She sat across from me crying into her hands.
I rubbed her back trying to console her. The more I rubbed the longer her sobs became.
“I juu-usst need to be patient.” Her eyeliner was starting to smear.
She needed support. She needed a friend, not someone to scold her and ask why she stuck around so long with a man who was abusive, even while they were courting.
She ignored the signs. Her silence gave him the idea that she accepted the way he was treating her.
But now, she’d had enough and was prepared to leave, infant in hand. She said her perspective changed once she had a daughter. But he refused to let her divorce him. To make matters worse, his Imam encouraged her to stay even though she was being both physically and verbally abused.
She found herself in a situation many women from all walks of life have found themselves.
Young, scared and alone.
She was told to be “patient,” that Allah loves those of us who persevere when put in trials and tribulations, that she would surely have a special place in heaven for being such an obedient wife.
I shook my head in disapproval every time she repeated those words. I thought she said them just to make herself believe that there was some truth to it. Many women who have never been abused automatically believe that they would confront an abusive husband, never allow him to get away with it. I remind myself and others to steer away from such harsh judgment of our abused sisters. There is a physiological component of abuse that must be catered to very gently.
At first she listened to her husband. Tried her best to please him and not make him upset.
It worked for a little while but then the vicious cycle of name calling and hitting would start all over. She would then pay a visit to their Imam and he would send her back home to him. Again.
Then one day it dawned on me. As Muslims, specifically women, we have the tendency to confuse patience with oppression. There is a very fine line. Having your Islamic rights denied or looked over is never acceptable. You are not being patient. If you silently stick around you are quietly approving of such behavior. You deserve to be treated with love and kindness.
Many Muslim men are very adamant about ensuring that their rights are upheld within a relationship (including sexual rights and the right to practice polygyny). As Muslim women, it’s crucial that we understand our rights as mandated in Islam. This serves as a protection – Allah knows us better than we know ourselves. As Maya Angelou says, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” For examples, if a brother is trying to persuade you to omit your mahr (a vital component in Islamic marriages) take caution. If he loves Allah he will ensure that your rights are upheld.
Many Muslims pretend as though issues of abuse don’t exist. Even the vague mention of it will send people into a frenzy because it puts Muslims in a “bad light”. As a result of this “bad light” we ignore serious issues within our community. As long as abusive men are not held accountable for their behavior, and misguided Imams refuse to properly address it, we will continue to have the cycle of abuse. Far too many of these abusive men jump from marriage to marriage only to leave a dark path of destruction.
Abuse is never acceptable in any way or form, be it physical or verbal. If you are a woman who is victim of abuse, I encourage you to seek help. And if you are the friend of a sister being abused don’t scold or judge her. She needs you. You might be her only, or even last, means of support.
This post was originally featured on Love, InshAllah: Fresh Prespectives on Love
8 thoughts on “Patience vs. Oppression”
Subhan’Allah, sis….I cannot explain how mysteriously on time this post came. You might just save a heart right now dear sister! Through inspiration from Allah swt of course. He knows exactly when somebody out there needs support and clarity so here you are, writing this post just on time. Mash’Allah sis, know this and know that Allah swt just made you His tool to spread love and understanding,but Allah hu alim (Allah knows best).
The past month, I’ve come in touch with a sister who is EXACTLY in this situation. She endured in ways that most normal ppl wouldn’t. And that, in the fragile state of pregnancy. Her husband called her abnormal and I said to her “Yes indeed, you are abnormal in the best sense possible because you endured things no “normal” person would put up with”. Basically, the sister reached out to her husband with utmost love and even apologised and hugged him when in fact HE had wronged her! :O She was also the target of clear racism from his family, yet tried to reach out with respect time and time again. She thought she’d have sabr/patience and their hearts would recognise her love/respect. But unfortunately, this world often works like “Taking kindness for weakness”.
So sister, please accept my utmost duaas and sisterly love to you, for writing such an on point post and so VERY VERY relevant. Mash’Allah, everything you write is so RIGHT on point. Like you’re sitting in the midst of your sisters around the world! ❤ No matter where we are, the States, Europe or Asia….you always hit a home run :). I just pray that Allah swt blesses your life with true love and anything you wish for, amen. Please never stop writing! Your words/thoughts are SO very warming, supporting and downright true! Big hug and sincere duaas to you!
P.S I'm about to send this post to the sister in question. Also, I wish you could become a shaykha :). I'd attend each and every lecture of yours! D.S
As a guy. I will admit I have a hard time not immediately trying to provide a solution to the problem with a situation like this. Lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on is difficult with out the added commentary of this is what she should or should not do.
However, I must admit to this. If she is willing to leave with the infant in hand. She is indeed a brave person. Everyone fears being alone. In my opinion since some girls have been turned out in ‘ islamic’ marriages. the idea of a divorcee being relationship material has dropped favor in the eyes of many Muslims within my community. To have an imam willing to allow abuse over safety speaks to the mindset of her community.
So facing those three major challenges, a community who will most likely not be supportive, an imam who is clearly unsupportive and being alone, ALL while having an infant is well superhuman.
Since Allah puts on a soul only a burden that he/she can bear, she must be a powerful sister indeed.
Thanks for stopping by to check out my blog. I always appreciate the commentary of brothas. Yes, she is indeed brave. This situation is a difficult one and sadly many women (including Muslim) find themselves stuck. I agree that many women have been “turned out” in marriages and its time for Muslims to call out the Imams who hide behind this fake version of Islam they are preaching.
Fahmi Islam Jones. Subhanallah!! I strongly believe that the Husbands and Imams, who does this and allow this are cowards. The Men in the Ummah must stand up and be accountable. This type of nonsense has been going on to long and need to be addressed. No one is bigger than Qur’an and Sunnah I don’t care who they think they are. This is so SAD!! Alhumdulillah! May Allah give OUR Sister’s the strength and courage to move forward, and May Allah bless them with good loving & caring Husbands!!!!
There is a new webinar series, through practimate about Muslim divorce that will give insight on how to find the right partner and get over divorce, very insightful
I’ve been meaning to check it out. Thank you!
Beautiful as always. Your writing tends to leave me in a calm and contemplative state of mind. Thank you and keep up the phenomenal work.
Thanks for reading! ❤