In light of recent domestic abuse cases, in this week’s blog I want to share a diary entry I wrote last October. The name of the sister has been changed but the events are very true – toned down if anything.
It was 9:30 in the morning. Asiya and I bumped into one another in Morrison’s. A quick morning school run – shop, turned into a catch up over fish & chips and hot chocolate; not my breakfast of choice, but a craving Asiya had been having for weeks during lockdown.
After some pleasantries of conversation, Asiya started to delve into the pain that sat so openly on her sleeve. My throat was swelling and not allowing the food down. The food looked fresh and smelt good, yet my brain was sending signals of disgust, sadness and anger which was preventing me from raising a chip to my mouth.
Her face was bright, smooth and clean, yet her eyes tired, worn out and sad. An enigma? No. It was that all too familiar large smile accompanied by sad eyes. I always say, ‘the greater the smile, the greater the pain it hides.’
Asiya became a Muslim in her early 20s. After fleeing for her life from a violent, abusive husband (not Muslim), she took her three children to safety and began a new life as a Muslim. Disowned, ostracised, ridiculed and shunned by her family, she was left entirely on her own. She married soon after, believing a Muslim husband would provide her with all the Islamic responsibilities the Qur’an and sunnah teach. Yet what was to unfold was a secret first wife, anger issues, neglect, being used for intercourse and the list goes on.
“He [Muslim husband] ripped my niqab off in the street and threw a few punches. A couple of weeks later I knew my baby had gone. I could feel it. It had died inside me. I rang the midwife to tell her and they agreed to scan me. I didn’t tell him; there was just no point. Soon after, I was alone in hospital giving birth to my 6 month-old dead baby. My mother-in-law was sending me nasty messages even then.”
As Asiya continued to describe events to me, I tried to imagine her life: ‘”I was lying beaten on the kitchen floor unconscious. My 6-year-old daughter dialled 999, saving my life…my family never asked about me…he never gives me my rights, his mum treats me like rubbish, in the bedroom all he wants …” I can’t bear the scene. I tightly close my eyes, take a deep breath, and open them. “I work five days a week to financially support my children, alone.”
In my mind I see my friend cooking for her eight children, I see her doing the school runs and I see her alone reflecting upon the absence of family. I recall her recent WhatsApp status yearning for her father. Her father. It touches a deep wound within me. I need to stop listening. I will cry. I will break down. I cut in abruptly,
“How do you do it Asiya?” I asked with these words, but she understood my question actually was – “How do you not give up? How are you not drowning in stress and depression?” I think I was annoyed with her for allowing all this to happen. Frustrated.
I looked straight into her eyes, desperate for some hope, something that told me she was alright, something that told me I would be alright.
She looked straight back into my eyes, paused for what felt like forever, then said,
“Allah made us survivors Haniya. He made us survivors.”
I stared as her eyes suddenly beamed. From every angle light shone from her. Her smile was beautifully wide, her eyes beautifully beaming. In perfect harmony. I saw pride, she was proud to be Muslim. She didn’t have to say the words. I could see her justice and hope was with Allah. I could see it in her eyes and her smile.
Now I saw a woman who never let her deen down, who clung to Allah swt. I saw a strong Muslim woman.
“Allah made us survivors” I smiled. I ate some chips.
By no means do I endorse putting up with any form of domestic violence.
There is a narration that a group of women (some say up to 70) approached the Prophet peace be upon him, to complain about their husbands beating them. He immediately called an emergency meeting to address the issue. This shows the severity of such cases and the need for the community to act. We learn that it’s clearly permissible for women to discuss these problem and that violence should never be kept hidden. The Prophet (peace be upon him) respected women to a high degree. In fact, he was known for his excellent conduct with him family: “The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.”
A man who abuses his wife is violating the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Our Prophet, according to his wife Aisha ra, did not strike a servant or a woman, and he never struck anything with his hand. (Muslim). He was a man of mercy, gentleness and compassion. He said, “How does any one of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then sleeps with her at night?” (Bukhari)
For the sisters who are suffering, know that Allah swt is watching over you. He swt is making note of every pain and ache you feel on your body, in your heart and your mind that never rests. Allah swt is Al Adl – the most Just. Every action will be accounted for and given its right in the hereafter.
We are all tested in this dunya, even once accepting Islam, Allah swt will continue to test us so we continually turn to Him. You may have sabr through this particular test and know what works best for you, or you may see that tests and sabr come in the form of standing up to oppression and removing yourself from it. Either way, I am certain Allah swt is the best Wali and the best guardian for you. He is your relief and the One who will open doors. I urge you to forever hold on to your salah and trust that Allah swt will grant your ease.
Asiya is an incredible woman. She has much happiness and much stress and understanding that this world is temporary, she marches on collecting good deeds along the way. She has very close friends that support her, children that protect her and her Lord that soothes her heart. I showed this piece to her and her words were “Can’t believe you thought my life worthy of this, may we be neighbours and sisters in Islam forever, Ameen.” – jazakillahukhayr my very desi friend, chai and samosa at yours soon!
May Allah swt grant you all gardens and palaces of eternal peace, Ameen.