He Suddenly Became a Violent Middle-Eastern Man

14 October, 2017
Q As-Salam Alikum. I am a native English speaker from the West. My husband is Jordanian and he came to me in my home land and we got married and had a wonderful happy life for 4 years. However, his father fell very ill and he asked me to go to Jordan with him and meet his family and stay for 1 year as his father was not doing well and he wanted to spend time with him as he was the eldest son of his father. I agreed because I love my husband and believe a marriage is about compromise and I was willing to sacrifice one year of my life for his happiness, even though I was afraid due to all the horror stories I heard about middle-eastern men and how they treat women. I loved my husband and he loved me and I had a happy marriage with him so I trusted him and went to Jordan. I have been here four months – and he has turned into a complete monster and nightmare. I am presently pregnant here and he has started beating me, slapping me, and behaving like the middle-eastern men in all those horror stories. I am going through a difficult pregnancy here but work two jobs (76 hours) since I am highly educated and he is unable to find employment. I pay all our expenses including the purchase of the car he uses to drop and pick me up and do all his family errands. We no longer have a single happy moment. His family is everything for him. I told him my concerns and how I felt, and that I cry myself to sleep each night, but he didn’t care. He told me to get with the culture and tradition and that his family comes first before anything. He treats me like a nobody and nothing. I also think he is seeking a second wife (an Arabic) since he says I have judged all his family. He said this because I have minimized my interaction with them because they all smoke and I am asthmatic. I told him smoking is haram and he gave up smoking for me, because before we got married I refused to be with someone who smokes. He says everyone in Jordan smokes. I told him I was not everyone. He has started back to smoke when I am not with him. I have refused to be intimate with him until he gives up smoking. He said his brothers and father would not look to him as a man if he did not control me and put his "foot" down and let me know who wears the pants and who has the final say. I told him I did not have any friends or family here as I could not speak Arabic; I worked from sun up to late night, my only off day was Friday, and I did not go anywhere or did anything, so why was he treating me like a slave to bring a salary at the end of the month only? My feet is swollen, my pregnancy has become difficult. When I told him to save money so I could go to a hospital, he said no, his brother needed help to build an apartment to get married - from my salary! There are no English-speaker doctors in public hospitals here; therefore I want to go to a private one from my salary. He said no, over here people help each other and his brother comes first and I have to understand in life I have to make sacrifices. I am truly broken hearted, sad and depressed. I want to go back home, but he will not let me go. I am pregnant. I tried speaking with him. I told him since when he hit a woman who stands up for her rights by simply asking to be loved and cared for and spend time with. I don't know what to do anymore. I hate it here. I can't believe what he has turned into. I can't believe how women are treated here like nobody and nothing, and how the men here treat them like a doormat. I am reading tajweed and begging Allah for guidance and patience, but I swear I am at the end of my rope. My husband is killing me slowly. I have started to hate ALL of the Arabic and Middle East because of what him and his family are doing to me.



Wa ’Alaikum Salaam my dear sister in Islam,

I feel completely drained after reading your question. I can only imagine how you feel!

This is Islam (not what your husband is doing):

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. “(Quran 30:21)

Your problem is as big as the Muslim world. You are right: your husband is in the wrong to treat you like a slave and use your money – and the Muslim world (unlike Islam) which has a culture that supports it. The Muslim world is corrupted in a gross misunderstanding of how to do marriage in Islam – and in the role of women and wives in general that woman are equal partners in marriage and equal in life. The exception in marriage is that men have one degree of privilege, i.e., if the couple can’t agree (after consulting with each other), the man can do things his way (as long as it is halal and within his right as defined in the Quran and Hadeeth, and it is with his money, not hers.) He has no rights to her money and if she lets him use it, she has the right to say what he uses it for!

The following verse is proof that a wife’s obedience to her husband is not because he is male or even because he is her husband, but because he protects and supports her – both of which your husband is not doing!

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard…” (Quran 4:34)

The same verse also goes on to tell us the one and only reason a man can strike (very lightly) his wife is insubordination, which means disobedience. (However, let’s not forget that the Prophet (Peace be on him) never hit anyone, not a child, not a woman, not even a man, except in battle.) And since obedience is only due after he supported and protected you, you could not be insubordinate in your situation because your husband is not supporting and protecting you! Your husband has no right to your obedience, no right to beat you, no right to your money, and no right to spend your money as he pleases—especially when you don’t agree to it!

It is phenomenal to me that your husband does not love and want what you two had together before in the first 4 years of your marriage – love and peace. Your husband’s choice proves that, in his mind, union with his old family is more important to him than union with his new family, his wife and child (almost). The way he shows to his family his loyalty to them over you is to follow their way of doing things over yours. This choice of his is very serious because he is choosing a way that is not Islam. Parents are supposed to launch their children, not retain them and make them betray their wives and children to conform to the mother and father and brothers and their brothers’ wife, etc! So, he is treading on very dangerous ground; he is choosing his family’s way over Allah’s way. This could cost him everything, in this life and the Next. In this life, it could cost him his marriage—both literally and emotionally. It seems you have already left him emotionally, or at least you are grasping for air and it won’t be long until you drown or swim away. To turn away from our Islam on this earth threatens our Next Life. Choosing another way other than Islam is a very serious problem, to say the least, and I don’t care how much people claim that their culture is Islam; if it does not follow the teachings of Islam, it is not Islam.

Furthermore, the primary objective of Shaitan is the dissolution of marriages. It seems that is what’s happening as your husband, knowing what a good marriage is, has chosen to have a bad one because he wants unity with his family more than he wants unity with you and Islam (and Allah knows best about anyone’s intentions or judgment).

Another way of understanding his behavior is to understand that people cling to that which makes them feel safe, even though it may not be safe in reality (in terms of forethought about your future in this world or the next). In this case, his idea of safety is unity with his family. That may give him the semblance of safety on this earth, for a minute, but the real safety is in doing what Allah says is right, and in being with Allah through obedience to Him/His Religion, and tawakkalAllah (depending on Allah for everything) and being with Allah (and in His reward) in the Next Life, in sha’ Allah.

Therefore, I recommend that you inform your husband of the short sightedness of his cultural behaviors (using the above Quranic quotes) which he is choosing over Allah’s religion. I recommend that you suggest to him that his choice threatens his real safety. The rest is up to Allah. To make sure you do your job right, please, talk to your husband in a conscientious way, a loving way, a way that is not threatening or abusive, using Quran and Hadeeth. He may just be making an innocent mistake because that is his culture, but once he hears the truth, he may get back on track (or want to). He just may need to get some perspective on things.

However, if a husband will not conform to Allah’s religion in preference over his culture or family’s way of doing things, a wife has every right to leave such a husband. You have to decide if this is your case and if you need to leave your husband for the sake of Allah, yourself, and your unborn child.

And remember pain is the symptom of a test, which is what Allah created us for (to test us). So, try to read your pain not as pain, i.e., what it feels like (horrible), but as the route (like labor pain produces a baby) to enlightenment and union with Allah, because we call on Allah when we feel pain (while we should always thank Allah).

May Allah make it easy for you.


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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.