Get to know Nour

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in General | 0 comments

Get to know Nour


We get asked one question often & regularly. Who founded Nour? Why was this initiative taken? And how did you manage to establish a charity?


The truth is, each time we are asked those same questions we forget how far we have come and how much work goes in constantly to keep Nour alive to even dwell on our humble beginnings. It literally makes us pause, think and then answer and even the answers take us back by surprise.


We are two friends like friends no other. And we formed a strong friendship whilst both at university. We were loud and free spirited but our love of politics and Islam always kept our discussions more soul searching and with a desire to want to help others. And this was easy because of the Islamic society and the pivotal role they played in supporting charity week. As Muslims we grew in our deen together and each day found a sweetness in our Iman but paradoxically discovered the bitterness in some of our own Muslim communities. (It is true the company you keep does mould you).


As women we loved that Islam gave us the right to be born brave, be educated, be strong and be independent. We were women with goals of fulfilling all that and more. Through one of our discussions and a sad discussion it was, we touched on the issue of Domestic Violence. How severe was this problem and more specifically was it a real threat in our communities? We are all so well versed in the rights of women in Islam but theory and practice don’t always marry together and we dwelled on how little help or support there was to both tackle this issue but also support women suffering from DV.


What was more disheartening was that we knew of several charities for orphans, disaster relief, and so forth but not a single one for helping the community and fighting against DV. It is in fact such a large issue that a lecture at the local masjid with the Imam advising you to be kind to your wife does not hit the nail on the head let alone suffice. Of all the charities we have and nothing for DV!!!


Angry and upset of course we reminded each other that it is better to be proactive rather than reactive. That in itself set a challenge and made us eat our own words and so within minutes we rushed out to buy a notepad. We had the name within the next 5 minutes or so. We wanted to bring Nour to the lives of those oppressed and be that light at the end of a dark and torturous tunnel. And that was all we had, a name.


With no idea of how a charity functions, the governing laws or the the effort and sacrifice it takes, what we did have was fire and determination. We started scribbling various ideas and started with what we wanted to offer and we started with strength, support and solace. Those three words are the backbone of everything we do at Nour.


Did I mention this was all during our industrial year and the crunch of the work was to begin during our final year at university. Juggling everything became difficult but we moved ahead slowly but we did not give up. We utilised this time to do background research and see what the average Muslim knows about domestic violence and whether a charity serving the Muslim community would be beneficial. Unsurprisingly, we found many Muslims had not heard of a charity where Muslims being abused could turn to, where their faith was considered and appreciated. Thus, this was enough of an incentive to launch a charity to serve these people. Two passionate university students, who did the odd charity work here and there, yet we had no idea how to establish a charity.


Initially we approached many charities and requested whether we could work under them as a sister organisation, however there was no positive responses. This of course disheartened us however did not dent our passion, and we were even more so determined to establish a separate charity alhamdulillah. At that point we turned to Brother Azad Ali, a well respectable figure of our community, may Allah bless him in abundance. We knew off him, however he did not know us, yet when we approached him with our idea and asked him whether he would provide us with help and direction in setting up a charity, he was more than willing to help. Brother Azad met us on a few occasions, to assist and give us the motivation that we needed to establish a charity whilst simultaneously meeting those dreaded dissertation and lab project deadlines.


5 years on, we are excelling every year alhamduilllah with support and prayers from you all. Our gratitude first and foremost goes to Allah, for allowing us to serve all these people who have been suffering in silence, and to Brother Azad in abundance and everyone else who has supported and continue to do so.


A heartfelt thank you from us both.

He Abused My Trust

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in Features, Survivor Stories | 0 comments

Survivor stories jpeg

I was new to Islam, I did not know how to pray, let alone having a wali and meetings etc, so when he asked me to marry him I was so happy, after all coming from a unislamic background I was so happy that I had found someone who wanted to marry me and learn the Deen together, raise a family and live as a normal Muslim man and wife. Perfect, I thought. I married when I was 21, I only knew about him from what he told me, his family never warned me neither did his friend who acted as my wali. So after a year of marriage, I remember the first time he went ‘missing’ I would ring his phone, he would ignore my calls and eventually block my calls.

