Detroit News Faith and Policy
Domestic violence sends wakeup call to save families
March 20, 2007
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi
Shocking stories of domestic violence -- including the recent killing of Tara Grant, allegedly by her husband, who is presumed innocent awaiting trial -- have become a wake-up call for our nation to stand up to find an effective treatment for this dangerous disease.
Family is meant to be a union of true love, loyalty, comfort and cooperation and not a center of pain, punishment, injustice and irresponsibility.
The culture of "Me, Myself and I" influenced by materialism and individualism has challenged the balance between man and woman in the family and promoted a lifestyle of selfishness, greed and domestic disharmony.
The feminist liberation movements gave women more status and rights, yet not more family happiness and stability. The divorce rate has increased, while the marital rate has declined and one-third of first births are out of wedlock.
In our three Abrahamic religious traditions, the family is the center of the society. It's impossible to have a happy, healthy and strong community without stable households.
Family values such as love, respect, sympathy, fairness, and trust strengthen society. The Quran says "protect your family from the hell fire" -- that is, to make your home a heaven of harmony and save it from the hell of hatred and other evils.
Marriage is a divine covenant between a man and a woman. Prophet Mohammad advised that piety, modesty and intellect must come before the glitter of worldly attractions in marriage. When marriage is based on the foundation of faith and the spouses feel the presence of the Lord in their life, they remain connected in good times and bad. Domestic violence is unheard of in the households of our prophets and within their faithful followers.
Being superficial in choosing a partner, followed by an expensive wedding party paid for by credit card or a mortgage, can be the first step toward stress and domestic problems. Our faith traditions encourage simplicity and humbleness as a key to comfort and domestic peace.
Although traditionally the husband is more responsible in leading and supporting the family, both spouses are equal in the sight of God. Man and woman compliment one another. No one is more or less important.
Examining the relationship between husband and wife the Quran says, "They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them" (2-187). We care for our clothes and keep them clean and that is how an intimate, caring and confidential marital relationship should be.
The prophet said, "When you love someone say it and remember that your wife would never forget those three words! I love you." Another passage says "live honorably or separate honorably," 65-2.
We need more reasonable, gender-neutral laws in dealing with divorce cases. If you don't like to live with you wife or husband, separate with respect and fairness, not taunts and selfishness.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom