DAY 23

MARYLAND

08/25/2011

89 Comments

BATTERED BUT NOT BEATEN
by Aman Ali

Note: To ensure the safety and privacy of these women, they put on face veils and used different names in this interview to not reveal details about their identity.

Saima came to the U.S. from Pakistan for marriage. For lack of a better phrase, she went through four years of hell.

“I was in a different country and didn’t know the language,” she said in Urdu to me. “I had no family members here to help me. He forced me to stay in a basement, I was beaten, I was tortured and I was abused. I had no way communicating with my family for help.”

Just forming the words to talk about the abuse she went through is tough for her. She repeatedly pauses and looks the other way recollecting the details of the marriage she is seeking shelter from.

She’s one of many women here at Muslimat Al-Nisaa, a domestic violence shelter for Muslim women located in the heart of Baltimore. It might be the only shelter for battered Muslim women in this country. These women’s stories are a painful reminder of why the Muslim community can no longer sweep the issue of domestic violence under the rug.

“This isn’t about religion,” said Jamila Gardner, a longtime volunteer here. “It’s a matter of men and their disrespect. The sad thing is, it doesn’t matter what religion these kind of men have. They have this attitude of ‘You’re mine, I can do with you whatever I want.’ When in reality, Islam has freed women and given them the same rights as her husband.”

My hand trembles as I scribble in my notepad these women’s stories. I’m reminded of all the abuse I learned about growing up regarding several women in my family. As Saima tells me her story, I can’t help but think about the time as a kid I pulled bloody shards of glass out the back of one relative after her husband pushed her through a table. Or the time one woman begged me to make her laugh because it was the only thing stopping her from crying about all the fiery red belt marks that streaked across her soft skin.

Reading this is a downer, sure. But our sentiments pale in comparison to the women going through it like Sara, who fell in love and married a longtime friend before her tale of romance was torn to shreds by his abusive behavior.

“It feels like a train hitting you,” Sara said. “How do you keep all of this pain inside of you when you’ve just gone through a train wreck? When he makes you feel like ‘You’re responsible for it, it’s your fault. Why did you talk back? Keep your mouth shut.’”

Sara sits next to Saima and comforts her throughout the conversation. She grew up in England and speaks with a dash of British elegance when she articulates her story. She said when she first dealt with her husband’s abuse, she initially went to her local mosque for help, but to no avail. The men there either shrugged off her problems or said they didn’t know how to help.

“I’ll put it to you straight,” she said. “You Muslim men, not all of you, but the ones who pretend to be the best Muslims, you are ignorant. You look at your own daughters and sisters in a different way. You would treat them in a different way than other women in your community. You all have daughters and you all have sisters and mothers. It’s your job to protect the Muslim women in your community and stand up for them.”

Asma Hanif is the executive director of the center. She said when the shelter first opened in 2007, it was tough to get the Muslim community to support it because they were in denial the problem existed to begin with.  Then came the case in 2009 when Aasiya Zubair was gruesomely beheaded by her husband

Asma Hanif, left, hangs on the gate of the Al-Nisa Women's Shelter.

Asma Hanif stands at the door way of the shelter.

“It wasn’t until Aasiyah was beheaded, when the community said ‘Ok, we need to talk about domestic violence.’ This wasn’t something they could hide anymore.”

A few scholars in the Muslim community including Imam Zaid Shakir urged people to support An-Nisaa. But the shelter is still in dire need of support. Oftentimes, the shelter struggles to even cover its electric bill for the month.

“If somebody beheading their wife didn’t mobilize the community to do something about this, God, what would?” she said shaking her head before she paused. “…I can’t even answer that question.”

Asma is just as tenacious with her jokes as she is with her intolerance for apathy on this subject. After dealing with maddening case after case of abuse at the shelter, I asked her how she copes with the frustration.

“ I’m crazy, don’t you know that?” she quipped while rattling a backscratcher at me. “I’m like straight up Looney Tunes. I wear purple every day, come on. I’m straight up crazy, can’t you tell?”

“I tell people I cry every day,” she said while composing herself. “I meet these women and I hear all their sadness and sorrow playing in my head. Then I go into the community asking for help and all I hear is “No.”

