Fed up with abuse, young Muslim activists take back their faith
There isn’t much data showing how prevalent abuse is among Muslim families, but what little we have suggests it’s no different from abuse in any other culture in the United States. Two studies from 1998 and 1999 – apparently the most recent available – place the number of Muslim women suffering physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their spouses between 10 percent and 20 percent. That was lower than the national average of 25 among all women.
But domestic violence cases in all circles are notoriously underreported, according to Salma Abugideiri, co-director of the Peaceful Families Project in Virginia, one of several organizations specifically designed to address abuse in Muslim families.
Most experts agree that power and control lie at the heart of any domestic violence case. For Muslims, the main differences are in the trappings: a complex combination of narrowly interpreted scripture and cultural values that encourage families to stay together – a value shared by most other Western religious traditions as well. Abugideiri said Muslim shelters offer women a safe escape from an abusive situation with people who understand their family-focused culture, whereas a more individualistic, secular shelter might come across as threatening. And there are many stories of survivors who have passed through their doors.
These are not their stories.
These are the stories of young Muslim men who decided to debunk serious misconceptions surrounding their faith and their gender. Drawing on Islam as a source of inspiration, they each created their own avenues to oppose abuse in their communities. They are writers, organizers and entrepreneurs. They are young, they are devout, and they are tired of seeing their religion scapegoated for society’s crimes. Click on the blue links below the photos to see in their own words what they are doing to combat the cycle of domestic violence.