills murder case reflected poorly on Muslim communities.
Ahmed is a missionary with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and arrived back in Canada just over a week ago from a mission in remote African villages. He has devoted his life to Islam, and has his Masters in religion.
“First of all, Islam has nothing to do with honour killing. This has to be understood very carefully. The guidelines for Muslims are the Holy Qur’an and the example of the holy prophet,” Ahmed said.
“If you look at these two sources, that is we do not find a single example (of honour killings).”
Ahmed said that for Muslims, the Qur’an is the law, and the prophet Muhammad is an example of how Muslims are supposed to live by that law.
“So if he doesn’t follow this, he does not participate in honour killing, then no Muslim has right whatsoever to participate or do honour killing in the name of Islam.”
Ahmed expanded, saying that killing in the name of a god is something that has happened the world over and involved those of many religions. Rabbani, too, explained that in all the research he has done, more of these so-called honour killings happen in China than in predominantly Muslim nations.
Ahmed said that now the most important thing for the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community and the Youth Association is to continue to tour Canada dispelling misconceptions about Islam. Additionally, the group has to continue to come to the same places, he said. This past weekend was the groups third trip to Kingston, and they intend to come back, he said.
“It is very important for us to come on regular basis, on consistent basis to come and educate people,” Ahmed said, adding that those over 4,000 volunteers who participate in the open houses hosted by the association could be at home relaxing on the weekends.
“It is more important to us that people are being misguided and that Islam, god forbid, is a religion of terror or a religion that promotes honour killing, a religion that does not give rights to women,” he said.
“Islam has nothing to do with these things. (The problem) people who do these things and then they use religion as a tool to promote their ideology.”