Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saima Bibi, 17, a Pakistani Muslim girl who fell in love with a neighbour boy and ran off with him to Karachi. Unfortunately for her, there is a local honour code that punishes not only fornication but elopement as well. A village council, known as the panchayat, decided that Bibi had besmirched the honour of her family and declared a death sentence upon her. IOL described Bibi’s condition as follows.
“There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution,” said the police official, Zahoor Rabbani, from Bahawalpur district in east Pakistan where the alleged killing took place. He was speaking to Reuters by telephone.”Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani publicly expressed his dismay at the attacks, which shed a sorry light on unIslamic traditions and practices that are tolerated in Pakistani Islam.
What is the origin of a caste system in Pakistani Islam? Professor Yoginder Singh Sikand, head of the Centre for Studies on Indian Muslims at Hamdard University in New Delhi wrote as follows
This is not the only instance of Muslim caste related murders in Pakistan. Many of the estimated 650 yearly “honour killings” in Pakistan are related to violations of caste restrictions that are highly questionable under Islamic law. It is ironic that this murder that was committed to protect the “purity” of Bibi’s family is based upon a thoroughly contaminated version of Islam.
How often do Muslims coopt non Islamic practices to convert entire communities. Another instance where this has taken place is with “female genital mutilation, practiced in many African Muslim countries. Female genital mutlilation persists despite its widespread repudiation by Islamic scholars.
Killing and mutilating in the name of religious purity all too often masks a profound religious impurity. Saima Bibi’s father and uncle stand accused in her murder. It is they and not she who have disgraced her family.