This is a copy and paste job from the islam-ahmadiyya reddit forum. You can find this original story on a German website herein. Watch my video on this herein._____________________________________________________________________________________________
The data

Six years ago on the night between January 27th/28th 2015 Lareeb Khan, a 19 year old prospective dental nurse, was murdered by her parents. They horrific incident occurred after months of domestic violence and abuse, that persisted for some time because the parents had become aware of her daughter having a boyfriend (Raheel), who is also a member of the community. They eventually decided to murder the daughter after they found out she has stolen condoms. Between 2 and 4 a.m. the parents went into their sleeping daughter’s room, where the father strangled her while the mother was watching. After the daughter died. She was put in a wheelchair, with which she was driven away from the home and then thrown down an embankment.

I will go through the court proceedings as recounted by reporters present at the trial. A more complete account of all of the trial days and questioning can be found here [1]


The topic I am trying to investigate here is not, if “honor” killings are permissible in Islam or the Ahmadiyya community. They are not.

And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide. (An Nahl 16:58-59) [2]

“They will have lost who killed their children in foolishness without knowledge and prohibited what Allah had provided for them, inventing untruth about Allah. They have gone astray and were not [rightly] guided.” (Al Anam 6:140) [3]

That’s almost a trivial question. Especially in the Ahmadiyya community who does not believe, unlike other sects of Islam, that sexual interactions outside of marriage deserve a capital punishment. I think it is fair to say that no Ahmadi scholar would ever argue or try to justify the notion that such a killing would be permissible within Islam. But looking at this issue just through a theological lenses around this one question, misses the complexity around the interplay between culture and religion and pressures that are created within those, which then, in extreme cases, can lead to this outcome.

Large parts of the trial are concerned with the question of the involvement of the mother and the sequence of the events. The father initially had claimed that he was attacked by his daughter. He rescinded this claim after the police presented evidence contradicting him. For a full understanding of the context, all of the testimonies and the evidence presented may be important and anyone interested in that can read it in the original source, but the family drama side of this story is also not the focus of these posts.

In these posts I will focus on the involvement of the Jama’at and the question how much the doctrine and structures of the Jama’at contributed to creating a climate and pressures which then lead to this horrific incident. I will also talk about the utter failure of the crisis management by the Jama’at once they were informed about the physical abuse Lareeb was subjected to.

The fact that religion played a substantial role can already be seen at the interrogation by the police:

The policeman then asked the mother what would have happened if the community had known about Lareeb’s premarital sex:

Then they would have spoken badly about us, maybe we would have been expelled from the community and expelled.

Since it’s a lot of testimony I have spilt it up in three parts:

This part will focus on the testimony by the Murabi who was appointed to council the families.

A second post will look at the testimony of the National Amir of Germany Abdulla Wagishäuser

A final post will look at the closing pleas of the prosecutor, the defense and the verdict of the judge and what they think the role of the Jama’at was. All quotes are taken from this recounting of the trial [1]


So let’s get into it:

At the end of this day of the trial, the witness Tahir was heard, who claims to be an “Imam” and works as a teacher and interpreter (Urdu and Bulgarian); an interpreter must be called in to give his statement. He is from Pakistan.

This interrogation turns out to be extremely exhausting, also for the audience, as it is clearly shaped by the wish of the witness to portray himself as “clueless” and therefore to answer questions with sentences that do not address the question.

He confirmed that he knew Lareeb and Raheel and that he had received an email from Lareeb, in which she stated that she was beaten and badly treated at home.

The email was read on the first trial day as the evidence was submitted to the court:

“My mother began to hit me, so that I am still in pain. She banged my head against the wall and insulted me … Father tells everyone that the boy is following me. We didn’t do anything bad, just talk. He never touched me. I am checked 24 hours a day, they (the parents) stand in front of the class until I finish school. They forbade me to continue studying. If my parents find out that I’ve written this email, they’ll kill me. It really has become very extreme. Please reply to the following address “

He then has invited everyone for an interview, and in the presence of the parents, Lareeb had declared that she had never been beaten. AFTER that he then went into an adjoining room with Lareeb, where she confirmed that her parents had not hit her; the mail was not from her.

When asked by the judge,

“And was that true?”

The witness replied: “I believe what she told me, I have no reason to doubt. His job as an imam is to know the truth; he had also said to Lareeb that she should respect her parents.

The judge insisted: “It was a very detailed description of a very specific issue – who else could have known and written that?”

“Maybe she didn’t tell me the truth.”

The judge’s question: “The 2nd mail was sent from your PC and to from your email addressDid you dictate it?”

Answer: “She didn’t want to send it from her own mail account.”

“Why? Were you the intellectual originator of the mail?

The question remains unanswered.

Here the 2nd email, as presented during the evidence collection:

It was then read from the emails Lareeb had written to Abdullah Wagishäuser. The second email said:

“My father is in a leadership role and cashier of the membership fees. You must know him very well. Mama is responsible for how to read the Qur’an correctly. I also work at the national level (of the community). I would never write that my parents beat me. I ask that we always stay in the Community.

Question: “Why should Lareeb write something different in the 2nd mail?” Answer: “I wasn’t sure.”

The judge pointed out that it is quite illogical to send those involved to Wagishäuser if the mail was not written by Lareeb.

Question: “What did the parents say?”

Answer: “That they hadn’t hit Lareeb.”

This entire exchange is so infuriating. It shows a tremendous incompetence and gross negligence. It blows my mind that he can sit there and under oath claim that “he saw no reason” why the initial email could be true.

Domestic abuse is such a delicate issue to deal with. Usually victims remain silent for a long time. Research shows that the outreach for help is usually communicated with very subtle signs. Victims blame themselves and reluctant to come forward. It is important to create an atmosphere of trust. It is very common that victims who do not feel safe will go back on their testimony. Research [4

] around abuse shows:

Victims, especially adult victims, recant their testimony because they’re afraid of retaliation, especially when abusers are frequently not incarcerated and still have access to the victim. … This may be difficult to understand – how can a person love someone who hurts and abuses them? But studies show that victims cite loss of love more frequently than fear, … Child victims are commonly asked to testify in presence of their abuser. Research suggests that loyalty to family members, or fear of their reaction to abuse allegations, may contribute to denials, recantations, and reluctance to disclose. .

Given those facts experts in the field who work with abuse victims are very careful when they talk to a potential victim. The victim must be given time to share their experience. Their self-esteem needs to be strengthened. And it is important to provide and convince them, that the necessary steps to ensure their protection will be taken. Given on how subtle the cues they usually work with are, Lareebs first email is in comparison the equivalent of someone screaming at the top of the lungs and begging to be heard and asking for the system to protect them. I can only imagine how much strength it took to open up like that and reach out. If this outreach is not taken seriously many victims go back to silently enduring the abuse. As the research [4

] shows:

A victim who encounters disbelief and skepticism (i.e., victim-blaming) when attempting to make a report will have no reason to report future abuse.

Which is exactly what happened after that counseling meeting, Lareeb stops raising the issue of abuse with the community in any substantial way. Murabi sb. said in his testimony that he is regularly consulted in cases of domestic abuse and marital issues. Given that fact, it is astounding that he is unaware of basic facts about the behavior of victims of abuse. If he lacked the expertise to handle such a sensitive topic, why did he not delegate the matter? If the Jama’at would have taken the accusations seriously, they could have made a more substantial effort to involve and delegate to civil authorities, law enforcement and medical or psychological experts. As the court testimony by the her doctor shows a medical examination was made just a few weeks after this counseling session:

family doctor, who reported that abdominal pain and significant weight loss were an issue again and again, and then a radiologist who in July 2014 diagnosed a 4-week-old head trauma.

More instances of abuse were documented:

According to Lareeb, the father had strangled her in October with the mother standing by his side.

