Alhamduilllah another year and another Domestic Violence awareness week nipped in the bud. Each year we are progressing and spreading more awareness.
Voices for the Voiceless
We kick started the week of with a video uniting influential figures and organisations together to condemn domestic abuse and give their support to Nour. We would like to thank each and every participant.
Macho Man webinar
We discovered with Mufti Abu Layth what makes you a real man. How was our Prophet SalAllahu alayhi wa Sallam. How did he carry himself? What did he do in times of stress. How can we handle our anger? How did he treat his womenfolk? An enlightening session which will be uploaded very soon!
Twitter Storm/Quote it Winner
Our Twitter campaign was very successful alhamdulillah, with the hashtag: #ThisIsAbuse. It was encouraging to see so many tweeters supporting us and raising awareness. The stories and facts we shared were heartbreaking and shocking, but it pushed a courageous sister to come forward about her situation.
Last month we launched our “Quote It!” competition, asking you to come up with an original quote related to domestic violence and make it your Facebook profile picture. Our aim was to engage with the public and together use social media as a means to take a stand against domestic abuse. At the same time, we wanted to reach out to those who may need our help. Alhamdulillah we received a great response! We were really impressed with the quality of the entries and the thought that was put into them. Picking 5 winners was not easy! Thanks to all those who took part! You can view all entries on our Facebook. Here are the 5 winners-we thought the meanings were very powerful behind these quotes:
Nour Shop Launch
With Nour’s ever grown materials masha’Allah, we have launched our shop, a central location for all merchandise and materials, which can be ordered and delivered to you. Whether it is resources or information you are seeking, you will find this here.
Khutbah Campaign/Post It
This year has been our most successful week yet. We have managed to prompt Muslim Council of Britain to join in on our Domestic Violence Awareness week and take lead in the Khutbah campaign. They had kindly agreed and united Imams and other like organisations to deliver this message.
PostIt was a very successful outdoor awareness campaign. We were outside The London Muslim Centre with a large board, requesting the public to post their thoughts up on this issue, whether that is inspiring, personal or condemning dv messages.
Broken Child event
The Broken Child seminar was one of the last events of the week. Here, we aimed to focus on the young generation of sufferers of domestic violence; the children who get caught in the crossfire between parents. It was opened by Sayyidah Zaidi, explaining in the most eloquent and humble fashion, how this disease manages to manifest itself in the psyche of young children. The next speaker was Afshan Khan, who carried out an interactive session with the audience, challenging their views of Domestic violence and thoroughly using her counseling expertise to allow the message to sink in- almost 100% of failed marriages in her experience were caused by childhood traumas with one or both of the parents. This event was a great eye-opener, and both of the lectures will soon be available to watch online.
Empowering Women Workshop
Nour’s empowering women’s event is one of our most important events which we host annually during our DV week. Our counsellor Khalidah Haque leads small groups of women to openly discuss topics around dv and introduces them to counselling and more. Feedback from this event is always positive which is why we hope to host this event next year too inshaAllah. This also gives an opportunity for sisters to meet together and find support together and surely this is a good and a positive step and we hope Nour can be a support and continue to offer solace. We thank everyone who helped our event from the caterers and cake baker to our counselor and to all those who attended our event.
We would like to thank everyone who has been a part of domestic violence awareness week 2014, all those who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and all those who have supported us. Please keep our Team and work in your prayers.
Peace be upon you all.
In celebration of International women’s day, Nour would like to honor four outstanding Muslim women who have worked tirelessly in their respective fields for the betterment of others around them. We find peace in the notion that such selflessness and bravery exists in our communities, with such strong independent women paving the way for others, and becoming the voices of our generation in the process mashAllah.
Nai’ma B Roberts
A published author and magazine publisher, she is well known for founding SISTERS magazine, where she currently works as Editor-in-Chief. She has been published in the Times, The Observer and The Muslim Weekly, as well as numerous online publications. She began writing when her first child was a toddler, and has already written several award-winning children’s books. Nai’ma has the same ethos as Nour, keeping her subject matter deeply rooted to the Qur’an and Sunnah.
