Last month in Afghanistan, two men on a motorcycle hurled acid at a group of eight Afghan schoolgirls in a shocking attack that is making headlines around the world. The girls were walking to Mirwaiz Minna Girl’s School in broad daylight in Kandahar when the attack occurred.
Three of the eight girls were hospitalized with serious burns and others have been treated and released. At least two of the girls still in hospital were blinded. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi has denied that his group was involved.
In Palestine, a hitherto unknown group calling itself the Just Swords of Islam issued a warning to Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip that they must wear the hijab or face being targeted.
In pamphlets distributed in various parts of Gaza, the group also said its followers threw acid at the face of a young woman who was dressed "immodestly" in the center of Gaza City. They also destroyed a car belonging to a young man who was playing his radio too loudly.
Addressing female students, the group said: "We will have no mercy on any woman who violates the traditions of Islam and who also hang out in Internet cafes."
According to the group, its members used rocket-propelled grenades to attack 12 Internet cafes and a number of music shops in different parts of the Gaza Strip.
It said the places were targeted because they were "distracting an entire generation of Palestinians from their duty to worship [Allah] and jihad so that they could serve their Zionist masters and the Crusaders.â€
Where is the Muslim outrage at all this? Why has no known religious scholar not condemned it? Why is this silence on the part of those who present Islam as a peaceful religion? Why have those Muslim women’s organizations who were championing the case of Mukhtaran Bai, a gang rape victim in Pakistan, been so silent?
Doubtless, what was done by a group of insane fanatics deserves to be condemned by every Muslim of conscience. No one can justify these despicable attacksâ€”not under any interpretation of Islam. Those who do these things are against Islam, and have crossed all limits in expressing their anger at something they disapprove of.
Our religious scholars, so quick to issue fatwas on almost every issue, have still to denounce these attackers who are targeting women because their behavior and attitude does not conform to their distorted view of Islam.
Let us be clear on this issue. Islam has no place for such an action. A genuine Muslim authority would punish these vicious vigilantes.
Why is it that women have to bear the brunt of the wrath of a few holier-than-thou people? No matter what we say, the fact is that there are some elements within the Muslim community who assign a lower and inferior status to women. They distort the teachings of Islam as explained in the Qur`an and the Sunna of the Prophet (s) to serve their own agenda.
They believe a woman must stay at home. They demand that women not be equal partners in the reconstruction of Muslim society. They do not like their women to acquire education, and they insist that women are born crooked and can never be a constructive force in the Muslim community.
Their ideas distort everything that Islam stands for. Their views project a male chauvinistic attitude displayed through human history by those who believe that man are created superior because of their physical and intellectual strength. Even though Islam declared openly and clearly that "If men are capable of submitting to the will of Allah, so are women; if men are capable of developing a conviction in the supremacy of Allah, so are women; if men can be devout to Allah, so can women; if men can be true to their word, so can women; if men can be patient in adversity, so can women; if men can humble themselves before Allah, so can women; and if men can give charity, so can women; if men are capable of controlling their chastity, so are women; and if men can remember Allah unceasingly, so can women. Indeed for all of them Allah has readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward."
With such a charter of equal responsibilities and rights, how can anyone claiming to be a Muslim dare to demean women? Indeed, a true commitment to Islam demands that these kinds of acts should be condemned in the loudest possible voice. Not only that, but such people should be brought to justice through severe punishment, and boycotted until they return to their sanity. Both men and women have been asked by Allah the Creator to maintain a higher level of modesty in their behavior and attire. People do not have a right to punish the deviants on the basis of their understanding of Islam. They may chastise people who deviate in a manner that is approved by the Qur`an, but they cannot take the law into their own hands.
Ati Ullah wa Atiur Rasul, wa ulul amri minkum
Obey Allah, Obey Prophet (s), and obey those in authority
Therefore a Muslim cannot just do whatever he wants outside of the laws of those in authority, not to mention that it is a crime against Allah and to His Prophet (s) to abuse the community of the Holy Prophet (s) in such a terrible and vicious manner.
Islam demands the supremacy of law and takes a stand against anarchy. For instance, in almost every Muslim county, the act of theft is committed daily, yet no one is allowed to take the law into one’s hand to chop off the hand of a thief.
What was done in Afghanistan and Palestine is no more than an act of anarchy and vicious mistreatment against people who do not conform to very strict and ill-considered ideals of cruel people who are ignorant about Islam.
This anarchy must not be tolerated, and we beg those in authority, whether the religious leaders or the political authorities, to put an end to such unbridled and terrible actions.