Putting the record straight in 2009 is Shaykh Hamza Yusuf:
An irksome misconception about Islam is its perceived endorsement of violence against women.
Last Friday our Imam, a gentle elderly Pashtun with a voice that evokes Johnny Cash, launched a khutbah on domestic violence.
His opening with the statistics “more women have been killed by domestic violence in the United States than men in the Vietnam War” and “at least 4 women a day are killed by their partners in the US” made for tragic and chilling listening.
Progressing to admonish the men in their forgetfulness on the treatment of women: he reminded them that they should smile more, understand a woman’s greater intention (“if you do not like the way she folds the laundry, be thankful for her kindness, not her skill”), to overlook her flaws in favour of her positive attributes and most of all to respect her.
A major misconception addressed by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is the issue of ‘striking’; this was also addressed in the khutbah: rather than striking, it should be a tap on the hand.
Rather than a ‘stick’ to beat the wife, the Imam clarified it is a tap with ‘a toothbrush.’
Even these – the tap on the hand, the tap with a toothbrush – were roundly condemned, for conflict should be resolved through negotiation, understanding and mutual respect.
This is the face of Islam that the media does not cover.
Such misrepresentation is damaging not only the external perception of Islam, but the women within Islam, as men neglect to follow the teachings as they are intended.
As we sat through khutbah, learning the ways in which a woman must be protected (“husbands, remove your wife from anything that may cause her danger in the house”) in Jordan a brother strangled his sister in the name of ‘honor.’
She is the 11th victim this year.
A victim of a section of society misguided, a legislative unwilling to change and a religion misinterpreted.