Friday Sermon Series: The Scourge of Domestic Violence

In the Name of the Beautiful, Compassionate, and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

I have been blessed to give the sermon during Friday prayer services from time to time. I will reproduce them here and include them on a new web page seen above. I gave this sermon after a Muslim woman was beheaded by her husband in 2011. 


We praise God, the Almighty, the Precious Beloved. All praise is due to Him. We seek refuge in the Lord from the evil tendencies of our selves and from the evil of our actions. We bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except God alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is God's Messenger and Servant.

Whomever God guides can never be misguided. Yet, whosoever God leaves to stray can never be guided aright except by His leave. We ask the Precious Beloved to send down His Mercy, His Prayers, and His blessings upon Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), upon his family, his companions, and the Muslims everywhere. Amen.

By now, everyone has heard of the truly outrageous and barbaric murder of Sister Aasiya Zubair, the estranged wife of the CEO of Bridges TV, who was found brutally beheaded in the offices of that TV station. Allegedly, her husband has confessed to her murder, and the incident has sent shockwaves all throughout the Muslim community in America.

Of course, the haters of Islam and Muslims are all over this, claiming that this is expected from Islam and Muslims. That contention is completely false. Domestic violence is a problem that transcends race, culture, color, and religion. It is a scourge that contaminates every society and socioeconomic status. It is a stain on the human condition, and to blame Islam for it is totally unfair.

Nevertheless, it is irrefutable that there is a big problem with domestic violence in the Muslim community. Refusing to say so in the interest of "not saying anything bad about Muslims" will not make it go away. It is, in fact, treason to the Muslim community, as one of the first things one must do in order to cure a disease is to recognize that the ailment exists in the first place. Denial is deadly.

The brutal and barbaric murder of sister Aasiya is a wake up call to our community that something must be done about domestic violence, and it must be done now. And it is a horrific state of affairs that such a brutal event had to take place in order to jolt the Muslim community into action.

Let us reflect over what marriage is supposed to be about. True, it is the vehicle through which sexual desire is legally satisfied. But that is a very small part of marriage. To get married is to enter into a contract with another human being to form the unit through which society is strengthened and the next generation is nurtured. The family unit is sacrosanct in Islam, and this sanctity begins with marriage.

And in the Qur'an, the images of marriage are ones of peace, harmony, love, and tranquility. In chapter 30, verse 21, it says: And among His signs is this: that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]: verily in that are signs for those who reflect.

God describes it as a sign, or miracle, that He gave us mates from among ourselves. The Arabic word of the verse is taskunu: meaning a place where someone feels at "home," as the word for home, sakan, comes from the same root word.

In another verse, the Qur'an describes spouses thus: They are your garments, and you are their garments. (2:187) What does a garment do? It protects one from the elements of heat and cold; it hides the faults that are hidden below the garment; it covers what should not be seen by others; and it also adorns and makes the wearer beautiful. That is the perfect description of what spouses do for one another.

Domestic violence and spousal abuse completely destroys that Qur'anic standard of love, mercy, tranquility, and protection. It betrays everything for which Islam calls in a marriage. It is blatant disobedience to God Almighty.

What does one try to accomplish by abusing his or her spouse? Achieving power? Achieving domination over another human being? Are they trying to enslave another human being? Why abuse one's spouse? What logical explanation can there be?

There is no logical explanation. Spousal abuse - whether mental or physical - is totally and wholly unacceptable. Period. End of discussion.

Power lies only with the All-Powerful: All power belongs to God, and to His Messenger, and to those who believe... (63:8) True power does not come from dominating your spouse. No! True power comes from believing in God, being from among the believers, and following His commands and those of His Messenger (pbuh).

To those who abuse their spouses: Are you better than the Messenger of God (pbuh)? Do you think the advice of the Beloved Prophet (pbuh) was not worthy enough? Was his example not shining enough?

The Prophet (pbuh) said in a hadith: "Could any of you beat his wife as he would beat a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?" In another hadith, he said: "Do not beat the female servants of God." The Prophet (pbuh) never beat or struck any of his wives or children. It never happened. Is this not a good enough example for all of us?

Indeed, there will arise disputes among husband and wife. Yet, no matter how difficult the dispute may be, physical violence can never, ever, ever be an option. Never.

All of this that we discussed is on an individual level - between husband and wife. On a community level, we must get extremely serious about the issue of domestic violence. There must be zero tolerance for domestic violence. If any sister comes forward and claims to be in fear for her life at home, she must be take with the utmost of seriousness. She must be supported, protected, and the claim must be investigated.

There is no shame upon them if they come forward and report abuse, and they must not be made to feel ashamed. Our imams and community leaders must not tell the sisters to "be patient" with an abusive husband. Our communities must establish strong ties with social service organizations that help the victims of spousal abuse, and there are several excellent such organizations right here in Chicago as well as across the country.

We must teach our children, especially our young men, that to be a "man" does not mean beating one's wife into submission. That is not a measure of strength, but rather profound and pathetic weakness. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "The strong man is not one who can wrestle someone to the ground. Rather, the strong man is the one who can control himself when he gets angry." We all must heed this Prophetic wisdom.

If we know that a man is an abuser, he must not be allowed to marry again and continue the cycle of abuse. Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali of the ADAMS center in Virginia first made that call, and I echo it. Sister Aasiya was the third wife of her accused killer, and the two other women filed for divorce because of spousal abuse. How could this be? It does not matter who the man is; if he is a abuser, and does not want to change, then he should not be allowed to marry. Period.

