|This is Islam and culture!|
Much is made, by Muslims but also by members of the religion InterFaith, that we must distinguish Islam from the independent cultures in which Islam is the main religion.
There is a major problem with this neat and convenient distinction. That is, between the ostensibly cultural, rather than Islamic, reasons for honour killings, enforced female genital mutilation, etc.
The main problem is that Islam, or, more correctly, the Koran, the Sunnah and the hadiths, are full of references to 'honour' and the concomitant need to abide by the 'principles of honour'.
In Sharia Law there is the notion of 'ird. This applies to the honour of the individual Muslim. It is said that 'preserving honour... is the goal of... sharia laws that punish sexual relations outside marriage'. In addition, the 'severe punishments' of Sharia Law are there to 'protect honour and chastity' (125).
It is also said in Islam that a Muslim becomes a mukallaf at the age of puberty onwards. After that, each Muslim has many duties to fulfil and obey. One of those duties is 'maintaining honour' through chastity and in various other ways.
One other point is to this false distinction between culture and Islam is that many Muslim populations, such as present-day Pakistanis, have been Muslims for over a thousand years. After such a long period of history, and indeed of culture, how valid can the distinction between culture and Islam be? This is apart from the more basic fact that religion is cultural anyway. What else can it be? This can happily be said by any religious person without, as it were, deflowering his own religion.
Yes, Islam, or Sharia Law, does respect 'local laws and customs'. There is a big but here. Islam does respect various customs, but only as 'long as these are not in conflict with the Qur'an' (50). Thus, if anything in a given Muslim culture is in conflict with the Koran or Sharia Law, it must be stamped out by Muslins. It follows that cliterodecromy, honour killings, jihad and whatnot *must* be in accordance with Islam otherwise such practices would have been stamped out. So the continuance of bad customs and laws in Muslim countries signifies a failure of Islam in those countries. Either than, or these seemingly nasty (to Westerners!) customs, practices and laws must, in fact, be in accordance with Islam after all!
*) All quotes are from: Islam the Natural Way, by Abdul Wahid Hamid
“The best contemporary introduction to Islam.” - Ziauddin Sardar (2003)