When asked, she said that the parents were very strict, … She was often beaten by her mother, usually with a stick,

She had shown him her burned hand in December and said that the mother, who had seen Lareeb typing on the smartphone, had pressed that hand on the stove and said, “Now you can see if you are still writing can”

For the abuse are obviously the parents responsible. But I think it is fair to ask if the gross mishandling of the issue by the Murabi enabled it continuing for months after Lareeb had already reached out the community for help.

I have a very hard time believing that anyone, even if they lack expertise, would have made those obvious mistakes. Given the testimony, it is much more plausible to me, that they never took her cry for help seriously. Why else would you invite the victim of the abuse with her abusers and confront her Infront of them about it?

The stark difference in language between the first and second email raises serious issues about what the intention of that counseling session was. Instead of providing her a safe space to come forward he reinforced the (patriarchal) power structures by making it about “respecting the parents”. He also seems to use their involvement in the Jama’at to give this authority a religious dimension. The final sentence seems to imply that threats of excommunication were made. Why else would it been mentioned in the second email?

I can’t even imagine how much pressure was put on her. If we think of someone experiencing abuse and violence. Reaching out. Then being essentially blamed for it by implying her lack of respect of her parents is what was is cause of her problem. It is very clear from his testemony that he never really believed her nor took the accusations seriously. Why would he expect her to open up to him? Just because, after preaching to her about the imporatnt role her father had in the community and the importance of respecting parents, he talked seperatly to her in an adjoining room? Ridicoulous. The sheer incompetence is offensive. Even if we take the Murabi at his word, which I don’t, there should have been consequences for such negligence. He should no longer be in charge of any counseling or have any authority within the Jama’at.

I agree with the judge that it is very suspicious that the second email was not send form Lareebs account. It seems to me that she was pressured into recanting her first email. If the Murabi wrote it or made her write it does not make much of a difference. The fact, that it was sent from his laptop and account of the Murabi is what’s important to note here. If someone else had made the false claims in the first email, why would she be reluctant to correct that and set the record straight? She wouldn’t.

This might be speculation on my part, but I cannot bring myself to believe that the Murabbi was that ignorant to miss such obvious cues, clearly indicating the abuse was real. If there was no abuse why was the second email even necessary? It seems to me that it was important for them, that the accusations were recanted. He made her feel, that her reacanting was put on record. It is essentially written as an apology by her while reaffirming the importance of the Jama’at. It is a common tactic to silence victim of abuse by making the victim feel they cannot trust their experience and therefore no one else will trust and believe them if they come forward. Sending the second email and contradicting her initial claim seems like an attempt to make it more difficult for her to reclaim that she was abused. Since it could be made seem, that she is flip flopping by going back on the second statement. It seems like an attempt to make her less believable, while eroding her self-confidence and willingness to come forward again. Which, as said above, is exactly what happened. The judge raised the same issue about the authorship of the second email:

The judge then referred to the 2nd email from Lareeb, in which she had withdrawn her allegations: “One would think the parents should be convinced not to hit and Lareeb should not be convinced not to blame the parents.”

Murabi sb. had no answer to the question about the authorship of the second email. Which is very revealing.

The next part of the testimony the rules for consent in the Jama’at were evalueted:

The witness was then questioned about the punishment that had been imposed on Raheels’ parents.

“Why have they have been punished?”

“The punishments are the result of their own actions.”

“Which one?”

“In the first meeting I suggested that Raheel’s parents should give their consent to the marriage, but they both said no. Then I spoke to Raheel. In Islam, the man does not need parental consent.”

Now the judge was confused: “What was the problem if in Islam the man did not need the consent, the parents of the woman had consented – what then prevented the marriage?”

The witness said: “Raheel had said that he wanted his parents’ consent, without which he would not marry.”

“Why then was Raheels mother also punished?” Then it occurred to the witness, that he had nothing to do with the punishment. He remembered, however, that at a meeting Raheel’s mother had said to Lareeb that she would not be accepted into the family.

The judge’s question: “Now Mr. Khan is said to have killed his daughter and he says that himself. Why?” Witness: “This is very painful”.

