Home The Murderer's Honor
Home The Murderer's Honor

The Murderer's Honor

The story of Islam is a murder mystery. It's not a murder mystery that asks who did it, but when it will end. The detective peering through his magnifying glass at a curly hair caught in the door isn't  wondering who did it. He already knows who the killer is. The great mystery is how to make him stop.

This isn't a story about right and wrong. In the terrains of tribe and clan that the murderers come out of, whether they are raised in a village with two goats and a well or a mansion overlooking a major city; Right is power and Wrong is not having power.

A man is right because he has power. A woman is wrong because she doesn't. A Muslim is right because he has power. A Christian is wrong because he doesn't.

When a woman has power and a man doesn't, the man has been dishonored. When a Christian has power and a Muslim doesn't, the Muslim has been dishonored.

There is only one answer for dishonor, death. Kill the one who has dishonored you so that you may feel powerful again. The men with the magnifying glasses will call it extremism, but it's so much simpler and so much more complicated than that.

The powerful need not compromise. They have honor. Those who have no power but do not compromise also have honor. The extremist does not compromise whether in power or out of it. Therefore he always has honor. The extremist is willing to die for the power and honor of Islam.

Islam is never powerless, but is always compromised in some way short of perfect purity. 

Perhaps it fails to drive out all the non-Muslims and doesn't force women to cover their eyes. Or maybe it tolerates chess and kite flying. Even the crudest Salafist finds some human norm short of total and complete extremism. He compromises and the seed of that compromise gives birth to a movement that will not compromise even on that.

Each Islamic movement carries within it the seeds of its own extremist counter-movement and that movement too will carry its own seeds of death. The Islamic revolution devours its own children forever for honor's sake.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Absolute honor is the search for absolute power. A power so pure that it transcends the human means necessary to achieve that glorious end. A purity so total that it will elevate the smuggled cocaine, the rapes and murders, the torture and the broken oaths, to the golden truth that the ends of Islam justify all its mangled means.

The murderer kills because he wants power. He goes on killing for honor's sake. When the blade slips or the victim pulls a gun, then the murderer skulks off into the night nursing his grudges and pledging that he will return or his children will return or their children, for the sake of his honor, on and on through the ages.

This is what the media calls a cycle of violence, but it would be more accurate to call it the cycle of honor.

The whole thing may have started because the murderer wanted a goat, a gold coin or a wife, but it continues because it is now a matter of honor. A moment ago the murderer only wanted a gold coin, but having failed to obtain it, he will not leave off for all the gold coins in the world. Murder transmutes the gold coin into honor. The motive no longer matters. It is all about the end now.

The more the murderer is resisted, the angrier he becomes. The failure to kill forces him to take refuge in myth. He begins inventing glorious stories of his battles complete with poems and epic battles. There are sacred deaths with drops of blood falling like jewels and doves ascending into the sky. Every man becomes a lion and every enemy a monstrous eater of children. Eventually the story becomes his whole reason for being. It is a tale that is passed down through the tribe until countless of the murderer's descendants derive their identity from the story. Until they are all murderers.

Having been thwarted, the murderer cannot stop. The failure to kill has left him powerless, no better than a woman or an infidel. It causes him to doubt the worth of his religion and his people. It robs life of its sweetness. The only way to heal his trauma is to finish what he started. The only way for him to be at peace is to be at war.

Speak to him of peace and he will not listen, except as a ploy for finishing the unfinished murder. Peace is for the powerless. To desire peace is to admit to weakness. It is to give in to the prosaic mortality of the ordinary life. Before he began to kill, the murderer might have been satisfied with the ordinary life, but it is no longer good enough for him.

Nothing will do but the knife and the blood and the screams.

The murderer will lie about wanting peace, but he will not make peace. To lie in order to kill is honorable, but to live in peace is not honorable. Peace narrows the borders and closes off horizons. What was once a green territory that the grandchildren or great-grandchildren might overrun in a hundred years is suddenly forever lost and forever foreign.

