“Honor killing” is a very ironic thing. There is no honor in taking the life of a sister or mother or wife who is perceived to bring “dishonor” to the family. However, there was no honor when Waseem Azeem drugged and strangled his sister Fouzia Azeem – better known as Qandeel Baloch – because of some taunts from his friends about her career as a social media star. There is no honor in killing, period.
A few days ago, I was browsing through articles on the tragic murder of Qandeel Baloch when I suddenly found myself on her Facebook page. Morbid curiosity got the better of me and I started scrolling through her photos and posts, trying to learn about this so-called “dishonorable” Pakistani model, actress and social media celebrity extraordinaire.
[Read Related: “What the Qandeel Baloch Murder Means to South Asian Women”]
I found pictures, some were poor quality, most were fashionable, and many were provocative photos. There were full body shots in tight and revealing clothing and camera angles that showed a lot of skin – in one post, Qandeel gave a close up of her breasts and captioned it as: “Gift for fans.”
What I did not find was someone whose actions merited death. In those many photos I saw, I found a woman who’d been forced into an unwanted marriage at 17. I saw a woman who’d left the confines of an abusive marriage. And this woman, who had struggled and survived, found no sympathy from her community – because women like Qandeel are supposed to accept such a life as their only reality. So in a cruel and spiteful society like this, Qandeel found solace through a social media platform, because even though the attention she received was twisted, with many perverted and slimy followers, here, at least, she could feel valued and appreciated – maybe even loved.
If people want to cite Islam, allow me to remind you that all Muslims know that Allah’s judgment is the only one that matters. As stated in Surah Al-Mai’ida in verse 40:
“Do you not know that Allah (alone) belongs to the dominion of the heavens and the earth? He punishes whom He pleases, and he forgives whom He pleases” and Allah has power over all things.”
A woman who wears the hijab is not any better than a woman who doesn’t—Qandeel’s faith isn’t something others have a right to scrutinize.
If people want to cite Islam, allow me to remind you that Imam as-Sadiq (AS) stated that,
“One of the characteristics of the Prophets of Allah is that they are all kind towards their wives.”
A father of a daughter and a husband of a wife are tasked with the duty to advise the women in their family to follow an Islamic lifestyle. But this guardianship is never meant to be forced upon the woman. Decisions of hijab and faith ultimately are her own choices to make.
If people want to cite Islam, allow me to remind you all of this hadith:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu): “Al-Fadl bin Abbas rode behind Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) as his companion rider on the back portion of his she-camel on the day of Nahr (slaughtering of sacrifice, 10th Dhul-Hijja) and Al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) stopped to give the people verdicts (regarding their matters). In the meantime, a beautiful woman from the tribe of Khatham came, asking the verdict of Allah’s Messenger. Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) looked behind while Al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of Al-Fadl and turned his face (to the other side) in order that he should not gaze at her. She said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! The obligation of performing Hajj enjoined by Allah on his worshippers has become due (compulsory) on my father who is an old man and who cannot sit firmly on the riding animal. Will it be sufficient that I perform Hajj on his behalf?’ He said, ‘Yes.'” [Sahih Bukhari].
Never once did the Prophet (PBUH) tell the woman to cover up, he told his friend to look away.
Honor killing has no Islamic premise. This awful, inhumane, archaic practice is a cultural crime that needs to be addressed by societies like Pakistan, Uganda, Israel and more.