Question: “Why did he kill her?” Answer: “It has nothing to do with Islam. Maybe that has something to do with the culture of Pakistan and India. The father told me he never hit her and he won’t hit her. “

Question: “Was the Raheel family pressured to consent to the marriage?” Answer: “We can only ask. The caliph wanted the marriage. We didn’t exert any pressure we just wanted to convince. “

In response to the public prosecutor’s question, the witness stated that the caliph’s advice was binding, i.e. an instruction, but that as an imam he could only give advice.

The witness then talked around the subject of “consent to marriage”: The man doesn’t need approval. The woman “actually” has the right to give her own consent. The woman “should” tell her parents what she wants, who should then give their consent.

If the parents disagree, the community tries to convince the parents to respect the lady’s opinion. Either the parents or the community must give their consent. If a woman does not adhere to this, she has punished herself, she is then (as the judge put it) “out of the system.”

I think this is one of the most crucial points in this whole tragedy. I get that it’s difficult to understand for outsiders. But the fact, that women in the Jama’at are not granted the right to decide whom they want to marry without approval by a male guardian creates a religious tool that gives fathers the leverage to impose their views on the daughters.

The pressure that a son feels to seek the approval of his parents can be called a cultural thing, not necessarily connected to the Jama’at. But daughters don’t get that luxury. Her consent is not considered sufficient. An approval by a male guardian is mandatory. She risks getting kicked out of the community if she goes against this imposed patriarchy. Even if the reasons for the rejection by the father are cultural and not connected to Jama’at doctrines, this rule combined with a general notion for obedience and respect of the father gives him a religious mechanism to enforce his will (i’ve written about this problematic rule in more detail here)

Question: “What happens to women who have premarital sex?”

Answer: “In such cases we ask for marriage.”

Question: “Are there any penalties for this?”

Witness: “You punished yourself with it. That can be different from case to case. “

“Then describe different cases.”

Witness:”There is an investigation, if it is determined that a woman has sex of her own accord, then she no longer has anything to do with the community.”

Question: “So she is being cast out?

“Answer: “Yes.”

Question: “And the family members?”

Answer: “They have nothing to do with it.”

Question: “But Raheel’s mother was punished?”

Answer: “The mother was always there when we talked to the family.”

The question was asked again about the penalties: Who determines the penalties?

Answer: the caliph in England.

The prosecutor was astonished: The caliph in England determines the punishments worldwide? Answer: “We send the report, the caliph decides.”

Judge: “Are khans trained in Islam?”

Witness: “If the daughter has done something, the parents must not be punished.”

Judge: “How did Ms. Khan come up with that?” Witness: “Ms. Khan must answer that herself”.

The witness was unable to answer the question about their state of mind: “They sometimes cried, but then it was all right again. A major conflict was not apparent.

When asked how the community reacts when people live together unmarried, the witness said that such cases exist and that there are rules for them: “They are excommunicated if they are not married.”

However, the parents did not told the witness about the intimate relationship: “maybe they were ashamed. The defendant kept saying that he couldn’t say what the daughter had done, that he was ashamed.”

So Ms. Khan’s fear [of being excommunicated] was unjustified?”

Here the witness made it clear: “If the parents know that the daughter is having premarital sex and keep it a secret or do not ensure that the young people get married, then they would have been cast out.”

The prosecutor then asked about the ban on contact between Raheel and Lareeb imposed by the community, which the witness confirmed: “Lareeb and Raheel had been spoken to, also that they should not meet again until the marriage, in order not to injure their parents; but the young people would not have adhered to that.”

In this final part of the testimony we see the usual apologist dance around the question of excommunication. The Murabi first rejects the notion of the parents being punished if the daughter has sexual relationships outside of marriage. It seems to be an attempted to play down the role of the pressure created by the Jama’at. In the end of the examination he eventually confirms the fears of excommunication that was present in the mind of the parents. It is clear that being shunned and exiled from the community was a substantial factor, that motivated them to do what they did.

