by Dr. Mahbubur Rahman
Editor, The Message Magazine
For too long, the American Muslim community didn’t recognize, let alone respond duly to the problem of domestic violence. Whenever any incident of domestic violence was reported, our usual response has been one of denial — as if his is exclusively a “non-Muslim” issue and/or the Muslim community has nothing to do with it. But some high profile
cases of the recent past, especially the murder case of Assiya Hassan in Buffalo of New York in February 2009 have caused big cracks on their claims and forced American Muslims not only to come out of their deep slumber, but also to address this issue with utmost urgency and seriousness.
While commenting on the brutal murder of Assiya Hassan, one community leader thus remarked: “This is a wake up call to all of us, that violence against women is real and cannot be ignored. It must be addressed collectively by every member of our community ….. Domestic violence is a behavior that knows no boundaries of religion, race, ethnicity, or social status. Domestic violence occurs in every community. The Muslim community is not exempt from this issue. We, the Muslim community, need to take a strong stand against domestic violence.”
Indeed, we betray our faith when we turn a blind eye to the occurrence of domestic violence in our midst suggesting that “it’s a personal problem.” We often forget that domestic violence is a crime against Islam and humanity. We should neither remain silent nor uninvolved when we become aware of cases of abuse. In fact, the Muslim community should be proactive in providing marriage counseling and provide support and help to the victims (if so is warranted in cases of bad marriages) by offering them safe refuge, information on their rights, as well as referrals to social service providers in their respective areas. After all, anger management and conflict resolution are learned skills and individuals lacking them hence require professional help and management. Instead of simply asking the victims to be patient, the Muslim community should offer counseling services and make them widely known and accessible to vulnerable members of their community. Our mosques, community centers and religious organizations should provide guidance to those who are trapped in the unfortunate web of domestic abuse, in ways that will enable the sufferers to connect with such resources and improve their lives.
It is also true that domestic violence happens in different forms and levels and it can be caused or initiated by any party- either husband or wife. The available statistics give us horrible pictures. In many cases, it starts simply as emotional or verbal abuse, but it is only after the occurrence of physical abuse, do people consider it domestic violence. Islam prohibits and denounces all forms of these abuses and violence. In the Islamic way of life, marriage is not just a legal contract: it’s also a sacred bond between a man and a woman in which both husband and wife take a solemn pledge to abide by the divine dictum in their conjugal life. As stated in Surah Nisa (4:01) of the Qur’an, it’s by God’s name by which the married couple claims mutual rights and fulfills their marital obligations. Unfortunately, in many Muslims’ lives, this “religious” dimension is absent and even if it exists, it’s all but a formality that they perform at the time of wedding and afterwards many remain totally ignorant about these “religious injunctions” and some deliberately stay far away from God (i.e., divine prescriptions) especially when dealing with their spouses.
However, if we turn to the Qur’an, we notice how noble the institution of marriage is in the sight of Allah (swt) and how much mindful, careful and merciful we have to be while dealing with our spouses: “And among His Signs is this; that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put
love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect…” (Qur’an 30:21). Since males are he offenders in most cases of domestic violence, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has also eminded them: “Treat your women right and with utmost care, they are regarded as trust given by Allah.” In another
hadith, the Prophet (saws) is reported to have said, “The best among the people is one who treats his family well….”
Last but not least, domestic violence demonstrates the darkest side of a man’s soul. It is clearly a devilish practice. While human beings are fallible, nothing justifies domestic abuse or domestic violence. To have a fulfilling marriage and a virtuous life, we have to deny the dictates of devil and abide by the Commands of Allah (swt) in our daily lives.
Source: The Message Magazine
by Dr. Mahbubur Rahman