Inviting Muslims to Respond to Domestic Violence
9/7/2010 9:10 AM
Here we are, sitting in front of
our respective screens, each with our own motivations and intentions, each with
our own life experiences, each of us choosing to spend a few moments – me
in writing these words, you in reading them. Violence in Muslim families is not
a happy topic, and each of us responds to the idea the words conjure in different
ways. Issues like this are daunting, and can seem monumental. But family violence
is a reality, and now that we know it exists in our community we must each make
a decision about how we are going to respond to this knowledge.
Perhaps if there were enough of
us engaged and dealing with this toxin poisoning the families in our community,
we could pass over the issue, knowing that our sisters and brothers had it handled.
As I have become more aware of the issue, I have been privileged to meet truly heroic
Muslims (mostly sisters) who are addressing domestic violence, and whose work is
simply outstanding. But the need is far larger than we can address with our current
level of resources. Just consider this: Dr. Najma M. Adam did a study on domestic
violence against women within the immigrant and South-Asian communities in the United
States and found that nearly 73% of the women had experienced psychological abuse,
48% had experienced physical abuse, and 54% had experienced sexual abuse. (reported
in Domestic violence: Cross Cultural Perspective,
edited by M. Basheer Ahmed MD, 2009) Think about all the suffering, all the damage
that represents for everyone – the victims, their children, and yes, the perpetrators.
Think about all the mothers whose broken hearts and physical pain are compounded
as they struggle to muster a smile for their children. Think about all the children
who can’t concentrate in school because the memories of father shouting and
mother crying intrude upon them. Think about the darkness spreading throughout the
heart of a batterer, as he watches himself destroying his own life and those of
the ones he holds most dear. In a situation this grave, it becomes obligatory for
all of us (fard ayn) to take action to end the oppression being perpetrated by some
Muslims upon others.
How? We have to begin very close
to home indeed, with ourselves. We begin by breaking our silence, by engaging. Project
Sakinah.org has lots of resources to give you specifics on ways you can get engaged.
It is a process, and it will unfold over time. But right now, in these minutes you
are taking to read these words, you can engage. Just respond. Just post a comment.
It is that simple. It doesn’t have to be profound. Of course it is going
to take a great deal more than some blog post and the comments it receives. But
our work together begins with a simple exchange. When you respond to a post, it
is a way of acknowledging that you are “response-able” for the time
you have spent reading it. It isn’t my words, or yours that are of primary
importance – it is the conversation we begin and build with others. As each
of us joins our voice to those of our sisters and brothers, we gain a collective
strength. As we realize our collective strength, we gain the courage to move from
raising our voices to additional action to prevent violence in our families. As
we work together, the actions we take help spread the conversation, and the virtuous
cycle of waking up, and speaking up, and teaming up spreads to more of our brothers
Our hope with this website is that
we can contribute to this process of raising awareness of domestic violence in our
community, that we can facilitate the conversation of those who are responding to
the call to engage, that we can provide a space where that conversation flourishes
and we support each other in learning to be ever more effective in our efforts.
We need your support and your du’a. That’s how it looks to me, sitting
behind my screen, writing these words. What do you say?