Prince George's County Muslim Council Holds Domestic Abuse and Violence Forum

Domestic Abuse Forum

 

 

 

“The true believers, both men and women, are protectors of one another. They enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and establish salah (prayer) and pay zakah (charity) and obey Allah and His Messenger. It is they whom Allah will have his mercy; Surely, Allah is Mighty and Wise".  Suratul At-Tawbah (The Repentance) 9, Ayah 71.

“And of His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may find comfort with them; and He placed love and mercy for each other in your hearts; surely there are signs in this for those who give thought.” Suratul Ar-Rum (The Romans) 30, Ayah 21.

 

Domestic abuse/violence (also spousal abuse, battering, family violence and intimate partner violence) is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a marriage or family. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including spiritual, physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that may result in disfigurement or death. Although, men, women and children can be victims of domestic abuse/violence, 85% of victims in the United States are women. Unfortunately, the Muslim community is included in this statistic.

On Saturday, November 22, 2014, the Prince Georgeís County Muslim Council (PGCMC) Daíwah Committee sponsored a forum on Domestic Abuse/Violence at the Prince Georgeís Muslim Association (PGMA) in Lanham, Maryland. Brother Dr. Hakim Rashid, Professor of Human Development at Howard University, the forumís moderator introduced Brother Jameel Aalim-Johnson, President PGCMC, who provided a brief explanation of the organization and the purpose of our forum today. The forum focused on providing a broad understanding of issues related to domestic abuse/violence, and what we in Muslim communities can do to address this problem.

 Before introducing the panelist, Dr. Rashid provided an overview of some of the cultural factors involved in domestic abuse/violence. The need to look at the issue from an ìauthentic insiderî perspective was stressed, a perspective that requires ìreflection, critique, analysis and dialogueî, as opposed to continually examining the problem through a Western cultural lens. Dr. Rashid also compared the characteristics of the perpetrator of domestic abuse/violence to the historical colonizers in terms of practices such as the use of multiple forms of violence, control of economic resources and control of the female image.

Brother Dr. Maher Kharma, an Occupational Therapist, provided both a definition and statistical overview of the problem of domestic abuse/violence. Defining domestic abuse/violence as ìa relationship between intimate partners in which one individual seeks to assert power and control over the otherî, Dr. Kharma went on to discuss a survey of Muslim community leaders that concluded approximately 10% of Muslim women have experienced abuse. He also described types of abuse which included physical, verbal/nonverbal, sexual, economic and spiritual abuse, as well as stalking and cyberstalking. Dr. Kharma concluded his presentation with suggestions for solutions that included victims knowing their rights and responsibilities, seeking counseling, keeping a diary of events, learning about healthy relationships and seeking guidance from the Qurían. He also noted one community in Philadelphia that publicly identifies abusers and refuses to endorse their future marriages.

 Sister Asma Hanif, Founder and Executive Director, Muslimat Al Nisaa, a safe haven for homeless Muslim women and children located in Baltimore, MD, provided a poignant reality check of the effects of domestic abuse/violence in our community. "Domestic violence affects people regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sexual and gender identity, religious affiliation, age, immigration status, and ability. Because Muslim women victims of domestic violence may experience the abuse in culturally and religiously specific ways, we as service providers should consider their religious and cultural background and the unique issues faced by the victim in order to tailor services to best meet their needs.  Muslimat Al Nisaaís goal is to provide not just 'shelter' but also culturally competent services.  Understanding the specific culture, language, social, economic and religious nuances of particular individuals and families allows Muslimat Al Nisaa to be respectful of their diversity and capable of addressing their basic human needs in a way that they might achieve optimal success.  I reference Dr. Ingrid Mattson, my Professor and Mentor who stated that, ìwhen establishing services for individuals based on their needs, one cannot do so without first inviting them to the tableî.  This is exactly what is meant by being culturally competent.  A culturally competent ëshelterí for Muslim women victims of domestic violence can only be actualized through the identification of the cultural and societal influences that impact disparities related to domestic violence in the Muslim community.  It is only with the input of those victimized can we truly determine the requirements necessary for policy development and establish evidence based practices for culturally specific domestic violence shelter providers and social service professionals.  Neglecting to understand and manage social and cultural differences, failing to conduct community assessments and resident/victim feedback  and ignoring the need to incorporate evidence based standards may have negative consequences for minority victims in general and Muslim women victims of domestic violence in particular."

Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington (ISWA) located in Silver Spring, MD provided the Islamic perspective of domestic abuse/violence according to the Qurían and Sunnah. He advised the audience that domestic abuse/violence is unacceptable and is contrary to our beliefs as Muslims. He also discussed his long history and involvement with domestic abuse/violence. Imam Khan has been working for over 30 years with families in crisis in the Muslim community. He has made a long term commitment to eradicating domestic abuse/violence in the Muslim community and has a comprehensive program in place at his masjid to address the issue. Additionally, Imam Khan is on the board of Muslimat Al Nisaa and has received numerous awards for his work with domestic abuse/violence. He realizes that the Muslim community is in crisis with this issue and is willing to work with local Imams to establish a program at their masjid

Sister Ameedah Rashid, a Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, gave a presentation on the impact of domestic abuse/violence on children. Sister Ameedah noted that 3-10 million children witness domestic violence in America each year, and that the degree of trauma children experience depends on the age of the child, the severity, length and frequency of the domestic abuse/violence. While infants may experience developmental delays and failure to thrive, school age children are likely to experience psychological effects such as depression, anger and cognitive delays, behavioral effects such as aggression and self-destructiveness, and physical effects such as head/stomach aches, insomnia and bedwetting. She also noted that children exposed to domestic abuse/violence are at higher risk of child abuse and neglect, and also chronic physical, emotional, and mental health challenges. They also demonstrate increased academic difficulties, along with challenges in relationships and job performance as adults. In her conclusion, Sister Ameedah noted that the authoritarian family structure, in which fathers are the ultimate authority, can be particularly problematic in cases of domestic abuse/violence.

Sister Nisa Muhammad, Founder and Executive Director, Wedded Bliss Foundation, a community-based organization helping couples create healthy marriages. Sister Nisa emphasized that ìas a community we have a responsibility to help couples be successful in their marriages. Don't turn a deaf ear or blind eye to the suffering many of us know couples experience. We need effective strategies to build strong loving healthy relationships in our marriages in the Muslim community. You have to make the commitment to love, honor and cherish your spouse at all times, good and bad. Couples have to seek out resources to strengthen their most important relationship. Patience, kindness and love for your spouse are important attributes towards achieving wedded bliss. Many of us need to learn the skills to be excellent husbands and wivesî. Wedded Bliss Foundation offers classes for couples to learn the skills to be successful in their marriages according to the Sunnah of our dear Prophet (PBUH).

Imam Bilal Ali, Program Director of Millati Islami (The Path of Peace), a 12-Step recovery program for persons that experience problems associated with addiction. The steps and traditions of Millati Islami are based upon Islamic principles. Imam Bilal discussed his experience with domestic abuse/violence in the Muslim community and through his work with Millati Islami. He stated that domestic abuse/violence can be a kind of addiction; as an addiction is a state defined by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. A person may be addicted to domestic abuse/violence to obtain a sense of dominance and superiority and gain or maintain power and control over their spouse. The Muslim community is greatly in need of intervention programs to assist marriages that are experiencing this difficulty. Imam Bilal is also utilizing his work with Millati Islami to educate program participants and assist them with conquering this issue as well.

Brother Anu Kemet, Attorney provided insight to the judicial processes in Prince Georgeís County and the state of Maryland in relation to domestic abuse/violence cases. Brother Anu informed the attendees that once the matter has reached his level of involvement that court orders or a criminal action is warranted. He stated that the Muslim community needs to be proactive in prevention and intervention of domestic abuse/violence cases to prevent involvement with the criminal justice system. He also emphasized that the legal systemís definition of what constitutes abuse may be different from the communityís comprehension.

Imam Talib Abdus Samad, Executive Director and Deputy Imam of Islamic Research and Humanitarian Services Center of America (IRHSCA) in Capital Heights, MD, discussed the importance of Imams seriously listening to sistersí complaints about spousal abuse and not just telling them to go home and pray to Allah for guidance. Imams must realize that responding to the situation in this manner may cause greater harm to the sister and her children. The immediate remedy may be to find a safe place for the sister and her children until further intervention can be done. Imams need to seek conflict resolution training to obtain knowledge of the proper manner to handle domestic abuse/violence issues in their communities. Families in conflict need intervention prior to the situation escalating to the abusive stage. As a community, we must address this issue and can no longer sweep it ìunder the rugî.

Domestic Abuse/Violence information pamphlets from Prince George's County Office of Domestic Violence were available for forum attendees that provided information about the services available to county residents. For additional information please contact Jackie Rhone, Director, Prince Georgeís County Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking at 301-265-8423 or their website at http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/sites/family/Resources/domestic-violence.

To learn more about the work of Prince George's County Muslim Council visit www.pgcmc.org and/or https://www.facebook.com/pgcmcorg.

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commented 2015-09-03 23:04:18 -0400 · Flag
I’m in utter shock and disbelief that this woman, Asma Hanif, is being portrayed as a Domestic Violence Queen when I know for a FACT that she’s more like a Domestic Violence Demon. I witnessed her REVICTIMIZE women who experienced domestic violence and somehow she has fooled so many people into giving her more money. It’s disgusting what she has gotten away with.

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