Amy, left, sits with Tahira, left, in the small prayer space.

One of the many bedrooms in the shelter.

After dinner, I joined two women studying a few verses of Quran. One of them was Tahira, who was born Muslim but adopted by Christian parents.  For years she dealt with verbal abuse from them and battled depression as a result. She even tried to commit suicide several times.

“My mother would yell at me all the time and tell me I was fat,” she said. “She would say my adopted parents gave me up because nobody wanted me. I knew that wasn’t the truth but it would still have an effect on me year after year.”

Sara told me in many cases, verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, if not greater.

“Physical abuse is going to go away,” she said. “You’re going to heal and you’ll get better. But those emotional scars, those don’t go away. The verbal abuse, the anxiety you’re put through that leads to depression… that’s not something that’s easily swallowed.”

Tahira then discovered her Muslim roots and researched the religion before embracing Islam in April this year. Her family wanted no part of that and she’s now in the shelter as a safe haven.

“I’ve been a practicing Muslim for about four months,” she said. “I have a long way to go before I can open up my arms to them and say “Ok, I understand.” I still have a process to go through because emotionally I’m not ready.”

Considering her adopted parents abused her, I asked her if she ever wondered why they would even adopt her to begin with.

“Oh yeah, almost every day,” she said. “But there’s a reason for everything.  This was Allah’s way of bringing me back to Islam and put me here in this town where there are a lot of good people here. It was Allah’s way of saying ‘I’m ready for you and have something in store for you.’”

The woman next to her, Amy, nodded in agreement. Amy dealt with several years of abuse from her husband as they raised children together. Both of them embraced Islam after getting married but things didn’t change.

“Embracing Islam together, I thought things would get better,” she said. “But he just didn’t want to practice.”

Amy’s son interrupts our conversation by walking up to me and rubbing my head.

“Mom, he’s bald!” he said with a giggle.

“I see you got jokes,” I retorted back. “I’ll tell you what, give me like 10 minutes more to talk to your mom and I’ll play a game with you where you can rub my head all you want. Deal?”

“Deal,” he said while shaking my hand.

Amy said she left her husband because he wanted her to stop practicing Islam. And that’s when enough was enough. Like Tahira, she too sees her struggle as divine plans for bigger and brighter things in her future.

“It was Allah’s plan” she said. “Everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason why I met my husband. If I would have never been with him, I would have never found Islam. It might have been a bad situation, but at the same time, it produced something beautiful.”

These stories are moving, but there’s a good chance in about five to ten minutes we’ll forget about them. Don’t. You probably know at least one person in your life dealing with abuse. Do everything you can to help them. If you think it’s a damn shame nobody is supporting this Muslim women’s shelter, put your money where your mouth is.

But whatever you do, don’t feel pity for these women. That’s not what they’re looking for. Pray for them. And pray that God gives you the same amount of strength and courage he gave them to deal with this.

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  • Rayan

    “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” Qur’an Chapter 4, Verse 19My sister was beaten by her husband and she kept it hidden for 2.5 years until she came home one day bruised and bloody at night.  Alhumdulillah, she divorced him and found another man and has a happy, married life.The men who do this are scum, we all know this.  What we also know is that it is accepted in certain cultures and it should not be.  Our women our the next generations’ mothers and mothers are the main teachers of children.  If we do not educate, respect, and give weight to their desires and opinions we are doomed as a civilization.  The lack of respect we have given women is one of the main reasons Muslim countries are the poorest and most backward in the world today.  Even those with money choose to spend it on opulence rather than say, save millions of starving Somalis.Thank you for sharing this story. 

  • Woodrumd

    “This was Allah’s way of bringing me back to Islam and put me here in this town where there are a lot of good people here. It was Allah’s way of saying ‘I’m ready for you and have something in store for you.’” This story brings together both elements of pain and beauty. All to often stories such as these leave a tiny imprint in our lives, but are quickly washed away by everything else. In order for things to get better we must look at this as more than just another story and realize just how real this situation is. That is the large problem with computer and tv screens, many people feel good about themselves about reading the story and caring, it’s harder when you have to actually look into these people’s eyes and then not do anything to help their situation. 

