As October, the Domestic Violence Awareness month, has ended and we now approach December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Muslim Canadians reflect on the reality of domestic violence within our own communities, compounded by abhorrent and yet persistent pre-Islamic practices rooted in the misguided notion of restoring family honour.
As Muslims, we base our ethics and behaviour on the teachings of the Quran and the authenticated example of the Prophet Muhammad, who never hit a woman and taught the men that “the best amongst you is he who treats women the best”. The Quran unequivocally emphasizes the sanctity of all life, forbids all forms of coercion in matters of religion, and reminds us all that each of us is accountable for our actions directly to God, the only Judge.
There is no room within these teachings for any person, by virtue of gender or position within the family, to seize control over the life and bodily security of another. Domestic violence and, in the extreme, practices such as killing to “restore family honour” violate clear and non-negotiable Islamic principles, and so we categorically condemn all forms of domestic violence.
We the undersigned declare our commitment to intensify our efforts to eradicate domestic violence from our communities through:
* Working within our community and with other communities to raise awareness of harmful (and sometimes lethal) attitudes that lead to this violence.
* Working within our communities to raise awareness about the serious psychological, judicial, social and religious consequences of such practices, through Friday sermons, public lectures, workshops, and other means.
* Morally opposing the use of the word “honour” when describing such killings to ensure no positive connotation is implied directly or indirectly in connection to such heinous crimes.
* Working with community leaders and Imams in order to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary resources and training so that they can offer mediation, conflict resolution, and domestic violence counselling in a manner that reflects professional standards, contemporary research, and religious scholarship.
* Educating parents and youth about existing resources that can help them deal with intergenerational conflicts and misogynist leanings far before it gets to the point of violent confrontation.
* Teaching parents and youth how to deal with intergenerational conflicts and misogynist leanings.
As a first step, starting immediately and specifically on December 9, we commit ourselves to addressing this issue at all levels, including and especially within our Friday sermons, which must highlight Islamic perspectives on domestic abuse, perspectives that condemn all forms of violence against women and children, most especially threatening, abusing, and killing women in the name of protecting the family’s honour. As Muslims and as Canadians, we stand with all Canadians and pledge to combat domestic violence in all its manifestations, wherever and whenever they arise.