The fact that “man” referred to “human” throughout history and woman is considered a second category has been one of the greatest tests of our adventure on earth. One of the significant functions of revelation is to eliminate inequalities and discriminations and to declare equality of man and woman in humanity.
I do not want to digress from the topic talking about violation of women’s rights all over the world. However, while in Muslim countries hundreds of women are killed every year, young girls are harassed and females in all ages face violence, can Muslims still say this has nothing to do with us? Can they say Islam gave all the rights to women, and so it is someone else’s problem? How do the morals of the Prophet relate to the religious leaders who considered the fine and gentle nature of the women as weakness and concluded that they are convenient for violence and oppression, and even wrote booklets regarding how and to what extent women should be beaten? How detached is it from the basic principles of Islam to see the most powerful state of a woman –pregnancy and motherhood- as a state of weakness and to easily put her under pressure? What kind of fear is it to spread the idea that we should doubt the intelligence of a woman and limit her existence into her gender identity while many families would certainly fall apart and life would dysfunction without the woman’s contribution?
“The best of you are those who are best to your women.”
"The most evil of the people to Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the man who consorts with his wife and then publicizes her secret."
"Whoever does not show mercy to the people, Allah will not show mercy to him."
“A Muslim is he from whose hand and tongue the Muslims are safe.”
The fact that Aisha, the one who is closest to the Prophet (pbuh), testified that “He did not beat anyone –neither a slave nor a woman- other than in war” is the biggest proof that the Prophet himself applied his words into his life.
The practice of violence against women is inherited from the time of jahiliyya (ignorance) into our times. Let us remember the attitude of the Prophet (pbuh) here. Upon the complaint of Jamila bint Abdullah, who is beaten by her husband and whose arm was broken, the Prophet (pbuh) sent her directly to her family’s house without even asking the reason of the beating. This way he prevented many future challenges. If he had cared the reason of the violence, one could have offered many justifications. Even today, innumerable researches are being carried out for the root cause of violence. We should note that, for whatever reason, the Prophet did not send Jamila back into her house saying that those things happen within the family life.
The experience of the son of Umar, Abdullah, is also noteworthy. A lenient, easy-going natured companion as he was, he said that they refrained from saying anything against their wives in the time of the Prophet, for the fear that an ayah would be revealed concerning them. It was only after the passing of the Prophet that they could say what they wanted and they could behave in a more relaxed manner.
In developing such attitudes of jahiliyya, the role of the women who raise the men is a research topic in and of itself. I am a witness of a young man’s consistency of attending the congregational prayer in the mosque while beating his wife with an excuse almost on a daily basis. The aged mother of that young man picked on my daughter who was playing in the basketball field of the apartment building. She reproved us saying that the basketball fields are for boys and that girls should play at home. That is why it is no surprise when each time the daughter-in-law leaves the house it turns into a family crisis.
In the 2nd International Family Conference with the theme “family and violence” (Istanbul, 2012), Hadith Professor Dr. I. Hakki Ünal addressed, in a scrupulous and appropriate language, the families who sign the death warrant of their daughters on account of their honor.
“It is one of the cruelest examples of domestic violence that some young girls of our society are subject to be victims of murder under the disguise of restoring their honor following a sexual abuse they willingly or unwillingly took part in. According to our religion, all who participate in this verdict of murder, which is usually given by the approval of the family council, are murderers. That is because the one who is forcibly victimized is someone to be protected by everybody, particularly by the family.”
According to Ünal, if the girl faced an unwanted circumstance due to her own mistake, the mistake is still hers; She will face the consequences and can ask for forgiveness of Allah if she is of age. If she is younger than puberty, the elders of the family give advice and warn her. In both cases, the family has no authority to punish her. The religion of Islam states that each individual is responsible for their own deeds and (as mentioned in Surah An’am 6/164) no soul bears the blame of another. As to the faults of the children, what is essential in the first place is the self-questioning of the parents.
Women and men are the two halves of one whole, completing one another.
“You have rights over your women and your women have rights over you.”
“Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission.”
To these hadith we can add this ayah as well:
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy.” (Rum 30/21)
The hadith and the ayahs mentioned here are only some of many that should be remembered.
We should have a clear understanding of the term "trust" in the process of purifying the family from violence as suggests the mindset shift that started with our Prophet. The concept of "trust" that the Prophet used when referring to the wife indicates mercy and friendship as opposed to domination and possession like a property. In terms of protection and care, in sickness and in health, the man is also entrusted to the woman. The concept of trust refers to the mutual feeling of embracement by both man and woman without consuming or abusing one another. If this beautiful mutuality is viewed in a coarseness like possessing and imposing all sorts of authority upon, it totally misses the intended meaning.
Violence towards women sickens the entire family and makes the biggest obstacle for raising healthy individuals. We can find countless researches pointing out the terrible impacts of the experience of helpless children who witness verbal or physical violence on every occasion and learn to solve problems with violence. It is also a learned behavior and a pitiful thing to enforce what you want and expect a result through uncontrolled anger and violence.
There are social, psychological, economic and regional reasons and ways of analysis for violence, and they are all being explored. However, religious teachings and approaches are also an important factor that influences the subconscious. What is clear is that our Lord who says that He decreed mercy on Himself cannot be expected to consent to violence:
"And when those come to you who believe in Our verses, say, "Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does wrong out of ignorance and then repents after that and corrects himself - indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful." (An’am 6/54)