She is an activist, a mother, a community builder, and a great support for her surrounding community amidst many other things Allahumma baarik. This year she has already worked with SISTERS magazine, Discover, which is the magazine for curious Muslim children, ProductiveMuslimah, the Muslimah’s Renaissance, and with Megan Wyatt of Wives of Jannah. This month she will be working closely with Nour and joining us to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence.
Recently, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Education has selected her award-winning novel Far from Home, as an A-Level text!
But above all praises, Nour would like to emphasize the unwavering, consistent dedication that Nai’ma gives to our organization, and we just want to take the time out to say that we are truly blessed and inexplicably grateful for all of the time she has given us.
Motivation, encouragement, self-empowerment; words that have been given a whole new lease of life because of Yasmin Mogahed. Those who have been through severe difficulties find an unmistakable sense of peace when reading her words. By the same token, listening to her speak at her lectures is much like pressing a cold compress on a hot wound. The difference she has made on an international scale is overwhelming, gifted as she is with the ability to touch any individual with her humble, sensitive, helpful words. Reclaim your heart is a book that confronts ones own perspective, and in doing so, puts life into perspective, our difficulties into perspective and our purpose in life into perspective. She has participated previously in our Domestic Violence Awareness Week, by giving a webinar, which was a huge success. You can view this here.
Yasmin is a great supporter of Nour and for those who have endured such difficulty as domestic abuse. She is responsible for distinguishing the difference between sabr and suffering in silence. And for this alone, we cannot thank her enough.
Inspirational people do not have to be internationally renowned; we at Nour want to bring you closer to home. Rahima is an amazing sister masha’Allah, who inspired Nour in many ways without even realizing it. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of a UK based human rights organization, Restless Beings. Before Nour established itself, we did a lot of ground-work around Restless Beings. We were in awe of the amazing work they did, and used them as a blueprint for what Nour would one day achieve; reaching out to people, empowering people, and bringing tabooed issues to the forefront of conversation. Rahima juggles work with life at Restless Beings and also recently got married masha’Allah! She has a flair for creativity and has established what she has a passion for, so do check out her personal work. The great thing about Rahima is her humbleness and not knowing how she empowers women and the inspirational effect she leaves on people. We wish her the utmost success for her passionate work, for Restless beings and most importantly her newly married life!
Last, but in no way least, Nour presents a strong woman and an example to all. Hanan is an unshakable supporter and activist for human rights. Her campaigning and genuine concern for those who are suffering are what we love her for. Hanan has always been a supporter of Nour and very recently spoke about why this issue is so close to home. Hanan is living proof that an individual can come out stronger from a bad situation, and utilize it to make a positive impact on the lives of others. You can view Hanan’s story here. She shows great humanity when fighting for empowerment and justice. She seeks to makes changes where injustice is seen, and is pro-active in causing that change. Hanan is a powerful combination of both humility and strength, and she uses this balance to extend a helping hand to those whose lives have been wrecked by instabilities. Nothing that you have done will ever be overlooked by Nour, and we thank you, Hanan, for sharing such a private part of yourself, by speaking the unspeakable, so that others can follow your nour and find it in themselves to do the same.
We thank these women for being the change we all want to see in the world.
May Allah increase them in health, wealth and Imaan in both worlds.
We pray you keep Nour in your humble, sincere prayers.
‘Contrary to what critics of Islam may say, domestic violence is not permitted in Islam. In Nour’s domestic violence booklet, their Islamic advisors and consultant shuyookh explain the ‘misunderstood verse’ “… and beat them” (An-Nisa:34) and clarify that the Prophet (SAW) explained it as ‘dharban ghayra mubarrih’ which translates as ‘a light tap, as light as a feather stroke that leaves no mark’. […] we know that the Prophet (SAW) was the perfect example of the teachings in the Qur’an and it is clear from his seerah that he never struck a female, child or servant despite it’s ‘permissibility’ which would denote that it is something to avoid.’