  • Habeeba

    wow, thanks for sharing this powerful post. May Allah bless and protect them, ameen!!

  • MN Fan

    Aman, Basaam, I truly admire you both for publishing this piece. You both are in my most sincere prayers and I thank you again for doing what you do. Aman, thanks for sharing this, it took true bravery and honor to give these sister a voice. I know ya’ll don’t do this for the praise, but credit should be given where it’s due. Much Love.

  • HiMY SYeD / 30masjids.ca

    This story is the yin to that ‘other’ article’s yang.

    Your story ideas are paralleling my 30 Masjids travels here in Toronto.

    Buffalo being the closest major U.S. city to Toronto meant that tragic story found its way into anti-Muslim sentiment on this side of the border.

    We also have a place of safety for Muslim women like this with another more urgent one about to open.

    InshAllah, its almost Tahajjud time here. These sisters, those we know and those we don’t know will find their way into our prayers during our Qiyam ul Layl within the hour…

    Salam.

    HiMY

  • http://zedcard.blogspot.com/ Zaufishan

    I make du`a Allah provides for our women, and provides for our men. 
    It’s true. I shall forget this very soon, until it occurs closer to home or it’s reported in someone else’s news’ column.

    Our women make our communities therefore without empowered women, our society’s fail.
    Our men need support in their own ways, but when we see/experience violence, it’s our right of justice to be freed from it, either through community action or law. Muslims in particular are slow to move on a taboo topic.

    Please donate to Muslimat Al-Nisaa {http://www.mnisaa.org}

    Duas. Subhan’Allah.

    • Princess558

      Jazaki Allah Khair for posting the link for donating. I was wondering how to go about contributing as I was reading the article!

  • Abdullah

    Us Muslim men have to be stronger than this. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said that strength is not defined by physical strength but the ability to control one’s anger. I am sincerely troubled to hear these kinds of stories from Muslim husbands who abuse their wives. Aren’t we the guardians towards our wives? Surly, the best among us are the best towards our wives.

    GUUAHHh!!! If I knew a guy that was abusing his wife, yo astughfurallah audubillah!!!! Inshallah Allah provides for Muslimat Al-Nissa and inshallah we as a Muslim community tackle this problem head on and restore honor to our community AMEEN! 

    • Adilandanisah

      has nothing to do with anger, it’s the fact they think they are better than a woman and that women are just there for their pleasure and have no right to walk this earth unlwess they are surving a man. This is the way they were brought up.And they use Islam as their jsutification. This is what has to be stopped

  • http://twitter.com/ApplyIslam Apply Islam

    Brothers and sisters! If you were moved by this story (I certainly was),
    why not donate? There is a link in the post above, and since Ramadan is
    the time to turn compassion into action, why not visit the site and
    support the efforts of the shelter.

    At a minimum, pray for them (don’t just say you will… raise your hands
    right now and do it!) but please – turn your compassion into action!
    With all of the coverage 30mosques.com has, we (readers) can through
    God’s grace provide some significant aid for our sisters, sons and
    daughters benefiting from the services of the shelter.

    The Qur’an says (translated meaning):

    And what is [the matter]
    with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for]
    the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, “Our
    Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and
    appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us
    from Yourself a helper?” (4:75)

    Islam calls upon us to fight physically with our lives and our wealth on behalf of the weak among us.

    This post reminds us that in an era where our weak men, women and
    children are fought physically by cowards & oppressors, our duty to
    protect them remains. It may not occur on a physical battlefield, but –
    by Allah – the duty remains.

  • kaddu

    Something tells me that we won’t have quite as many comments here as on the last article. For some reason our community seems to be drawn to controversy and arguments. Not surprising I suppose, but disappointing. These are the issues, that happen so very often and right under our noses, that we should truly focus on. Oh and great post Aman. If the purpose of the trip is to bring the darkness in to the light, then this was a great success.  

    • http://twitter.com/zaheerali Zaheer Ali

      “Something tells me that we won’t have quite as many comments here as on the last article.” ya know?!?

    • Fufuberry1

      what’s the other article?

      • TS

         The one prior to this

  • Nida

    There’s actually a shelter for battered Muslim women in SoCal and probably more, but since they keep it on the down-low to protect them, you probably won’t be able to find them easily. 

    • Saifullah_ibn_taha

      This issue is not exclusive to the Muslim community, many battered women’s shelters exist in an unknown state and are poorly publicized because they want to protect the women housed there.  Unfortunately this means that many women who need the facility are unable to benefit from it.  

      As Muslims, the best solution is to provide volunteer guards from among our strongest believers and support the shelters through our donations of money and time.

  • speechless

    At a loss for words… JazakumAllahu khairan for writing this.

  • Guest

    MashAllah these women have such strong Iman.  May Allah help them and prevent other women from having to go through these horrors.

  • Barbara

    You guys have done a great job with the stories you’ve been writing.  This is such an important issue that we should all open our eyes to help. 

  • http://www.muslimmouse.blogspot.com AnonyMouse

     This is one of the better posts I’ve seen on the site. The story of Muslimaat an-Nisaa is one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops until the vast majority of Muslims wake up to reality and stand up to do their duty and do right by their sisters in Islam.

  • Haleema Shah

    Thanks so much for this. Just for the record, and as information for anyone who may need it, Chicago has the Hamdard Center, a social service center which includes people of family violence. 

  • Sheema Khan

    Thank you for bringing this most important issue to the forefront.  Violence against women, within our communities, has been a taboo subject. It is so-often denied, and, sadlly, approved of by some religious figures. This is shameful. Some in the community will remain defensive, in denial, and perhaps even defiant. For the rest, let’s not turn a blind eye to this blight, and begin to take strong stances against this behaviour. How about mosques devoting one khutbah per month on this topic? This mirrors the Ceasefire program out of Chicago in which inner-city mosques/synagogues/chruches devoted once sermon a month to the issue of gang violence. It is part of a comprehensive program. But one key step is to change the attitude of the majority, from complacency, to the realization that anti-social behaviour should be opposed. Just one small step…

    Sheema (from Ottawa, Canada)

  • http://twitter.com/amusingmuslimah Zee

    Mashallah! Beautifully written, so necessary. Jazakhallah khair! This
    topic is never highlighted. I identified so much with these ladies’
    tales. Hamdullilah we are guided by a faith and a God that is healing
    and merciful. But I too spent 2 years almost seeking help from Imams
    before I was guided to one who accepted that I was abused and helped.
    May Allah bless and reward these sisters with strength and healing and
    renewing and even deeper faith.

  • Holly

    very powerful story, at the very least I can donate to help cover the electric bill, and then some….

  • http://twitter.com/UHuraira Umm Huraira

    Yet again, we have a lack of homework being done by the brothers here.

    “It might be the only shelter for battered Muslim women in this country.”

    No, it’s not. There’s one in Oklahoma: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20100815_18_A11_CUTLIN831035

    There’s one in Texas: http://www.tmwf.org/website/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51&Itemid=59

    And, according to this page, there is at least one in Virginia: http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/w_dv_ac.htm

    Further more, Sakhi has a listing of several South Asian hotlines in many states here: http://www.sakhi.org/gethelp/southasianorgs.php#texas (They’re not specifically Muslim but they should be of more help to our Hindi/Urdu/Punjabi/Gujrati speaking sisters.)

    • azim

      There were two options when posting this comment: Attack the authors for not providing links to other shelters; or posting links to the other shelters without attacking them (for example “Thanks for posting this article. There are actually some other shelters around too who can use your support…”)

      • http://twitter.com/UHuraira Umm Huraira

        Constructive criticism is not an attack, nor should it be taken as such.

        • azim

          Constructive criticism is framed in a constructive way. 

          • http://twitter.com/UHuraira Umm Huraira

            It was. Thanks for your concern.

          • Moe

            Oh please, shut up.  You’re angry and disrespectful.  Go take a nap before iftar.  In fact, you have not done your homework.  

            There is also a shelter in Chicago, run by Muslims, called Hamdard Center:
            http://www.hamdardcenter.org/  

            Since I have proven you wrong over the internet, now I can feel good about my pathetic life (sarcasm).  

          • http://twitter.com/UHuraira Umm Huraira

            Apparently, I am a mirror.