I was stricken with grief not knowing where he was or if he was even alive, eventually he rang me and said he had been arrested, and could I transfer money into his bank so he could get a travel card home. So I did. Still he did not come home and I was so confused. What’s happened to him?? Is he OK? Alarm bells should have rang. But they didn’t, or maybe they did but I ignored them. Eventually he came home and I was hysterical, he admitted to me he had not been arrested and he infact has a drug problem, crack cocaine to be specific, he told me he has had this addiction for 16 years, still I had hope that it would just… Go away.

He would go missing every few months, always days at a time. And every time he came back he swore by Allah he would never do it again… I believed him. I fell pregnant with my first child, he went missing 3 days before I gave birth and returned the day before I gave birth. I fell pregnant with my second child straight away.. He was gone for literally a whole month while I was 5 months pregnant. In fact he was gone pretty much for the whole of my second pregnancy. I had enough at this point and packed my bags and left. My baby and I went to a hostel and got very ill, eventually his mum persuaded me to go back to him. How can I be a single mum, she would say. Plus at that time I had been so manipulated into thinking I needed him, I literally couldn’t bear to leave him.

I gave birth to my second child. Trying to be a mum and a supportive wife, but his mood swings and constant lying just so he could go on a drug binge, slowly started to weaken my eeman, and strip me of who I was. All I could think about was when is he next going to disappear. When would my purse be emptied or the TV taken to be sold. You may ask.. Silly girl, why did you stay? Why not get out before the children? Logical questions, the bottom line was I genuinely thought Allah would change him. Forgetting that Allah does not change the condition of someone unless they change themselves. I then fell pregnant with my third child and by this time my health was very bad I was losing huge amount of weight in the space of a few months due to the stress.

The morning I gave birth to my beautiful boy, that night we got told my baby had water in his lungs, and an infection so would have to go on antibiotics, I was very worried, hormones every were. Just needed support really. That night after he left us in hospital. He was gone for 3 days. Left my oldest two children with his mum and just gone. When I think about this time period wallah it’s so painful.. so so painful. I was so stressed I could not even breastfeed my baby. The kids’ grandmother would bring my other two for literally 10 minutes to see me then go. The doctors told me, as my baby was not feeding well his jaundice shot up sky high and would need to go into intensive care in an incubator. It was all too much, Alhamdulillah the kind doctor saw how visibly upset I was so he brought the incubator up to my ward. I couldn’t take my baby out as he had to be under the special light constantly.

He came back after 3 days. All apologetic, but something inside me had changed. I left hospital but I was dead inside. I had severe post natal depression. From the November to March I left my home 4 times. I didn’t cook.. I didn’t clean. I was just drained completely. 4 months after the birth of my baby, he walked out on me. He had had enough of me!! Left me for some girl!! I begged him to stay. Stay for the kids I said please don’t make me a single mum. He looked at me and laughed and said… I’m leaving you. He came back 4 weeks later for 5 days.. Then left me again because he couldn’t decide who he wanted to be with. The mother of his children… Or this new girl. He came back 2 months later.. Persuaded me to give it 1 last go for the kids. I reluctantly agreed, but my heart was dead. He destroyed everything. He eventually… Well after 6 weeks relapsed again.. and he finally realised the oppression he was causing to me.. So he gave me the final talaq. He left home.

Now he is wanting to see the kids, he does not provide for them at all, not 1 penny. But still demands his rights to see them. I do not know what his state is. If he is on drugs, so right now he cannot see the kids. They have seen and been through enough in there short lives and I need to protect them now from there toxic father. Allah knew the marriage was destroying me in every single way. Mentally/emotionally/physically and deenwise. Allah rescued me from severe oppression. Alhamdulillah. May Allah bless me with a righteous husband who will fear Him and lead me and my children to Jannah. Aameen



Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Features, General | 0 comments



A web of lies. A mesh of treachery. A snare of shams. Egocentric.

