Reflections on Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2015 by amanisma

While reflecting upon Domestic Violence Awareness Month I’d like to make this post about what it was like discussing this topic. As I mentioned in the very first post about my experience, I sensed a very high level of anxiety. Once I made the post public the nervousness did not subside. I questioned whether it was the right thing to do until I began to receive messages on Facebook from other women who had similar experiences. It was at that point that I forgot about how anxious I felt. As the messages continued I felt more and more compelled to speak up. It wasn’t easy but I felt it had to be done. When I heard stories about women who died at the hands of their abusers I felt nothing but the need to continue these posts. 
Although much of the feedback was positive and from women who had the courage to escape their abusive mates there were some negative responses. Some left very nasty comments on my posts. Profanity and racial slurs were thrown at me. Although my posts were aimed at spreading awareness about domestic violence some individuals did not appreciate that. I could only imagine they themselves are abusers or the ones who defend this type of behavior. Regardless, I did not let it stop me from discussing an issue that affects so many around the world. 
Throughout the month I came across many posts about domestic violence and was very pleased to see more community leaders speaking up but honestly I think it should be more. Now that this issue is brought to light we can not continue ignoring it. Too many are suffering in silence. Too many are afraid to speak up. Too many feel there is no point in speaking with an Imam because they have been let down in the past. Too many feel the ill treatment is a better option rather than bring “shame” to their families. This type of thinking is problematic and we have to be the ones to change the way domestic violence is viewed in our communities. 
With that being said, I strongly suggest we continue to discuss domestic violence in the Muslim community. As mentioned in a previous post, we have the best example of how to treat our spouses. Violence has no place in the home of a believer. Now that the discussion is open let’s not close it because Domestic Violence Awareness month is over. The purpose was to spread awareness and encourage those currently in an abusive relationship to seek help. There is help. There is a life of peace. There is a life without your spouse using you as a punching bag. There is a life where you do not have to walk on eggshells out of fear of an explosion. There is life of happiness once you decide abuse is not acceptable. 
In closing, I would like to remind all of my readers to take what you now know about domestic violence and remember we all have a role to play in helping those who are oppressed. May we all be protected from violence in our homes. May we all feel the need to defend those who live under such circumstances. May we all stop closing our eyes when know of abuse. May we all speak up and end the silence on domestic violence. 

  

What NOT to do during Jummuah Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2015 by amanisma

I’m sure every Friday we expect to go to Jummuah prayer and have this amazing spiritual enlightening experience. But many times it’s not like that. We find ourselves having to be extra patient and think happy thoughts when others seem to not know the does and don’ts of the Friday Prayers. Here is a short list of what NOT to do during Jummuah prayer. Feel free to add to the list.
1. Enter AFTER the Khutbah has begun and greet everyone. Please wait until it’s over. Talking during the Khutbah is like talking during your prayer. Don’t do it.
2. Answer your phone. See #1.
3. Ask people questions. Even though you may feel it is extremely important to know who speaks the same language as you or where someone is from please don’t. It’s not that important.
4. Talk over the Imam and make attempts to finish his sentences. This is just plain annoying. This makes you look like a “know it all”. Just don’t. 
5. Shush other people’s babies for cooing after you’ve done 1-4. Really?!?!? Really?!?!
6. Greet the masjid with two rakah in an extra loud whisper. This is a silent prayer. Silent. 
7. Recite over the Imam as he is leading the salah. Ok Alhamdulillah Masha’Allah you know the Surah. This is excellent but your loud whisper is distracting everyone. One Imam. One. Let him do it. 
  

Six Ways to Help a Friend Who is in an Abusive Relationship (Guest Post)

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2015 by amanisma

Source: Six Ways to Help a Friend Who is in an Abusive Relationship (Guest Post)

Dear Respected Imams; An Open Letter concerning Domestic Violence

Posted in human issues with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2015 by amanisma

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,
Sincerely,

A Survivor

RED FLAGS to look for when starting a new relationship: Domestic Violence Awareness

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2015 by amanisma

First I would like to thank you all for reading and sharing the last post. If you haven’t read it yet please do so as I hope you will find it very informative. The point of the series of posts concerning domestic violence is to bring awareness. 
As promised this post will address the red flags of domestic abuse. Now, keep in mind that just because one sign applies doesn’t mean a person will be an abuser but if quite a few are present then I would strongly suggest backing away…quickly!
I’m going to focus a bit on the controlling behavior because many times the signs are present but they are mistaken for care and concern. When necessary I will also address how these signs may come across from a Muslim perspective in the talking phase before marriage. Some red flags to consider when starting a relationship:

Controlling behavior. 

