Saturday, February 15, 2014


Five years ago, Muzzammil Hussain, beheaded his wife, Aasiya Zubair.

Earlier this week, I received an email from a dear Muslim sister, wanting to know my thoughts.  All I could do was cry.  And cry. And cry.

I can't believe it has been 5 years. I can't believe that 5 years later, nothing has changed for any woman around the world.

I can't believe that it is still so raw; that it still hurts so much.

And knowing as someone who converted to Islam nearly 20 years ago the amount if rabid Islamophobia that still invades the West, I knew perhaps more intimately than some, what likely prevented her from getting the help she needed so desperately.

Any woman reporting rape, abuse, or any sort of violence knows that no one is likely to believe you or help you.  As these last weeks have shown us with the Dylan Farrow case, even white women from wealthy families can't get the help - or even respect - that they deserve when they tell their stories.  

I have a very vivid memory from my early years as a feminist, newly married to a Muslim man. I had a workplace accident that resulted in me being smacked in the face and knocked to the ground. I went to the emergency room with my manager to receive stitches and an exam.  I still have the scar above my right eye, somewhat hidden by my eyebrows.  I had a black eye for nearly a week.

In my young vigor, I attended my women's studies class that evening anyway.  I was immediately surrounded by women whose very first assumption was that my beloved husband had beat the shit out of me.

Even my dear grandmother, would often ask me right in the middle of an otherwise good phone conversation: "Is he beating you yet?"

That pattern continued throughout our marriage, despite the fact that he is one of the best men I have ever known - one of my biggest supporters even to this day.

This was the man who continued to take care of my grandparents until their death, despite the fact that we had divorced 10 years earlier.  Yes, they grew to love him, but perhaps it took the marriage falling apart for them to recognize just how good a man he truly was. 

My local Muslim community works actively with our local police department to educate them on cultural differences and break barriers. I am extremely proud of that fact.

But here is what hurts: the assumption that Muslim men are somehow more savage; more abusive.

Abuse happens in every community in the world.  It is not a Muslim problem. It is not an Eastern or Western Problem. It is a man problem.  

Abuse is founded on patriarchy.  

And while I know this is the case, I also know that because of the stigma of being Muslim, many women do not get the help they need in Western countries.  They do not want to go outside of their community for help.  And, sometimes, their own communities do not want to be further scandalized by abuse.

This is why initiatives such as Dar al Islam's Project Sakina to combat family violence within the Muslim-Ameircan community are so important.  Muslim women need to be supported by other women to find solutions within their own communities.  

Until Islamophobia is a thing of the past, I don't believe we can get to the root of this issue.

It is still a collective stab on our collective consciousness to think about another mother being killed by her own husband.  5 years later, it still hurts just as much.

So today, I stand with my Muslim sisters and allies throughout the world and say: NO MORE.

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