For decades we have been hearing the same advice being given when it comes to domestic abuse –
What should we be asking ourselves when it comes to oppression and abuse?
Should we be advising someone to persevere with the zulm(oppression or cruelty)?
Would this be Islamically correct?
Statistics tell us a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police (Jaffe, 1982). Therefore we must ponder, a woman has to really build her courage, strength and all her might before she decides to go to the mosque, the Imam or the community leader to inform them of her abuse, in desperation and hope that he can somehow intervene and stop the horror that is happening in her own home.
A home is meant to be a safe space, a place where she can go and find peace and tranquillity. Instead, it is the place where she is in most danger, and endangered by the one who promised to protect her.
However, instead the Imam turns her away, advising her with sabr. Countless women have been sent back to the hands of their oppressors with this meaningless, unjust advice. Many victims of abuse feel as though their masjid and the Imam have failed them and we must begin to hold our mosques to account. It is unjust for a victim of abuse to be advised to have patience and told to return back to endure abuse. In Islam, Zulm is harshly condemned – Allah, Himself has forbidden oppression:
“O My servants! I have forbidden dhulm (oppression) for Myself, and I have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another.” [Muslim]
We are even told by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) how to respond to oppression:
“Whoso-ever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith” [Muslim]
So we must ask, when Islam so strongly condemns oppression, how can we then advise anyone who seeks our help to go back and endure such abuse and evil? One has to ask the question, why is this? Is it because our Imams do not know how to advise correctly? Are they not knowledgeable on the matter?
Do they not understand the sheer scale of this crime which takes two women’s lives a week in the UK?
Considering all the factors which may lead to our mosques and Imams turning victims of abuse away, we have developed a bespoke programme, dedicated to helping the mosques, Imams and the community members to understand the prevalence and impact of domestic abuse and how we can as individuals, and as a community help those who are suffering silently.
We must remind everyone that Sabr does not mean suffering in silence.
1. If you are interested in hosting us to deliver this workshop, please contact [email protected]
2. Here’s a Khutbah that can be delivered by your local mosques which has been written by Nour DV, Why not email your Imam or print it out for him to read for a Friday Khutbah?
Nour is a charity which aims to engage the public, and especially the minority Muslim communities, to become aware and take action against this silent yet
prevalent social injustice – domestic violence.
Author: This article was written by Mahfuja the Co-founder of Nour DV. She graduated with a BSc from Kings College London University with a degree in pharmacology and subsequently graduated with a MSc from Barts and the London SMD with a degree in clinical drug discovery. She co-founded Nour in 2010 during her time at university having realised at that time there were no charities or organisations which specialised in helping those affected by abuse in the Muslim community, with a holistic approach. She now works in oncology clinical trials in one of the leading hospitals in London as well as volunteering for Nour.