Stop Domestic Violence


In the June 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Robert S. Thompson, MD concluded that domestic violence impacts 44 percent of the American women at some point during their adult lives. Some 34 percent experience physical abuse such as hitting, shoving, and 34 percent face non-physical abuse such as angry threats 

A UN study on violence recently reported that some 1.5 million people are killed in violence annually with at least 10 percent in domestic violence.

Domestic abuse is a major issue in our world as no country is immune from it. It is prevalent in all sectors of human society. 

There is no country in the world where women are safe from violence or abuse. In Cambodia, 16 percent of women are physically abused by their husbands; in the UK, 30 percent are physically hurt by partners or ex-partners; 21 percent in Nicaragua, 29 percent in Canada, and 44 percent in the US. 45 percent of Indian women are slapped, kicked or beaten by their husbands. India also had the highest rate of violence during pregnancy. Of the women reporting violence, 50 percent are kicked, beaten or hit when pregnant. About 74.8 percent of the women who reported violence have attempted to commit suicide. Based on 48 surveys around the world, half of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. Women are killed by guns, beatings and burns among numerous other forms of abuse. In Sao Paulo, 13 percent of deaths of women of reproductive age were homicides; of these, 60 percent were committed by the victims' partners. 

However, none of, the professional experts have ever blamed faith or religious traditions for these acts of violence. 

We never hear that Hinduism, Christianity or Judaism is responsible for violence against women even though one can twist sacred text into misogynist passages in each faith traditions. But, when a Muslim is involved in such an unfortunate incident, not only is the individual put on trial, which he should face, but his faith is also slandered.

Rather than looking at the issue from a sociological perspective and developing a realistic understanding of the causes rooted in social conditions promoting domination, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, and condemnation, and even lack of faith analysts often find a scapegoat in religious scriptures, arguing that God intends one gender to be in control of the other by whatever means.

The recent case involving Mo Steve Hassan, the CEO of Bridges TV, and his beheaded wife Aasiya Hassan is being viewed by many intellectual midgets as a faith directed murder overlooking the real issues involved in it.

It is not the faith that dictated the action of the accused. Rather, everything that betrays the faith. Faith is often used to hide one's crimes and to justify one's animalistic tendencies. 

People are not born violent. They have the inbuilt capacity to learn violence or non violence means to express their disapproval of things. The faith demands a life style based on love, compassion and mercy even in the worst adverse conditions. Hassan's alleged action had nothing to do with this moral framework of relationship. Rather it showed those animalistic tendencies that our unbridled material culture has promoted in the form of revenge, greed and domination.

What is sad in Hassan's case is that the people who promoted him in his greed to misuse Islam for his personal business, did not pay attention to warning signals. There was ample data to suggest that he was a chronic domestic abuser. His two previous wives filed for divorce because of his alleged abusive nature. At least someone should have looked into his record before presenting him as a champion of the future of Islam in the United States.

Few are willing to recognize that no one deserves to be abused. The responsibility for the violence belongs to the abuser. It is not the victim's fault! Financial dependence on a spouse does not mean that the provider has a right to abuse the dependent. Indeed, abuse is a pattern of coercive control over another. Beating is a behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. Many also fail to understand that domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sect, religion or gender. Professing a faith does not make a person immune from that behavior.

Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, and even on the victims of their abuse. This pattern needs to be challenged from faith based groups, Muslims included. It is important that Islamic centers and mosques have family counseling support groups to tackle the issue heads on. Some of the symptoms of domestic abuse can be identified by looking at the following issues.

  • Does a partner feel afraid of the other much of the time?
  • Does a partner avoid certain topics out of fear of angering the other?
  • Does one feel that one can't do anything right for the other?
  • Or does one feel emotionally numb or helpless?
  • Do any of the spouses feel humiliated, criticized, or yelled?
  • Does any of the spouses treated so badly that one is embarrassed to see the family?
  • Does a spouse blame the other for his/her own abusive behavior?
  • Does a spouse see the other as a chattel rather than as a person?

Once these patterns are found, they should be brought up to counselors qualified to provide in relationship. If the situation does not improve, the authorities should be alerted to tackle the issue at a legal level. There is no shame in reporting incidents of violence to law enforcement officials if the counseling fails. The faith-based community has to take a strong stand against abuser and stand for the rights of victims to lead a decent life.

Peace in the family is the goal of Islam. Without love and compassion peace cannot be established. Domestic violence destroys this foundation of faith and promotes the idea that relationship with God can be established by following one's own egotistic ideals. There is no place of violence in any form and shape in a healthy Muslim society. There is no room for abuse. Those who do that are the one's who deny the signs of God and who use faith as a badge rather than as a responsibility to ensure that transgression from the divine path are not allowed.

