Many scholars, activists, and concerned individuals/organizations have constantly highlighted the abuse of women and wives in our communities, and rightly so. I have also mentioned it in numerous lectures and writings, and continue to do so.
However, the abuse of husbands is seldom brought up in our discussions. In my experience of dealing with marital conflict over the past ten years or so, I’ve come across many cases of husbands being abused by their wives – well, at least that’s the impression I got. The men generally just suffer silently, because they feel embarrassed to bring it up.
In most cases, the abuse is verbal. A brother recently was sat crying in front of me saying his wife constantly swears, nags and curses him. Almost every day, on minor issues, she says things like, “I hope you die”, “I hope you end up in Hell”, and “I pray you get a life threatening disease In sha Allah!” She also swears at his parents at every given opportunity. His wife also confirmed it. I suggested that she might be ill, but they both confirmed that she is generally well in other areas of life.
A few years ago, a brother underwent divorce, saying it was a culmination of years of verbal abuse from his wife. Some women sadly think that since they are ‘women’, they can say anything and the ‘man’ should be strong enough to take it. Indeed, a woman is generally more sensitive and can become upset easily, but that doesn’t give her the right to hurl abuse at her husband under this pretext. The misuse of the tongue can easily take one to Hell-fire. Learn to control it, whether you’re a man or woman.
At times, the abuse is emotional and psychological. I’ve come across cases where a wife emotionally abuses her husband, using children and other things as a shield.
In some cases, the wife actually abuses her husband physically; the man being the target of domestic violence. From a wife throwing a utensil and cutting her husband’s head open to a woman throwing a knife, I have heard it all. A few years ago, I delivered a lecture on domestic violence in the US, and – in accordance with customary practice – I focused mainly on domestic violence towards women. After the lecture, the Egyptian Imam of the Mosque said to me that in his community there were more cases of husbands being physically attacked than there were of wives being abused. I also heard this in other places.
In conclusion, we must tackle and confront abuse regardless of who is guilty: men or women. There is no place in Islam for such abuse. May Allah grant ease to all those suffering, Ameen.
[Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam]