by Robert Spencer
A video of a woman, Najiba, being shot dead in Afghanistan while a cheering crowd yells “Allahu akbar,” “Long live Islam,” and “Long live mujahideen” has provoked international outrage. Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, called the shooting “a barbaric attack on a defenceless woman and another stark reminder of the brutalities that were regularly committed under Taliban rule, and of the task ahead of us in advancing the rights of Afghan women and girls.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Such deplorable actions underline the vital need for better protection of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.”
And so in the waning days of the West’s fruitless adventure in Afghanistan, at least two of our NATO allies have a new mission: protecting the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. The video itself makes clear that this will be an uphill battle; and in any case the fate of Afghan women and girls was sealed, at least as far as getting any help from the West was concerned, when the Western powers oversaw the adoption of a Constitution in Afghanistan that enshrined Islamic law as the highest law of the land.
But many Muslim spokesmen have denied that the murder of Najiba had anything to do with Islam or Sharia in the first place. Many have decried the fact that Najiba was executed for adultery when there doesn’t seem to have been any evidence presented. Maulavi Sidiqullah Fedayee, an Afghan Islamic scholar, explains: “Islam has very clear rules. These clear rules of Islam cannot be changed. Those who implement Shari’a simply on the basis of accusations do not have an adequate understanding of the rules of Islam….In a case of adultery, there must be four witnesses, and these witnesses must testify that they actually saw the woman and a man together engaged in sexual intercourse.”
Fedayee is correct: absent a confession (which, for all anyone knows, may have been obtained in Najiba’s case), Islamic law requires four male Muslim witnesses who actually saw the act of adultery in order to establish it. This odd stipulation is based on Qur’an 24:4 and 24:13, which in turn are based, according to Islamic tradition, on a notorious incident in Muhammad’s life: his favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of adultery and thus had to be put to death, whereupon Muhammad received a revelation requiring four witnesses. Aisha’s accusers didn’t have them, and so she was exonerated.
Also, according to Islamic law Najiba should have been stoned to death, not shot, if she was indeed guilty of adultery. That law is not in the Qur’an, but in one hadith the caliph Umar, one of Muhammad’s closest companions, maintained that it originally was, and was still Islamic law:
‘Umar said, “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” Sufyan added, “I have memorized this narration in this way.” ‘Umar added, “Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.” (Bukhari, vol. 8, bk. 82, no. 816)
And so Maulavi Sidiqullah Fedayee is correct: “Islam has very clear rules,” and by them one can evaluate whether or not Najiba was put to death justly from an Islamic standpoint. This belies the smooth deceptions that Islamic supremacists, faced with growing opposition to Sharia in the U.S., peddle about Islamic law. Reza Aslan, for example, has claimed: “There’s really no such thing as just Sharia, it’s not one monolithic Continuum – Sharia is understood in thousands of different ways over the 1,500 years in which multiple and competing schools of law have tried to construct some kind of civic penal and family law code that would abide by Islamic values and principles, it’s understood in many different ways.”Yet neither Reza Aslan nor any other Muslim spokesman in the U.S. can point to any version of Sharia that does not mandate stoning for adultery, or polygamy, or female genital mutilation, or the devaluation of a woman’s testimony in court and inheritance rights, or any number of other provisions that ultimately make it impossible for the Western powers, despite the best intentions of Bob Carr and William Hague, to succeed in “advancing the rights of Afghan women and girls.”
Even if Najiba was the victim of an extrajudicial murder that violated the tenets of Islamic law, those tenets are oppressive enough for women as to ensure that the “rights of Afghan women and girls” will continue to be contravened in numerous ways, whether or not the Taliban returns to power – as long as Islam remains the dominant political and religious ideology of the land. Even if Najiba was killed unjustly in a manner that does not accord with Islamic law, other women are treated unjustly on a regular basis in Afghanistan in ways that accord perfectly with Islamic law: denied a just inheritance, treated as a commodity in a polygamous arrangement with a much older man, silenced in court, beaten (in accord with Qur’an 4:34), and more.
Everywhere that Sharia has ever been implemented, women have been oppressed, and always in the very same ways. For Carr and Hague, and other Western spokesmen who have deplored the murder of Najiba, to treat that murder as an isolated incident betrays an astonishing naivete, particularly from career diplomats who hold the post of Foreign Minister in their respective nations. They should both know that untold numbers of women suffer injustices up to and including the loss of life in Afghanistan on a daily basis; Najiba’s case is singular only in that it was filmed.
If Australia and Britain had Foreign Ministers worth their salt, they would be denouncing Sharia and calling for equal justice for women and non-Muslims in Muslim countries.
We could use a Secretary of State who would do that here, too. But the chances of getting one are about as good as those of Mitt Romney winning the Kentucky Derby.Robert Spencer
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