This article written in SISTERS magazine by Nour’s Khalida Haque exemplified what it is, in specific, that constitutes domestic violence. Interestingly, under the sub-section, ‘Domestic Violence and Islam’, she mentions how critics misconstrue the meaning of passages in Surah An-Nisa to prove the inherent misogyny that Islam supposedly encompasses. Perhaps, however, the topic of how the practitioners of Islam use the same interpretation as the critics, in order to condone their aggression towards the women in their lives, was not explored to its full extent. On a recent trip to Pakistan, I spoke –very generally- to a few sisters who painted a vivid picture of the society in which they lived. The idea was not to create an East and West binary of any kind, but rather, to gain perspective of how DV is viewed in other parts of the world. Growing up in the West, violence in the home is something that is immediately flagged as an exploitation of justice, as unacceptable and crude. But how is it received in a space where culturally, relations between the husband and wife- no matter how publically aggressive or volatile- are not to be interfered with? Of course, there is subjectivity from family to family and home to home, nonetheless, I collected fragments of conversations, and just recently, began to turn them over in my mind.
My Urdu was still kicking into gear when I asked the first sister about domestic violence, and I stammered and struggled to translate the concept to her. The sweet eyes beneath her furrowed forehead suddenly lit up when she finally understood what I meant. It turned out that this sister in particular did not know the word for it in Urdu either, because to her, it was not an obtrusive unjust concept. It was an accepted norm within her immediate community, the struggling working-class of Lahore’s Model Town. ‘It’s just something that happens’, she laughed, ‘It happens every day. Just this morning I heard that a man a few blocks over killed his wife and boy because he had a drinking habit and couldn’t afford to feed them. So he just killed them. Trust me this happens.’ I looked at her skeptically, so she continued, ‘Look, if you don’t believe me I can bring you the morning paper. But this is so common that most go unreported. It’s only people like us who know the extent. It’s just something that happens.’ She went on to explain that circumstance, disrespect towards women, and the consensus that women were the inferior sex in Pakistani society were the root causes. She recounted stories, one after the other, of how many times she had been assaulted on the street by strange men, followed home day after day, and in one instance, barely evaded a kidnapping. ‘The girls I know, we get married so at least there will be someone to look out for us, pick us up, drop us off, so that we don’t have to go through this every day.’ From what I knew about this particular sister, who both wore hijab and internalized it, this conversation was, to say the least, painful; her only want was to study, which was proving to be an impossible task under the circumstances. ‘I think it’s the poverty around here that turns men crazy. I think they feel helpless, so they take it out on us.’
My mother later explained to me that there is, in fact, the concept of domestic violence in Pakistan, and reassured me that it is something that is accounted for. She claimed that the families, if not the police, would surely intervene if they thought that there was abuse within a marital relationship. Nonetheless, this did not stop me from wondering how a country, which consists predominantly of Muslims and was very much built on the premise that Islam would be openly practiced and implemented, could have such a high tolerance towards the maltreatment of women. My thoughts led me to another conversation that I had had with a sister, who told me that her ex-husband justified beating her on numerous occasions, on the basis that Islam condoned the notion that women belonged to their husbands; which made her at his disposal, and more importantly, under his control. But if control became the subject, then perhaps the problem did not stem from a discrepancy in cultural practice, but from the misinterpretation of Islamic text, by men who seemingly skim-read the parts of the Quran in which women were given rights and honor (to the extent that heaven was said to be laid under her feet) and skipped straight to the parts where men were given divine permission to strike their wives. Could the idea of patriarchal supremacy still reign, perhaps latent or subconsciously, in the psyche of some Muslim men, or dangerously, in men? Jacqueline Rose, in her recent article ‘Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi, and the ugly face of patriarchal power’, conveys this phenomenon in the most eloquent manner,
‘Masculinity in thrall to itself is ruthless. As feminism has also argued, it is a colossal act of self-deceit. When a husband assaults a wife, it is often his own weakness – the fact that men, thank goodness, cannot in fact control all women all of the time – which he is trying to repudiate. This kind of power has to trash suffering in order to hold on to itself, which is why, threatened by a woman with its loss, he will push her face into the dirt.’
