Dec 11, 2009 - islam op-eds    7 Comments

On ‘Muslim’ wife-abuse

Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence table at ISNA

In my short (some may say long) lifetime, I’ve been witness to and encountered many cases of domestic abuse and violence…among Muslims! Many sisters have emailed me and joined our forums over the years whose husbands have been verbally, emotionally and/or physically abusive towards them. In real life also, from the time of MSA all the way up until now, there have been a number of cases. In fact, many of these “cases” are even well known on the d/l within the Muslim community. Some cases have resulted in divorce, some have not.

Allow me please to say, WTH!? What on earth gives these Muslim men the idea that any kind of abuse is OK? That it’s OK to call their wife names, to abuse her emotionally, dominate her, not care about her, ignore her wishes and contributions, not help her in anything and even to beat her. Where in our glorious history of our Prophet (saw) did he ever lay a hand on his wives
? Where did he ever call them names, or abuse them in any way? Why do these men think it’s OK? A Deen where even a mighty Prophet moved his armies in order to save a tiny ant and her colony; where we are not even allowed to hurt an animal out of injustice! I just can’t understand it.

Those who take a verse or two out of the Quran and twist it in order to justify this type of behavior are even worse. (Specifically the daraba and qawwamuna verses) Where did the normative teachings of Islam go? All th
e other thousands of verses and Hadith and practice of the companions and righteous throughout the ages? These same people complain that non-Muslims take verses out of context and twist them to suit their needs. Are you not twisting the words of Allah, I mean WHERE WHERE does anything give you support that it’s OK to act like that. It is your twisted interpretation and no one elses.

We all know these men will be responsible in front of Allah. They know what they are doing and it feeds into their psychoses. But what about us? Why is this in any tiny, blind-eye even looking-the-other-way acceptable
? Why is this not taught to our sons. In our weekend schools? In our Khutbahs? Do we really want to have families of abusers? Because this behavior is learned generationally. Won’t that be great, to have generations of wife-beating Muslim families!

I remember a long time ago telling someone about some Rishta questions people should ask and the person said ‘why are you doing so much research it’s not like your husband is going to beat you’. Well, duh. As if it never happens among Muslims. I know better. And now we all know better with well publicized cases like Asiya Zubair. For every Asiya there are hundreds more in the US and thousands across the Muslim world. This is unacceptable. We are Muslims and our deen is Islam. Let’s live up to it.


Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence

Peaceful Families Project: Advocating Against Domestic Violence Among Muslims

Update:JazakiAllahu khairan to Sr. Mahwish for collecting these.

Here is a list of some shelters/agencies working with Muslim women throughout the country.

Muslimaat Al-Nisaa
5115 Liberty Heights Ave,
Baltimore, MD 21207
Phone: 410-466-8686

Muslimat Al-Nisaa, originally organized in 1987, is a non-profit organization established to provide culturally sensitive health, education and social services to Muslim community women and children. In 2005, co-founders Asma Hanif and Dr Maryam Funches, recognized the need to add a shelter program to the original organizational objectives.

Apna Ghar
4753 N. Broadway Suite 502
Chicago, IL 60640
773-334-0173 phone
773-994-0963 fax

Apna Ghar is a domestic violence shelter serving primarily Asian women and children, and was the first Asian shelter of its kind in the Mid-Western United States. Apna Ghar takes its name from a Hindi-Urdu phrase meaning “Our Home”, and since January 1990 has served over 3800 domestic violence clients.

Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project
P.O. Box 14268
Washington, DC 20044
(202) 364-4630 phone

We are a diverse group of volunteers and staff who are committed to ending domestic violence and its effects. We have expertise in a range of areas including education, law, and public health and we draw on the experiences and cultural backgrounds of our members of Asian/Pacific Islander descent.

