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Muslim women and cases of domestic abuse


A recent article in the New York Times highlighted domestic violence and other social issues faced by Muslim sisters in the US.

Unfortunately, such domestic abuse issues are quite common in Muslim households. The domestic issues that Muslim women face worldwide include husbands striking their wives (even when they are pregnant), family violence through marital discord, suicide, depression, humiliation, and other emotional illnesses that result from such treatment, and much more.

According to some estimates, the percent of Muslim women experiencing domestic abuse is approximately 20% in the US, even though the US has many laws protecting women rights. The statistics is probably worse in Muslim countries but many cases never surface simply because of fears of backlash from families and other community members.

The article cited above also highlighted the efforts of an organization called “Hamdard Center for Health and Human Services”, based in state of Illinois, USA, which is helping women cope with such social issues.


Call it wishful thinking but if all Muslim men followed Islamic teachings properly, the community will not need such centers. However, unfortunately reality is impervious to our wishes. Increasing number of cases warrant more of such centers and many are being established. For example, similar to the center mentioned earlier, Muslim leaders of Islamic centers in North America and Europe have established counseling centers within mosques and Islamic centers that in turn are helping Muslim women get the help they need.

As Muslims, it pains us to read such accounts. After all, more than any other religion that we know, Islam guarantees more rights to women. Then why is it that Muslim women face such challenges? The bigger question seems to be why some of the so called Muslim men have their behavior and actions out of synch with the basic teachings of Islam?

Many would argue that culture has a major role to play in such unfortunate norms. But, I would contend that no decent culture would ever allow such practices of its citizens. Who would claim such practices to be morally right according to ANY standards? They simply can’t be characterized as “culture”. Culture is defined as “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, and scholarly pursuits”.

So, such behavior can’t be characterized as “culture”.

More often than not, such issues have to do with acquired bad behavior that is passed down through generations. These issues also have to do with the inability of some to control their anger, and their uncontrolled reactions to events. Unfortunately a number of these men are active “mosque goers” and proponents of Muslim issues, while not following in their own homes what they preach outside. Have these men forgotten the basic teachings of what the prophet Muhammad (saws) said about treatment of women?

We can spend a lifetime discussing the root causes but what is more important is to look for ways to fix the issue because so many women are victims of domestic abuse and they need immediate relief. Only if those Muslim men can hear and understand the prophet’s sayings about women, some of which are as follows:

Prophet Muhammad’s Sayings About Women

·         “…and to your wife you have a duty and a responsibility.”

·         Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

·         “Be kind with the soft and gentle ones (females).”

·         The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in morals. And the best among them are those who are best to their wives. (Narrated in Mosnad Ahmad, and Al-Tirmizi)

·         A woman may be married by four qualifications: one on account of her money; another, on account of the nobility of her pedigree; another on account of her beauty; the fourth, on account of her virtue. Therefore, look out for a woman that hath virtue: (This hadith emphasizes virtues of women more than their beauty, money and pedigree – something completely contrary to what is obviously promoted in today’s media and emerging “global culture”)

So, what other proof do men who are perpetrators of such domestic abuses require? Even if the crimes of women are serious, Islam provides a more civilized approach of dealing with the issues. On the other hand, as in more common cases, if their complaint is that of harsh words and attitudes from their women partners, just remember that kindness even in the face of tough behavior can do miracles. A Japanese proverb says: “A kind word can warm three months of winter.”

What else do you think can be done to help all households (Muslim and non-Muslim) of domestic abuse? Share your thoughts below!

— The Blogger

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