What You Should Do If Sexually Harassed

Muslim Women's Guide on How to Deal with Sexual Harassment

We live in a hyper-sexualized society where sexual harassment is an ongoing issue. Sexual harassment is not a new occurrence, but due to mass media it has become an increasingly discussed topic. 

Speak Up

Speaking up is the first step. Let the other person know you find their conduct to be offensive and inappropriate. State this in a confident, strong manner showing that you refuse to be their victim. This could immediately stop the harassment. If they continue, it is time to report them.

Speak with your loved ones for support then collect documentation such as emails or text messages if it can act as proof.

Remember, staying silent will not make the pain go away and it leaves the perpetrator unchecked to commit this sin against other women. Contact appropriate legal authorities and be prepared to give your statement multiple times.

Remember this is not your fault. The perpetrator is responsible for their actions; you are not to blame for their shameful behavior.

“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” [Quran 35:18]

Seek therapy and counseling. If you are not comfortable engaging in face to face therapy, you can do online counseling services.

Seek comfort and healing through reading Quran, prayer and making duaa. Do not hesitate to pour your heart out onto the prayer mat. Allah (glorified and exalted) knows your pain and is the best comfort. He is As-Salam, the ultimate source of peace, safety and comfort.

How to Behave as a Muslim if You are the Victim

We as Muslims must not let our unique struggles cause us to act in a way which goes against our faith and Islamic character. We should remain composed as much as possible and not seek out retribution such as sending hateful messages to their family or reacting violently.

We can look to the story of the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) for inspiration in this. He was sexually harassed by the wife of Firawn, yet he did not react with rage, revenge or inciting panic locally. Even after he was wrongfully arrested, he remained calm, spoke with honesty and showed a high level of patience.

Turn a negative moment into a helpful one; speak out to your community about the importance of tackling this serious problem.

Education should be given reminding brothers and sisters about the importance of lowering their gaze and not touching those who are not permissible for them.

Reminders about unnecessary free-mixing amongst the genders and being alone with non-mahrams are all helpful. It is important for us to remind others that zina is not limited to intercourse.

“Allah has written the very portion of Zina which a man will indulge in. There will be no escape from it. The Zina of the eye is the (lustful) look, the Zina of the ears is the listening (to voluptuous songs or talk), the Zina of the tongue is (the licentious) speech, the Zina of the hand is the (lustful) grip, the Zina of the feet is the walking (to the place where he intends to commit Zina), the heart yearns and desires and the private parts approve all that or disapprove it.”[Muslim]

Does it Matter if the Perpetrator is a Religious Figure?

If the perpetrator is a respected scholar or imam, this does not mean that they should not be held accountable. If anything, they should be held to a higher standard as they are the role models many look up to or take advice from.

An accusation against a respected figure in the community must be handled just as thoroughly as an accusation against an average man that no one knows.

Scholars and imams are accountable for their deeds just the same as anyone else. Furthermore, we know that on the Day of Judgment hypocritical religious leaders will be asked about their actions.

“You acquired knowledge so that you might be called” a scholar,” and you recited the Qur’an so that it might be said:” He is a Qari” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire.” [Muslim]

We need to remember that religious figures will make mistakes, they are human after all and they have struggles just like anyone else. We should not lose our faith and trust in all religious leaders due to the mistakes of a few.

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About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"