HHUGs are the only charity helping families suffering under the un-just anti-terror laws in the UK and need all of our support.
I’d ask you all in this special month of Dhul Hijjah, in the first ten days if you can all help them in this great deed of helping families like sister Yasmin’s and this request for support was sent out by a sister who is known and trustworthy and is the keyworker in this case.
“This hhugs beneficiary had her children taken by social services. Hhugs provides her with emotional and practical help as well as organising Eid parties for families like her to enjoy. I am her key worker and she herself has been trying to help me get some donations on my page! Please donate because these families really need our continued support.”
Text UMAB90 £10 to 70070
RE the sister getting told to remove her hijab by the armed Nice Police in France, no I won’t be sharing the image and shame on those who have done so already.
Where is your protective jealously for our sister? What if it was your wife, daughter, mother or sister, would you be happy with her image being shared and looked at by all these men on social media?
Yes the oppression in this case is terrible, part of the wider oppression felt by the Muslims in France, especially our sisters who are being literally forced by gun-toting cops to uncover themselves and take clothing off in public, but that in no way justifies you sharing such images.
Given the background of the image with semi-naked men and women do you even think it’s appropriate or even permissible to share such an image anyway even if the sisters face is not clear / blocked out?
It’s like all the people sharing images of models in Burkinis to show a visual image of the French ban on this item of clothing and claiming you are sharing such images to defend modesty… Stupid doesn’t even begin to cover such people.
Here is a Fatwah from Sheikh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid at Islam Q&A on women sharing their image on social media, I hope the intelligent among you would realize if this applies to sisters sharing images of themselves, it applies doubly to men sharing these pictures of sisters in hijab or even worst actual indecent images.
We need to remember such dhulm is a test, a trial and yes sometimes a punishment from Allaah and that to end such oppression doesn’t just mean denouncing it, but that as Muslims we need to wake up and return to our deen and that Allaah informs us in the Quran:
For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.
Quran translation, Surah ar-Ra’d, 13:11
Muslim women in the West today are in a seemingly unique position, often straddling two worlds – that of their family’s ethnic culture and that of their Western country of residence. They are struggling to both revive their faith and their intellect, managing a balancing act of family and career.
Often, we feel alone, stranded in circumstances for which there is no textbook manual on how to do it all right. Surely we can’t be the only generation of Muslim women to face such trials! In fact, we aren’t. Islamic history books are filled with stories of exemplary Muslim women, young and old, who navigated cultures spanning from Asia and Arabia to Europe.
These inspiring women came of age in environments eerily similar to our own: Fatimah bint Muhammad (SAW), whose early teen years were spent struggling through the difficult first days of Islam in Makkah; and Ama bint Khalid, who grew up in the Christian country of Abyssinia during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They dealt with feelings of isolation, cultural differences and the struggles faced by the pioneers of a new way. They fell in love, fought in wars and achieved heights of scholarship envied by men.
From the Sahabiyat (female Companions) to female scholars in our own times, Muslim women have always had powerful female figures to look up to and emulate. Unfortunately, however, these inspiring women have been forgotten and marginalised by their own people, to the detriment of all Muslims, both men and women.
Now, we hope to revive and relive our neglected history by bringing to light not only the exploits of these heroines, but their humanity as well. We aim to build a direct connection and sense of relevance between the current generations of Muslim women and those who created legacies before us.
Coming of Age in a New World
Modern society marks the transition from childhood into adolescence with contemporary constructs such as issues of identity and angst. For young Muslimahs in the West, these struggles are compounded with further questions about religion, spirituality and their place as citizens in societies whose values are often at great odds with those of Islam’s.
Ama bint Khalid was one of the first young Muslimahs to grow up in a non-Muslim environment and whose love for the Messenger of Allah (SAW) blossomed in her heart before she ever met him. Her parents were amongst the earliest believers in RasulAllah (SAW) and were of those who made the first hijrah (emigration) to Abyssinia.
As a result, Ama was one of a handful of young Muslims who grew up in a distinctly Christian society. Though she undoubtedly faced difficulties and challenges, her identity as a Muslim was strengthened by her circumstances, rather than weakened or driven to compromise. Her parents would regularly share with her and remind her of the reason for which they emigrated: their belief in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger. They would tell her stories about RasulAllah (SAW) – his kindness, his generosity, his concern for others even if they were not his family or friends and how he worked so hard to save everyone from the terrifying punishment of the Hereafter. Long before she ever met him, Ama loved this amazing man of whom her parents spoke so fondly.