My heart bleeds for the family of sister Aasiya. My heart bleeds for this terrible tragedy. My heart bleeds for the countless other women - Muslim and otherwise - who endure terror at home at the hands of those who should be their best and closest companions.

And my heart burns with rage at those who think that beating their wives is sanctioned by our beautiful faith. They are terribly mistaken. Islam does nothing of the sort, and God does not accept this terrible behavior. Neither should the Muslim community.

Wake up, Muslim community! Wake up! There must never be another Aasiya Zubair. There must never be another instance of an "honor killing." Nay, from this day forward, there must never be another spouse who goes home to a place where she does not feel safe. As Muslims, who are accountable before God on the Day of Judgment, we must eradicate the stain that is domestic violence from our community, once and for all.


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    I totally agree with you that violence is NEVER acceptable unless, I would argue, it's used for self defence. Men who hit women are cowards and I have no respect for them whatsoever. And indeed, ppl can b violent no matter where they're from or what their religion is. However, it does look like the Quran allows it as a last resort...i'm sorry to say, but if you deny this then you're in denial. I mean, it's nice that you're advocating against domestic violence and that you're trying to defend your religion since it's something dear to you, however, you are not telling the whole truth. I'm not a Muslim but I've started reading the Quran just out of curiousity, so that I could come to my own conclusions. It says that if the wife is not obedient, admonish her, then refuse to have sex with her and last, beat her (lightly). Beat her lightly?? Why would Muslim apologetics even feel like they have to add the word "lightly" in there? Because they know how bad and wrong it sounds so they are trying to make it look better but the message is clear, no matter how much you try to embellish it or sugar-coat it.
    Qur'an (4:34) - "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
    This is one translation and it may not be the greatest but I've read many different ones and the words they use whether it's hitting, beating or beating lightly etc, they all refer to basically the same thing...a form of physical violence towards the woman. I've had Arab Muslim friends that speak Arabic (obviously) translate it for me, and they admitted there's no denying it. Can you explain? I wonder what excuses you are going to come up with because I've seen all sorts and they sound pathetic. If God truly disapproves of such behaviours (while knowing that ppl tend to be inherently violent), how come it's given as a solution in the Quran?? I'm not surprised you didn't cite this verse in your article, of course you wouldn't. You just picked the ones that sound nice to prove your point and that might do it if the person that reads it hasn't actually read the Quran, but denying it doesn't help. This is one of the most controversial verses so you should have addressed it. I honestly don't understand how women can look at that verse and accept it. Not only the beating part but also the part where the wife has to obey her husband. That's also pretty pathetic. There is no reason why she would have to, she is not a little kid and she can make her own decisions as an adult and shouldn't have to obey her husband. If she's disobedient towards God, then it's up to IT to punish her. What the husband should do if he is really not satisfied is he should just leave her. He is only a human being too and makes mistakes just like she does. This verse should be banned from the Quran, it should be taken out, it's a horrible verse!

  • In reply to Gabriela Maier:

    Thanks for your comment. I subscribe to the alternate interpretation of the verse, which says, "then leave them...". This is in Laleh Bakhtiar's commentary on the Quran, and it is quite convincing. I would check out that interpretation. But, the explanation of this would have taken a long amount of space. Hope this helps.

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    In reply to Hesham Hassaballa:

    Ah well...this explains everything. No need to say more. So you are picking and choosing..choosing the interpretations that don't sound SO bad...of course. To me it's pretty straight forward..I take it at face value...whatever is said there...couldn't be clearer. And I always come to the same conclusion: it's immoral. If God rly thinks its message to be so important, then it should not be so open to interpretation, for ppl can just twist it and "interpret it" whichever way fits their lifestyle and views. Some ppl interpret it as "leaving her or beating her lightly" hahaha...beating her lightly..that's a good one, while others take it literally and say it's ok to beat their wives. They justify it with the Quran because it's in there! I NEVER see anything on how the men should be punished if they cheat or if their wife has any suspicions. It's always about how the wife should be beaten and dress modestly as to not possibly attract other males attention and make her husband jealous and hurt his ego. I still fail to see why women are blamed for men's insecurities, why women have to sacrifice and wear some ugly rags...while men can get away with wearing anything. If a man can't control himself when seeing a sexy woman, than he should not go out..or walk around blindfolded to avoid about that? Men want women covered because they are insecure and selfish...they don't want to feel threatened, while they themselves, can dress however they want and have 4 wives. Talk about hypocrisy.

  • In reply to Gabriela Maier:

    I'm assuming you're Christian because you capitalized "God." If you're not, then feel free to disregard this. If you are, then I would like you to answer your own questions. Only substitue "Bible" for "Qu'ran" Here are some great examples to show you how hypocritical your critique of the Muslim faith is in your post.

    Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

    I could go on, but I think you get the point.

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    In reply to jewilson919:

    Assuming that i'm Christian because I capitalized "God"'s kind of silly...

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    I'm not Christian...i'm an agnostic..leanin towards atheism. I only capitalized God to sound more formal I guess. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don't. Yes I was baptised Christian but I stopped believing a long time ago. I don't defend Christianity because I know it's just as bad as Islam and Judaism. Reading some of the verses in the Bible makes me shudder..and same with the Quran. I have not read the Torah but I've read about the religion a bit. They are all the same to me...if you go to the roots. The only reason I focused on Islam here is because his article makes reference to Islam so I stuck to it.

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