I have to say that as a man it is shocking to find out that someone you know well and consider an otherwise decent person has abused his wife, physically or psychologically.
When you hear it for the first time, the image of that male appears in your mind. You picture yourself meeting him, shaking his hands, talking with him, perhaps even enjoying a meal with him.
You might even have images of him praying or reciting the Quran or delivering a lecture or sermon. You remember that you had a positive impression of him.
But then you struggle to make sense of it. You wonder whether all you saw was a front, or whether he must have suffered a temporary loss of control.
OK, no one is perfect and we all have our weaknesses. I myself have many character flaws but…
You ask yourself whether the abuse was a one-off in an uncontrollable fit of anger, or whether that is who he really is.
You begin to doubt your ability to judge people. “But I thought I knew him?” you keep asking yourself.
One of the most surprising things I saw in prison was the number of males that were in prison for injuring or killing their wives or girlfriends.
Most of these prisoners were white English males, not Muslim. But there were also some Muslims.
I use the word “male” because in my opinion a man ceases to be a man the moment he raises his hand at a woman.
When I was in HM Prison Manchester I saw Rahan Arshad, a Pakistani taxi driver from Manchester who in 2006 battered his wife and three children, Adam (11), Abbas (8) and Henna (6), to death with a rounders bat.
After killing their mother, one by one he brought the three sleeping children downstairs where he battered their heads with the bat until he killed them.
At HM Prison Manchester I was on the high-security Category A unit but Arshad was on a separate unit, the VP (Vulnerable Prisoner) unit which houses rapists, paedophiles and rats (informers).
The prison service considers them “vulnerable” to attack by other prisoners and so they are kept on separate units where they have no contact with mainstream prisoners. They only have contact with each other.
When I was in HM Prison Long Lartin I saw Mahmod Mahmod, a Kurdish man from Mitcham, south London who, along with his brother in 2006, supervised the two-hour long rape, torture and slow death of his own 20-year old daughter Banaz Mahmod in a so-called “honour killing.”
Mahmod was also held in a Vulnerable Prisoner unit but I used to see him in the corner of the prisoner-family visits hall.
He would always be holding in his hand a “tasbeeh” rosary bead that the devout use to remember Allah. The shocking thing was that he just looked like an ordinary guy.
Once our eyes met for a brief moment. Mahmod nodded and smiled at me. I turned my face away.
Having been aware of what he had done, to his own daughter, I couldn’t bring myself to acknowledge him.
And long before I went to prison, I grew up seeing women with black eyes and fractured arms in my own local community.
Thankfully, most white men and most Muslim men do not beat their wives.
No God or religion or culture abuses women.
It is “men” who abuse women.
“Men” of all colours, religions, educational backgrounds and cultures.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the most perfect example of a man, a husband, a father… that the world has ever known or ever will know.
He never raised a finger at any woman, let alone abuse her physically or psychologically.
He once told a story, in only two sentences, that is devastating not just to a male that abuses a woman, but to any individual that oppresses any human or creature.
So whether you are a male that abuses his wife, a father that abuses his children, an employer that abuses his workers, a mother-in-law that abuses her daughter-in-law, a police officer who abuses members of the public, or anyone else… please reflect on this short story.
Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (pbuh) once said:
“A woman entered the Hell Fire because of a cat. She tied it up, she didn’t feed it and nor did she leave it free to feed upon the vermin of the earth.” [Al-Bukhari, hadith number 3140]
Some reports say that the woman in question was otherwise a “pious” and “good” person.
In this hadith there is no mention of any good that the woman might have done in her life. And for sure, she must have done some good in her life, because all people do at least some good in their lives.
But these details are not mentioned in the hadith, perhaps because they are irrelevant?
No-one is perfect but you cannot be a good, pious person and torture a creation of Allah at the same time.
It takes a certain evil mindset to abuse or torture someone, and then continue to abuse and torture that person even after you see the pain that it causes them.
The police officer who continued to slide steel handcuffs along my forearm bones for 30 minutes, long after I was screaming in pain like an animal, was evil. There are no other words to describe him.
So all the good deeds of a woman were nullified and she was thrown into the Hell Fire because of what she did to a cat. A cat?!
What then of a male who abuses his own wife, the mother of his children? Or a mother-in-law who abuses her daughter-in-law? For years and years and years and years.
Are their prayers and fasting and charity and recitation of the Quran going to save them if they continues to torture those closest to them?
If you are reading this and you abuse or have abused someone, then you still have hope. It is still not too late.
Stop the abuse. Now. Apologise to your victim(s). Compensate your victim(s). Seek help with a friend or someone to help you address your insecurities and anger issues.
And once you have begged forgiveness from your victim(s), beg forgiveness from Allah because you also abused Him when you abused a beautiful thing that He created.
Why do you think “men” abuse women? Have you ever found out that someone you know happens to be a wife-beater? Share your thoughts below.
You can read my story of why I was in prison here.
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