Ama was a young girl faced with a massive challenge: living and growing up in a country foreign to her family, struggling to learn a new language and a new culture and, more importantly, retaining the faith for which they had emigrated in the first place. In the midst of this utter strangeness, she fiercely held onto her belief in God and His Messenger (SAW), her saviour.
Though the challenges are many, young Muslims in the 21st century are not the first to experience isolation, alienation and negative propaganda directly concentrated on their faith. Youth such as Ama bint Khalid and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), both of whom were raised upon Islam from a very young age, grew up in a society where they were labelled as either crazy people, terrorists or both. Most Muslim teenagers often think that they have little in common with famous and awe-inspiring Sahabah of the Prophet’s time, but the truth is that their struggles were very similar to those we are going through today.
Today, young Muslims in the West have far more available and at their disposal than Ama bint Khalid had over 1400 years ago. Masjid youth groups, Islamic schools, youth conferences, CDs and DVDs; these resources provide not only knowledge, but a strength of solidarity for young Muslims growing up in non-Muslim societies.
Teenage Muslim girls who are trying to juggle their non-Muslim school environment, culturally-different home environment and plain old teen hormones need look no further than Ama bint Khalid to feel both comforted and inspired. If Ama could do it – in a time when there was no internet, no halal takeout and no varieties of cute hijabs – why can’t you?
Narrated Sa’id: Um Khalid [Ama] bint Khalid bin Said said, “I came to Allah’s Messenger along with my father and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah’s Messenger said, “Sanah Sanah!” (‘Abdullah, the sub-narrator said, “It means, ‘Nice, nice!’ in the Ethiopian language.”) Um Khalid added, “Then I started playing with the seal of Prophethood. My father admonished me. But Allah’s Apostle said (to my father), “Leave her,” Allah’s Apostle (then addressing me) said, “May you live so long that your dress gets worn out, and you will mend it many times, and then wear another till it gets worn out (i.e. May Allah prolong your life).” (The sub-narrator, ‘Abdullah aid, “That garment (which she was wearing) remained usable for a long time.”) Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 22
Umm Khadijah (Zainab bint Younus) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become part of a new generation of powerful Muslimahs.
There may be nothing elegant about pouring hot meat and broth over a plateful of bread, yet around the world such humble fare is regarded as savoury, satisfying comfort food at its best. In Morocco, you’ll find chicken and lentils served this way; in Iraq, chicken and chickpeas and in the UAE, lamb and vegetables. In Italy, a number of soups are ladled over bread, while in America, roast beef and gravy ‘sandwiches’ might be presented in similar fashion.
Tharid – A One Dish Meal
Meat and bread dishes date back centuries, if not thousands of years. Not only can references for such stews be found in medieval cookbooks and texts, but tharid, a meat dish served communally on top of a platter of bread, was known to be the favourite meal of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). As Abdullah ibn Abbas said, “The food the Apostle of Allah (SAW) liked best was tharid made from bread and tharid made from Hays.” (Sunan Abudawud)
In fact, the Prophet (SAW) is famously quoted as saying, “The superiority of ‘Aisha to other ladies is like the superiority of tharid to other meals.” (Bukhari)
From another hadith, we learn that, on at least one occasion, the tharid served to the Prophet r included gourds along with the meat.
Likewise, modern day versions of tharid typically feature lamb, beef or poultry stewed with either beans or vegetables. Seasonings vary from one country to another. In some cuisines the consistency may be as thin as soup while, in others, it’s as thick as stew. In Morocco, the word trid(assumed to have derived from tharid) describes a traditional preparation of meat or poultry served atop shredded bread, while in Iraq, meat and bread dishes may be referred to as tharid, taghrib or tashreeb.
Talbina – A Soup, Condiment and Cure
In the time of the Prophet (SAW), tharid wasn’t always served plain – it might also be garnished with a healthy quantity of talbina, a barley flour-based soup with the consistency of yoghurt.Tharid prepared this way was a traditional meal offered to a bereaved family, while talbina itself was believed to be beneficial for the sick. The Prophet (SAW) said: “At-talbina gives rest to the heart of the patient and makes it active and relieves some of his sorrow and grief.” (Bukhari)
Modern science shows that barley is indeed good for our health. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, barley is also low in fat and significantly high in fibre. Not only does the soluble fibre in barley help reduce cholesterol and help slow sugar absorption, but the insoluble fibre in barley may help to reduce the risk of certain cancers, according to http://www.barleyfoods.org
Make Your Own Talbina
Talbina is easy to make. Simply cook one tablespoon of barley flour in one cup of milk or water for about 15 minutes or until thick, stirring several times while the mixture simmers over low heat. If desired, stir in a little honey to sweeten the mixture to taste. Serve plain or spooned over tharid.