          • Saifullah_ibn_taha

            Salaam Alaikum sister, 

            Please understand that your first line: “Yet again, we have a lack of homework being done by the brothers here.” Comes off as a very snarky attack whether or not you intended it as such. Please phrase your words more carefully next time to avoid fitna.  

            Jazak Allah for posting the links to these other shelters, insh’Allah people who need this information will find it.

          • http://azizaizmargari.wordpress.com/ Margari Aziza

            Salaam alaikum, 
            Moe, let us remember good adab, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan. When we give naseehah, it should be done in a good way. That advice is for everyone in this discussion. While the comment may have come across as a bit harsh, telling someone to shut up is really combative. It is sad how we Muslims talk to each other on the internet. This is the most unfortunate thing about the anonymity of the internet. People forget there are other human beings on the other end. Also, people write things that they would never say to another person to their face. Believe me, I’ve been blogging for 6 years and and I never had a Muslim tell me to my face some of the things people would write on my blog. 

          • Shakib45

            can’t stop laughing at the bloated ego people bring in side-tracking the issue at hand. this article is about several battered women who happened to be muslim and the unfortunate paths their lives took, but most people in this thread are engaged in justifying who is more respectful or informed than other. don’t move away from the topic, which is domestic abuse and gender inequality. if you want to appear serious, dig in your pocket, and don’t lecture about adab.

          • http://azizaizmargari.wordpress.com/ Margari Aziza

            Sorry if you think that I’m concerned with a bloated ego. I assume you are talking about me, since it was a reply to what I wrote. I do think the personal attacks are not justified and they take away from the spirit of the article. Ironically, verbal abuse often proceeds physical abuse and we as Muslims have to honor the rights of our brothers and sisters. I am concerned with how we are so busy infighting and not doing stuff. I encourage all of us to work towards creating safe spaces for women and children, advocacy, and raising money. You may assume the worst of me, thinking that I do not work for these causes. But my husband, who also works tirelessly in the Muslim community can assure you otherwise. 

          • Ame

            “Go take a nap before iftar.” Ah, my spouse told me that all this month. :)  

    • Abed

      JazakumAllaahu khayr for sharing.

    • http://www.HEARTwomenandgirls.org Ayesha Akhtar

      That’s kind of rude and not the point. He said “it might be” and given that he’s on the road and writing, probably didn’t have the time to do the ‘homework’ you are referring to.  At least he wrote the article and now we all know about it. What are we as a community going to do about domestic violence now we all know more?

  • Sweetdove585

    A great post with a great purpose…I think you’re on to something with this post. Keep raising awareness of such issues in our community, both the recipients and the beneficiaries thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/UHuraira Umm Huraira

    Also, I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to post pictures of the children. Their faces will certainly identify the mothers and possibly lead the father’s to the whereabouts of their wives/ex-wives and children.

    • Sophie010497

      Umm Huraira is right, its dangerous to post the childrens pictures, when I was staying in a refuge the childrens pictures were not allowed to be taken> 

      • http://www.HEARTwomenandgirls.org Ayesha Akhtar

        I agree – Aman, I think you should take down the photos of the children.

  • sister k

    Salamu Aleykum,

    Jazakallah Khayr for this moving article. Perhaps you could post a link to where we can donate to help our sisters? I would love to help insha’Allah and will google but this might get a quicker response from your audience. 

  • Tom

    Amazing article, and thanks for the donation links in the comments (Aman maybe you can put a more visible link in the article?)

  • kanyamakanfithikrAllah

    For anyone on facebook interested in stopping domestic violence: https://www.facebook.com/NourDV?sk=info

    Does anyone know if there’s a version of this for the US? http://nour-dv.org.uk/

    • kanyamakanfithikrAllah

      “After dealing with maddening case after case of abuse at the shelter, I asked her how she copes with the frustration.
      “ I’m crazy, don’t you know that?” she quipped while rattling a
      backscratcher at me. “I’m like straight up Looney Tunes. I wear purple
      every day, come on. I’m straight up crazy, can’t you tell?”

      “I tell people I cry every day,” she said while composing herself.
      “I meet these women and I hear all their sadness and sorrow playing in
      my head. Then I go into the community asking for help and all I hear is
      “No.””

