Information primarily taken from the seminar at: http://almadinainstitute.org/seminars/the-scars-you-dont-see-how-to-stop-abuse-before-its-too-late/
Abuse can be physical which is obvious by the scars and injuries but the subtle and more damaging in the long run is the emotional abuse. Allah forbids both kinds of abuse. Prophet Muhammad was a living example of a life devoid of both kinds of abuses.
Emotional abuse is not permitted in Islam as commanded by Allah in the Quran (see ayahs from Surah Hujaraat below)
Islamic perspective: we should not inflict harm on anyone for any reason; we should follow the example of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. The only time when he inflicted pain was in battle when Muslims were being harmed or threatened.
Most people are unaware of our own faults of emotional abuse:
[49:11] Yusuf Ali
O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former)
When we make fun of others it is because we think they are inferior to us in some way and that may be coming from arrogance, which allows them to laugh at others.
49:11 nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other,
Defaming is the beginning and may end with ghiabah.
49:11 Nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames:
You may call someone lazy; slob or a jerk and we may say it without thinking of the effect on others. Allah is naming each of these behaviors and prohibiting them. These are harmful to others and to us as it is feeding our ego and inflating our arrogance.
49:11Ill seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.
[49:12] Yusuf Ali
O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it… But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
These are all forms of emotional abuse check yourself first!
Are we guilty of such behavior or are we victims of such behavior?
THE EFFECT ON CHILDREN: are children witnessing this behavior if they are witnessing violence physical emotional or verbal, children are afraid, and usually blame themselves. Especially if it is related to the child, something that the abused parent did nor did not do, or about events that lead to the failure of the child’s performance in school of hifz etc.
Sometimes in the heat of the abuse between two parents the children intervene and sometimes even stand between the parents, particularly boys. Sometimes teenage boys may fight back, in trying to protect the mother from the abusive father.
Most teenagers in youth jails are from such events
In the Middle East women in the jails are one who after a long period of abuse could not take it any more and have resisted the abuse by trying to hurt or kill the abusive husband. (Movie: The burning bed is based on that).
Ques: what do we do if our kids don’t listen to us? Then we have to discipline them by threatening them and spouses also e.g. how do I make my wife do what I want her to do, such as wear hijab etc.
ANSWER: Here we have to look at the Prophetic model. He was such a radical change agent, he changed people who were steeped in sin and violence these were people who would bury their girls alive and cover them with dirt while they were crying.
Prophet Muhammad pbuh changed these people so much that these very people who were so cruel have become such beautiful people that they have been promised jannah.
What did he do?
It was the way that he simply lived Islam by being a good model. He always responded to people in such a good manner that it shook people, through his model he affected change it is also very difficult and needs a lot of sabr and taqwa and commitment to adopt the lifestyle of the Sunnah of the Prophet.
Allah tells us in the Quran that he gives us a choice and he tells us the consequences of each choice.
We have been given us this free will, this is makes us Ashraf al Makhlokaat.
He says even in religion there is no compulsion “la iqraaha fid deen”
The Prophet affected a lot of change but he could not get some of the people close to him to change Allah tells him “your job is to convey not convince”
Allah also says you are not going to be able to guide people only Allah will guide.
It is very hard to see someone close to you making bad choices it could be major bad choices and some minor bad choices.
We do not have the right to control others even our children. If we force people they will push back. If you get into a power struggle with your kid he may outlast you in resistance and then you may resort to name-calling and then abuse.
The secret is to accept. To know that the only thing I can do is to control myself.
We have to accept the decision-making abilities of another individual, which is age appropriate. Don’t expect a baby or teen to make adult decisions.
Give your children choices limited choices as long as both options are acceptable to you. You can also start to train children by allowing them to make choices and you have to respect their preferences.
In your home you should already limit what they can choose such as x rated or violent TV channels etc. Consequences of opposition by the children should not fall under abuse.
What are the tell tale signs of abuse in a family?
Does your child feel intimidated by you, does your child flinch. Does the child avoid the other parent? That they will be put down?
Then there is some abusive behavior happening there.
It is very difficult if you are living in fear to protect your children.
You have to look around you and become aware of what is happening around you and its effect on your child. If not such children have severe trust issues, anxiety, and depression, even PTSD. They have relationship problems, as they grow older.
They learn that in these relationships one is either a victim or an abuser. They may play the opposite role, or play both roles. It is a vicious cycle and can be passed down from generation to generation as they copy that model.