* Calls and texts repeatedly until you answer. This isn’t just normal calling and messaging. It’s 20-30 missed calls in a span of one hour. Not ok. Not normal. From a Muslim perspective other forms of communication may be used in the talking phase. Either email or through a third party. In this case, the person may not give you time to reply before sending various emails or frequently calls the third party individual. Not cute. Not cool. 

* Leaves messages claiming to be concerned you didn’t respond to calls and texts. The tone of the messages may be confused with concern but when you just met this person about a week ago they honestly shouldn’t be that concerned. 

* Insists you check in throughout the day. May claim to be so concerned about your wellbeing as to why you should check in. Remember, you survived much of your adult life without checking in with another adult.

* Criticizes the way you talk, dress, or behave. This is pretty self explanatory but I will elaborate a little for the young Muslim woman preparing for marriage. If you are comfortable with the way you dress and it is in accordance with Islamic law and the individual insists that you wear certain colors or styles you are not accustomed to then this can be attempt to control. It’s important to know the rules of the religion and what is acceptable. With knowledge, it will be easy to distinguish whether or not one is attempting to control you or simply share information. 

* Constantly questions your whereabouts. Wants to know where you are, who you are with, what you were doing, who said what, how did you respond, ect.

* Treats you like a child and as though you are incapable of making decisions and forming your own opinion. May become upset when you disagree. Expects you to hold the same opinions as they do. 

* Monitors phone calls/emails/social media usage. Gets upset if you answer a text and not say who it’s from. Sits behind you while checking email. Eves drops on phone calls. Becomes angry if you don’t respond the way they think you should. Requires you to deactivate social media accounts and open joint accounts with them. Reads your messages and responds on your behalf WITHOUT your permission. 
When starting a new relationship keep your personal boundaries in mind. In each of the above mentioned scenarios it should be quite simple to weed out a potentially abusive individual by asserting personal boundaries. Here are a few examples of what you could say in response:
1. “I appreciate the concern but please stop calling so frequently”

2. “I’ll call you once I reach home but I’m not not going to check in with you.”

3. “Thank you for the suggestion but I like how I dress.”

4. “I respect your opinion but I simply do not agree.”

5. “I know you mean well but please don’t read my messages/emails.”

Should any of these comments be a cause of anger then you may have a problem. These issues don’t normally get better with time. Asserting personal boundaries should never make someone upset.
Some other red flags to consider:
Jealously
* Tries to be with you the majority of the time. Doesn’t want you to have friends. 

* Follows you around and shows up to where you said you’d be to check on you. Once again, not normal. Constantly checking in on a person you just met is not out of concern; it’s a HUGE red flag the person has major trust issues.

* Accuses you of cheating all of the time. 

* Becomes angry if someone of the opposite sex looks in your direction. 

* Claims jealously is a sign of love.

* Makes claims of “Love at first site”. Tries to make you feel their life is incomplete without you and that they are all you need. Over time the individual may say things like “we are all we have” or “it’s just us; no one cares about us”. 

Isolation
* The abuser tries to keep you all to themselves.

* Makes you feel bad for wanting to spend time with family or friends. Will begin to sulk and accuse you of neglecting them. May also make up negative things about family or friends. From a Muslim perspective, there may be a false claim that because certain family is not Muslim you can’t be around them. This is false. 

* Prevents you from attending school or working.

* Handpicks friends and associates.

* Wants to live where access to phone is limited.
Blames others for problems and feelings.

* Unable to hold a job and blames others. Doesn’t work well with others. Refuses to follow directions. 
* Thinks everyone is out to get them. 

* Blames you for anger or outburst. May say things like “you make me so angry” or “I can’t control how I react to what YOU do.”

* Claims you control how they react. Says “if you just do such and such then I won’t get mad.”
Hypersensitive

* Is easily insulted and argues about small things. 

* Rants and raves about injustices when it’s normal life situations such as given a task at work (May even quit jobs because of this so-called injustice) or receiving a traffic violation. 

* Looks for a fight. Makes problems when there are none. (For example, may start fights with strangers without reason)

* Takes things personal. 
Previous abusive/Unwilling to discuss past relationships.

* When asking to meet ex-spouses they make up stories about them. May call them crazy or unstable to sway you from doing research. 

* May admit to the abuse but will blame the ex making comments like “she made me do it” or “it was only one time.”

* Family may admit they were abusive with exes. 

* Abusers will eventually abuse any one they are with; it is only a matter of time. 
Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde

* The personality of an abuser can go from night to day in a matter of seconds.

* May go from fun loving to explosive anger.

* Explosiveness and extreme anger is a common red flag amongst abusers.
Breaking objects

* When angry they throw and break things.

* They usually destroy things that are important to you.
Cruelty towards small children or animals

* May expect things from children that are impossible like a newborn baby not to cry.

* May scream and curse at a newborn child for waking up in the middle of the night. 

* Attempts to punish small children and expect them to “learn a lesson” at a young age.