Guilt blaming. Gas lighting. Stone walling. Narcissist.

Separated. Now divorced. Still you control. Drama.
Bored? Jaded? Scared I might reveal the truth?

Leave me at peace. In my cave. Alone with my Lord.

Comfort is al Qu’ran. Weapon is my prayer. Seeking justice.

Maintaining boundaries. With no contact. Rising from a fall.

Twitter handle:

A Wali of Mine

Posted by on Aug 8, 2015 in Features, General | 0 comments

A wali of Mine

It was a test I know, specifically designed for me. Whilst the physical pain of bruises have long gone with only scars remaining, the emotional pain still exists. It’s still an open wound. It is raw. Sensitive to touch. Often times I scream with pain especially when the horrific memories are triggered. Other times I cry and cry, warm, salty tears. They sting my cheeks menacingly.  Be patient – beautifully — O Servant of Allah.

You thought you had a weak empath, a victim with no voice. Your whims and desires unleashed the monster in you. Someone who you could scare and bully into a submissive SILENCE. That night, you made manifest sinister intentions followed by devastating consequences. But My Lord unleashed the survivor in me.  The sleeping giant had awoken. The warrior was ready to fight!

You forget, that the truth has been made clear – the criterion between right and wrong. And justice WILL prevail.

Abu Huraira (radiyallahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: “Allah, the Exalted said… “Whoever takes a Wali of Mine an enemy, I will wage war on him; and My slave will not perform any act with which he draws closer to Me, more beloved to Me then when he fulfills what I have ordained on him; and My salve will keep drawing closer to Me by performing the Nawafil (voluntary acts of worship) until I love him, and when I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him; and if he seeks refuge with Me, I will grant him refuge”. [Saheeh Bukharee]


I was never a match for you or your narcissistic inclinations. Physically you are strong. Mentally you are cunning. Emotionally you are bereft of any feelings. But spiritually I WILL race you with my good deeds, my noble deeds, inshaAllah! I WILL profit from my forced silence which will be deafening upon your ears. I will take my plight to The One who controls me and controls you, the King of all Kings, al Haqq.

That night, you beat me black and blue and semi conscious, left me to raise three young children in a foreign land with foreign laws. Little did you know that you abandoned me in my cave which became my solace, I retreated from the outside world and gained strength, courage and momentum. All I had to do was worship in order to secure my status of Wali and force you into a waging war…

Your show is over. Step down and move over. For now I am “Bravely Speaking, Daring Greatly!”


Twitter handle:


Domestic Violence Awareness Week 2015

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Features, Reviews | 0 comments

We saw a great week come to an end, Nour Domestic violence awareness week 2015. The level of publicity and response we received was fantastic and by far the biggest DVAW yet!


speak out Nadia Ali


We kick started the week off with our Ambassador Nadia Ali launching the #SpeakOut campaign. Many supporters, new and old, took part and send through the pictures, encouraging victims of abuse to break their silence. This went viral across social media and we received a great response.




[pro-player type=’video’][/pro-player]

We watched our beneficiaries, from different walks of life, talk about their experience and their journey from darkness to light, which Nour took them through. There are many clients who come forward and we assist each and every one of them, thus require your regular donations, to keep our services going.



We took the #SpeakOut Hashtag up a notch and initiated a twitter storm which invited supporters all across to get involved. The main theme this week was to end the silence and letting victims of abuse know they are not alone.


[pro-player type=’video’][/pro-player]

We saw the launch of our new, first of a kind programme being launched, the Sakeena-Tranquility domestic abuse recovery programme. A 12 week programme taking victims of abuse on a journey to recovery.


Each year we encourage masajid to deliver their Friday sermon, revolving it around the issue of abuse. Condemning this and relaying the true Islamic stance of abuse and propagating the Mercy and love that our religion teaches.





