Muzzammil Hassan, the businessman who founded Bridges TV – a Muslim-friendly channel created to combat the negative stereotypes of Muslims in the US – has been charged with murdering his wife. His reason: divorce. His method: decapitation.
This is a horrible story. One that will surely counteract any positive work that Bridges TV has done.
As we do not have all the facts, we cannot begin to fully understand what happen. However, in thinking about this man, I am reminded of how Tony Soprano used to decry the way in which Italian-Americans are portrayed in the media. His was a ridicules psychological disconnect between what he did and how he saw/projected himself/Italians.
Is this tragic occurrence symptomatic of how moderate Islam today suffers from a Soprano-like disconnect between perception, projection, and reality?
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has issued a statement, authored by Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali, calling on Muslim communities to wake up to the plight of domestic violence.
This is a wake up call to all of us, that violence against women is real and can not be ignored. It must be addressed collectively by every member of our community. Several times each day in America, a woman is abused or assaulted. Domestic violence is a behavior that knows no boundaries of religion, race, ethnicity, or social status. Domestic violence occurs in every community. The Muslim community is not exempt from this issue. We, the Muslim community, need to take a strong stand against domestic violence. Unfortunately, some of us ignore such problems in our community, wanting to think that it does not occur among Muslims or we downgrade its seriousness.
The letter is a good start, but does not go far enough. Its explicit and implicit criticism of the community is healthy and refreshing, but it does not provide room for the idea that while domestic violence is a universal problem, Islam is part of the problem. Nor does it provide the opportunity for a creative Islamic response to the plight of domestic violence.
The letter uses the the Quran to support its positions,
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never hit a women or child in his life. The purpose of marriage is to bring peace and tranquility between two people, not fear, intimidation, belittling, controlling, or demonizing. Allah the All-Mighty says in the Qur’an: “Among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (30:21),
However, by using the Quran in such as fashion, the letter opens itself to legitimate criticism based on the Quran. The 800-pound guerilla is of course Sura 4:34.
Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme. (Translation by Dawood)
For me the question/challenge has always been: How a religion that conditionally sanctions male-on-female domestic violence can ever be properly squared with modern values of gender/sexual equality? Not to tackle this question square-on is to disrespect the memory of Aasiya Zubair (and many like her).