The rules are not in doubt. Why would a Murrabi initially pretend that the Jama’at didn’t add any pressure? It seems to be the notion, that they don’t think of it as a punishment that is being imposed by the Jama’at. For them it is something that people apparently bring on themselves.

A mindset, that also can be seen in a conversation I had with a different Murrabi in regard to this question:

Excommunication is not a real sanction, but a means of purification. It does not genuinely apply to those who do not belong to the people mentioned above who want to belong to the community. By virtue of their will, they have already catapulted themselves out of that congregation, whether expressed or not. The excommunication is at point just a formality. [5]

So, for them it’s not the Jama’at leveraging the social connections of their members by threatening and imposing punishments and excommunication, it’s the members that are kicking themselves out by living or condoning living outside the narrow margins that the Jama’at allows for.

I will talk more about this topic in the next post, since the testimony of National Amir sb. is centered around this question as well.
Links and Related Essay’s


The 6th anniversary of the murder of Lareeb Khan. A look into the court trial and the role of the Jama’at Part 2: The testimony of National Amir Germany Abdullah Wagishäuser

CW: “Honor” killing. The events described might be disturbing and trigger traumatic memories for people, particularly survivors of past abuse and violence

This is the second post looking at the court trial of the murder of Lareeb Khan. In the last post [1] I showed the utter failure of the crisis management by the Jama’at once they were informed about the physical abuse Lareeb was subjected to by her parents. I recommend reading that before moving on.

In these posts I will focus on the rules and penal code of the Jama’at and the question of how much these doctrine and structures of the Jama’at contributed to creating a climate and pressures which then lead to the abuse and murder. (A more complete account of all of the trial days and questioning and the full context can be found here [2]


Now the witness Uwe Abdulla Wagishäuser was heard. Wagishäuser is the leader of the Ahmadiyya community in Germany. He was permitted to keep his cap on, after he explained to the judge, that he is wearing it because of his religious beliefs.

Wagishäuser denied having contact with Raheel’s father on the day of Lareeb’s death. He had made an appointment on January 29th 2015 and Raheel’s father was made aware, if he does not agree to the marriage, he, the witness, will turn to the caliph and Raheels father will be excommunicated because he has done nothing to make the wedding happen.

The witness reported that after receiving the 1st mail from Lareeb, he asked Imam Tahir to contact him, in his capacity as Imam and social worker. After the 2nd mail, he asked Lareeb for an interview in which she confirmed that she had a relationship with a young man.

He would have tried to make it clear to the couple Khan that it would be best if they supported the relationship, because stopping it would not work. But it did not correspond to the cultural ideas of the Khans for children to choose their own spouse.

Raheel’s parents also disagreed; the resistance was more massive.

He described the situation to the caliph, namely that the children wanted the relationship, but the parents were against it, and the caliph then ordered that the two should be married.

Judge: Why were Raheel’s parents excluded?

Witness: Because they refused to consent to the marriage, which then led to the “tragedy”.

When asked about Lareeb’s concrete fear of death in her email (“They’ll kill me if they find out that I am addressing you”), the witness was asked whether this death threat had ever been discussed.

Answer: “You have to be careful how something like this is meant. “They want to kill me”, is something that is casually said. That is why I instructed the imam to take care of it.”

National Amir sb. shows the same dismissive attitude as the Murrabi in regard to Lareebs outcry for help. I had trouble translating the original “wird schon mal so gesagt” (“it is said in this manner”) the English is not capturing how tone deaf the German phrase actually is. In German this phrase not only means, that it is something that people commonly say but the clear implication is that “people say that but it usually is not true”.

According to the court proceedings:

Wagishäuser then sent the Imam an email that adult children should not be beaten, otherwise the whole community (Jama’at) would be dragged into the dirt.

Maybe children shouldn’t be beaten because it is harmful, violates their bodily autonomy and right to physical safety. Same is obviously true for non-adult children. I am sure National Amir sb. agrees with all that, but his initial statement still gives us a look into his mind and where his priorities are. Which is to protect the image of the community. So, when he told the Murrabi “to take care of it”, the Murrabi fulfilled that directive by pressuring a vulnerable young woman into recanting her accusations of abuse.

