There is no issue in the Muslim community that is more serious and more of a problem to the short and long term success of the community than that of marriage. Family is the foundation of the Muslim community and a marriage is the foundation of the family and if our marriages are failing, and our divorce rates are soaring to a point that if a brother has been married less than 5 times he is considered pious, then we have a problem.I have chastised and been critical in the past of the failure of the Muslim community to address the problem of marriage in a serious way and be real. It angered me when I attended conferences where all they talked about was Palestine when our families and homes were in a state of crisis right here in America. The problem had been known to all but ignored on the organizational and national level, perhaps because it may have been seen as too hard to deal with, or perhaps because addressing it in a real way would mean airing dirty laundry and calling some of those pimps posing as imams that have been married more times than Dick Cheney has tried to hype the threat of Iran and Saddam.
Therefore, it was extremely gratifying to me and others I spoke with, to see the issue of marriage and all of the problems that come along with that in the Muslim community in America, being addressed in a very frank manner and the sisters brought it all out and the brothers responded in a cordial and constructive way.
One of the issues that was brought up most often in this discussion that was hosted by Sheikh Anwar Muhaimin and two sisters I did not get the names of was the issue of domestic violence (with many sisters adding in verbal and emotional abuse to that equation) and what is the appropriate response of the community to this issue and how do we develop a plan of action on this matter.
Sisters told of either being abused themselves, or of friends and relatives being abused, and the local imam or masjid doing nothing to help them and often taking the side of the brother. Others told the story of masajid playing a very active role in the defense of the sisters and having a set protocol, often physically intervening in such situations, and examining the pluses and minuses of this approach. In this regard it was one brother who I think made the best point when he said “we need to get rid of this street mentality once we are in the deen of not snitching and going to the police…if a sister is being abused she should call the police…if she calls the masjid and the brothers come over to handle the situation that brother may call the police on them and make the situation worse.”