HOME | Intro | Ramadan E-Cards | Updates* | Article Of The Month | Send Us a Message - Vieuw Visitors' Messages | MSN/YAHOO GROUPS | Qur'an | Sunnah | Islamic Law | Tafsir | UNITY | Dhikr | Imaan | Non-Muslims | Five Pillars | Tazkiyah | Da'wah | Family/Marriage | Muslim Kids Corner ! | Sisters Section | Brothers Section | Authors | Social Issues | History | Inspirational | Death and The Hereafter | Health | SPECIAL PAGES | Islamic Countries | Picture Gallery | Links
Muslim Women, Domestic Violence and the Role of Education and Awareness Programs

Muslim Women, Domestic Violence and the Role of Education and Awareness Programs

By Altaf Husain 

Imagine not knowing anything about Muslims except that they are sponsors of terrorism and that they are usually Arabs. With regards to women, the stories are even bleaker. They show that Muslims oppress their women, that they arbitrarily marry more than one wife and that their view of women is demeaning enough to condone honor killings. Sound a bit like the evening news? One can ask oneself just how much positive information is ever presented about Muslim women or the family structure in Islam?

A majority of the news about Muslims in North America rarely seems to be produced from an educational or informative point of view. Rather, the public is given unhealthy doses of sensational and unrepresentative stories about incidences of domestic violence, honor killings and child abuse in the Muslim community. What the media fails to mention is that among the six to eight million Muslims in North America, abuse is rare. There is no doubt that we have our problems. However, our problems are the exception and not, as the news media seem to present it, the rule. Even less is mentioned in the media about the efforts of the Muslim community in North American to address issues related to social services with children, youth, and the family.

Ironically, one of the most positive aspects of Islamic law is the freedom, honor and prestige it assigns to Muslim women regardless of their race, nationality or socioeconomic status. No other religion or ideology can parallel the high regard that Islam has for women. For example,
the truth about the modest head covering (the hijab) may be shocking to the average person unfamiliar with Islam. Muslim women do not consider themselves oppressed because they have to wear modest clothing and to cover their hair. On this point of Islamically prescribed clothing, a Muslim woman rarely considers it a factor limiting her personal growth. Indeed, given the vastly important role ascribed to women in Islam, it seems rather shallow to only limit the discussion to what kind of clothing they wear. Even a simple survey would reveal a surprisingly high number of Muslim women who are educated and involved in professional careers. Of course, much like in the larger American society, there are also many Muslim women who despite possessing degrees in higher education are choosing to stay at home despite possessing degrees in higher education. These women are choosing to do this in order to devote more time to their children and families.

Furthermore, the Muslim community in North America owes its tremendous growth and vitality to the adaptive abilities and resilience of our women. As a community of immigrants and new American entrants into Islam, we have relied heavily on Muslim women to help in all aspects of professional and community life. It is worth reiterating that the Quran in no way condones or tolerates the abuse of one human being by another and especially not the abuse of women. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stressed to his companions that the best among them in stature would be the one who is the best in his dealings and treatment of his wife. If there is so much to be appreciated about the Muslim women, what leads to the incidences of domestic violence or any other problem involving maltreatment and abuse of women? How prevalent is the problem?

Addressing Abuse in the Muslim Community
The Muslim community needs to make great strides towards the establishment of local social service providers. In addition, the community must undertake several measures to gather more information about the incidences of domestic violence and other forms of abuse in which women are the victims. In general, documenting cases of abuse possesses several challenges to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Women experience intense feelings of guilt and shame assuming that their actions perpetrated the abuse. Some women fear that reporting the abuse may bring harm to the abuser. The result in either case is that women rarely report cases of abuse. Further efforts are necessary to educate women about abuse and to increase their awareness about the availability of professional help. Such efforts may lead to greater self-reporting cases of abuse.

Role of Muslim Human Service Professionals
Similarly, Muslim human service professionals need to educate the entire Muslim community about abuse and about the negative consequences of abuse on the mental and emotional health of the women involved. Efforts in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto and Winnipeg are beginning to address domestic violence issues. More work is needed. Increased funding and support from government and foundation grants must be sought to sponsor educational and awareness programs. Overall, the pioneering efforts of human service professionals in some of the major cities deserve support from both the public and the private sectors. The abuse of women in any form tears the social fabric that binds together not only families but also communities in general. The Muslim community is very much concerned about the incidences of abuse and violence that occur in all families and especially in Muslim families. The media and policy makers must convince themselves that abuse is neither condoned nor tolerated in Islam. Finally, the Muslim community needs to take additional steps to increase the awareness of Muslim women about abuse and the availability of resources to address the mental and emotional health concerns arising from abuse.





Site Meter