* Is insensitive towards animal.

* Harms animals and laughs about it. 

There are so many other red flags when it comes to domestic violence. I would advise anyone entering a relationship to look for these signs before saying “I do”. It’ll be worth it if you take your time and do your research on any potential mate. In the talking phase it can be easy for one to hide some of the red flags. Abusers can be quite charming. It’s best to speak with people who have either been in a close relationship with them or the ones who have lived with them. An individual who DOES NOT have a history of abuse won’t have an issue with you talking with an ex but an abuser will. That’s all for now. 
For more information CLICK HERE

  

The MOST difficult post I’ll ever write: My experience in an abusive marriage

Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2015 by amanisma

Bismillah (In the name of God)
For many years I have been silent about my experience with domestic violence. I’d survived an abusive marriage but rarely discussed it. My family and close friends knew what had happened to me and were very supportive. It’s been nearly ten years and I’ve finally decided to open up in hopes of inspiring others who may need it. 
I must admit I am VERY uncomfortable talking about this publicly but I can’t help but feel obligated to do so. The level of anxiety I am currently feeling as I am writing this is a bit unbearable but in the words of Tariq from the Legendary Roots Crew “I shall proceed”.
 October is domestic violence awareness month. Although this is my first post about the issue insha’Allah (God Willing) it won’t be the last. Each year when October rolls around I tell myself I can do more than share a meme informing others it is domestic abuse awareness month but I never do. 

What I truly want is for everyone to deeply understand what abuse is. Abuse can be physical but many times its emotional as well. Emotional abuse can include but is not limited to name calling, criticizing, and humiliating the victim in front of others. The abuser may be controlling and preventing the victim from having friends and being around her family. The victim may go from having a social life to basically anti-social. They make accusations, threats, and give scornful looks.

The lack of control the abuser displays in many cases eventually turns to physical violence. Physical abuse is slapping, kicking, punching, dragging by the hair, burning, choking, etc. 
Domestic abusers pretty much all operate in the same manner. Since my experience there has not been a story of domestic violence that did not echo mine. So with that being said it is extremely important to understand what abuse is and recognize the cycle of abuse.

What is the cycle of abuse?

The cycle of abuse is a social cycle theory developed to explain patterns of behavior in an abusive relationship. Anyone going through any of these stages should immediately recognize this cycle. 

1. Tension Building.

The cycle of abuse starts with “Tension Building”. In this phase there is a breakdown of communication. The victim is fearful and pretty much walking on eggshells. The victim does whatever it takes to keep things peaceful and feels the need to placate the abuser.
2. Incident
This episode can be either physical, verbal, or emotional. There is anger, blaming, arguing, threats, and intimidation. 
3. Reconciliation
This is when the abuser apologizes. He may even start to cry and promise to never do it again. The abuser will make excuses, blame the victim, deny the abuse occurred, or minimize the victims claims. 
4. Calm or “Honeymoon stage”.
In this stage the incident is forgotten. There is no abuse in this stage. Things are great until the tension starts to build up again. 
According to national statistics on domestic violence 1 in 3 women have been victims of abuse. Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten or assaulted in the United States. These, along with many other statics, are startling. What is even more startling is the nonexistent stance the Muslim community has taken on domestic violence. True, Islam DOES NOT promote violence towards women but when cases of abuse arise they can be dealt with in a more fitting manner. The lack of support from sisters as a whole seems to be even more nonexistent. Like previously mentioned, I had the support of family and close friends but that was it. It wasn’t long after the split with my ex that I heard all of the horrible things being said from “sisters”. The most disturbing was when a sister said to me “everyone just thought he slapped you a few times”. Her comment never left me because it was clear that in the mind of some women it’s ok if their husband slaps them “a few times”. 

Unless you wish to live a life of fear and walking on eggshells you will speak up. I decided my life mattered after my dear Mother (May God Preserve her) asked me “what are you waiting for him to do?” When she asked me that question I had to stop and think. I can honestly say I was waiting for the abuse to stop but it never did. It only got worse and worse. 
This is all I can share at the moment. In the next post I will share information about how to recognize the red flags. There are always red flags. Until then, be safe and take care. 

  

 

Janet Jackson reverts to Islam!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2015 by amanisma

As reported by MSN Janet Jackson has reverted (the term revert is used because it is an Islamic belief that all are born submitting to the creator) to Islam!!! 

Now before the “she only became Muslim because of her husband” comments start, remember there are many non-Muslim women married to Muslims who NEVER revert! Janet Jackson is Muslim because that is what God Willed for her.

Congratulations Mrs. Jackson (the name she is required to keep according to Islamic law)!!! May God protect you and your family…Ameen 

  
 Janet Jackson wearing an abaya in Qatar (Photo courtesy: reviewit.pk)

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