      “Physical abuse is going to go away,” she said. “You’re going to heal
      and you’ll get better. But those emotional scars, those don’t go away.
      The verbal abuse, the anxiety you’re put through that leads to
      depression… that’s not something that’s easily swallowed.”

      You and me both. You and me both. All I can say is, alhamdulillah for the Quran and the Rasool SAW who will help us get through all of this iA.

    • http://nour-dv.org.uk Nour DV

      Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

      The advice provided by Nour – Domestic Violence is also given using email or skype so can be used by those outside of the UK.

      If you would like any advice regarding domestic violence please do not hesitate to contact us at 
      http://nour-dv.org.uk/advisors

      JazakAllahu Khairan!

  • Mariam

    Jazakum Allahu Khayran for such a great article. Domestic violence is not just a Muslim issue but a national domestic issue that I really wish our Muslims communities cared more about. Thank you for not only talking about it but encouraging people to make a difference. In our area (Kansas City) at the beginning of Ramadan there has been a serious initiatives so setup a women’s shelter like the one in your article. May every Muslim community look to sponsor and support projects like this in their own communities. 

  • DrSuad

    Powerful and Painful. Alhamdulilah

  • http://twitter.com/nisaa Exalted Women

    JazakaAllah Khair! This is such an important post – as you mentioned it is often swept under the rug and there is a tremendous lack of support for orgs which specialize in this work.  

    A couple of notes - 
    **As others have mentioned – there are other Muslim run DV shelters, though not enough to meet the needs of it’s victims.

    **Can you add a donation link for Muslimat-An Nisaa directly into the post?  

    **Lastly please consider removing the pictures of w/ the children as it may endanger the sheltered families.

    May Allah(SWT) strengthen the resolve of these women and increase the awareness and support from the community.  
    Looking forward to the dialog that will be inspired from this post… JAK!

    • http://twitter.com/curry_crayola Bassam Tariq

      Salam Nisaa, the kids that we’ve shown in this blog post were those that were out of the hands of danger. We had gotten the permission of the mothers before taking any of them.

      • http://twitter.com/curry_crayola Bassam Tariq

        Another note about Muslim women’s shelter –  the reason why it is noted that it MIGHT the only one is because they only house Muslim women. From what we were told by Asma, many other shelters are Muslim-ran but since they take grants from the govt they cannot discriminate. 

        • http://twitter.com/nisaa Exalted Women

          Thanks for the clarity!

        • http://twitter.com/UHuraira Umm Huraira

          Why on earth would you discount Muslim-ran shelters that take non-Muslimat victims of abuse? For someone who’s pushing a pro-gay, pro-liberalism agenda, I find it strange that you picked a center that discriminates against women.

          • A fan

            They can barely afford to house the Muslim women who do come to them. Can you imagine if they took anyone and didn’t have room for Muslim women who don’t have anywhere to turn to? Also, I’m sure if woman of different faiths were to come to them for help, they would not just say no to her. I’m sure they would offer them alternatives. Your comments are extremely negative.

          • Anonymous

            He’s not, it’s a fact he’s passing along from Muslimat Al Nisaa. Criticize them if you want, but I think they’re a bit too busy to care about a fact that they present as a possibility and not for sure.

          • long time reader

            where do you get pro-gay??? They only showcased an issue, discussing it  doesn’t me you are condoning their behaviour they said from the get go that they didn’t agree with the Imam’s stance on homosexuality!

          • http://azizaizmargari.wordpress.com/ Margari Aziza

            I also think it is worth noting that they are on a limited budget, they are visiting 30 mosques, in 30 states in 30 days. So, I don’t think it is matter of discounting other shelters. Nor do I think their choice to highlight this particular shelter that caters to the needs of Muslim women in particular represents anything discriminatory on the part of the authors. Perhaps we should all think better of each other. 

  • Canadian Sister

    Jazakum Allah khayr, guys.

    Definitely a necessary piece.

  • Ebluedancer 17

    May alLah(swt) continue to Embrace these sisters with Her Mercy & end the rampant patriarchy that makes domestic violence possible.

  • http://twitter.com/Smiley3face33 Smiley333

    thank you for this post and highlighting this important issue

  • D N P

    great work guys

  • Nazia

    Thank you for this beautiful post!

