The Lid is Off: Battered Muslim Women

Last night, I received an email about the New York Times Article Abused Muslim Women in US Gain Advocates. I had started writing something late into the night, but by accident I erased it. Tariq Nelson captured much of what I wanted to say in his post, Helping Battered Muslim Women.
He wrote:

I feel that these types of articles are good because it shows that Muslims are being pro-active in not accepting abuse (we’re talking broken jaws and limbs here in some cases) and helping the abused find help. There is a fine line between “exposing the dirty laundry” and doing what it takes to solve problems (of all types)

This is why some people would rather remain in denial then admit that such problems exist. The fact is that *some* Muslim men are barbaric, oppressive, terrible people and we should distance ourselves (and our religion) from this type of crap rather than denying what everyone can see.

I suggest you head over to Tariq Nelson’s page and read the rest of the article. I was also very happy to see in the article the work of Imam Johari Abdal Malak. On his blog, Muslims Against Domestic Violence, Imam Johari wrote:

Our goal is to return people to the original and proper understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah on this issue. We believe that the Words of the Qur’an are the Words of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and that it has been preserved. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – who is the best example – never beat his wives. The Qur’an calls upon men to be maintainers and protectors of women and this is a religion of expressing God’s love (rahma) and being kind to one’s spouse. The goal of a marriage in Islam is to promote love and compassion between the spouses and the family in general.

Another thing that excited me about what Imam Johari wrote is that  they’re staring an initiative called Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence.  The imam has also edited a book titled “What Islam Says About Domestic Violence.” As the article demonstrates, Muslims are holding seminars, workshops, lectures, and in various community centers and mosques. But it is an uphill battle against silence, censure, and denial. I have heard reports that Muslim women’s shelters get death threats and a lot of people still have a problem that we have such institutions.

I am still wondering what are we going to do about teens at risk. Many people who abuse their spouses abuse their children. I am hoping that there are support networks for teens who may suffer the fate of Aqsa Parvez and Sarah and Aminah Said. Whatever the levels of practice of the wives or daughters, we as Muslims should be supportive and offer those in need refuge. We haven’t even gotten to the world of sexual abuse, which counter to what some people say does exist in the Muslim community.

It is time that as American Muslims, we begin to deal with social problems with real social solutions that are informed by universal Islamic principles of charity and mercy. We should be a benefit for our our community and others. Our da’wa should not be selling ideas, but living through example. And by doing so, we can help ensure a better future for our children. We can be proactive, there are Muslims who are beginning to develop nursing homes, food distribution, health clinics, and youth outreach programs. There are even an increased amount of Muslims who are counselors and therapists. At this stage, we need to begin to look at real problems our community members face, as opposed to being in denial. There are families broken up because there are Muslims who have drug addictions. Muslims are suffering with mental and emotional issues. There are Muslims who need jobs, but have no skills and training. We need to develop substance abuse programs, mental health care programs, job training programs. There are many more areas to be addressed. And only by talking about it, can we begin to think of solutions.

11 thoughts on “The Lid is Off: Battered Muslim Women

  1. Salaams Margari,

    Insha Allah all is well with you. May 2008 bring you peace and closeness to God.

    An important post, as is Tariq’s and Imam Johari’s. A good friend of mine, and a student of Islamic knowledge for approximately 10 years, has recently written on the same topic with the intention of working on the grass-roots level in Scotland.

    Allah bless these efforts and help them to grow

    Abdur Rahman


  2. Pingback: Battered Muslim Women: Issues and Initiatives « Abdur Rahman’s Corner

  3. Nice and interesting…keep on going and insyaAllah there are many out there whose listening and reading yours.



  4. Those who commit domestic/sexual abuse, I believe suffer from various forms of insecurity/inferiority. I hate to keep using the same soapbox, but once again I believe this is just another manifestation of the inferiority complex prevalent in Muslim cultures.

    Then there’s the complete head in sand attitudes I see occasionally. One example is alcohol addiction/abuse. I’ve known a couple of alcoholics in my life, and believe me, these people aren’t choosing to suffer the effects of alcoholism, and they certainly don’t get any enjoyment out of drinking. I remember doing a web search in alcoholism or alcoholics anonymous or something similar within Muslim countries/communities and I found one page where a good half the people were saying there’s no such thing, its from shaitan, they’re just weak etc. Alcohol may certainly be a tool of the demon, but refusing to acknowledge that some of these people need help is just plain stupid.


  5. This is such a sensitive issue.

    I remember talking with the Judge of a Domestic Violence court, and she said that when a woman finally decides to leave a violent situation, there’s a high chance that she will be murdered. When a man abuses his wife and she leaves, he feels as though he is losing control.

    I’m glad that they included: “The problem occurs among American Muslims at the same rate as other groups, activists say, but is even more sensitive because raising the issue is considered an attack on the faith.” If Islam is so detrimentally patriarchal, then wouldn’t the rates actually be higher than other groups? I’m glad that the article didn’t take the alarmist approach saying that this problem is at epidemic proportions (although I really hate to even write that last sentence, because even if there is just one woman being abused, that should be enough to cause concern).

    Any approach that is used to address this problem NEEDS to be done from an Islamic perspective. Our former Imam, Shayk Ibrahim Zaidan, spent every saturday between Maghrib and Isha, over a month or two, discussing the rights of the wife and husband in a marriage, starting off the discussion by informing the people of how to have an Islamic household.

    I want to write more, but I’m at work. See, that’s my problem, I mainly read this blog while at work, and as a result, can’t really respond the way I want to.


  6. abuse of women is sanctioned in the Koran. read chapter 4, verse 34; chapter 24, verse 32. If you believe in the Koran then you must believe in the abuse of Women and slavery.


  7. ASA,

    I’ve sat in on an all day workshop last year in regards to domestic violence within the Muslim community.

    The abuse is predominately on females. However, almost 10% of domestic violence victims, even with the Muslim community, are MEN. There is another level of shame in regards to men getting abused by their wives.


  8. A very well-written post 🙂
    We covered a sister’s 1st-hand account of domestic violence on our website Unfortunately, a few readers felt that it was harming the reputaion of the Muslims to air these problems, rather than brush them under the carpet. I agress that in order to help such sisters, the 1st step is to taklk about them and acknowledge that some men do oppress their wives, rather than just expecting the sisters to have sabr.
    The article is here:

    Umm ‘Uthmaan



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