How can he be asked to make such a terrible concession?

You might as well ask the sailor to stay on the land and the explorer to put up his feet in front of the fire. The murderer isn't a mere murderer, he is a romantic at heart, and whether he lives in a mud hut or a tacky palace decorated with giant portraits of himself, in secret he imagines himself a sultan or an emir. And if not him, then his children or grandchildren.

The land he sits on is merely land, he wastes it for the most part. He may write poems about the beloved land, but it isn't the land he loves, but the idea of conquering it, killing for it and dying for it. And when there is no need to do any of the three, then like an amorous adulterer of the soil he goes seeking for other lands to conquer, to kill and die for.

This is his story and the myth that governs his life. He is not a builder. In his part of the world, it is the slaves who build. It is the men who have no power and no honor who work a set schedule, lifting bricks and arranging girders.

Nor is he a farmer, that too is work fit only for serfs. He makes a decent merchant, cheating and being cheated in turn in a ritual mercantile combat. In a pinch he might be a shepherd, wandering the hills aimlessly, and watching his flock nibble the sparse desert grasses down to a wasteland, killing and eating them when it suits him like a little grubby god.

Whatever his profession, he fancies himself a warrior and the kind of war that he prefers is the raid. Village against village. Riders against caravans. Hijacked planes against skyscrapers. If he wins, then he gains honor. If he loses then he gains honor by vowing vengeance, for even the worst of losers can always hang on to his honor by threatening to kill the winners.

And that is where the murders become a mystery, at least to those detectives whose little magnifying glasses can make out the grooves on a thread, but not the distorted rage on a murderer's face. The more they try to convince the murderer to stop, the more he kills. There is a pattern here, but unlike carpet fibers and footprints, it is not one that they can understand.

The men with the magnifying glasses want their lives back. So does the murderer. And the only way he can get it back is by taking theirs. The institution of the feud has lapsed in their world, but it is the defining one in his.

Both detective and murderer are trapped in a cycle, but the murderer has a way out. All he has to do is kill them. The detectives cannot do the same thing. There is no room in their rational world for such a crude solution.

They try to break the cycle with words. He tries to break it with bombs and bullets. And the cycle of violence continues.

Failure goads the murderer. The more he fails at killing, the more he aspires to it. On his tenth attempt he is ten times as motivated as on his first attempt. Like all people he has his ups and downs, but he always keeps on trying harder.

Each time he fails, he tells himself that the game wasn't fair, the other side broke the rules, rigged the contest and undermined him. He spins complex conspiracies of spies and saboteurs in which the mind of the enemy is as convoluted as his, and that only fuels his outrage. How dare his victim plot so cleverly to undermine his own murder! Outraged, he spins his own convoluted plots, playing Wiley E. Coyote to an oblivious Roadrunner who is occasionally baffled to learn that he is alleged to have controlled every major public figure in the Middle East or seeded the Nile with trained sharks.

"Sure," says the murderer. "You didn't expect him to admit it, did you? I wouldn't in his place."

The murderee takes on an outsized importance until he represents every obstacle that the murderer has ever faced in his life. Whatever crimes the murderer commits, he is certain that the murderee has committed even more of them. The murderer's dark side steps out of the shadow and takes on the role of his victim so that the act of murder becomes an act of purification that purifies nothing for the dark forces that the murderer tries to kill are still inside him even while his victim bleeds on the floor.

Eventually the murderee fills the world. Rushdie was only a minor writer until a series of random events caused his name to come to the attention of a shaky Iranian leadership looking for a scapegoat. And then Rushdie became an obsession for the Iranian regime. Rushdie filled their world. Likewise the average Muslim did not spend any time thinking about the Jews, who were always despised, but like most non-Muslims, weren't of consequence. Having conquered their lands and their persons, they could go about ignoring them, aside from the usual thefts, murders and assorted cruelties.