  • http://azizaizmargari.wordpress.com/ Margari Aziza

    Jazak Allah kheir for this article and creating awareness about this issue. Apologies in advance for the rambling. Muslimat Al-Nisaa is one of the few women’s shelters in the country. I’m glad that some commenters pointed out that there were other shelters in areas with large Muslim populations. But it is absolutely tragic that in large metropolitan areas with major Muslim concentrations like the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley does not have a single shelter. My husband has been contacted by social workers and even other faith groups who don’t know what to do with all the Muslim women who enter their shelters. I know women afraid to go to non-Muslims for help because they are afraid of making Islam look bad. Most of our imams are ill equipped to deal with spousal abuse issues and I know of more than a few who were encouraged to be patient. I was just in dialogue with a sister who mentioned the case of the Muslim man who threw his infant daughter off the bridge last year. He had a long history of behavioral problems and abuse towards another woman that was never dealt with. Many Muslims just simply try to frame domestic violence as  an anger management issue, quoting some Ahadith about “sitting if you’re standing, lying down, if you’re sitting” or making wudhu.  But domestic violence and spousal abuse is about power and control. We have to get to the root causes for the psychological and emotional instability that is causing someone to continue a cycle of violence and abuse. It is sad because the reality is that oppressors will find any justifications, and yes, religious justifications for their demeaning and abusive behavior towards their spouses and children. At this point where we have limited resources, I’m not focused on treating ex-abusers. But I think it should be on the top of our agenda to support women’s organizations ensure the safety and well being of our most vulnerable members. Once we have safe havens for our sisters and transitional housing, then I think we can start on programs to heal our wounded so we can stop the cycle of violence. We do need recovery programs. Isn’t that what Islam is about, our Prophet (s.a.w.) told us that he was sent to perfect our character. And if we cannot begin to tackle something like this, then how effective is our deen? We’re obviously missing a big piece of the puzzle.  

  • Miriam_mahmood

    Thank you for this. Here in NY domestic violence in an Islamic home has been making news with the recent killing of a Pakistani woman named Nazish Noorani. Apparently she was abused by her in-laws and husband, and her husband ultimately had her killed by his girlfriend. Now as the case begins, we are hearing now numerous accounts of her being abused. This happens all to much in homes and yet people are quiet, because of the stigma it brings. Thank you again for highlighting this issue. I hope it helps many women out there who are afraid to speak up.

  • Alibod1

    It is a great story and you should let people about these things.
    Proud of you
    Mr.Baloon

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  • R. David Coolidge

    This post hit me so deep. May Allah protect these women and inspire the Muslim community around the country to help them more, ameen. Jazakum Allah khayr for your words and photos.

  • Ayda

    Masya Allah, reading this just makes me tear. These women are a clear example of how resilient and strong they are and how they saw the test as something positive that brings them back to Him. Yes, I agree that we gotta put our money where our mouth is. Glad 30mosques did this. 2 thumbs up! May Allah continue to bless these women with love and mercy, Ameen. This inspires me to start doing something for my own community. (I’m not in Amreeka). Pray for me, insya Allah. Last few blessed days!

  • http://www.melibeeglobal.com Melibee Global

    Thank you for writing this.  What strength it must take to walk away, no?  Bless these beautiful women and their children. I hope they find peace and continued strength.

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  • http://myislamiclife.wordpress.com/ MyIslamicLife

    I have written about your visit to An-Nisaa in my blog here http://wp.me/pMSyT-7h.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/SabaDabbaDoo SabaD

    Yet again, amazing article.  While this issue is covered in so many circles, it is tirelessly still not understood by many, Muslim or non-Muslim.  While many Muslims may condemn the actions, it is important to remember that when we see it in our own families and communities, we help the issue by taking a stand and providing battered women with education (after becoming aware and educated ourselves), not by choosing not to “mingle in others’ affairs”.

  • http://twitter.com/jonneke jonneke

    Thanks for writing about this.  Much respect.

  • http://www.thirtynights.blogspot.com Imaad S.