Baitul Salaam – Atlanta
P.O. Box 11041
Atlanta, GA 30310
(404) 608-8649

We are a non-profit organization consisting of a variety of individuals and businesses in the fight together to end spousal abuse worldwide. Our services include: Counseling and support services, Battered women’s shelter, Temporary financial assistance, Fundraising services, and Employment assistance

Hamdrad Center
355 Wood Dale Rd
Wood Dale, IL 60191
630-860-9122 24-hour Emergency Crisis Line
630-860-2290 phone
630-860-1918 fax

Hamdrad Center provides culturally tailored, multilingual services to domestic violence victims and abusers since 1993. A team of dedicated volunteers has made it possible to establish a fully licensed shelter and a 24 hour Crisis Hotline, and to provide individual and family counseling to families in need.

HOMS – Housing Outreach for Muslim Sisters
P.O. Box 152611
Arlington, TX 76015

H.O.M.S. is a facility designed for Muslim women and their children who are in need of temporary housing/shelter due to family or financial problems.

ISSA – Islamic Social Services Association of USA & Canada
4202 Roblin Blvd
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3R 0E7
(204) 889-7451 phone
(204) 896-1694 fax

ISSA is a unique organization since it is not a social service provider, but rather is an organization that serves as a network for addressing the social service concerns Muslims have. ISSA aims to provide support to social service providers through education, training, services and advocacy.

ISTABA is a non-profit full time institute which offers various services to the community. ISTABA also offers the following:
Food Pantry
Food items are provided to needy Muslims and Non Muslims; Open Saturdays 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Medical Clinic
Red Crescent Medical Clinic is open to Muslims and
Non Muslims and is free for the uninsured. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 am – 5:30 pm

Muslim Community Center For Human Services
M. Basheer Ahmed, M.D.
Chairman MCC for Human Services
P.O. Box 152658
Arlington, TX 76015
817-589-9165 phone
817-483-4699 fax

Muslim Community Center For Human Services offers the following services to the victims of domestic violence. 24-hour helpline 817-589-9165 ;Counseling service for couples ;and/or individuals ;Computer training program for victims of domestic violence ;Arrangements with local shelters if needed ;Educational programs for prevention of domestic violence ;Educational material is also provided

Muslim Women’s Help Network
87-91 144th Street
Jamaica, NY 11435
Tel.: (718) 523-5100
Fax: (718) 658-3434

The mission of the Muslim Women’s Help Network is to promote family life in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw), emphasizing the protection and maintenance of women and children as the foundation for a productive community life.

Muslim Women’s Network
PO Box 14023
Columbus, OH 43214

The Muslim Women’s Network exists to, insha Allah, provide Islamically-trained workers to build stronger families by: Providing counseling and/or mediation services to the community; Introducing and re-connecting women to their community; Helping women to help themselves; Being a catalyst for social change. In the Muslim Women’s Network & Community Services we hope, insha Allah, to support sisters in many ways but to focus our services toward the following core groups: widows, the displaced, the disenfranchised and the abused of our community.

P.O. Box 14014
Berkeley, CA 94712
510-540-0754 Office
1-800-215-7308 Helpline

Narika was founded in 1992 to address the problem of domestic violence in the South Asian community. Embracing the notion of women’s empowerment, Narika set out to address the unmet needs of abused South Asian women by providing advocacy, support, information, and referrals within a culturally sensitive model. We serve women who trace their origins to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan,
Sri Lanka and diasporic communities such as Fiji and the Caribbean.

P.O. Box 1403
Alomita, CA 93717

Here are some additional links: (Washington DC) (Sakhi for South Asian Women, New York) (Chaya, Seattle) (Turning Point, New York)


  • As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu dear Sis J – Well said. It’s truly a shame. I pray that myself and the coming generation of Muslim men who decide to enter the bond of marriage in the near future never come near to such behavior. That instead when we have a difference we look to the Qur’an and Sunnah to solve any disagreement we may have – in general, be sensible, fair and balanced within the limits of the REAL ISLAM, not what certain men or groups decide for themselves to be their own personal rules (i.e. twisting ayahs from the Qur’an as you imply) May we incur the harshest of punishments in this life and the next if we were to even think of harming our wives, Authobillah. Ma’salaam / Allah Hafiz

  • wsalaam wrt,

    I don’t think anyone does it on purpose. Somehow the marriage just degrades into a negative cycle and just gets worse from there. But if men could realize that and humble themselves to stop and get counseling/try to change things it would be so different for these poor women.