Although we don’t know precisely how the tharid enjoyed by the Prophet (SAW) was prepared, you can replicate his favourite meal by serving any soup or stew of your choice over slices of day old bread, shredded pita or torn flatbread. Or, try the curry-style tharid recipe below.
Iraqi Tharid with Chicken – Tashreeb Djaj
(Serves 4 to 6)
• 1 whole chicken, cut into 4 to 8 pieces
• 4 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 or 2 onions, chopped
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 or 3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
• small bunch of cilantro (coriander ), chopped
• 1 to 2 tbsp curry powder
• 1½ tsp salt, or to taste
• ½ tsp black pepper, or to taste
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
• 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 6 servings of pita, naan or other bread
1. Wash and pat the chicken dry. If desired, remove and discard the skin.
2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven. In batches, brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken from the oil and set aside.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the oil and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, coriander and spices. Cook for several minutes, until the tomatoes begin to soften.
4. Return the chicken to the pot and add the water and broth. Bring the liquids to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Add the chickpeas and potatoes (and a little more water to cover if necessary – you’ll want ample broth) and continue simmering until the potatoes are cooked and the chickpeas are heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
5. On a large serving platter or in individual bowls, make a bed of broken or torn bread. Arrange the chicken in the middle and spoon the sauce, chickpeas and potatoes over all. Serve immediately.
Christine (Amina) Benlafquih writes on varied topics including religion, food, health and culture. You can find more of her writing on the web at Moroccan Food at About.com (http://moroccanfood.about.com).
The fact that it is the responsibility of the man to maintain his wife and family does not mean that a woman may not help her husband in his professional pursuits or add to the economic stability of the family if the need arises or if they both agree for her to do so. By the same token, a man is also encourarged by the Prophet’s example to assist his wife in her household chores:
“His wives reported that he would often sew his torn clothes, repair his worn out shoes and milk his goats.”
Collected by Ahmad and authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani in Sahih al-Jami’ as-Saghir
On numerous occasions the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa salam) encouraged men to be kind, gentle and helpful to their wives because it is the nature of the strong to take advantage of the weak. For example, it is reported by the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said,
“The most perfect of the Believers in faith is the best of them in character and the best of you in character is he who is best to his family.”
Reported by Abu Hurayrah and collected by Ahmad and Tirmidhi and authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani in Sahih Sunan at-Tirmidhi
Taken from pages 27 and 28, ‘Polygamy in Islam’ by Jameela Jones and Sheikh Bilal Philips
An excellent article written by sister Umm Zakiyyah, explaining how the responsibility for making polygamy work falls almost entirely upon the men in the ummah, not the women.
Something for those ‘men’ constantly banging on about polygamy being ‘their right!’ whilst living in the UK and the west need to read and contemplate over.
Being a man doesn’t mean diving into polygamy while completely disregarding the first wife’s feelings.
“If you don’t want your husband to marry another woman,” the imams said, “then, reflect on the hadith of the Prophet,(peace and blessings be upon him). You should love for your sister what you love for yourself.”
I turned off the video and sipped my tea in the silence of the room. I had planned to watch the prominent imam’s entire lecture on the subject of plural marriage in Islam, but I couldn’t get past the first few minutes.
It wasn’t that I disagreed with his point. After all, it is true. If Muslim women who are already married think of a potential co-wife as a sister in Islam instead of a potential rival, then sharing a husband wouldn’t be so difficult.
But is this mental shift really as simple as people make it sound?
Is it even realistic?
“What role do you think women play in polygamy?”
The inquiry took me off guard because it was unrelated to the subject of the meeting. He wasn’t asking about the details of women’s role in a Muslim marriage (He already knew that). He was asking what role they play in ensuring that a husband’s pursuit of subsequent life in plural marriage is successful and relatively uncomplicated.I had just arrived for a meeting at the home of a community leader and his wife when he asked me this question.
“They don’t have one,” I said.
I could tell he hadn’t expected this response. Then again, I hadn’t either. But it was what I honestly felt.
Brows furrowed, he asked, “What do you mean?”
“She’s not the one taking another wife—he is,” I said. “So the burden is on his shoulders, not hers.”
“But don’t you think women have some responsibility in making it work?”
“No, I don’t.”
