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Domestic Violence Has No Place in Islam

In the June 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Robert S. Thompson, MD concluded that domestic violence impacts 44 percent of the American women at some point during their adult lives. Some 34 percent experience physical abuse such as hitting, shoving, and 34 percent face non-physical abuse such as angry threats

A UN study on violence recently reported that some 1.5 million people are killed in violence annually with at least 10 percent in domestic violence.

Domestic abuse is a major issue in our world as no country or community is immune to it. It is prevalent in all sectors of human society.

There is no country in the world where women are safe from violence or abuse. In Cambodia,16 percent of women are physically abused by their husbands; in the UK, 30 percent is physically hurt by partners or ex-partners; 21 percent in Nicaragua, 29 percent in Canada, and 44 percent in the US. 45 percent of Indian women are slapped, kicked or beaten by their husbands. India also had the highest rate of violence during pregnancy.

Of the women reporting violence, 50 percent are kicked, beaten or hit when pregnant. About 74.8 percent of the women who reported violence have attempted to commit suicide. Based on 48 surveys around the world, half of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. Women are killed by guns, beatings, and burns among numerous other forms of abuse. In Sao Paulo, 13 percent of deaths of women of reproductive age were homicides; of these, 60 percent were committed by the victims' partners.

However, none of, the professional experts have ever blamed faith or religious traditions for these acts of violence. We never hear that Hinduism, Christianity or Judaism is responsible for violence against women even though one can twist sacred text into misogynist passages in each faith tradition. But, when a Muslim is involved in such an unfortunate incident, not only is an individual put on trial, which he should face, but his faith has also been slandered. This does not mean that Muslim women are not physically abused. They suffer from this menace the same way as women of other faiths suffer. In fact, the male chauvinism and domination, so prevalent in our world that it refuses to treat women as equal.

But some people rather than looking at the issue from a sociological perspective and developing a realistic understanding of the causes rooted in social conditions promoting domination, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, and condemnation and even lack of faith analysts often find a scapegoat in religious scriptures, arguing that God intends one gender to be in control of the other by whatever means.

The recent case involving Steve Hassan, the CEO of Bridges TV, and his beheaded wife, Aasiya Hassan is being viewed by many intellectual midgets as a faith directed the murder overlooking the real issues involved in it.

It is not the faith that dictated the action of the accused. Rather, everything that betrays the faith. Faith is often used to hide one's crimes and to justify one's animalistic tendencies.

People are not born violent. But they have the inbuilt capacity to learn violence or non-violence. The faith demands a lifestyle based on love, compassion, and mercy even in the worst adverse conditions. Hassan's alleged action had nothing to do with this moral framework of the relationship. Rather, it showed those animalistic tendencies that our unbridled material culture and uncontrolled ego have promoted in the form of revenge, greed, and domination.

Few are willing to recognize that no one deserves to be abused. The responsibility for the violence belongs to the abuser. It is not the victim's fault! Financial dependence on a spouse does not mean that the provider has a right to abuse the dependent. Indeed, abuse is a pattern of coercive controlling over another. Beating is a behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. Many also fail to understand that domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sect, religion or gender. Professing a faith does not make a person immune from that behavior.

Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, and even on the victims of their abuse. This pattern needs to be challenged by faith-based groups, Muslims included. It is important that Islamic centers and mosques have family counseling, support groups to tackle the issue heads on. Some of the symptoms of domestic abuse can be identified by looking at the following issues.

Does a partner feel afraid of the other much of the time?Does a partner avoid specific topics out of fear of angering the other?Does one feel that one can't do anything right for the other?Or does one feel emotionally numb or helpless?Do any of the spouses feel humiliated, criticized, or yelled?Does any of the spouses treated so badly that one is embarrassed to see the family?Does a spouse blame the other for his/her own abusive behavior? Does a spouse see the other as a chattel rather than as a person?

Once these patterns are found, they should be brought up to counselors qualified to provide in a relationship. If the situation does not improve, the authorities should be alerted to tackle the issue at a legal level. There is no shame in reporting incidents of violence to law enforcement officials if the counseling fails. The faith-based community has to take a strong stand against the abuser and stand for the rights of victims to lead a decent life.

Peace in the family is the goal of Islam. Without love and compassion, peace cannot be established. Domestic violence destroys this foundation of faith and promotes the idea that a relationship with God can be established by following one's own egotistic ideals. There is no place of violence in any form and shape in a healthy Muslim society. There is no room for abuse. Those who do that are the ones who deny the signs of God and who use faith as a badge rather than as a responsibility to ensure transgression from the divine path.

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