Heated Discussion around Domestic Violence Awareness

It was a chilly day outside for the third installment of KARAMAH’s annual series of “Love Like the Prophet: Ending Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities.” KARAMAH’s Executive Director Aisha Rahman faced a full room at the Islamic Society of greater Washington Area, introducing the impressive lineup of speakers. Ms. Rahman shared the stage with Dr. Zainab Alwani of KARAMAH and Howard University School of Divinity, and Marium Durrani, the staff attorney at KARAMAH.

The event began with Ms. Rahman sharing her experiences growing up surrounded by a positive, loving set of parents. She shared stories of her work as a litigator in a small town where she was surprised at the number of domestic violence cases in the local Muslim community. As a result of her experiences, her mission at KARAMAH is to focus on prevention while providing services to those who need immediate help. As the third event in the domestic violence awareness series, KARAMAH sought to educate the community on the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) and his lifelong commitment to love and mercy.

To provide this scholarly position, KARAMAH invited its own Dr. Zainab Alwani to the stage. Dr. Alwani set the stage of the Prophetic model by focusing on his character both before and after he received revelation. She couched her remarks in the fact that the Prophet was already ahead of his time, marrying Khadija (RA) who was his boss and who proposed marriage to him. At a time when women were not commonly in the marketplace or the job force, the Prophet did not suffer from machismo that would keep him from working for a woman. Then, after the Qur’an was revealed to him, he implemented the concepts of justice and mercy in his intimate relationships and with his daughters, to whom he showed special attention and affection. Dr. Alwani challenged the community: “If we say we are following the Sunnah of the Prophet, what does that really mean?” Dr. Alwani provoked the community to think about the challenge of culture. Early in her remarks, she asked the community to “name one positive aspect of culture that we as Muslims are known for and one aspect of culture that we are known for that is negative.” During the interactive discussion, Dr. Alwani elaborated on the broad Islamic concepts of justice, mercy, and for knowing one another. With this overview, she delved further into gender relations and understanding the Qur’an. Dr. Alwani has dedicated much time and study to these issues and how Islam views domestic violence and the Prophetic model. Dr. Alwani was adamant about the need for each of us to have more of a relationship with the Qur’an and Prophet’s sunnah. “We need to stop imposing our own beliefs on the Qur’an, and look for the answer God gives,” she said, “rather than the answer you’re look for.” Later she shared that, “Allah defined concepts in Qur’an and allows people to use their own judgment on how to treat one another.” She invoked the community to use their judgment, their knowledge of the Qur’an, and the prophetic model when dealing with their families. Dr. Alwani concluded with a call to action: if any one person in the community is aware of an injustice being done, they have a duty and an obligation to do something about it.

To close, KARAMAH’s staff attorney, Marium Durrani, spoke about the direct legal services that KARAMAH provides. “Our clients are primarily, but not exclusively, Muslim. We are partnered with Asian Pacific Island Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP) and represent clients from the DC/Maryland/Virginia areas.”

If you want more information about KARAMAH’s work or direct services, call our offices at: 202.234.7302.

We look forward to continue the conversation with our last event at Busboys & Poets next Wednesday, October 29. Join us.

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