No doubt by now you have heard of Aqsa Parvez, the 16 year old girl who was killed by her father, allegedly over the removal of her hijab.
Needless to say, we are all shocked, horrified, and saddened. Yet I, for one, am also angry. Inevitably, the first thing that seems to be expected of us is a condemnation of this man's actions. And so here it is, my condemnation: What happened to Aqsa Pervez was WRONG, was not an “honour crime” but was, like all such crimes, dishonourable. It was, without a doubt, unIslamic. Nothing in the Shari'ah says that a girl may be killed if she removes her hijaab.
But you know what's even sadder? My condemnation is not purely sorrowful. It is tinged – more than tinged, it is stained – with anger at those who demand such a condemnation from me. Why, why, WHY is it that whenever someone who is Muslim, or has a Muslim-sounding name, does something… it's automatically blamed on Islam? Every time I'm expected to condemn something done by a Muslim, I want to demand in turn that all Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Wiccans, Communists, Germans (on behalf of the Nazis), and Caucasians apologize and condemn every single crime committed by those who belong to their religious or ethnic group.
What makes it worse is that there are those who would use this as an opportunity to hurt the Muslim community even more – in the name of Muslims themselves! Tarek Fatah, renowned fool and know-nothing who spews rubbish every time he opens his mouth, has caused even more damage in this article published in the National Post. It can be summarized as ignorant, muck-stirring, rabble-rousing, fear-mongering LIES that will only make the situation worse for Muslims.
Muslims in Canada are now going to have to deal not only with the grief and shock of Aqsa's murder, but can expect now to be looked at with suspicion and hatred from those who now think that Muslims are living some secret double-life. More than ever, Muslim men will be thought of as oppressors, fanatics, and radicals; more than ever Muslim women will be thought of as oppressed slaves, of living in fear.
I want to know why, when an “honour killing” happens amongst the Sikh community (and it's happened, more than once, where a girl was killed by her father or another male relative because they found out she had a secret boyfriend or something), it never gets so blown out of proportion as it is when Muslims are involved. The hypocrisy and double standards are sickening.
(The National Post is ingenious enough to also publish this article, which in one breath tells everyone that “Muslim honour killings” are coming to Canada, and in another breath 'reassures' everyone that it's probably just an isolated incident. Note the phrase “imported violent and backward practices” – that really gives you a good impression of immigrants, eh?)
This incident, however, also throws light on another major issue in the Muslim community: that of the Muslim youth, and their pride in their religion and identity as Muslims. It also forces us to think about how parents are dealing with kids who are going through the whole “Muslim-in-the-West” struggle.
Honestly, I think it's an over-worked topic. I've heard and read about it so much that I could probably list what's wrong with Muslim teens, and what the solution to their problems are, in my sleep. Sadly, there are others who, despite the staggering amount of resources dedicated to this issue, continue to struggle.
Rather than writing yet another article on the subject and recycle well-known points, I'll just use this as a reminder to you on the importance of interacting with youth and taking into consideration their concerns and issues. If nothing else, let this incident make you get up and start doing something to help the Muslim youth in your community.
To non-Muslims, I hope you read this article with a clear mind and realize that the Muslim community in Canada is neither a secret cult, or made up of hordes of “ignorant immigrants,” and we are most certainly not blind to the many issues going on in our community. Don't assume that we're all ostriches with our heads stuck in the sand (or snow, as the case may be at this time of the year). Don't think that we're all sitting silently on the sidelines, or that murder and abuse are commonplace in our home – they are not more prevalent than anything happening in your families.
I urge you to read more about Islam and Muslims (this website is a good start!), and better yet, to get to know Muslims personally. Discover for yourself how Muslims in Canada aren't all that different from you. Yes, we may have some beliefs and practices that differ from yours, but in general we share many of the same values. Those “Judeo-Christian” values, based on the Ten Commandments, that I'm constantly told Canada was founded upon – guess what? Muslims believe in each and every one of the Ten Commandments too. Food for thought, eh?
With that, I end my lengthy rant and pray that Allāh give us the strength and patience to deal with difficult situations such as this; and that He grant us the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to keep toughing it out succesfully. Āmīn!
Related: An example of much better reporting, from Yahoo! News.