Raneem Hassan decided to spend her first day of vacation shopping at the Melbourne Square Mall in Melbourne, Florida. It all went south when she was approached by a bathtub vendor. Hassan was asked if she would like to purchase a bathtub and when she refused the vendor asked her why she “wears that” pointing to her hijab. Hassan answered it was part of her faith when the vendor angrily responded “No! It’s culture!” Hassan kindly informed the vendor it was part of her faith and attempted to walk away.
The vendor then said “You’re in America!” As Hassan continued to walk away she tells the vendor she will continue to practice her religion regardless of where she is. The vendor follows Hassan and steps in front of her and tells her to remove her hijab and “look like us Americans”. Hassan retorted by telling the vendor to move from her personal space and added that she is American and entitled to her personal beliefs.
Hassan managed to get away from the vendor and enter Macy’s. As Hassan left the department store the vendor was waiting at the exact spot where she entered and proceeded to follow her. The vendor asked Hassan why there are so many of them (Muslims) in the United States and that they should do that (cover their heads) back home. Hassan, feeling uncomfortable due to the harassment, hurriedly left the mall hoping the vendor would not follow her to her car. Luckily, the vendor stayed inside of the mall and the harassment ended there.
Hassan is filing a complaint with the customer service department of the Melbourne Square Mall. Muslims should be able to shop without harassment from store owners, vendors, or consumers.
Unfortunately Islamophobia is on the rise in the United States and Muslim women must be aware of their surroundings at all time. With all of the hate crimes towards Muslim women in the past few weeks I am happy to report that Hassan was not physically injured, but must point out the seriousness of such harassment.
Archive for the human issues Category
Dear Respected Imams and Community Leaders,
I am a survivor of domestic violence. It took me years to finally speak up. Now that I have it is my intentions to assist in bringing about change in the way abuse in the home is addressed within the Muslim community. I have heard many times how well the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) treated his wives. I’ve heard it said many times during the Friday prayer that “the best of you is he who is best to his family”. Praise be to God, Muslims have the best example of how one should treat the spouse yet cases of domestic violence seem to be on the rise.
I am aware that some Imams are giving exceptional advice (Masha’Allah) when it comes to domestic violence. Just the other day I came across a video on YouTube by Sheikh Omar Suleiman addressing abuse. I found the advice very uplifting and encouraging but many sisters who have been abused are not getting the same advice when they seek help from an Imam. Some sisters are being told to “be patient”. It’s important to note that once a woman actually opens up about the abuse taking place in her home she has passed the phase of being patient. It’s not likely that she was hit once and decided to seek counsel. Many have gone through the cycle of abuse time after time and had to build up courage to ask for help. Telling her to be patient sounds like this: You’ve done something to deserve this so just be patient while he chokes you, stay quiet while he punches you, forget that he just dragged you to the ground and kicked you in the face. Be patient and in the meantime endure the physical trauma. Domestic violence can be emotional or physical, and frequently ends in death. It is possible that the advice to “be patient” is sending a victim of abuse to their grave.
I have a few suggestions that may assist in bringing about change:
1. Organize classes/workshops on domestic violence. Many times the advice given to victims of abuse reflect that there is no knowledge of what abuse is. Spreading this knowledge whether it be to Imams, teachers, or Shurah members will help in assisting the community and especially those going through abuse.
2. Document Cases of abuse. There are women in the Muslim community who are survivors of abuse but can not get assistance to obtain legal aid for a divorce because the abuse was not documented. What’s worse is that the abusers are given custody and unsupervised visitation rights when there are children involved. The children are not safe in a home with an abuser. Many times these women have gone to an Imam and complained about abuse in the home but there was no documentation.
3. Offer Unbiased Counseling. It’s a complaint amongst victims of domestic violence that some Imams give counsel in favor of the abuser. The victim is blamed for the abuse and told to behave differently in order for the abuse to stop. The community commonly adds to this type of counsel by making claims “to know” the abuser and “know they would never do something like that”. Just because one prays next to a person or sees them frequently at the Masjid does not mean it’s known how they treat their family. Victims of domestic violence should not be made to feel like they are liars and or to blame for the abuse they endure. Abusers are commonly charming individuals in the public eye and quite different in the home.
4. Encourage victims to dial 911. When in extreme danger and the victim fears for their life they should be encouraged to call the police. Muslim women are made to feel as though calling for help is frowned upon. Abusive spouses are threatening their lives and because there is this fear of shaming the community and their families they are suffering in silence. They should feel encouraged to get help if they feel their lives are in danger.
5. Encourage anonymous reporting. We must get away from the thinking of “it’s not my business” when we KNOW a person is being abused. Whether it’s an adult or child if we are aware of the abuse we should all feel compelled to get them the help they deserve. A victim of abuse lives in constant fear lacking courage to speak up and ask for help. It is necessary for the rest of us to be strong where they are weak. I also would like to add that in some states Clergy are mandated reporters in cases where children are exposed to domestic violence.
6. Provide and support shelter for victims. Since this is a problem that affects the Muslim community it is very necessary to have a safe haven for the victims of abuse. In the case that one must up and leave their abuser a shelter would help immensely. Alhamdulillah for the operational shelters but unfortunately more are needed.
I would like to point out that in no way am I accusing ALL imams of not taking a stance on domestic violence. As mentioned before, I have heard many reminders for spouses to be good to each other. Still, we have cases where family members, specifically wives, are being abused. The woman is the one who spends the majority of her time raising the children. We can not expect the Ummah to rise when the spirit of the woman is broken. May Allah reward you for all of your efforts,