Two Views on the Tragedy of Aasiya Zubair Hassan

These two views appear simultaneously in the Washington Post / Newsweek On Faith forum

1) Daisy Khan, Executive Director of ASMA Society (American Society for Muslim Advancement), writes: 

While I would unequivocally assert that domestic violence and religion share no connection, that religion encourages harmonious relationships in the home, nonetheless, we would be naïve to ignore the fact that some men use religious justifications to spread hate in the home. Their actions stem from other factors, namely psychological problems (a superiority complex), cultural distortions of religion (withholding rights and dignity from women), and other, economic or personal factors (frustration and anger taken out at home). But this is not religion.

The apt question, therefore, is not "Is there a connection between religion and domestic violence," but rather, what are religious leaders and laypeople doing to combat these practices? Our leaders must unequivocally deny these actions, both from within the faith and the law of the land; furthermore, they must take proactive steps to tackle the issue within our communities, whatever its many causes.

In the context of Islam, certain passages of the Holy Qur’an have been misunderstood and manipulated to justify domestic violence, despite the fact that Islam’s exemplar, the Prophet Muhammad, always treated his wives with total respect and dignity. Furthermore, he never used physical violence. Significantly, Muslims and prominent scholars from across diverse geographic and ideological communities are now challenging certain patriarchal interpretations of these passages. For example, Laleh Bakhtiar, the first American Muslim woman to translate the Qur’an into English (The Sublime Quran) and prominent male scholars contend that the larger message of Islam, both in the Qur’an and through the Prophet’s life, absolutely condemns violence in the home and violence against women.

2)  Willis E. Elliott, an ordained United Church of Christ and American Baptist minister writes:

American Muslim leaders have been quick to condemn the beheading of a woman by her Muslim husband in Buffalo, saying it has nothing to do with religion. Is there a connection between religion and domestic violence?

1…..This week’s "On Faith" questions hit me with a flurry of questions:
1.1…..Have any non-American Muslim leaders condemned the beheading?
1.2….."Quick" after the beheading, could anybody know whether, in the murderer’s mind, religion had anything to do with his crime?
1.3…..Since beheading is a solid Muslim tradition & contemporary practice, how could any Muslim leader say that a particular beheading by a Muslim had "nothing to do with religion"?
1.4…..Since the beheader was religious, and of a religion that practices beheading, how – in light of this event – could anyone ask whether there is "a connection between religion and domestic violence"?

2…..I take no pleasure in citing any evidence of Islamic beheadings, and do so only because of widespread denials of it by some Muslims and consequent widespread public confusion on the subject. I’ll cite only one reference in the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an: "smite their necks…slaughter…." (2.47.4 "Muhammad"). Subsequent Muslim literature ( including hadith and sharia law) is replete with instructions on beheadings. / CIA agent William Buckley was beheaded in Iran after Hezbollah kidnapped him in Lebanon and sent him to Iran. American journalist Daniel Pearl’s beheading was broadcast on Muslim television. / I was saddened, but not surprised, when a Muslim took the law (that is, sharia) into his own hands and beheaded his wife. Not that domestic murder is uncommon; but in the West, beheading is uncommon.

3…..I’ve seen no poll indicating, in cases of domestic violence, the presence or absence of religion as factor. I do know that wife-beating (but not wife-beheading) is approved in Islam (Qur’an 1.4.38 "Women"), and nowhere approved in Christian writings (indeed, it would be virtual masochism: "husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies" [Ephesians 5:28]). / The Buffalo Muslim who beheaded his wife had the Islamic right to beat her, and he probably did, but that treatment proved inadequate to subdue her.

See: On Faith Forum

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