Domestic violence is any violent or aggressive behavior by one person against another within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. These behaviors, used by one person in a relationship to control the other, occur in many forms; physical violence, verbal violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.
All these acts and behaviors are rationally condemned, but, how does Islam react to this phenomenon and what solutions does it propose?
According to the Islamic teachings, any harm to oneself is either totally forbidden (Haram), or should be avoided and is detestable (Makruh); so is any harm to others .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever hurts others, God will hurt him; and, whoever inflicts pain on others, God will give him pain . That is also true about any kind of domestic violence. Since it causes pain and harm to the victim, domestic violence is also condemned in Islam.
It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) assisted the funeral of Sa'd ibn Ma'ad [i]. He (PBUH) did things during that funeral and respected him so much, that he (PBUH&HP) had never done in any funeral before. He (PBUH&HP) ordered to bath the corpse, and he (PBUH&HP) did the funeral prayer himself. But at the end of the event, he (PBUH&HP) declared that Sa’d is suffering from the pressure in the grave.
People were surprised that how come that someone who has been such dignified by the prophet (PBUH&HP) is suffering from the grave pressure. Prophet (PBUH&HP) explained that Sa’d was bad-tempered towards his family .
In another narration, it is said that the worst of people is the one who is rough to his family ; i.e., whose wife gets frightened and children hide when he arrives home, and they feel relieved when he leaves . On the contrary, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, the closest to the position of the prophet (PBUH&HP) before God is who behaves very well with his family and is the most beneficent to them” .
These examples show that every harsh treatment with the family will be counted and will be paid afterlife. Then, it is clear that any violence, either verbal or physical, is forbidden in Islam and will be punished severely.
Imam Ali (AS) has advised that: “the wife is really like a flower (it is fragile), put up with her in any case and accompany her nicely to have a pleasant life” . It means that contrary to the rumors that Islam has permitted the husband to hit his wife, Islam has ordered to honor her and to treat her kindly; even if he no longer loves her (4:19).
Islamic teachings have always emphasized on the importance of the family and Muslims are advised to toleration in order to maintain the foundation of the family. Hence, in the case of a dispute between a couple, Islam invites to patience: “Whoever remains patient despite the misbehavior of his wife, God will reward him as great as Ayub's [ii] for his affliction.
Likewise, if a woman keeps patience despite the misbehavior of her husband, God will reward her as great as Asiya bint Muzahim (the Pharaoh's wife) [iii] .” .
When it comes to children, special attention is paid to their education. To raise well-behaved children with a good character, Islam forbids any humiliation and violence against them. Imam Ali an-Naqi (AS) said that: “Do not beat the child; just sulk with him, but not for a long time.” .
Although parents might blame their children under some conditions and in certain circumstances, they are warned against too much reproach. Imam Ali (AS) said that: “Excessive blame on anybody will increase the obstinacy.” .
It is notable that a true Muslim should also be tolerant and considerate towards other people as much as he/she is towards his family and relatives. This will be discussed further in another article.
[i] One of the prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
[ii] Prophet Ayub (PBUH) was afflicted by suffering for a lengthy period, but he never lost faith in God and forever called to God in prayer. He (PBUH) is known as the symbol of patience in Islam.
[iii] In the Quran, Asiya is described as the wife of Pharaoh who reigned during the time of Prophet Moses (PBUH). Unlike her husband, she was humble and accepted the faith that prophet Moses (PBUH) preached. She died while being tortured by her husband. In Islam, she is known as one of the greatest women of all time.
- S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9498.
- S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9518.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Ilal Al-Shara'I”, p. 310.
- Al Suyuti, “Jami al-saghir”, vol. 2, p. 77.
- Al-Haythami, “Majma al-Zawa'id”, vol. 8, p. 25.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Uyun akhbar al-Rida”, vol. 2, p. 38.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 37, p. 115.
- Ibn Babawayh, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih", vol. 4, p. 392.
- violence in Family
- Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, T. 4507.
Issues concerning freedom may arouse a special sense of curiosity; they always look appealing and interesting to people. Perhaps it is because freedom has been human beings’ ideal throughout history. Everyone is so interested in the freedom that they have tried to achieve it through any available means. However, freedom is a broad concept with many aspects that are related to all areas of our lives. This essay will refer to one of its effective and fruitful aspects, which is freedom in marriage.
The first step in forming a family is choosing a spouse. Now let’s see Islam's point of view toward freedom of choice in marriage:
"A marriage is not correct and valid unless through freedom of choice."
Such a condition for marriage at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was very strange and caused fright and anger among people since it was in complete contrast with their core beliefs; at that time women were given a very low rank compared with men, and they were considered inferior to them.
To clarify the Islamic model of a free marriage, here are two stories from that time:
A frightened girl came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and while she could hardly breathe, said to him: “…oh, why is my father like this?”
“What has he done?” said the Prophet (PBUH&HP).
“He wants me to marry his nephew without asking my idea about him. I do not love him and how can I marry a person whom I do not love?” said the girl.
“If you do not love him forget about him and marry the one whom you love.” said the Prophet (PBUH&HP) calmly.
The girl was pleased after hearing the Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) words. She said then, “actually, I love him very much and I would not choose anyone else as my future husband instead of him. But since my father did not ask my opinion, I intentionally came here to know your idea. Now that I know what you think, I will tell all the girls that their fathers do not have the right to choose their husbands.”
