It’s time to talk about domestic violence. High time, in fact. I’ve talked to too many Muslim women, daughters and wives, who have suffered from abuse either emotionally, mentally or worst of all, physically. Why we need to have a serious chat about it is because it’s something prevalent in Muslim communities, but no one likes to confront it. It’s usually brushed under the carpet, and unfortunately, so are its victims.
…there is no justification for treating a human being that God created in such a horrifying, humiliating manner.
The victims, most of them women, have no where to turn a lot of the time. Many times I’ve talked to Muslim women who were targets of abuse within their families, and asked them why they haven’t asked for help from the local mosques, or from local sheikhs. Not surprisingly, many of the times I’ve gotten the same response: “They just tell us to have patience and bear with it.”
So, as my husband beats me to a pulp and my body is turned black and blue, I should just take it “patiently”. That is the most un-Islamic thing to say to an oppressed person. Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. taught us to not be a slave because God made us free in this world, yet some of our local leaders in the communities try to silence innocent victims of abuse by telling them to just have patience and keep getting abused like some slave, instead of calling in the husband and warning him to change his ways. And I’m not exaggerating; this advice has been given to so many women in the Muslim communities by local leaders/imams, that it’s appalling. And something seriously needs to be done. Because abuse is HARAM. Yes, there is no justification for treating a human being that God created in such a horrifying, humiliating manner. This is not what is meant by patience. Patience is to stand firm against injustice and oppression, not to submit to it.
I once heard about this woman who was being so badly harassed by her husband and she did not know who to ask for help, because many times, instead of getting help from their communities, women like her get shunned and sometimes even blamed. Yet her husband is one who regularly attends the mosque. This is not the behaviour of a true Muslim. You know what defines a true believer? “…certainty, trustworthiness to good and bad people, and being kind to women” (Bihar al-Anwar, 10/ 405).
It is a shame that an abused woman confessed that she was not offered any help from the Muslim community when she pleaded for aid and that she then got supported by a Christian women’s group instead.
The status of women, as we all know, in Islam, is great. We all know about how the Holy Prophet (saw) used to stand up when his daughter would enter the room. In fact, Imam Kadhim (a.s) narrated from Imam Ali (a.s) who said, “Fear Allah! Fear Allah with regards to women! Because the last word of your Prophet (a.s.) was: ‘I recommend you to be kind to women…” (Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, 14/ 255). This is what it is to be a real man, who follows the teachings of Islam, that he should behave in a respectful way towards the women in his life and not hurt their feelings, let alone their bodies.
This is why domestic abuse is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with and discussed in our communities. We need to face it, and make sure we back the victims with our full support and care because in Islam, even war prisoners had their right to be treated humanely; heck even animals have rights, so it is completely and utterly despicable to have some men treating their wives like animals. It is a great form of oppression and it needs to be combated because as Muslims we are supposed to be against any kind of oppression and injustice. We should have support systems where victims can call in for help from being abused, where abusers can be warned and reported, and the victims to he helped financially and otherwise. There needs to be a change from the cowardly mentality of telling a poor beaten up woman to be “patient” to being courageous and acting like real Muslims to defend the defenceless.
It is a shame that an abused woman confessed that she was not offered any help from the Muslim community when she pleaded for aid and that she then got supported by a Christian women’s group instead. What happened to us? Have we forgotten what the Holy Prophet (saw) said regarding women?
Haola asked the Prophet: What rights does a women have over a man? The Prophet (S.A.W.) replied: Gabriel made so many recommendations on behalf of women that I thought a man cannot say the slightest thing to her. Gabriel said: O’ Muhammad, be afraid of God in regards to women. They bear the sufferings and hardships of life. Women have rights over you since they have placed their bodies in your control for pleasure, they carry your children within their bodies until the time for delivery and they experience dangerous pains. Be kind to them. Keep them satisfied so they’ll get along well with you. Don’t say your wives are ugly or you don’t like them. Don’t be greedy about what you have given as the nuptial gift or take any of it back by force. (Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, 14/252).
Let’s reform this issue in our communities. And let’s not say it doesn’t exist. There are countless women who are silent, afraid to speak up about their anguish, because we try to say this problem existed in the past but doesn’t occur any more but for these women, it’s an everyday reality.