Domestic Violence And The Muslim Community

What is Domestic Violence? 

Domestic violence is a pattern of ongoing hurtful, manipulative, or controlling activities, including physical, sexual, financial, religious, psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse. 

Domestic violence is a taboo subject with disastrous consequences in the Islamic community.  Domestic Violence is not a private matter.  This misunderstanding has not only been perpetuated within certain communities, but it is also widely misunderstood in the Muslim community. It is a crime and shouldn’t happen anywhere or to anyone and we have to talk about it.  As we may know, domestic violence is not specific to a particular religious group; there are one in six women who have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner in their lifetime.

While domestic violence exists in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, the position of Islam on the kind treatment of women is very clear as mentioned in the Quran and exemplified through the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

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A reflection of a Muslim’s good character is the treatment of his wife which is a reflection of his faith.  The Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) character exemplified how one should be good to his wife, how he should smile and not hurt her emotionally or physically, how he should remove anything that will harm her, how he should treat her gently, and be patient with her, how he should communicate effectively with her and also involve her in decision making and support her in times and difficult times.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructs men to be nice to their wives and to treat them well to the best of their ability. A Muslim who is devout should always remember that pleasing his wife is part of his faith and he will earn the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while dealing with her unjustly will only earn God’s anger.

We as Muslims, need to continuously focus on the Islamic position regarding domestic violence which is drawn from the Quran.


The Quran clearly illustrates the relationship between spouses. The Quran says the relationship is based on tranquility, unconditional love, tenderness, protection, encouragement, peace, kindness, comfort, justice, and mercy.

Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), set direct examples of the idea of a marital relationship in his personal life. As there is no clearer prophetic saying about a husband’s responsibility toward his wife than the response that was given by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) which stressed the importance of kindness toward women in his farewell pilgrimage. Abusive behavior towards a woman is forbidden due to the fact that it contradicts the objectives of Islam,  specifically the preservation of life and reason, and the Quranic injunctions of righteousness and kind treatment.

domestic violence,

The Prophet took several measures to end the abuse of women:

  1. He fought abusive behavior in word and deed:
  • The Prophet used his sermons repeatedly to order men to stop abusive behavior towards women.
  • He once called an emergency community meeting to address the issue of men beating their wives, as described above.
  • The Prophet forbade women’s sexual exploitation and harassment, as well as the stalking of women.
  • Women could seek justice and divorce against abusive husbands.
  • Instituted punishment by law for those who falsely accuse women.
  • He prohibited men from stopping their spouses from attending the mosque.
  1. He empowered women:
  • The Quran declared that women have rights similar to men.
  • He established women’s right to inheritance while declaring that they were not obligated to use their personal wealth to assist husbands in covering household expenses.
  • The Quran ordered that women be consulted in family and community affairs.
  • He instituted educational programs for women. Many women became teachers in his lifetime.

What Imams can do today?

Listen to the Community

As an imam, you are the listening post of the community. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you listening?
  • Are you accessible to women in your masjids?
  • Do women know the masjid’s phone number?
  • Do you have a set time available exclusively for women when they can talk to you and discuss issues of concern directly with you in a safe manner?
  1. Learn About the Problem – There are different types of abuse: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and others. Know what types of abuse there are and familiarize yourself with their telltale signs.
  1. Be proactive about domestic violence – Domestic violence is not a private matter between a husband and a wife that should be ignored. Domestic violence can lead to the sister being murdered and the brother being put in jail.
  2. Understand that this is not a personal matter – Domestic violence is not a private matter between a husband and a wife that should be ignored.
  1. Approach domestic violence as you would any social problem – Provide solutions, not just threats of Hellfire to men who abuse.
  1. Know the services available – If your town has a Muslim-run battered women shelter, you are very blessed.

Please do the following:

  •  keep their contact information handy
  • *put their info in the Masjid, Islamic center, or community newsletter
  • *ask your board to support them financially
  • *help them raise funds for their shelter 

If you’re based in the Carolinas, Penny Appeal USA’s Baitul Hemayah Shelter offers:

  • 24-hour crisis hotline (704)763-1773
  • Counseling
  • Safety Planning
  • Referrals
  • Temporary food and housing
  • Employment Assistance and much more
  1.     Be able to assess a crisis and protection plans

Consult a Domestic Violence Counselor about knowing how to assess the level of crisis in a home and help women develop protection plans.  If your masjid is not familiar with this process, please reach out to your local Muslim-run Domestic Violence Shelter.

  1. Prepare your community for zero tolerance

 A Khutba or several sermons on this topic could be structured 

  1. Make Dua

Pray for our neighbors who are suffering from this problem of domestic violence. 

 There is help out there so don’t be afraid of looking for it.  Penny Appeal USA and its staff will listen and help you to decide upon the best course of action.  They will also provide some guidelines to assist you with your own safety, and that of your children.  Be on guard, too, even if you have left your abusive partner since you need to keep alert.

Sa’idah Sudan is the Domestic Violence Project Lead at the first Muslim-run domestic violence shelter by Penny Appeal USA, Charlotte, NC