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Mosques across Georgia united last month to deliver Jum’ah khutbas (sermons) about the problem of domestic violence. The khutba drive was inspired by the Islamic Social Services of America’s Healthy Marriage Initiative, which calls for a zero tolerance policy against domestic abuse.
Zahra Murtaza, executive director of the Muslim Wellness Foundation Atlanta, collaborated with Bait ul Salam, the only Muslim based organization that focuses on domestic abuse in Atlanta’s Muslim community, to organize the local initiative. Together, they contacted numerous mosques and MSAs, asking each to deliver a khutba (religion sermon) about the issue of domestic violence.
Although most contacted mosques and Muslim Student Associations participated, Murtaza said, organizers met some resistance.
Many Imams worried they were not qualified to address the issue in a khutba. For this reason, organizers created a domestic violence toolkit to assist participating mosques and MSAs.
Hadayai Majeed, the founder of Bait ul Salam, recalls a time when it was very difficult for the community to address the topic of domestic violence.
“We are in denial, a lot of us, [thinking] that we are in a place we are not,” Majeed said, pointing to the fact that Muslims also struggle with domestic violence.
Majeed, voted among the 100 Influential Georgia Muslims by the Islamic Speakers Bureau, said that she knows all too well the prevalence of domestic violence, as her organization receives around 12-14 calls a week in regards such abuse, mostly from women. Three of the calls have also come from men in 2015.
Majeed said she also sometimes receives calls from abusive men who need help. She refers them to Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence, an advocacy group that work in connection with Bait ul Salam before becoming its own organization in 2008.
Although all participating imams argued that there is no place for domestic violence in Islam, the question of verse 4:34 remains--specifically, how Muslims should understand a verse that allows for men, in certain circumstances, to “idriboo” their wives, which is translated as "strike" or "hit" by most Quran translators.
Most imams tackle the verse by explaining it to mean a tap. Some see it as a practice that was so common that, in order for it to stop, steps were implemented so that men never got to that point.
Imam Sulaimaan Hamed of Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam addressed the verse during his Friday khutba. He stressed that to understand how to live the Quranic verses, Muslims should look to the life of the walking Quran, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who never laid a finger on his wives.
Although this may be a great way of putting the verse in context, it still by no means addresses the actual verse or the need for a husband to discipline his wife in the first place.
As Hadayia Majeed says, there is still a long way to go, but we are making strides and that is what is important.
Local Muslims should also be on the lookout for a training for imams about domestic violence in the near future.
Participating mosques and MSAs included:
Atlanta Masjid al-Islam
West End Islamic Center
Roswell Community Masjid (RCM)
Masjid Bilal (Jonesboro)
Islamic Center of Athens
Georgia Islamic Institute
Gwinnett Islamic Circle (GIC) - Suwanee Musalla
Georgia State University MSA
Georgia Tech MSA
AUC (Spelman and Morehouse) MSAs
Active volunteers who contacted mosques included Hadayai Majeed, Taryn Siddiq, Ameedah Abdullah, Matib Ahmed, Asma Elhuni, Jibraan Mubeen, Amna Malik, Samina Sattar, Zahra Murtaza, Maliha Arman, Nasim Omar, Omer Kamal, Yahya Saeed, Ahmad Salim, Amin Tomeh, Amr Omar.
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