American Muslims Call For Swift Action Against Domestic Violence

In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

Below is a press release sent out today calling on American Muslim leaders to address the issue of domestic violence in the Muslim community, in the wake of the horrific murder of Aasiya Zubair. I formally endorse the statement, and had I been able to, I would have signed my name to the statement. A Friday Sermon on this issue from me is forthcoming, God willing.

SAN FRANCISCO – A coalition of Muslim organizations, journalists, community leaders, imams, and other concerned citizens are calling for immediate action by American Muslim leaders and religious figures to address domestic abuse and violence in America, including that found in the American Muslim community, on Friday, February 20, 2009.

In response to the collective concern of the American Muslim community, imams and religious leaders across America have been asked to speak out against domestic violence to their congregations. They are asked to remind congregants of the Prophet Muhammad’s abhorrence of harshness, abuse and violence, and emphasize solutions that strengthen families and ensure all members are treated with fairness and respect, free of fear of abuse or violence.

Members of the coalition are contacting imams and religious leaders in major Islamic centers and mosques. They are encouraging sermons addressing domestic violence and are offering resources available through the Peaceful Families Project, a Muslim-run domestic violence prevention organization founded in 2000, to help educate the American Muslim community. This education addresses the extent to which domestic violence exists and strategies to stop it.

Several prominent imams have heeded the call to action by concerned American Muslims including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of the Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, Ca. and Imam Tahir Anwar of the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose, Ca. These imams have committed their Friday sermons to addressing domestic violence and preaching that in the Islamic tradition and by the example of the Prophet Muhammad, family harmony can never be achieved by force and that emotional and physical abuse is never acceptable.

This call is being broadcast through various channels, including blogs, Facebook groups, personal contacts, and news media. “The outcry among Muslim Americans against this type of violence is a heartfelt one,” said Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of the online newsmagazine “It is essential that we address the problem and take steps to ensure that no one else faces the same tragic fate as Ms. Zubair.”

Specific calls to action for imams and religious leaders include:

  1. Unequivocally denounce domestic violence and any attitudes that enable or excuse it
  2. Remind Muslims that the Prophet Muhammad condemned with unequivocal language all forms of spousal abuse.
  3. Immediately create community social service committees made up of qualified social service providers to supply educational resources and staff institutional programs that support abused and battered women.
  4. Promote educational and awareness programs that outline abusive and violent behaviors.
  5. Allow community members ways of pointing out and preventing the emergence or escalation of possibly abusive relationships and environments

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