Islamic Honor and Shame vs. Christian Beliefs


Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. Dwight D. Eisenhower 

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson

Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. Ronald Reagan

There are only two commandments in Christianity – 1) Love God with your whole heart and soul, 2) Love thy neighbor as thyself.    Jesus Christ, Sermon on the Mount


I am currently doing research on the Chinese Belt Road Initiative.   As such, I was going to write a chapter on the Chinese Pakistan corridor.    To do so I must become more knowledgeable in Pakistani culture.   Pakistan is almost 100% Muslim.  I was thinking that they think differently than we in the West so that aspect of their culture must be described.    About that time, I came across a very good article written by a woman who had lived in an Afghanistan harem that was Muslim.[i]   Her article is fascinating and informative.  First, it struck me that the West value system is Christian based whereas the Muslim value system is Islam based.

Christianity is a system that focuses on the individual.  Christians are expected to read the Bible, God’s word, and to use reason to determine God’s natural law as to what is right and wrong…   Only when the Christian can follow the two laws “Love Got” and “Love they neighbor as thyself” can that Christian feel peace.  This is an individual decision on his part as it affects only himself.   The Declaration of Independence follows this theme in stating that all men created equal and the they are endowed by their Creator not the state with certain inalienable rights that is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Thus, all humans are valuable in God’s eyes.

In strong contrast to the Christian Western, beliefs are those of Muslims based on Islam.  First, the method of determining what is right or wrong is based on the community – – – not the individual.    The Islam faith relies on community Shame that must be removed from the family by the blood of the individual that Shamed the family.    This is unheard of in American Christian communities.   On the other hand, a billion Muslims believe this.

In this article, we are talking about Honor Killings of women.  Let us be clear – An honor killing is a cold-blooded murder of girls and women simply because they are female.   Thus, being born into a shame and honor culture is potentially a capital crime.  Every girl has to keep proving that she is not dishonoring her family.   Nonetheless, a falsely accused girl can be killed on the spot.   Underlying this shame and honor culture is a number of beliefs not held by the Western world.  Among these are –

  • A girl’s fertility and reproductive capacity is “owned” by her family not the girl herself.
  • If a girl is perceived as “damaged goods”, her family must take care of her for the rest of her life.   This is a killing offense.
  • The girl’s virginity belongs to the family and is a token of their honor.
  • If the girl is not a virgin, the family must cleanse themselves of it with her blood.
  • If the girl is raped which happens in war, she is not clean and must be killed.

Now consider the girl’s life.  From birth, she knows that members of her own family might one day kill her for the slightest offense or no offense at all – – – and get away with it.  You know you cannot escape to a relative or legal forum and live free from the threat of death from this normalized cultural violence.

Further, if the girl wants to become Westernized having read about the West or lived there and she wants

  • To choose her own spouse
  • To refuse to marry her first cousin
  • To have infidel friends
  • To engage in sex outside of marriage

Then she exposes herself to death by family.  All of these are killing offenses.

The Muslim shame and honor code enforces social stability but one must give up individual rights and personal freedom.  This is the antithesis of Western beliefs.

Because divorce is unthinkable in tribal Muslim society, the society is

  • Stable
  • Polygamy is practiced by rich men
  • Purdah protects the women from external family rape but it does not protect the woman from family rape.

In agricultural regions, whole communities demand that the anti-women honor code be upheld.  The community will shun any family that does not kill a disobedient girl.  None will marry into the family and no one will do business with the family.  From birth, the girl has been indoctrinated into believing she has been born evil and has to cleanse that shame every day.

Such a girl will not understand that she is a human being with rights.  She just views herself as the daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece and wife – – as a member of the family whose welfare she has been born to serve.   Her body belongs to the collective.   If her husband beats her badly, her own family will be dishonored if she leaves the marriage.

If she flees to the West, she understands that the family will pursue her and try to kill her.  Therefore, she must hide, change her name and keep away from her family forever.

One would think that once one went west that these family Shame honor codes would die but they do not among the Muslims and sometimes the Sikhs (who are also Muslim).

Phylis Chesler has found in her research that with a few Sikh exceptions that these are Muslim – on-Muslim crimes.

In Europe, the situation is worse since the Muslim population is higher.  In virtually all instances, the murders are carefully planned conspiracies by multiple family of origin members – brothers, uncles, fathers and other male relatives.   Sometimes mothers help with the planning and enticing the daughter to come home.  Occasionally, they are hands on perpetrators.

It is important for Westerners to recognize that these murderers are treated as heroes in their communities.  In the West, they would be shunned and put in jail.    Hindus in India and Muslims worldwide treat these murderers as heroes for the honor killings.

The size of the global problem is difficult to size since so many get away with murder.  The U.N. consistently says that there are only 5,000 per year but simple arithmetic says that this is too low.  For instance –

  • India in 2010 reported 900
  • Northern Indian states reported 100-300 in 2010
  • Pakistan reported 800 in 2010

No one really knows but the numbers are high.

Research has shown that the murders are bi-modal.   The first mode is 17 years old and are killed by their families 81% of the time.    The second mode is 36 years old who are generally killed by their husbands but assisted by the family members (44%).   Basically, the Muslim on Muslim killing rates is 91%.

Hindus kill more often when their caste system is violated.   Hindus kill men as well as women.


In summary, it appears as if there is a tribal / family origin of most killings…  They are not necessarily religious mandated.  On the other hand, the religion is one of centralized family and its members associated with Allah rather than the individual associated with Jesus.   It is a religion that supports compliance to an image of family in relation to the God Allah.   This is a collective rather than an individual with a relationship with God.    One must be compliant and obedient or honor will be lost from the family and punishment must be incurred.  The punishment must be that the offender must die.  These are strange ideas to Christians where the relationship is between the God / Jesus and the individual and one must treat others as themselves with love.    Honor killings in a Christian society could not occur if the Christians were honoring their faith and loving their neighbor as themselves.    If a woman is raped, a Christian provides compassion, love, and understanding.   He does not feel any remorse for his family being insulted and thereby must get restitution.    Love God and Love thy Neighbor as thyself provides the bulwark of a successful and healthy society.   When avenging armies rape young teenagers as in the Mideast and Russia on Germany during WW II, the teenager needs love not to be sacrificed.  It was not her fault and it was not something that she desired. This throwback to the middle ages needs to be purged from Islam to bring them into a civilized world. This is barbarism.

For some reason, the Western press focuses on the Hindu honor killings in India and rarely on Muslim honor killings in North America.  This is the wrong focus.   They occur and this is a Christian nation.  They should be condemned and punished.

To correct the problem, requires education, consistent law enforcement and assistance from the clergy.   In addition, it will require the citizens to stand up and say this is wrong.   This is wholesale murder and should not be done anywhere but especially in America, which is, a nation founded by Christians and whose Declaration of Independence and Constitution and laws are based upon Christian principles.

[i] Phylis Carter, A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killings, “Honor Killing is Not Just a Muslim Problem”,

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