I’m Gonna Break the Cycle

Assiya Rafiq, right, in front of her mother, Iqbal Mai.

Assiya Rafiq, right, in front of her mother, Iqbal Mai.

And I’m not talking about Madonna here.

As a Syrian and a Muslim it pains me to say this. But, there is an Arabic proverb that says “you see the sliver in other peoples’ eyes, yet fail to see the pole in your own.” So, just because I’d rather not be own of ‘those people’ I’m going to say it like it is.

By this day and age, everyone has heard of those horrific honour killings. Your daughter, sister, mother disgraces you and your family? Off with their head! Forget that there’s a God involved here, or a shariaa law that – as a Muslim – you’re bound to obey, or even basic concepts like humanity and familial ties.

When I first moved to Syria, a video was circulating depicting the public beating and killing of a woman. Oh Allah. My cousins held me down and forced me to watch. I’m not going to go into details but those images will be with me to my dying day. Thank God there is a God who will see that justice is meted out in the end, because we live in one cruel world!

It’s so sickening. When you hear of these people who contrary to everything they should know as humans and as muslims, acting in cruel, heartless ways. Don’t they fear God?? What goes around will come around… Ya Allah!

What bought this to mind was the story of Assiya Rafiq. Assiya Rafiq was kidnapped at the age of 16 and repeatedly raped and beaten by a group of thugs. A year later, once they’d had their fill, they delivered her to a police station. Unfortunately, salvation and peace were a long time coming, and Assiya was subjected to rape by the four police officers.

This all took place in Pakistan. Now, in Pakistan, the only option available to a woman who has undergone the shame of rape is to commit suicide. That was she cleanses herself and her family name. Never mind that she is innocent, or that suicide is FORBIDDEN in Islam.

But this particular woman isn’t having any of that. She’s fighting the system, demanding to have her rights recognized and the men who raped her prosecuted.

I’m in awe of her bravery. When I was in Syria, I faced that cultural wall quite a few times, when culture dictated I do something completely contrary to my beliefs. And even though it wasn’t something as oppressing and merciless as rape, I still felt as though I were being backed into the proverbial corner. It was not a pleasant experience. Some days I stuck by my beliefs. Others a faltered. May God give her the strength to see this through and break that damn cycle!




Filed under Cultural Observations, Head-Bangers, Ignorance, islam, News, Rant, Syria

13 responses to “I’m Gonna Break the Cycle

  1. This just plain broke my heart.

  2. Any man who commits rape or any kind of honour killing is not a Muslim to me. I can`t even think of anyone who does this as a human being because they obviously have the most distorted morals and values out there.

  3. Ayesha

    This is such a painful story but this woman is so brave! InshaAllah those men will get exactly what’s coming to them.


  4. I can’t speak for other parts of the world but I do know that in Pakistan, more and more women are beginning to stand up against the whole rape stigma. Mukhtar Mai and Shazia Khalid are two famous examples of this. Mukhtar Mai was gang raped and Shazia Khalid was raped by a police officer if I remember correctly. Both of these women went public with their stories. In fact, Mukhtar Mai was Glamour Magazine’s woman of the year. Khalid unfortunately had to leave Pakistan and went to London. Interestingly enough, there’s a connection to Khalid and Canada.

    Musharraf essentially came out and said that the officer in question wasn’t guilty. Eventually, she had to leave Pakistan because she kept getting hounded by everyone. While in London she applied to Canada for immigration; she has some relatives living in Toronto I think. During that whole application process, Terrance McKenna made a documentary on her which aired on CBC. From what I know, her application got denied.

    But these two women were in such horrid states of mind, both wanted to commit suicide. But they were brave and strong enough to stand up and demand justice and allow other women in similar cases demand justice for their cases, both for honour killings and honour rapes and rapes in general.

    I don’t know whats going on with Shazia Khalid nowadays but Mukhtar Mai opened up a girls school in her village where she teaches Quran. She opened up that school with the money she received from the government for her case.

  5. Great post! I totally agree with you and wish this woman the best of luck in breaking this horrid cycle!

  6. Specs – don’t it just?

    ‘Liya – I couldn’t agree more.

    Ayesha – InshAllah. May Allah increase her in strength and eman!

    Student – Yeah I remember Mukhtar Mai!! Thank you for the informative response. May God grant them all ease and justice, ameen!

    Susanne – God willing =)

  7. Sorry but there’s no such thing as “honor killing” in Islam.

    This is a term imposed on Muslims by the Western Media simply to bash Islam… the flavor of the year! Those criminals who commit a crime labeled as “honor” killing, are simply tribal assholes living in a pile of shit regardless of their religious beliefs. I could get more descriptive but I’ll stop here!

    If these Pakis had anything alive in there ^%$# bodies they would rush to support Assiya and get justice! Otherwise they can sit and wait for God’s wrath to destroy them!


  8. ATW, your thoughts are appreciated but lose the racial slurs.

  9. I don’t beleive ATW meant to “Pakis” as in all Pakistani people, but rather those who were and are involved in such cases.

    Because this is by no means limited to Pakistanis. I personally know a man in Syria who committed a so-called ‘honour killing’…. on the basis of a rumour spread by a particularly malicious bunch. It grosses me out. And so yeah, I agree. It’s not an “honour” killing. In their twisted minds however, that is what it amounts to. They commit these horrendous acts in order to protect their twisted sense of honour, especially – as is the case of the man I know – in the eyes for their community and society. AstaghfirAllah. But regardless or how horrific this is, it has no basis in a specific culture, and no one culture should shoulder the blame for these types of crimes.

    Thank you both for your comments =)

  10. S&S.. thanks for clarifying! Regardless, my apologies for using the term.


  11. Those that are involved in honour killings are psychos with a sewed frame of mind. They aren’t called Pakis. I wonder, if the above article featured someone from Syria or Jordan or Palestine, would you have referred to them as “ayrabs?” That word like every other racial slur has hate filled and xenophobic undertones and shouldn’t be used in any context.

    Regardless, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because perhaps maybe you weren’t aware of that. Apology accepted.

  12. Student – Hmm, interesting point you raised. I completely agree with you. Although truth be told, I’ve found myself muttering “stupid Syrians” on more than one occasion, as gross a generalization as that may be! Oops =/

  13. Student,

    Thank you for accepting the apology. I assure you that I have had used the same against ayrabs! Not because I hate anyone, but because those who do injustice do not deserve to belong to the rest of the human race.

    As the Quran stated, regarding being truthful:

    4:135 O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both.

    5:8 O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.



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