It is a question, maybe, of what would then stop a man from pushing his wife’s face into dirt, make him unwrap his hands from her throat, to stop him from hurting what he was made to protect. It is a question that men need to ask themselves, and answer honestly, if only in the secrecy of their own minds. They say that they believe women to be their equals, but do they truly believe it? Or is the idea that it is ‘just something that happens’ ingrained unconsciously within men and women alike, the world over? When we marry, do we marry with the expectation that at some given moment, we may strike, or be struck, or that we may be silenced? And if so, then why so? Is it because of scripture or culture? Is it because of our psychology or society, or is it a combination of all of these factors coming at us in one blow? Why are so many Muslim families hurting all over the world because of bruised hearts and angry fists? Is it to retain power, or to assert an authority that was never a given?
Out of all of this fog, this generalization and speculation came one certainty. That the Prophet (s.a.w) never hit a woman, a servant, or a child in his entire life. He was not only the best of examples, he set out the rulings and guidelines and showed the Muslims how to operate within them. And with this knowledge, we should feel a sense of shame, because in his blessed presence, no one would have the permission to think that ‘it is just something that happens’. In his presence, no man alive would dare strike a woman. Perhaps, the next time we think about what we do behind closed doors, the next time we refuse to get involved because of our cultural norms, we should think about what we would do if the Prophet (s.a.w) was watching us, and perhaps realize, if only momentarily, that his Creator actually is.
 Khalida Haque, ‘What Constitutes Domestic Violence?’, SISTERS, http://www.sisters- magazine.com/index.php?route=articles/articles&articles_id=45 [2013-03-08]
 Jacqueline Rose, ‘Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi and the ugly face of patriarchal power’, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/20/nigella-lawson-charles-saatchi-ugly-face-patriarchal-power-grillo-trial [Friday 20 December 2013]
Does Domestic Violence have a cure?
A recent article in The Mirror relayed the accounts of four men, all of whom fall under that sprawling umbrella term ‘Domestic abuser’. The question posed was whether these men could, in time, be ‘cured’ of their violent dispositions and habituations through a programme that focused on ‘physical violence, psychological abuse and the impact on children’, claiming to have the potential to reform them and restore them to their families. Nonetheless, the controversy is initiated at the first use of the term ‘cure’; it implies that domestic violence is a disease, something intrinsic, uncontrollable, and ultimately blameless. It allows for the abuser to evade responsibility; it is dismissive, and catastrophically so.
In good sport, we can analyze the success stories from this treatment. Stuart and Peter were two men whose marriages were, according to the article, saved from the changes in behavior and subsequent epiphanies that were bought on by the programme. Stuart stopped his abusive behavior when he realized that his children knew about what he did to his wife behind closed doors. Not wanting his children to hate him, he used the thought as his deterrent. However, can this really be classed as a story of success? Stuart’s behavior did not change because of the realization that beating his wife was wrong, but because he became aware that he may lose his children as a result of it. It is evident that there is still something categorically wrong in the pathology of the abuser – the way in which he treats his victim is not changed because he views her differently, but because intervening bodies threatened to take something away from him if he did not stop. By the same token, Peter was an average Joe who one day ‘lost control’ after a long day at work and punched his wife in the face. His progression in the course remains unmapped; nonetheless, his story is another example of these repetitive dismissals of responsibility and blame that have become a staple of the abusive condition. Other stories include men who failed to complete the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, and it can only be assumed that they carried on with their sexual perversities and sporadic beatings on other victims. But with this said, can a course like this really ‘cure’ men who beat women?
