Agra, India is home to one of the most famous monuments to love in the world — the Taj Mahal. In Agra, on the Feast of St. Valentine’s Day, came the sad news that a young “Romeo,” a Hindu man named Sonu, took his own life after learning that his “Juliet,” a Muslim woman named Fauzia, had been murdered in an “honor killing” by her family for the “crime” of being in love with him.
Thousands of Muslim women fall victim to “honor killing” each year. Perhaps most disturbing of all is that one can find defense of “honor killing” even within the pages of the New York Times. Has our “tolerance” for Islam become so all-consuming that we will even embrace the murder of young women who have fallen in love with the “wrong” men?
Romeo and Juliet were the main characters in a play by the same name written by the famous playwright William Shakespeare. Being members of rival families, their love for each other was a “forbidden love”. As part of a plan to be with Romeo, Juliet fakes her own death using a potion. Romeo finds Juliet’s lifeless body and, believing her to actually be dead, is stricken with grief. Unable to bear the thought of being without Juliet, Romeo takes his own life with a dagger. When Juliet awakens and finds Romeo dead, she uses the dagger to take her own life. So tragically ends the play Romeo and Juliet.
Fauzia and Sonu, too, experienced forbidden love. The families of both were opposed to their relationship. When Fauzia died, her family claimed that she had committed suicide and buried her quickly. Sonu, unable to bear life without her, took his own life in the marketplace. Sonu’s sister reported to the authorities that Fauzia had been killed by her family in an “honor killing“. After exhuming Fauzia’s body, the police found that the cause of death was, indeed, strangulation.
Seldom is domestic violence celebrated, even by its perpetrators. In the West, wife batterers are ostracized. Here, there is an important difference in honor crimes. Muslims who commit or assist in the commission of honor killings view these killings as heroic and even view the murder as the fulfillment of a religious obligation. A Turkish study of prisoners found no social stigma attached to honor murderers. While advocacy organizations such as CAIR denounce any link between honor killings and Islam, many sheikhs still preach that disobedient women should be punished. Few sheikhs condemn honor killings as anti-Islamic. Honor killings are not stigmatized.
But the couple should never have married without permission.
We certainly all value honor in families, and there are many who would argue that some things may be important than love. When it comes to honor killing, however, nothing short of outright condemnation will suffice.
Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents’ strife.The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,And the continuance of their parents’ rage,Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;The which if you with patient ears attend,What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.