Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Domestic Violence In Muslim
A Reaction to Aasiya Hassan's Violent Death
By Mohammed Khaku
ccun.org, February 28, 2009
Muslim of Lehigh Valley are
shocked by the news of the death of the respected sister, Aasiya Hassan the
co-founder of Bridge TV, whose life was taken violently. To God we belong
and to Him we return (Qura’n 2:156). Our prayers and sympathy are with the
sister Aasiya’s family and the Muslim community of Buffalo who have been
devastated by the loss and shocking nature of this incident.
is a wake up call to all Muslim Communities that violence against women
cannot be ignored and should be addressed by the Muslim leaders of the
communities. Domestic violence is a behavior that knows no boundaries of
religion, ethnicity or race. Domestic violence occurs in every community.
The Muslim communities are not immune from this issue. We, the Muslim
community, need to take a strong stand against domestic violence.
Unfortunately, the murder has fed a perception that Aasiya's murder was
related to Islam rather than an act of domestic violence - specifically,
that it was somehow an "honor killing". The simple truth is that Aasiya's
murder was an act of domestic violence taken to an extreme. Despite
prevailing stereotypes of Muslims, domestic violence is not an Islamic
value, nor is it permissible within the Muslim community. Many women, men
and children continue to be killed as a result of domestic violence; Aasiya
Hassan is an unfortunate name on a list too long and too preventable.
Domestic violence is widespread and it is believed one in three women
experience physical or mental harm. Violence against women is not a marital
issue, although it occurs within the context of a family relationship. Abuse
against women is not a family issue, although it occurs within the context
of a family. Domestic violence against women is not a religious issue,
although religion is abused as a means of perpetuating it. Oppression of
women is a human rights issue and unless we start looking with that lens we
will not be able to recognize the extent of the crime nor we will be able to
find solution. Shariati tells us in the words of Imam Ali, "two parties are
required in order to bring about oppression. One is the oppressor and the
other is the one who accepts oppression. Oppression cannot be one sided.
Oppression is like a piece of iron which is formed by the striking of the
hammer of the oppressor upon the anvil of the oppressed." Thus, women
themselves participated in the attack upon their values by allowing
themselves to be oppressed and by not searching out their roots
Domestic violence and divorce remain topics that are taboo within many
Muslim communities in the U.S. Many Muslims react by saying “that’s a
tragedy that doesn’t effect Muslim families”. However, domestic
violence does exist in all quarters of society, with no boundaries, nor has
any group a monopoly over it. It occurs among the well-known and little
known communities. The rich, the poor, the well educated and uneducated.
Domestic Violence is a sickness that does not know East or West. It is
frequently found in the mud huts of Africa as well as in the luxury villas
of Florida and California. Domestic Violence includes mental, emotional,
verbal, sexual and physical abuse. Both women and men are victims while
children are our most vulnerable victims.
Violence against women is
not an Islamic tradition. The Prophet Muhammad said, “ I command you
to be kind to women and the best of you is the best to his family (wife).
The Quran requires that spouses treat each other with love and mercy.
(30:21). The Prophet Muhammad vehemently disapproved of men hitting
women, (or vice versa) and said “ A strong person is not the one who can use
the force of physical strength, but one who can control his/her anger”. Yet
domestic abuse in the Muslim world seems to have become a way of life.
Under no circumstances is violence against women encouraged or allowed in
Islam. There are many examples in the Quran and the tradition of Prophet
Muhammad that describes the correct behavior of Muslims between husband and
wife. The relationship should be one of mutual love, respect and kindness.
The last words of the prophet delivered during His farewell pilgrimage were
that men should hold themselves accountable before God concerning the
question of how they treat their wives.
Muslims advocate that Islam
has given more rights to women then any Abrahamic faith and complain that we
are stereotyped and misunderstood by western society, but show no remorse
and take no action against domestic violence in Muslim community. It is easy
to blame others for the present predicament of Muslims and hold others
responsible for ones’ own weaknesses and shortcomings. This philosophy
contradicts the Quranic injunction of personal responsibility. “God does not
change the condition of people until they change that which is in their
The Muslim community should be standing shoulder to
shoulder with other communities to declare that violence against women isn’t
something we can be silent about any longer. Because if we remain silent, we
might as well as be lending a hand to the perpetrators of violence. Today it
may be a stranger. Tomorrow, it could be our mother, our sister, or our
daughter. As is often quoted from our Holy Book, Paradise can be found at
the feet of our mothers. Yet millions of Muslim mothers and sisters and
daughters are living in an abusive environment. We Muslim men must take a
stand against violence to reach the stage of perfection, which is well
defined by the prophet Muhammad “ The best of you is best to his wife”.