Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wife Abuse in the Muslim Community

Posted by Hannah at 9:00 AM

Jannah.org has an article for the Muslim Community that is worth the read!


Wife Abuse in the Muslim Community by Kamran Memon Below is a portion of the article, and please visit the link for the entire article!


For cultural reasons, some Muslim men accept the idea that it's normal for a man to hit his wife and that she is no more than a piece of his property.


Some Muslim husbands abuse their wives as a result of frustration resulting from economic hardship, political oppression experienced outside the U.S., problems with the children, or an inferiority complex.


Some abuse their wives because they want them to be more "modern" and less Islamic by removing their hijab (Islamic dress), while others are abusive because they want the opposite.
Some Muslims with superficial ties to Islam don't know that abuse is unacceptable due to their weak faith, poor Islamic knowledge, and lack of interaction with the Muslim community.


Tragically, some Muslim men actually use Islam to "justify" their abusive behavior. Focusing on rituals, considering themselves to be Islamically knowledgeable, and disregarding the spirit of Islam, they wrongly use the Qur'anic verse that says men are the protectors and maintainers of women to go on power trips, demand total obedience, and order their wives around. They disregard the Islamic requirement for the head of the household to consult with other members of the family when making decisions.


Then, if their wives dare to speak up or question their orders, these men misinterpret a Qur'anic verse that talks about how to treat a disobedient wife and use it as a license for abuse.
In reality, the Qur'an and Sunnah provide clear instructions on what procedures a husband must use in conflict situations where the husband is innocent and the wife is rebellious and at fault. The first step is a peaceful discussion between the two of them about the problem and solutions. This is intended to soften hearts and eliminate misunderstandings. If this doesn't work, the next step is for the husband to tell his wife his expectations in a firm, decisive manner. If the rebelliousness and disobedience continues, the husband is supposed to leave the bed, which is really a punishment for both of them for not being able to resolve their differences. If that fails to solve the problem, representatives of both sides meet to try and arbitrate. As a last resort, if he thinks it will prevent divorce by letting the wife know how serious he is, the husband can use a light slap on the hand or shoulder but not on any other part of the body, and it shouldn't leave a mark or scar. Anything beyond this is Islamically prohibited.
This procedure is to be followed _only_ when the wife is the cause of a serious problem and the husband is innocent, compassionate, and well-behaved. If the husband is the cause of the problem, he has _no right_ to do any of this.


Unfortunately, Muslim wives often accept un-Islamic treatment from their husbands because they don't know their Islamic rights, and they don't realize their husbands are crossing the Islamic line.


Abusive men are completely disregarding the Islamic teachings of kindness, mercy, gentleness, and forgiveness, just as they are disregarding the example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who never hit a woman and was extremely gentle and compassionate with his family.


WHY IS HELP SO SCARCE?


One problem is that many Muslims don't want to get involved in the "private" family affairs of other Muslims. Rather than enjoining good and forbidding evil, rather than trying to stop abuse in a friend's or neighbor's family by offering to mediate between the husband and wife or by encouraging them to speak to Muslim counsellors, many irresponsible Muslims close their eyes and pretend they don't know there's a problem. So the abuse goes on.


Another reason why abuse isn't stopped is that many abused Muslim women simply don't seek out help. They're afraid that if their situation becomes public they will lose their privacy because Muslims gossip so much, and they fear the abusers will become more hostile when the negative publicity gets back to them. Furthermore, many abused Muslim women remain silent because they lack confidence in themselves and believe that they somehow deserve the abuse. Abused Muslim women also keep quiet out of a feeling of hopelessness and a belief that no one will help them, out of financial dependence on their husbands, out of a desire to keep homes together for the children's sake, or out of love for the abusive husbands. Other Muslim women accept the abuse as a fact of life and learn to live with it.


Of those who reach a breaking point and seek help, many Muslim women turn to imams but often find them unhelpful. Imams often tell these women to be patient and pray for the abuse to end. Some imams make the abused Muslim women feel guilty, telling them they have brought the abuse upon themselves and instructing them to go home and please their husbands. Other imams, who are sincerely but mistakenly misinterpreting Islam by putting the importance of family privacy above any harm that might come to the individual woman, tell the women it is wrong for them to discuss their problems with anyone other than their husbands. The imams's reactions stem from ignorance, cowardice, or friend-ship or blood relationship with the abusive husbands. Relatively few imams have had the wisdom and courage to tackle the problem head-on. As a result of this, many abused women don't bother turning to imams for help.


Looking for other sources of help, many abused Muslim women have turned to relatives only to be told to accept the abuse because making a big deal out of it could hurt the relatives' family honor and reputation.


Finding many imams and relatives to be more cruel than Islamic, abused Muslim women often turn to Muslim female activists and Muslim women's organizations for help. While these activists are often untrained in crisis intervention, they are getting the abused women out of their houses and hiding them until Muslim men can be sent to try to reason with the husbands. They often collect money from other women to give to the abused women until it's safe for them to go back home. When continued attempts to salvage the marriages have proven futile, these activists counsel the abused women on how to get out of their marriages.


As for national Islamic organizations, most have largely ignored the issue of wife abuse, neglecting to highlight the problem and solutions during national conferences or to devote resources to helping abused Muslim women.


Overall, the services provided by the Muslim community for abused Muslim women take care of one-quarter of the need, according to Muslim activists.


Because the Muslim community often leaves them to suffer, many abused Muslim women turn to shelters run by non-Muslims for help. (Seeing abused Muslim women at shelters leaves non-Muslim social workers with an ugly picture of Islam. As far as many of them are concerned, Islam is no more just and compassionate than Christianity or Judaism because the Muslim community tolerates wife abuse too. Going to a non-Muslim shelter can result social workers taking children away from troubled Muslim homes if they think it is better for them to be in a more stable environment, which often ends up being a non-Muslim home.)


Many women go even further, leaving Islam altogether because the Muslim community fails to live up to the Islamic promise of protection, brotherhood, and sisterhood.



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2 comments:

Tara on 7:42 AM said...

Love these articles on the abuse of Muslim women. I live in the DC area and was encouraged to see that there are resouces here to help. Thanks for all this info. You blog helped me spot the abuse in my own relationship with my Christian ex-boyfriend and confront it in my own mind and move forward out of the abuse and into sanity. Thanks...HUGS!

Hannah on 9:44 AM said...

Thank you for your words of encouragement!

I'm so glad you saw things as they were, and confronted them and did what you felt God was drawing you towards.

Blessings!

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