More men need to step up
By Jasmine Ali
“A person should help his brother, whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed. If he is the oppressor, he should prevent him from continuing his oppression, for that is helping him. If he is being oppressed, he should be helped to stop the oppression against him.” Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi was sallam) (“Sahih Bukhari,” Vol. 3, Hadith 624).
The Peaceful Families Project (PFP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing violence in Muslim homes within the framework off Islamic principles. The most common type of such violence is domestic violence (DV), defined as a method of physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, emotional, financial and/or spiritual abuse conducted by an adult member of the home, most often the husband. DV can be described as a cycle of intentional behavior designed to, either consciously or unconsciously, obtain and maintain power and control over another family member.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, oppression is an “unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.” As such, we can see an almost parallel concept. What, then, does our faith instruct us to do when faced with the knowledge that individuals in our community are oppressing others? We are instructed to stop the oppression.
Our Peaceful Partners program is working to do just that by utilizing our not-so-secret weapon: Male Allies, Muslim brothers from across the country who meet monthly to brainstorm ideas and develop relevant curriculum components for fellow Muslim men. Through DV studies and research, we as a country have learned that interventions led by men who are trusted and respected by those men who engage in DV tend to have the most impact on behavioral change. This reality led to the creation of Peaceful Partners, the backbone of our curriculum development to directly prevent and address this practice.
Being a faith-specific organization, our organization transcends the clinical research and pulls in guiding principles that originate from the Quran and Sunnah. Our Male Allies both discuss ways to address change and shoulder the roles of change-maker and role model. They dedicate themselves to their communities as representatives of Islam and peaceful foundations in relationships. Using Islamic principles, they consult with local imams, demonstrate peaceful interactions and showcase how to change the contrary cultural narrative of how Muslim men are “supposed to” act toward their wives, children and family members.
In conjunction with Peaceful Partners, PFP has been working to launch Peaceful Futures, Peaceful World, Peaceful Parenting and Peaceful Partings. Peaceful Futures, launched in 2022 for middle school, high school and university/college-aged individuals, explores Muslim identity, gender, family, healthy relationships, emotional management, diversity/tolerance and cyber citizenship. Peaceful World offers the Peaceful Family curriculums and trainings to our global partners in Canada, Palestine, Pakistan and beyond. Peaceful Parenting, which will be launched in a few months, works to enhance the development of strong Muslim individuals through positive, effective behavioral management skills and an increased understanding of children’s emotional, cognitive and spiritual development. Peaceful Partings, to be launched later this year, explores the gift of family restructuring via divorce or separation by focusing on how to manage grief, co-parenting and re-building trusting collaborative family systems to support children and adults through the challenges of change.
By utilizing all of our current and upcoming programs, the Peaceful Families Project is working to holistically stop DV. With our community’s support, the professional knowledge of our curriculum developers and the dedicated effort of our Male Allies, we are dreaming of a violence-free future. We are dreaming of peace, in sha’ Allah.
Jasmine Ali, MSW., is Coordinator of National Programming at PFP.