HARTFORD – There are many misconceptions about Islam, including the idea that Muslim men are allowed to beat and dominate their wives.
The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut took a stand against that fallacy Saturday night as it focused on harmony in the home for its fourth annual leadership banquet.
“A home should be a place of tranquility and security,” said Aida Mansoor, banquet chair.
Before presenting leadership awards to two community peacemakers, Salma Abugideiri of Peaceful Families Project, and Imam Muhammad Ansari of Open Hearth, local attorney Refai Arifin took a few moments to speak about domestic violence.
He began by reading Quran 30:21, “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”
Marriage, Arifin said, is the foundation of love and mercy and said the Muslim community has a duty to stand up for harmony in the home. Domestic violence, he added, stems from the irrational need for one to dominate and control another person.
In Hartford, one in three aggravated assaults are acts of domestic violence.
Arifin also noted that in a Muslim marriage husband and wife must work as a team. He said the notion that men are allowed to be in command of their wives is another misconception about Islam. The Quran says that men should be responsible for their wives, which Arifin says means that men should simply care for their families.
“Unfortunately this is one verse used by abusers to justify their actions,” he said. “Islam teaches that all human beings are given inherent dignity. When one violates that person’s dignity, they’ve committed something against God himself, they’ve committed something that is spiritually devoid of any meaning.”
He closed by encouraging Muslims to reach out to victims of domestic violence and to be aware of its frequency throughout the state.
House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden), said that in 2008 there were 20,000 acts of domestic violence that resulted in arrest in Connecticut. He has created a domestic violence task force, which is focusing on three things – education, services and law. Because of the task force efforts, domestic violence shelters in the state are now open 24 hours, seven days a week and victims can flee to safety without having to worry about repercussions from their landlords. And, he said, one’s history of domestic violence can now follow them into the courtroom.
“We are serious about this,” he said. “This is a crime of hate and our community is opposed to it.”
With that, the Coalition recognized Abugideiri and Ansari for their efforts in the community.
Abugideiri is the co-director of Peaceful Families Project, which his an organization dedicated to educating Muslims about domestic violence. She recently co-authored, What Islam Says about Domestic Violence.
Ansari is the executive director of Open Hearth, which is a non-profit organization that provides counseling services and re-entry into society for emancipated adults, ex offenders, drug abuse users and products of domestic violence. He has worked for the organization since 1981 and says he feels God obligates man to be a servant to humanity.
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