But then the honorless Jews, the sons of apes and pigs, defeated armies far stronger than them. The murderers were robbed of their honor. And when the murderer is Muslim and the victim is non-Muslim, then the honor of the murderer is the honor of the whole Muslim world.

There can be no peace now. Not tomorrow or in a thousand years. Not with the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, the Galilee and the grimier parts of Tel Aviv. Nothing will do but for the murderers to finish what they started, the aborted murder, the unfinished crime and the unconsummated honor killing to end all honor killings. Nothing will do but death.

A murderer will forgive many things. You may kill his son and rape his daughter, so long as the blood price or the honor price changes hands. You may do the same with all of his many relatives and their relatives, as is so often the case in these dirty little wars that are really packs of murderers roaming and raiding, firing at each other and falling back, and then waiting for the mourning women to come out and wail over the bodies of the dead. You may even cheat him as much as you like, for he will probably cheat you worse, even while you fancy that you are coming out ahead.

But what you cannot do is take away his honor.

Do not mock the murderer's gods, for they are his power, or refuse his hospitality, for it is how he shows that he has more than you, or make him feel small and weak. Do not give him charity or show him mercy, for no matter how effusively he thanks you, in his heart he feels the sting of the humiliation that you have inflicted on him.

Though he may smile afterward, he will never forgive you for it, the insult will go on chafing his heart until it overflows with that species of black blood that tastes of bitterness and death.

The House of Saud has never forgiven the House of Washington for helping aid its power. It draws a blood price from it every year, but it cannot rest until the House of Washington falls. So too all alliances with infidels must one day end in betrayal or death. There is no room in the green country of the horizon for two tribes to rule. Nor is there room in the inner palaces of honor with their bejeweled tapestries and arabesque curves for a helping hand. The Sultan and Emir, like Allah, can have no antecedent. Like Mohammed, he must be the final revelation of power over a powerless world.

And the murderer? He cannot sleep. The man he tried to kill has filled his world. Once he wanted gold or goats, but now it is honor he wants.

In his bed, the murderer dreams of killing a man whose who humiliated him by refusing to die. The murderer rolls over and smiles.

Tomorrow, he will kill. Tomorrow, he will regain his honor.


  1. Anonymous20/3/14

    Daniel, the situation you describe reminds me of a mythical, fire breathing dragon that sits at the gates of humanity, just waiting for its' next victim to devour.

    Are there no Muslims who value their children, their parents, or their profession?
    For most of my life I have imagined that humans have much in common. The majority of us like to sleep in a shelter, eat regularly and nurture our children..Some even feel compelled to worship a deity, to this end, they create art, music, and dance,

    I used to think that the women in Muslim countries would rescue their country, I have lost hope about that.. As long as they continue to marry relatives and kill polio workers, they have nowhere to go but down. Just not as quickly as most of us would like.

    Now, I mainly hope they all kill each other. In a culture that values a deranged sort of 'honor', while creating next to nothing since algebra and tile, it seems like the likeliest ending. I just hope they don't take the rest of us with them.

    Than G..D for Israel.


  2. Nice too see how the mind of you as an author works, or at least how I as a reader perceive it so visibly in this article: the seed thought transferring into the rhythm of the words drumming their way into sentences and paragraphs, painting the emotion you must feel while writing while distilling it's thought. Once again a wonderfully written deeply philosophical yet painful symphony. Thank you!

  3. Sophie, no people are all exactly the same, but these are the cultural forces at work here and it's perilous to ignore them.

    Some Muslim women want change, others want to avert change. They're still products of their culture and the ones who want change tend to be somewhat westernized.

    mindRider, that is how it happens for many articles.

  4. Anonymous20/3/14

    Daniel, as we experience daily here in the U.S., culture can, and often does, trump all, and not necessarily in the best interests of those concerned. At one time, I had hope for the women of Iran, and even Egypt, but our Dear Leader dashed that.

