Muqadas screamed in horror as her stepfather, Nazir Ahmed, covered her mouth with his hand and slit her throat with a machete. Her screams awakened her mother, and from the corner of the room, Mrs. Bibi helplessly looked on as her husband mercilessly slaughtered their other three daughters: Bano, 8, Sumaira, 7, and Humaira, 4. He only paused to brandish the knife at this horrified wife, warning her not to intervene or raise alarm.

"I was shivering with fear. I did not know how to save my daughters," Bibi, sobbing, later said in an Associated Press article. "I begged my husband to spare my daughters, but he said, 'If you make a noise, I will kill you.' The whole night the bodies of my daughters lay in front of me."

Ahmed, who was arrested the next morning, was totally unrepentant: "I told the police that I am an honorable father, and I slaughtered my dishonored daughter and the three other girls." When asked why he killed the three young girls, he replied, "I thought the younger girls would do what their eldest sister had done, so they should be eliminated."

What did the eldest daughter do to be slaughtered like an animal? She was accused of adultery by her husband, from whom she fled because he had allegedly abused her and forced her to work in a brick-making factory. Mr. Ahmed had only one regret: "I wish that I get a chance to eliminate the boy she ran away with and set his home on fire." Police have said they do not know the identity or whereabouts of Muqadas' alleged lover.

I wish I could say that the story I've related came from a Hollywood film. Sadly, however, it is the true account of a recent so-called "honor killing" in Gago Mandi, a village in eastern Punjab province in Pakistan, according to the Associated Press. The Chicago Tribune reported a similar account of an honor killing in London: Heshu Yones, a 16-year old West London girl, had her throat slit by her father because she "had sullied the family dating without his permission."

The story is always the same: A woman is accused of fornication or adultery and then mercilessly slaughtered by a male member of her family to uphold the "family's honor." From where did this "Islamic tradition" originate? Where in the Qur'an does it sanction the murder of a woman on an accusation of adultery? What sort of barbarity is this?

Yes, the Qur'an, like other religious texts, does prohibit fornication and adultery: "And do not commit adultery, for behold, it is an abomination and an evil way (17:32)." But the prohibition is for males and females. So how could it be that the "family honor is stained" if a woman allegedly commits adultery, but there is no such worry when its male members "sow their wild oats?"

No one can call "defending the family's honor" an act of justice.
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How could someone like Nazir Ahmed be unrepentant about killing his own flesh and blood--children who haven't even been accused of anything--when the very next Qu'ranic verse in chapter 17 says, "And do not take any human being's life--[the life] which God has willed to be sacred--otherwise than in [the pursuit] of justice ... (17:33)." By no stretch of the imagination can one call "defending the family's honor" an act of "justice," let alone murdering children on the notion that they may commit adultery in the future.

According to the Chicago Tribune article, it is estimated that 5,000 women worldwide are massacred every year to "defend the family honor." What is happening here? According to the Qur'an, if someone fails to bring four witnesses to back up an accusation of adultery, then the accuser is punished severely. So why does this occur in the 21st century? What's next? Burying infant girls alive?

That is what Arabs, before Islam, used to do to their unwanted daughters. The Qur'an rejected and condemned this entrenched hostility towards the female more than 14 centuries ago: "For, whenever any of them is given the glad tiding of [the birth of] a girl, his face darkens, and he is filled with suppressed anger, avoiding all people because of the [alleged] evil of the glad tiding which he has received, [and debating within himself]: Shall he keep this [child] despite the contempt [which he feels for it]--or shall he bury it in the dust? Oh, evil indeed is whatever they decide! (16:58-59)"

I mean with women being killed for "honor," all that is left is to start worshipping statues of wood and stone once again!

It is the return of the Sith, the evil Jedi who were supposed to have been destroyed years ago, but who secretly came back and formed the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars series. Similarly, the ugly face of "honor killings" has crept back into the fabric of Muslim societies when it should have been eliminated centuries before.

I have heard people try to explain it away by saying, "This is their culture. It is not our place to judge such behavior, no matter how repugnant." That kind of thinking is unacceptable. Innocent women and girls are being brutally murdered on mere pretense and accusation. No culture should tolerate such barbarity, and this should be especially true of Muslim-populated cultures. It is a cancer that must be removed from the body of the Muslim world, and it can only be done by Muslims themselves.

There has to be a major process of re-education to teach ignorant Muslims about how Islam condemned such practices more than 14 centuries ago. Moreover, those who commit such heinous crimes must be tried and punished according to the rule of law. With such clear verses in the Qur'an warning against the killing of young girls (and by extension anyone else), one would think such a process of re-education would be easy. Unfortunately old habits die hard. But this is one habit that has to die again, and this time for good.

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