The Islamic Response to Domestic Violence - updated 10/10/09

The Islamic Response to Domestic Violence

by ISNA

As Muslims we understand that violence and coercion used, as a tool of control in the home is oppression and not accepted in Islam.

Marriage in the Islamic context is a means of tranquility, protection, peace and comfort. Abuse of any kind is in conflict to the principles of marriage. Any justification of abuse is in opposition to what Allah (swt) has revealed and the example of Prophet Muhammad.

Sura 30 Ayat 21
“And among His signs is this: He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye 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.”

Sura 9 Ayat 71
The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.

Sura 16 Ayat 90
Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition

What does Islam say concerning domestic violence?
Excerpt from “Domestic violence - Islamic perspective” by M. Basheer Ahmed, M.D.

“Under no circumstances violence against women is encouraged or allowed in Islam. There are many examples in Quran and Ahadith that describes the behavior of Muslims towards husband and wife. The relationship should be one of mutual love, respect and kindness. Allah (swt) says in Quran,
“O believers treat women with kindness even if you dislike them; it is quite possible that you dislike something which Allah might yet make a source of abundant good (An Nisa 4:19).

Arabian society at the beginning of Islam sanctioned appalling violence towards women. Far from giving permission for wife beating Allah Subhanahu watala prohibited or at least severely curtailed excessive violence against women. Allah (swt) repeatedly says in the Quran to show love, kindness and warns that they should not harm their wives even after divorce. Allah (swt) has even forbidden us to call each other by bad names and to humiliate. The abusive behavior does not reflect the kindness and love for their spouses. Still, some men justify their behavior knowing that they are disobeying Allah’s guidance…”

Excerpt from “Ending Domestic Violence in Muslim Families” by Sharifa Alkhateeb

“Under no circumstances is violence against women encouraged or allowed. The holy Qur’an contains tens of verses extolling good treatment of women. Several specifically enjoin kindness to women (2:229-237; 4:19; 4:25). These verses make it clear that the relationship between men and women is to be one of kindness, mutual respect, and caring. Some verses, where Allah calls men and women “protecting friends of one another,” refer to the mandated atmosphere of mutual kindness and mercy in the marital home (30:21; 9:71). Others show disapproval of oppression or ill treatment of women…”

For full text visit:
http://www.isna.net/library/papers/dv/EndingDomesticViolenceinMuslimFamilies.html

Excerpt from “Is wife beating allowed in Islam” by Jamal Badawi
“In the event of a family dispute, the Qur’an exhorts the husband to treat his wife kindly and not overlook her POSITIVE ASPECTS (see Qur’an 4:19). If the problem relates to the wife’s behavior, her husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. In most cases, this measure is likely to be sufficient. In cases where the problem continues, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner, by sleeping in a separate bed from hers. There are cases, however, in which a wife persists in deliberate mistreatment and expresses contempt of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations. Instead of divorce, the husband may resort to another measure that may save the marriage, at least in some cases.…”

For full text visit:
http://www.jannah.org/genderequity/equitynotes.html#note14

First published 11/27/05

UPDATE February 2009:

ISNA’s Open Letter Against Domestic Violence

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is saddened and shocked by the news of the loss of one of our respected sisters, Aasiya Hassan whose life was taken violently.  To God we belong and to Him we return (Qur’an 2:156).  We pray that she find peace in God’s infinite Mercy, and our prayers and sympathies are with sister Aasiya’s family.  Our prayers are also with the Muslim community of Buffalo who have been devastated by the loss of their beloved sister and the shocking nature of this incident.

This is a wake up call to all of us, that violence against women is real and can not be ignored. It must be addressed collectively by every member of our community. Several times each day in America, a woman is abused or assaulted. 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. Unfortunately, some of us ignore such problems in our community, wanting to think that it does not occur among Muslims or we downgrade its seriousness.

I call upon my fellow imams and community leaders to never second-guess a woman who comes to us indicating that she feels her life to be in danger. We should provide support and help to protect the victims of domestic violence by providing for them a safe place and inform them of their rights as well as refer them to social service providers in our areas.

Marriage is a relationship that should be based on love, mutual respect and kindness. No one who experiences a marriage that is built on these principles would pretend that their life is in danger. We must respond to all complaints or reports of abuse as genuine and we must take appropriate and immediate action to ensure the victim’s safety, as well as the safety of any children that may be involved.