  5. Anonymous: You wrote: "Now, I mainly hope they all kill each other. In a culture that values a deranged sort of 'honor', while creating next to nothing since algebra and tile, it seems like the likeliest ending. I just hope they don't take the rest of us with them." First, I doubt the Muslims invented algebra. However, your hopes are understood, but to understand the Muslim perspective – and I forget offhand who said it, that Muslims love death as much as infidels love life – you should grasp that at the core, Muslims are willing to die and take someone or the rest of us with them. They couldn't tolerate dying while letting those who love life continue living. This is why I have always said that Islam is at root a nihilist ideology; it kills for the sake of killing. Period. They destroy for the sake of destruction, kill for the sake of killing. It is, fundamentally, a death cult.

  6. Anonymous20/3/14

    Isn't this a re-print? Or am I dreaming the same dream?

  7. All you need to know about Islam is at a post at shoebat.com about the horrific slaughterhouses in Syria. It was posted yesterday. I can't post the link here...using an iPad which for some reason doesn't allow me to, but please go there, read it, pass it to everyone you can, write your senators (don't waste your time with Obama) and het active, please!

  8. Anonymous20/3/14

    Edward, re: algebra, I was giving them the benefit of the doubt.. but forgot about rugs made by six year olds. Islam, to me, is the perfect storm of tyrants finding a path to power on the backs of the illiterate. I mean if all the rewards one could desire are in the afterlife, of course death would be a desired outcome.

    I apologize for a tendency to post from a perspective of emotion running straight to my busy fingers. I would horrify myself, if I posted my true feelings about this murderous scourge on humanity.

  9. Genesis 16:8-12 (KJV)
    8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
    9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
    10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
    11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
    12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

    In this case, the murderer is ancestral and runs through his veins in the blood of a thousand generations from Ishmael, to the young muslim of today. He will be a wild man and his hand will be against all men and all men against him.

  10. Peter Hughes, Bandon, Oregon20/3/14

    As fine a thinker as you are, I feel this excellent article may have a wrong premise. A bully attempts to control others; the ultimate control is death. But a bully's attempt to control others is his attempt to achieve control of any kind over his own life...for his life is basically out of control. A bully is also a coward; he doesn't have the gumption to address his own reality and is even less interested in the experiences of others. As you rightly point out, it all comes down to beliefs. There is no emotion, no action, without first a belief. And if your beliefs result in an ugly life, well then, it is certainly OK to kill. I fully support your conclusion that nothing will change until the murderers change their beliefs. And what is the possibility of that if no one is allowed, under threat of death, to challenge their beliefs? There's no obvious answer except to protect our lives and way of life with an equal amount of violence. Which drags us down to a level that is not only unfortunate, it is dangerous for us as well. Thank you again for your wonderful writing. I imagine it is sometimes difficult for you.

  11. laura r.20/3/14

    brilliant artical. how many muslims in the world? 1.5 billion? what dos this say about humanity in general?

  12. Anonymous20/3/14

    Peter, you raise thoughtful points. In my career in public health, I hired pre med graduates to 'shadow' physicians, and do various other chores in the clinic. The one I remember most clearly was a young woman from Bangledesh. She was smart, but very sheltered, up to that point.
    She had a cool relationship with her mother, and we developed a rapport. We did weekly progress reports, and she started to ask questions that astounded me,,coming from a 22 year old college graduate, who had lived here most of her life. I would have thought them impertinent, but recognized the urgency of her need for information, even though she did not express it well.. She asked me basic questions about my own Catholicism, and our boss's Judaism, that were so naïve and elemental, they sounded as if they were coming from a grade school student, instead of a dean's list young woman.
    I had trouble understanding how such ignorance was possible, considering she had access to tv, newspapers, and pop culture, plus had attended a good University. To this day, the depth of her misunderstanding strikes me as confounding. If a family can do this to their semi Americanized daughter, imagine the ignorance of those in many Muslim countries.

