Sabr

Sabr or patience is something I often struggle with. Not because I am always impatient but because I struggle with how people define it and as a result what they say people should do in situations that require you to be patient.

Yes patience means that we endure the hardship without complaining about why you have been put through this, it’s a test from Allah and we all know the ayah that speaks about hardship. We are never given hardship without also being given ease.

“Verily, with hardship there is ease.” Quran (94:6)

But what I find astounding is how many people use that in situations of abuse, of someone living in a toxic environment. I have even heard people say that a person should patiently live in an abusive situation. It is something I often hear directed at women, stay and be patient, do it for the sake of the children. And I could never wrap my head around this. Why should she stay? How is staying equated to being patient?

Sabr is one of the greatest virtues to have as a Muslim, we all know this but sabr is not suffering in silence.

I think one of the reasons is that we forget that sabr is much more than patience, it also means endurance, perseverance and persistence. To know when to respond and when not to respond. Arabic is a much richer and complex language than English so words can lose some of their meaning in translation.

So sabr is not passive, we aren’t supposed to just stay in that situation that is toxic or abusive, it means we stand firm, that we take action to change our situation. So to take action, to stand firm, we need sabr, so we can persevere.

It reminds me of the hadith:

The Prophet (saw) said: Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)

This is how we should respond to abuse, and that means that if someone brings up the courage to come to us and say that are being abused we should take action. We should help them get out of that situation, not tell them to be patient.

It makes me so mad when I hear of situations where women aren’t given support and told to just endure it, using children to shackle them to the abusive husband. It goes against what we are taught and it will not benefit the wife or the children. How can children grow up safely in an abusive environment and how can that be better than living with a single parent but safe?

Sabr is not standing still. Sabr is not being passive. Sabr is the endurance necessary to make the change needed to move one step closer to where Allah wants us to be. – Yasmin Mogahed

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Boys will be Boys. Right?

“She was asking for it”
“Why was she dressed like that then?”
“Well she shouldn’t have been out that late.”

Phrases people say when they try to justify why it wasn’t really the mans fault that he assaulted or raped a woman.

And I just can’t believe people actually think like this!

And in thinking like this we actually oppress the women. We stop them from getting an education, having a job, having a social life where she can go out and meet other sisters etc They think by doing this it’s enough. They neglect what’s even more important. Teaching men how to treat women well.

So if the woman had worn full niqab she would never get assaulted? If she didn’t go out or have a job she would never be a victim of abuse? Wrong! They still have.

About 85,000 women a year who are raped in England and Wales alone. And that’s the women who actually report it. But why does this happen to so many women?

Women are held more accountable than men. And often women are actually blamed for being raped. It’s the mindset that it’s the womans fault anyways, or that she was asking for it, that needs to change. No woman wants to be assaulted or raped. Ever.

This attitude is put within while we’re kids. When we’re told that a boy likes us if hes mean to us. Or if we tell someone he’s making fun of us etc. we’re told that, boys will be boys. We actually teach boys this behaviour is okay. That girls will be held more accountable than they will.

So just like we teach girls to be safe and not go out too late etc. We may even prevent them from going out, instead, keeping them in the home. We don’t allow them to get an education or build a career because something may happen to them. How about we also focus on the men.

We need to teach men how to treat a woman, how to be respectful and polite. How to control themselves if they see a woman they’re attracted to. That they are not superior to women and teach them to hold themselves accountable for their actions. Especially when they are kids and teenagers do not say that they’re “just being boys” because the greatest of men would never accept this behaviour and mindset.

The greatest of men to live, the greatest examples who we should make role models for men treated women in the best manner. They would never assault a woman and then behave as if it wasn’t really his fault.

Musa (as) when speaking to the women at the well did not stare at them, he even walked in front of them to be more respectful. The prophet (saw) has so many examples in which women, including his wives testify to how well he treated them. In fact every prophet is known to have treated women in the best manner.

So then why is it that we don’t teach this to our sons? Why do they think they can get away with assaulting or raping a woman? Why is it that when a woman comes forward and says she has been raped shes made to feel as if shes responsible for being raped? Why do we allow the rapist to get away with little or no punishment?

So change this mindset, don’t stop women from living their lives, teach the men how to behave.

Oppressive Marriages and the Shaming Culture

There are many women in our community that are stuck in marriages that they want to leave. They might have a husband who is emotionally or psychologically abusive, or he is physically abusive or he’s repeatedly cheated on her or that they’re so incompatible on so many levels that there is no way for them to have a successful marriage.
But they are forced to stay by family and friends because of the stigma attached to leaving their marriage. They are told to have patience and just stay with him. The reasons they are told is because “what will people say” or “stay for the sake of your children.” They are pressured and shamed into staying.
But this isn’t what we see when we look at the seerah of the prophet (saw). He did not tell women to stay because it will affect your child. He didn’t say that you should worry about what the community will think over your own safety and well being.
Women came to him asking for divorce and he never shamed them or pressured them into staying.
We forget that the toxic environment is detrimental to not only the wife but also to the children. They learn that abuse is okay. They learn that that marriage is not peace and tranquility, it’s a prison. And I always wonder why would you raise your children around someone who is not a good role model. They will learn that behaviour.
Now im not saying that we should get divorced at the first sign of small issues but there are legitimate reasons for women to separate themselves from an abusive and oppressive marriage.
We need to change our mindset towards these things. We need to stop shaming the women into staying. It is difficult enough for these women so don’t add humiliation and shame to make things even harder for them.
With this attitude we oppress the oppressed and empower the oppressor.

Ramadan Reflection – Allah never forgets

And never is your Lord forgetful. Quran (19:64)

Seriously this ayah is as pleasing as it is terrifying.

It simultaneously tells me that all the injustices done to me, Allah knows. But it also tells me that all injustices done by me, He also knows. It tells me that even if no one on this earth sees or remembers the good that I’ve done, Allah does. But it also tells me that even if no one sees or remembers the sins I’ve committed, Allah does.

This ayah is so powerful. Its such a strong reminder that we will never be left without our justice being given or rewarded for the good that we’ve done. But we will also be held accountable for the injustices we did and the sins we committed.

It reminds us to strive to be the best we can be and seek forgiveness daily. It reminds us that no matter how much we hurt, Allah will be there for us.

So we can seek solace in this knowledge that if we’ve been oppressed, slandered, beaten, or abused; Allah will never allow it to go unnoticed and He will give us our justice. Whether its in this life or the next.

But this ayah should also make us want to make amends and seek forgiveness from those we’ve oppressed, slandered or abused. We should not be too proud to say we’re sorry. We should turn to Allah and repent and then strive to become better people. Don’t leave it until it’s too late.

Know that even if your efforts aren’t appreciated by people it doesn’t go unnoticed by Allah.

And know that even if you think you have gotten away with it in this life, you won’t in the next.

Allah never forgets anything that we have done, the good and the bad.