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The following is a press release written today by a group of muslim bloggers, journalists, and media people including myself. The idea is to coordinate the friday khutbas (sermons) in as many American mosques as possible this week to focus on the theme of domestic violence. This event is also posted to Facebook where you can show your support virtually.

In fact, I think this should be an annual event, every third friday of February. An annual recognition of the problem of domestic violence in muslim communities would ensure that this attention to this crucial issue isn’t transient. It’s amazing to see how the muslim American community has coalesced in unity around this tragic event, and I hope that this resolve will bring about genuine progress.

Press release follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 18, 2009
Media contact: Wajahat Ali, 510-909-7506, wajahatmali@hotmail.com

American Muslims Call for Swift Action Against Domestic Violence

Murder
of Buffalo resident Aasiya Zubair spurs American Muslims to forcefully
address domestic abuse and violence against women; call on imams to
address DV in Friday sermons

SAN FRANCISCO – A coalition of Muslim organizations, journalists,
community leaders, imams, and other concerned citizens are calling for
immediate action by American Muslim leaders and religious figures to
address domestic abuse and violence in America, including that found in
the American Muslim community, on Friday, February 20, 2009. 

In
response to the collective concern of the American Muslim community,
imams and religious leaders across America have been asked to speak out
against domestic violence to their congregations. They are asked to
remind congregants of the Prophet Muhammad’s abhorrence of harshness,
abuse and violence, and emphasize solutions that strengthen families
and ensure all members are treated with fairness and respect, free of
fear of abuse or violence.

Members of the coalition are
contacting imams and religious leaders in major Islamic centers and
mosques. They are encouraging sermons addressing domestic violence and
are offering resources available through the Peaceful Families Project,
a Muslim-run domestic violence prevention organization founded in 2000,
to help educate the American Muslim community. This education addresses
the extent to which domestic violence exists and strategies to stop it.

Several
prominent imams have heeded the call to action by concerned American
Muslims including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of the Zaytuna Institute in
Berkeley, Ca. and Imam Tahir Anwar of the South Bay Islamic Association
in San Jose, Ca. These imams have committed their Friday sermons to
addressing domestic violence and preaching that in the Islamic
tradition and by the example of the Prophet Muhammad, family harmony
can never be achieved by force and that emotional and physical abuse is
never acceptable.

This call is being broadcast through various
channels, including blogs, Facebook groups, personal contacts, and news
media. “The outcry among Muslim Americans against this type of violence
is a heartfelt one,” said Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of
the online newsmagazine altmuslim.com.
“It is essential that we address the problem and take steps to ensure
that no one else faces the same tragic fate as Ms. Zubair.”

Specific calls to action for imams and religious leaders include:

  1. Unequivocally denounce domestic violence and any attitudes that enable or excuse it
  2. Remind Muslims that the Prophet Muhammad condemned with unequivocal language all forms of spousal abuse.
  3. Immediately
    create community social service committees made up of qualified social
    service providers to supply educational resources and staff
    institutional programs that support abused and battered women.
  4. Promote educational and awareness programs that outline abusive and violent behaviors. 
  5. Allow
    community members ways of pointing out and preventing the emergence or
    escalation of possibly abusive relationships and environments

Individuals and organizations helping to organize this call (partial list, titles for identification purposes only):

  • Salma Abugideri, Peaceful Families Project
  • Wajahat Ali, Playwright, Attorney and Journalist, domesticcrusaders.com
  • Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of the online newsmagazine altmuslim.com
  • Zeba Iqbal, Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals
  • Ruby Khan, Director, Hamdard Center for Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Aminah McCloud, Professor of Islamic Studies, DePaul University
  • Hussein Rashid, Visiting Professor, Hofstra University, husseinrashid.com
Mosques, imams, and organizations confirmed to have joined this effort (partial list):

  • Arab American Association of New York (New York, NY)
  • Arab Muslim American Federation (New York, New York)
  • Council of the Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago – Imam Abdul Malik Muhajid
  • Islamic Society of San Francisco – Imam Khalid Siddiqui
  • Islamic House of Wisdom (Dearborn, MI) – Imam Mohammad Elahi
  • Islamic Center of Greater Lansing (Detroit, MI) – Imam Dawud Walid
  • South Bay Islamic Association (San Jose, CA) – Imam Tahir Anwar
  • The Islamic Center at New York University – Haroon Moghul
  • Zaytuna Institute (Berkeley, CA) – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Resources for the media regarding Muslim efforts to confront domestic violence:

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