    As always, education is the place to start to open hearts and minds, but it would have to start with the very young and fall on willing ears.
    An unlikely scenario, at this point in time.


  13. I suspect Islam is the way it is and the Arabs are the way they are because of the terrain in the Middle East, and eventually because of the horse. An open country makes attack more successful then defense. Add to that mobility in the form of a horse or camel, and attack is greatly favored over defense and the more aggressive survive while the more passive perish. Naturally then, the tribalism in the region was aggressive.

    The same thing was true in North America. The plains Indians had no word for war because it was the normal, continuous state. They never went to war because they were always at war. The Mongolians on the Russian steppe were the same. Aggressive, predatory, murderous, and mobile.

    Unfortunately because Islam reduces this aggressive tribalism to doctrine, it has so far been immune to change. And as an assist to cement doctrine, enforcement of orthodoxy is both violent and vigilante in character. No central authority is needed; the individual believer is expected to act out violently against the apostate or non believer.

    And just for fun along the way, to make the whole thing an over the top crock, it tolerates and to some extent encourages both pedophilia and slavery, along with a tendency to treat women as a kind of property. And all the preceding is locked into permanent, unchanging doctrine by the Koran.

  14. Bruce20/3/14

    EVERYONE should read "The Closed Circle, An interpretation of the Arabs" by David Pryce-Jones: Harper & Row, New York 1989.

    It contains the clearest academic study of Arabs AND Islam (They are NOT the same), ever.

  15. Anonymous21/3/14

    great piece, knish. yes, the arabs are great poets. better than milton. and humiliation is their one great obsession.

    -- spanky

  16. Anonymous21/3/14

    The principals of evil, and more, as depicted in this article, are all written as the phony god's commands to the bandit gang's faithful, in many ways and entries, in the koran, hadiths, and sira. Required to never change, but play on forever, as illustrated by the original "perfect (evil) man" mohammad himself. And so on forever, waning and waxing through eons, it goes.

    How does one stop it? Only power, through superior force is respected and resented. The lessons of C.Martel, and J. Sobieski show how to stop it, along with Vlad Tepes. September 11, reflects this paragraph's reality, and Dan's great article's reality as he depicted so very realistically. In islam, history must repeat, every day, exactly as "Groundhog Day" illustrated.


  17. Anonymous21/3/14

    Gently does it......

  18. Anonymous21/3/14

    Wow! Just ... wow! Great stuff.

    I remember when I tried to start learning about the middle east and read a book by Thomas Friedman and he talked about the "Arab Street." His pronouncements seemed so worldly insightful about the conditions and the causes for problems between Arabs and Jews. Since then I have read much and observed a lot as a more astute world citizen. But I keep coming back to my own fundamental belief that all men want their children to have a better future. Except that governments, politicians, and the rich and powerful don't seem to want it that way. Too much money to be made from the killing. Who cares about Honor when there's money to be made! Take the Saudi Kingdom. As stated, if they hold a grudge for being aided by America, why does America keep supporting them after 9/11 when it is well documented where those terrorists came from and who it is that funds much of the Wahhabi teachings that continue this cycle of violence. Maybe it would be best to let this so called Kingdom implode and let the bloodletting turn inward for a change. I know, I know, everyone will say, "But the oil!" I think Western Civ can manage until things settle out. After all, whoever winds up with the oil still needs to sell it on the world market. Maybe the West should stand up for "Honor" and stop supporting this crazy-stupid mentality. There are ways of fighting this without going to outright war.

  19. Anonymous21/3/14

    I don't think that Islamic violence is about honor.

    I think that Islamic violence is a hobby. Like stamp collecting was in America during the 1950's.

    There have been long stretches of time when Islamic society was peaceful. There were millennia where Jews and Christians were successful in Islamic lands.

