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Home Feels Like a Prison with My Abusive Husband

03 September, 2023
Q I understand the importance of motherhood in Islam. I appreciate it as I am now a mother. However, I cannot continue to be neglected by my husband like this. We have had no physical relationship for five years! I do not speak when I am at home because his mother will report whatever I say to other family members. I do not get rest on weekends because I am cleaning up and cooking all weekend. I work a full-time job throughout the week. I cannot even talk with anyone on the phone because the conversation will be overheard. Home now feels like a beautiful prison. Recently when I brought this matter up to my husband, we started having a discussion. The discussion escalated and he hit me several times. He grabbed my throat and our only child was watching the whole time. I tried to defend myself but that only made him angrier. He kept hitting me. (This has never happened before. My own parents never hit me. I have never hit my child. ) When he finally stopped, I called the police for protection. I took my child, packed clothes and went to my parents' home. We were gone for a week. For the sake of our child's future and happiness, I prayed for things to work out. He did not even call or ask if we were okay. Ramadan started and he started to communicate. He apologized, brought me flowers and promised that it would not happen again. However, he advised that he cannot do anything about his mother. He said that he blames me for his sister's unhappiness in our home years ago. He said that he won't let it happen again with his mother. Reluctantly, I came home with my child so we can at least spend this Ramadan together. Upon my return, I found that he was fasting but not getting any food for iftaar or dinner at home. He would have to go out or cook himself. His mother was not taking care of him so I was needed. Since we have returned, his mood is still unstable. He gets irritated with the smallest thing. I am even afraid to go near him. I carry pepper spray for my own protection, safety, and peace of mind. We do not talk throughout the day. I sleep in a separate room on the other side of the home. I feel more neglected and unimportant than ever before. The tension and unhappiness are now impacting our child who is starting to have behavior problems at daycare now. Our child has expressed "Mommy should listen to me or I will have daddy hit you". This small child has never said things like this before. I now sometimes regret coming back. I am looking at other options. I have started looking at apartments so I can move out. I don't know what to do. I desperately need some guidance. I have no hope for a brighter future. Am I missing something? Is there a reason to stay in this situation? I doubt he will ever change and stop neglecting me when his family is here. Is there anything I can do to save my child and marriage from a broken home?


In this counseling answer:

Islam defines marriage as ”love and mercy”. Therefore, when a marriage is abusive, it is better to leave it – for the sake of ourselves and even more our children. The counselor advises taking yourselves to a safe place that honors your rights and dignity. Surround yourself with people who are kind and good role models for your children.

As-Salaamu ’Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh My dear sister in Islam,

To answer your questions: „Is there a reason to stay in this situation?”

No! there is no Islamic reason to stay in this situation. From what you have told me, it is your Islamic duty to leave this relationship rather than staying in it. Sometimes a marriage is wrong and that is why divorce is lawful.

Islam defines marriage as ”love and mercy”. It’s a bond of intimacy, both sexual and emotional, and provision. Marriage should make us feel safe and facilitate us realizing our own being (that is what the word ”intimacy” means). These things are not the things that are defining your marriage. In fact, your marriage is a source of the opposite of the things that define a Muslim marriage: your husband does not provide for you, he hits you, he teaches your child that it is okay for him to hit you. In her youthful mind, she thinks it is also okay for him to hit you when you will not do what she, a five-year-old, wants you too. This is a very serious problem that is much worse than the problems you would have, in Sha’ Allah, if you raised your child by yourself.

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Please, confirm the validity of this opinion with the scholars on this website if you have any doubts about my opinion about your right to get out of this marriage—or the preferability of your getting out of this marriage as compared to staying in it.

2) „Is there anything I can do to save my child and marriage from a broken home?”

Yes, leave—immediately! As regards to your maternal concerns about your child having a broken home if you divorce, please ask yourself: would my child be better off living in a broken home that is peaceful, non-violent, and loving or one like you described above? I think the answer is obvious.

Remember, no life is perfect; everyone has troubles. This is what Allah (swt) says is the reason He created us – to test us! Don’t assume that trouble comes in only one kind of package or one type such as hunger, poverty, or grief because you are an orphan or because one of your parents died. Trouble comes in a myriad of packages and types including divorced parents—and that is okay! In fact, it may be much less trouble than hunger, poverty, or grief from losing a parent to death. Grief from losing an in-tack family is a very real problem and a form of trouble that is just as valid as any other test.

Also, please remember that Allah (swt) tests the hardest the ones He loves the most. So, in a paradoxical way, this is a blessing in disguise. When we meet the challenges of the tests Allah gives us, that is how we pass them. First and foremost, the test is designed to see if you ask of Allah (swt) first. By first asking of Allah (swt) for His help, you prove your belief in Allah (to yourself as Allah already knows who is who) even in the face of hardship.

Secondly, you do your best to do the right thing. Standing out against oppression is one of the most right things that a Muslim can do! Doing the right thing is how we gain hope in the Favor and the protection and the reward of Allah (swt).

You can look at a horrible situation differently which is: understand it to be a blessing in disguise. When you understand it to be a test that Allah (swt) put in your path for you to pass, then get to work on figuring out how to pass it.

What do I think is the right thing to do in your case? Get out of this marriage as fast as you can because it has made the beautiful, religious institution of marriage into a prison with a captive to torture. Take the position that this is not right and you will not stand for it. And, yes, protect yourself with pepper spray and protect your daughter. This is the right thing to do, in Sha’Allah.

Take yourselves to a safe place that honors your rights and dignity. Go to your mother temporarily if you have to until you can find your own place, in Sha’Allah! Surround yourself with people who care about their responsibility to Allah (swt) to be fair and just to you because they have taqwa. Find people who are good role models for your daughter, people who are gentle and kind – not people who are violent and who abuse others and then justify their behavior!

May Allah (swt) make it easy for you!


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

About Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem
Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery.For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.