Interestingly, the very first thing that the article asks us as readers to do, is to conjure up an image of what we perceive an abuser looks like. To wholly understand the pathology of a violent perpetrator, we must ask ourselves this: What situation or helpless disposition could possibly cause us to consistently harm our significant other? Only in doing this, in trying to imagine ourselves beating back the hands that rock the cradle and hitting the faces of the people whom we swore we’d protect, can we begin to see how completely ludicrous a ‘cure’ is. For in assuming a cure, we establish an excuse, and in doing this, we dismiss the imperative notion of choice. We all have the choice to spit poisonous words or to bite our tongues, to raise our fists or to walk away, to accept responsibility or to say we that we are susceptible to loosing control and evade blame entirely. It stands to question whether anyone reading the article, when asked to think of what abusers look like, came up with a picture of themselves.
Source: Derbyshire, Victoria
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/victoria-derbyshire-domestic-violence-treatment-2345505 [7 Oct 2013]
This pain is so strong..
What did I do wrong?
There’s not a day I don’t go without trying.
Taking my medication and resting is not all i do.
Some days I get up n run too.
Five years ago what I went through suffering in silence …
A marriage full of violence..
Memories of the slaps across my face are nothing but a feeling of disgrace…
How can I forget the kicks and them times he played mind tricks?
Pushed on my back,being strangled and punched to the ground.
Amazed at how I didn’t crack and how i Never made a sound…
I remember how I would silently cry and ask why?
Pleading on my knees
I would beg him it to stop please.
Sometimes he didn’t
Some days he couldn’t
But in the end I knew he wouldn’t…
I try not to cry I try not to show the pain ,
But day in day out the memories drive me insane…
Will I ever be free from the words he said to me the way he beat me?
Even-though he’s hundreds of miles away
The memories will always stay…
If I’d known that till this day I would be paying the price…I wouldn’t have never made that sacrifice…
I keep telling myself the past and it’s torture,
Has no place in my future.
To believe that is so hard when deep within I have been left scarred.
Doesn’t he know what he did to me is not all history?
Its what he did to me is making his life sad its me that’s behind his every tears.
He knows how he treated me was bad and that he fears.
Now i know he wasn’t strong.
He made me feel I was always in the wrong…
Back then I had no voice but today he has no choice…
With each passing day,
Night in night out he may try and block it out..
but the past will never go away.
This memory of ours will always stay…©
“It’s all your fault! You deserved it!”
The above words are commonly heard by victims of domestic abuse. And according to these words, it is they who are responsible for the actions of the abuser. I’m sure there are a number of “you what!”s escaping lips at this precise moment; however ask a person who has been at the brunt of domestic violence who they blame for their situation. More often than not their answer will be themselves. So many of their responses will start with ‘If only …’, ‘Maybe if …’ or ‘Perhaps I could …’ And they will continue to believe that they are at fault because the other person has been, for months or years, telling them vehemently and without hesitation that that is the case.
Afshan Khan has been serving the community for 27 years in Islamic counselling and Mediation service for Muslim women. It was an honour for Nour to get hold of her as she shared her expertise in this field. The workshop proved effective through its interactive nature. Many sisters were able to engage with sister Afshan and disclose their personal feelings hoping to take something positive back home.
I have often found myself questioning how fashion magazines sometimes feature women in compromising poses, some which I find more worrying than others. I have found and selected three images, all taken from popular magazines of models being strangled. Violence against women is portrayed clearly in all three photographs, but I wonder if this is a boundary that is too commonly crossed. Is this a disregard for what is an acceptable form of expression within fashion and should this be addressed? How could photographs like this effect ending violence against women? Does it affect the people experiencing it in real life?
Born into the hands of a tyrant,
You held me closely near your chest,
Enveloped me with your breath,
As I listened to the sound of your heart
And, that is where it all began.
Salaam aleykum readers
It is always humbling when Nour is supported by other organisations in helping us to reach our goals and to give us a reassuring confidence that we will insha’Allah grow bigger and better to help those who are suffering from domestic violence. We have always stressed the importance of our Imaams leading any initiative related to preventing and educating communities about DV, so that it may be successful. Our Imaams are our pillars, and on those pillars can we build and generate our strength. We are so excited to tell you that Imams Against Domestic Abuse (IADA) have given us this new found strength, and we hope to be theirs too insha’Allah.