Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Words Will Never Be Enough

After seeing all the statuses being shared by mashaayikh and ustaadhs about domestic violence - all of which are deeply appreciated - and related discussions about divorce, a woman's right to khul', and so on, what has really been weighing on my mind is the ease with which we speak about the technicalities - e.g. "No woman should ever be abused; abuse is a valid reason for a woman to seek and receive divorce" - and the continuing difficulty to actually implement those legal rulings.

Muslim women across the world, whether in the East or the West, face an incredibly difficult challenge in having their right to khul' even acknowledged, let alone respected. Woman after woman has been turned back by imams and shaykhs who 'mean well' and 'don't want to break up families' and are told, "sister, be patient; sister, your reward is with Allah; sister, don't be hasty."

Few of those women know that the Shari'ah has given them provision to escape such a tormented existence; of those who do know, many of them are told by the men in authority, those of 'knowledge,' that they - as women - do not understand that "marriage is serious," "a family is serious," and that "you cannot just interpret Islamic law as you wish."

And then we wonder why women run away from home, we wonder why Muslim women seek divorce through secular courts instead of through Islamic provisions, we wonder why so many women find solace in the progressive Muslim movement, where such statements are not tolerated.

I'm not going to claim that all such leaders or imams are misogynstic or hateful of women at heart.
What I am saying is that the majority of them will simply never know or understand the emotional, psychological, and physical torture that women endure in their marriages.
What I am saying is that a lack of pro-active female scholarship, and a lack of direct influence from those women, is part of the problem that the mantra of "have patience, sister" remains the go-to advice for women who show up at the Imam's office bruised and battered, both outwardly and inwardly.

What I am saying is that just as men tell us women that we can never understand the fitnah of women, so too can they never understand the fitnah of being a woman, of being marginalized, of being silenced; of being told that we will never truly understand Islam, that we are incapable of understanding our own God-given rights, that unless we obey the status quo, no matter how many degrees or ijaazas we have, we will never be knowledgeable enough to be taken seriously, to be given our rights unless there is a man standing in front of us and speaking for us and who is willing to fight for us every step of the way.

This Ummah has failed its women. This Ummah, and its leaders, its students of knowledge, its scholars - many of whom are men - has failed its women. This Ummah prefers to treat the incident of Thabit ibn Qays and his wife as an aberration or an isolated incident, rather than evidence for a woman to leave a marriage she cannot tolerate. This Ummah prefers that its women are tortured and die at the hands of those who have been enjoined with Qawwamah, those who have been entrusted with a serious Amaanah, those whom we should be able to trust wholeheartedly, not live in terror of.

O Allah, You are the One Who hears the du'a of the oppressed.
O Allah, You are the One Who tests those Whom You love.
O Allah, You are the One Who is All-Knowing, All-Wise, Most Just.

O Allah, grant this Ummah, men and women, Taqwa that we may not abuse the authority You have entrusted with.
O Allah, grant this Ummah, men and women, the courage to speak and stand and fight for the truth.
O Allah, grant this Ummah, men and women, the ability to fight against oppression and injustice and to spread justice in the land.
O Allah, grant this Ummah, men and women, the ability to implement your Divine Laws in the most beautiful and perfect of ways, that no man, woman, or child suffer oppression in Your Name.

Rabbanaa, taqabbal du'a.


Anonymous said...

Ameen. Thanks for this post, sister. There's also a high probability for abusers to abuse children, statistically, so unfortunately these imams turning away women in the name of their children aren't particularly informed either, which is why imams should receive some "secular" education, in my opinion. (I'm not even sure where the divisions in knowledge came from.) So they can speak to the reality of their congregations. But I'm sorry to digress. Did this discussion take place on Twitter? It would be heartening to read.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

I had to deal with this issue for a friend recently.... everyone kept turning down her request for divorce... all the imams. Finally, the Islamic court in Oman (ibadhi though not sunni like we are) honoured the request for khul....

What a long, long horrible affair.

And if a man was really dangerous and abusive... it would have taken far too long.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why women don't just leave if they have the means to. for example, here is South Africa, some women don't really take Islam seriously when it comes to say, hijab, or whatever, but when it comes to leaving an abuser, somehow they just HAVE to get that piece of paper from the judicial body. If Allah knows your condition...

Anonymous said...

It is very difficult to leave an abuser, due to various factors, not least of which is often financial dependence, but abusers also often have diminished the self esteem of their partners until they're convinced they deserve such treatment. If you are curious to learn more about that and other reasons, I recommend taking a look at the WhyIStayed articles around the web.