Somali al-Shabab Militants
Kill Woman for Not Wearing a Veil
On July 30th, 2014, the BBC reported that Al-Shabab militants in Somalia killed a woman in Hosingow (although the organization denies their involvement). The reason for the killing was that the violent Islamist group asked her to wear a veil, and later, found that she did not follow their demand.
This story is important because it shows that Al-Shabab has great control over certain areas in Somalia (such as central Somalia), and has enough influence to impose strict interpretations of Shariah (Islamic law).
When many read about Islam and Shariah, there is often an incorrect belief that Shariah is a strict, rigid legal code that all adherents of the faith are commanded to follow. However, when looking at Shariah in its entirety, it becomes quite clear that there is a rich and detailed history of interpretation, not unlike other legal systems, be they religious or secular. Legal scholars have, and continue to debate different facets of Islamic law. There is clearly no consensus on issues such as dress code. Yet, unfortunately, stories like this suggest that Islam itself is the issue, when in reality, we have to keep in mind with this story however is the importance of the point that individuals interpret Islam.
There are various scholarly opinions on the issue of the veil, with many suggesting that it is not a requirement. Furthermore, the idea of killing a human being over clothing is clearly a violation of human rights, and contrary to Islam’s principles of faith and social justice. We must remember that above all else is the right of the human being. This includes social and economic rights, cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights. Within this, a human being should be able to wear (or not wear) whatever they like, without outside interference.
Unfortunately, groups like Al-Shabab have taken a hard-lined approach towards enforcing their interpretations of Shariah. These actions are clearly against notions of human rights, within and outside of Islamic contexts. It is important to point out that this is one fringe interpretation, and that sadly, they have gained political power in part of Somalia. Furthermore, it is crucial to continue to speak out against such actions, as they are detrimental to the overall right of the human being.