National Amir sb. acknowledged that cases of abuse should be handled by the police, but he fails to provide an environment where a victim feels comfortable enough to take such a big step against their own parents. What we got was, that she was not believed or taken seriously, even after she explicitly told them she feared for her life, seven months before she was murdered. If you read through the whole proceedings both Murabi sb. and National Amir sb. show very little concern for the continuing violence Lareeb is experiencing at home.

Their main concern and priority clearly seems to be to protect the image of the Jama’at and for old men to try to escort the hymen of a young women into the bond of marriage:

Witness: There was then a conversation between the khans and the Imam, in which it was made clear how important it was for the two to marry, because “Islam does not allow premarital intercourse.”

Judge: “At this point It wasn’t about intercourse at all, but about very simple meetings.”

Witness: “In Islam it is different, those are considered the same. In Islam it is not allowed for a man and woman to meet [alone/without a guardian] before marriage.

That is such a devastating admission by National Amir sb. I don’t think even the court really understood the real extent of what this means. The things I talked about in the previous post and earlier, as infuriating as the incompetence and disregard towards the abuse may have been, they are not specific to the Ahmadiyya community. Similar attempts to sweep abuse under the rug can be seen in many other religious and non-religious groups. It is a function of authoritarian structures, very little transparency, concern for reputation of the group and lack of accountability. There is still value in breaking them down for each of the groups to expose the flaws and hopefully improve the systems.

But this point, that national Amir sb made, is very specific to the Jama’at. Especially in the context of German society. The idea of premarital sex being something that is considered sin is not uncommon in many religious groups. As this remark by the defense shows:

The defense attorney then draws the comparison with a strictly Catholic father in the Bavarian Forest: “Why don’t you go to Catholic fathers in the Bavarian Forest. Try to start discussing premarital intercourse there.”

Many religions, especially the Abrahamic ones, have this regressive attitude towards human sexuality, especially female sexuality. In this culture of purity any sexual interaction before marriage is considered wrong. A shameful act that devalues the worth of the person engaging in it. In conservative religious communities fear seems to be the driving force behind this culture of purity. There are, of course, the usual negative scenarios associated with the transgression: unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and broken hearts. The very foundation of fear that is internalized goes even deeper. The way it is preached, implants the idea in our minds, that a single act, a single moment will destroy the future marriage and put the life in this world and salvation in the hereafter in danger. [3

] [4

] [5


Since I’m from a Muslim community I’ve put in examples from the Qur’an but similar doctrines can be found in the religious texts of the other faiths. The common thread seems to be patriarchal structures being very afraid of female autonomy, especially in terms of them having full control over their sexuality. Violence against women as a response to that can be found in all communities. That part is not specific to the Ahmadiyya community or even Islam.

Most honor killings occur in countries where the concept of women as a vessel of the family reputation predominates, said Marsha Freemen, director of International Women’s Rights Action Watch at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. [6


We see similar problems with “honor” killings in conservative Christian communities. It took until 1991 before the supreme court in brazil outlawed “acquittal on the ground of “legitimate defense of honor.”[7


The underlying patriarchal mindset, with all its problems, exists in many communities. But what makes the Ahmadiyya community different from them is where the red line is drawn. Over the years while being involved in Tabligh work I’ve made many friends in other religious communities. There are evangelical groups in Germany, who are on the very fundamentalist side of the spectrum. Bible literalist, believing in a young earth and having very similar morals around sexuality as the Jama’at does. A father in that community would be as horrified and mortified as the desiest desi Dad about his daughter engaging in premarital sex. Similar to the Ahmadiyya community they would shun and expel her. But even their conduct around the ability of the genders to mix and interact with each other seems like raging liberalism compared to the culture of absolute separation that is fostered within the Jama’at.

The murder and the abuse out of concern for honor might be considered cultural and personal failings of the parents but what counts as ‘breaching that honor’ is informed by religion. Therefore incidents like this cannot be separated from the question of religious doctrine.