The shocked silence in the room made me realize I should clarify.
“I’m not saying she has no accountability to her co-wife,” I explained. “The co-wife is her sister in Islam, and she can’t violate her sister’s rights.”
I went on, “But what I mean is, beyond her normal duties when her husband is married to only her, her role doesn’t change when he marries someone else. But the husband’s role does change because he chose polygamy.”
He nodded, beginning to see my point.
“And when a man marries another woman,” I told him, “he must understand that his first wife will naturally be hurt and upset. But this comes with the package. And if he can’t handle this natural hurt and upset without blaming his wife or asking her to change, then he’s the one at fault. Women will be women,” I said with a shrug. “And if a man doesn’t fully accept what that means in reality, then he’s not ready for polygamy.”
“But If You Fear…”
Though it has been many years since I had this conversation with the community leader, my views have not changed. If anything, they have become more resolute. And if there were any advice I would give to Muslim leaders who wish to tackle this topic with any success, it would be this: “Stop addressing women, and start addressing men.”Allah says,“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].”—Al-Nisaa’, 4:3The more I reflect on this verse, the more I get a small glimpse into the infinite wisdom in these words. Specifically, five points stand out to me:
- Allah is addressing only men in this verse.
- No advice or instructions are given to women regarding plural marriage.
- Allah is asking men to engage in careful introspection when determining whether or not to pursue polygamy.
- The last part of the verse clearly implies that marrying more than one woman results in increased responsibility (and thus accountability) as opposed to marrying only one woman.
- The last part also suggests that polygamy itself will be a challenge—so much so that Allah tells men outright that being married to only one increase the likelihood of the man being just to his wife.
No, I’m not suggesting under the guise of advice that “one is best for you” while secretly hoping that no man engages in this Sunnah.Actually, in my heart of hearts, I do hope that men (at least the ones responsible and financially capable) find a way to make plural marriage work—with wives by their side who are both fulfilled and pleased. Otherwise, there will be an ever-growing list of single— never been married, widowed, and divorced—women denied the joys and blessings of an Islamic marriage.But what I am saying is that whatever responsibility exists in making the Sunnah of polygamy work rests almost entirely with the man, who must engage in careful introspection, seeking advice, and making du’aa and Istikhaarah when making this difficult decision and subsequently living with its naturally challenging consequences.It goes without saying (or at least it should go without saying) that if a man’s current wife doesn’t wish to be in polygamy, it is illogical to ask her to shoulder the responsibility of making successful something that she neither desires nor chose.The real man is the one whose good treatment, patience, and understanding will inspire even the most reluctant and upset wife to stay with him—even as she may never like that polygamy is part of her life.In other words, real men implement the Sunnah of being men.
Will You Share You Husband?
Time and time again I speak to women who have helped their husbands find another wife, supported their husband’s decision, or even made a habit of speaking or writing about the beauty of this Sunnah. Some have even gone as far as to share their home with a co-wife (something even I would not suggest or recommend).
Yet, despite Muslim women having gone over and beyond the call of duty in trying to overcome their natural dislike for sharing their husband (as a simple Google search on polygamy will reveal), advice, lectures, and complaints by Muslim men on the subject of polygamy continue to focus on the actions and thoughts of women. It is always with the apparent goal of inspiring women to love the arrangement and relish in its blessings by giving their husbands “no problems” with the pursuit.
Ah… If only…
But the fact of the matter is that Allah created women with a natural reluctance and dislike for sharing their husbands.
When I speak to women struggling in polygamy, one of my first pieces of advice is to accept that polygamy is inherently difficult and painful for women. It’s not “supposed to” be enjoyable or desired, I tell them—even though this natural difficulty and pain does not preclude having a loving, fulfilling relationship with your husband though he’s married to someone else.
Those women who seek to “love polygamy” often live in psychological and emotional turmoil as they deny themselves the right to hurt or even cry. They feel guilty for any resentment or emotional outbursts, and their husbands, unfortunately, often berate them for their struggles.
“This is the Sunnah,” their husbands may say, “so if you don’t love it, you have weak Iman,”—and, tragically, the wives believe them.
Ultimately, many of these women simply “break” and become so embittered and spiritually traumatized that they blame Allah or Islam for their misery—when neither Allah nor Islam asked them to “love polygamy” in the first place.
Be a man.
In my view, this summarizes the essence of the only advice men should give (and receive) regarding polygamy.
And, no, being a man doesn’t mean diving into polygamy while completely disregarding the first wife’s feelings. Sometimes, as we know from the famous story of Ali and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them), it may actually mean not pursuing polygamy at all.