Women who seek divorce from their spouses because of physical abuse should get full support from the community and should not be viewed as someone who has brought shame to herself or her family. The shame is on the person who committed the act of violence or abuse.  Our community needs to take a strong stand against abusive spouses. We should not make it easy for people who are known to abuse to remarry if they have already victimized someone. We should support people who work against domestic violence in our community, whether they are educators, social service providers, community leaders, or other professionals.

Our community needs to take strong stand against abusive spouses and we should not make it easy for them to remarry if they chose a path of abusive behavior. We should support people who work against domestic violence in our community, whether they are educators or social service providers. As Allah says in the Qur’an: “O ye who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do” (4:136).

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never hit a women or child in his life. The purpose of marriage is to bring peace and tranquility between two people, not fear, intimidation, belittling, controlling, or demonizing. Allah the All-Mighty says in the Qur’an: “Among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye 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” (30:21),

We must make it a priority to teach our young men in the community what it means to be a good husband and what the role the husband has as a protector of his family. The husband is not one who terrorizes or does harm and jeopardizes the safety of his family. At the same time, we must teach our young women not to accept abuse in any way, and to come forward if abuse occurs in the marriage. They must feel that they are able to inform those who are in authority and feel comfortable confiding in the imams and social workers of our communities.

Community and family members should support a woman in her decision to leave a home where her life is threatened and provide shelter and safety for her. No imam, mosque leader or social worker should suggest that she return to such a relationship and to be patient if she feels the relationship is abusive. Rather they should help and empower her to stand up for her rights and to be able to make the decision of protecting herself against her abuser without feeling she has done something wrong, regardless of the status of the abuser in the community.

A man’s position in the community should not affect the imam’s decision to help a woman in need. Many disasters that take place in our community could have been prevented if those being abused were heard. Domestic violence is not a private matter. Any one who abuses their spouse should know that their business becomes the business of the community and it is our responsibility to do something about it. She needs to tell someone and seek advice and protection.

Community leaders should also be aware that those who isolate their spouses are more likely to also be physically abusive, as isolation is in its own way a form of abuse. Some of the abusers use the abuse itself to silence the women, by telling her “If you tell people I abused you, think how people will see you, a well-known person being abused. You should keep it private.”

Therefore, to our sisters, we say: your honor is to live a dignified life, not to put on the face that others want to see. The way that we measure the best people among us in the community is to see how they treat their families. It is not about how much money one makes, or how much involvement they have in the community, or the name they make for themselves. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, “The best among you are those who are best to their families.”

It was a comfort for me to see a group of imams in our local community, as well as in the MANA conference signing a declaration promising to eradicate domestic violence in our community. Healthy marriages should be part of a curriculum within our youth programs, MSA conferences, and seminars as well as part of our adult programs in our masajid and in our khutbahs.

The Islamic Society of North America has done many training workshops for imams on combating domestic violence, as has the Islamic Social Service Associate and Peaceful Families Project. Organizations, such as FAITH Social Services in Herndon, Virginia, serve survivors of domestic violence. All of these organizations can serve as resources for those who seek to know more about the issues of domestic violence.

Faith Trust Institute, one of the largest interfaith organizations, with Peaceful Families Project, has produced a DVD in which many scholars come together to address this issue. I call on my fellow imams and social workers to use this DVD for training others on the issues of domestic violence.  (For information, go to the website:  http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/).  For more information, or to access resources and materials about domestic violence, please visit http://www.peacefulfamilies.org.

In conclusion, Allah says in the Qur’an “O my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong; and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs” (31:17).  Let us pray that Allah will help us to stand for what is right and leave what is evil and to promote healthy marriages and peaceful family environments. Let us work together to prevent domestic violence and abuse and especially, violence against women.

UPDATE October 2009

On February 12, 2009 Aasiya Zubair Hassan was brutally murdered. Her tragic death sent shock waves through communities across America and major media around the country covered her story of domestic violence. As the founder of Bridges TV, Aasiya was known to many people; they cried for her, they prayed for her children.  As Americans observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout October, we at New Star Family Center ask each of you to join us in remembering Aasiya and the countless other victims.  We invite men especially to honor her memory with this promise:  “I pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about domestic violence”
Please visit the New Star Family Center site and sign the guestbook pledge against domestic violence at http://login.npwebsiteservices.com/starfamilycenterorg/gusetbook.asp Your thoughts, du’as and condolences will be recorded in a book of memories and delivered to her family as keepsake. 