National Amir sb. confirms here under oath, that red line for the community according to Islam, not culture, not pakistani mentality, not some south asian heritage but according to Islam the line is at meeting across gender lines (without supervision by a guardian). A strict gender segregation and separation is therefore enforced within the community. As a religious minority in Germany this cannot be established for contacts outside the Jamaat. A greater tolerance is afforded to meeting people outside the community. But even here, it is emphasized, that these contacts should not become too friendly, even if they are only of a ‘platonic nature’.

Then there is the instruction for the women to restrain their looks. Huzoor(aba) said that it is necessary for all women to obey this instruction in order to prevent their good name and their FAMILY HONOR being dragged in mud. Huzoor(aba) said that if it is absolutely essential for a woman to talk to a strange man then she should adopt a harsh tone in her voice so that he may not be encouraged by the softness of her voice. [8


I don’t think people outside the community grasp how extreme the Ahmadiyya community is in this regard. If the stringent rules, that exists in other communities for premarital sex, are applied to potentially ALL interactions between genders the path members, especially women, are asked to walk becomes very narrow. If we expand the prohibitions that much it has negative ripple effects, even if it doesn’t always escalate to the point of a tragic event like this. With these rules any cross-gender contact has to be justified. In a society, in which many areas are still dominated by men, this means that women in particular are negatively affected and have to explain themselves again and again and provide justification or ask for permission for the simplest things.

Other communities might worry about a slippery slope, the rules of the Ahmadiyya community assume an immediate cliff.

In this part of the testimony the punishments by the community were discussed:

The witness was then asked If Mrs. Khan’s concerns about what would happen if it became public that Lareeb had a boyfriend and her being expelled from the community were justified.

Wagishäuser then confirms that if extramarital intercourse becomes known, the community will take action and the couple will be excluded.

Judge: “The parents are also affected?”

The witness: “Not always, only if you approve of the relationship. You then have to reject your daughter, as a daughter you have to choose between the relationship or the family ”.

In view of the bewilderment spreading on the court bench, the witness said he could use an “anecdote” from his youth to promote understanding:

“My father used to say that as long as you put your feet under my table, you have to do that, what I say. If the parents then decide to support the daughter, then they are out of the community, otherwise they are just Muslims on paper; if religion is important to me, I have to break away from my daughter”.

If the relationship had become known, the parents would have been excommunicated, so would Raheel’s parents

The judge asked the witness that the parents and Lareeb lived in two different worlds – how should that work? [given the stark difference in their upbringing and socialization]

Witness: That does not mean that we have to adapt the religious laws to the world. The rules are laid down in the Qur’an and are bindingthe founder of the Ahmadiyya had removed misconceptions that had emerged over time.

The judge said it was his job to determine the personal guilt of the accused. “How is a believer supposed to cope with the threat of expulsion from the congregation?”

Witness: “You will only be cast out if you condoned the relationship.”

Judge: “What if the khans had told you about the condoms?”

Witness: “Then we would have invited them to a conversation. The community is expected to be involved in such issues. And unlike in the secular code of criminal procedure, parents would have no way of remaining silent in favor of their relatives.

When asked about the position of the accused (Khan) in the Ahmadiyya community, the witness answered that he was active in the national leadership for the organization of “older men over 40”.

The co-plaintiff then wanted to know more precisely: If Raheel’s father had not consented to the marriage, but Lareeb and Raheel had not separated , what would have happened to Lareeb and the parents?

Witness:“Lareeb would have been punished for continuing her illegitimate relationship, but nothing would have happened to the parents as long as they had sought help from the community.”

National Amir sb. States here under oath, that Lareeb would have been excommunicated if she continued the relationship. He also confirms that the parents would face the same punishment if they condoned the behavior of their child and did not distance themselves from her. It is very apparent, that this pressure is exerted by the religious doctrine and the penal code of the Jama’at. I am sure there is a ton of cultural baggage, that comes on top of that in the form of shaming and shunning by fellow community members, but it is a fact, that the core of it is clearly informed by religion.