    Anyway, I’m sure your marriage will like the majority of Muslims…a happy and contented one inshaAllah :)


  • Assalaamu Alaykum,

    Wife abuse happens across all cultures, faiths, races, and nationalities. Muslims are human, so whatever percentage of men worldwide are wife abusers, there’s probably a similar proportion amongst Muslims.

    Practicing Islam faithfully may stop the problem to a certain extent, but I don’t think that is enough. Faith alone will not do it. I know personally, of very good, devout, Muslim men who have hit their wives.

    It takes a community effort to recognize when something is a problem. When/if the community or members within a community are aware of abuse, they need to make moves to stop it immediately.

    The Masjid, Islamic Center, or community should do everything possible to fix the problem (not ignore it) when they are aware of the issue.

    If there are Muslim councilors who can help the family then that’s great. If not, the community can pay for sessions with a councilor outside the community (i.e. non-Muslim).

    Pragmatic and practical steps need to be taken, and it must be a community concern if we are to stop wife abuse, Inshallah.

  • walaikum salaam,

    jazakallah khair for your response br abu ibrahim (my nephew’s name also :)) Agreed that the community should make all efforts in order to help this problem, proactively as well as practical things after the fact like counseling, arbitration, anger management courses and so on.

    But I really don’t understand your statement that “very good, devout, Muslim men who have hit their wives.” If they are so good why would they hit their wives, and if indeed they were good Muslims they would know that it isn’t allowed. So I don’t get it? There’s got to be some kind of problem there either in character, anger management, handling differences in a marriage, or even in religious understanding of the status and rights of women in Islam. w’Allahu alam.

  • salam
    I think DV occurs because men do not know how to control their anger, their family are not usually proactive in criticising their son for his unislamic behaviour. Many mothers advise their daughter in laws that to avoid problems they need to change their behaviour (in other words:its the wifes fault she gets beaten)
    Many mothers advocate that men do not need to adapt to their wives and their wives need to do all the changing
    Women in their attempt to keep the family together, they try to change to make their husbands happy with them and hope this will end the violence. The violence does not end because anything will trigger the violence again
    It can only end with intervention, and I am not sure that the community can help straight away. I think families however have a responsibility to help and speak the truth, but far too often the mans family will not speak against his abuse or try to stop it.

    Women need to get outside help, go to you GP, National DV help lines, his family will not solve the problems they are more likely to make it worse

  • ws,

    so TRUE sister, so true! many mothers of the guy probably think that by unconditionally supporting their son they are doing their duty and helping the marriage. but they are just enabling their son to continue in his evil habits. and most families don’t want to get involved or don’t know what to do. so sad.

  • Well said Sr. Maryam. I have no personal experience (i.e. known a couple with these issues) but what you describe certainly sounds like the typical picture of a couple that experiences these problems, just from stories or accounts one hears. Yes, so sad – especially in the case of mothers who defend their sons – you would think they would be the first ones to object – yes I do personally know how strong a mother’s love can be for a son ;-) but if I was to do anything so wrong – on that scale, regardless of whether it was in a relationship or any such aggravation against a person/people – I would pray and hope that my mother would do her all to stop me – due to the very existence of that unconditional love and knowing what to be in my best interests, knowing what is clearly right and wrong, but unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world or one that we follow our religion truly – instead it’s culture – I’m really beginning to hate that word or the importance given to it – especially for those of us born into the Indo-Pak version, though I know this plagues many of the groups that Muslims belong to.