Domestic Violence: An Islamic Perspective
It is an indisputable fact that love, cordiality and mutual understanding are mainstays for every strong relationship. Thus, intimate family ties should add more to the enhancement of this relation between family members. Unfortunately, we see many people violating the sacred family ties and resorting to violence as a solution for settling any dispute.
As Islam, by its very name, calls for peace, it unquestionably discourages all kinds of domestic violence. However, at the same time, to preserve stability and order, it gave the right to the guardian of the family, namely the husband and father, to practice some kind of guiding authority and to employ some sort of firmness within the general frame of fearing Almighty Allah and with the ultimate aim of safeguarding the interests of the family members.
It is also noteworthy that Islam, as the religion that corresponds with the innate human nature, has only acknowledged the natural form of the family structure to the irrevocable exclusion of all other forms of deviant relations that have emerged as a result of the perversity of mankind.
On the issue of domestic violence, the council of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy – an offshoot of the Organization of the Islamic Conference -, during its 9th session held in the Emirate of Sharjah (in the United Arab Emirates), from Jumada Al-Ula 1-5, 1430 A.H. (April 26-30, 2009 A.C.), issued the following resolution:
Having reviewed research papers presented about the issue of domestic violence, and after thorough discussions which covered the subject; and after recalling well-established religious matters – of grounding the rules of the family on significant bases of cordiality and love and legislating rulings that bring about stability and tranquility – and that deviation from such a path that spreads violence in the milieu of the family, we have decided the following:
First: The concept of domestic violence
What is meant by violence is words and actions committed by a member of the family against another member, which are marked by severity and harshness, and which cause physical or moral harm to the family as a whole or to one of its members. This behavior is forbidden because it contradicts the objectives of Sharia as regards the preservation of life and reason, and because it contradicts the divine approach that is based on righteousness and kind treatment.
Second: (The following is) not considered as violence or discrimination from the Islamic perspective:
a. Adhering to sharia rulings that regulate the marital relationship, and interdicting all forms of illicit relationships.
b. Preventing access to contraceptive methods for other than people who are legitimately married.
c. Prohibiting abortion except in cases of medical exceptions approved by the Sharia.
d. Incriminating sexual deviation.
e. The husbands’ preventing his wife from travelling alone, except with his permission and within the Sharia regulations.
f. (Fulfilling) the conjugal right between the married couple that maintains chastity even when one of them lacks desire.
g. The wife’s fulfillment of her essential role of motherhood and taking care of the marital home, and the husband assuming the responsibilities of maintenance and guardianship.
h. The guardianship practiced by the guardian over a virgin young lady in (contracting her) marriage.
i. The rules established by the Sharia concerning the shares of inheritance and bequeathal.
j. Divorce as regulated by the Sharia.
k. Polygyny that is based on justice.
Third: Islamic approach in settling marital disputes
When settling marital disputes, especially those related to the wife’s recalcitrance and disobedience to her husband, the following legal regulations should be observed:
a. Avoiding cursing and derogation.
b. Adhering, upon direct settling of the disputes with the wife, to the approach acknowledged by the Sharia.
c. Resorting to two arbiters when the dispute aggravates.
d. Turning to the divorce system according to the rules established by the Sharia regulating its degrees (revocable divorce, major irrevocable and minor irrevocable divorce, and the times when it should be issued), and considering it as being among the most hated of lawful things in the Sight of Almighty Allah.
Fourth: the academy affirms the following:
1. At the family level:
a. Focusing on faith-based education as a way of social upbringing.
b. Laying emphasis on the Sharia invariable concerning family structure, cooperation, cordiality, mercy, tranquility, kindness, benevolence and graceful interaction between the spouses.
c. Adopting discussion as a way of working out internal family issues.
2. At the level of official circles and institutions:
a. Holding courses and workshops to enlighten families about the dangers of violence and establishing the approach of dialogue.
b. Calling upon educational institutions to teach solutions to all forms or types of domestic violence.
c. Coordination between concerned ministries and administrations for the sake of acknowledging a unified policy that involves no contradiction in order to preserve the invariable principles of the Ummah in the face of Westernizing trends to the family.
d. Directing mass media towards undertaking its responsibilities within the framework of sound social upbringing.
3. At the level of Muslim countries:
a. The necessity of submitting all international agreements concerning women and children as well as the draft laws to Sharia specialists and legal scholars before issuing and endorsing them, so as to measure them on the scale of Sharia and reject any part of them that contradicts the rulings and objectives of Islamic Sharia. And, the necessity of calling upon Islamic governments to review the already- signed agreements to discover the articles that contradict Sharia rulings and reject such articles without violating the positive aspects which correspond to Islamic Sharia.
b. Rejecting all articles that contradict Islamic Sharia texts in international agreements and pacts, which call for abolishing the natural differences between the roles of men and women in society, complete equality between males and females in all degrees of inheritance, disparaging the divorce system in Islamic Sharia, the abolition of man’s guardianship over the family and other such firmly-established aspects of Islamic Sharia.
c. Rejecting all the articles in agreements that legalize things that are contradictory to the laws of the Sharia and natural disposition, such as homosexual marriages, sexual relations outside the valid marriage approved by the Sharia, mingling between the two sexes in a way that is prohibited by Sharia, and such articles that clash with the rulings of Sharia.
d. Calling upon legislative authorities to enact laws incriminating all forms of violence among family members on the grounds that Sharia has prohibited this.
e. Restricting executive authority to the concerned judiciary authorities.
f. Stressing the preservation of the particularity of Islamic culture and Sharia rulings, and respecting the reservations raised by Islamic governments and their representatives towards some of the articles that contradict Islamic Sharia in pacts and agreements related to the family.
g. Forming a committee to prepare a code in which the rights and duties of family members are regulated, to be followed by drawing up a draft resolution for family law that conforms with Islamic Sharia.