Organizations:

Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Center http://www.mwrc.org.uk/
An-Nisa Society http://www.an-nisa.org/
Apna Ghar Domestic Violence Center http://www.apnaghar.org/indexnew.shtml
Baitul Salaam Shelter Network http://baitulsalaam.net/linkshelters/ 
Faith Trust Institute: http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org
Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition http://www.jwi.org/site/c.okLWJ3MPKtH/b.3515925/k.EC36/Interfaith_Domestic_Violence_Coalition.htm 
KARAMAH Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights http://www.karamah.org/home.htm
Musawah - for equality in the family http://www.musawah.org/
Muslim Social Services http://www.soundvision.com/Info/socialservice/default.asp 
Muslim Women’s League http://www.mwlusa.org/
Muslimat al Nisaa http://www.mnisaa.org/
Muslims Against Domestic Violence http://www.geocities.com/athens/academy/7368/muslimdv_sign.htm
National Alliance to End Domestic Abuse http://www.jwi.org/site/c.okLWJ3MPKtH/b.2288405/k.7F7/National_Alliance_to_End_Domestic_Abuse.htm
New Star Family Center http://login.npwebsiteservices.com/starfamilycenterorg/Home.asp
Peace and Safety in the Christian Home: http://www.peaceandsafety.com
Peaceful Families Project http://www.peacefulfamilies.org/
Resource directory of national organizations http://www.jwi.org/site/c.okLWJ3MPKtH/b.4170859/k.6A51/National_Organizations.htm
Shalom Bayit: Bay Area Jewish Women Working to End Domestic Violence: http://www.shalom-bayit.org
Stand! Against Domestic Violence http://www.standagainstdv.org 
Turning point for women and families http://www.turningpoint-ny.org/

Articles:

A Perspective on Domestic Violence in the Muslim Community, Salma Elkadi Abugideiri http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/downloads/article_from_salma__final_with_copyright_notice_for_web.pdf
A test of faith, Fatima Cash http://www.infocusnews.net/content/view/39879/135/ 
ALLAH Does Not Allow Domestic Violence, Imam Abdullah El Amin http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=1728
American Muslim Women’s Organizations as Innovators in Domestic Violence Policy http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/3/8/3/6/p238368_index.html
An Imam’s Guide to deal with domestic violence, Abdul Malik Mujahid http://www.soundvision.com/Info/socialservice/violenceimamwest.asp
An Imam’s Guide for dealing with abusive men, Uzma Mazhar http://www.crescentlife.com/psychissues/imam_dealing_with_abusive_men.htm
Community Pressure as a Deterrent to Injustice, Uzma Mazhar   http://www.crescentlife.com/articles/islamic%20psych/community_pressure_deterrent_injustice.htm
Constructing the Notion of Male Superiority over Women in Islam, Dahlia Eissa http://www.wluml.org/english/pubs/pdf/occpaper/OCP-11.pdf 
The Death of Aqsa Parvez Should Be an Interfaith Call to Action, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_death_of_aqsa_parvez_should_be_an_interfaith_call_to_action/
Death By Culture?:  How Not to Talk about Islam and Domestic Violence, Zareena Grewal http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/death_by_culture_how_not_to_talk_about_islam_and_domestic_violence/ 
Does the Qur’an tolerate domestic abuse: interview with Laleh Bakhtiar on Qur’an 4:34   http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Islam/2007/07/Does-The-Quran-Tolerate-Domestic-Abuse.aspx 
Domestic Abuse by Muslim Men?  Is the 18% Statistic Too Low?, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/domestic_abuse_by_muslim_men_is_the_18_statistic_too_low/
Domestic Violence, Dr. Aslam Abdullah http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/domestic_violence/
Domestic Violence, Mohammad Khaku http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/domestic_violence1/ 
Domestic Violence and abuse in the Muslim community - Resource collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/violence_and_abuse_in_the_family/ 
Domestic violence, an Islamic perspective http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/w_dv.htm 
Domestic Violence Prevention & Education in Faith-Based Communities - a resource collection http://new.vawnet.org/category/Main_Doc.php?docid=837
Domestic Violence and Women of Color http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/index.php?p=Domestic_Violence_%26_Women_of_Color&s=369
Domestic violence hurts Muslims too: Stop the hurt now,  Aneesah Nadir, MSW, CISW http://www.soundvision.com/Info/socialservice/stopdomesticviolence.asp
Domestic Violence in the Muslim Community, New Star Family Center http://login.npwebsiteservices.com/starfamilycenterorg/DomesticViolence.asp
Domestic Violence in Muslim Families, Dr. Jeremiah McAuliffe http://www.crescentlife.com/psychissues/domestic_violence_in_muslim_families.htm
Domestic Violence within the Muslim American Community, KARAMAH http://www.karamah.org/domestic_violence.htm
Don’t Hold All Muslims Responsible for Men Who Misuse Quran, Beat Women, Summer Hathout http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/violence&harrassment/domesticviolence.htm
Ending Domestic Violence in Muslim Families, Sharifa Alkhateeb http://www.crescentlife.com/psychissues/ending_domestic_violence_in_muslim_families.htm
Interfaith Group Takes New Approach to Domestic Abuse, Rebecca Rosen Lum http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/interfaith_group_takes_new_approach_to_domestic_abuse/
Islam and Honor Killings, Imam Zaid Shakir http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islam_and_honor_killings/ 
Islamic Perspective on “Honor Killings” and domestic violence, MWL http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/violence&harrassment/hk.html
Fatwa against domestic abuse by Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah http://arabist.net/hatshepsut/?s=domestic+violence
Honor Killings, Mohammed Fadel PhD, JD http://www.islamawareness.net/HonourKilling/honor1.html
Khutbah by Sh. Hamza Yusuf http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass/2009/02/khutba-on-domestic-violence-by.html 
Misinterpretations about Islam that Perpetuate Domestic Violence, Uzma Mazhar http://www.crescentlife.com/psychissues/misinterpretations.htm
Murder of Aasiya Hassan: - American Muslims Call For Swift Action Against Domestic Violence, Dr. Hesham Hassaballa http://www.godfaithpen.com/2009/02/american-muslims-call-for-swift-action.html  -  PFP Condemns Beheading of Aasiya Hassan, Wife of Bridges TV Founder http://www.peacefulfamilies.org/pressrelease090214.html
Muslim Women, Domestic Violence and the Role of Education and Awareness Programs, Altaf Husain, MSW, LSW http://www.crescentlife.com/articles/islamic%20psych/muslim_women,_domestic_violence_and_education.htm
Muslims Working Against Domestic Violence, Imam Johari Abdul Malik http://imamjohari.wordpress.com/2008/01/06/muslims-working-against-domestic-violence/
National Declaration by Religious and Spiritual Leaders to Address Violence Against Women   http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/petition/petition.php 
Pakistan The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2009, Zubeida Mustafa http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-Protecting-women-qs-10
Qur’an and Hadith on Right to Fight Against Abuse and Violence http://www.crescentlife.com/islamic%20rights/fighting_abuse.htm 
Reflections on Aasiya Hassan’s Murder and Domestic Violence, M. Junaid Levesque-Alam http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/reflections_on_aasiya_hassans_murder_and_domestic_violence/ 
Strong in Faith and Numbers, Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition Plans Capitol Hill Briefing http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/strong_in_faith_and_numbers_interfaith_domestic_violence_coalition_plans_ca/ 
Twenty Canadian Muslim Organizations Urge ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Domestic Violence http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/twenty_canadian_muslim_organizations_urge_zero_tolerance_for_domestic_viole/
What Religious Leaders Can Do to Respond to Sexual and Domestic Violence http://faithtrustinstitute.org/downloads/what_religious_leaders_can_do.pdf
Why Muslim Families Should Be Free of Domestic Violence (brochure) http://www.utoledo.edu/centers/eberly/docs/Islam%2520brochure.pdf
Wife Abuse in the Muslim Community, Kamran Memon http://islam.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=islam&cdn=religion&tm=87&gps=148_11_979_638&f=00&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.zawaj.com/articles/abuse_memon.html 


 

 


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