 

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor of the Detroit based English weekly, Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada, Las Vegas and the recently elected General Secretary of the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relation.


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  11 Comments   Comment

  1. Tahmina from usa

    I wonder what is Mike doing in USA ? So, you think if you marry 4 times and get beard ,you will be able to go to Heaven.Is Islam that cheap religion ?

  2. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    LEGAL ADVICE TO WOMEN IF THEY ARE VIOLATED

    Step 1 : If you face physical abuses, and after so many events in which you find it unbearable anymore, first of all, take control of yourselves. Let the abuser leaves the house first.

    Step 2 : Call a close friend or relatives that you can trust. Sought immediate help or second opinion, on whether you are prepared to take the next course of legal action to protect yourself.

    Step 3 : If you are not ready, then try to recall back events that led to the abuse. What did you do or said that provoke such.

    Step 3 : If you find abuses intolerable anymore, then be ready to lodge a police report. Do not wash yourself or take a bath after the abuse, as you might wash away important legal evidence.

    Step 4 : Let your friend or confidante or relative drive you to the police station. If you have children, bring them with you. An abusive man, if he returns home, he may also vent his temper on the innocent children

    Step 5 : Be calm before you lodge a police report. Try to recall back the acts of abuses, on the spots where you were hit, and what was used in the acts.

    Step 6 : Lodge a police report, ask the police to take photos of yourself after the abuses, and if they can't you go to the nearest photo shop and take pictures but FIND ONE PERSON TO WITNESS IT.

    Step 7 : Give copies of the photos to the police investigating officer.

    Step 8 : The police will decide the next course of action. They may arrest the abuser and remanded him by a Court order.

    Step 9 : Leave the matrimonial home, for temporary measure, let the police investigate. Get counseling help or friemds moral support.

    Step 10 : Give all necessary statements to the police, ensure that it doesn't contradict with your police report.

    Step 11 : If the abuser is charge, then be prepared to testify in Court.

    Steps : Take steps to prepare for a divorce or separation. I'll write more.

    From the advocate

  3. mike from USA

    To Romesh Chander,

    What do you not like about my proposal? Is it the issue of defining the roles? I did not say that a man has the right to beat a peaceful wife, I do not agree with that. When a woman abuses her husband, she should be beaten and there should be legislation in the Arab countries that states that women who verbally or physically abuse anyone, husband, his family, children, should also be put in jail (not, o subhana Allah, Omar had his wives yell at him, bla bla). I also said that if the original proposal was not acceptable, people should be left alone to sort their own differences without the Muslim scholars pounding on the man that he is a sinner while the abusive wife coming out as a victim. We heard what Shaik Alazhar with his fatwa about the lady killed in Dubai that she is a shahida, why did he not say that she should be stoned to death since she was a married woman goofing off with lovers. Come on Guys, wake up and tickle you camels!

    Another comment, if you are "frightened" because what I said, what do you not then worry yourself with saving the Indian women from being buried alive when the husband dies?

  4. Aishah from USA

    I was abused in a previous marriage, it started as yelling, then pushing. But I educated myself of the warning signs to get help. Unfortunately, the Community did not help me, then I went to next step family(non-muslims), and friends. Alhamduliah, I got help but he did not and I do think about the next person he'll marry. This could have been prevented Inshall Allah if the community (Leaders) get involved and try to help this person or a least know he is abusive. He's not ready for a marriage. But the cycle goes on and innocent people are hurt or killed. May Allah (swt) protects us from the evil of ourselves and others.

  5. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    Assalamualaikum, and greetings to all,

    My prime advice to women, is that they must get secured jobs, even before and after marriages.

    Since I'm involved in the legal fraternity, I can say for one thing, domestic violence happens normally in circumstances where men felt that they had absolute authority and advantage towards their wives, because of their spouse dependency on them.

    Secondly there has to be proper understanding on the role of husbands and what are expected from their wives. In Islam, there is an expectation that women must be faithful and loyal, and that the husband has final say in everything in the household. But let's put perspective right, men has to care for their wives, they must sufficiently provide for them. If the marriage is troubled, and violence occurred because of the men drinking binge ( which is haram ) or because of extra marital affairs, or because of stress problems then where do we put the wives, albeit, where do we ensure that she gets justice ?

    Therein lies the two fold aspect of solutions, the law and counseling. If drinking brings out the worse in men, that the wives are neglected or if philandering men has tendencies to violate their wives, then the wives must be prepared to take further course of legal actions, which include lodging police reports. In malaysia we have a specific law to deal with domestic violence known as the Domestic Violence Act 1997.

    And of course there are other provisions in the Penal Code as well.

