Islam and Honor Killings

At present, there are numerous labels of negative connotations being associated with Islam. People all over the world fail to understand that culture and Islam are different in the Muslim population and the different acts which Muslims at present undertake because of their social or cultural constraints have nothing to do with Islam.

Although Islam in itself has the best culture, but Muslims at present have culture different from Islam but the west considers their culture as an Islamic culture. This notion is wrong and has nothing but biased bad name to Islam. One of such cultural phenomenon that has been defaming Islam is the act of honor-killing.

killings and Islam

All over the Muslim world there are people who kill women just because of the suspicion or even a proved fact that the women has defamed them by committing adultery. Although there have been very few cases in which such an action has been proved, however, still the figure of honor killing remains high. One must understand that honor killing has nothing to do with Islam and it is purely an act that is against the teaching of Islam and has no roots in Islam whatsoever. The lines below discuss how Islam views killing in general and honor killing in particular.

Allah Almighty says in Quran:

Killings in Islam

“Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.” (4:93)

From this ayah of Quran it is obvious that there is no room for killing a believer in Islam. Whoever intentionally kills a believer, the only reward left for him or her is the life of hell in the hereafter. Therefore, intentional killing of a believer in Islam is one of the gravest sins that a person can commit.

Further to killing Islam discusses the sanctity of human life as well. In Islam human life is one of the most sacred things and a Muslim is to care for life of others and make sure that no life is lost. Allah Almighty says in Quran:

Honor killing in Islam

“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if they killed all people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if they saved the life of all people.” (5:32)

From this ayah of Quran it again becomes clear that human life is sacred. One cannot kill a human unless the person being killed is spreading mischief in the world or life for life. Other than that saving  a life is saving humanity and killing one is killing humanity.

The possible hadith that the illiterate and Muslims with lack of knowledge use to justify the act of honor killing is as follows where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explained the situations when shedding of blood is allowed by saying:

“It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah except in three cases: a life for a life (murder), zina of one who is previously married (adultery), and the one who changes his religion and forsakes the jamaa’ah.” (Bukhari)

From the ayah one can find that killing an adulterer who is married is allowed in Islam. This is the justification which the people have for honor killing in a Muslim society. However, they don’t realize the fact that this hadith gives a general concept and the scholars have further discussed the conditions in which it is allowed.  The conditions are two:

  1. Firstly, the adulterer has to be previously married. It means that he or she would have had intercourse in a marriage, he or she is an adult, and in addition to being mentally sane they are free born as well. Therefore, those who are not married are not to be killed in the light of this hadith.
  2. The second condition for killing an adulterer is that there should be four male witnesses who would witness the meeting of the private parts of both the individuals involved in adultery. Moreover, this adultery is to be committed out of consent for the punishment to be valid.
  3. If it is supposed that the conditions are met, even then an individual does not have any right to kill the other, rather the power of punishment is to be given to the state justice system who would give an Islamic judgment on the matter.

From the mentioned hadiths it is clear that the only killing allowed pertaining to defaming of honor is the killing of an adulterer who is or has been previously married. It means that killing of women who are not married is not allowed in Islam, moreover, the one thing that most people forget is that this rule and law is equally applicable on men as well. Moreover, if the woman is found guilty of the crime, even then an individual does not have any right to kill another person or woman in particular.

  1. Usually in honor killing unmarried women are killed. The above discussion shows that even if proved, an unmarried woman cannot be killed for adultery. Therefore, whoever do it don’t do it from Islam rather they do it from their social or cultural roots.
  2. The above discussion also shows that mere accusation on a married woman pertaining to adultery is not sufficient enough for killing her. Rather, it is only allowed when there are witnesses available that testify to the adultery taking place and that too not out of forcefulness but out of consent.
  3. Most importantly the discussion shows that if there is to be honor killing then men were to be treated in the same was as are women because the ruling for killing a fornicator that Islam gives is free from gender biasness and both the genders are to be held equally responsible for the act and its consequences.


In a nutshell, there is no concept of honor killing in Islam. The only condition allowed is when adultery is done by a married person and the ruling is the same for both men and women without any discrimination. Therefore, the notion of killing unmarried women or killing women only in the name of honor killing is not Islamic at all.