This will go on unless someone says I choose not be in a relationship where I am mistreated (or has deep emaan in the word of Allah and will get out the circumstances to remain true to Allah)
ISSUE: If you have been mistreated as a child, emotional verbal or physical or sexual abuse and you grow up and we have clear teachings about how to treat our parents with BIR (utmost good) thus such a child is wary of this parent because he has all these memories of abuse by that parent and the parent denies that he ever mistreated this child. How do I fulfill my responsibility as a Muslim to my parents, as I am struggling with trust issues and the fallout of the abuse, as a child and I don’t know how I can stand this as an adult?
This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Scholars.
Half of the people in a community have suffered abuse.
One solution is to know that there are different ways we can be respectful and have such a respectful relationship at the distance, a polite but not close relationship.
- Question: Husband is narcissistic, and is abusive emotionally. Should counseling be directed to both items or only to the abusive behavior?
Answer: The counselor is the one to assess, diagnose and decide how to bring it into the counseling. Most counselors will not label and will focus on change of behavior and coach people how to treat each other in a healthy way. Sometimes people do not know a healthy way. A lot of times people resort to abusive behavior when they feel helpless or cannot get results.
- Question: Some people become more religious and apply religious edict to use abuse and is a control tactic.
Answer: We know that violence is not permitted in Islam and Prophet Muhammad pbuh who was described, as a living Quran never committed violence in his life. The ayah which is most abused in this respect by both an inadequate translation and inappropriate explanation is 4:34 Some men say if the wife disobeys any wish of his this is nashooz and feel obliged to beat their wife.
Nashooz: is defined as when the integrity of the marriage is being threatened: e.g. wife may be engaging with men in a way that is threatening to the marriage and men can also engage in nashooz. Three steps, third step is interpreted in many ways, regardless of how it is interpreted, even the scholars who take the words it literally say it may be ‘tapping and in no way is violence. In case of domestic violence they are applying violence without the steps. The Prophet had marriage problems; he never raised his hand or his voice.
What every Muslim must do is to educate themselves about Islam so if someone tells us that abuse is permitted
Hadith says: a Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands another Muslim is safe”
- Question: Are men victim of domestic violence and how can men respond to that.
Answer: usually men are exposed to emotional and verbal abuse. Do women put down their husbands or yell at them? One needs to say this is not acceptable. We need an elder or Imam to intervene and learn new ways of interacting.
- Question: How does the economy affect domestic violence? How can the family economic pressure cause abuse or how does one shield it from that.
Answer: Poverty does not cause domestic violence. We know a large part of the world lives under the poverty level and are not abusive in their domestic life.
However we must use spiritual resources when one is under pressure. Refer to the ayahs that tell us that Allah is going to test us with our money and with our children etc. and improve our connection with him. We should surround ourselves with people who will remind us of Allah.
Violence goes up when economy is bad, as people do not have good coping skills.
Question: why do abused people stay with the abusers or return to the abuser.
The abusee may love the abuser as they may have married them for good qualities, and especially when you have kids, or people are pressured by a parent or an imam or they do not have anywhere opt go and all the backlash that happens to a woman who leaves her marriage. When a person exits the relationship, then the abuser does not have control anymore then the violence can get worse as he loses control and may physically come after her and or may threaten to have her deported.
- Do abusers have a potential sign at the time of choosing a spouse?
Answer: Warning signs and characteristics:
You can’t always know:
- Take your time to get to the know the person in a variety of circumstances, and how he treats others, at home, at work, with his mother and sister and other women? Does he give orders, is he the jealous type or blames someone else for happenings.
- Young women may perceive abusive behavior as love as he wants to know where I am who my friends are and wants to track my where abouts: that is a red flag.
- If the person who has grown up in an abusive home he is at higher risk then do premarital counseling where a professional is helping to assess if this person is leaning towards abuse.
- If the person has injured someone or has ever injured an animal has a high-risk for abuse
- Trust your gut, if you feel he is not a safe person get a third persons opinion.
- If a person feels he is a controlling and feel thing will change after marriage that is not so.
- Do abusers change: Yes all can change e.g. Umar ibn Khattab. How can we know if people can change?
- First step is to admit that one recognize the symptoms and
- Recognize that we have a choice and go up to the person one is controlling and admit and promise to change
- And increase our spiritual practices.
- Get professional help.
Please forgive me for mistakes, may Allah accept.