The tragic end to a Muslim family in Houston where the husband killed his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law before taking his own life has sent shockwaves among Muslim community, prompting them to organize to fight domestic violence and abuse in their community.
“It was the signal that our community is ready to talk about this,” Aisha U-Kiu, board vice president of the North Texas Islamic Council, referring to the tragedy of Sadia Manzoor’s family, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Shocked by the incident, U-Kiu said she was impressed with the response of some leaders in Houston’s Muslim community, who denounced family violence.
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For example, Shpendim Nadzaku, an imam and resident scholar of the Islamic Center of North Texas, said he is committed to bringing together other imams to raise awareness about domestic violence and abuse in the Muslim community.
“I can help them understand that these forms of domestic abuse or violence are wrong and that whoever is perpetrating them are wrong,” Nadzaku said.
”Religiously, we have an obligation to cease and desist from hurting or abusing anyone.”
Nadzaku’s call to imams received immediate response, with many saying they are willing to address the issue from the pulpits of their mosques.
“They are in a unique position where they have access to people who may not be thinking about domestic violence or mental health and yet impact their attitudes toward those topics,” said Dr. Samaiya Mushtaq, a Dallas-based psychiatrist who focuses her education and outreach work on the Muslim community.
Mona Kafeel, executive director for the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, said they need to educate religious leaders in the Muslim community about the resources available to survivors of domestic violence.
“Imams become the first responders, and not everybody is ready to become a first responder,” Kafeel said.
“We need faith leaders, leaders who are allies, we need college-aged kids talking about it,” she said. “It’s like a beast that we have to attack from all angles.”
Muslim scholars confirm that any form of domestic violence contradicts Islamic teachings.
There are many Muslim groups offering support for women fleeing abuse in North America.
Sakeenah Homes, founded in 2018, already operates transitional housing and supports Muslim women and their children in Brampton, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and now Winnipeg.
Nisa Homes, a Mississauga-based group, also offers transitional homes for Muslim, immigrant and refugee women and children who are seeking shelter after fleeing domestic violence.