    There was a time when stamp collecting accrued great wealth. Thus the hobby produced economic power. Today the hobby of Islamic violence produces political power. In each case, the impact of the hobby was enabled by the rest of the observers in the marketplace.

    Perhaps the hobby of Islamic violence will fade just like stamp collecting. It only happens when enough people do not respect it.

    Connecting Islamic violence with honor is incorrect. There is no reason to elevate the action/emotion by the connection. It is totally without honor, it is merely popular. The mere suggestion that it is honor from any perspective (even that of a Muslim) justifies it even if only in a morally relative sense -- it should never be done.

  20. Anonymous21/3/14

    Islam is what Muhammad said and did. That's where the violence comes from and always will. Muslims, of course, do not see themselves as committing violence but as carrying out Allah's will ("even though you don't like it, it is good for you") it is unbelievers who commit violence against Allah by being renegades and imposing their own law. Jews and Christians in dar al-Islam were always dhimmi peoples, subjugated, and under the threat of violence if they ever acted differently. Jihad (warfare against non-Muslims to spread Islam, as defined in sharia) is not a hobby either. It is obligatory and a law of Allah until the Day of Resurrection, it is hukmshari: a right of Allah that can never be overruled by men.

  21. DenisO21/3/14

    Too, too long! Gad, to make a point? What? That they are monsters?
    They are ignorant animals that are manipulated into thinking they are "entitled", and there are no real consequences for "taking" by murder, theft, or any other way. They target the easy ones, despite what you say, Sultan, and if their victim bites back, they look for another, weaker victim. Israel understands this, and GWBush did too, when he went into the heart of the vipers' nest, WMD's or not. Once bitten, they directed their terror against their traditional secular enemies, and left the U.S. alone.
    Your analysis ignores that they are cowards, bullying as long as the victim doesn't bite, eg. Obama, Kerry, Clinton(s).
    The poppy farmers defend their crops, and they are not above farming the dirt. Think about that. If they believe life is hopeless and G-d is great, they'll believe anything, and are susceptible to irrational manipulation and peer pressure. When they come to America and London, to drive cabs or open shops, they see a chance for a better life and behave not at all as you portray them (except for those on the dole, who continue their ways). Is there a lesson here?

  22. Anonymous21/3/14

    You wrote: "... the average Muslim did not spend any time thinking about the Jews, who were always despised, but like most non-Muslims, weren't of consequence. Having conquered their lands and their persons, they could go about ignoring them, aside from the usual thefts, murders and assorted cruelties."

    As long as the Jews were good little inferiors, bowing and scraping and knowing our place, our Muslim conquerers put up with us. Our industry made us good to rob, and our suffering was always good for a few laughs. But then we got uppity and no longer knew our place, so it's Katie, bar the door. Can't have a bunch of Jews running around unowned and thinking they're your equals, can you?


  23. Anonymous21/3/14

    I will waste more words in my comment post than Mr. Greenfield did in his outstanding article. But, that wasn't an article, that was an extraordinary documentary.

    "A Muslim is right because he has power".....When the most sophisticated military-weapons-arsenal in the history of mankind cannot crush a bunch of evil-mad rifle toting goat herders, it is clear who wants to win the battle.....and who has the power.

    Dan Mesa/AZ

  24. It ends when we end it or otherwise perhaps with the end of all things.
    Islam didn't invent honor but it cannot be defeated by a people who do not possess it themselves.
    Islam is first and foremost a seduction and therefore innocence is a somewhat questionable defense.

  25. Anonymous25/3/14

    Excellent article, opened my eyes more, tho I had an inkling it had to do with Honour and the circle of violence that causes in their minds and hearts... Thanks for your brilliance :)

  26. anonymous;
    "while creating next to nothing since algebra and tile"
    muslims created neither algebra nor tile.

  27. denis o:
    "When they come to America and London, to drive cabs or open shops, they see a chance for a better life and behave not at all as you portray them "


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