In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
Today, in the wake of the horrific murder of Sr. Zubair, there is a nationwide call for Friday sermons to speak out against domestic violence. Here is my humble contribution to that effort…
We praise God, the Almighty, the Precious Beloved. All praise is due to Him. We seek refuge in the Lord from the evil tendencies of our selves and from the evil of our actions. We bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except God alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is God’s Messenger and Servant.
Whomever God guides can never be misguided. Yet, whosoever God leaves to stray can never be guided aright except by His leave. We ask the Precious Beloved to send down His Mercy, His Prayers, and His blessings upon Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), upon his family, his companions, and the Muslims everywhere. Amen.
By now, everyone has heard of the truly outrageous and barbaric murder of Sister Aasiya Zubair, the estranged wife of the CEO of Bridges TV, who was found brutally beheaded in the offices of that TV station. Allegedly, her husband has confessed to her murder, and the incident has sent shockwaves all throughout the Muslim community in America.
Of course, the haters of Islam and Muslims are all over this, claiming that this is expected from Islam and Muslims. That contention is completely false. Domestic violence is a problem that transcends race, culture, color, and religion. It is a scourge that contaminates every society and socioeconomic status. It is a stain on the human condition, and to blame Islam for it is totally unfair.
Nevertheless, it is irrefutable that there is a big problem with domestic violence in the Muslim community. Refusing to say so in the interest of “not saying anything bad about Muslims” will not make it go away. It is, in fact, treason to the Muslim community, as one of the first things one must do in order to cure a disease is to recognize that the ailment exists in the first place. Denial is deadly.
The brutal and barbaric murder of sister Aasiya is a wake up call to our community that something must be done about domestic violence, and it must be done now. And it is a horrific state of affairs that such a brutal event had to take place in order to jolt the Muslim community into action.
Let us reflect over what marriage is supposed to be about. True, it is the vehicle through which sexual desire is legally satisfied. But that is a very small thing of marriage. To get married is to enter into a contract with another human being to form the unit through which society is strengthened and the next generation is nurtured. The family unit is sacrosanct in Islam, and this sanctity begins with marriage.
And in the Qur’an, the images of marriage are ones of peace, harmony, love, and tranquility. In chapter 30, verse 21, it says: And among His signs is this: that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]: verily in that are signs for those who reflect.
God describes it as a sign, or miracle, that He gave us mates from among ourselves. The Arabic word of the verse is taskunu: meaning a place where someone feels at “home,” as the word for home, sakan, comes from the same root word.
In another verse, the Qur’an describes spouses thus: They are your garments, and you are their garments. (2:187) What does a garment do? It protects one from the elements of heat and cold; it hides the faults that are hidden below the garment; it covers what should not be seen by others; and it also adorns and makes the wearer beautiful. That is the perfect description of what spouses do for one another.
Domestic violence and spousal abuse completely destroys that Qur’anic standard of love, mercy, tranquility, and protection. It betrays everything for which Islam calls in a marriage. It is blatant disobedience to God Almighty.
What does one try to accomplish by abusing his or her spouse? Achieving power? Achieving domination over another human being? Are they trying to enslave another human being? Why abuse one’s spouse? What logical explanation can there be?
There is no logical explanation. Spousal abuse – whether mental or physical – is totally and wholly unacceptable. Period. End of discussion.
Power lies only with the All-Powerful: All power belongs to God, and to His Messenger, and to those who believe… (63:8) True power does not come from dominating your spouse. No! True power comes from believing in God, being from among the believers, and following His commands and those of His Messenger (pbuh).
To those who abuse their spouses: Are you better than the Messenger of God (pbuh)? Do you think the advice of the Beloved Prophet (pbuh) was not worthy enough? Was his example not shining enough?
The Prophet (pbuh) said in a hadith: “Could any of you beat his wife as he would beat a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?” In another hadith, he said: “Do not beat the female servants of God.” The Prophet (pbuh) never beat or struck any of his wives or children. It never happened. Is this not a good enough example for all of us?
Indeed, there will arise disputes among husband and wife. Yet, no matter how difficult the dispute may be, physical violence can never, ever, ever be an option. Never.
All of this that we discussed is on an individual level – between husband and wife. On a community level, we must get extremely serious about the issue of domestic violence. There must be zero tolerance for domestic violence. If any sister comes forward and claims to be in fear for her life at home, she must be take with the utmost of seriousness. She must be supported, protected, and the claim must be investigated.
There is no shame upon them if they come forward and report abuse, and they must not be made to feel ashamed. Our imams and community leaders must not tell the sisters to “be patient” with an abusive husband. Our communities must establish strong ties with social service organizations that help the victims of spousal abuse, and there are several excellent such organizations right here in Chicago as well as across the country.
We must teach our children, especially our young men, that to be a “man” does not mean beating one’s wife into submission. That is not a measure of strength, but rather profound and pathetic weakness. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The strong man is not one who can wrestle someone to the ground. Rather, the strong man is the one who can control himself when he gets angry.” We all must heed this Prophetic wisdom.
If we know that a man is an abuser, he must not be allowed to marry again and continue the cycle of abuse. Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali of the ADAMS center first made that call, and I echo it. Sister Aasiya was the third wife of her accused killer, and the two other women filed for divorce because of spousal abuse. How could this be? It does not matter who the man is; if he is a abuser, and does not want to change, then he should not be allowed to marry. Period.
My heart bleeds for the family of sister Aasiya. My heart bleeds for this terrible tragedy. My heart bleeds for the countless other women – Muslim and otherwise – who endure terror at home at the hands of those who should be their best and closest companions.
And my heart burns with rage at those who think that beating their wives is sanctioned by our beautiful faith. They are terribly mistaken. Islam does nothing of the sort, and God does not accept this terrible behavior. Neither should the Muslim community.
Wake up, Muslim community! Wake up! There must never be another Aasiya Zubair. There must never be another instance of an “honor killing.” Nay, from this day forward, there must never be another spouse who goes home to a place where she does not feel safe. As Muslims, who are accountable before God on the Day of Judgment, we must eradicate the stain that is domestic violence from our community, once and for all.