Our team headed out to Trafalgar square in a “Snap It” quest, speaking to the public and getting their views on abuse. This was a much successful event.

Why do people have to leave each other, when they love each other?

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in General | 0 comments

Why do people have to leave each other, when they love each other?



We had an odd relationship – He loved me, I know that and I loved him, more than anything in this world, but we just couldn’t work it out. We ended up hurting each other deeply and abusing each other. Never physical but we abused each other’s rights. I had a sharp tongue and I see that now – probably what pushed him away. I’d get frustrated at his lack of time for me.

It was heart breaking, I loved him more than life and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Infact I became so attached to him that I feared a life which he wasn’t a part of. All communication stopped and we just couldn’t talk to each other politely anymore. I think he gave up on us before me. Maybe that’s another difference between men and women. I did try till the bitter end to get him to talk to me but it just wasn’t meant to be.

I hated him a lot at one point – hated the fact that he ruined my life. Hated that he told me he’d protect me from pain yet I was in pain every day, hated being treated like a no body, hated not feeling loved, but I don’t hate him. He was my first love. My husband. He was my world and everything in it. So how could I hate him? My home would have been wherever he placed his feet. Ineeded emotional support and with the lack of it,  I just let my anger get the better off me. We just didn’t understand each other in time and so we departed, it ended very bitterly, and the bitterness would be my only regret. I wish we parted with love and compassion. With prayers for goodness for each other, but I do wish him well. I wish him the absolute best and nothing but the best. Wherever he is I pray he is happy and that he forgives me for my errors.

Today I found a gift that I bought for him. It was personalised and I hid it away to give to him on his birthday. With all the heart ache, I forgot I bought this. I put a lot of thought and effort into it and I remember when buying it thinking he will love it. I just looked at it and smiled. We had good, blessed moments and some really horrible ones. But I can look back now and reflect. Whenever I used to think of him, I had horrible pains in my heart, the pain of a broken heart is so destructive. I used to sleep thinking about him, my pillow drenched in my tears. Every alone time was in his thoughts and sadness. Now when I think about him, I smile. He taught me a lot. Whilst I would have loved to have spent the rest of my life with him, he wasn’t the one. He wasn’t my soul mate, and it was a harsh reality I had to face and accept. He was a lesson for me. He was a test which I hope I passed. I understand now why he came and went. God was building me for something better and bigger.

I think it’s important for every couple to go to a marital workshop before marriage or even during their marriage. In our society we don’t interact in a romantic way with the opposite gender and so we have no idea how the other gender behaves. For him, respect was the most important and for me it was making me feel loved and important. We both failed to give each other what we wanted and that slowly broke us down.

For all the men and women out there who are married or about to get married, if you feel you do not understand your spouse or the opposite gender properly, go to a marriage workshop, things are fixable so long as you both are willing to fix it. Hate and bitterness will only eat you up. Try and remember the good and let go of the bad. Be happy with how things are going because everything is going the way God planned and He knows best.


DVAW14 Review

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Features, Reviews | 0 comments


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.[pro-player type=’video’][/pro-player]


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.

Displaying Picture1.jpg

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:

Displaying 1939898_10203412083092109_915548651_n.jpeg


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.


Displaying .facebook_2136824966.jpg


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.

Displaying 1149438_682499311807111_1523989286_o-1.jpg

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.

Displaying IMG-20140324-WA0005.jpg

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.


Celebrating International Women’s day

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in General | 0 comments


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.


Yasmin Mogahed

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.


Rahima Begum

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!


Hanan Chehata

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.



Hurting all over

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Features, General | 0 comments



‘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.’[1]


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.’[2]


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.

[1] Khalida Haque, ‘What Constitutes Domestic Violence?’, SISTERS, http://www.sisters- [2013-03-08]

[2] Jacqueline Rose, ‘Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi and the ugly face of patriarchal power’, The Guardian, [Friday 20 December 2013]