This woman is one of the thousands who made our history, those poor people who lived in the darkness of ignorance. The story mentioned above is a sample of the situation of women in the era of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had one child named "Fatimah Zahra" (AS). She was so dear to the Prophet (PBUH), and everyone knew that. There were some great men who wished to marry her. One of them was Imam Ali (AS), the first successor of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the leader (Imam) of Muslims.
When he went to the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and asked for his beloved daughter’s hand, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) said that some others came to him for this reason too, and he shared their requests with his daughter, but she respectfully rejected their marriage proposals. “Now, I will deliver your proposal to her,” said our dear Prophet (PBUH&HP). Then, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) informed his beloved daughter about Ali’s (AS) proposal, but this time and unlike her reply to previous proposals, she remained silent as a sign of satisfaction. So the Prophet (PBUH&HP) went to Ali happily and congratulated him on the good news.
The last-mentioned story is a very good example of portraying Islam's approach towards marriage and the importance of freedom in it, regarding the lifestyle of our holy leaders.
Almost all religions have recommended the maintenance of family ties, but in the Islamic family, it has taken to unprecedented heights. Various Qur'anic verses and narrations (Hadiths) have emphasized maintaining the bonds of kinship (called Silatur-Rahim in Islam) and instruct Muslims to be kind, merciful, affectionate and caring towards parents and relatives; even to non-Muslim relatives or to those who are harsh to them. Why has so much importance been given to family ties in Islam? Who are concerned? What consequences does ignoring this important Islamic advice bring about? Here these and many similar questions are answered.
According to definitions with regard to Islamic family, Rahim [i] is anyone who becomes a relative through blood ties with one’s father, mother, uncle, and aunt, or through marriage . And, Silat means kindness and affection. Simply said, Silatur-Rahim means being kind to family and relatives, and keeping a good relationship with them .
Family kinship, with respect to the structure of Islamic family, is of paramount importance and is known to be the fastest-paid prayer. It brings about a quick reward in this world as well as an afterlife reward. Even the members of a family who are all sinful acquire more wealth by maintaining family ties, and their lives will last longer by doing good to each other .
In Surah Nisa it is said: “Be wary of Allah, in whose Name you adjure one another and [of severing ties with] blood relations.” (4:1). In another verse of the Quran, the pledge taken from the Children of Israel that includes worshipping God and being good to relatives is reminded (2:83). Muslims are also told to worship God and be good to parents and the relatives in another verse (4:36). The command to keep family ties right after the instruction of piety and worshipping God in these verses demonstrates that Silatur-Rahim is almost as important as piety in Islam.
In a narration, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that: “I command all the people of my followers (Umma), whether present or not, and those generations which are to come till the Day of Judgement (Qiyama), …, to maintain family kinship even if they live at a distance of a year's journey.” . In another narration, Prophet (PBUH) states that the best of people in morality and behavior are the ones who resume their relationships with a relative who has cut the relation with them .
These verses and narrations about family kinship in the Islamic family together with many other ones illustrate the importance of this matter in Islam.
Being a moral and divine duty over every human being, keeping family ties concerns both faithful and unfaithful relatives. Hence, even if parents and other relatives are not religious, one should respect them and try to fulfill their needs.
Imam Sadiq (AS) was asked about the rights of the relatives over one, he (AS) answered: “If they are of the opposite religious ideas, they have family rights that nothing can stop it; and if they are of the same religious believes, they have two rights: family rights and Islamic rights". When a man asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about how to treat a relative who had harmed and insulted him, the Prophet (PBUH) answered: “Resume your relationship with the one who has broken family bonds with you, grant the one who has deprived you and forgive the one who has harmed you. Whenever you do so, God will protect you against them” .
However, the relationship with unfaithful and irreligious relatives, according to the Islamic family, can be maintained as far as it does not lead to committing an unlawful (Haram) act or disobeying other divine commands, otherwise, keeping family ties with unfaithful relatives is not even allowed .
One might have numerous relatives and need to know who should be visited first or whose rights are more important than others’. The priorities are as follows in Islam: parents (and mother is the priority between them); sisters and brothers; relatives through blood ties (uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.); and, relatives through marriage (in-law family, etc.) .
To indicate the importance of this ranking, Prophet (PBUH) said: “If one gets five loaves of bread, or five dinars or five dates and wants to consume them, the best way is to donate them to parents. Secondly to use them himself and his family, and then giving them to poor relatives. Then donating to poor neighbors and finally voluntarily giving in the way of God; which is least rewarded.” . It means that these five kinds of donations will be all rewarded since they are in obedience to God’s commands and in His way, but voluntary charity (Sadaqah) is less paid .
Imam Hussain (AS) has narrated from Prophet (PBUH) that: “to pay family rights, begin from your own family: first your mother, father, sister, and brother; then other relatives depending on how close they are to you” .
Continues Reading: What Does Islam Say about Maintaining Family Ties: Part 2
[i] Rahim is a word derived from Allah's special quality, Ar-Rahman (The Compassionate One).
- islamic family
- Ibn Babawayh, “Al-Khisal”, p. 124.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 151.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 212.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 157.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 150.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Tasneem Tafsir”, vol. 2, p. 560-561.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 219.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 5, p. 65.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 220.
- Shaykh al-Mufid, “Al-Ikhtisas”, p. 219.