07 April 2005

Time of Ignorance, Culture of Death

Maybe there is some significance to the natural death of Pope John Paull II coming so soon after the killing by deliberate neglect of Terri Schiavo, who had been in a "Persistent Vegetative State" for 15 years. His Holiness accused Western Culture of becoming a Culture of Death in its willingness to practice abortion at the beginning of human life and euthanasia at its end.

But I would like to draw your attention to another killing and another culture of death. Hatun Surucu was a 23-year old woman of Turkish descent, living in Berlin. As WorldNet Daily put it, "Surucu had taken her 5-year-old son and run away from her husband of eight years, a cousin with whom she was united in an arranged marriage." Apparently she was killed by her brothers. It was the sixth "honor killing" in as many months, and the 45th in the last 8 years, among the 200,000 member Turkish community in Berlin. Surucu was killed because she dishonored her family by "living like a German."

In a related story, two other women, one who had married without her family's permission, and her sister who had run away from the same family to join her, were hacked to death by their axe-wielding brothers in Jordan for the same reason: to uphold the family honor. Jordan punishes such a crime with sentences as light as six months in prison.

Now, I've read the Qur'an and have no memory of any commandment in it to carry out such atrocities. Islamic clerics have also claimed as much. But many of the world's Muslims believe such "honor killings" are Islamic. They are not. Honor killings have been carried over into Islamic culture from the pre-Islamic Jahilliyah, or "Time of Ignorance."

In many Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East, the Jahilliyah is considered to be an impure and useless time, unworthy of scholarly study, unfit for retention in the popular imagination. However, if this period were better studied, and if the studies were published for a lay audience, more Muslims would realize how much of their religion is contaminated with ancient customs which the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought to reform. And Islamic culture would become less a Culture of Death for its women.


melodion said...

Modern Islam is not known for its introspection.

On a brighter note, Saudi Arabia just banned forced marriage, and will begin employing females in its foreign ministry.

Anneliese said...

I think it's terrible and very sad that honour killings happen, but what may be worse is our ignorance towards issues such as these. I, going on 17, hear nothing of these 'honour killings' in Australia, through my own ignorance or the society in which I live I am not sure. It's really shocking that this sort of thing still happens, and I agree, I'm pretty sure it has no commandment in the Qur'an in which it would ever be appropriate to carry out these murders. You would think that no matter what society you live in, murder would still be murder, whether 'honour' or not. Isn't that ethics? Our innate sense of right and wrong? *sigh* The whole subject really frustrates me.