The cruellest part is the expectation of choosing religion over children, if there arises a conflict between them. This rule is also enshrined into the conditions of Bai’at:

VIII: That he/she shall hold faith, the honour of faith and the cause of Islam dearer than his/her life wealth, honour, children, and all loved ones. [9]

These expectations by the Jama’at in combination with the regressive ideas I laid out earlier create a toxic environment where people feel very anxious in regard to their children and the possibility of them straying away from the predefined path of the Jama’at. It results in them putting restrictions on the children to avoid that. We have the absurd situation, that Ahmadis in western societies have more contact with men and women who are not Ahmadis. The strictest enforcement of the segregation is with one group we are told to choose a partner from. If a young couple does exactly that and the parents don’t approve the matter immediately escalates.

Just to illustrate how deep this control by the community goes. National Amir sb. under oath told the judge, that if a young unmarried woman tries to obtain condoms, he expects the Jama’at to be involved in that matter. In the conversation that occurs to investigate the issue the family does not have the right to remain silent. Within the community there are structures like Shoba Tarbiyyat (“discipline”), Islahi (“reformative”) committees and Amoor-e-ama (“general matters”), which document and report un-Islamic behavior and take measures to reform the person or prohibit the spread of such behaviors. From the perspective of the Jama’at these admonitions should be guided by compassion and love. In reality often they amplify the feelings of being shunned and loss of reputation.

It is evident that the pressure, that the parents were feeling was heavily informed by the doctrine of the Jama’at. Lareebs father Mr. Khan met with the Murrabi in a parking lot, three days before he murdered his daughter:

the accused father had called him [the Murrabi] the Saturday before the crime. He was very concerned and urgently asked that this witness come to him. He [the Murrabi] drove to the Khans; the defendant and his wife came down and asked the witness to sit in their car. They then drove into a parking lot where the defendant began to cry. The witness asked them [the Khans] what was going on; but both accused only cried at first. Then the father said that his daughter was now wearing inappropriate clothing and cried again. The defendant [Mr. Khan] kept saying that he couldn’t say what the daughter had done, that he was ashamed.

This concern and the agony, that it is causing is directly related to rules by the Jama’at about what’s considered ‘moral’ clothing and his fears of what the repercussions by the community are for disobeying these rules. The sad thing to observe here is, that the taboo around the topic of sexuality is so overwhelming, that even in this state of pain he is unable to vocalize his fears to the representative of the community. Which is not surprising, sexuality is not really addressed within the community.

The psychiatric expert’s report on Lareeb’s father stated:

The subject of sexuality could not be discussed with Mr. Khan; that was taboo. He had experienced sexuality for the first time on his wedding night.

It was very similar in my household. My father not only took me out of the sex ed classes but he also tried to shut down the entire class. He was that afraid of my mind getting “poisoned” with information around this topic. The Jama’ats relationship to this topic is completely paradoxical. They are so obsessed with avoiding it, that they evaluate almost everything in terms of its effect on this avoidance. A large part of life is dominated by this. This taboo results in members neither having the language nor the room to question (archaic) beliefs they may have. If the Jama’at does speak about it, it is only to affirm the general notion of it being exclusively permissible in a hetereosexual marriage. There is no effort made to normalise the acceptance of diverging life plans. Old ideals, including those which may be informed by a cultural background are therefore not really challenged.

According to witness testimony the father was friends with the Murrabi, he still was not comfortable enough to talk through the assumed promiscuity of his daughter. The only thing the Murabbi had to offer is the pressure to get the children married. He was either unable or unwilling to calm the fears of the father to fall down the ‘cliffs of reputation loss’, that are built up by the rhetoric of the leaders of the community. It seems, that the inability to break out of an archaic mindset around the question of female sexuality and the unwillingness to amend rules creating it, is to a large extent what led to this tragedy.

In the final part I will go over the final pleas, the verdict and go into the aftermath of this tragic incident.

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