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Addressing Domestic Violence

January 8, 2008

In light of all the terrible news over the past week or so involving killings over “honor”, hijab, caste, greed and insanity, SoundVision’s latest email update devoted to domestic violence seems particularly appropriate.

Also, here is a link to ISNA’s Women’s Shelter page.

Assalamu Alaikum:

Jana Shearer of Tyler, Texas; Monika Rani, Rajesh Kumar and Vansh Kumar of Oak Forest, Ilinois [sic], Sarah and Amina Said of Dallas, Texas and Aqsa Pervez of Toronto, Canada.

These are the names of five girls, boys and women allegedly killed by a boyfriend or their fathers for reasons that are still under investigation. In the case of Shearer, her boyfriend Christopher McCuin did not only murder her earlier today, but he boiled her body parts as well. According to an Associated Press report on the grisly incident, McCuin was known to authorities for assaulting his estranged wife, his girlfriend and his sister. In the Oak Park case a father not only killed his pregnant daughter but her husband and grandson as well.

In the case of Aqsa Pervez, her father allegedly murdered her due to her refusal to wear Hijab. For the Said sisters, it was because both were said to have boyfriends.

These cases involve Christians, Muslims, Hindus, White Americans, Indians, and Egyptians.

Although some media reports attribute religion, culture, and the Indian caste system for these murders, all of us know nothing can justify this violence. While growing up in my native Pakistan, a Muslim country, we, children, on the street, knew which man beat up his wife and we used to avoid extending our greetings to him. In the open culture where neighbors knew everything, it was not very common news. However, as we grew up, we learned that not enough was done institutionally to help their home.

Alhamdu lillah, that is changing, here and abroad.

But more work and more institutions are needed, especially for Muslims. We are hearing from Muslim social service workers that domestic violence is increasing. We are also hearing that divorces are going up. Muslim mental health in part might be responsible for these symptoms. While this is an age old problem, some recent variables I suspect are responsible for the mental health issues: wages of Muslim men are down by ten percent since 9/11 according to a Columbia University study; 76% of young Arab-Americans surveyed by Zogby International report have been personally discriminated against and about 50% of all Arab-Americans surveyed by a Yale study had clinical signs of depression. These statistics do not justify violence but they are a call for anti-domestic violence activists to also pay attention to the mental health issues in our community.

Today’s update seeks to address the scourge of family violence from an Islamic perspective, which emphasizes that marriage is an act of love and mercy, that children, especially daughters, are to be cherished and that life is sacred.

Abdul Malik Mujahid








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