    There is an organization called Hamdard located in Chicago that serves help to those who need it, specializing in health and human services. Their domestic violence program includes residential shelter and a transitional housing program, as well as a 24 hour crisis line. http://www.hamdardcenter.org

  • Ummzaksbest

    I have to express my concern over the pictures. While the women themselves may or may not be identifiable, the kids are, and abusers or people close to the abuser could put two and two together. As an abuse survivor myself, I’ve had to think about these things, but I recognize that until you’ve lived this way, it’s hard to have to imagine. Jazak’Allahu Khair for all your work.

  • Hussaiah

    Lovely article! I have know abused women through out my life. This sort of abuse is ‘engrained’ in my South Asian community. Divorce is seen in a very bad light and most of the women I knew were very dependent financially on their husbands. I think we need to raise strong daughters who are very financially, physically and emotionally strong that they can show such men their place.

  • umm abdullah

    i was really offended by the last article, i understand that you guys weren’t sharing your views, just telling everyone that the issue existed.  But i feel like you’ve redeemed yourself with this article.  May Allah make it easy for these women and their children.  AMeen

  • Laura

    I hope that your supporters will bring this to light to the general population of AMerica. Domestic Violence is in our homes too. It crosses all lines of differences. It is a cancer that eats away the very purpose of our lives which is to love as God loves us. I am a Christian and I have the scars too. Emotional and physical, from my father and my ex. I know that there is purpose in the suffering I cannot understand, and it makes me stronger to know we as women will fight together to end this unholy act towards our sisters. 

  • Laura

    I see from some other comments there are limited shelters for the Muslim sisters. I know that if they would consider it there are shelters in almost every town in America. They do not discriminate because of faith. The women would be safe, and they would be provided the things needed for worship. Please do not let the others believe that only Muslim shelters are available. I worked in a shelter for many years and we only wanted the safety of the women and children. The police departments and the crisis lines are in the phone books of every city, even doctors and nurses know how to get a survivor to a shelter. 

  • Mjkhanrph

    Thank you for writing about this topic. May Allah (swt) help us to deal with our social problems

  • seef

    Heartbreaking. It’s really tragic to see where these women are, and that their struggles now pale in comparison to their previous daily struggles. Ladies, start using your cellphones to document your abuse and see that your partners get what they deserve!!

  • JA from SJ

    I’m originally from Maryland, so that’s why I looked up this day’s post.  I’m both saddened to hear the stories of these women, but glad to know that there is at least 1 shelter in Baltimore for Muslim women.  I come from a Christian background, and I’ve noticed the pastor starting to speak out to men in the congregation about the ills of spousal abuse, adultery, and pornography.  Is it not possible for imams to speak to their men about how they should respect women and care for them?

    Also, it would be wise to protect the faces of the children for their safety as well.

  • MJ

    Thank you for raising awareness about this important cause!  I wanted to share news of a fundraiser it prompted:
    http://www.gofundme.com/Battered-but-not-beaten 

    My one concern is that these womens’ anonymity is compromised by photographs of their children–can faces be obscured/not shown?    

  • Cwilliams25

    i would like to volunteer how can i go about doing that?

  • MINT

    family disputes leading to domestic violence is real. all imams and community leaders must (not may) address it during joumuaa service. enough cultural misrepresentation of islam, its beautiful teachings and enough destroying a lot of efforts of da”wah because of even one incident..
    “RIFQAN BIL-QAWAREER” BE NICE & KIND TO YOUR WIVES… YOU’LL BE THE BEST IN GOD’S SIGHT..
    wajazakumullahu khayran
    IMAM MOUJAHED BAKHACH, Director
    Mediation Institue of North Texas (MINT), LLC

  • A

    There are many Muslim operated battered and transitional women’s shelters throughout the United States. These shelters accept anyone regardless of color,religion, race or creed. In Houston alone, we have 4. ICNA Relief USA operates many throughout the U.S. in locations such as Houston, New York, California, Florida with more opening in Baton Rouge, Kansas City and Boston. There are also many individually operated ones.

  • Hamada

    mashallah sisters, keep it up. It is sad to see such issues remain hidden and buried in our community. We have to wake up from days of the jahelia that we’ve returned to. You are all in our prayers and remember Allah help in mysterious ways.


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