“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”— (Bukhari and Muslim)
Yes, women, like all believers, can benefit from reminders for their souls, and these reminders may or may not inspire them to accept polygamy in their lives.
Either way, women should love for their sisters what they love for themselves—as should men with their brothers.
But suggesting that this means a woman should accept polygamy and love for another woman to marry her husband is little different than suggesting that a man should accept divorce and love for his unmarried friend to marry and enjoy his beloved wife.
So, dear imams, let us ask men and women to focus on their own responsibilities and roles, not someone else’s.
And by the mercy of Allah, as a woman, polygamy is not one of mine.
Exposing the Marriage Bandits: Originally written for SISTERS Magazine, September 2012
Zainab bint Younus exposes the hidden abuse of marriage fraud that occurs within the Muslim community and warns vulnerable sisters how to avoid it.
Muslim communities around the world face many challenges, from both within as well as outside sources. Certain issues, such as poverty and substance abuse, are widespread amongst all races and religions. The Muslim community, however, also has problems unique to itself.
One particular phenomenon has come to be known as that of “marriage fraud” – a problem found in both the West and the Muslim world, although its occurrence has been more widely documented in the West. Most cases of “marriage fraud” are recorded to take place in certain areas of America, Canada, and the UK, although there is evidence that it also occurs in other Western and Arab countries.
Shaykh Younus Kathrada, a South-African born Canadian imam has provided Islamic counseling and support services for over 20 years. He identifies the “marriage bandit” phenomenon as being when Muslim men and who claim to be knowledgeable and pious Muslims, prey on vulnerable women and convince them into marriages, only to use and abuse them, and leave them soon thereafter. Some of these individuals have married and divorced women countless times, passing them around to their friends and treating the women like a disposable commodity.
It is an evil practice which abuses and damages Muslim women; which destroys numerous homes, scars entire generations of children, and turns formerly earnest Muslims away from Islam completely.
The mentality that encourages this conduct has no religious backing or justification whatsoever, no matter what they claim or how they attempt to twist and use the Deen of Islam to excuse their exploitation of naïve and sincere women.
“Marriage fraud” is no small thing; it involves psychological, emotional, and physical abuse; manipulation; outright deceit and duplicity, and worst of all, lack of any sense of conscientiousness, responsibility, or taqwa.
Targets and Tactics
In a time when marriage is a hot topic amongst every generation of Muslims, when young Muslim men and women find it extremely difficult to find suitable marriage partners, women inevitably remain the most vulnerable sector. Pressured by family or the community, or simply due to their great desire to fulfill the sunnah of marriage, many women fail to take the necessary precautions when choosing a spouse.
In his experience with “marriage bandits” and their victims, Shaykh Younus has noted that certain women are at particular risk for being targeted by predators: converts/ reverts and newly-practicing Muslim women, especially those with non-Muslim or non-practicing families. There are various factors which place them at risk of being lured into abusive relationships.
Some women have turned to Islam after many difficult experiences in their lives, including having had previous multiple relationships and children from those relationships. In an effort to support themselves and their children, and often with a naïve view of what Muslim marriages are like, they eagerly accept proposals of marriage without digging deeper into their suitors’ backgrounds. Some of these women may have other issues which they feel make them “less deserving” of being “choosy” when it comes to choosing a spouse, such as mental illnesses, financial instability, or even body image issues.
Unfortunately, the predators know exactly what to look for, what to say, and what to do to persuade these women into marriage. In some cases, they will find their victims through cyberspace: in the context of “Islamic” chatrooms and forums, these men will reach out to women seeking Islamic knowledge and build an emotional relationship with them based on the Deen. They place a strong emphasis on marriage and polygyny, and will remind these sisters that their “place” is in the home as a wife and mother. Sooner or later, the men – and sometimes even the women – will propose to the other party.
Other abusers have a tried-and-tested method within their own communities. They will have a friend’s wife look out for and befriend new sisters who join the community, building a relationship with them and slowly encouraging them to marry “a good brother my husband knows.”
One extremely common tactic used both by the cyber-predators as well as the local ones is religious and emotional manipulation: pressuring these women to marry quickly to “fulfill the sunnah” and “protect their desires.” For women seeking stability and a life partner, the combination of emotional blackmail (a woman who does not get married quickly is not a good Muslimah) and flattering attention (“You are such a pious, wonderful Muslimah and I must marry you in order to protect myself!”) can be very persuasive.
