TORONTO - Experts have agreed that honor killings, which dominated headlines after the grisly family murder in Canada, are driven by cultural and tribal reasons and are not sanctioned by Islamic teachings.
"There is nothing in the Quran that justifies honor killings, Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in England, told CNN.
There is nothing that says you should kill for the honor of the family."
Honor Killing from an Islamic Perspective
Murder in the Name of Honour Honor Killings in Non- Muslim Communities
An Afghan father, his wife and son were found guilty by a Canadian court this week in the honor killing of his three daughters and first wife in 2009.
The ruling has spurred accusations that the killing is sanctioned by the Islamic faith, a claim denied by experts.
"This idea that 'somehow a girl has besmirched our honor and therefore the thing to do is kill her' is bizarre, and Muslims should stop using this defense," Hargey said.
The expert insisted that the honor killing is cultural and societal, than religious.
"You cannot say this is what Islam approves of. You can say this is what their culture approves of."
The convicted father himself denied that he was prompted by kill his daughters by his faith.
"In our religion, a person who kills his wife or daughter, there is nothing more dishonorable," he testified.
In Islam, there is no place for unjustifiable killing as the case in honor killing.
Even in case of capital punishment, only the government can apply the law through the judicial procedures.
Though portrayed in the Western media as exhorted by Islam, honor killing is a cultural act and has nothing to do with the faith.
Experts stressed that culture and tribalism, not religion, are the cause behind honor murders.
"It's not linked to religion; it's more cultural," Nadya Khalife, a researcher on women's rights in the Arab world for Human Rights Watch, told CNN.
"There have been several Islamic scholars who have issued fatwas against honor killing."
She said that the problem exists in many countries and among immigrant communities.
"It's definitely a problem that happens in many different places: the Middle East, Pakistan, Bangladesh and among immigrant communities in North America," she said.
Azyumardi Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta, agrees, citing the case of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.
"No such a practice can be found among Indonesian Muslims," Azra said.
'Honor killing' is, I believe, a cultural problem among Arab and South Asian Muslims. I don't think that kind of practice has an Islamic basis.
Author Irshad Manji shares a similar view.
It is "a tribal tradition that emphasizes the family or the tribe or the community over the individual," she said.
However, Manji opines that many Muslims don't understand this distinction.
"It is a problem within Islam because of how Muslims often confuse culture and religion," she said."It's Muslims who have to learn to separate culture and religion. If we don't, Islam will continue to get the bad name that it gets."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net