    Counseling is another solution, if the cause of disharmony in the marriage is due to work stress and / or the lack of communication between partners. But counseling solutions are not the answers to violent men and erratic behaviour, which are best dealt with by the law.

    Apart from being a legal counsel, I am also a marriage counselor, a voluntary work that I and many others do.

    We encourage husbands and wives to go for counseling and not to be embarass to do so in the process

  6. Aqilla from USA

    It's important for men to denounce violence against women. It affects everyone in the household. If there are children the emotional damage lasts their life time - provided that's their only damage. Violence against woman has to be addressed. Too often the abuser in the US come from a different country where abuse is overlooked or accepted. Many women from different countries don't realize that it is possible to stay alive, and even be happy in a marriage..and that should be expected. There is help to be had at battered women's shelter for a last resort.

  7. Rizewy from USA

    Mike you have some valid point, but your angry comment is outrageous, you wrote: "[a] man cannot be questioned on his discipline of his wife unless he breaks her bones." Islamic law simply does NOT allow husband to beat and cause bruise on his wife's psychical body according to all of Islamic Scholar of Sharia law, let alone to break her bones. According to you if person does not break her bones he practice whatever less than breaking her bones. THIS IS NOT ISLAMIC LAW. IT IS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM, AND ALLAH DOES NOT FORGIVE THIS VIOLATION EVEN IF YOU REPENT, EXCEPT WIFE ALSO FORGIVES, THEN YOU MAY HOPE FORGIVENESS FROM ALLAH.

    Ibn Najmuddin Rizewy

  8. Questioning from USA

    Do Mike's comments reflect "true" Islam? Do Muslims in America

    really want this program? This is very frightening.

    Romesh is right. Look at the news reports for all these killings

    (there have been a series in the US Muslim community over the

    past few years)--the men always cite Islam as support for their

    crimes against their wives, sisters, and daughters. What can be

    done about this?

  9. Romesh Chander from USA

    Why Islamic religion gets involved when muslims commit domestic violence? Very simple. Muslims themselves insist on quoting verses from Koran justifying their actions; you will never find a Hindu, Christian or Jew quoting any verses from their own holy books (even though such verses may exist). So, blame yourselves, not others. First you defend your (mis)deeds and then cry when others don't take too kind of those of (mis)deeds.

    By the way, in my opinion, in the case of Aasiya Hassan, it was not a case of domestic violence; it was murder, pure and simple by her husband; we just don't know the details yet why her husband murdered her; after all, he had divorced 2 women before; so divorce was not something novelty to him. Probably, he could not stand a woman divorcing him; it was too much against his manlihood (in previous cases, it was he who divorced the other 2 wives).

  10. mike from USA

    I urge Muslim scholars to lobby and council governments to apply Shariah and its Hudud in the USA and the rest of counties to prevent domestic violence.

    As in the case of Muzammil Hassan, the CEO of Bridges TV, first of all, I do not like his TV station and I still believe that it is the work of FBI to introduce their brand of Islam among Muslims in America. I also say that the issue of a woman going to court to ask for a divorce in the US courts who do not recognize Islamic rules is a violation of Islamic principles. That being said, any spouse who is abusing the other spouse should be punished according to Islamic Law.

    Let us not forget the woman' share of abuse. Many women are abusive to their husbands and children and we seem to brush this issue aside saying "O you are a man, you can take care of yourself". Men in the USA are stuck. They cannot discipline their wives, nor can they have another wife. The issue of a divorce could be very traumatic to many practicing Muslim men. Wives are aware of their power given to them by the USA law. Women happen to know this and can go to any police station and claim being abused. I urge that these powers should be taken away.

    I say that if Islamic Law is implemented, and to be specific about family laws, there would be a stop to domestic violence. A man should be allowed to have up to 4 wives where he has to maintain financially. A woman cannot be granted divorce unless evidence of neglect is presented and not simple "I do not love him anymore". A man cannot be questioned on his discipline of his wife unless he breaks her bones.

    If this is not an acceptable proposal, then the Islamic scholars should forget Islam and its teachings and let men and women live the American life style and teach them to take lovers and dispose of them as they please and let human nature take care of all this.

    Salam

  11. Yohan from Bhutan

    I have never disagreed with Dr. Aslam. As the name implies, his articles are full of common sense, even the unlearned can grasp the message, and are good. This is another addition in the list.

    Faith is the drive to many crimes as Christ prophesied beforehand saying "..the time comes that any one killing you thinks he does God Service". These are cases of extreme religious fanaticism beyond the scope of mediation. That applies to non-Christians killing Christians on religious ground and pretexts. Killing spouses or other person of same faith does not fall in the category of faith based crime because the devil is not divided against nor is God divided against Himself.