Nazim Mangera felt tears welling in his eyes as he said the final prayers over the body of Aasiya Z. Hassan around sunrise Tuesday morning.
Mangera wasn’t upset just by the loss of this vivacious, intelligent 37-year-old woman or by the vicious way that she was killed when she was beheaded Thursday.
He also was upset about suggestions that the Islamic religion may have had something to do with her death, that this may have been an “honor killing” tied to Muslim tradition or culture. Orchard Park police have charged her estranged husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with her killing.
“We’re all shocked. We’re all grieving,” said Mangera, imam of the Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier. “To compound that, we have to face the difficulty of the religion of Islam being blamed for [the killer’s] personal actions. It was an individual person who did this act, for whatever reason. We don’t find any justification in the Islamic religion for any such violence.”
Mangera was upset about suggestions that Muslim attitudes, especially toward women, have been blamed for the Hassan killing.
And he disputed the notion made by others that any connection between Islam and “honor killing” comes from an extreme right-wing Islamic faction that uses the Quran for its own purposes.
“The main concern of the Muslim community is that whenever a Muslim does something wrong, Islam goes on trial,” Mangera added.
But what about the fact that Aasiya Hassan was beheaded, an act considered part of some Eastern cultures and traditions?
“Beheading has more to do with culture and country of origin [than religion],” Mangera stated. “It has nothing to do with Islam. We abhor domestic violence, and we categorically denounce it in all forms.”
How refreshing and important could it have been if the imam of the Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier used this as an opportunity to take an offensive role instead of a defensive role? Instead, he takes offense that we notice the killer is a Muslim. There will be honor killings until the imams of Islamic Societies the world over are outraged not by outsiders making connections but by Muslims who kill.