When approached by men who promise to give them a “happy Islamic household,” who tell them that their beauty lies in their practice of the Deen rather than their looks; and convince them that polygyny is a sunnah that they should practice, many Muslim women are convinced by the idea of a perfect Islamic marriage and agree to these proposals.
Almost all “marriage bandit” abusers display characteristics which should act as red flags for any Muslimah about to get married.
To begin with, the woman is often told that her wali is either unsuitable (due to not being practicing enough, not approving of the suitor, or because he is “making marriage difficult for no reason”), or not valid (especially in the case of women with non-Muslim parents and family). The man will then convince the woman that they have a better person to act as the wali, usually a close friend of the man.
Many women are also told that to ask for a mahr of any financial value is wrong, or against the Sunnah. The hadeeth about the most blessed marriage being that with the easiest mahr is trotted out and used to make the women feel guilty about making any kind of monetary request.
A woman’s right to a wali who has her best interests in mind, and to a suitable mahr, are an inviolable part of the Shari’ah. No woman should ever be made to forgo these rights which she has been given by Allah Himself!
The Deceit Continues
Unfortunately, the abuse only continues and exacerbates once the woman agrees to the marriage. In many cases, she will find out that she has been lied to all along – that she is neither a first wife, or the only wife, but that the man she has just married has one or more other wives already. In other cases, she will be told that as a second (or third, or fourth) wife, she must either support herself financially or live in the same household as the other wives, and “share” everything!
Other women will find themselves suddenly not only responsible for themselves and any children they may have, but for the man as well. Some predators will hide their criminal records or lack of any education until after the nikah has been done, and then informing their wives that they are unable to work and support their family. They may insist that because they are “seeking knowledge” (usually on Internet chatrooms), it is the wife’s duty to support them in every way, including financially. If the wife complains or challenges him, she is then accused of being a disobedient wife and causing problems. Their earlier recommendations of women remaining within the home are quickly forgotten.
Abuse Across the Board
Financial abuse is not the only type of abuse many women experience in these marriages. Mental abuse and emotional blackmail are rampant; physical and sexual abuse also take place. Victims are often unable to share their experiences or receive the necessary assistance to recover from these traumatizing incidents. Instead, due to the stigma and taboo of all these issues, women who leave these abusive marriages or speak out are more likely to be ostracized within their communities.
Many women have found themselves not only used and abused, but abandoned as well. In some cases, women are divorced for no reason at all other than that their abuser has become tired of them or interested in new prey. Others find themselves pregnant, and are left both divorced and without any child support or even acknowledgement from the child’s father.
Obviously, every type of abuse takes its toll and has a deep effect on those involved – not only the women themselves, but their children as well. One of the most terrible effects on the victims is that having lived through this vicious cycle, not only once but in many cases several times, the woman or her children may associate Islam with the abuse that they experienced. As a result, they may lose interest in practicing Islam, or leave it completely with extremely negative thoughts and emotions regarding it.
Less drastically, but equally painfully, is that the women feel used and rejected; that their Islamic rights have been violated and that they have no recourse. Some become completely embittered with the idea of marriage and see all Muslim men as predators and abusers.
How to Avoid the Trap
• A wali is a Muslim woman’s right – a guardian who keeps her best interests in mind. Make sure that your wali is someone who truly looks out for you and whom you trust.
• Ask questions! Don’t jump into a marriage blindly. Be aware of the type of person you are considering. Investigate, have your wali investigate, and don’t trust anyone naively.
• Don’t give up your mahr. Again, this is a Muslim woman’s right which no one can take away! Be reasonable, but don’t be pressured into a “symbolic” mahr either, unless you’re absolutely sure of it.
• Patience does not equal suffering. Be aware of the difference between patience with hardship, and being oppressed by someone who is withholding your Islamic rights. If your spouse is abusing you, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically, do not tolerate it. Seek the help of a supportive Imam or sisters who will find the appropriate resources for you.
It is beyond time for the Muslim community to recognize the predators that exist in its midst, and to stand up for its Muslim sisters. The Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Help your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed.” He further emphasized that the only way to help the oppressor is to stop his oppression from continuing. Any Muslim who perpetrates or allows such blatant evil to continue is transgressing the rights which their fellow Muslims have over them.
May Allah enable us to stand up for justice, and grant us the courage to fight evil wherever it may be.
Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is an advocate for social justice, and is especially concerned with the many issues that trouble the Muslim Ummah world-wide. She prays that Allah gives her the ability to change things for the better, even if her only weapon is her pen (or keyboard).