by Alveena Salim

What would you do if you were subjected to extreme physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by the one who claimed to love you? What would you do if your husband came home one night drunk and abusive? What would you do if he sexually abused you coz you accidentally burnt his shirt?

What would you do if your husband thought it was ok to use you as a punch bag for ten years? Would you accept your fate? Or would you be provoked into hurting your husband the way he hurt you?

These were some of the dilemmas faced by Aishwarya Rai when she played the role of a victim of domestic violence in the film ‘Provoked’. Directed by Jag Mundra, the film is loosely based on a true story.

So what is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is any kind of emotional, mental, physical or sexual abuse within the family. Emotional and mental abuse can include humiliation, blackmail, neglect, false accusations and intimidation. The abuser may also control the victim’s access to money, education, food, clothes, healthcare, and may also deliberately isolate them from their family and friends.

Domestic violence is about controlling someone by instilling fear in them. Often the severe affects of emotional abuse are dismissed, however this form of abuse has serious consequences that can result in low self-esteem, depression, mental breakdown and even suicide.

Domestic violence is more common than you’d think and it isn’t exclusive to any gender, ethnicity or religious background. Statistics show that more than 2 women are killed every week by a violent partner in the UK alone. However much the Muslim community would like to ignore this issue and pretend it doesn’t exist, it’s about time we faced up to it. The Muslim community can’t be in denial any longer. We need to accept that some Muslim women are abused by their Muslim husbands.

So why don’t Muslim women just report domestic violence?

Many Muslim women do not speak out for fear of bringing shame to the family’s ‘izzat’ or honour. The stigma attached to divorce also makes it difficult for women to break out of an abusive relationship. Some women may have been made to believe they are to blame, while a lot of women put up with the abuse for the sake of the children, hoping the husband will one day change and the abuse will stop.

Some victims may not even speak English or do not know how or where to seek help. Also, trust issues prevent them from opening up. Only recently it emerged that some Muslim women feared raising sensitive issues with their GP in case the information somehow got back to their families.

Victims of domestic violence

Sabrina, 26.

From the first time he hit me I knew instantly that things would get a lot worse from that day on. Unlike you see on the TV or hear about, my husband was never apologetic or begged me to forgive him.

He always seemed very satisfied with himself for having ‘put me in my place’. One night after slapping, punching and kicking me he grabbed hold of my throat. It was in that moment when I was choking and struggling to breathe that I realized how bad things had got, and that for the sake of my life I needed to leave him. Over the years he had reduced me to nearly nothing with his controlling and obsessive behaviour and had made me feel worthless.

Coming so close to death, and the fear of realizing that my husband could actually so easily kill me made me for the first time in years actually value my life. I had to admit to myself that my marriage had failed. Out of everything, that was the most difficult and heartbreaking thing ever.

Fatima, 22

The abuse was mainly emotional and mental and had become an everyday part of my marriage. It had started with him restricting which family members and friends I was allowed to be in contact with, but he soon began to dictate my every move. It was as though he was constantly testing my love and respect for him.

In the beginning I always did as he asked me to because I loved him and wanted to make him happy. But then it seemed he wasn’t ever happy with anything I did. It was as though to prove I loved him I had to give up my life to him. He felt that as his wife I was his property, so he could treat me however he wanted, whenever he wanted.

If I didn’t do as he said, he felt I was disrespecting him and would become abusive. I never spoke to anybody about the problems we were having, because I felt so ashamed of how little regard my husband had for me. When my parents realized something was wrong and tried to talk to him, he argued that they had no right over me anymore and he could treat his wife as he wanted. It was on my parents saying that I separated from him.

Shazad Khan, 25,

was unhappy with his marriage because he had been rushed into it, and he soon began kicking and beating his 19-year-old wife. Leeds Crown Court heard that Ms Rani’s injuries, similar to those of a car crash victim and worse than any the Home Office pathologist had seen in his 16-year career, were so severe that she would have been in constant pain and ill for at least three weeks before she died. Khan was convicted for murder and jailed for life.

So what does Islam say about domestic violence?

Islam strongly condemns domestic violence. Abusive men totally disregard the Islamic teachings of kindness, mercy, gentleness and compassion towards their wives and ignore the example of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) who never in his entire life lifted a finger to punish his wives. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:

“The most perfect believer in faith is the one whose character is finest and who is kindest to his wife.” (Tirmidhi and Nasa’i).

The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) also said:

“How can any one of you beat his wife as he might beat a camel, and then expect to embrace her at night?” ( Bukhari and Muslim)

In the Prophet’s Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) last sermon he again reminded men to

“be kind to women – you have rights over your wives and they have rights over you.”

There are many verses in the Quran that make it clear that the relationship between a husband and wife must be of love, affection, kindness and mutual respect:

‘And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.’ (30:21)

What can we do to end domestic violence?

The first thing our Muslim community needs to do is acknowledge this problem exists and understands the reasons behind it.

A lot of Muslims due to cultural reasons, think it’s normal and perfectly within their rights as husbands to beat their wives. Due to their weak faith and lack of Islamic knowledge and Muslim company they don’t know that this abuse is unacceptable. It is also why few women speak out against it. They may have witnessed their father treat their mother in the same way so accept it as a way of life. This is even more so the reason to speak out against this abuse, before their own children learn the same attitude.

Muslim men and women need to improve their knowledge of their own religion so that they are aware of all their rights in Islam. Also, families MUST make sure that their loved ones are safe and happy in their homes. Extended families need to stop covering up and should have a zero tolerance approach towards abuse.

Imams must be protectors of women’s safety and should speak out about this issue in their Friday sermons. Imams should also be prepared to act as a mediator and offer support and counselling to the family if necessary. Mosques should have Muslim female counsellors available to speak to victims of domestic violence. Most mosques, Imams and Muslim organisations fail to provide any sort of shelters Muslim women can go to.

Some Muslims ignorantly believe that Islam gives husbands the right to beat their wives. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said in his last sermon “do not oppress and do not be oppressed”. So NO ONE should put up with any kind of abuse. If you are being abused, don’t lose faith in Allah (swt) and know that He will and DOES hear and answer our prayers. No one can get away with abusing others. Those who oppress others are harshly punished – if not in this world, than definitely in the hereafter.

If life at home becomes unbearable and you feel that you are unable to confide in family, friends, the local Imam or your GP then contact the organisations below. Victims of domestic violence must also be prepared to speak out against their abusers. There should be no shame, embarrassment or cultural stigma attached to speaking out against abuse.

Need Help?

24-hour National Domestic Violence helpline:

Tel: 0808 2000 247

NSPCC Helpline

Tel: 0808 800 5000

NSPCC Asian Helpline - Lines are open 11am - 7pm, Monday to Friday.

Bengali 0800 096 7714
Gujurati: 0800 096 7715
Hindi: 0800 096 7716
Punjabi: 0800 096 7717
Urdu: 0800 096 7718
Asian/English: 0800 096 7719

Muslim Youth Helpline

Tel: 0808 808 2008

The Muslim Women’s Helpline

Tel: 0800 032 7587

SAKINAH (Muslim advice and counselling service)

Tel: 0870 005 3084


i am a member on this site, but wish to remain anon. i don't think the religious side of the argument will hold any weight for muslim men beating their wives. They do not think rationally, especially those who have been doing it a long time. I think it is a mental problem which needs to be dealt with. I am not trying to justify their behaviour. But therapy is needed to alter their thinking so they can deal with their wife and ppl in general without resorting to violence. It will work for some, but others will never change. Islamic advice as beautiful and true as it is will not help these individuals, they need our duas and practical help to change their behaviour.

I think the religious side could work more on women, to empower them to make them realise the superior status women have in Islam, to make them acknowledge their rights, especially if they have always been told in islam it says husbands can beat their wives. They also need therapy because they would have suffered a great deal, and in the process lost their sense of self worth, confidence, independence.

Even today i'm sceptical about these help organisations what can they do for women? Do they provide safe emergency housing? Can they ensure the husband doesn't come busting down the doors at night because this fear factor is what keeps the woman with her abusive husband.

I grew up around domestic violence my mother suffered pretty much same as what i've read in the case studies, except she was fortunate not to die. She remained with her husband. things are different now they both behave like it did not even happen. My siblings suffered the abuse from my father too. Although i was never beaten because i was a girl, my mother did start beating me some time in primary school over the most absurd things i.e home late 5mins?, didn't wash my dish after eating,didn't give my brothers their meals even though they are way older than me?. i was not a wild child, i did pretty much as i was told. point is even my mother denies abusing me. My abuse was nothing compared with what my mother and brothers suffered. Police reports, father in cell for the night. The cell for the night deterred him a bit, and as my brothers grew up he stopped.

Today i have forgiven them, and i am surprisingly close to my mother and i am gentler in my dealings with my dad, but the memories remain. My most haunting memory dad with knife to mothers throat me and my 2 brothers screaming for him not to kill her. Then being rushed off to primary school in time for the bell, like everything was normal.


"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'" - David Cameron, UK Prime Minister. 13 May 2015.

Can I just say how brave I think you've been for going through that hats off to you. The real way to stop these abusive husbands or boyfriends is to A) Instill the values of peace and wisdom at home Dirol To talk rather than fight your problems over C)Get that partner locked up by reporting it, which is unfortunately a long process. Last but not least D: Don't INVITE him back, don't be alone with him, even if it's for just a coffee, things have really gone wrong when that's happened.

“Before death takes away what you are given, give away whatever there is to give.”

Mawlana Jalal ud Din Rumi

So you don't believe in forgiveness?

One thing I do not like about such pieces of domestic violence and more is that it is always portrayed that the woman is the victim.

This is often enough the case and a far majority, but there is a significant minority of cases (maybe even a third) where the opposite was true.

I was reading the other day how in America, while guys were taught not to hit women - sisters/spouses/partners and others, the opposite was not the case and in many cases the girls/women did not even consider it wrong to use violence (and probably also had the expectation that there would be no retaliation because "you just don't hit women".)

I have heard of a case where a guy tried to commit suicide due to how his wife and her family were treating him - as a slave. He hung himself, but was held up by someone else 'til the emergency services got there.

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'" - David Cameron, UK Prime Minister. 13 May 2015.

Is that 'Provoked' a good film?

#Before you look at the thorns of the rose , look at it's beauty. Before you complain about the heat of the sun , enjoy it's light. Before you complain about the blackness of the night, think of it's peace and quiet... #

I mean for me, I don't think a guy really needs to get full on violent with a girl. If a girl starts attacking me, I would block her attacks, but I wouldn't deliver a punch or an elbow. Even a wrist or arm lock should be enough to restrain her.

“Before death takes away what you are given, give away whatever there is to give.”

Mawlana Jalal ud Din Rumi